Meteorologist’s Hurricane Matthew Coverage Sparks Outrage With Insensitive Comments About Haitians

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If there’s one thing that unites Americans across race, class, gender, and ethnicity, it’s the weather. We all have to get dressed in the morning, we all make plans for our days off, and we are all subconsciously waiting for an impending weather apocalypse. It’s what keeps us glued to weather apps, or flipping obsessively to local news segments like “Weather on the 10s.” But every once in a while, when that golden end-of-the-world weather opportunity comes around, our country’s weather-tainment industry goes a little crazy spicing up their coverage to lock in that ratings bonanza.

And indeed, it seems The Weather Channel’s dramatically charged fire-and-brimstone coverage of Hurricane Matthew went more than a little too far yesterday when a well-known meteorologist named Jennifer Delgado took to explaining the destruction that awaited Haiti. Pointing toward a satellite image of the Haiti-Dominican Republic border, Delgado calls our attention to a patch of brown: “This whole area has been essentially deforested, they take all the trees down, they burn the trees. Even the kids there, they’re so hungry they actually eat the trees.”

Record stop. Yes, she said that starving Haitian children eat trees, and seemed to suggest it has some relationship to a rapidly rotating storm system known as a hurricane. From there she punched it up even more with satellite images of the country’s scant electric grid and suggested that the Haiti’s lack of infrastructure is a recipe for total destruction.

Naturally it didn’t take long for the backlash to get real, and even after Delgado made a public apology, a petition calling for her removal has racked up nearly 10,000 supporters. Granted, maybe Delgado was just reading a script thrown together by some overworked and underinformed producer who thought it would be a good hook. But whatever the excuse, someone definitely needs to be held responsible.