Bill Ballenger, a prominent conservative pundit and former Republican lawmaker in Michigan, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Thursday morning that the coverage of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is “exaggerated.”
“The publicity about it is overblown. Look, there is a problem with the water in Flint, or there has been,” Ballenger said.
He acknowledged that “mistakes were made” in Flint but said that the reports of lead contamination in the city has created “terrible publicity for Flint.”
“It’s vastly exaggerated,” he said.
Ballenger questioned just how many people in Flint were negatively impacted by the lead in the city’s water supply. He noted that a state report recently found that 43 people had elevated levels of lead in their blood. But as USA Today points out, that report was based on those tested between October and December 2015 and does not reflect those exposed to lead before then.
The former lawmaker was fired on Wednesday from Inside Michigan Politics, a publication he founded, over his previous comments casting doubt on the evidence surrounding the Flint water crisis, according to The Detroit News. The publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, Susan Demas, called Ballenger’s comments about Flint “indefensible,” according to The Detroit News.
Ballenger, who still lives in Flint part-time, told The Detroit News that he is not concerned about bathing in or drinking the water and that the crisis has been “vastly overblown.”
“I’ve been drinking their water and bathing in it for years, including the last year and a half without a filter,” he said. “The idea that there’s a catastrophe in Flint and the state ought to fork over the extra $500 million found in the budget to solve the water crisis is one of the greatest absurdities of our time.”
Watch part of Ballenger’s interview on CNN:
— New Day (@NewDay) January 21, 2016