In an interview with Mike Huckabee released on Saturday, Donald Trump explained why he threw paper towels at a crowd during his trip to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, an action he was later criticized for on social media.
“They had these beautiful, soft towels. Very good towels,” Trump said in the interview, which aired on Christian TV network Trinity Broadcasting. “And I came in and there was a crowd of a lot people. And they were screaming and they were loving everything. I was having fun. They were having fun. They said, ‘Throw ‘em to me! Throw ‘em to me, Mr. President.’ ”
“So next day they said, ‘Oh it was so disrespectful to the people.’ It was just a made-up thing,” Trump said.
“You were a rock star!” Huckabee added.
“If I do something wrong, treat me badly, but when we’re doing good it should be fair,” Trump continued. “The media is really, I think one of the greatest of all terms I’ve used is fake — I guess other people have used it perhaps over the years, but I’ve never noticed it.”
The video of Trump throwing paper towels into the crowd during his visit to Puerto Rico quickly went viral online and drew criticism from some on social media, as people on Twitter expressed their disbelief and anger over how Trump had chosen to provide aid.
The president had already received significant backlash for his response to the crisis, but drew even more criticism after he made a remark comparing the death count of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina — which he called “a real catastrophe” — to the devastation in Puerto Rico.
“Every death is horrible, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous — hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody’s ever seen anything like this,” Trump said, before he asked officials at a meeting with local and federal leadership how many had died since Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, leaving millions without homes and electricity.
Trump was seemingly pleased to hear the natural disaster had so far claimed only 16 lives “versus in the thousands” lost during Katrina, praising the leaders, “you can be proud.”
In the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane — which made landfall in the U.S. three times — a reported 1,833 people died, according to the Washington Post.
Trump later commented on the amount of financial help the U.S. territory seemed to require from the mainland government, saying, “I hate to tell you Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack, because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives.”