CNN’s Brian Stelter Says Reporters Are Letting Trump Off Easy After ‘SharpieGate’

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CNN’s Brian Stelter said the media’s framing of President Donald Trump’s map drawing incident effectively lets the president off the hook for supposedly lying about the trajectory of Hurricane Dorian.

Stelter was referring to a Sept. 1 tweet Trump posted warning that Dorian, which flattened parts of the Bahamas and killed scores of people, might hit Alabama. The president doubled down after a number of critics tried to correct him, showing a map of the path of the hurricane that had been altered with a sharpie in the Oval Office.

“The words we use and the frames we choose matter a lot. Here, I argue that the media’s framing of Trump’s Alabama errors actually let the president off easy,” Stelter wrote in a tweet Sunday that includes a clip of that day’s episode of “Reliable Sources,” which discusses the flap. “This wasn’t ‘Sharpie-gate,’ it was ‘lying about a hurricane-gate.'”


“Now, I don’t want to suggest that Trump is incapable of reading a map, but isn’t that the obvious question here? Did he see these maps? Did he understand what they showed?” he asked. “When you think about it that way, the media actually lets Trump off pretty easy” because it is not questioning the president’s critical-thinking skills, Stelter said.

The National Weather Service’s Birmingham office noted shortly after Trump’s Sept. 1 tweet that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency officials then issued a Sept. 6 statement on Twitter, saying Alabama was in fact potentially threatened by the storm at the time of the president’s tweet.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 04: U.S. President Donald Trump (R) references a map held by acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan while talking to reporters following a briefing from officials about Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office at the White House September 04, 2019 in Washington, DC. The map was a forecast from August 29 and appears to have been altered by a black marker to extend the hurricane's range to include Alabama. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) references a map (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

NOAA’s statement said information provided to Trump between Aug. 28 and Sept. 2 “demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.” (RELATED: Trump’s Campaign Is Selling Black Markers That Have ‘The Special Ability’ To Drive CNN ‘Crazy’)

Trump is also using the flap to generate campaign donations. His campaign is selling fine-point markers to piggyback off the of the kerfuffle.

“Buy the official Trump marker, which is different than every other marker on the market, because this one has the special ability to drive @CNN and the rest of the fake news crazy!” campaign manager Brad Parscale wrote in a Sept. 6 tweet.

Analysts are asking media pundits to stop giving airtime to the issue. FiveThirtyEight Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver, for instance, condemned the media firestorm over Trump’s claims, saying in a Sept. 6 tweet that they weren’t that inaccurate. He also called the debacle “tiresome” and said the issue is getting too much media hype.

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