FLASHBACK: Journalists Love to Politicize Hurricanes, Trash GOP Response

October 1st, 2022 1:30 PM

This week, the residents of Florida endured the wrath of Hurricane Ian moving up through the state. At this time, the damage isn’t totally known, but certainly looks very worrying. In this case, the governor of Florida is Ron DeSantis, a man running in a contentious 2022 midterm election, as well as being a possible 2024 presidential contender. 

From Hurricane Katrina, to Harvey, the media have a long history of politicizing hurricanes and using them to trash Republicans. So don’t be surprised if they try that on DeSantis. 

In August of 2017, Donald Trump dealt with Hurricane Harvey. Showing that journalists don’t let Republicans win, CBS This Morning on August 28, 2017,skeptically questioned whether it was the “best time” for Donald Trump to visit ravaged Houston. Co-host Gayle King asked Governor Greg Abbott, “Right now, he is scheduled to come tomorrow. Is that the best time for him to come?”



On August 28, 2017, MSNBC’s Katy Tur whined about Hurricane Harvey: “[Donald Trump is] going to Texas tomorrow and there's real concern that his going there is going to have to divert, at least a little bit, some resources away from the rescue effort and toward him.”



Back in 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and journalists and media personalities slimed an uncaring, slow-moving, racist George W. Bush’s reaction. 

Here are just a few examples from Katrina: 

“There have been some that have suggested that race has been a factor because so many of the people in New Orleans who have been suffering, as you well know, are African-American....Do you believe, if it was, in fact, a slow response, as many now believe it was, was it in part the result of racism?...There are some critics who are saying, and I don’t know if you’re among those, but people have said to me, had this happened in a predominantly white community, the federal government would have responded much more quickly. Do you believe that?”
— Wolf Blitzer to Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings on CNN’s The Situation Room, September 2, 2005.



George Stephanopoulos: “Did government neglect turn a natural disaster into a human catastrophe? And was it rooted in racism?”
Rapper Kanye West on NBC’s Concert for Hurricane Relief: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
Stephanopoulos: “We’ll ask the only African-American in the Senate, Barack Obama, in an exclusive interview.”
— Stephanopoulos beginning ABC’s This Week, Sept. 11, 2005.

“The Bush administration seemed clueless about the magnitude of the [Hurricane Katrina] disaster....President Bush lost his carefully cultivated image of competence. The President’s image of compassion was shaky to begin with, even though he calls himself a compassionate conservative. Bill Clinton felt your pain. George Bush flew over it.”
— CNN’s Bill Schneider on The Situation Room, June 1, 2006.



For more examples on Katrina, see a study by MRC Director of Media Analysis Geoffrey Dickens. 

For more examples from our flashback series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.