ENVIRONMENT

Trump's Inaccurate Hurricane Dorian Comments Show His Obsession With Size

The president’s love of big crowd sizes, poll numbers and TV ratings extends to big storms, as well.

President Donald Trump’s commentary on Hurricane Dorian’s size and potential destruction has been nothing short of harrowing these last few days, with him forecasting an atmospheric “monster” of unprecedented size to barrel into the U.S., striking as far west as Alabama.

Though his commentary hasn’t been all correct, according to the National Weather Service, it does appear to exemplify his ongoing fixation with size.

The former reality television star on Sunday exclaimed in an interview that he doesn’t know whether he’s “ever even heard of a Category 5 hurricane,” which Dorian ― since downgraded to a Category 2 ― was at the time. This is despite there having been three earlier Category 5 storms during his presidency: Irma, Maria and Michael.

President Donald Trump speaks during a Federal Emergency Management Agency briefing on Hurricane Dorian on Sunday. Trump said
President Donald Trump speaks during a Federal Emergency Management Agency briefing on Hurricane Dorian on Sunday. Trump said he didn't think he had ever heard of Category 5 hurricanes, though there have been three, prior to Dorian, during his presidency.

“I knew it existed, and I’ve seen some Category 4s ― you don’t even see them that much ― but a Category 5 is something that I don’t know that I’ve ever even heard the term other than I know it’s there,” he told reporters.

That same day he tweeted a warning that Alabama is among the states most likely to be “hit harder than anticipated” by the approaching storm.

The National Weather Service later indirectly corrected Trump in its own tweet, insisting that Alabama “will NOT see any impacts from Dorian.” Despite this, Trump on Monday lashed out at an ABC reporter who fact-checked his inclusion of Alabama, calling the network’s report “phony” and insisting he was not wrong.

Hurricane Dorian was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane on Tuesday after slowly crossing through the Bahamas.
Hurricane Dorian was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane on Tuesday after slowly crossing through the Bahamas.

Also, in a video announcement on Friday outside the White House, Trump warned viewers that the approaching storm could be an “absolute monster.”

“It does seem almost certain that it’s hitting dead center and that’s not good,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll get lucky ... all indications are it’s going to hit very hard and it’s going to be very big. Somebody said bigger or at least as big as Andrew,” he said, referencing the 1992 Category 5 storm that was the most destructive to ever hit Florida.

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, speculating on the reason behind Trump’s amplification of storm developments, suggested that in his mind, bigger is always better.

“I think it’s something that he likes the sound of a big number, so it’s, ‘Wow, Category 5,’” she said on CNN Monday. “I think he just likes the sound of it and he thinks that a big number sounds good. He has always been somebody who traffics in big numbers.”

Trump has been known to inflate and even obsess over size, including crowd size, polling numbers, TV ratings and even the size of his hands.

Bea Tyson, 2, hangs out with her dog, Navy, at the beach in St. Augustine, Florida, on Tuesday.
Bea Tyson, 2, hangs out with her dog, Navy, at the beach in St. Augustine, Florida, on Tuesday.

As for Trump’s penchant for updates and commentary, Haberman speculated that the president likes being the first with information, even if it’s half-baked.

“Because it sounds better to say, ‘Wow, can you believe this? This is shocking new information I’m presenting to you,’” she said.

One such tool he uses to do this is, of course, Twitter, where over approximately 60 hours ― between 7:45 a.m. on Saturday morning and 8 p.m. Monday night ― he issued 122 tweets to the public, The New York Times reported.

As serious of a storm as Trump warned Dorian could be to the U.S., the president was ridiculed on social media for hitting a golf course on Saturday and Monday. This was after he gave the impression on Friday that he would spend the weekend monitoring the storm with experts at Camp David in Maryland.

Trump on Tuesday defended his decision to hit the green following criticism by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, arguing that it was “a very fast round.”

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