The Trump administration’s top Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert said on Thursday that the media is “giving the appearance” that the administration isn’t moving fast enough to help the more than 3 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, said the Hill.
“I understand the coverage, in some cases, is giving the appearance that we are not moving fast enough,” Bossert told reporters during a White House press conference.
News reports, said Bossert — a former White House aide to President George W. Bush’s administration — are spreading “false and outdated information” that is misleading the public into thinking that Trump has dragged his feet out of unconcern for the Puerto Rican people.
Reporters pointed out that Maria struck a week ago and Puerto Rico has been without power ever since and that the island’s supplies of food, water and fuel have run out.
Bossert countered that nothing the administration is doing “can happen fast enough” to satisfy the media.
“The people of Puerto Rico have every bit of support from President Trump that he gave to the citizens of every other state in this country,” he insisted.
However, reports from Puerto Rico point to a lack of direction in the federal response. Tons of supplies that have reached the capital San Juan are sitting on the ships that brought them because no effort has been made to coordinate the handover to Puerto Rican officials and distribute them.
Under public pressure, The Miami Herald said, the administration ordered the USNS Comfort medical relief ship to Puerto Rico, but it will take days to arrive.
Bossert pointed to media reports from the last week and said many of the photos being used as evidence of the island’s destruction are days old, but the press is using them anyway because they make the president look bad.
“As you see pictures, some of them are dated. As you see data, some of it is out of date,” he said. “It’s not necessarily wrong or right. The frustrations of people, though, are being magnified.”
He urged reporters to stop reporting information that will “unnecessarily defeat the morale of the people of Puerto Rico.”
Most people in Puerto Rico do not have access to the news without power, which some have speculated could take six months to a year to return to the island.