Maureen Taylor is the hero of the day. She did not allow an obvious shill of the establishment, a shill of the plutocracy, to lead the narrative. Reporter Hank Winchester’s bias was immediately obvious to those who understand the narrative he was hoping to get across.
Detroit has taken much flak for their inhumane decision to disconnect water in mass to its citizens. Most of them are poor and disabled in a failing city. Detroit is one of those cities that corporations abandoned after extracting most of the human capital from its soul. Those that are ultimately responsible for the decay of the city moved on to scavenge other cities and countries.
Winchester’s narrative is simple. It is always easy to attack the poor, the minorities, the others. It is easy to make it all their fault all of the time. “Some of these people have a desperate need,” reporter Hank Winchester said. “They need help from state agencies. ... But there are other people, and this is where it gets controversial, who simply don’t want to pay the water bill, who’d rather spend money on cable.”
Winchester then pivots into a defense of the water department stating that they want to work with people. Did he do his journalistic duty to find out if actual citizens received that message? Is it even true?
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Taylor would have none of it. Though she did not say it, she understands that black, brown, and poor communities are often maligned by the supposedly fair and balanced media. A few stereotypes from these communities are generally projected on the whole. As such, America generally gets a poor impression of these communities that is then reflected as a lack of empathy from otherwise good, decent people.
“Before I answer that let me say, shame on Hank, shame on him,” Taylor said, “for putting that lie and that mis and that disinformation out on the air. To suggest that people don’t want to pay for a water bill is scandalous. What is at stake here is that there are tens of thousands of low income families who cannot pay rising water bill costs. The cost of living is going up. The chances of living is going down. And we’ve got these reporters out here, like this guy, that’s just standing on the side of the people that have money.”
Taylor then brought up all the corporations that have owed tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands whose water was not shutoff. Somehow the payment delinquency of the rich and affluent is different than the generally forced payment delinquency of the poor.
Taylor's final statement in the interview was epic and bold. “The next time you invite me to be here, let’s have some truth and a fair exchange as opposed to Hank who doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Gobble up all the time. I’ll talk to you later.”
The Los Angeles Times has one of the most balanced accounts of the water crisis in Detroit:
In April, the city set a target of cutting service to 3,000 customers a week who were more than $150 behind on their bills. In May, the water department sent out 46,000 warnings and cut off service to 4,531. The city says that cutting off water is the only way to get people to pay their bills as Detroit tries to emerge from bankruptcy — the utility is currently owed $90 million from customers, and nearly half the city's 300,000 or so accounts are past due.
But cutting off water to people already living in poverty came under criticism last week from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, whose experts said that Detroit was violating international standards by cutting off access to water. "When there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections," Catarina de Albuquerque, the office's expert on the human right to water and sanitation, said in the communique.
"Are we the kind of people that resort to shutting water off when there are disabled people and seniors?" said Maureen Taylor, chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. "We live near the Great Lakes, we have the greatest source of fresh water on Earth, and we still can't get water here."