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

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

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.”

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight 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

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.