The media’s in a lather about this, but it’s so petty and “Veep”-ish that I think there has to be an innocent explanation. Even Trump wouldn’t do this.
On Sunday he tweeted a list of states that would be hit harder than anticipated by Dorian. All were on the east coast — except Alabama, which was surprised to find itself included since the latest forecasts at the time showed no risk in the Gulf. The local NWS took the unusual step of correcting the president publicly 20 minutes later in order to calm Alabamians who might have seen Trump’s tweet.
In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated. Looking like one of the largest hurricanes ever. Already category 5. BE CAREFUL! GOD BLESS EVERYONE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2019
— NWS Birmingham (@NWSBirmingham) September 1, 2019
Trump’s friends in the media noted his error, and naturally he got mad and doubled down:
….when in fact, under certain original scenarios, it was in fact correct that Alabama could have received some “hurt.” Always good to be prepared! But the Fake News is only interested in demeaning and belittling. Didn’t play my whole sentence or statement. Bad people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 2, 2019
The barest sliver of Alabama was included in early projections of Dorian’s path but not by the time POTUS tweeted on Sunday:
Overnight Friday the tiniest slice of Alabama was on the edge of the 5-day cone of uncertainty for the center of the storm. (No sharpie needed.) But by the time of the president's Alabama tweet the storm forecast had shifted well to the east. pic.twitter.com/GNwNF072d4
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) September 4, 2019
So … what happened at this photo op in the Oval Office this afternoon?
See the black line on the map in his hand, which conveniently covers Alabama? That’s obviously not part of the official NWS map. And why is Trump bothering to show an outdated map of an earlier projection anyway? The current projections have Dorian climbing up the east coast.
It sort of looks like he got mad at the media for noting his error and decided to have an old map doctored — clumsily — to make it appear as though he was right all along about the storm reaching Alabama.
Reporters asked him about it following the photo op: “I don’t know, I don’t know.”
REPORTER: That map you showed us today, it looked like it almost had like a Sharpie on it.
TRUMP: I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. pic.twitter.com/d2oZemOshh
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) September 4, 2019
I’m open to the pro-Trump explanation because the anti-Trump explanation seems just too absurd. What is that explanation? What’s with the line on the map?
Update: The Right Scoop notes that Alabama was included in the very earliest projections of impact as of August 30 but that had long since changed by the time Trump tweeted on September 1. The fact that he (or someone else) had to draw a line on the map he displayed today suggests that the Alabama projections were so early that the NWS wasn’t even making maps of the hurricane’s projected landfall until after Alabama had been eliminated from the equation. If there’s an NWS map showing Alabama in the storm’s path, why didn’t Trump just show that one? What’s with the Sharpie?