As is his signature “interview” style, rather than allowing his guests on Univision's Al Punto program to answer his questions, host Jorge Ramos tries to coerce them, as in the case of his most recent interview with Congresswoman Jenniffer González (R), Puerto Rico’s sole non-voting representative in Congress.
In this case, Ramos repeatedly insisted - unsuccessfully - that González disparage the Trump administration's recovery aid to the island following last-year’s devastation by Hurricane María.
The Al Punto segment was without doubt Ramos’s two cents to fuel the controversy over what has become a tug-of-war between Democrats and the Trump administration, with the former determined to downplay one of the largest post-disaster reconstruction and humanitarian efforts in U.S. history, and the latter considering the federal government's overall response “a great job”, a position substantially supported by González amidst the constant interruptions of Ramos.
JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO, UNIVISION: A great job?
CONGRESSWOMAN JENNIFFER GONZÁLEZ (R-PR): Well...well, you can go to what opinion you have of the President or how you characterize yourself. The truth is that the people of Puerto Rico have received federal aid like never before in history, more than $44 billion dollars.
RAMOS: Do you agree that this was a fantastic job and that the United States did everything it could in Puerto Rico?
GONZÁLEZ: Look, the President has been very generous, has been very attentive to all the requests that have been made for the island, all...
RAMOS: But it's a national tragedy, Commissioner. Excuse me, but this is a national tragedy...
GONZÁLEZ: It is a tragedy; it is a tragedy.
RAMOS: And the President doesn't seem to treat it as a national tragedy, he says it was a fantastic thing. I don't think President Trump is reacting to a tragedy.
As hard as he tried to derail González and drag her onto his side of the track, the non-voting representative of more than four times more U.S. citizens than any other member of Congress calmly explained the scope of the storm and the "more than $44 billion" appropriated to date by the federal government for the recovery of the island. For perspective, the entire current annual budget of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is under $10 billion.
In the words of González, “The President has been very generous, has been very attentive to all the requests that have been made for the island,” and the numbers from the very beginning of the federal response back up her statement. To cite just a portion of the massive relief effort: $20 billion from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to Puerto Rico in the agency's largest-ever disaster-related Community Development Block Grant which will be used for housing and infrastructure recovery, $3.4 billion in FEMA Public Assistance funding and $1.39 billion in federal grants approved for more than 462,000 homeowners and renters, among various others.
Ramos, playing the same game as the rest of the liberal media, continued to politicize the issue, implying that Trump's comment about the help being fantastic was tantamount to mocking Puerto Ricans. “We are talking about almost 3,000 deaths. You have said that the government was not prepared. Who do we blame then?” Ramos asked González, inserting the controversial subject of the number of deaths attributed to María by a George Washington University study based on “excess deaths” over the normal death rate at that particular time of year (a total excess mortality they put at 2,975). However, according to Lynn Goldman, dean of GWU's Milken Institute of Public Health, in charge of the study, “among all the deaths that occurred, which of them were related to Maria, which of them would not have occurred if it hadn't been for the storm? We're not able to say that now.”
In the words of Puerto Rico’s representative in Congress, who unlike Ramos is charged with working for the best interests of Puerto Rico and its residents, the impact of Hurricane María, the death toll, directly and indirectly related to the atmospheric event, “is something painful for Puerto Rican families, for American families, and I believe that the moment of reflection is there, but, in the same way, if we had not had all this help, which we are still receiving and are seeking to extend in many different areas, the situation would have been much worse.”