President Joe Biden is taking heat for allegedly responding “no comment” on Sunday after being asked about the rising death toll from the wildfires in Hawaii.
Authorities say the number of deaths from the blaze in Lahaina has risen to 96, with efforts to find and identify the dead still underway. It already is the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century.
Bloomberg White House correspondent Justin Sink wrote on Sunday that Biden was asked about the growing death toll during his trip to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
“No comment,” Sink said he replied, drawing swift condemnation.
“While Americans in Hawaii are missing loved ones and have lost their homes, Joe Biden vacations on the beach. Is this the famous ‘compassion’ the media has told us about?” tweeted Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.).
Conservative radio host Larry O’Connor replied with a screenshot of First Lady Jill Biden tweeting ahead of the 2020 presidential election that “Empathy is on the ballot.”
“Embarrassing,” another person replied.
“Absolutely terrible,” journalist Yashar Ali said in a now-deleted tweet.
But some expressed doubt about the veracity of Biden’s alleged response.
Reporter Robert Mackey noted that Sink’s tweet was based on a pool report by a reporter for The Daily Mail
Last week, Biden approved Hawaii’s disaster declaration and directed federal aid to supplement recovery efforts. According to a White House press release, federal assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, help with debris removal, and more.
“Jill and I send our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones in the wildfires in Maui, and our prayers are with those who have seen their homes, businesses, and communities destroyed,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday.
“We are grateful to the brave firefighters and first responders who continue to run toward danger, putting themselves in harm’s way to save lives.”
We crawl the web so you don’t have to.
Sign up for the Daily Dot newsletter to get the best and worst of the internet in your inbox every day.
*First Published: Aug 14, 2023, 3:26 pm CDT
Katherine Huggins is a New York-based journalist and freelance contributor to the Daily Dot’s tech and politics section. She helps cover the United Nations for the Japanese newspaper Mainichi and previously reported on the 2022 midterm elections for Marketwatch. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Forbes, OpenSecrets and more.