The American Red Cross has called its post-Sandy relief efforts "near flawless." But internal documents and on-the-record accounts from responders paint a different picture of how the renowned charity handled its mission -- casting doubt on whether the Red Cross is ready for the next disaster.
ProPublica's Justin Elliott joins Steve Engelberg on the podcast this week to discuss his latest report with Jesse Eisinger and NPR's Laura Sullivan on the Red Cross and how it botched several key components of its relief efforts, whether it was wasting massive amounts of food, simply not showing up to areas affected by the storm or, most disturbingly, diverting crucial resources for public relations purposes.
"The Red Cross has denied a lot of elements of our story, but they have never come to us with anything that they say is inaccurate," Elliott says.
ProPublica began reporting on the Red Cross and its post-Sandy relief efforts earlier this year, Elliott notes, originally focusing on the lack of transparency around how the charity spent over $300 million donated after the storm.
"In Silicon Valley, they have this phrase that describes these transactions," Engelberg says. "They say they try to make things on the web when you're buying something ‘frictionless’ and I think there's some merit in journalism trying to make it frictionless to contact a reporter with information."