I love the series on CNBC, The Profit, with entrepreneur businessman Marcus Lemonis. Normally, the show consists of him investing in some company in trouble and trying to help it turnaround. This week’s special episode was totally different – nothing to do with the usual.
Instead, the show was a documentary of his three trips to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, traveling the island to look at the aftermath. And it was absolutely wonderful. The Profit in Puerto Rico: An American Crisis. In fact, it’s probably the best “news” coverage of the devastation there of anything I’ve seen, even long pieces done by news organizations. Not only did it cover the disaster there better than anything, but it was done in a human and “entertaining” way. (Not “entertaining” as in fun, but as in watchable.) All of which made the show eminently watchable.
I wish every member of Congress would watch it. I don't say that I wish Trump would watch it because I doubt anything would make a difference there. But the crushing reality of what has pummeled the island and the massive hurdles still left to deal with is profound. And the undercurrent running through everything is that this is an American territory and that the people living there are all American citizens. It would hard for most elected officials with even half an open mind to think that All is Well there and well on the road to recovery after watching this broadcast, which appears to have been completed only within the past month.
Marcus Lemonis is not a journalist. He's a businessman. But his conversations with rescue workers, local residents, emergency doctors, elected officials, FEMA aides, local business owners, people moving from the island, those stranded and more, as he joins workers heading into the most at-risk areas, is as pointed and involving as any reporter. Many sequences stand out, like the woman cut off from the rest of the island because a bridge was destroyed, and she's too afraid of heights to climb down the long make-shift ladder and then cross cross the river. Or a passage when Lemonis, in his understated but compassionate way discusses the limited reconstruction efforts of just a few trucks ("If this was on the mainland, you know this road would be filled with trucks...") with a FEMA worker doing his best to put on his positive face with few resources given him.
The worker explains what they're doing. Lemonis politely replies, "But they need more." The worker notes the improvements that have been made. Lemonis responds politely, "But they need more." The worker talks about what they expect. Lemonis quietly says, "But they need more."
At one point, being a businessman, he makes an intriguing business observation. Visiting a moving company for people leaving the island, he notes that all the cars are high-end, which means the people leaving are the highest wage earners, creating an even bigger problem for Puerto Rico's recovery and future.
If you were unaware of the show, or missed the broadcast or didn’t record it, it’s probably available On Demand, or you can get it online here. (The CNBC online viewer requires that your system have Adobe Flash installed, but if it's not, they offer links to do so.
Here's the promo --
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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