How the media is treating the Carnival Triumph rescue operation after a fire crippled the cruise ship.
Carnival Triumph is finally in the Mobile Alabama Channel
Triumph Media Onslaught
As you know, the latest news about Triumph is that the ship encountered some high seas in the Gulf of Mexico (six foot) that slowed down the tugs, so she will not likely be docked until this evening. In addition, Carnival has extended the compensation to each guest onboard by adding $500 cash.
I just got this email from a reader…
"I Sure wish that the TV Networks would get in touch with Paul (myself) and Kuki (CruiseMates contributor) and get the real story of the Carnival Triumph ship mishap. You have your facts right!!! Having served on Merchant, Coast Guard, Navy and as a Passenger on some 50 cruise ships, Carnival is doing all that it can do at this time."
"Thanks for all you do for the Cruise Industry,
Accidents happen, and when they do people are inconvenienced, but that isn't how the media is portraying it. Instead of putting the situation aboard Carnival Triumph into perspective and getting both sides of the story, we are seeing Carnival portrayed as just another evil corporate money monger who essentially trapped their guests in a "living hell."
I have watched news anchors "shocked breathless" about the conditions aboard the Carnival Triumph, citing "putrid conditions, of stench and disease," - but almost all of their reporting is based largely upon one phone call made on Monday morning during the height of the crisis. That call was between a man and his wife, but the man has been interviewed by several media outlets every day now and has re-reported everything he says his wife said on Monday as if it is all fresh news.
The man is Steven Peery in Sacramento who said his wife mentioned "sewage running down the walls, no working toilets, people peeing in showers or bags, carpets soaked with urine and a shortage of food."
Since then Carnival has come out and said they have public toilets working, showers are running, albeit with cold water, and that crews are cleaning the public toilets on a regular basis as well as passenger's rooms to the best of their abilities.
This still does not stop the media today (Thursday) from using the few reports they got on Monday to paint this as the worst crisis since Hurricane Sandy. Come to think of it, Hurricane Sandy victims are still homeless since November - but the media has all but forgotten about them, right?
Here are some examples from print:
ABC News this morning started out its article with the line…
"After eight miserable days at sea, the 4,000 passengers and crew aboard the stricken Carnival Triumph cruise ship are set to reach Mobile, Alabama today as the ship's owners increase the compensation for what some on board are calling the vacation from hell."
Umm… the fire struck on Sunday - four days ago. So the so-called "cruise from hell" has been four days, not eight.
The same ABC article cited the comments by Steven Peery's wife (as repeated by Steven), but now they are just saying "a woman from Sacramento said by telephone". They are not mentioning that it was a conversation on Monday night.
She said, "Cabin carpets are wet with urine and water. Toilets are overflowing inside cabins. We are having to sleep in the hallways. Onion and cucumber sandwich last night."
So, on Sunday night, at the height of the crisis, she had an onion sandwich. Yet that "hamburger bun" report persists through today, even though three shipments of fresh food have been made to the ship since then.
A report from the news agency Reuters said of Triumph it has…
"reports that it has been awash in raw sewage from overflowing toilets while passengers suffer from food and water shortages. Earlier this week, some passengers who contacted relatives and media before their cell phone batteries died reported on the poor conditions on the Triumph."
A rather clever excuse for using old news - wouldn't you say?
"They said people were getting sick from gut-wrenching odors aboard the sweltering ship, which had no working air conditioning, and said passengers had been told to use plastic "biohazard" bags as makeshift toilets."
Reuters also quoted the mother of a 12-year old girl with whom she had spoken on Monday night,
"Mary Poret, who spoke to her 12-year-old daughter aboard the Triumph on Monday, rejected (Carnival CEO's) Cahill's apology out of hand in comments to CNN on Thursday, as she waited anxiously in Mobile with a friend for the Triumph's arrival."
"Seeing urine and feces sloshing in the halls, sleeping on the floor, nothing to eat, people fighting over food, $500? What's the emotional cost? You can't put money on that," Poret said.
Once again - reports based on Monday night. At least they acknowledge it. But "the emotional cost of seeing urine and feces" umm, does this girl ever plan to get married and have a baby? Puleeze?
The New York Times at least strived to get the story decently accurate: It tells the story of one woman who needed dialysis and so she was transferred by Coast Guard skiff to a boat with a chopper to take her ashore. Her name is Mrs. Alderete, and she was taken to a clinic in Cozumel, Mexico and is now back home since yesterday. No one else I saw has reported this endeavor by Carnival.
The New York Times wrote:
Mrs Alderete said The crew was doing their best to clean up passengers' waste and to keep clean the few toilets that were working. People had taken to urinating in showers.
Remember, this lady left the ship on Tuesday and was home by Wednesday. The New York Times continues,
"By Tuesday, fruit, water and sandwiches were distributed, supplied by other Carnival ships that passed by and sent provisions. But reports from passengers who managed to catch a cell phone connection say that supplies are dwindling and lines to get what little food remains are long."
That was on Tuesday. Since then more food has been delivered. The Times continues…
"At first, people were allowed to take as much as they wanted, which led to discord on the ship, passengers said."
"A lot of people were complaining that people were hoarding their food," Ms. Alderete said. "But it's not because they were being greedy. It was because, like us, there were 30 of us and we all couldn't walk up the stairs and wait to get the food. We sent people to try to bring things back to us."
A 96-foot supply vessel, the Lana Rose, arrived near the ship at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. It brought an emergency generator and provisions, including food and water. Two Coast Guard helicopters helped swing the supplies onto the Triumph."
So - at least the NY Times got some of the story, but for the rest they reverted Steven Peery's comments from the Monday night phone call
"It is just squalor and disgusting," said Steven Peery of Sacramento, whose wife, Cindel Peña, was on the ship.
"The first time I talked to her," Serena Peña said, "she asked if I had seen reports on the news and if those reports described the raw sewage on the floors, because they should."
The Christian Science Monitor said this morning that a passenger
"said she and her friends slept with their life vests one night because the ship was listing and they feared it would tip over."
Vivian Tilley, whose sister, Renee Shanar, is on the ship, said Shanar, of Houston, told her the cabins were hot and smelled like smoke from the engine fire, forcing passengers to stay on the deck. She also said people were getting sick.
The company has disputed the accounts of passengers who describe the ship as filthy, saying employees are doing everything to ensure people are comfortable."
So, at least this paper quoted something from Carnival, the people heading up the rescue operation. Obviously, the ship is not going to tip over, but the news report did not say how that is essentially impossible.
So - that is the tenor of media coverage - relying in the most negative, completely uncorroborated comments they can find, most of them made on Monday at the height of the crisis, and only mentioning as an aside that Carnival "disputes" the media reports about cleanliness and sickness onboard.
Isn't it great to have an accurate news media in this country?