Donald Trump Takes Another Shot at 'Fake News' in Aftermath of Puerto Rico Disaster

| OCT 4, 2017 | 1:37 PM

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As Puerto Rico struggles to recover after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, leaving at least 34 people dead, President Donald Trump's visit to the U.S. protectorate has been a whirlwind of negative press.

On Wednesday morning, the president let the U.S. media have it:

Earlier, the president remarked on his visit to Puerto Rico and lambasted “fake news” as well:

It isn't 100 percent clear what the president is referring to, but a number of news stories regarding his trip to Puerto Rico have surfaced in major publications that show his trip in a negative light.

The New York Times, for example, headlined its coverage, “Trump Lobs Praise, and Paper Towels, to Puerto Rico Storm Victims.” Factual? You bet. Snarky in its micro-focus on a tangential aspect of his presidential visit? You be the judge.

This is the event the Times is referencing:

It appears the “paper towels” reference could be a jab at the Trump administration's relief effort thus far. FEMA Administrator Brock Long said on “Fox News Sunday” the relief effort is one of the most challenging the agency has ever seen. Obviously, U.S. aid in the aftermath goes well beyond paper towels.

Then, there's the matter of the president praising the Puerto Rican people for the relatively low death toll of 16 lives lost (later, it rose to 34) while favorably comparing it to the 1,833 lives lost in Hurricane Katrina.

“You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together,” Trump said. “Sixteen versus literally thousands [sic] of people. You can be very proud.”

This touched off a wave of criticism, such as from CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza. As he opined:

President Donald Trump faced a major test on Tuesday as he traveled to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico: Show the American citizens struggling for survival on the island that he understood their plight, sympathized with them and was doing everything in his power to make it better as quickly as he could.

He failed. Hugely.

If President Trump failed “hugely,” what does that say about a divisive media that is effectively undermining the nation's outreach and criticizing its relief efforts, just to score political points against a Republican president?

No one is disputing the messaging of the Trump administration has its awkward moments, but when the media are lobbing accusations, they'd do best first to look in the mirror.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.