A major hurricane set to strike the East Coast this week appears to have divided the US media, with the Washington Post calling President Donald Trump “complicit” in the storm and right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh calling it an attempt to “politicise” climate change.
Hurricane Florence is forecast to hit the coast of North and South Carolina later this week as a category 3 storm, which experts have warned could be one of the most destructive in decades. Mr Trump, along with countless state officials, issued numerous warnings on Tuesday and Wednesday, urging residents of affected areas to leave before the storm hit.
The Washington Post gave Mr Trump credit for the “good advice” in an editorial published on Tuesday, but said went on to say that the president was “complicit” in the “extreme weather” ravaging the country.
“He plays down humans’ role in increasing the risks, and he continues to dismantle efforts to address those risks,” the paper’s editorial board wrote. “It is hard to attribute any single weather event to climate change. But there is no reasonable doubt that humans are priming the Earth’s systems to produce disasters.”
The editorial board pointed to Mr Trump’s plan to roll back federal rules on methane as evidence of his disregard for climate change. They also cited several studies showing how a warming planet has contributed to an increase in catastrophic weather events.
“The president has cemented the GOP’s legacy as one of reaction and reality denial,” the board wrote. “Sadly, few in his party appear to care.”
The editorial prompted a response from Fox News – the president’s preferred news source – which cited a conservative strategist as saying that the mainstream media “finds new ways to embarrass themselves and further erode Americans confidence in them” on a daily basis.
That same day, Mr Limbaugh took to the airwaves to declare that the forecasts had been overblown in an attempt to “politicize” climate change.
“For those of you asking, 'What’s the politics of a hurricane?' Climate change is the politics of hurricanes,” he said. “The forecast and the destruction potential doom and gloom is all to heighten the belief in climate change."
But even Republican officials were warning of the dangers of Hurricane Florence as the storm drew nearer, with South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster likening it to a “very deadly and important game of chess”.
“This is still a very dangerous storm,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday. “We must take it very seriously.”
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