On Saturday President Donald Trump visited hurricane Harvey victims whose lives have been ravaged by the deadly floodwaters.
In Houston, Texas, the president and first lady Melania Trump handed out lunches to victims staying at NRG Stadium, which is housing 1,800 people who’ve been displaced by the storm. At least 50 have died during the storm and its aftermath, and the Houston mayor issued an evacuation order for the 4,600 remaining in west Houston on Sunday, as flooding will likely last another two weeks.
Victims said their opinion of Trump changed after meeting him.
Trump made a pit stop at the armory in Lake Charles, Louisiana to thank members of the National Guard and the Cajun Navy — a group of volunteers who use their personal boats to rescue victims trapped in the floodwaters.
— Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) September 2, 2017
Yet many news outlets framed Trump’s visit skeptically. After many in the media spent the past few days complaining that the president wasn’t empathetic enough during his visit with Harvey victims earlier this week, their coverage of Trump’s second visit implied his return to Texas was to save face.
“Trump returns to Gulf Coast for test as ‘comforter in chief’,”a CNN headline reads.
“Trump’s Houston trip will serve as empathy test,”a Reuters headline leading up to the trip reads.
“Trump returns to flood-ravaged Texas, this time to try out role of ‘consoler-in-chief’,”a headline from The Washington Post reads.
“Trump’s optimism seemed to belie the far more complicated reality of rebuilding lives here, however,” Phillip Rucker wrote in The Post. “After talking with families who had lost their homes to Harvey’s floodwaters, Trump said he was struck by how ‘happy’ they were.”
Perhaps the most revealing part of Rucker’s article is when Trump supporters displayed anger at the media for over-the-top criticisms of the president.
“At times, the crowds that showed up to see the first couple felt more like those that assemble at Trump’s political rallies. As the presidential motorcade pulled up to the Louisiana Air National Guard Armory in Lake Charles, some Trump supporters yelled at the press vans, ‘Fake news!'”
Others held signs encouraging Melania Trump to continue wearing stiletto shoes, after many members of the media mocked the first lady for wearing a pair of high heels to board Air Force One in Washington DC during her visit on Saturday and earlier this week.
— New York Post (@nypost) September 2, 2017
Among the signs people are waving as trump passes: "FLOTUS keep rocking those stilettos" and "Lake Charles ❤️ Pres. Trump" #harvey
— Elizabeth Crisp (@elizabethcrisp) September 2, 2017
The different responses to Trump’s visit among members of the media, who have their own difficulties empathizing with Harvey victims, versus those whose lives the floodwaters harmed, is telling.