Right-wing media have attacked President Obama for traveling to Europe following the tornadoes in Missouri. However, the administration's response to the tornadoes has continued during Obama's trip to Europe, and Missouri officials have praised the administration's response. This follows a long history of right-wing media attacking Obama for focusing on more than one issue at a time during crises and trying to label various crises “Obama's Katrina.”
Right-Wing Media Attack Obama For Going To Europe After Tornadoes
Fox's Bolling: “Obama Chugging 40's In IRE While Tornadoes Ravage MO.” In a May 23 Twitter post, Fox Business host Eric Bolling accused Obama of “Chugging 40's in IRE while tornadoes ravage MO”:
[Eric Bolling Twitter post, 5/23/11]
Linking Tornadoes To Hurricane Katrina, Doocy And Ingraham Complain About Lack Of Criticism Of Obama's Ireland Trip After Tornadoes. On the May 24 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham stated that, while she didn't “want to make too much of this,” she wondered “what would the liberal press be saying if this were President Bush -- we had, let's say, another flood in New Orleans, you had people suffering, you had people dead, and yet President Bush was going over to Scotland or Ireland?” Co-host Steve Doocy responded by saying, “Are you talking about that crazy double standard thing in this country?” From Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: As we take a look at the president over in the U.K., we understand that he's not cutting his trip to Europe short. He will, however, at the conclusion of the visit to Europe, go back to Joplin, Missouri, to survey the damage.
INGRAHAM: Look, I don't want to make too much of this, because, look, presidents have to do a lot of things, right? They have to juggle a lot of balls. And, you know, the G-8 part of this trip was very important. I also, though, like to think of what would the liberal press be saying if this were President Bush -- we had, let's say, another flood in New Orleans, you had people suffering, you had people dead, and yet President Bush was going over to Scotland or Ireland?
DOOCY: Are you talking about that crazy double standard thing in this country?
INGRAHAM: Yeah, well, I think of that. And I do think of the disconnect and maybe the tone-deafness, if you will, of that devastation from Missouri -- heartbreaking pictures. And then President Obama lifting the glass of Guinness.
DOOCY: Bottoms up.
INGRAHAM: There is something about that that I think hits people in the gut -- and again, I'm not trying to make too much of it, but I think the Irish probably would have understood if the president delayed his trip a day or two. I think that would have been a really nice thing to do. But again, he has to do a lot of things, I understand that. But maybe the Irish part of the trip could have been put off to another day. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/24/11]
Ingraham: “If President Bush Was Drinking Pints In Ireland After A Natural Disaster, Do You Think The Mainstream Media Would Be So Silent?” From a May 24 Twitter post by Ingraham:
[Ingraham Twitter post, 5/24/11]
Hoft Attacks White House For Releasing Photo Of Obama Speaking By Phone From Ireland With MO Governor. In a May 23 blog post, Jim Hoft criticized the White House for releasing a photo of Obama speaking by phone with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon while in Ireland. Hoft wrote: “The White House wanted to make sure you knew that Obama was on top of the disaster in Missouri. Michelle and Barack are going to a concert tonight in Dublin. They sure wouldn't want to show you what was really going on in Ireland.” [Gateway Pundit, 5/23/11]
Administration Has Responded To Tornadoes While President Has Been In Europe
Obama Directed FEMA To Declare Jasper And Newton Counties In Missouri Disaster Areas. From a May 23 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) press release:
At the direction of President Obama, FEMA this morning added the two Missouri counties impacted by tornadoes, Jasper and Newton, to an ongoing disaster declaration the state received for recent storms, which means that tornado survivors in those counties can now apply for disaster assistance with FEMA.
