Accuracy in Media

President Donald Trump postponed a planned trip to Poland because of Hurricane Dorian barreling down on the U.S. East Coast, but because he did not solely spend his time in a FEMA meeting or hurricane shelter, the media took exception.

“The president did speak to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday,” wrote Allie Malloy of CNN under “Trump went golfing as Hurricane Dorian threatens US.”

“DeSantis, a Republican, said in a news conference that Trump is ‘fully engaged’ with federal, state and local officials. And as the president spent a few hours playing golf at his course outside Washington, he continued to be briefed ‘hourly’ on Hurricane Dorian, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

“But early Monday morning, Trump’s attention was – at least in part – on other things. He touted the economy on Twitter. He slammed political foes, including former FBI director James Comey and the four Democratic congresswomen of color known as ‘The Squad.’ And he used Labor Day to tweet an attack on the AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, writing that he ‘likes what we are doing until the cameras come on.’”

Time magazine tried to make it look as if Trump was attempting to sneak in his golf without being detected. “As Hurricane Dorian, one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, slammed through the Bahamas en route toward the southeastern United States, President Donald Trump was spotted on the links at a Trump-branded Virginia golf club,” wrote Josiah Bates in the lead of “President Trump Seen at the Golf Course While Hurricane Dorian Approaches the U.S.”

Later, Bates wrote that “Trump was also seen at the golf course on Saturday.”

Slate did the same. “A CNN camera crew managed to catch Trump in the act of golfing with three other people,” wrote Daniel Politi under “Trump Spends Labor Day Tweeting, Golfing as Hurricane Dorian Threatens U.S.”

Trump’s press people communicated his whereabouts to reporters throughout the weekend.

“President Trump, Weatherman: Dorian Updates and at Least 122 Tweets,” read the headline on Katie Rogers’ article in the New York Times.

“Over the long weekend, President Trump monitored Hurricane Dorian from a golf cart at his club in Virginia, calling for regular updates from an aide trailing him around the course,” wrote Rogers in her lead. “By 8 p.m. Monday, as Dorian churned toward Florida and Mr. Trump’s boarded-up Mar-a-Lago resort, the president had golfed twice and since Saturday morning pelted the American public with 122 tweets.

“As he has done during other hurricanes, Mr. Trump awaited landfall by assuming the role of meteorologist in chief, adding weatherman-style updates to a usual weekend routine of attacking his enemies, retweeting bits of praise and critiquing the performance of his cable news allies.

“With his reality-show approach to the presidency, Mr. Trump has a habit of weighing in on the day’s most-covered news stories with his own running commentary. As Dorian approached, Mr. Trumped switched into town-crier mode, updating the public on what he had learned – or, what he thought he’d learned – from government officials as Dorian threatened the coast of the state of Florida, where he has owned property for decades.”

Trump’s performance on the weekend does show that, “like other occupants of the Oval Office,” he “appears to understand that national weather catastrophes demand White House attention and can damage a presidency if not handled well.” She goes through the history of this – LBJ did a good job with Hurricane Betsy; George W. Bush seriously hurt his administration with his response to Katrina – then quotes a presidential historian, Julian Zelizer, on Trump’s response.

“’Trump is a different category,’ Mr. Zelizer said in an interview, ‘in that it’s not even that he’s not doing enough or the right. It’s almost as if he doesn’t want this role at all, and he has no interest in stopping his traditional, normal tweet storms.’”

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