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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

 
Serving King Donald

by digby




The following
is an unimportant story in the larger scheme of things. But it illustrates just how much Trump's impulsivity, ego and narcissism guide every aspect of the Executive branch:
Senior aides at the Commerce Department forced the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to publicly rebuke its weather forecasters in Birmingham, Ala., for contradicting President Trump’s comments about the threat Hurricane Dorian posed to that state, even after NOAA informed them that the agency’s meteorologists were not aware at the time they were contradicting the president, according to three officials familiar with the matter.

The NOAA officials spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity surrounding ongoing investigations into the agency’s actions regarding Hurricane Dorian. NOAA and its National Weather Service are part of the Commerce Department.

According to emails released via a Freedom of Information Act request from The Post and other news organizations, Julie Kay Roberts, NOAA’s deputy chief of staff and communications director, was told on Sept. 2 about the motivation behind a tweet that the National Weather Service office in Birmingham had sent at 11:11 a.m. the day before. When forecasters there tweeted that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian,” they were responding to an influx of calls from worried residents and not to an earlier tweet from Trump.

Trump had wrongly tweeted at 10:51 a.m. the same day that Alabama would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” sparking confusion and fear in the state. Alabama was not in the so-called “cone of uncertainty” for Dorian at the time, or close to the zone most likely to be affected by its hazardous conditions.

“I wanted to let you know that the forecasters in Birmingham who made the clarification post for Alabama [were] unaware of the POTUS tweet when they made their post,” Susan Buchanan, director of public affairs for the National Weather Service, wrote to Weather Service and NOAA officials, including Roberts, in an email on Sept. 2.

The Washington Post reported on Sept. 11 that this was the case. However, Buchanan’s email brings to light that senior agency officials knew this four days before NOAA issued the controversial, unsigned statement critical of the forecasters for speaking “in absolute terms.”

The new emails also show that Chris Darden, the meteorologist in charge of the Birmingham office, had written in an email to Weather Service officials, including Buchanan, on Sept. 1: “Some in [the] media assumed, understandably so, that our social media posts were a direct response to the [White House] post. In fact, they were not as we were not even aware of them at the time. It was directly in response to the increase in calls from anxious and panicked citizens and core partners.”

As the political storm swirled during this period, between Sept. 2 and when NOAA sent out its statement on Sept. 6, the agency was dealing with the high-stakes work of forecasting the actual hurricane, which peaked at Category 5 intensity and devastated the northwestern Bahamas.

Roberts received an early-morning phone call on Sept. 6 from senior Commerce Department aides traveling with Secretary Wilbur Ross in Greece, directing her to put together a timeline of events involving the forecast for Hurricane Dorian and the risk it posed to Alabama and related agency communications on the matter, according to two of the NOAA officials. She and acting NOAA head Neil Jacobs were then involved in providing feedback to the Commerce Department regarding an unsigned statement the agency ultimately sent out the same day that was critical of the Alabama forecasters, as The Post previously reported.

Knowing that the forecasters had no political motivations, Jacobs and Roberts tried but failed to block the paragraph admonishing them, which originated from the Commerce Department.
[...]
Senior political officials at the Commerce Department, including Michael Walsh Jr., chief of staff to Ross, Dave Dewhirst, deputy general counsel, and Earl Comstock, director of policy, orchestrated drafting the statement, The Post reported.

The president fucked up with his ridiculous tweet and high ranking people in the Commerce Department ended up demanding that other people be reprimanded despite having done nothing wrong.

This is the US government under Trump in a nutshell. It is all about him.

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