Accuracy in Media

The New York Times published writer Giovanni Russonello’s round-up of liberal late-night comedians insulting President Trump’s handling of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
But the piece offered no context or response to the accusations of incompetence.

The Times failed to mention that FEMA had never coordinated federal resources to rebuild an entire island with a population of 3.3 million people, 78 municipalities, electrical, water and telecommunications systems, seaports, airports, schools, health care system, roads, bridges and more than 166,000 homes needing repair or reconstruction. FEMA has more than 2,700 employees currently working on the island, 70 percent of them locally hired, making FEMA one of the largest employers on the island and helping to bolster the local economy.

Rather than providing nuanced reporting around the longest sustained domestic air mission of food and water response in U.S. history, the largest disaster commodity distribution mission, largest sea-bridge operation of federal disaster aid in U.S. history and the largest disaster generator installation mission in the United States, with generators still installed at critical facilities today, the Times instead used Trump as a butt of jokes from liberal comedians Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert.

The Times also failed to report that after Hurricane Maria, under Trump’s leadership, there have been $1.39 billion in federal grants approved for more than 462,000 homeowners and renters, $1.8 billion in low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration approved for more than 51,545 businesses and residents, $21 million in claims paid by the National Flood Insurance Program, $7.9 million approved for 9,097 survivors who lost work due to the hurricanes.

While the Times roundup was a quick summary of Late Night talk, it does a disservice to its readers by unquestioningly repeating the humor without more substance. Focusing on style rather than substance is a frequent accusation the mainstream media hurls at Trump; the Times did that here.

Photo by terryballard

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