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

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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.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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