Political Focus: Independent investigation reports thousands of savable lives after hurricane Maria, despite Trump’s claims of slander

Ben Hume, Staff Reporter

In this week’s whirlwind of political news, President Trump leveled his harshest criticisms in some time at an independent study of hurricane Maria’s death tolls.

Trump claimed through his Twitter account that “3,000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the island…they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths…Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3,000,” continuing into a second tweet that said, “…This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars [sic] to help rebuild….”

Some of his aides even came to his defense, with White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley claiming, “President Trump was responding to the liberal media and the San Juan Mayor who sadly, have tried to exploit the devastation by pushing out a constant stream of misinformation and false accusations.” Yes, a White House spokesperson attempted to slander the same Puerto Rican mayor who went on national television sobbing and begging for U.S. support.

Trump’s tweets get a lot of flak, and it is almost always deserved. But this one in particular is a blatant and unsupported lie, one of his worst attempts at addressing his horrible media coverage and low approval. When it comes down to it, if you want to lie to an entire country, you generally don’t want to put your word against Harvard’s.

This independent Harvard study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found through months of rigorous statistical sampling that the death total as a direct result of the hurricane was at 2,975. The report said this death toll was increased by 22 percent as a result of improper response to the disaster by United States disaster relief.

The chance of death was increased by 60 percent for residents living in the poorest municipalities, and 35 percent higher among elderly men. This data was assembled from September 2017 to February 2018 using statistically accurate and reliable methods. And it makes Trump’s slander look all the more preposterous. The president doesn’t usually have a problem fabricating lies or bending the truth, but the data here is so well supported by such a respected source that you wonder why he even bothers.

Actually, that’s not entirely true—we know why he compulsively lies. It’s been his only reliable activity since he hit the campaign trail. He doesn’t take responsibility for any action that paints him negatively, and any source of bad news is wrong, unsubstantiated and fake. There are a lot of citizens of the United States that really love hearing that bad news and negative politics are someone else’s fault, and who better to blame than the group of people responsible for your bad press? It is much easier to blame your problems on someone else rather than take responsibility for your own failures.

Do not misinterpret this as trying to give Trump apologists a platform—anyone who believes the tweets of an unqualified leader over the word of one of the world’s most respected universities should take some time to reflect.

And they should reflect quickly, especially if they live on the east coast of the U.S., because if your leader’s standard for excellent hurricane relief is 3,000 deaths, you may want to rethink riding this storm out.