Nagin pressed harder on Comedy Central than network news

by Heather Miller

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart grills the former New Orleans mayor on his role in the epic failure known as Katrina.

Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin may have sailed through his interview with gentle prodding from NBC's Matt Lauer Monday morning, but the bizarre claims he makes defending his new Katrina memoir made Nagin the punchline Monday night when he was a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Nagin, finishing his two-day tour in New York City to tout his upcoming memoir, "Katrina's Secrets: Storms After the Storm," has been throwing former Gov. Kathleen Blanco under the bus in his recent interviews, accusing her of using Katrina as a means of political revenge on Nagin for backing Republican Bobby Jindal when he ran against Blanco in 2003:

"The governor of your state, Kathleen Blanco, at the time, does not come out well in this book," Stewart said.
Nagin didn't seem to want to buy the premise. "Really?" he responded.

"Have you seen the book?" Stewart countered, drawing howls from the audience.

Stewart, like Lauer, noted that Nagin's decision to cross party lines in 2003 and back Republican Bobby Jindal drew a fierce reaction from Blanco, who according to the book told Nagin, "There will be hell to pay."

"It makes it seem like her response to New Orleans and Katrina was a personal vendetta against you," Stewart said.

"She told me there would be hell to pay, and I think Katrina qualifies," Nagin said.

"So you think she conjured up the storm?" Stewart asked, again sparking huge audience laughter.

"No, I don't think she conjured up the storm, but I think there were some residuals," Nagin said.

"Is she that petty an individual that she would say, Oh, people are suffering at the Superdome. Ray Nagin doesn't get water from me. He doesn't get water,'" Stewart said.

"I don't think so," Nagin finally demurred, "but I think politics played a role in the response. We had a Republican president, a Democratic governor and I was a Democrat. The governor and I didn't get along very well before the storm."

The Times-Picayune reports that although Blanco denies using the "hell to pay" phrase, she did tell Nagin "that our shared Democratic constituency would never truly understand the rationale behind his decision to support a Republican."

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