Fox guest calls out the media's poor Puerto Rico coverage: “There's not enough Latino voices at the networks”

Antonio Mora: “How at the networks no voices were raised to say, ”We have to cover this hurricane in the same way that we covered Harvey and Irma"?"

From the October 1 edition of Fox News' MediaBuzz:

Video file

HOWARD KURTZ (HOST): Joining us now from Miami is Antonio Mora, former news anchor at Good Morning America and a Latin American affairs analyst. Why was there such meager or modest coverage in the first few days and what do you make now that there is more coverage of the way, for example, those evening news stories were framed?

ANTONIO MORA: Well, the reality is Howie, I don't understand why there wasn't more coverage to begin with. You can give all sorts of excuses, that there was hurricane fatigue because we were coming off of Harvey and Irma, the Mexico earthquake was the day before the Puerto Rican earthquake [sic]. But how at the networks no voices were raised to say, “We've got to cover this hurricane in the same way that we covered Harvey and Irma”? This also U.S. territory. Puerto Rico isn't that far away from New York City, it's about the same distance as Houston is. So, how there were no voices raised and said, “We have to send our big guns, just like we sent our big guns to Houston and the big guns to Florida to cover this story.” I don't understand that. And honestly, the only way I can explain it from a network standpoint, is that simply there's not enough Latino voices at the networks who might've cried out and said, “Guys, you cannot make this coverage so different.”

KURTZ: Let me stop you there, because that's an interesting point. I do think some of the major newspaper coverage was better from the start. So, I was going to ask you, you know, is this related to the fact that Puerto Rico, for most of the time is just kind of a blip on the American media radar, but now when you say not enough Latino voices, you are sort of suggesting that Puerto Rico is covered differently because it is an island, not part of the mainland, U.S. territory, American citizens, of course, that it's Hispanic, and generally impoverished. 

MORA: Howie, you saw the poll that showed that half of Americans didn't realize that Puerto Ricans were American citizens. So there clearly is a difference in the way that Puerto Rico is looked at. There is the aspect that it is a little farther away than Houston or Florida, and so maybe that affects it. But I do believe that there is a lack of Latino representation at the networks, in the executive suites and in the executive producer ranks, and the anchor ranks. From Monday to Friday, from 6 a.m. to midnight, there is not one Latino, zero, at CNN, Fox, MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, or CBS News. I would think that if there had been any significant voices in those newsrooms, somebody would've said, "Hey guys, we got to cover this the same way, we got to send Anderson Cooper down there before the storm, not more thana week after, we got to send Norah -- 

KURTZ: At least he went, many big-name anchors did not. But why should it take -- I mean, I take your point about underrepresentation -- why should it take Latino voices to tell the people who make decisions on television networks that Puerto Rico, Americans, 3.5 million folks, and massive food shortages, water, gas, and all of that, why should it take Latino voices? 

MORA: Howie, It shouldn't, and if you go back --

KURTZ: But you're saying that it does. 

MORA: I believe it does. If you go back and look at the newspaper coverage before Puerto Rico, before Maria hit Puerto Rico, it was clear that everybody knew how bad it was going to be. Irma had already knocked out power to a million people in Puerto Rico. So a direct hit from a category four storm -- you should see what Miami looks like two weeks after Irma hit as a category one. So you can imagine an impoverished island like Puerto Rico, what it would go through if a category four made a direct hit. There were already articles talking about how this could mean power out for most of the island for three to six months. So this should've been a big story that should've been covered very intensely and I do put some blame on the White House because I do believe that while they probably underestimated the response. They sent in thousands of people, they did prepositioned some aid, but clearly not enough.


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