President Donald Trump spent a week insisting that his inaccurate claim that Alabama could be in for major effects from Hurricane Dorian was not, in fact, wrong. (It was.)
Which is bad enough. But that isn’t the worst part of the story. The worst part is this – via The New York Times on Monday afternoon:
“The Secretary of Commerce threatened to fire top employees at NOAA on Friday after the agency’s Birmingham office contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, according to three people familiar with the discussion.”
That revelation comes after the NOAA released an unsigned statement backing Trump on Friday, a move that drew widespread derision within its rank and file.
If you’re surprised about any of this, you shouldn’t be. Trump’s lies and misstatements aren’t just damaging in that they erode the idea that Truth and Fact exists outside of political spin. They are damaging because they create a culture within his administration in which telling the truth is less important than making the boss happy.
It’s in that sort of culture where Kirstjen Nielsen, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, was told by chief of staff Mick Mulvaney not to bring up election interference around Trump because the President would assume it was about de-legitimizing his 2016 victory. A culture where professional weather forecasters are told not to speak from their expertise because that expertise contradicts the musings of the President who, not for nothing, isn’t a meteorologist.
That’s the truly insidious thing about how little regard Trump has for truth. It’s not about one guy who doesn’t tell the truth. It’s about the culture that disregard for truth creates. And how not telling the truth becomes incentivized in an upside-down world where whatever Trump says must be agreed to solely because he is Trump.
The Point: When party affiliation or loyalty to a political figure trumps – ahem – a commitment to facts and transparency, we’re all in trouble.