The president treats the free press as if they are worthless. But they are on the ground in Texas and doing everything they can to help flood victims.
Donald Trump and his allies have no respect for the media. From proclaiming reporters “fake news” to shutting them out of presidential events to proclaiming they should be “forced” to cover Trump positively, journalists are top targets of ire in Trumpland.
Yet as of Monday, with Houston underwater following Hurricane Harvey, thousands trapped, and over 450,000 needing federal disaster relief, reporters have been doing far more to help flooding victims than Trump has.
There was the submerged Houston truck driver, saved by KHOU reporter Brandi Smith after she flagged down police on air:
A reporter in Houston spotted a truck driver stuck in the flood. She was able to flag down police who saved his life live on TV. Holy crap. pic.twitter.com/v2nNjxJ12P
— Jessie (🇰🇪🇰🇪🇰🇪) (@JMKTV) August 27, 2017
There was the elderly man trapped in his house, rescued by CNN reporter Ed Lavandera and producer Jason Morris:
— Joshua Chavers (@JoshuaChavers) August 27, 2017
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) August 28, 2017
Other reporters, like CNN’s Jake Tapper, have been disseminating information on emergency services and charities that need donations:
Or you could instead spend that money helping victims of Harvey
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) August 27, 2017
Media outlets are continuing to cover the storm to communicate critical information to people who need it.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) August 28, 2017
— Mike Hixenbaugh (@Mike_Hixenbaugh) August 28, 2017
The humanitarian efforts of journalists and media crews is desperately needed in Texas, as Trump himself has been struggling to exercise any degree of leadership or preparedness.
Trump, who has not yet named a permanent NOAA director or deputy FEMA directors, and who ironically rolled back flood control standards days before Harvey made landfall, departed for Camp David just as the storm was hitting, wishing Texans “good luck” with a thumbs up.
That is the only message Trump has offered directly to the people of Texas.
As the storm struck, Trump plugged a book and bragged about himself. His tweets about the hurricane have been about the storm’s size, and a boast that “We have an all out effort going, and going well!”
Energy Secretary Rick Perry absurdly described Trump’s unfocused activities and tweeting as “multitasking.” So far, Trump has not made the slightest effort to give emergency contacts, advice to victims, or information on what concerned citizens can do to help.
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has stated the federal government is mostly relying on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to lead emergency efforts. But Abbott is hardly doing a better job. He contradicted Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s advice to stay off the roads and remain in place, urging a mass evacuation on Friday. When Houston tried an evacuation in 2005 during Hurricane Rita, the ensuing car wrecks killed 73 people.
At a time when America is lacking in real leadership, Texas must look elsewhere for the help it needs. The efforts of reporters on the ground in Houston have made a real difference, and lay bare how reprehensible it is for Trump to treat the Fourth Estate as he does.