On December 18, the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed by a local rabbi that made this claim:
We've all heard about the rise of the evangelical movement and about some of the excesses of its leaders. For instance, the Rev. Jerry Falwell claimed that Ellen DeGeneres played a role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina because she was the host of the Emmy Awards ceremony preceding both events.
Soon afterward, the Times was forced to correct the record:
A Dec. 18 article defending the separation of church and state stated that the Rev. Jerry Falwell claimed that Ellen DeGeneres played a role in the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina because she was the host of the Emmy Awards before both events. He made no such claim.
The apparent origin of the story is a satirical news article on Dateline Hollywood, the entertainment news satire website co-edited by Ben Fritz (my friend and former Spinsanity co-editor). In it, he and Gil Cunha, his partner, joked that Pat Robertson (not Falwell) blamed Katrina on the decision to have DeGeneres host the Emmy Awards telecast, an obvious satire of statements by various extremists who have blamed 9/11 and other disasters on various cultural transgressions.
The article began to be circulated as fact, forcing the Snopes.com urban legends website to post an article debunking the myth. A Sept. 18 article in the Toronto Star also pointed out that it was not true. But apparently Stephen Julius Stein, the author of the op-ed, didn't bother to do any research, and the vaunted Times editorial staff (which Kaus appropriately mocks) failed to check his claim. As Atrios would say: time to convene a blogger ethics panel!