President Trump took to Twitter Wednesday morning to promote his trip to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico the day before, and to complain about how it was covered in the press.
“A great day in Puerto Rico yesterday,” Trump wrote. “While some of the news coverage is Fake, most showed great warmth and friendship.”
An hour later, he took on a more combative tone.
“Wow, so many Fake News stories today. No matter what I do or say, they will not write or speak truth. The Fake News Media is out of control!”
It wasn’t clear from his remarks what aspect of media coverage Trump was objecting to.
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Trump traveled to Puerto Rico Tuesday. Upon arriving, he met with local officials, including San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, with whom he has sparred in recent days after she pleaded publicly for more federal resources to help the island stabilize after Hurricane Maria. Cruz and Trump shook hands Tuesday, but she was not called on to speak by the president at a briefing open to the press.
Trump took the opportunity to praise the federal and local response to Maria, revising his opinion as of the previous Saturday that Puerto Rican leaders “are not able to get their workers to help.”
“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” Trump said then.
On Tuesday, Trump cited the death toll, which he contrasted with the “real catastrophe” of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as proof.
“Sixteen people versus in the thousands,” Trump said, referring to the more than 1,800 deaths that resulted from Katrina. “You can be very proud of all of your people and all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud. Everybody watching can really be very proud of what’s taken place in Puerto Rico.”
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló later announced the death toll had been raised from 16 to 34.
Mayor Cruz told MSNBC Tuesday the briefing “was a PR, 17-minute meeting.”
“There was no exchange with anybody, with none of the mayors,” Cruz said.
“He kind of minimized our suffering here by saying that Katrina was a real disaster, implying that this was not a real disaster because not as many people have died here,” Cruz said. “Well, you know what? They’re dying.”
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Later, at a church, Trump launched paper towels into a crowd as if he were shooting basketballs, a spectacle Cruz called “terrible and abominable.”
In Trump’s hometown, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is Puerto Rican-born, told MSNBC the visit was “an utter disgrace and insult to the Puerto Rican people.”
“To be throwing and lobbing paper towels at us as if we were animals, you know, is really making light of a situation that is very severe,” Mark-Viverito said.
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