The widespread media reports of murder, rape and mayhem at the Superdome and convention center in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina were vastly exaggerated, reports that city’s Times-Picayune. There were six deaths in the Superdome, none by murder. Four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide. At the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, just four bodies were recovered, despites reports of corpses piled inside the building. Only one of the dead appeared to have been slain, said officials.
Reports of bodies counts in the hundreds was a myth created by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans’ top officials, including the mayor and police superintendent. Prosecutors have confirmed four murders in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina–making it a typical week in a city that will count 200 homicides this year. The Los Angeles Times cited Fox News and several newspapers for hyperbolic reporting. The paper also scrutinized its own coverage: “The Los Angeles Times adopted a breathless tone…reporting that National Guard troops ‘took positions on rooftops, scanning for snipers and armed mobs as seething crowds of refugees milled below, desperate to flee. Gunfire crackled in the distance.'”