Hurricane preparations in the USA took an absurd turn yesterday, as President Trump appeared to perceive himself as a meteorological expert, going so far as to alter an official weather chart with a marker pen.
The United States is bracing itself in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian, a previously category 5 rated hurricane that has decimated the Bahamas, causing “generational devastation” and leaving at least 20 people dead.
The hurricane, now classified as a category 3, is currently making its way up the east coast, off the shore of South Carolina.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that “In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated”. This drew derision from twitter users, and quite possibly panic from the denizens of Alabama, who pointed out that the aforementioned state is not expected to feel any of the impact of the storm.
The National Weather Service of Alabama even had to intervene to correct Trump’s remarks, tweeting: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”
However, instead of correcting his error, or simply ignoring the gaffe, the President doubled down on his statement in a series of tweets. He posted graphs showing Alabama within the hurricane’s potential trajectory, remarking “I accept the Fake News apologies!”
Things escalated in hilarious fashion when Trump brandished a map in the Oval Office of Dorian’s predicted journey, which was altered with a single line of black marker pen to include Alabama. The media wasted no time in pronouncing it “Sharpiegate”.
There seems to be no limit to the lengths Donald Trump will go to protect his fragile ego; certainly not altering weather reports, which is in fact a federal crime. Any conventional politician would issue a brief apology for misinformation and nothing more would be thought of it, but Trump cannot resist drawing out trivial issues into extended public spats.
For a man who brands all opponents as “Fake News”, this is a staggeringly transparent denial of fact. Trump has a history of attacking or undermining government institutions like the National Weather Service, having previously launched a bitter campaign against the FBI and dismissed the National Climate Assessment with a simple “I don’t believe it”.
Let’s just hope that this juvenile behaviour does not draw attention away from the victims of the hurricane, especially the tragic loss of life and need for major infrastructure reconstruction in the Bahamas. Trump has been previously negligent in a similar situation with Puerto Rico – hopefully his citizens on the east coast will receive the necessary support after this natural disaster.
Written by Max Ingleby