Trump held a nonsensical weather update on Tuesday in the Oval Office in which he didn’t show the present National Weather Service forecast for the Category 2 hurricane churning just offshore, but rather a forecast from nearly a week prior, altered with what appeared to be a Sharpie permanent marker to include Alabama. Trump had long insisted the hurricane endangered The Cotton State, even after meteorologists repeatedly corrected his claims.
The bizarre maneuver quickly caught the eye of the media and social media users, who mocked the president’s pettiness and objection to reality. Some more serious figures pointed out the chief executive probably broke federal law by altering a weather forecast to include false information.
However, Trump just couldn’t let it go. Tuesday evening, he tweeted about it again, showing an August 28 map of several computer models for Dorian’s potential path and noting that “almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News apologies!”
This was the originally projected path of the Hurricane in its early stages. As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News apologies! pic.twitter.com/0uCT0Qvyo6— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2019
However, the media backpedals were few. Instead, they really let the president have it, coining the hashtag #SharpieGate. The roasting quickly became a who’s-who of gaffes, slip-ups and wishful thinking by Trump spanning his nearly three-year-long presidency.
Right at the beginning, there was the debate about the size of the crowds at his January 2017 inauguration:
BREAKING: Trump releases new inauguration photo confirming massive crowd pic.twitter.com/s9BdTx8s7y— Adam Blickstein (@AdamBlickstein) September 4, 2019
Who could forget Trump mistakenly saying there were airports in the late 18th century, during the US War of Independence?
Also, while we’re at it...— Jo (@JoJoFromJerz) September 4, 2019
Apologies for this too, lamestream media?? pic.twitter.com/lIcrlR3GvW
And of course, perhaps his most infamous promise, the wall on the Mexico border wall that he has long struggled to make a reality?
Memesters hit more recent targets, too, like his relationship with the late financier and accused child sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein:
What if - what if we just redrew the world map to include Greenland, which Trump recently tried to buy from Denmark? You think they would notice?
Folks imagined Trump applying Sharpie Logic to other parts of life, too, like retconning a badly-played game of darts:
Even local governments got in on it, with the DC City Council joking the president’s mansion had moved from its Northwest location to east of the Anacostia River.
According to this “change of address” postcard we received, the White House has announced its new mailing address will be 1600 Alabama Avenue, SE #Sharpie https://t.co/pqtgJZVWuu pic.twitter.com/ODvDLlaFkr— Council of DC (@councilofdc) September 4, 2019
Could Sharpiegate be Trump’s great cultural contribution to history? His Mona Lisa?
It’s unclear how deep of a hole Trump is willing to dig for himself, but he can at least rest easy knowing it’ll likely stay dry: the latest National Weather Service forecasts have Dorian heading out to sea without posing much of a danger to Washington, DC - or Alabama.
As Thursday ground on, the White House decided to enter the fray once more. The president's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, Rear Adm. Peter J. Brown, issued a statement stating that he had briefed Trump on the potential paths and impacts of Hurricane Dorian, including the "possibility of tropical storm force winds in southeastern Alabama."
The White House just issued a statement from the homeland security adviser -- Rear Admiral Peter Brown -- insisting Trump was briefed Sunday on the potential impact from Dorian, which he says included "possibility of tropical storm force winds in southeastern Alabama." pic.twitter.com/yD74EaUhP0— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) September 5, 2019
However, while the statement is carefully hedged to - very correctly - note that storm effects can extend well beyond the eye of the storm, the path of which is indicated by the "cone of uncertainty" in diagrams like that Trump held up, Brown failed to address the core of #SharpieGate: the drawn-on addition to the eye's potential path that included southeastern Alabama.