Brave government employees are standing up to Trump’s unbelievable claims about Hurricane Dorian and insisting on truth.
Trump repeatedly said that Alabama was at risk, when the state wasn’t, and then he insisted he was right when he was wrong. Federal agencies felt pressure to support his lies. And that’s what makes this episode so troubling and so long-lasting. When folks talk about a war on truth, this is exactly what they’re talking about.
But here’s the good news: Staffers at the agencies are not staying silent.
Four new developments
Also on Monday, NWS director Louis Uccellini spoke at a conference and praised the Birmingham office and said “they did what any office would do.” When he asked the local staffers to stand up and be recognized, there was a long standing ovation, per attendees.
What’s the takeaway here?
CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd emails: “The job of a cabinet secretary — in a democracy at least — isn’t to be the President’s personal censor, especially when lives are at risk. Wilbur Ross’s actions could have real human and financial costs. His job as commerce secretary is to advance business interests. But by threatening anyone at NOAA who disagreed with the president’s personal narrative is the exact opposite of that — part of NOAA’s mission is to provide businesses and communities with reliable information about the environment and weather so that they can protect themselves. Silencing facts is both undemocratic and it puts business interests and lives at risk.”
Vinograd adds: “In the near term, restrictions placed on NOAA means that real news — which could save lives when we’re talking about the weather — isn’t allowed to get out. Fake news — which could spread panic — is instead percolating at the president’s behest. This is state sponsored censorship with real human and financial costs.”
Trump “crossed a line”
“To say this out loud sounds ludicrous,” Anderson Cooper admitted on Monday’s “AC360,” but it’s true: “We have federal employees getting reprimanded for accurately disclosing scientific truths.”
“We do,” former W.H. ethics lawyer Richard Painter said. “And this is yet one more instance of the Trump admin distorting facts in order to cover for the president politically, presenting ‘alternative facts’ in Kellyanne Conway’s language, and now it’s affecting the weather.”
Former NOAA general counsel Monica Medina added: “This matters because the president’s changing of that weather map really crossed a line in terms of the sanctity of the weather forecast. It’s important that NWS speak with one voice, in unison, because they communicate to all the weather forecasters out there in the country.”