NOAA Criticized for Siding With Trump’s Modified Weather Map
The Primary: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration drew heat from scientists after they publicly sided with President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian was going to hit Alabama. While agencies have previously sided publicly with the president, it’s the first time the weather has been politicized.
Who? What? Why?: On Sept. 4th, Trump showed a weather map that had been modified with a Sharpie to show Hurricane Dorian reaching Alabama. After the Birmingham office of the NOAA said he was wrong and residents of Alabama need not panic, the NOAA released a statement siding with the President’s claim.
The Baseline: The NOAA also reportedly sent an email to its employees urging them to not contradict the president, leading to outrage from its employees and other scientists. Scientists were stunned that the NOAA “leadership would put [Trump’s] feelings and ego ahead of putting out weather information accurately,” per the Washington Post.
From the Left: Steven D. Schwinn of the LA Times thinks the real focus of “Sharpie-gate” should be on executive authority, and how “the president has unilateral and plenary authority to enforce the law as the president sees fit.” By using the Sharpie on the weather map, Trump was changing reality, Schwinn argues, and the NOAA’s response shows the strength of his authority and how worrisome that authority is.
From the Right: Andrew Egger of the Bulwark says "Sharpie-gate" and its aftermath are testament that parody has become reality under Trump’s presidency. Eggers implores Trump-supporters to come up with a new excuse for this debacle, since they’ve been able to for every other one so far.