HORIST: Puerto Rico – Another False Narrative by the Press
(First a necessary disclaimer. I have been long critical of the Trump personality and there are policies and actions with which I do not agree. However, every time I wish to cover those matters, the left wing press does something so outrageous, dishonest, biased and unethical that it takes precedence over my desire to take up those other issues. And here we go again.)
Watching the various news outlets, one can see the latest anti-Trump false narrative being rolled out strategically by the east coast media enterprises. Never in all the decades that I have followed the news as a professional requirement have I witnessed a more pronounced, prolonged and provocative display of partisan bias. Any event of the day that can be twisted and amplified into a negative narrative dominates the reporting hour after hour. If you turn to CNN or MSNBC at any time, the odds are you will tune into a negative story about the President.
Just as Trump has a hardcore base that endorses his every action and statement, you can rest assured that the left wing media has a hardcore base that eagerly awaits their latest manipulated media attacks on the President like hungry chicklings awaiting the next delivery of regurgitated gruel from the mouth of the parent. Fortunately, the low ratings of these shows (which are never considered reportable news) suggest that the broader public is not as gullible as they might believe.
The latest false narrative has to do with the relief effort for Puerto Rico in the wake of hurricane Maria. Make no mistake, the storyline was in the can, as they say, even as the raging winds were still demolishing much of the island nation’s hold on civilization. The narrative was first presented as an ominous movie like teaser: “Is Maria and Puerto Rico Trump’s Katrina?” These words simultaneously emanated from the lips of hosts, panelists and partisan pundits across the port bearing media even before any facts were known. This was to be the narrative to be advanced – facts be damned.
It would seem that the media saw this as their desperate last chance to smear the Trump administration over disaster handling – especially in view of the high praise federal officials, including the President, received in the aftermath of Harvey and Irma.
The federal response was so effective for Harvey and Irma that the Trump-hating media was left reporting (erroneously) about the First Lady’s footwear when visiting the Harvey devastation and the timing of President Trump’s visit to the disaster zones. In the latter case, he was criticized for allegedly interfering with relief efforts by even going and criticized for not going soon enough.
To sell a bogus narrative on Puerto Rico, CNN and MSMBC had to go beyond the gray boundaries of biased news coverage to outright propaganda peddling. I do not use that term loosely or gratuitously but by accepted definition. The first definition of propaganda is, “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.” That is exactly what is produced by the east coast establishment media every day.
As a backdrop, we have to understand that this is the third catastrophic hurricane to hit American soil in less than one month – placing unprecedented strains on both public and private sector American relief resources. In terms of destructive havoc, Maria bested her earlier siblings. Further complicating relief efforts was the fact that Puerto Rico is an island, making ingress and egress much more difficult. Still, the Trump administration and the nation rose to the challenge in both pre-hurricane preparation and post-hurricane relief.
Despite these malicious efforts to negatively mischaracterize the response, the Trump administration was initially praised for its response. To the east coast elite member of the Fourth Estate, this could not be allowed to happen a third time. To prevent that, they unleashed every sleazy reporting tactic available in the bowels of their reporting arsenals. They mislead by selective use of exaggerated information or simply lied by implication. They presented panelist and political sycophants who made misleading and often totally false statements.
They reported the heart-wrenching stories of Maria victims saying that they were not getting the relief they needed as quickly as they needed it. Of course they were not. It would have been totally impossible to get all they needed instantly. There will be levels of deprivation for many months. In these interviews, the media mavens in New York were shamelessly using and abusing these misfortune people to produce political propaganda.
The morning line-up of Allison and Chris on CNN and Mika and Joe on MSNBC were the four horsemen for the Trump political apocalypse narrative – basing their reports on preconceived prejudices. They criticized Trump for not enabling more ships to reach the devastated island, ignoring the fact that destruction to port facilities limited the number of ships that could go in and out. They ignored the fact that without power, the relief cargo had to be off-loaded by hand. They criticized Trump for not waving the 1922 Jones Act – a law that limits foreign ships from transferring goods between U.S. ports — even though the Puerto Rican ports could not handle more ships at the time. They kept reporting how thousands of containers were awaiting offshore without explaining the fact that those containers did not carry relief supplies, but commercial products such as television sets. They persisted in their false reports even after relief officials explained the facts.
Out of thin air, they postulated that more relief workers should have been sent sooner. Think of the illogic of prematurely sending more and more people into a situation where there is already insufficient food, water, toilets, gasoline or medical supplies.
They claimed that the military should have been sent in sooner, ignoring the fact the military was on the scene even before Maria unleashed her furry. The assigning of Army General Jeff Buchanan nine days after Maria was not a delayed response but the normal procedure as the land-based Army took over from the sea-based Navy. Although this was specifically explained by Buchanan in a morning interview, the false interpretation continued to spread throughout the media. In other words, the reports of slow military response were … shall we say … fake news.
Flipping from channel to channel throughout several days, one would come to believe that the script for every host and panelist was penned by the same author. In one instance a talking head on one show literally completed the sentence begun on a previous channel.
In their eagerness to attack the President, the news media were more than willing to misrepresent and malign the outstanding services of the many government agencies and private relief organizations that were doing a remarkable job in the face of unprecedented challenges.
Perhaps the nadir of media shamelessness is seen in their effort to intertwine the Puerto Rican false narrative with the larger false narrative of Oval Office racism.
Rather than plagiarize his good work, I would like to devote a portion of my commentary to a well-written editorial in the Washington Times by my longtime friend, David Keene, the newspaper’s editor-at-large. He wrote:
“There are folks who will believe almost anything negative about the current administration, but to relive their past success, liberals are simply lying. The administration’s response to the humanitarian crisis that struck Puerto Rico has been quick and massive. Within days, FEMA and the Defense Department had more than 10,000 logistics experts on the island, supplies and food were being flown in, and mainland experts were working to re-establish communications with areas cut off by the storm.”
David included a virtually unreported quote from the New Progressive Party (Democrat) Governor Ricardo Rossello, who said “We are very grateful for the administration. They have responded quickly. The president has been very attentive to the situation, personally calling me several times. FEMA and the FEMA director have been here in Puerto Rico twice. As a matter of fact, they were here with us today, making sure that all the resources in FEMA were working in conjunction with the central government. We have been working together. We have been getting results.”
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz , who was goaded into a sideshow squabble with Trump by CNN, was initially effusive in her praise for the work of FEMA and the military. In fact, even in the midst of tempest over tweets, she remained complimentary of the work of the administration officials – a segment of her interview that was dropped from reports that only focused on her solicited criticism of the President.
Fortunately, this latest media false narrative will likely flutter and fade as the facts of the recovery flow in – just as such past concocted narratives did in the past. As in Harvey and Irma, the federal response has been outstanding. The progress in restoring electricity and water has been faster than predicted. Supplies are being shipped in on a massive scale.
In bygone days, such slanted reporting was called “yellow journalism.” It is a term that is not heard very much today – but perhaps it needs to be resurrected as an appropriate appellation for what the east coast media folks currently call news.
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in public policy and political issues. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, and he has served as a consultant to the White House under Presidents Nixon and Reagan. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress and lectured at Harvard University, Northwestern University, Florida Atlantic University, Knox College and Hope College. An award winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.