The mainstream media has been called into questioned countless times over the past months for what many perceive as insistent attacks on the White House regardless of how credible they are. A look at media spin regarding President Trump’s disaster relief response offers a glimpse into just how unconscionable so-called journalists can be when reporting on apolitical circumstances.
In Late August when Hurricane Harvey ravished parts of Texas the new administration’s ability to handle crisis was once again tested. On Aug 27th Politico published an article titled “Is Trump’s response to Hurricane Harvey enough?” which was a criticism of the White House’s lack of transparency with the media about their logistical support efforts and other straw grasping digs. Despite this attempt and similar ones from some in the media the overall narrative of Donald Trump’s Harvey relief efforts is a positive one. Not only did Trump successfully push through legislation aiding relief efforts but he came through on his $1Million donation to organizations crucial to rebuilding the communities and lives of those affected by the hurricane. Even CNN gave the President positive coverage publishing a piece entitled “Trump’s response to hurricane was perfect”.
If at first you don’t succeed, brush yourself off and try again
If we’ve learned anything over the past months it’s that Trump bashing has become a popular trend for half of the country. To highlight how the the end goal is anti-Trump regardless of the theme or subject matter, progressives online have started using the term “dotard” to refer to President Trump without thought to the messages they may be sending by using the vernacular of a dictator with ill intentions toward America.
Typically, domestic disasters of any kind are known for be a unifying force between Americans but the era of Trump continues to be an anomaly.
During President Trump’s visits to Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma the media began circulating stories about global warming and lack of leadership on that issue is a concern. Some even implied that warming is responsible for the hurricanes we’ve seen this season. Often times instead of fielding questions about substantive issues relating to recovery efforts, White House and FEMA staff alike were bombarded with abstract climate change questions. Hollywood took the lead on these attacks with celebrities making global warming a central theme of a televised fundraiser for victims of the devastation in Florida. Stevie Wonder’s proclamation that “anyone that doesn’t believe in global warming is blind” was not only cringe-worthy but it was a poor attempt by the resistance crowd to once again play the blame game with Trump on the hurricane matter. Like Harvey, federal efforts to assist recovery efforts after Irma were once again applauded, even by The Washington Post. President Trump was on the ground quickly once it was safe, and he rapidly authorized an increase in federal funds for debris removal and other protective emergency measures we overall effective.
Enter Hurricane Maria which hit Puerto Rico about a week ago and its effects are still tormenting millions of people on the island. Over 95% of people there are still in the dark without power or electricity, even more grim—food and water is scarce because of transport issues. Like with the previous hurricanes early attempts are being made to politicize this natural disaster with the obvious intent of painting the Trump Administration in negative light.
Is any of this criticism fair?
When President Trump tweeted in the beginning of the week about Puerto Rico’s debt failures and infrastructure problems CNN was quick to criticize DJT. In an article titled “Trump’s lack of empathy about Puerto Rico is staggering” advocacy media minion Raul Reyes criticized President Trump for lacking “empathy” for Puerto Rico. Reyes, who once penned an entire op-ed explaining why Trump shouldn’t be holding events in Arizona, uses a typical strategy by unethical journalists to criticize Trump based on a non-falsifiable concept like “empathy”. In his criticism of Trump’s Puerto Rico analysis Reyes says, “the devastation there has been described as “apocalyptic” — and Trump is concerned about what the territory owes to Wall Street and the banks? The lack of empathy is staggering”. This is a classic tone policing fallacy by Reyes in an attempt to discredit Trump’s statements which actually explains why Hurricane Maria relief will function differently than efforts to rebuild in Houston and Florida.
For starters because of Puerto Rico’s massive debt issues and recent austerity measures to rebound, despite their risk factor for being a target of weather induced disasters Puerto Rico was not well suited for Hurricane Maria. They’re emergency fund consisted of a mere $2Million dollar budget and Puerto Rico’s inability to invest into infrastructure projects left them without backup generators and poor electrical grids. The Obama administration actually locked them into these austerity measures but I’ll explain that later.
Trump’s early comments about Puerto Rico didn’t show a lack of empathy but it showed he understood the barriers he would be up against in order to succeed in the face of crisis as he did with previous hurricanes.
The media isn’t even pretending not to politicize this disaster. A google search about the situation is enough to reveal that a “hurricane Katrina like” narrative is being built by the NYT, WaPo and other resistance rags.
CNN, Los Angeles Times and NBC News all published pieces on the same day discussing the Jones Act describing how the regulation was hampering the relief effort as the federal government was in talks in the Governor of Puerto Rico to temporary lift it. It’s well known now that the Jones act is an early 20th century provision requiring shipments of goods between two U.S. ports to be operated with American-flagged vessels, staffed by American crews.
At the request of Gov. Ricardo Rossello the President was able to waiver the provision but this was merely a political dance as we now know that the existence of the Jones Act played no role in the relief effort.
Relief supplies like fuel, water, and food are stacked up at Puerto Rico’s ports yet the lines at gas stations remain long while food distribution centers are still handing out crackers. This is a consequence not of the Jones Act but of distribution struggles on the island. Distribution centers are short staffed as many workers were unable to report because of the devastation and to make matters worse over half the fuel stations on the islands interior are out of operation. Even if truck drivers were available, the lack of communication as a result of lines being down would still pose a distribution hindrance.
Trump’s tweet regarding Puerto Rico’s poor electrical grid has also drew criticism but it served less to poke fun of the desperate U.S. territory but to highlight the significance that the strain of failing infrastructure will have on the effort to provide assistance to the region. Majority of the military resources on the ground in Puerto Rico are dealing with shortfalls relating to power outages as they consider power a prerequisite to other assistance efforts.
On Thursday morning Marco Rubio joined the chorus of those early to question the Feds response to the situation by imploring the DOD to do more militarily. . Rubio, who is likely becoming vocal on the matter because he desperately needs public favor given his political decline over the last year chose not to mention the Army Corps of Engineers which has been on the ground since Monday clearing logistical hurdles on highways.
Crisis is management is complicated and while there is nothing wrong with being critical of such strategies as a method to push leaders into more effective solutions in the cases of Hurricane Maria and other hurricanes we’ve seen attempts by “journalists” further amalgamating this issue with their central theme of “resist”.
By Thursday afternoon 44 of Puerto Rico’s 69 hospitals were back to operational according to Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. Naval crews and Marines from the USS Kearsarge have been on the island since the aftermath of hurricane Maria and the Army Corps of Engineers are overseeing power restoration missions. Despite the Jones Act waiver being done out of political and not material necessity it got done at the request of Puerto Rico’s Governor. President Trump and a White House envoy will soon land on the island to assess the situation up close and provide reassurances to on the ground personnel.
While there, it will be interesting to see if President Trump is able to have any serious dialogue regarding Puerto Rico’s debt crisis resulting from years of economic peril and vulture like financial dealings with predatory banks and institutions. Trump’s comments about Puerto Rico’s debt struggles may have rubbed the media the wrong way but that might be because it highlights another faux Obama victory.
Obama signed through a debt-structuring deal that many said would save Puerto Rico from its economic peril when- in reality- that not what it did at all. PROMESA (Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act) was meant to fix the island’s economic outlook by restructuring their debt which Obama officials claimed would allow them to rebound.
A further look at the plan shows that it ignores cyclical effects that grim economic activity continues to have on Puerto Rico’s fiscal revenues while positing a reduction in public spending which not only hurts their already crippled infrastructure but also reduces their tax base.
Where was media cries for “empathy” towards Puerto Rico when this deal was signed?
What does exist is determination to craft narratives that paint the White House in a negative light regardless of the legitimacy of that narrative.