Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV

Zurawik: From Samantha Bee to Roseanne Barr, Trump's negative effect on the culture

You can’t blame Donald Trump for something as ugly as what Roseanne Barr said on Twitter last week. But you can see how the president’s racially-loaded rhetoric fed and made her feel righteous in her racism.

That’s what I said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday in a wide-ranging and spirited discussion about the words of Barr, Trump, Samantha Bee and what they say about the state of American culture today. That’s in the video above.

Host Brian Stelter also asked what it says about media and American culture that Barr’s racist tweet last week overwhelmed cable coverage of a study released by Harvard that found the death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria was actually 70 times higher than the official estimate.

Rather than 64 deaths from Maria, there were actually more than 4,600 in the three months after the storm, according to the study, which was released Tuesday, the same day of Barr’s tweet.

Cable gave Barr’s tweet 10 hours of coverage versus 30 minutes for the Harvard study on Tuesday, according Media Matters, a liberal media watchdog platform.

Give CNN credit for going back and questioning the disparity on “Reliable Sources” Sunday. The question asked: Is the media failing Puerto Rico?

I attributed the disparity in part to our sick obsession with celebrity and the way Barr’s ugly tweet cut to the heart of culture wars. Maria Cardona, another panelist, spoke about the coverage in personal and powerful terms. You can see that here.

Give credit to MSNBC as well, which also covered the disparity Sunday on Joy Reid’s “AM Joy” show.

And speaking of Reid, embedded below is another segment from Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” that I was part of. In this one, the panel talked about Reid’s ongoing credibility issues in connection with statements she has made about images and words that have appeared on her blog in the past.



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