Illustration by Amber Lipsey
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When Hurricane Dorian was projected to hit the Southern Gulf states, President Donald Trump tweeted that “In addition to Florida… Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

As it turns out Alabama was nowhere near projected to be hit by the hurricane, but Trump nonetheless continued to add Alabama on maps during his briefings, and soon all of his supporters and cabinet officials began to rally around these false statements, turning it into gospel, and all those who opposed it were heretics. 

Families in Alabama must have been frightened when the incorrect news of Hurricane Dorian striking their state reached them only hours before the actual storm made landfall in their neighboring states. And as Alabama is a majority Republican state, they would have been inclined to agree with the President they voted for. 

But this is just another day, and another repercussion of living in a country where the President is not afraid to lie about public knowledge to benefit himself. 

And it didn’t just stop at Trump either. Many officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were fighting amongst each other about whose map was truly right. The Washington Post reported that “a top NOAA official warned its staff against contradicting the president.”

Wilbur Ross, the current Secretary of Commerce (which NOAA falls under the jurisdiction of) coerced officials at NOAA to support whatever the president said regarding the status of the Hurricane, leaping over a very large ethical line in how his department operates during such a crisis. NOAA even officially released a statement featuring the skewed map that Trump drew. 

When the President chooses to ignore scientific fact in favor of his own political image, it should be condemned and criticized until the actual truth is presented. But it hasn’t, and probably won’t be until Trump and his cronies leave Washington. 

A scientific map of where a hurricane is going to land should not be a political debate, it is only fact. Even if Trump was given wrong information about the hurricane from one of his aides, it still does not excuse the fact that he did not even try to issue a correction, but rather spun the already outrageous story into one for personal gain. 

We continually cross very dangerous lines when those in power have to spin scientific facts to regurgitate them in their own image. Even as Mr. Ross himself said in a 2017 hearing about his agency,  “Science should be done by scientists, and I support the release of factual scientific data.”

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