In a tweet on Thursday in reference to emergency responses to Hurricane Florence, President Trump claimed that the relief of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was “An incredible success,” despite a death count of nearly 3,000 individuals. Later he tweeted that this count was false, saying that the number was 16, then 64 and then, “Like magic 3000 people killed.”
In an article titled “Trump falsely claims nearly 3,000 Americans in Puerto Rico ‘did not die’” CNN criticized President Trump, and discussed the backlash he received from government officials on Twitter.
They added that this month the governor of Puerto Rico raised the death count to around 2,975, and that President Trump was “seeking praise” for the administration’s relief efforts after the storm.
Alternatively, in an article titled “Trump says US response to Puerto Rico hurricanes was ‘incredible, unsung success’”, Fox News took a much softer approach. Rather than directly critiquing the president’s claims, they stated that he “touted what he described as the ‘incredibly successful’ response”, based on how he “thought” the aftermath of the hurricane was.
Like CNN, Fox News included the Twitter backlash by lawmakers, but while CNN described backlash from “both Republican and Democratic lawmakers,” Fox only described those of Democrats.
The Washington Post and The Vox took similar approaches to CNN, writing scathing reviews of President Trump’s tweets and going on to describe the trauma that Puerto Ricans faced with lack of healthcare, electricity and food. Fox News failed to include these details.
However, The Guardian took a completely different approach. They chose to describe the situation via the commentary of late-night hosts. The article included the responses of Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah while the outlet itself refrained from critique.
A recent New York Times Op-ed on the issue summed up Trump’s recent claims and his overall attitude towards the relief efforts since the hurricane hit Puerto Rico; he rejects “inconvenient data in favor of a story in which he is the hero,” and does the bare minimum for the situation at hand.
Overall, the media granted Trump’s claims a great deal of detail-oriented coverage with responses and reactions from both parties; the outlets that glossed over this contributed to a further obscuring of the truth of Hurricane Maria’s devastation from the public.