Dissecting Hurricane Maria's Death-Toll Quarrel

As Florence makes landfall, the media is making sure to blame Trump. For Maria.

Jordan Candler · Sep. 14, 2018

Within mere days of firing the opening salvo in the Hurricane Florence blame game by ridiculously accusing President Donald Trump of being “complicit,” The Washington Post is now accusing the president of spinning up a “political storm” by virtue of a “false claim on [the] Puerto Rico hurricane death toll.” What’s that saying again? Oh, right — without double standards, leftists wouldn’t have any.

First, some background. In late August, The Washington Post reported, “Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico led to a spike in mortality across the U.S. territory, with an estimated 2,975 excess deaths in the six months after the storm made landfall in September 2017, according to a sweeping report from George Washington University.”

But yesterday, Trump dissented, stating: “3000 people did not die in … Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000.” In his view, “This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico.”

That didn’t sit well with the Leftmedia. In response, the Post fumed, “Trump sought to minimize the deaths of thousands of American citizens while appearing to shirk responsibility for the government’s performance in responding to natural disasters. He also sought refuge as he habitually does in conspiracy theories, claiming that a hidden hand was at work to sabotage him.”

The Post further notes that “Trump has been especially piqued by the replaying of footage of him throwing paper towels into a crowd of relief workers in Puerto Rico two weeks after Maria, an episode that has come to symbolize the president’s lack of empathy in the eyes of his critics.” This gets us to the first point, which is that the Leftmedia exploits every occasion — Hurricane Florence in this case — to rekindle so-called scandals, and Trump’s “imprudence” (perceived or otherwise) will always be to exchange blows. He didn’t succumb when goaded, and now media outlets are capitalizing for political (and advertising) gain. As the Post itself so tellingly opined, “Trump exposed political vulnerabilities for his party eight weeks before the midterm elections — particularly in Florida, where Puerto Rican immigrants make up a prized voting bloc.” No ulterior motives for the Post there, right?

Was Trump’s response inappropriate? Almost certainly. But so was the Leftmedia’s provocation. He wrestled with a pig, got dirty, and the pig liked it. It’s true that the death-toll data needs to be scrutinized. But as Erick Erickson observes, “If the media wasn’t trying so hard to always blame Trump, he’d be less defensive.” Moreover, Puerto Rico is piloted by a slew of bungling leftists. Why else would millions of water bottles be needlessly rotting? Yet guess which party gets a pass?

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