Trump, US media just can’t let go of ‘Sharpie-gate’

Washington, Sept 7 (AFP/APP):It’s been six days and Donald Trump and the US media can’t seem to let go of a tit-for-tat involving the danger Alabama faced during Hurricane Dorian.

The bizarre episode has taken on an even more bizarre mascot — a Sharpie marker used to alter a map of the storm’s trajectory.

Trump has insisted via Twitter to his more than 60 million followers that he was correct about the danger the southern US state had faced. He has brandished a mysteriously altered weather map in the Oval Office. He has deployed a rear admiral.

And the US media has lapped it up.

On Friday — a day when survivors in the Bahamas and other places where the hurricane actually did hit were trying to rebuild their lives — the US president once more took to Twitter to argue about Alabama.

The media “went Crazy, hoping against hope that I made a mistake (which I didn’t),” he wrote. “Still without an apology.”

The spat might seem insignificant as one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record wheels up the edge of the US east coast after pulverizing the Bahamas.

But in terms of attention given by Trump, what’s become known as “Sharpie-gate” is no sideshow.

The strange tale began when Trump tweeted on Sunday that Alabama was among the states facing damage from the still approaching Dorian and would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

Minutes after Trump’s alarming tweet, the National Weather Service (NWS) counter-tweeted: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

By Friday, however, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency in charge of the NWS, seemed to vindicate Trump.

“From Wednesday, August 28, through Monday, September 2, the information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to President Trump and the wider public demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama. This is clearly demonstrated in Hurricane Advisories #15 through #41,” it said.

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