The Baltimore rat problem President Donald Trump tweeted about Saturday is apparently so extensive that it was the subject of a documentary two years ago.
The president’s tweets took aim at Democratic Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, who has been very critical of the administration’s immigration and migrant detention policies, calling his home district in Baltimore “rodent infested.”
….As proven last week during a Congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2019
The Baltimore Sun’s editorial board published a scathing op-ed later in the day that simultaneously waved off the city’s rat problem while calling Trump a rat. “Better to have a few rats than to be one,” blared the headline. (RELATED: Baltimore Sun Calls Trump A ‘Rat’ In Response To President’s Tweets About The City)
But according to earlier reports from The Baltimore Sun, that rat problem is actually quite a bit more extensive than the editorial board implied.
In April, the @baltimoresun was concerned about the trash in the city.
Only 3 months later, they are accepting of a rat infestation.
— Amy Kremer (@AmyKremer) July 28, 2019
In April of this year, the same editorial board published another op-ed titled “Baltimore’s perpetual trash problem.” Among other issues, the article detailed some of the problems that stemmed from ubiquitous piles of trash — increased rodent infestations among them.
Yet, here we are again in a mess of a city. Food containers, balled up clothes, paper, banana peels, plastic bags and tons of other pieces of litter line the shoulders of roads, pile up in alleys and are strewn across fields and yards. Not only is it unsightly and contributes to a rodent problem, but it can create a glum and gloomy feel in a time when the city is already facing self-esteem issues because of high crime and the scandal surrounding the University Maryland Medical System and Mayor Catherine Pugh, who’s now on an indefinite leave, and her Healthy Holly books.
In September 2018, another Baltimore Sun article quoted then-Mayor Catherine Pugh as saying that the problem was so extensive that “you can smell the rats.”
Baltimore has a rat problem. Even its mayor admits it. Why is Trump called a racist for bringing it up? pic.twitter.com/wDJ6rCr2V4
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) July 28, 2019
In July 2018, video of Baltimore’s Northeast Market showed rats inside — within a week of a similar problem being exposed at Lexington Market — forcing the market to close down.
A 2018 assessment from Orkin, the pest control company, listed Baltimore as the 9th “rattiest” city in the United States.
The problem was so far-reaching that “Rat Film,” a documentary based on Baltimore’s constant battle with the prolific rodents, premiered at a local film festival in 2017 and aired on public television in 2018. The Baltimore Sun covered the PBS premiere.
“Rat Film,” a documentary that takes the decades-long fight waged against Baltimore’s rat population and uses it as a lens through which to look at how the city has addressed myriad social issues over the decades, airs tonight on PBS.
When President Trump criticized Cummings and claimed that Baltimore was “rodent infested,” however, critics were quick to call his tweets offensive and even racist, arguing that he only used the term “infested” when he was speaking of “black and brown people.”