FEMA has already deployed staff on the ground in Missouri to help state officials with coordination and other needs as they continue their response. Earlier this morning, President Obama and Secretary Napolitano both called Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to express that all of the families of Joplin affected by the severe tornadoes are in their thoughts and prayers and reiterate this administration's commitment to assisting the state and Missouri residents. [FEMA, 5/23/11]
Obama Issued Statement On May 23. In a May 23 statement, Obama expressed his “deepest condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives in the tornadoes and severe weather that struck Joplin, Missouri as well as communities across the Midwest today”:
Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives in the tornadoes and severe weather that struck Joplin, Missouri as well as communities across the Midwest today. We commend the heroic efforts by those who have responded and who are working to help their friends and neighbors at this very difficult time. At my direction, FEMA is working with the affected areas' state and local officials to support response and recovery efforts, and the federal government stands ready to help our fellow Americans as needed. [White House, 5/23/11]
Obama Reportedly “Received Multiple Updates On The Tornado Damage Throughout The Course Of His Flight To Ireland.” On May 23, CBS News reported that Obama “received multiple updates on the tornado damage throughout the course of his flight to Ireland, a White House official told reporters.” From CBS News:
The president received multiple updates on the tornado damage throughout the course of his flight to Ireland, a White House official told reporters. He instructed his staff to keep him updated and to stay closely coordinated with state and local officials going forward.
Mr. Obama called Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon this morning “to personally extend his condolences and to express that all of the families of Joplin affected by the severe tornadoes are in his thoughts and prayers,” according to White House spokesman Nicholas Shapiro. “The president assured the governor that FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] will remain in close contact and coordination with state and local officials.” [CBS News, 5/23/11]
Obama To Visit Missouri On May 29. From Obama's May 24 remarks on the Missouri tornadoes:
At my direction, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Deputy Administrator Rich Serino have traveled to Missouri to make sure our federal government is working hand in hand with state and local officials to give them the help that they need. And on Sunday, I myself will travel to Missouri to talk with folks who've been affected, to talk to local officials about our response effort and hopefully to pray with folks and give them whatever assurance and comfort I can that the entire country is going to be behind them. [White House, 5/24/11] .
FEMA Issues Timeline Of Administration's Response To Tornadoes. On May 23, FEMA released a timeline detailing the administration's response to the tornadoes:
Monday, May 23
- Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano calls Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to express her condolences for the lives lost and communities devastated by the storms. Secretary Napolitano offers the full support of FEMA and the federal family.
- President Obama calls Governor Nixon to express that the entire administration stands behind Missouri and stands ready to support the state, as needed. President Obama announces that at his direction, FEMA Administrator Fugate will travel to Missouri to ensure the state has all the support needed as response efforts continue.
- FEMA activates its Regional Response Coordination Center in Kansas City to Level II, which means that they are operating 24 hour schedule with the activation of select emergency support functions needed to support state operations.
- FEMA Regional Administrator Beth Freeman traveled to Joplin, Missouri from the regional office in Kansas City to coordinate response and recovery efforts with state and local officials.
- FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino travels to Joplin, Missouri, where he will meet with state and local officials and tour the disaster affected area.
- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate travels to Joplin, Missouri, to meet with state and local officials and ensure they have what they need as response operations continue.
- Administrator Fugate approves the addition of the two counties impacted by the tornadoes in Missouri, Jasper and Newton counties, for individual assistance and public assistance that includes debris removal and emergency protective measures, as part of a current federal disaster declaration the state received for recent storms. This means tornado survivors in those counties can begin applying for federal disaster aid, either by phone, online, or on their mobile phones. To register, survivors can call (800) 621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585, apply online at www.disasterassistance.gov or apply on their smartphones at m.fema.gov.
- FEMA activates Emergency Support Function 3, which authorizes the federal family to provide technical advice and evaluation for debris removal to assist the state and local authorities in Missouri.
- FEMA activates Emergency Support Function 10, which authorizes the federal government to provide support to the state for responding to actual or potential discharges of hazardous materials.
Sunday, May 22
- A multi vortex tornado touches down in (Jasper County), Missouri. Local reports indicate 2,000 structures were destroyed, including residences, businesses, schools, apartment complexes and churches. St. John's Regional Medical Center was badly damaged and patients are being evacuated.
- FEMA's regional office in Kansas City, begins constant coordination and communications with Missouri's emergency management team and local officials.
- Missouri Governor Nixon declares a state of emergency for affected counties.
- FEMA places personnel from the Kansas City regional office on alert and deploys staff to the Missouri Emergency Operations Center. Missouri residents are urged to continue to listen to instructions from their local leaders on protecting life and property as response efforts continue.
- In anticipation of requests, FEMA deploys an Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to Joplin to coordinate with state and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls impacting disaster response and recovery.
