Trump's Silence on Wildfires Draws Media Scrutiny

Pence expresses concern, but president hasn't mentioned deaths or destruction
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2020 5:50 PM CDT
Updated Sep 11, 2020 8:57 PM CDT
As Oregon Prepares for Mass Fatalities, Trump Stays Silent
A neighborhood in Talent, Ore., shown Thursday, was destroyed by wildfires.   (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)

Huge wildfires have combined and are closing in on towns and suburbs, rapidly deepening the crisis on the West Coast. "We are preparing for a mass fatality incident based on what we know and the numbers of structures that have been lost," Oregon's emergency management director said Friday, the New York Times reports. As the situation intensifies, a number of stories are pointing out that President Trump has remained largely silent about the wildfires. Politico Playbook reports that it's been three weeks since Trump weighed in publicly on the matter, and that was when he accused California of mismanaging its forests. Kevin Liptak at CNN reports that while federal money has been made available to states, Trump himself has neither spoken publicly nor tweeted about the fires since those California comments.

At the Washington Post, an analysis critical of Trump by Amber Phillips runs through possible reasons and concludes: "When you mix together the fact that this crisis is happening in Democratic-run states, is closely tied to a scientific phenomenon he denies even exists (climate change), and requires a level of empathy to talk about (not a strong point of his), you get three potential reasons the president has been so silent on it." Meanwhile, VP Mike Pence has expressed concern. Saying his daughter and son-in-law live in California, Pence told Fox News that "our hearts go out to all of those enduring or threatened by these fires, and I want to assure everyone that we're going to make sure that those courageous firefighters, that homeowners and businesses have the full support of the federal government." (Read more wildfires stories.)

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