I have an update for you about some of the information in a post I submitted yesterday reporting on the abuses surrounding hoarding of water and other relief supplies in Puerto Rico. It turns out that the death toll numbers are roughly one-third of what I reported yesterday. That’s actually good news, for obvious reasons. This is one of those cases where “less is more” is a good thing. The update I’m going to share here comes from the same source as the original article. We trusted the source yesterday, and since it’s the same source that is issuing the new information, we will continue to use them as a trusted source. I hope you will give us the same courtesy. We try our best here to bring you truth, and facts you can use, not just drama and speculation. But the truth of the inflation in the numbers has just come to light.
Democrats and the media have been pounding President Donald Trump over the past few days, as Hurricane Florence nears the Carolinas, over his alleged insensitivity to deaths in Puerto Rico last year from Hurricane Maria.
On Thursday morning, President Trump pushed back on Twitter, alleging that Democrats had inflated the death toll “in order to make me look as bad as possible.”
That led to more criticism, with the Associated Press accusing Trump of making claims “without evidence.”
But Trump is correct.
His opponents — including the media — have strained for more than a year to turn Hurricane Maria into his version of Hurricane Katrina, the devastating 2005 storm that prompted criticism of President George W. Bush’s response — even though state and local authorities had been far worse — and foreshadowed a Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006.
Leading the charge was CNN, which made a special effort to link Hurricane Maria in 2017 to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and made a temporary media sensation of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who accused the Trump administration of neglect.
However, the media’s effort at the time was frustrated by several factors. First, experts praised the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria, which posed special challenges because Puerto Rico is so far from the mainland U.S.
Second, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló himself praised the federal government’s response: ““The president and the administration, every time we’ve asked them to execute, they’ve executed quickly,” he told Fox News in September 2017.
Third, Puerto Rico was already something of a disaster before the hurricane hit, thanks to mismanagement by the territory’s government that led to a debt crisis in recent years. (Mayor Cruz herself is reportedly under FBI investigation for corruption.)
However, Trump’s critics did not give up. Over the past several months, they have attempted to cite several new studies that created new estimates of the “real” death toll of Hurricane Maria — based on statistical models, not on actual death counts.
Many studies addressed a real concern that the Puerto Rican government lacked the competence to do an accurate death count, but much of the media hype around the results was clearly motivated by the attempt to damage the Trump administration.
The Washington Post noted just some of the studies as of June 2018 (original links):
- The New York Times calculated 1,052 deaths through October.
- The Center for Investigative Reporting calculated 985 through October.
- University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez professors calculated 822, with a 95 percent confidence range that the total was somewhere between 605 and 1,039.
- Pennsylvania State University professors calculated excess deaths of about 500 in September, or a total of 1,085 if the same pattern held in October. That estimate was based on six weeks of mortality records.
- A Latino USA analysis, using updated data from Puerto Rico’s Department of Health, calculated 1,194 excess deaths in September and October.
The Post noted that the new estimates hovered around the 1,000 mark.
Then, in June, a Harvard study published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated the number of deaths from Hurricane Maria at 4,645 instead of the official figure of 64. The researchers had conducted a survey and extrapolated the results — an extremely sloppy methodology.
The number was highly inflammatory. Puerto Rican opponents of the president cited it to accuse him of “genocide.” Much of the media hyped those claims: the caption that accompanies the Getty/AFP photograph above reads: “Hurricane Maria, which pummeled Puerto Rico in September 2017, is likely responsible for the deaths of more than 4,600 people, some 70 times more than official estimates, US researchers said Tuesday.”
Even the Post was skeptical of the absurdly high estimate: “This is not a verified number, unlike body counts in wars. The Harvard study offers only an estimate – a midpoint along a broad range of possibilities. It is not based on death records, only estimates of deaths from people who were interviewed in a survey.”
…..This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2018
The report continues, with more discussion about the timing of the reports, and how mainstream media outlets just threw the big numbers down because they hope that they can link president Trump to Hurricane Maria the way they linked President Bush’s (alleged) failures during Hurricane Katrina, and by doing so, damage the credibility of Republicans in hopes of improving their numbers in the upcoming midterm election.
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