As Hurricane Dorian darkened the skies over the Carolinas on Thursday, the Category 2 storm also fueled a squabble between the White House press secretary and CNN.
Stephanie Grisham, President Donald Trump’s top spokeswoman, delivered the first blow, chastising the network for an on-air graphic mislabeling the state of Alabama as Mississippi.
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“Hi @CNN, I know you guys are busy analyzing lines on a map, but perhaps you use your time to study up on U.S. geography?” she wrote online.
The Twitter account for the network’s communication’s team, @CNNPR, hit back in a post roughly an hour and a half later: “Thanks, Stephanie. Yes, we made a mistake (which we fixed in less than 30 seconds). And now we are admitting it. You all should try it sometime.”
The retort represented a veiled jab at the president’s ongoing refusal to acknowledge he erred in predicting Dorian would hammer Alabama as it approached the United States. Trump was roundly mocked on social media after displaying from the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon an apparently Sharpie-altered early forecast showing the state within the storm’s path.
The doctored map backed up Trump’s assessment in a Sunday tweet that Alabama and a handful of other southeastern states “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated” — even though the National Hurricane Center had already projected that Dorian’s track would veer far from Alabama.
Trump dug in Thursday morning, firing off at least four tweets or retweets defending himself and criticizing reporters’ coverage of his dubious claim.
“Alabama was going to be hit or grazed, and then Hurricane Dorian took a different path (up along the East Coast),” he insisted online. “The Fake News knows this very well. That’s why they’re the Fake News!”
Eric Trump, the president’s son, also joined in on the attacks, citing the “pettiness” of a Washington Post story on the controversy as “exactly why the public hates the media.”