"Objective" anchor Julie Banderas obviously thought her conservative guest was not doing enough to defend Donald Trump’s Twitter attacks on the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulin Cruz.
Banderas apparently rattled after Trump was filleted by her liberal guest
Liberal Fox News contributor Jessica Tarlov did a terrific job of ripping Trump over his attacks on Cruz yesterday. Tarlov noted that Trump has a habit of attacking “a sitting official during a time of crisis” before adding that it shows “how unfit he is for this office.”
“They are American citizens, three million of them,” Tarlov said about Puerto Ricans. “I know they don’t have Electoral College votes - and I don’t want to say that that is exactly why this is happening but you didn’t hear him talking to people in Texas or Florida this way.”
The conservative guest, Beverly Hallberg, mostly defended the federal relief effort, not Trump. Nor did she suggest he was right to attack Mayor Cruz.
So Banderas jumped in to do the job herself.
Banderas tried to validate Trump by blaming Puerto Rican truckers and Mayor Cruz for relief problems
BANDERAS: How do you truly believe the mayor of San Juan is handling this when she’s on television, cable, network broadcast news every single day? Here’s video of last night’s press conference. And look behind her. What do you see? …You see aid and food. Why isn’t it being delivered? That’s another question. Because the truckers, the Puerto Rican employees are on strike. They don’t want to move those food and supplies. Or they are unable or they are refusing. Some are expecting $50 an hour to do so.
Now, when the president accuses Puerto Ricans of not necessarily trying to help themselves,… what are the optics behind that press conference with all that aid behind the mayor of San Juan?
Where did Banderas get her claim about a truckers’ strike in Puerto Rico?
The accusation that Puerto Rican employees are refusing to deliver aid because they are on strike was news to me. So I tried to find out what she was talking about. And guess what? I couldn’t find confirmation anywhere. That includes today’s Fox News Sunday interview with FEMA director Brock Long in which he specifically discussed problems distributing commodities.
I did find an article in the widely-read, pro-Trump blog, Conservative Treehouse making this accusation. It relied first and foremost on this HuffPost quote by Puerto Rican Colonel Michael A. Valle (”Torch”), Commander, 101st Air and Space Operations Group, and Director of the Joint Air Component Coordination Element, 1st Air Force, responsible for Hurricane Maria relief efforts:
…They have the generators, water, food, medicine, and fuel on the ground, yet the supplies are not moving across the island as quickly as they’re needed.
“It’s a lack of drivers for the transport trucks, the 18 wheelers. Supplies we have. Trucks we have. There are ships full of supplies, backed up in the ports, waiting to have a vehicle to unload into. However, only 20% of the truck drivers show up to work. These are private citizens in Puerto Rico, paid by companies that are contracted by the government”.. (link)
Yet in the next paragraph, which was not included in the conservative article, Valle completely absolved the drivers.
Put another way, 80% of truck drivers do not show up to work, and yet again, it’s important to understand why.
“There should be zero blame on the drivers. They can’t get to work, the infrastructure is destroyed, they can’t get fuel themselves, and they can’t call us for help because there’s no communication. The will of the people of Puerto Rico is off the charts. The truck drivers have families to take care of, many of them have no food or water. They have to take care of their family’s needs before they go off to work, and once they do go, they can’t call home,” explains Col. Valle.
Also included in the Conservative Treehouse article was a CNBC video of reporter Contessa Brewer that confirmed Valle’s remarks:
BREWER: The truckdrivers can’t get to the terminal to get these containers out. … You’re looking at truck drivers who can’t be reached by their businesses, by cellphone, they don’t have the gas to get to work and even when they do get to work, their semi trucks don’t have fuel.
There was also an amateur Spanish-language YouTube video of the head of the Puerto Rico truckers union supposedly suggesting it was payback time for the governor (apparently there is a pre-existing dispute between them). My Spanish is not good enough to translate but one of the commenters on YouTube said that despite the criticism, the union head had urged his workers to mobilize.
Meanwhile, CNN reported yesterday, but Banderas did not mention, that the Teamsters and the AFL-CIO are working together to recruit truckers to go to Puerto Rico to help with the distribution.
Banderas attacked Cruz for politicizing tragedy while defending Trump’s attacks on her as “just the way he handles things”
Banderas also attacked Cruz for complaining that FEMA required her to contact them online when there is no internet available.
BANDERAS: It’s just sad to see politicians exploit the lives of people who are in great risk and that includes the mayor of San Juan… If I were a resident of Puerto Rico, I wouldn’t want to hear my mayor speaking about us this way. I mean, President Trump lifted the Jones Act essentially to prohibit these foreign ships from being blocked from being able to deliver aid so that has been done. I haven’t heard one word of acknowledgment from this mayor who is also calling out the administration because FEMA says that you need to contact them via the internet. Well, they don’t have the internet. Well, yes, there are glitches in the system but you can’t blame it all on one man, the president, because the system was in place long before the president took office.
Tarlov did not relent. She agreed that the problems are bigger than Trump but, she added, “I think that we can all agree that the president of the United States of America does not need to spend his weekend at his private golf course tweeting in a disparaging way about an official ... concerned that her citizens are going to die.”
Predictably, Banderas would not concede even that point. Because it's Trump!
BANDERAS: Yeah, it is the president’s style. If somebody goes after him, he’s gonna punch back. That’s just the way he handles things. I’m not saying that it’s the best way, the best scenario, but again, if I’m the mayor of a town whose people are dying, I’d worry less about tweets and news conferences.
Watch “objective” Banderas’ shameful display below, from the September 30, 2017 America’s News HQ. Underneath is a video of the CNBC report explaining the problems of distributing aid in Puerto Rico.