On Tuesday, two things happened: A New England Journal of Medicine article by Harvard researchers argued that the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was most likely thousands higher than the official number of 64; and Roseanne Barr, the sitcom star, was fired for a racist Twitter rant. According to the watchdog group Media Matters, CNN devoted nearly five hours to discussing Roseanne, and just over 12 minutes to discussing Puerto Rico. The other cable news networks, Fox News and MSNBC, were similarly lopsided, with Fox spending just 48 seconds on the Puerto Rico study.
Can someone remind Wyclef and others that Haiti is also in need of help and Puerto Rico has already been forgotten. This is not the fact that celebrity gossip is more important than events like Maria. It’s that Humans only allow ourselves a short time to give a shit about something before another thing takes its place. The lasting effects of a natural disaster on the scale of Maria will impact our statehood-hopeful territory for the next few decades. If it’s not being covered by the media, most of the necessary resources and federal attention will quietly go away. We’re really good at forgetting things that we’re responsible for. We didn’t owe Haiti reconstruction efforts but I hope Puerto Rico doesn’t fall to the same situation.