“Not Based On Science”: Chief NOAA Rebukes Trump As IG Investigates Allegations Of Political Pressure To Reverse Forecast That Contradicted Trump

I have previously written about the controversy over President Donald Trump’s comments on Hurricane Dorian and the latest self-inflected wound in what is being called “Sharpiegate.” The name however masks something more serious. It is not the bizarre decision to mark up a hurricane map with a Sharpie to extend the path to Alabama. It is not even the bizarre refusal to just acknowledge an honest mistake in not acknowledging that path predictions on that day showed the hurricane avoiding Alabama. The more serious problem is what the statement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) effectively rebuking the forecast of its Birmingham office contradicting the President. There are now reports that the Commerce Secretary threatened firings if NOAA did not issue a statement supporting Trump’s untrue statement. When Trump issued his statement no one was predicting that the hurricane would hit Alabama (days earlier there was a possibility that Alabama could be effected). Various scientists and experts denounced NOAA’s statement and the politicalization of NOAA. Now the Inspector General is investigating and Craig McLean, NOAA’s acting chief scientist, has called the unprecedented NOAA statement “political” and a “danger to public health and safety.”

The unsigned statement that supported Trump’s account shocked experts in the area because NOAA has historically been protected from political pressure and is widely respected as an apolitical and renowned scientific organization. Various former high-ranking NOAA officials called for the resignation of acting NOAA head Neil Jacobs and now Secretary Wilbur Ross (who has denied threatening to fire people).

The one fact that is clear is the statement itself. In his equally rare intervention, McLean stated “My understanding is that this intervention to contradict the forecaster was not based on science but on external factors including reputation and appearance, or simply put, political.” He added “If the public cannot trust our information, or we debase our forecaster’s warnings and products, that specific danger arises.”

Now the Inspector General will investigate. It is again baffling to see this type of self-inflicted damage. The public trusts and relies on NOAA. It is a clean and respected an agency as you will find in government. If the IG’s report finds that the White House pressured scientists to retract a forecast to spare the President from embarrassment, it could be highly damaging with voters who relies on NOAA for its accuracy and honesty. Indeed, in key states like Florida, NOAA hurricane forecasts are the most important criteria in making plans for families.

There is ample reason for an IG investigation. This is no small thing. We need our scientists to be protecting from political pressure and focus on accurate science-based projections. The rebuke of the Birmingham forecast shattered that tradition.

I have criticized the media for what I see as biased reporting against Trump — just as I have criticized Trump for his attacks on the media. However, the only thing greater than the winds of Dorian was the spin of the White House excusing the President’s conduct. Once again, no one would have placed much import on the President admitting a mistake in saying that he was referring to dated (and now invalid) projections of the Hurricane path. Instead, the refusal to admit a mistake (however small) has now triggered another IG investigation and global ridicule.

Trump supporters are doing the President no favors in playing along with this spin. Polls are showing an increasingly bad political position for the GOP, including a rising threat to losing the Senate in 2020 (something considered remote just a few months ago). That does not mean that the Democrats cannot again lose the unloseable election. However, beating up on NOAA is not going to help.

64 thoughts on ““Not Based On Science”: Chief NOAA Rebukes Trump As IG Investigates Allegations Of Political Pressure To Reverse Forecast That Contradicted Trump”

  1. according to people familiar with the discussion.

    was it reportedly, reportedly or allegedly and where’s the beef all the linked source died out with a big thud

  2. FYI: The U.S. Commerce Department has stated that Wilbur Ross did not threaten to fire any NOAA staff.

    The National Weather Service says their Birmingham office didn’t even know the president had weighed in. Their tweet on Sept.1st wasn’t in response to him, and “was in no way political, or an attempt to address, correct, or embarrass the president as has been inaccurately reported.”

    By the way, a former NOAA scientist claims that NOAA actually changed data to make the Obama Administration ‘look good,’ … and yet Donald Trump is again being called a ‘mentally unstable’ villain, a ‘threat to our democracy,’ because he dared to dispel ANOTHER false narrative being promoted by his detractors – that he was defending anything other than the fact that there WAS a forecast map that did include Alabama. Those who claim they don’t want to ‘politicize’ the issue of weather reporting can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to discrediting this particular president. Sad state of affairs.

    #WeatheringClimatePolitics

    1. Thanks Tidewriter. All the leftist cr-p on this topic was based on spin. The reporting of what was said was from anonymous people. The news media spun whatever may have been said so that they could spin and report what they wished while quoting spun information from one another.

  3. “WASHINGTON — The White House was directly involved in pressing a federal scientific agency to repudiate the weather forecasters who contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian would probably strike Alabama, according to several people familiar with the events.

    Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publicly disavow the forecasters’ position that Alabama was not at risk. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, issued an unsigned statement last Friday in response, saying that the Birmingham, Ala., office was wrong to dispute the president’s warning….

    The White House had no immediate comment on Wednesday, but the senior administration official said Mr. Mulvaney was interested in having the record corrected because, in his view, the Birmingham forecasters had gone too far and the president was right to suggest there had been forecasts showing possible impact on Alabama.

    Mr. Trump was furious at being contradicted by the forecasters in Alabama. …

    Mr. Ross called Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, from Greece where the secretary was traveling for meetings, and instructed Dr. Jacobs to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president, according to three people informed about the discussions….”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/us/politics/trump-alabama-noaa.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

    1. Funny, not one quote from any of the people involved and the only evidence provided was from the Washington Post that likewise reported what they wished without any proof.

      Noteworthy is neither the New York Times or the Washington Post have apologized for the Russia hoax which has and continues to be proven false. By this time anyone but a Neanderthal knows that these two newspapers do not report news rather they create it.

    2. A former NOAA scientist claims that NOAA actually changed data to make the Obama Administration ‘look good,’ but of course, we all know that Donald Trump’s the egomaniac. #NiceTryBuNoCigar

      #WeatheringClimatePolitics

    1. and we are enlightened you brought this to our attention because now we have purpose in our life. We can’t wait for your next nugget of truth to keep us going

      1. It is nice to know that Dr. Death has been enlightened because up to now he has demonstrated a nihilistic streak even saying that maybe Richardson shouldn’t be kept alive. Maybe he felt she didn’t have any more of a purpose in life than he.

  4. Once again, no one would have placed much import on the President admitting a mistake in saying that he was referring to dated (and now invalid) projections of the Hurricane path.

    This appears to be wishful thinking on Turley’s part as Trump’s statement was not incorrect. It was consistent with the probability chart and advisories published by NOAA. The NOAA statement is factually correct. Whether it was produced in response to political pressure is another matter that is not known with certainty at this point.

    1. olesmithy. that’s complete BS. Trump;’s statement was not consistent with any NWS probabilities. On the morning he made it, there was a 10% chance that the very SE corner of Alabama – maybe 50 miles into it – would experience winds as high as 39 MPH.

      10% chance.

      39 MPH.

      Trump said “….Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,.”

      Give it a rest.

    2. You are one of the Trump supporters to whom Turley refers in his commentary.

      “Trump supporters are doing the President no favors in playing along with this spin.”

    3. His statement at THE TIME he made it, was incorrect. He was referring to outdated material.
      A simple, “Oh, I was referring to old info – sorry.” May not have ended the controversy but it would have been honest and dignified. Not that many of us expect either to come from President Trump.

      Your comment is pragmatic to a fault.

      This president continues to shoot himself in the foot and appears to believe that if he just continues to assert that, “‘I’m not wrong…its the fake news.” We will accept what he says. He makes it clear, with his rambling ‘oratory’ and misinformed tweets that he IS wrong. Instead of tending to the business of the presidency he spins his wheels in an attempt to move the goal posts so that he can save face.

      He needs to just stop. He’s simply not good enough to fool all of the people all of the time.

      1. Look at Squeeky’s reply with the http of the NHC maps at the time. Look at the spagetti maps. They all show potential activity in Alabama at about the same time as the President’s remark. That places weren’t in the cone is not the issue since the cone’s position can change radically in a matter of hours and those near the danger are warned about these potential changes over and over again.

        The foolishness was on the part of the media and unfortunately Professor Turley all who made a big issue over nothing more than a minor difference of opinion when the President was trying to wish people in the surrounding areas nothing more than safety.

  5. SCIENCE SHOULDN’T TAKE BACKSEAT TO TRUMP’S VANITY

    BUT TRUMP EXPECTS IT TO

    Professor Turley aptly summarizes the situation with this passage:

    “We need our scientists to be protected from political pressure and focus on accurate science-based projections. The rebuke of the Birmingham forecast shattered that tradition”.

    Since taking office, Trump has declared war on America’s institutions; most notably the media. Yet Trump has attacked the courts, Department of Justice, FBI, CIA, EPA, Department of Agriculture, Census Bureau, California and Urban America.

    In short, any person, jurisdiction or institution that conflicts with Donald Trump is attacked as an enemy subject to harassment. This spirit of vindictiveness has no place in our democracy. It is completely alien to every principle this country was founded on.

    Though one can be sure Vladimir Putin admires Trump’s efforts to destroy America’s integrity. In this regard Donald Trump is precisely the bad actor described by Christopher Steele.

