Lots of Blame to Spread Around in Puerto Rico

The problem with the current administration is that there are more atrocities coming out of it than I have time to comment on. But I do want to say a couple more things about Puerto Rico.

First, was obvious even just days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico that the death could would continue to climb because of conditions on the island. And, not surprisingly, the Harvard study is reporting that many people died because they lacked access to medical services.

When Trump strutted around San Juan as if he’d just won a world championship title it ought to have been his “heckufa job, Brownie” moment. The tossing of paper towels to a crowd after such massive devastation was a perfect metaphor for Trump’s incompetence. But there was so little follow up news coverage of what was happening on Puerto Rico that the point was never driven home.

And what isn’t being discussed on Fox & Friends, Trump doesn’t know about.

Alvin Chang reported at Vox:

This week, we learned that Hurricane Maria may be the deadliest natural disaster on US soil in the past 100 years, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study found that most of the estimated 4,600 deaths were because of delayed medical care.

But on cable news, the top story by a wide margin was ABC canceling Roseanne after a racist tweet from its star, Roseanne Barr. In the New York Times, Roseanne was on the front page and Puerto Rico was on A13.

This was yet another example of the media putting the Puerto Rico story on the back burner — something it’s been doing for a long time now. We analyzed the amount of airtime the major cable news networks devoted to Puerto Rico and found that after the first month, coverage has been virtually nonexistent….

I can see how an average American who is not a news junkie might have assumed that Puerto Rico was being taken care of, since few ever said anything otherwise. But it really wasn’t. And New Orleans got covered much more thoroughly.

I don’t blame reporters. I think those reporters assigned to Puerto Rico were doing their best:

Kaur: Has it been frustrating to see other stories instead dominate much of the news cycle? Have you felt like the story hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves?
Sutter: I do find that frustrating. I’m not sure people on the mainland realize how severe the crisis has been — and continues to be.
In March, I was reporting a story on people in a remote town, Maunabo, where people were dying because they lacked basic services like electricity. Breathing machines weren’t working. People couldn’t get medical help. There was just this cloud of despair that hung over the place.
I worried that our readers might not get it — or might not care, that they’d be focused on a Trump tweet. PR is part of the United States — but it can feel like living on another planet down here. The experiences people are having, and that we’re reporting, don’t translate for many Americans.
The problem is, I think, that if a story isn’t being hammered by several news outlets, it gets drowned out by the noise machine. An occasional feature here or there isn’t going to get attention. And it still isn’t getting attention.

The other surprise is that the new death estimate was not front page news and is not at the top of Google News or news aggregation sites.

What is?

Roseanne Barr’s firing over Islamophobic and racist remarks (with the racist remarks getting most of the attention rather than the Islamophobic ones).

Many on social media, as I mentioned yesterday, are flabbergasted by this inequity.

They are right to be.

Maria has turned out to be the most deadly natural disaster in U.S. history, and discovery of this ought to have been the leading news story coming out of every news outlet. But it wasn’t. And while some may opine that Puerto Rico will be an enduring stain on Trump’s legacy, It’s more like the ketchup spot between the grease splatter and the smudge where the dog threw up, and after awhile the mind numbs …