The NYT tries to downplay the reports of murders, rapes, carjackings, and assorted violence in "More Horrible Than Truth: News Reports". Somehow I don't think the story is going to stand the test of time as various reports are confirmed.
...And many of the urban legends that sprang up - the systematic rape of children, the slitting of a 7-year-old's throat - so far seem to be just that. The fact that some of these rumors were repeated by overwhelmed local officials does not completely get the news media off the hook. A survey of news reports in the LexisNexis database shows that on Sept. 1, the news media's narrative of the hurricane shifted...
The NYT's David Carr finds that it shifted with - surprise - Fox News! Then, Tucker Carlson shifted it even more. Then:
Some journalists did find sources. About 10 p.m. that same evening, Greta Van Susteren of Fox interviewed Dr. Charles Burnell, an emergency room physician who was providing medical care in the Superdome.
"Well, we had several murders. We had three murders last night. We had a total of six rapes last night. We had the day before I think there were three or four murders. There were half a dozen rapes that night," he told Ms. Van Susteren. (Dr. Burnell did not return several calls asking for comment.) On the same day, The New York Times referred to two rapes at the Superdome, quoting a woman by name who said she was a witness.
It is a fact that many died at the convention center and Superdome (7 and 10 respectively, according to the most recent reports from the coroner), but according to a Sept. 15 report in The Chicago Tribune, it was mostly from neglect rather than overt violence. According to the Tribune article, which quoted Capt. Jeffery Winn, the head of the city's SWAT team, one person at the convention center died from multiple stab wounds and one National Guardsman was shot in the leg.
[...don't blame the reporters, since officials confirmed the tenor of the reports...] Appearing on "Oprah" on Sept. 6, Chief Eddie Compass said of the Superdome: "We had little babies in there, some of the little babies getting raped." Mayor C. Ray Nagin concurred: "They have people standing out there, have been in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."
But the night before, Chief Compass had told The Guardian, "We don't have any substantiated rapes. We will investigate if they come forward."
..."They're Going to Kill or Rape Us, Get Us Out" read the headline in The Daily Star, a British tabloid. "Tourist Tells of Murder and Rape," was one headline in The Australian. "Snipers Shoot at Hospitals. Evacuees Raped, Beaten," The Ottawa Citizen reported... [See similar foreign reports in "Tourists in the Superdome". Those reports sound accurate to me, although the tourists might have obtained their information from inaccurate sources.