Dorian in Alabama

Friends have suggested that I should just let go of the latest insane antics of our Celebrity Apprentice president. I probably should, but instead I’m going to have one more go-round.

Donald Trump displays doctored weather map to prove he is right as always. Photo: Getty via Ars Technica

Trump screwed up a few days ago, and reported that Hurricane Dorian might hit the state of Alabama, and despite everybody in the whole world, including the National Weather Service and members of his staff telling him this just wasn’t true, he spent days doctoring official maps and repeating endlessly that Dorian was, too, going to hit Alabama (at one time). He could have just said “Sorry, I misspoke,” and moved on. An hour later no one would remember the incident. But Donald Trump can never be wrong, and he can never apologize.

The NWS corrected him 20 minutes after he made the Alabama prediction. The press corrected him and reported the story for several hours. When Trump kept insisting he was right, the press, and social media turned to mocking him, no more than what he deserved. In the photo above Trump is displaying a map on which he has used a felt marker to redirect the hurricane’s projected path into Alabama. So Twitter was filled with “corrected” maps, one showing a black felt-tip “border wall” visible from space. Someone else posted a picture of Trump’s inauguration crowd, with many felt-tip stick people drawn in to demonstrate that it was the largest inauguration crowd ever.

All very amusing, and I admit I laughed and laughed. But also I kind of sensed that at a time of genuine weather emergency along the eastern seaboard, the president’s job must be something other than obsessing about a minute slip of the tongue he had made and lashing out from the oval office at everyone who didn’t believe him — which was everyone.

Now thanks to Eric Berger at Ars Technica we can begin to understand the real damage that has been done — and the risks he took.


“Two sources in the Miami-based hurricane center told Ars that Trump’s “update” on Hurricane Dorian effectively paralyzed operations. After Trump spoke, the forecasters’ cell phones buzzed with incessant distractions. Media briefings were stopped for the afternoon. “Precious hours were wasted,” one official at the center told me. “We aren’t going to put out bad forecasts, but we need to keep the eye on the ball here.”

“Instead of warning residents of the Southeastern United States about a re-strengthening Dorian just as it posed its greatest threat to the nation, the media subsequently pivoted to cover Trump’s preposterous attempt to re-write the history of Dorian’s forecast. As an American, I felt embarrassed. As a meteorologist, I was livid.”

This is what happens when a game show host gets elected to high office. He has no idea what he’s doing. He just plays to the fans. And when the game show host is a pathological liar who can never admit a mistake, no matter how inconsequential, we are all at risk as he goes about producing his “show.”

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