Sharpiegate: A Primer

Do you remember #SharpieGate? I do. I remember it well.

For those who were unaware, or deceived by the narrative, let me bring you up to speed.

In August of 2019, a hurricane developed over the Atlantic, and grew to a powerful cat 5 storm. In its track stood Florida, and either the Gulf (of Mexico) states, or the eastern seaboard, depending on which way it would turn.

Early projections were all over the place. Every meteorologist talked about the model projections. You may vaguely recall hearing about “The Euro Model.” Together they showed anything from an Atlantic washout to a possible track as far West as Georgia and Alabama. Most models, as you can see from this Aug 28 summary, included the Florida panhandle. The three westernmost paths go to Arkansas, Louisiana, and out through the Gulf.

NOAA Hurricane Dorian Model Projections

A series of events began on September 1, 2019, when president Trump tweeted a warning to citizens in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, in addition to Florida. It ended with an (all caps) “Be careful” and “God bless.” For this seemingly benign tweet, he was unilaterally blasted by media outlets, who mocked his stupidity for saying such an absurd thing.

Trump didn’t let it go. And why should he? The models, and many weather reports, all said the same thing. Besides, it isn’t as though this was the only message from the President about Dorian. The news media isolated one hardly significant detail that would have resulted in no harm, if inaccurate. So Trump tweeted out the image which I have above, validating his remark.

The National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama felt the need to chime in and tell Alabamans the storm would be “too far east” to reach the state.

This all came to a head on Wednesday, September 4, 2019. This is the moment now known as Sharpiegate.

In the Oval Office, with press present, a then current model chart was on display, with an obvious sharpie line drawn over it, covering parts of Alabama & Georgia.

Sharpie-enhanced version of Hurricane Dorian forecast track

Officially, we don’t know how that markup got there. It’s assumed Trump himself is responsible, though whether he penned it or not is anyone’s guess. As far as I’m concerned it wouldn’t matter, he took ownership of it by holding it up. It’s obvious he wanted the cameras to see. The following day he tweeted additional images, matching what was evidently added to the poster.

Now the media would not let it go. It was red meat to them. My Twitter feed flooded with lamenting journalists and pundits sharing the graphic scene from the White House. Over time, I hope to add some of the reports as examples. But it won’t be long before you hear something new mentioned about this saga. The lesson to learn here is that there really is a “fake news media” within the organization we think of as the press.

Here is one example of coverage to start things off. Remember the NWS contradiction? It’s not their job, nor is there any precedent to make a comment about what a president says. (info about request to retract or whatever). Vox refers to this as Wilbur Ross threatening to fire weather officials if they “refused to lie” about it. THAT is the narrative. Not that the NWS statement was inaccurate and didn’t represent the context & timing, but that instead the president was in error. Even though we’ve just shown how he was correct. The NOAA released a statement on Sept 6 affirming as much, with a link to the graphic that backs it up. And Vox (as well as plenty of other channels) call it a lie.

While it’s not simply one newspaper, channel, or any other individual outlet, the overall role of news has shifted away from informing the public to fabricating false narratives. The image of being news is still held up, they still begin hourly broadcasts with fact-driven coverage, news desks and serious faces, but did you see what “fact” they chose to highlight while a dangerous storm was approaching one of our most populated states?

What ultimately happened? Dorian stalled out, before hitting Florida. It stayed PARKED for nearly a week, before slowly moving up the coast. Dorian is #4 on this chart. The dates and locations are marked along the path – take a look at September 1-4 compared to the rest of the storm’s journey:

paths of 2019 Atlantic hurricanes

The Sharpie Story continues

President Trump’s Sharpie instantly galvanized the nation. It became the breaking story in daytime news, and intertwined with Dorian coverage from that point on.

This wasn’t the last we saw of the sharpie, either. Trump’s reelection campaign sold limited quantities of permanent black markers featuring “Donald J. Trump” signatures in packs of 5, which I of course bought 2 of right away. Some were used, some became stocking stuffers, others may one day form the foundation of the Sharpiegate Museum.

The president himself learned just how impactful a bold marker could be, and used it to both bait the press, and reinforce his message at the time. Here you see his stern statement regarding the call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he insists there was no quid pro quo. You may recall this also, that Democrat Senator Adam Schiff was alleging at the time Trump was guilty of a quid pro quo attempt to entrap Joe Biden. Trump responded by releasing a transcript of the call, which is available.

President Trump's memo
President Trump is seen holding a sharpie-written note to himself while speaking to members of the fake news press. November 20, 2019

He was holding this while doing one of his routine impromptu style pressers, which you can tell by the helicopter in the background.

To be continued…

Coming up: “We should not nuke hurricanes,” and other outworkings of Sharpiegate. These snippets are still being pieced into the overall story, and could wind up being separate from this primer.

Remember this Hillary Clinton remark? It’s based on a fake leak, which is at the heart of Sharpiegate.

They are STILL repeating this lie, and now legislating off it: “House bill would prohibit presidents from using nuclear or strategic weapons to defuse a hurricane or “altering weather patterns.”

Sharpiegate returns – is it time for round 2?

Don’t forget to check out my social media public channels: @FoaRyan on Twitter, Parler, Gab (maybe)