1 in 4 Americans buy Trump’s Puerto Rico death toll conspiracy theory

Roughly 25 percent of Americans believe in a conspiracy pedaled recently by President Donald Trump that the Hurricane Maria death toll was over-reported, according a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.

Following an extensive report conducted by researchers at George Washington University, the Puerto Rican government revised it’s Hurricane Maria death toll to nearly 3,000 at the end of August.

According to President Trump, however, those numbers are inaccurate.

“3,000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” Trump tweeted last week. “This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico.”

3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2018

 

…..This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2018

 

President Trump has long-believed his administration’s response to the tragedies in Puerto Rico went above and beyond. Just last week during a briefing about Hurricane Florence with FEMA administrator Brock Long, Trump called the response in Puerto Rico last year “an incredible, unsung success” and “one of the best jobs that’s ever been done.”

In reality, it took more than nine months for clean water to be restored to some parts of the island. Some residents were without power for nearly a year. And a lack of clean drinking water and electricity were key reasons why the death toll in Puerto Rico was higher than initially reported. The Puerto Rican government initially only counted deaths from instances like fallen trees and drownings as official hurricane deaths.

That thousands of Americans would believe Trump’s conspiracy about the Hurricane Maria death toll isn’t too surprising, considering that a lot of mainstream media outlets uncritically spread his lies in the headlines about his tweets.

The New York Times initially ran a headline that read, “Trump Rejects Death Toll in Puerto Rico, Accusing Democrats of Inflating Numbers.” Similarly, the BBC’s headline read, “Trump disputes Puerto Rico hurricane death toll” and Reuters wrote, “Trump disputes Puerto Rico storm death toll, blames Democrats.”

Donald Trump doesn’t care about Puerto Ricans

 

Other findings from the HuffPost/YouGov poll underscore just how politicized the tragedy in Puerto Rico has become.

While a quarter of respondents believe the Hurricane Maria death toll was over-reported, 43 percent believe the figure is correct. Meanwhile a third say they’re not sure. Only a tenth of Trump voters believe nearly 3,000 Puerto Ricans died as a result of the storm compared to 80 percent of Hillary Clinton voters.

…that FEMA, our Military, and our First Responders, who are all unbelievable, are a disaster and not doing a good job. This will be a total lie, but that’s what they do, and everybody knows it!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2018

 

President Trump already appears poised to politicize the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, which has claimed the lives of at least 33 individuals in storm-related incidents so far.

“But don’t be fooled, at some point in the near future the Democrats will start ranting that FEMA, our Military, and our First Responders, who are all unbelievable, are a disaster and not doing a good job,” the president tweeted Tuesday morning. “This will be a total lie, but that’s what they do, and everybody knows it!”

Read more: thinkprogress.org

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