Commerce Secretary Said to Have Threatened to Have Heads Roll if Weather Service Didn’t Back Trump on Alabama’s Dorian Risk

Wilbur Ross outside Trump Tower in New York, November 2016
Wilbur Ross outside Trump Tower in New York, November 2016
Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty)

In the latest fallout from Sharpiegate, the push to convince the American people that its wannabe emperor Donald Trump wears clothes, er, was correct, when he put Alabama in the path of Hurricane Dorian, went as far as threats of pink slips from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.


That’s according to the New York Times, which cites sources stating that Ross threatened to have the heads of NOAA’s chief and key staffers if the chief didn’t get the National Weather Service office in Alabama in line with Trump about the supposed storm threat to that state.

Per the Times:

That threat led to an unusual, unsigned statement [...] Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration disavowing the office’s own position that Alabama was not at risk. The reversal caused widespread anger within the agency and drew criticism from the scientific community that NOAA, a division of the Commerce Department, had been bent to political purposes.

Apparently all of this because Trump just couldn’t admit he erred when he tweeted last week that Alabama was among states in the path of the devastating storm Dorian.

As the Washington Post reports, Trump’s Labor Day weekend message stirred concern among some Alabamans, which had the Alabama National Weather Service sending a tweet of its own to state clearly that there was no threat from Dorian.

But determined to be “right,” Trump went so far as to present a map that appeared to have been altered with a black Sharpie pen in a bid to “prove” that Alabama “was too” in danger of being in Dorian’s path.



Now, according to the Times, fear of being fired had the National Weather Service putting out a tweet that served to back up Trump’s contention — despite science:

The actions by the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur L. Ross Jr., are the latest developments in a political imbroglio that began more than a week ago, when Dorian was bearing down on the Bahamas and Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that Alabama would be hit “harder than anticipated.” A few minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Ala., posted on Twitter that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.”


Mr. Ross, the Commerce Secretary, intervened two days later, early last Friday, according to the three people familiar with his actions. Mr. Ross phoned Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, from Greece where the secretary was traveling for meetings and instructed Dr. Jacobs to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president.

Dr. Jacobs objected to the demand and was told that the political staff at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not fixed, according to the three individuals, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the episode.


People in danger of losing their livelihoods simply for stating the real, much like the small child did in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes when he said of the vain ruler in that children’s tale: “But he hasn’t got anything on!”



When are we going to find out whether we’re at war with Oceania?