Internal Emails Confirm that Trump’s Hurricane Map Was “Doctored”

New documents reveal White House deception during #Sharpiegate.

Trump in the Oval Office with the doctored mapEvan Vucci/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Last September, as powerful Hurricane Dorian barreled towards the Bahamas, Donald Trump tweeted that several southern states, including Alabama, would be in its path. This was directly contradicted by the National Weather Service’s latest maps, which showed Alabama outside storm’s cone of uncertainty. Instead of admitting that he made an error, the president doubled down, displaying an altered NWS map depicting a tiny portion of Alabama in a cone that appeared to have been hand drawn with a marker. The incident was dubbed #SharpieGate.

Emails just released to Buzzfeed News and other media outlets show the internal panic over Trump’s false claim at NWS and its parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“HELP!!” is all NOAA spokesperson Dennis Feltge wrote to his superiors when a reporter asked for clarification about the president’s claim. The emails show NOAA officials confirming that the White House’s map was “doctored” and referred to the Trump administration’s attempt to cover up the president’s mistake as “crazy.”

As worry spread throughout both NWS and NOAA, agency forecasters and scientists feared retaliation if they contradicted the president by providing accurate information about the deadly storm. John Murphy, the chief operating officer at NWS, told another official how to respond to such concerns: “Plan to look them in the eye and tell them they have nothing to fear and we will defend actions.”

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate