Accuracy in Media

As Puerto Rico begins to repair the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Maria, mainstream media has jumped to criticize President Trump’s response.

Puerto Rico is several hundred miles of water from the U.S. mainland, which means neither the Cajun Navy nor the National Guard can get there quickly. The governor of Puerto Rico has repeatedly lauded the administration for its quick and substantial response. Never mind the island – a U.S. territory – has been so poorly governed by its Democratic Party leaders that its infrastructure was in shambles to start with.

No, they say, Puerto Rico is not fully up and running yet, and it’s because the president has ignored it. And he has ignored it, according to Keith Olbermann, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post and others, because the people there are Latinos and Trump hates Latinos.

In one piece, the Post posted a photo of families trying to ford a river in Puerto Rico under the words “Second Class Citizens.” It blamed the slow response on President Trump tweeting about the National Football League protests rather than attending to the crisis.

It took him to task for tending to the crisis. In a set of tweets, the president pointed out the difficulties involved in rescuing Puerto Rico. “Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble.”

“Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble.”

He followed up with one that read, “Its old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the island was destroyed, with billions of dollars … owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well #FEMA.”

To the Post , this amounted to appearing “to blame Puerto Rico’s woes on internal dysfunctions and ‘massive debt’ owed to Wall Street financiers.”

It was, rather, an accurate summation of the problem in Puerto Rico, which attempted to default on $72 billion in unpaid debt in 2016. The island’s minimum wage is twice that of its neighbors in the Caribbean, which means its tourism-driven economy is hurt by uncompetitive prices.

And, in 2016, research found the government was lavishing hundreds of millions in public relations contracts on firms with ties to the Obama administration in deals arranged by Jennifer Cunningham, the wife of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

It matters that, as Kevin Williamson of National Review pointed out at the time, Puerto Rico has “something like an island-wide commitment to screwing its creditors.”

As a result of screwing creditors and doling out contracts to Obama cronies, Puerto Rico’s government did not pay attention to rising unemployment, declining infrastructure or the health of its people. Now, its people are struggling to find food and water after a disaster because the infrastructure was not maintained and the planes and ships that could bring help can’t get in.

Brock Long, the administrator of FEMA, said Tuesday that 16 Navy and Coast Guard ships were just offshore and 10 more were on the way – and all would dock and begin rescue work as soon as the ports were ready. The Navy already has two ships there feeding people around the clock and attending to medical needs. One of the ships waiting to dock is the USNS Comfort, another Navy hospital ship.

They can’t get in until the docks are repaired, but once ashore, those ships will mean as many as 5,000 additional soldiers descending to help however they can. Trump convened a meeting of his top officials in charge of response on Monday and traveled himself to the island on Tuesday. He pointed out the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, has been pleased with the speed and volume of response by the administration.

“The deeper reality,” wrote one, “is that Puerto Rico is also stranded in a faraway place in the American imagination.” Not at all. It’s just that mainstream media couldn’t get at Trump over the first two hurricanes, so it is bound and determined to get him on this one – facts, as usual, notwithstanding.

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