(ANTIMEDIA) — It’s no secret that the news media capitalizes on terrifying and tragic events to garner views and clicks; the familiar phrase “If it bleeds, it leads” has been used to describe this pursuit of ratings. Even President Donald Trump alluded to the media’s specific focus on Hurricane Harvey this week when he explained that he announced his decision to pardon infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio when the storm hit because the ratings would be “far higher.”
Though the spike in viewership that often accompanies tragedies like these demonstrates that audiences themselves crave the coverage, one victim of the hurricane in Houston just bluntly slammed CNN for placing their desire for newsworthy footage above basic human decency.
“Let me introduce you to Danielle, here. Danielle, you just arrived,” CNN reporter Rosa Flores says to a visibly stressed flood survivor standing with her young daughter at the Houston Convention Center.
Leaning in toward Danielle, Flores asks her to share her story of how she was rescued.
She first addresses the failure of police to come to her aid:
“Some guys had called our phone and asked us where we were. We were waiting for police for, like, 36 hours and they never came. We were waiting at the home. We did the white flags and everything and nobody came. But then somebody had called the phone after we decided to leave the house and we had walked to the gas station with the kids, and then they called and picked up us. But had been there like five days with no food and no lights, and nobody came. Like, nobody came.”
Flores continues to question her, asking, “Now, you’re with your children. We’ve heard of stories of mothers trying to save their children from the rushing waters. Can you tell us how that was for you?”
“We walked through four feet of water to go get them food on the first day,” Danielle responds. “Yeah, that’s a lot of shit. But you all are sitting here, you all are trying to interview people during their worst times. Like that’s not the smartest thing to do.”Flores interrupts to apologize, alternating between placing her hand on Danielle’s arm and pulling it away as she continues to elaborate on the media’s push to get comments from victims:
Flores interrupts to apologize, alternating between placing her hand on Danielle’s arm and pulling it away as Danielle continues to elaborate on the media’s push to get comments from victims:
“Like people are really breaking down, and you are all sitting here with cameras and microphones trying to ask us what the fuck is wrong with us.”
“So sorry,” Flores says again, repeating her sentiment multiple times as Danielle continues speaking.
“And you really trying to understand with the microphone still in my face,” she says as Flores pulls the mic away. “With me shivering cold, with my kids wet,” she goes on as Flores pushes the microphone back toward her. “And you are still putting a microphone in my face.”
Flores again apologizes, pulling the microphone and her hand away as the woman leaves with her children.
In-studio newscaster Jim Acosta then begins speaking as the camera cuts back to him.
“Rosa Flores, it sounds like you’ve got a very upset family there. We’re going to take a break from that and we’ll get back to you later on,” he says as the segment ends.
Some social media users reacted to the interaction by claiming it was simply an isolated clip and that the news media has actually helped rescue efforts. Others questioned the woman’s authenticity by noting that though she said she waited five days, the storm didn’t hit Houston until Sunday — and still others pushed back against this skepticism, advocating sympathy for the stressed and traumatized flood victim.
Overall, Twitter users scolded CNN for pouncing on the woman while she was still soaked from the floods. “CNN, she’s at her stress limit, please stop with the mics in their faces & get them real help.#WhatsTheMatterWithYou,” one tweet read, echoing the sentiments of several others.
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