Dear Media – Stop Using Tragedy for Your Political Ends!
Dear Media – Stop Using Tragedy for Your Political Ends!
I was deployed to Louisiana with the Army National Guard after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. We received notice that we were to report to a staging area that was three hours away for me that night while I was at work. I rushed home, threw my gear into a duffel, and my husband and I drove for three hours at breakneck speed, so I wouldn’t miss formation that night. (I also got a speeding ticket for driving over 100 mph in a 65 mph zone, and no amount of begging and explaining that I was deploying in post Katrina efforts would sway that particular State Trooper, who told me I should consider myself fortunate he wasn’t giving me a reckless driving citation.)
We started driving at 2300 that night in a convoy of Humvees and Deusenhalfs, and we didn’t get to Louisiana until three days later, stopping to sleep on the floors of churches, abandoned armories, etc. Once we got there, amidst the chaos that was a short-notice deployment of National Guard troops from 35 states, mandated by the National Guard Bureau after opportunistic Louisiana
politicians swine whined about the “inadequate” response on the part of the Guard – no doubt due to RAAAAAAAACIIIIIIIISM – we immediately went to work doing everything from securing evacuation facilities, to delivering supplies, to helping transport medical personnel.
We didn’t sit around, and we didn’t delay. We got there as quickly as we could, and did what was asked of us with gusto, knowing we were helping our fellow Americans after a horrible disaster. But because Bush was evil, according to the mainstream media, we all had to be racist, because we somehow focused on rich, white folks in the Garden District, rather than helping the oppressed minorities elsewhere. Could have fooled me! I don’t remember rescuing a single rich person from a mansion. I do remember grateful little children – of all races – coming up and giving us hugs, and tearful parents who lost everything thanking us for helping them.
That is, of course, not what the media needed to hear to support its narrative that the evil, racist Bush was leaving desperate minorities to die, so coverage other than by the military’s own public affairs officers and journalists was scarce.
Fast forward to today.
The media – upset that the Trump Administration was actually ready for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and did a decent job of helping the victims in Texas and Florida – now has a new strawman to beat in the “Trump is a racist” narrative. Apparently Trump and Congress don’t care about Puerto Rico, because racism, or oppression, or they’re not a state, or something.
Of course, if you ask the people and the government officials in Puerto Rico, the story is a bit different. Not that they don’t need more help, but to claim the response was inadequate due to racism is both bogus and offensive.
CAMEROTA: Governor, I know you spoke to President Trump last night. What did you ask him for and what did he offer?
ROSSELLO: Well, the president has been phenomenal in this situation. He’s been, both in Irma and Maria, he has offered an pre-landfall emergency declaration. He’s already declared most of the island a disaster area so that we can start the rebuilding process quickly. And he just said that he loved the people of Puerto Rico, and that he would help, that he would stand by us in our rebuilding process.
I also ran across the following on my social media feed this morning from a guy who lives in Puerto Rico. I can’t vouch for the veracity, but judging by the photos that I’ve seen from the government’s response to the tragedy, the military’s presence and its actions have been pretty robust. And just like the last time, the stories of courage, immediate response from the military and the federal government, care, comfort, and love, as well as police departments from all over the country seem to primarily be covered by military public affairs.
“I got online for the first time in days and one of the very first things I saw was an out and out lie about the government’s response to the crisis I am in the middle of. I don’t care if you hate or love Trump, using the crisis in Puerto Rico to spread political lies is disgusting! I am literally across the street from the airport, and the hotel I am in is where many of the first responders are staying, so here is what is going on from someone who is actually here seeing it. The government is here and has been here! Every single day plane after plane full of FEMA, FBI, homeland security, army, Air Force, Marines, and extra police officers from all over the country shows up. Cargo plane after cargo plane and ship after ship full of supplies shows up….The response was quick and it keeps coming! They are out every day from sun up until sun down. This isn’t a political issue, it is a humanitarian one. The lies being spread about the response aren’t helping the people here, it is just fueling hate based on lies! If you want to help Puerto Rico, donate money or supplies and pray. If you want to play politics find something else to argue about! Not like there aren’t hundreds of topics for you to choose from!
Edited to add this- “Roads have been completely destroyed in many areas, especially the remote one. The military and FEMA are going out to these places on foot with 100 lbs + packs on their backs. It is requiring them to cut their way through flooded areas to get there. It will take time to reach everyone when conditions are as bad as they are.”
Is that going to stop the media? Nope.
Just yesterday, the Washington Post published this breathless headline:
Maybe I’m crazy, but the hyperventilation about not letting Congresscritters into a disaster area that the military is doing, you know, actual WORK in might be a a tad over the top. And the headline strikes me as something meant to stir up the froth-flecked Trump haters.
How DARE Trump not allow politicians into a disaster area?
How DARE he restrict their right to trample around while the military is trying to help people and pose for grip and grins with the residents to show how caring and involved they are?
Well, the truth is in the report itself, and it’s not quite what the hyperventilating headline suggests.
The Trump administration is restricting lawmakers in both parties from visiting storm-ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands aboard military aircraft this weekend in order to keep focused on recovery missions there, according to multiple congressional aides.
The decision comes as the Pentagon is intensifying its relief efforts on the islands as the U.S. government struggles to respond to devastation caused last week by Hurricane Maria and earlier by Hurricane Irma.
What did we learn from the two first paragraphs in this report?
The military has a job to do. They are saving lives and working to improve conditions on the island. No one needs overindulged politicians holding “meetings” while there are people suffering and need the military’s help. Private commercial aircraft are available, and no one needs to be flying these leeches at taxpayer expense, when the military’s resources are already strained.
The Post ultimately got the story right, but as any media outlet knows and understands, the public trusts the headline, and half the time they don’t even bother reading the story. The headline sure makes it seem like evil, racist Trump is trying to prevent caring, concerned legislators from flying to Puerto Rico to help their constituents. That’s the impression I got after reading the headline, but luckily, I actually read and analyze news reports, and this kind of garbage slant by journalist Ed O’Keefe doesn’t help the Post’s credibility.
Based on personal prior experience, the media is once again trying to discredit the administration, and when they can’t find legitimate complaints, they publish clickbait with the full knowledge that the headlines will tell “the story,” no matter how erroneous the impression they give.