Fox News joined other networks yesterday in ridiculing a truly bizarre moment from the Oval Office where Trump appeared to show a forecast map of Hurricane Dorian with a hastily drawn extension into Alabama. Trump previously claimed that Alabama was in the hurricane’s projected path and was widely contradicted (including by federal officials). He then showed up with the map that seemed to have an extension written by a Sharpie. It was another bizarre misstep that expanded a minor story into a major embarrassment. Trump had to personally deny that he took a Sharpie to the altered map in what people are humorously calling “Sharpiegate.“
The apparent Sharpie job was no clumsy and amateurish that one had to wonder if someone on the staff was being passive aggressive and intentionally trying to make Trump look ridiculous. Anyone looking at that altered map would have said that it looked absurdly altered. That obviously did not include Trump himself.
Trump’s initial misstatement over Alabama was not particularly serious. Once could see how the mistake could have been made. Trump could have just let it drop or even, perish the thought, admitted that he was wrong. Parts of Alabama was likely to get heavy rain but was not really in the path. Trump however doubled down.
Trump had already objected to the critics over his Alabama claim and returned to the subject by raising the National Weather Service’s early forecasts of Hurricane Dorian’s path. In what was clearly an effort to quiet the criticism, Trump declared “We got lucky in Florida, very, very lucky indeed. We had actually our original chart was that it was going to be hitting Florida directly… And that would have affected a lot of other states.”
Fox correctly reported that this was not the map issued by the government. In discussing the scene with Bret Baier, John Roberts noted that there was never a forecast track into Alabama and “You can see somebody with a Sharpie or some other writing instruments added a little bit to the cone of uncertainty, which was not a part of the official forecast, which included the Florida panhandle and parts of Alabama.”
This is yet another example of how this White House and this President is ignoring a fundamental rule of life and politics: when you are in a hole, stop digging.