This whole thing started Sunday morning with a tweet from President Trump about the path of Hurricane Dorian. Six long days later, that tweet has become central to the president’s politics, an emblem of his ongoing war against the media and a source of fundraising for his campaign.
If you’ve been near a newspaper, phone or a television over the past week, you’re probably aware of at least the broad strokes of what happened. Trump claimed that “[i]n addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” By that point, as the map above shows, Alabama wasn’t at risk, and the National Weather Service quickly made that clear.
The incident might have faded at that point but for an ABC News report noting that Trump’s assertion was incorrect. That prompted a tweeted rebuttal from Trump claiming (falsely) that his original tweet was correct.
The incident might have faded at that point, but Trump wasn’t done. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday, he showed an outdated map of Dorian’s anticipated path, adding a drawn-in loop to suggest that it had at some point been headed toward Alabama. The Post reported Thursday that Trump himself had drawn that loop, using one of his signature Sharpie markers. That change spurred an understandable amount of coverage, given how obviously Trump seemed to be trying to prove himself correct after the fact and how clumsily he’d done so.
Over the next two days, Trump repeatedly tried to prove that his warning to Alabama had been correct by noting that early forecasts suggested either that Alabama might be in Dorian’s path or, later, that it might see some higher wind as a result of the storm. But at the time of Trump’s tweet, it simply wasn’t the case that Dorian was headed to Alabama or that the state would be “hit (much) harder than anticipated.” At the time, in fact, there wasn’t even really much of a chance that Alabama would see any effects from the storm, as the National Weather Service suggested.