Looks like we coined a new word: “Death-tistics.” The furor that has escalated about the number of deaths attributable to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico begs some explanation. Pretty much every news organization has — just as they always do — created the stories about the death-tistics, re-buffed the original “official” report of deaths from the hurricane that were given by the Puerto Rican government, and launched a crazy string of “new” reports stating a much higher number of Maria-related deaths, Breitbart News weighed in with “The Rest of Story.” Let’s look-in:
(Breitbart News) On Thursday morning, President Trump pushed back on Twitter, alleging that Democrats had inflated the death toll “in order to make me look as bad as possible.” That led to more criticism, with the Associated Press accusing Trump of making claims “without evidence.”
But Trump is correct.
His opponents — including the media — have strained for more than a year to turn Hurricane Maria into his version of Hurricane Katrina, the devastating 2005 storm that prompted criticism of President George W. Bush’s response — even though state and local authorities had been far worse — and foreshadowed a Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006. Leading the charge was CNN, which made a special effort to link Hurricane Maria in 2017 to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and made a temporary media sensation of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who accused the Trump administration of neglect.
However, the media’s effort at the time was frustrated by several factors.
- First, experts praised the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria, which posed special challenges because Puerto Rico is so far from the mainland U.S.
- Second, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló himself praised the federal government’s response: “The president and the administration, every time we’ve asked them to execute, they’ve executed quickly,” he told Fox News in September 2017.
- Third, Puerto Rico was already something of a disaster before the hurricane hit, thanks to mismanagement by the territory’s government that led to a debt crisis in recent years. (Mayor Cruz herself is reportedly under FBI investigation for corruption.)
However, Trump’s critics did not give up. Over the past several months, they have attempted to cite several new studies that created new estimates of the “real” death toll of Hurricane Maria — based on statistical models, not on actual death counts.
Many studies addressed a real concern that the Puerto Rican government lacked the competence to do an accurate death count, but much of the media hype around the results were clearly motivated by the attempt to damage the Trump administration. The Washington Post noted just some of the studies as of June 2018 (original links):
- The New York Times calculated 1,052 deaths through October.
- The Center for Investigative Reporting calculated 985 through October.
- University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez professors calculated 822, with a 95 percent confidence range that the total was somewhere between 605 and 1,039.
- Pennsylvania State University professors calculated excess deaths of about 500 in September, or a total of 1,085 if the same pattern held in October. That estimate was based on six weeks of mortality records.
- A Latino USA analysis, using updated data from Puerto Rico’s Department of Health, calculated 1,194 excess deaths in September and October.
- The Washington Post noted that the new estimates hovered around the 1,000 mark.
Then, in June, a Harvard study published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated the number of deaths from Hurricane Maria at 4,645 instead of the official figure of 64. The researchers had conducted a survey and extrapolated the results — an extremely sloppy methodology. The number was highly inflammatory. Puerto Rican opponents of the president cited it to accuse him of “genocide.” Much of the media hyped those claims: the caption that accompanies a Getty/AFP photograph reads: “Hurricane Maria, which pummeled Puerto Rico in September 2017, is likely responsible for the deaths of more than 4,600 people, some 70 times more than official estimates, US researchers said Tuesday.”
Even the Washington Post was skeptical of the absurdly high estimate: “This is not a verified number, unlike body counts in wars. The Harvard study offers only an estimate – a midpoint along a broad range of possibilities. It is not based on death records, only estimates of deaths from people who were interviewed in a survey.”
Last month, a new study was produced by George Washington University that estimated the “excess mortality” from Hurricane Maria over a six-month period at 2,975 within a 95% confidence interval of 2,658-3,290 “excess” deaths. This was the second-highest estimate after the faulty Harvard study and was based on a statistical model that subtracted the number of people who theoretically should have died over the same period from the number of people who actually died during that time. It is also a rather useless way of comparing death tolls, because, in order to evaluate the relative scale of Hurricane Maria, the same method would have to be used to measure other natural disasters, likely increasing their estimated death tolls as well.
