President Donald Trump has been surrounded by so many scandals and controversies that a scandal from two months ago can seem like a lifetime ago — for example, the Hurricane Dorian/Alabama fiasco of early September. With the Ukraine scandal and an impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives dominating the headlines, few journalists are still talking about the Dorian/Alabama debacle. But journalists Asawin Suebsaeng and Sam Stein, in a November 7 article for The Daily Beast, discuss a series of e-mails showing just how much misery Trump caused the National Weather Service in order to avoid admitting that he had made a mistake.
Back in early September — when Hurricane Dorian was getting ready to pound the East Coast of the United States — Trump claimed that Alabama was going to take a direct hit. But the National Weather Service corrected him, stressing that Alabama wasn’t in Dorian’s direct path. A more responsible president — Barack Obama, for example — would have admitted to making a mistake and said something along the lines of, “The National Weather Service informs me that contrary to what I previously reported, Alabama is not in Dorian’s immediate path. I stand corrected. But I cannot stress enough that Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas must take every possible precaution.” Trump, however, doubled down on his mistake and insisted that that Alabama had, in fact, been in danger.
Trump, Suebsaeng and Stein recall, altered a “days-only forecast” map to “prove that Alabama was in danger when it really wasn’t. It was yet another bizarre, protracted episode of the Trump presidency and one that, as e-mails released under the Freedom of Information Act show, created massive internal headaches for personnel at various agencies.”
Suebsaeng and Stein explain that meteorologist “e-mail traffic provides a window into just how much Trump can upend the functions of a government in the midst of a crisis — all in the service of satisfying his pet grievances or fleeting fixation of the moment.”
In a September 5 e-mail, for example, Chris Darden — who was in charge of the National Weather Service office near Birmingham, Alabama — wrote, “This has really gotten out of hand.”
Darden was frustrated, Suebsaeng and Stein note, because “workers directly involved in handling hurricane response were forced to turn their cellphones off because of the influx of media calls seeking an explanation for the president’s tweets and his accompanying efforts to prove he’d been right about Alabama all along.”
Trump’s inability to admit he had made a mistake, according to Suebsaeng and Stein, became an unnecessary headache for the National Weather Service at a time when Dorian was a very real threat — although not for Alabama.
“The incoming e-mails appeared to truly start deluging on September 4, after Trump held an Oval Office event at which he displayed a map of the country on which he had scribbled, with a sharpie, an extended cone designed to show that Alabama had been in the path of Dorian,” Suebsaeng and Stein point out. “Earlier, the National Weather Service office in Birmingham had insisted that the state was not in danger, and with the president now directly — if not ham-fistedly — contradicting that proclamation, the calls and e-mails began arriving in bulk.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), according to Suebsaeng and Stein, decided to release a statement backing Trump’s claim that Alabama was in danger — and NOAA programmer Alek Krautmann, in an e-mail to public affairs officer John Leslie, complained that the statement “is deeply upsetting to NOAA employees that have worked the hurricane and not fully accurate based on the timeline in question.”
Here are 3 winners and 3 losers from the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the other leading Democratic presidential primary candidates Wednesday night in the fieriest evening of the race so far.
His presence on the stage drew fire from the other candidates, but it also seemed to change the overall tone of the debate, with more attacks, counter-attacks, and passion than was generally seen earlier in the campaign.
Here’s a (necessarily subjective!) list of the winners and losers from the fray:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — Warren hit her stride right as the debate started by attacking Bloomberg for his record on the mistreatment of women, racist policies, and his tax returns. She repeatedly came back to skewer the former mayor, making herself the biggest and most notable presence in the debate. But importantly, she also continuously brought the discussion back to the issues she cares about — like expanding health care, environmental justice, and consumer protection — while getting in digs at the other candidates on the stage.
Michael Bloomberg ‘lost everything’ in Las Vegas: MSNBC analyst
Senior editor for "The Root," Jason Johnson, concluded that the biggest loser of the Democratic debate in Las Vegas Wednesday was Michael Bloomberg, but not merely because of his debate performance.
"The big new name was going to be Michael Bloomberg," he said. "This was probably the most expensive night in Vegas I've ever seen. He lost everything. This guy has spent $320 million. He had the opportunity to stand on stage, and appear to be an equal, and he looked bored. He looked disenchanted. He stumbled over obvious questions that anybody would have anticipated about sexual harassment and stop and frisk. I thought it was a bad night for him."
Pro-immigration protesters interrupt Joe Biden’s closing statement at debate
Former Vice President Joe Biden's closing statement was interrupted by protesters at Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate.
As Biden began his remarks, demonstrators began shouting about the Obama administration's record on deportations.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 20, 2020