    1. The left-wing funded trolls do it hourly: Anon, Natacha, Hill, et al fling comments on these pages like sh!t on a shoe that smells and repels everyone

      Small wonder they never get laid

      😃

  6. That’s rich. It’s not the President but it’s the little guys. This is just nuts. A president who can’t take correction is a dangerous man. He never let up.

    1. Cult members here will believe and say anything to prop up their scumbag leader. It’s unbelievable. In a few years they’ll all forget they bought this crap, or least try to.

        1. OLLY – I agree. I think the Democrats should impeach trumpet immediately. It is the best thing the Democrats could do to retake both the house and the presidency.

        1. Notice how Greenland was never in the path?

          Trump was right to want to buy Greenland. We should buy that land mass because it is a safe space from hurricanes and Sharpies. Send Jeff Zucker and the lying liberals there so that they can inbreed and produce to their wankers dellight. Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon need not worry

        2. Thank you for reposting a link that clearly demonstrates only a tiny corner of Alabama had a remote chance of being affected by “tropical storm strength winds” at the time Trump included Alabama among the states that would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated”. The President made bit of an overstatement, wouldn’t you agree? It’s handy how you can even pause the projected path on the morning of September 1st, when Trump issued his alarming tweet.

          Later that morning, before Trump went into full ego-defense mode, he even offered a much more accurate forecast: “And Alabama could even be in for at least some very strong winds and something more than that, it could be. “

        3. mespo, see above.

          I saw these maps. They show “tropical storm force wind” probabilities.

          At one point, there was a 10% chance that the very SE corner of Alabama – maybe 50 miles into it – would experience winds as high as 39 MPH.

          10% chance.

          39 MPH.

          Trump said “….Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,.”

          No, that was and is wrong.

        4. mespo – the Democratic Party has become a religion like Scientology. They don’t allow you to leave and they track you down when you try to say something bad about them. They even have their own cultists who write bad things about you I point you to Anon1.

        5. No one has said he lied. What is being said is that he referred to outdated information and then in his pathological need NOT to be wrong, doubled down and made a much bigger issue of his mistake than if he’d just admitted he’d referred to outdated material.

          As of September 1, the outlook for Dorian’s path had been revised and clearly shows that Alabama was not in its cross hairs.

          That this situation has now evolved into stories about folks being fired because they could not support the assertion by the president, is ludicrous and grossly unbecoming the POTUS.

          President Trump could have ended all of this with a simple admission that he’d been referring to information that was outdated. He is human, we make mistakes.

          I can’t speak for everyone, but when I’m faced with a person will not admit their mistake and then salts the wound by assuming that I’m so ignorant that they can bully me into believing their assertions – just by force of will – when the facts are on my side…? I tend to think that person has the most fragile of egos and not someone I can trust.

          https://heavy.com/news/2019/09/hurricane-dorian-spaghetti-models-latest-track-sept-1/

  7. There are now reports that the Commerce Secretary threatened firings if NOAA did not issue a statement supporting Trump’s untrue statement.

    If true, he’s an amateur. The professionals in the political world don’t do small time threats, they go big and usually for financial and power reasons. Here’s how professionals do it:

    It was a foreign policy role Joseph R. Biden Jr. enthusiastically embraced during his vice presidency: browbeating Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government to clean up its act. And one of his most memorable performances came on a trip to Kiev in March 2016, when he threatened to withhold $1 billion in United States loan guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders did not dismiss the country’s top prosecutor, who had been accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in his own office and among the political elite.

    The pressure campaign worked. The prosecutor general, long a target of criticism from other Western nations and international lenders, was soon voted out by the Ukrainian Parliament.

    Among those who had a stake in the outcome was Hunter Biden, Mr. Biden’s younger son, who at the time was on the board of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch who had been in the sights of the fired prosecutor general.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/us/politics/biden-son-ukraine.html

  8. Turley: There are now reports that the Commerce Secretary threatened firings if NOAA did not issue a statement supporting Trump’s untrue statement.

    Here we go again with anonymous sources.

  9. Turley: The more serious problem is what the statement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) effectively rebuking the forecast of its Birmingham office contradicting the President.

    Doubling down on an incorrect understanding of the issue is not good form. NOAA’s probability data showed that Alabama was a potential target. NWS’s comment referred to NOAA’s watch/warning data. These are not the same and doubling down does not change that. So, it was correct (given the fake news and internet blog posts) for NOAA to point out that Alabama was in the crosshair for nearly a week. Trump and NWS addressed two different aspects of the forecast. The error is that neither NOAA, NWS, MSM or White House made that clear.

    https://www.noaa.gov/news/statement-from-noaa

    1. olesmithy, thanks for that demonstration of cult cant. .

      No, Alabama was not a potential target of Dorian on Sunday morning when Trump had to be corrected by the NWS.

