Right-wing media figures are defending Trump’s lies about the Puerto Rican death toll
On Thursday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted that he did not believe the official death toll from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico last year, claiming that Democrats inflated the number to make him look “as bad as possible.” An independent study commissioned by the Puerto Rican government estimated that nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the storms, but Trump rejected this figure, claiming the high number was just “bad politics.”
The president’s comments come as multiple states are readying to face another dangerous (and “tremendously wet”) storm, and two days after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló forcefully rejected the president’s earlier assertion that the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria was “incredibly successful.” Instead of focusing on incoming Hurricane Florence, which has the potential to cause massive damage and threaten lives on the East Coast, the president is trying to gaslight the public, asserting with absolutely no evidence that Democrats inflated the death toll in Puerto Rico. This isn’t the first time the president has taken to Twitter to lie to the American public.
Unsurprisingly, right-wing media figures have once again answered the call to excuse the inexcusable:
Fox’s Geraldo Rivera responded to news of Trump’s tweets by arguing that it is “grotesquely unfair” to blame Trump for the federal government’s response to the hurricanes and claiming that the problem with Hurricane Maria coverage is that “intense politically motivated hatred of President Trump deflects attention from what’s really needed.”
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton: “The dramatic increase in death toll due to hurricane in Puerto Rico is result of statistical guess work. … we should be suspicious of a guess that moves it up to nearly 3,000.”
NRATV’s Grant Stinchfield: “I’m there with Donald Trump -- I call bogus on the 3,000 deaths."
The Resurgent’s Erick Erickson: “The President would be more willing to accept the truth about the thousands dead in Puerto Rico if news outlet in the country weren't trying to blame him for the deaths.”
Breitbart White House correspondent Charlie Spiering: “He’s right. The 2,975 who died did not die ‘IN’ the storm but in six month period AFTER the storm.”
Fox News’ Cody Derespina attempted to equivocate over the “official” death toll. Using deaths that resulted from 9/11 as an analogy, he suggested that many of the hurricane deaths shouldn’t be considered in the “official tally” because many of them occurred in the months afterward.
Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell: “Dems learned how to politicize natural disasters when Katrina hit New Orleans. It worked against Bush 43 so now they’re trying it against @realDonaldTrump with his response to Maria in Puerto Rico last year.”
In addition, Fox News ignored Trump's denialism for several hours, at which point the network's reporter downplayed it as Trump merely continuing his “feud with Puerto Rican officials.”