As the left likes to say, never let a serious crisis go to waste! While discussing the absolute devastation in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria, some hosts at ABC’s The View wondered if the lack of media attention was a result of racist mainland Americans. Instead of putting the blame on the media for being late to alerting Americans to the serious crisis, The View’s Sunny Hostin instead suggested the skin color of Puerto Ricans was why Americans didn’t “care” about what they were going through.
The discussion started off with host Whoopi Goldberg explaining the devastation resulting from the hurricane, from homelessness to lack of clean water and food, while bashing President Trump for tweeting about the U.S. territory’s “broken infrastructure and massive debt” in the midst of it. Whoopi and fellow host Joy Behar wondered if Trump’s seemingly insensitive tweets were a result of his own ignorance:
WHOOPI: There are desperate pleas this morning coming out of Puerto Rico which is dealing with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Now, the official White House Twitter response noted that the country is already suffering from broken infrastructure, massive debt, and is in deep trouble. Um, I'm not sure that's what they needed to hear right now from the guy who is supposed to be running the country.
WHOOPI: I wonder if he realizes that these are American citizens in Puerto Rico. This is part of America.
BEHAR: Maybe he doesn’t know that!
Host Sunny Hostin then defended Puerto Rico, saying they were in that financial situation because of laws which made it harder for their economy to run successfully, all the while making digs at Trump:
HOSTIN: Yes. And I think what was so frustrating when I saw his tweet when he talked about ‘Texas and Florida are doing great,’ but ‘Puerto Rico which was already suffering from broken infrastructure and massive debt is in deep trouble.’
Well guess what, Mr. Trump. The reason that Puerto Rico is in deep debt is a little something called the Jones Act, which means Puerto Rican businesses, get this, have to buy goods off of U.S. ships made in the United States with American crews. Last I checked -- and also Puerto Rico doesn't have bankruptcy laws so when you get into trouble you can't bail yourself out, like Trump did three times with his businesses. Puerto Rico doesn't have that. [applause]
BEHAR: Just let me interject. His Trump International Golf Club in Puerto Rico filed for bankruptcy in 2015.
HOSTIN: He can do that but Puerto Ricans and Puerto Rican businesses, U.S. citizens, cannot. The other thing is because you have to buy only from U.S. ships and U.S. crews, the prices are sky high, so it's very difficult for Puerto Ricans to buy things in the country and it's very difficult for businesses. Where does Donald Trump make his stuff? Mexico and China. That's something that Puerto Ricans cannot do.
Host Sara Haines argued that Trump should be sending hope to the people of Puerto Rico at this time of crisis and “criticize the political structure later”:
What they need to hear right now is help is on the way because what's going on is they're having hysteria. People can't reach them and they can't reach anyone else so FEMA is saying there's a lot of things happening but when you're going through this, fear is the dominant thing. They don't have food. There are mosquitos and diseases hitting them. Someone needs to say we got you. Criticize the political structure later. This is the time to say we won't let you fall, like we got you.
Behar noted that Trump didn’t criticize Texas while Hurricane Harvey hit. The hosts suggested again maybe it was because Trump didn’t realize Puerto Rico was part of the United States:
BEHAR: He didn't criticize Harvey, the ones in Texas.
WHOOPI: No. I don't think he realizes that Puerto Rico is part of the United States.
BEHAR: Well he's been told that.
WHOOPI: I don't think he realizes that. He didn't know Hawaii was part of the United States either.
HOSTIN: Very good point.
HAINES: But the coverage he got for the two other that he -- that wasn't in his psychology to say I did really well.
HOSTIN: Why hasn't he visited Puerto Rico? Why hasn’t he visited?
HAINES: Supposedly they don’t have a date. I don’t know.
BEHAR: Do you think this will affect him the way Katrina affected George W. Bush?
BEHAR: Nothing affects him.
Right after Whoopi explained how people could donate to help Puerto Ricans, Hostin turned the discussion to blaming mainland Americans for the lack of attention, wondering if it was because “Puerto Rico has a lot of brown people:”
HOSTIN: And I am surprised that, you know, because Puerto Ricans are United States citizens, I'm just so surprised that there was this swell of support when the hurricanes hit Florida and hit the mainland, but we have heard silence from so many citizens. I just -- it's hurtful.
BEHAR: What do you think is the reason?
HOSTIN: I hope it's not because Puerto Rico has a lot of brown people. And I hate to put it out there but I really hope that that's not the case, that people don't realize that these are your brothers and sisters.
Even Whoopi pushed back against that idea. Yet Whoopi suggested that Trump’s White House may be more apathetic than the average American:
Well, the federal government may be having a different response than the people because I know lots of people have been trying -- because here and all over the country, you know, Puerto Ricans are everywhere in this nation, so everyone is trying to get ahold of family. So, you know, local markets are doing stuff but the federal government also needs to step up and take care of Puerto Rico as we've taken care of Florida and everywhere else.
Host Sara Haines backed up Whoopi, suggesting that because Puerto Rico was further away and an island, it was more removed from Americans’ minds, and it was on the heels of two other major storms:
HAINES: The other thing might be too though, it's easier for people to relate to the idea that it hit three states away or a place they've been before. Sometimes it's a more innocent reasoning that in their minds they're like Puerto Rico is that -- like they don't necessarily know --
HOSTIN: I hope so.
HAINES: I'm not saying that's a reason to but on the heels of two other major ones I think it's less that people are judging it. It's just that with it being an island --
WHOOPI: It’s everywhere. Think about all the places like Barbuda and --
HOSTIN: I hope that it's innocent. I do hope that.
Halfway through the show, Whoopi came in with an update about President Trump announcing he would be visiting Puerto Rico next week. Trump said he couldn’t visit earlier than that because he didn’t want to disrupt recovery efforts. Whoopi even admitted that it might not be possible for a large plane like Air Force One to land amidst the chaos, this soon. But even that wasn’t good enough for host Joy Behar.
She insisted Trump “should’ve” just flown over the islands instead:
BEHAR: But the way he should have done it in my opinion is fly over the area --
WHOOPI: He should have said this last week.
BEHAR: --And then get on television and talk from your heart about the pain that people are going through. I could not land. It was not safe, but I could see the devastation. That's what presidents do. They have leadership qualities.
HOSTIN: He had a lot of time to tweet about the NFL. Like a lot of time to do that.