Sunday, October 01, 2017

Trump, Puerto Rico, and Media Bias

So my natural response is to believe most of the plausible criticisms I hear of Trump. But the media's new story / theory that Trump is botching the relief effort in Puerto just sent up a couple of red flags. It does sound like Trump's inner circle didn't get out of the blocks fast enough...and that seems like a very significant error. But...on the right, the story is, basically, that we're doing a hell of a lot, there's not a lot more that we could be doing, and that distribution efforts are slow because (a) the infrastructure is destroyed and Puerto Rico is big and it's a lot of it's just hard, and (b) some local officials (e.g. the left's new hero, the mayor of San Juan) aren't cooperating sufficiently with FEMA. Another part of the right's story / theory is that the left (including, of course, the major media) wants to turn this into Trump's Katrina.
   I detest Mr. Trump, but, as I keep saying, my epistemic pendulum has recently swung way, way, way in an anti-major-media direction... So...I really just don't know.
   But here's a /r/neutralpolitics thread on the topic. It seems to lean in the same direction I've been leaning: The Trumpies got a slow start, but other than that, not much more that could be done better. I'm not really even sure how much there is that a President can or should do. I'd think that this is something that's basically up to FEMA. There are a few things like suspending the Jones Act (now done)...but I'm really not sure whether / how much something like this ought to reflect on the President--I also suspect that it's something that is easily spinnable, in part for that very reason. This is something I started noticing during the Clinton e-mail story...we'd just get breathless tales of how Clinton's people handled her server...but I had no way of knowing how the Secretary of State and other cabinet-members usually handled their e-mail at the was all made to sound bad...but I had no idea whether it was unreasonable, because I didn't really understand it, and I didn't know what was commonly-accepted practice among similar people in the U.S. government. Anyway, with no understanding of what the executive branch ought to be doing in Puerto-Rico-like situations, I have no idea whether Trump deserves blame, nor, if so, how much he deserves.

[via Anon in comments: Tobin Harshaw: "No, Trump Didn't Botch The Puerto Rico Crisis"]

[This WaPo story was the first thing I read on all this, and it seems damning, if largely true.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's an interesting contrarian take from outside the rightosphere.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Thanks, Anon, that was great...and it largely confirmed my suspicions, to boot!

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would also note that he doesn't even blame Trump for a slow start, instead mentioning pretty strong preparation for the storm in mobilizing the Navy prior to landfall.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And another interesting take from the definitely-not-rightosphere

5:04 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

True dat: the "slow start" story may be false as well.

And when even *HuffnPuff* isn't on board with the tale...well...usually the left shows more "message discipline" than that...

There *was* that story about basically Trump taking a long weekend right after the storm hit...I haven't seen *that* directly refuted yet.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There *was* that story about basically Trump taking a long weekend right after the storm hit...I haven't seen *that* directly refuted yet."

I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is true. But I actually think the narrative is easier to explain.

After Harvey and Irma, Trump was very active on Twitter discussing all the relief efforts at the time. During Maria, he was in the middle of the NFL-knee slapfight, and so PR didn't get that sweet Trump twitter-lovin'. So journalists, being basically twitter gossips at this point, saw the devastation, which would have been there no matter what happened, and assumed the response was inadequate, having no primary evidence on their sole information source, Twitter. Since there is a slight race element here (Puerto Ricans are kind of brownish), it was really irresistable.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Seems plausible, Anon...but this WaPo story seems to provide support for the *Trump screwed up* hypothesis...some of it's consistent with your theory, but some not (dunno how much of it is true, obvs...)

The long weekend was spent at his golf it's not *just* Twitter silence that's at issue.

8:24 PM  

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