President Trump just won’t let Alabama go.
Six days after his inaccurate warning that Hurricane Dorian posed a threat to the state, the president again used his Twitter feed to complain about news coverage of his mistake.
“The Fake News Media was fixated on the fact that I properly said, at the beginnings of Hurricane Dorian, that in addition to Florida & other states, Alabama may also be grazed or hit,” Trump tweeted Friday morning. “They went Crazy, hoping against hope that I made a mistake (which I didn’t). Check out maps.”
“This nonsense has never happened to another President,” he continued. “Four days of corrupt reporting, still without an apology. But there are many things that the Fake News Media has not apologized to me for, like the Witch Hunt, or SpyGate! The LameStream Media and their Democrat partner should start playing it straight. It would be so much better for our Country!”
Trump has sent out at least 10 tweets on the matter since Sept. 2.
The latest missives came shortly after the now-Category 1 storm made landfall along Cape Hatteras, N.C., after lashing the Outer Banks. Dorian is being blamed for at least 30 deaths in the Bahamas, where it wreaked havoc as a Category 5 storm earlier this week.
The controversy began during a hurricane briefing at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, when Trump mentioned Alabama as one of the states that could be affected by Dorian.
“I will say, the states — and it may get a little piece of a great place: It’s called Alabama,” Trump said. “And Alabama could even be in for at least some very strong winds and something more than that, it could be. This just came up, unfortunately. It’s the size of — the storm that we’re talking about. So, for Alabama, just please be careful.”
“Alabama to get a bit of a beat-down,” the president told reporters on the South Lawn on Sunday afternoon.
But a forecast released by the National Weather Service more than an hour before Trump spoke showed the storm’s projected path had already turned northward and posed no threat to Alabama. The weather service’s Birmingham office quickly issued a correction.
Trump did not appreciate being corrected. In a tweet Monday night, the president bristled at the suggestion by ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl that his forecast was wrong. (He also called Karl a “lightweight.”)
During another storm briefing in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Trump showed reporters an enlarged map displaying what he said was the initial forecast path of the storm. The map, which was displayed on a posterboard, appeared to have been altered with a marker, extending the storm’s path to include Alabama.
In official photos of an Aug. 29 Oval Office FEMA briefing released by the White House, Trump views what appears to be an unaltered version of the map showing the storm affecting Florida and Georgia, but stopping short of Alabama.
Later, when asked if he knew the map had been altered to include Alabama, Trump said he did not.
“No,” the president replied. “I just know, I know Alabama was in the original forecast. They thought they would get it as a piece of it. It was supposed to go — actually, we have a better map than that, which is going to be presented, where we had many lines going directly, many models, each line being a model, going directly through. And in all cases, Alabama was it.”
Trump was then asked if the map he displayed was altered using a Sharpie, his pen of choice.
“I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know,” he replied.
An unnamed White House official told the Washington Post that it was, in fact, Trump who used a black Sharpie to mark up the map.
It is a violation of federal law to falsify an official government weather forecast.
On Wednesday night, Trump tweeted another map, from Aug. 28, showing the projected paths of the storm, with several touching Alabama, though most turning north before reaching the state.
This was the originally projected path of the Hurricane in its early stages. As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News apologies! pic.twitter.com/0uCT0Qvyo6— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2019
But the map — which was created by the South Florida Water Management District — itself states that forecasts from the National Hurricane Center should be considered more accurate and that “if anything on this graphic causes confusion, ignore the entire product.”
Trump continued to fume about coverage of his mistaken forecast on Thursday, firing off a series of tweets that included outdated maps showing a low probability of Dorian affecting Alabama.
“What I said was accurate! All Fake News in order to demean!” Trump tweeted, adding: “I accept the Fake News apologies!”
The White House also released a lengthy statement — attributed to Rear Adm. Peter Brown, Trump’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser — that sought to defend Trump’s misstatements. Brown’s statement did not address the altered map.
The White House passes along a statement (in image form) from Homeland Sec. and Counterterrorism Advisor Rear Admiral Peter J Brown on Alabama and Hurricane Dorian: pic.twitter.com/hDOlM6TWCT— Brittany Shepherd (@blrshepherd) September 5, 2019
On Thursday afternoon, Trump even summoned Fox News White House correspondent John Roberts into the Oval Office to complain about the cable network’s coverage of the doctored map he displayed to reporters.
“He stressed to me that forecasts for Dorian last week had Alabama in the warning cone,” Roberts wrote in an internal Fox email about the meeting, which was later provided to CNN. “He insisted that it is unfair to say Alabama was never threatened by the storm.”
On his Fox News primetime show Thursday night, Sean Hannity chastised journalists — to whom he referred as “psychotic jackasses” — for reporting on Trump’s fumbled forecast.
“Pretty much every newsroom in America screwed this up and lied to you by accusing the president of lying,” Hannity said. “But if you watch the media mob, you would think the president was lying.”
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