      The unsigned statement by “NOAA” was coerced by Ross under threat of firing and was like your comments, pure horses..t.

      Like many federal agencies now, we know to ignore you.

      1. Anon 1, that is wrong. The potential of a hit was very real when Trump said so (see NOAA probability chart). On Sunday NWS said no impact based on the watch/warning NOAA chart but at that time the probability chart still said a potential hit was likely. Both are correct and both failed to indicate the basis for their statements. The unambiguous statement by NOAA noted that their advisories from August 28 – September 2 said that Alabama could be impacted. Contrary to your unsupported statement, there is no evidence that NOAA’s statement was coerced – just delusional TDS stuff by MSM using anonymous sources.

        1. olesmithy, look at the details of the BS political appointees of NOAA put out as supporting eveidence. It doesn’t support what you think it does. I saw these charts when they were issued. They show a 10% chance of 39 MPH winds hitting the very SE corner of Alabama. That is not “….Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,.” as Trump said and that insisted on.

          BS

          1. Anon 1, wrong. Read the advisories and NOAA’s statement. Alabama was in the crosshair and the exact track is never known which is why warning is given. Words like “could impact”, “hit harder”, etc. are used as such statements should not understate the danger. Stop trying to politicize a non-issue (except in Jackassery minds) that has been blown all the way up to a tempest in a teapot.

            1. Trump has politicized it by his inability to just admit a mistake and move on, and instead trying to punish scientists doing their job

              You are wrong. Take your pick. Look at the sequential tropical wind force maps or the sequential projected hurricane cone maps. The former shows at worst a 10% chance of 39 mph wins in the far SE corner of Alabama. The later shows that no part of Alabama was ever in the projected cone for Dorian. Neither of these suggests anything like your leaders warning of things getting worse fore Alabama. Do you need help finding these? I don’t want you to have any excuse for remaining ignorant on the facts off this absurd event.

          2. P.S. Anon 1. Wrong about chart. At one point it showed 30% probability of >=39 mph winds. Probabilities are probabilities and not certainties which is your incorrect understanding. Given that NOAA is dealing with probabilities it is always best to err on the safe side.

            1. Olesmithy, no one has ever accused Anon1 of having the ability to understand probabilities or to correctly use statistics.

  10. CNN reported it as hitting Alabama, so it must be true. Nuf said.

    Oh, and that line of crap about NOAA being politicized, pleaze. They have be fudging climate numbers for years to make the temperatures look hotter than they were.

      1. olesmithy – we do not have hurricanes here so it is not something I keep up on. Same thing with earthquakes. No earthquakes, no worry.

    1. Hi Squeeky. Great video that I never see outside of the archives. Am I missing it?

      I think Turley is super frustrated that Trump has performed so well so much so that he is producing these meaningless blogs to get back at him. This is what happens when one lives in Washington too long. Those on the southern coastline I believe have a bit more respect for the unpredictability of hurricanes. Elsewhere a person who lived on high land was flooded from a hurricane that didn’t actually hit anywhere near his area.

      It is clear that the winds from this hurricane were predicted to hit Alabama over a considerably long period of time including the time Trump rendered his opinion. That means Turley has gone way out on a limb just to get revenge for Hillary’s loss.

  11. Hurricanes don’t follow predictions very well. The margin of error is always large and growing over time. As long as it had not gone north of Alabama there was always a possibility of Alabama being affected. A minor solar storm (Kp2) drew the teeth of Dorian as it stalled. Forecasters immediately changed the tracks to landfall in the Carolinas.
    But, of course, the issue is not facts but politics where the facts don’t matter.

      1. Ah, oh Anon one, if only those folks in the UN IPCC would realize that (as shown in a recent peer-reviewed paper) the forecasts of AGW are smaller than the error-bars. AGW is a totally mathematical forecast, and, like a hurricane track, time will tell.
        The actual path was just *outside* the edge of the projected paths in forecasts made as Dorian approached the Bahamas. That minor solar storm changed things. The Euro-model was first to react and then got it right.

    1. “Hurricanes don’t follow predictions very well. ”

      Of course they don’t and that is the problem, but it takes those facing the hurricane time, money and energy to secure their homes and themselves. In certain areas the roads become so congested that one cannot move and airline seats can be booked days in advance. The weather service warns that people should be prepared even if they are NOT within the cone because hurricanes can quickly change direction and speed. Planes are grounded when the winds are too high. Whoever thought that Andrew would destroy an area so far inland.

      All this talk is BS by those that wish to bash Trump. It shows the seedy side of some very bright people along with the seedy side of some very dumb ones.

  12. As my Constitution Law class Professor John Nowak commented regarding a similar brouhaha at the University of Illinois, “The fight is so large because the stakes are so small.”

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