After laying the responsibility of disaster relief solely on the Trump administration before Hurricanes Harvey and Irma made landfall, The New York Times lauded the successful response of government Tuesday, yet it never mentioned Trump.
“The United States appears to be improving in the way it responds to hurricanes, at a time when climate scientists say the threats from such storms, fueled by warming oceans, are growing only more dire,” according to The Times. Avoiding any references to the Trump administration, The Times reports that the 9/11 terrorist attacks revolutionized the disaster response of the “American government.” The tone of their reporting changed dramatically in only a matter of weeks.
“Facing what could be the most powerful storm to slam into the United States in more than a decade, President Trump and the team he has put in place at the Federal Emergency Management Agency were bracing on Friday for one of the most important tests of his presidency,”reported The Times on Aug. 25. The paper placed sole responsibility for the response on Trump and his administration, seemingly putting him in a “see, we told you so” situation if all didn’t go as planned after the fact.
“The stakes could be exceedingly high. Few events test the effectiveness of an administration — or bear as many political risks — like a major natural disaster” the report continued. The Times even quoted Trump’s homeland security advisor, Thomas P. Bossert, saying “Now is not the time to lose faith in your government institutions.”
The set-up — repeated elsewhere in the media — made The Times’ non-mention of Trump in their report on the successful government response to both Harvey and Irma painfully obvious. “Hurricane Harvey Packs Political Perils For Trump,” read a Politico headline on August 25. The subhead declared political leaders “often get penalized for their response to natural disasters.”
The Bush administration’s failed response to Hurricane Katrina is a perfect example, with some declaring that it was ultimately his “undoing.” What The Times reveals in this report, however, is that a well orchestrated response by a presidential administration, doesn’t even elicit a mention of the administration at the helm.
“The planning and response also benefited from a few lucky turns in the weather, the growing sophistication of personal technology” read The Times’ report Tuesday, shifting some of the success of the response to luck. “The iPhone did not exist when Katrina struck.” It almost seemed as if The Times was deliberately trying to shift the victory of a rapid, and coordinated response to anything but the president.
“While thankfully the impact on people injured or killed was low, this is largely a factor of luck,” reported the Times, quoting a CEO of a California-based company that uses technology to improve disaster response. The report also acknowledged that “relying on residents, not just government workers” can help disaster relief, pointing out that the images of “neighbors helping neighbors.”
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