- FEMA dispatches a Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) Team, including an Emergency Operations Vehicle, to Missouri to provide self-sustaining telecommunications, logistics, and operations support elements.
- FEMA has commodities staged at locations throughout the state and throughout the country to supplement supplies of the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, and other voluntary agencies should their resources become depleted.
- FEMA activates Emergency Support Function 8, which authorizes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate hospital medical needs and patient evacuations, in support of the state, if necessary.
- President Obama issues a statement on the tornado in Missouri and the severe storms across the Midwest, expressing condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives and directing FEMA to work with the affected areas' state and local officials to support response and recovery efforts.
Saturday, May 21
- A series of tornadoes touches down in the town of Reading, Kansas. FEMA, through its regional office in Kansas City, begins constant contact with the state's emergency management team. [FEMA, 5/23/11]
Missouri Officials Have Praised Administration's Response To Tornadoes
Missouri GOP Rep. Billy Long Praises FEMA's Efforts. Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) praised FEMA's response during the May 23 edition of Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard:
LONG: FEMA has been great. The White House liaison called me first thing this morning and said -- the FEMA White House liaison said, “Whatever you need, you will have.” And the FEMA's been here working, and we're just gonna fight back and help these people down here in any way possible. The governor's pledged that; the federal government has pledged that.
DAVID ASMAN (host): By the way, you mention FEMA, it doesn't involve your state, but I know that the governor of Virginia has asked for assistance from FEMA and has been denied that request. Do you know what that's about?
LONG: No, sir. I'm not apprised of that. We've got our own issues going here. [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 5/23/11]
MO Governor Praises “Quick Federal Action [That] Will Help Provide The Resources To Assist Missouri Families With Their Recovery In The Tough Days Ahead.” From a May 23 press release issued by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's office:
Gov. Jay Nixon today announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended disaster assistance to individuals and families in Jasper and Newton counties, which bore the brunt of last night's devastating severe storms and tornadoes.
Under this declaration, individuals may be eligible for federal assistance to cover uninsured losses or expenses, such as temporary housing, home repair and replacement of household items.
“Missouri continues to respond with every available resource to the deadly storm that left so many residents in need of assistance,” said Gov. Nixon. “Our priorities are search and rescue operations, providing medical care to the injured, and providing a safe environment for the affected communities. This quick federal action will help provide the resources to assist Missouri families with their recovery in the tough days ahead.” [Nixon press release, 5/23/11, emphasis in the original]
Joplin Mayor: "[W]e Have Been Offered Assistance By Virtually Every Agency That Can Offer Assistance." On the May 23 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston stated: “The governor was in town today. And my understanding is, while he was here, he spoke with the White House, Vice President Biden. And so we have been offered assistance by virtually every agency that can offer assistance.” From Anderson Cooper 360:
COOPER: What's the greatest need? And what's top of your priority right now?
WOOLSTON: Just carrying on our search-and-rescue functions. We have had about 40 agencies come in to help us, well over 400 people. That would -- those numbers are from early this morning.
We have got SEMA folks, FEMA folks in. The governor was in town today. And my understanding is, while he was here, he spoke with the White house, Vice President Biden. And so we have been offered assistance by virtually every agency that can offer assistance.
