Fox News anchor Martha McCallum was harshly criticized after she appeared not to know that Puerto Rico is a United States territory while reporting on Hurricane Ian.
McCallum and fellow Fox anchors were discussing Ian's impact on the state of Florida after it hit the western portion of the state as a Category 4 storm and brought significant destruction in its wake.
She then brought up Ian's impact on Cuba—where two people died this week—as well as the effects of Hurricane Fiona on the island of Puerto Rico, which has been an unincorporated territory of the United States since 1898.
You can hear what she said in the video below.
McCallum suggested Puerto Rico is not part of the country when she said:
“You know you feel terrible for people in Puerto Rico who were just hit, in Cuba who were just hit."
"Thank God we have better infrastructure in our country, we've put a lot of investment into making sure that we're ready for these things."
Puerto Rico was settled by a succession of Indigenous peoples beginning 4,000 years ago; these included the Ortoiroid, Saladoid, and Taíno. It was then colonized by Spain following the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the island in 1493.
Puerto Rico was contested by other European powers, but remained a Spanish possession for the next four centuries. In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, Puerto Rico was acquired by the United States.
Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917 and can move freely between the island and the mainland. However, as residents of an unincorporated territory, American citizens of Puerto Rico are disenfranchised at the national level, do not vote for the President or Vice President, and generally do not pay federal income tax.
The island has also been at the center of controversy in recent years after the former Trump administration failed to provide federal aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which destroyed infrastructure and killed thousands according to oft-disputed body counts.
Many criticized McCallum after her gaffe.
Democratic President Joe Biden announced he intends to visit Puerto Rico to assess the damage from Hurricanes Fiona and Ian.
During a briefing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Biden appealed directly to Puerto Ricans, saying that he is "committed to you and the recovery of the island" and "stand by you for however long it takes to get it done.”