NOAA warned from above not to contradict Trump before they released statement backing him
Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were warned to not speak out nearly a week before they released a statement backing President Donald Trump's Alabama claim.
According to the Post, an agency-wide directive was sent to National Weather Service personnel to “only stick with official National Hurricane Center forecasts if questions arise from some national level social media posts which hit the news this afternoon.”
They were told to not “provide any opinion.”
A NOAA meteorologist said the note came after their Birmingham office contradicted Trump and said that Alabama would “NOT see any impacts from the hurricane.”
The agency was warned again to not speak out after Trump showed an official hurricane map modified with a black sharpie.
“This is the first time I’ve felt pressure from above to not say what truly is the forecast,” the meteorologist said. “It’s hard for me to wrap my head around. One of the things we train on is to dispel inaccurate rumors and ultimately that is what was occurring — ultimately what the Alabama office did is provide a forecast with their tweet, that is what they get paid to do.”
The statement that the NOAA put out on September 6th appearing to back Trump is now coming under fire from scientists within the agency. We're now learning that the statement was attributed to an unnamed agency spokesperson.
"That statement set off a firestorm among scientists, who attacked NOAA officials for bending to Trump's will," writes the Post.
“This looks like classic politically motivated obfuscation to justify inaccurate statements made by the boss. It is truly sad to see political appointees undermining the superb, lifesaving work of NOAA’s talented and dedicated career servant,” said Jane Lubchenco, who served as NOAA administrator under President Barack Obama.
Even more - since the NOAA is part of the Commerce Department, the statement had to be approved by them, which is headed by Secretary Wilbur Ross. What's the likelihood that Trump didn't order this statement directly from his own cabinet official?
The NOAA's political statement made no reference to the fact that when Trump tweeted about Alabama being at risk, the state was totally in the clear from Hurricane Dorian's path.
“It makes me speechless that the leadership would put [Trump’s] feelings and ego ahead of putting out weather information accurately,” said Michael Halpern, a deputy director at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “If we’re politicizing the weather what is there left to politicize? We’re seeing this kind of clamp down of scientists across the government, and it’s been an escalating trend.”
“I have never been so embarrassed by NOAA. What they did is just disgusting,” Dan Sobien, president of the National Weather Service’s labor union, wrote on Twitter Friday. “Let me assure you the hard working employees of the NWS had nothing to do with the utterly disgusting and disingenuous tweet sent out by NOAA management tonight.”