COOPER: The outpouring of people coming in to try to help is remarkable. And in a lot of neighborhoods, you already see that crews have been through there efficiently putting with -- putting X's on if nothing was found. [CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 5/23/11]
Right-Wing Media Have Repeatedly Launched Unhinged Attacks On Obama For Golfing Amid Current Events
Hoft Attacked Obama For Golfing “After 45 Americans Are Killed In Tornadoes.” In an April 17 post, Hoft attacked Obama for going golfing “after 45 Americans are killed in tornadoes.” [Gateway Pundit, 4/17/11]
Fox & Friends Attacked Obama For Golfing After Japan Earthquake. On March 14, Fox & Friends attacked Obama for golfing after the Japan earthquake. During the segment, Fox News contributor Dana Perino stated that it “probably would be better” if aides told Obama to "[play] indoor basketball." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/14/11]
Limbaugh: Obama Is “A Gutless Wonder” Who “Was Playing Golf” When U.S. Went Into Libya. On the March 29 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh stated: “While we were actually going to war, where was Obama? Not last night, but nine days ago, 10 days ago. Where was he? He was playing golf. He was vacationing in Rio. He was doing everything he could to distance himself from what was going on Libya, just in case anything went terribly wrong.” Limbaugh later called Obama a “gutless wonder.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/19/11]
Crowley Claimed Obama “Should Not Be Playing Golf When Men And Women In Uniform Are Still Getting Killed.” On the October 27, 2009, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley stated that Obama “should not be playing golf when men and women in uniform are still getting killed in Afghanistan.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 10/27/09]
Right-Wing Attacked Obama For Supposedly Not Focusing On Crises In Japan And Libya
Right-Wing Media Were Aghast Obama Can Focus On More Than One Issue At A Time. In March, right-wing media attacked Obama for supposedly not focusing on crises in Japan and Libya by instead honoring women's history month, going golfing, and filling out NCAA tournament brackets. Yet, Obama had engaged on both issues by making numerous public addresses and ordering humanitarian relief efforts in Japan and the Middle East. [Media Matters, 3/16/11]
Media Have Also Repeatedly Tried To Label Various Crises As “Obama's Katrina”
Numerous Media Figures Dubbed Gulf Oil Spill “Obama's Katrina.” Right-wing media, including Rush Limbaugh, the Fox Nation, the Drudge Report, and The Washington Times pushed the absurd claim that the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was “Obama's Katrina.” This claim was undermined by a number of facts, including that BP reportedly led the Obama administration to believe that the spill was much less severe than it actually was. [Media Matters, 4/30/10]
Numerous Media Figures Suggested The H1N1 Flu Was “Obama's Katrina.” On his November 3, 2009, radio show, Limbaugh stated that the H1N1 vaccine shortage “ought to be Obama's Katrina,” but won't because “they have to protect the little man-child.” An August 25, 2009, op-ed by Martin Schram for the Scripps-Howard News Service was headlined, “Schram: Swine flu could be Obama's Katrina.” Kansas City Star blogger Bill Dalton wrote an October 15, 2009, post under the headline, “H1N1: Obama's Katrina?” On the May 3, 2009, edition of Washington, D.C., television station WJLA's Inside Washington, host Gordon Peterson and Newsweek's Evan Thomas discussed whether the H1N1 flu was “Obama's Katrina.” [Media Matters, 4/30/10]
Human Events' Wooley: “Fort Hood Could Be Obama's Katrina.” In a November 11, 2009, Human Events post titled “Fort Hood Could Be Obama's Katrina,” radio host Lynn Wooley wrote: “As Hurricane Katrina zeroed in on New Orleans in 2005, government at all levels was lethargic, seemed unprepared, and to some, even uncaring. In the wake of last week's massacre at Fort Hood, we are learning that the United States Army knew quite a bit about Major Nadal Malik Hasan -- but did not act on the information. Fort Hood could become Barack Obama's Katrina.” Wooley concluded: “The attitude of our Commander-in-Chief and others sworn to protect us is frighteningly reminiscent of what happened with Katrina. All we need from Obama is a hearty, 'Gen. Casey, you're doing a heck of a job.' ” [Media Matters, 4/30/10]
WSJ Op-Ed On Haiti Earthquake: “Haiti: Obama's Katrina.” In a January 25, 2010, op-ed in The Wall Street Journal titled, “Haiti: Obama's Katrina,” Soumitra R. Eachempati, Dean Lorich, and David Helfet wrote: “Four years ago the initial medical response to Hurricane Katrina was ill equipped, understaffed, poorly coordinated and delayed. Criticism of the paltry federal efforts was immediate and fierce. Unfortunately, the response to the latest international disaster in Haiti has been no better, compounding the catastrophe.” [Media Matters, 4/30/10]
Pajamas Media: “Is The Undiebomber Obama's Katrina?” A December 29, 2009, Pajamas Media blog post titled, “Is the Undiebomber Obama's Katrina?” asserted: “No doubt, Obama's poll numbers aren't going to be helped by this Jan-caused disaster. But I doubt if the fallout they'll face will be as severe as what the Bush administration went through due to Katrina, simply because the media will never gin up a news storm against the man they helped to elect that's anywhere near as powerful as the one they created to accompany Katrina.” [Media Matters, 4/30/10]