The media reported the new estimate as if it were an actually confirmed death toll — with CNN taking care to note that the new number was released near the anniversary of Katrina. The Puerto Rican governor, under heavy political pressure due to the slow pace of the island’s recovery, officially revised the death toll to match the estimate. That gave the media an excuse to throw out science and statistics, and to report the 2.975 number as an established fact — even though it was just an estimate based on a statistical model, and three times higher than all but one of the previous estimates.
The Associated Press reported earlier this week that “3,000 people died in Puerto Rico” in Hurricane Maria — as if it were a proven fact. It did not indicate that the number was simply one estimate among many and that its evidence was a controversial statistical model.
On Thursday, the AP — with a touch of chutzpah — accused the president of stating “without evidence” that the “Puerto Rico hurricane death count is a plot by Democrats to make him look bad.”
(Update: National Public Radio weighed in to accuse Trump of “falsely” claiming Democrats had inflated the numbers.)
Setting aside the AP’s odd effort to “fact-check” an opinion, the evidence is ample that the Democrats — and much of the media — did exactly what Trump accused them of doing. Their goal, and the goal of Democrats who are hyping probable outliers as established facts are to take down the Republican Party in the 2018 midterm elections by linking Trump with Bush’s alleged failures in Hurricane Katrina.
Actual Puerto Rico “Death-tistics” in 2017
The graph below shows actual total Puerto Rican deaths from 2010 through 2017, as computed by the Puerto Rico government. Take a look:
This graph shows the “official” statistics of total deaths during September, October, November, and December in Puerto Rico by year from 2010 through 2017. These are important comparison numbers when discussing Puertican deaths directly attributable to Hurricane Maria, for it hit Puerto Rico September 17, 2017. By any realistic comparison of deaths, directly and indirectly, attributable to Maria, AND ancillary deaths during the 3 months following the hurricane, (which is what the purveyors of the death-tistics number of 3000-4000 are doing) there were 326 more total deaths in Puerto Rico during those 4 months in 2017 than in 2016. Even assuming every one of those increased deaths to Maria, there is no way to “factually” state there were several thousand deaths in Puerto Rico from Maria, and certainly, no way to claim those were because of Trump’s mismanagement of the disaster.
So What’s Going on Here?
Have you ever seen in recent history any scenario where Democrats and others on the Left do not find ways to blame President Trump for everything wrong and/or bad in America — and, for that matter, any bad thing anywhere in the World? Brexit was his fault, immigrants overrunning Europe was his fault, separation of babies from illegal immigrant parents during processing in 2014 was his fault, icebergs are his fault, every hurricane for the balance of World history will be his fault because he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accords, MS-13 is his fault, etc.
It is safe to say the insanity in New York and Washington D.C. among the liberal news media has reached epic proportions. I have stated before many times that it exists and will escalate — especially heading into the mid-term elections. The truth is insignificant and irrelative when it comes to political narrative. And the only political narrative that matters is this: Destroy Donald Trump.
Have you stopped to consider exactly why this lunacy not only exists but continues to ramp-up? Is there any other plausible explanation for it other than to do and say anything and everything to 1) win back the House of Representatives, and 2) set the stage for a Trump re-election White House bid upset in 2020? I don’t think there is.
Nevertheless, I feel strongly that even if the House turns blue and the U.S. Senate turns bluer, it will only make Trump’s message to the public during the next two years stronger, easier to understand, and much more obvious that the truth means nothing to Dems and other liberals. They will try to ram meaningless legislation through the House that all will attack President Trump and his agenda, take back those tax cuts, reinstall regulations, and will do everything within their power to do away with immigration as we know to open our borders.
If and when that happens, it is my opinion that it will open the eyes of more and more Americans to the horrors conservatives have been warning about. That will make the 2020 elections nationally and on the state and local levels a red bloodbath.
Americans are not stupid. Americans understand that Mainstream media does not present factual and unadulterated news to the American people. The Hurricane Maria deathtoll reports in Puerto Rico are prime examples of how corrupt the MSM is and will continue to be. And that’s all right. Americans understand that the truth is out there — somewhere. More and more Americans are spending the time necessary to find the truth and put it in place of the current political agenda being crammed down their throats by the lies of the New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, and Associated Press (AP) and others.
It’s just a matter of time!