Fox News reporter Steve Harrigan has covered the war in Afghanistan and Hurricane Katrina. But of the Haiti devastation, he calls it “a mini-Rwanda.”
Mediaite spoke to Harrigan by phone today, hours after he delivered another heart-wrenching report.
“Usually with these stories, the first day, first two days, things are really bad, then you start to see dramatic differences,” he tells Mediaite today by phone, standing in a dirt field 200 yards from the hotel housing most of the FNC operations. “So far here, each day, we just seem to be getting darker into it.”
Harrigan reported today from an area where bodies were being disposed of in large holes, of which he described, “the way bodies, thousands of them, are treated in Haiti right now today is worse than garbage.” The emotional report is below. “It really makes you wonder how the world is going to do this, to send out a successful operation to take care of so many people,” Harrigan told us.
Harrigan has noticed some improvements in the region – cell service has been reestablished, feeding stations are opening, the Red Cross is more visible – but overall, there is still much that needs to be done. “Along with the thousands of casualties, the biggest casualty is the sense of shame in a society is gone right now,” he said. “You feel really helpless when you see the bodies. You feel ashamed and helpless.”
Last week Harrigan’s got choked up on-air while describing the sight, and smell, of death. He reflected on the moment today, but also on reporting on these types of horrific stories in general:
After a while I couldn’t go on. You don’t really have to say too much on a story like this. The pictures do the talking. On a story like this it’s wrong to stand up and talk about yourself or shout poetry. The pictures are screaming so you don’t have to. Just get to the worst spot, try to stand there as long as you can, and show and tell people what you see.
Now four days later, the woman in the video is “still there,” he said. “Right there on her mattress.”
Harrigan had an analogy for the situation in Haiti. He described a woman who spent four days and nights calling out to her son who was trapped in their collapsed house, with no way for her to reach him. Her son called back, but by the time help arrived, it was too late. “When Baby Jessica was in a well, we had one baby in the well and the nation watched,” he said. “We have Baby Jessicas everywhere here.”
Harrigan expects to leave Haiti at the end of the week, but says he could very well be back soon after if the story changes. One thing you won’t hear from him is what people should be doing to help – advocacy journalism. “I try to do what I can do, which is stand next to a pit and tell people that they’re dumping bodies here,” he said.
Here’s the clip from this morning:
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org