Liars on the Storm

This past Sunday, Donald Trump repeatedly said in public statements that Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian. He tweeted it. He said it at the White House. And he said it during his visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This, however, just wasn’t true. No one had forecast the hurricane making its way to the Gulf. And the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service even had to issue a statement telling the people of Alabama that they weren’t in any danger, regardless of what they might hear, as you can see here.

Had almost any other human being alive today been our president, I suspect this wound’t have become big deal. The story would have ended here with a simple admission of error. Our incredibly fragile president, however, apparently doesn’t apologize for his mistakes. So, instead, he’s decided to responded to the growing mockery by doubling down… Today, during an Oval Office briefing on Hurricane Dorian, Donald Trump not only claimed that his briefings about the hurricane over the weekend had included a “95 percent chance probability” that Alabama would be hit, but he presented a chart from the National Hurricane Center dated 11:00 on August 29, which, he indicated, showed that Alabama was in the hurricane’s path… Here’s the video released by the White House.

Pointing to the map, Donald Trump said, “We had… actually, our original chart was that it was going to be hit — hitting Florida directly… That was the original chart… It could’ve, uh, was going towards the Gulf.” And, if you look at the chart, you can see that Trump is right. Sure enough, there’s a black line showing the path of the hurricane crossing over Alabama. There’s just one problem. That line wasn’t on the original map produced by the National Hurricane Center.

Later this afternoon, during a White House event on the opioid crisis, Trump was asked by a member of the press whether the chart he’d shown reporters earlier had been drawn on. He responded by saying, “I don’t know… I don’t know.

Well, Bloomberg is reporting this evening that the line in question — the line showing Alabama to be in the hurricane’s path — the line the President claimed not to know the origin of — was in fact drawn by the President himself. As Bloomberg reported, “The map had been changed — by the president — with a black line that extended the storm’s path beyond Florida and into southern Alabama, according to people familiar with the matter.

As others have pointed out, this could well be a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 20, which states, “Whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the Weather Bureau, United States Signal Service, or other branch of the Government service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both.”

Given all the crimes Donald Trump is likely guilty of — like obstructing justice and buying the silence of mistresses in violation of campaign finance law — I don’t think this is anything we’ll ever see brought up again. With that said, however, I think it’s important to note because of what it tells us about Donald Trump’s incredibly fragile ego — the same ego that compelled him a few days ago to attack Elizabeth Warren when the press reported that she drew a larger crowd than he did. I know it’s difficult to summon empathy for Donald Trump, given his actions in office, but, when you strip everything else away, this is just really terribly sad. I mean, who in their right mind would go to such lengths just to avoid having to say, “I was wrong about Alabama being in the hurricane’s path”?

update: And he still can’t let it go.

update: Well, it took a while, but Trump found someone in his administration to fall on their sword. Rear Admiral Peter Brown, a White House homeland security adviser, issued a statement today taking responsibility for Trump’s repeated misstatements on the path of Hurricane Dorian. [I didn’t think it was possible, but somehow this story just keeps becoming more pathetic.]

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  1. Bob
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    Oh my God. I totally needed a topical Doors reference right now. You always know.

  2. iRobert
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    You’re always focusing on the negative, Mark. You could have as easily written a post about how impressed you were that our president is learning the names of the states.

    Personally, I give credit to Trump for not allowing Florida to hog all the attention on this. He’s fair-minded. He understands he’s not just the president for the states he can name and find on a map, but he’s the president for all of them, no matter how many there are and where they are.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    The man just needs a decent pair of reading glasses. There are many places that begin with an a and end with an a with an l in the middle that can be confused with Atlanta. Alabama is just one of them. Alaska is another.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    A Yale scientist on why this is horrendous.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Also, Trump’s wall has been completed.

  6. iRobert
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Fake News

    It’s clear that the moment it got out that the president was considering using a nuclear bomb to stop the hurricane, Dorian slowed down and changed course, turning north. That’s strong leadership. Hillary would have just let Dorian destroy Florida and Alabama.

  7. John Brown
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Forecast is for a 100% chance of a category 6 idiot wind.

    Imagine the shame of having been openly supportive of Agent Orange after this national psychotic break is quelled. The rash of GOP “retirements” is just the beginning.

  8. Meta
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Washington Post: “Not just Sharpie-gate: 7 other times officials tried to fabricate Trump’s ‘truth’”

  9. facebook stalker
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    From someone on Facebook:

    Yeah. This is a dress rehearsal for him taking a Sharpie to the electoral map after a narrow defeat in 2020. Dude is not gonna take it well. He’s got to lose big.

  10. Eel
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Is that a sharpie in your pocket, or are you just glad to kill democracy?

  11. anonymous
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I worry that people will start shooting people if he loses next year.

  12. Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    The operative phrase is, “in their right mind.”

  13. Jake Tapper by proxy
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    So it keeps going….

    After his 3 pm live shot today, Fox Sr WH correspondent @johnrobertsFox was beckoned to the Oval Office by @realDonaldTrump.

    The president had one argument to make: he wasn’t wrong about Alabama. “He stressed to me that forecasts for Dorian last week had Alabama in the warning cone,” Roberts wrote in an intern Fox email obtained by CNN. “He insisted that it is unfair to say Alabama was never threatened by the storm.”

    Roberts’ analysis of the meeting was that the president was “just looking for acknowledgement that he was not wrong for saying that at some point, Alabama was at risk – even if the situation had changed by the time he issued the tweet,” Sunday morning.

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  1. […] how we were talking a few days ago about Trump and his sharpie, and how, instead of just owning up to his misstatement about the path of Hurricane Dorian, […]

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