During the buildup to Harvey I was very critical of the national media on Twitter (particularly CNN) for its continued obsession with Donald Trump at a time when a major Hurricane was barreling toward Texas – a red state with the storm’s center taking aim at areas like Port Lavaca where Trump got about 70% vote in the 2016 Presidential Election. Once the epic nature of the humanitarian disaster for Houston became apparent the media engaged in a big way but quite frankly dropped the ball in the lead up to the storm. I had feared the possibility of Irma hitting very pro-Trump areas of Florida on the southwest coast might lead to similar non-coverage as we saw for Harvey’s approach and landfall in Texas – but the media was dialed in for the entire week of Harvey’s move toward Florida.
But with Irma, the national media especially CNN redeemed itself. The network deployed its big guns, Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo and John Berman to southern Florida and eventually Cooper to Tampa. The discussion of what made Florida vulnerable and interviews with experts were particularly well done. MSNBC brought Chris Hayes to Miami Beach to discuss Climate Change as well NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt in Tampa. Brian Williams was brought in to anchor the coverage from New York and brought his usual sense of the big occasion to his presentation.
CNN had most of its coverage anchored from here in Florida and covered every aspect of the storm. Meteorologist Chad Myers, a veteran of past storms filled a critical role much like Bill Kairns did at MSNBC. It was Myers who identified a few critical wobble’s in the eye as the storm interacted with Cuba which ultimately saved Florida and Kairns who noted the storm based on satellite images would make a closer pass at southeast Florida than forecast on Saturday.
The media came through on Irma and didn’t treat Floridians like second class citizens in the middle of a Trump obsession, even in very Republican Collier County. For that we can all be thankful.
However, it must be noted that for whatever reason, save Chris Hayes, a reluctance to use extreme weather events like Irma to discuss the impact of climate change and sea-level rise still bothers me about the corporate media entities. Despite an obsession with Donald Trump, these entities are far from progressive as demonstrated by the reluctance to discuss climate change and science when the opportunity presents itself. But that is a conversation for another day, as the national media did well covering breaking news from our state the last few days.