With Trump, There’s Smoke and Sometimes Fire

By Ross Marchand

For vacationers eyeing Southeastern states for sun and waves, the advice given for an incoming hurricane is simple: stay away. Similar advice can be doled out to those driven to the internet during a tweetstorm by President Donald Trump.

For the past couple of years, a pattern emerges following the president’s urge to tweet about a seeming hodgepodge of issues: think post office reform, water markets, or South African land seizures. In the 24 hours following one of his hyperbolic missives, the denizens and self-appointed fact-checkers of the World Wide Web become experts on the topic chosen by the commander-in-chief, and an avalanche of rebuttals follow. Yet, very few fact-check the fact-checkers.

By and large, the best that Trump’s supporters can muster are typical reactionary snark. The battle over rhetorical supremacy on Twitter and among the cable news commentariat is waged. The air gets sucked out of the room, with simple facts and reasoned analysis nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, the millions of Americans looking for level-headed analysis of the issues identified by Trump needn’t completely steer clear of the internet. Archived searches, customized to deliver news and analysis on a subject published before a tweetstorm, allows the resumption of a normal debate.

Case-in-point: the president’s pronouncement on wildfires and water policy, tweeted on August 5 and 6. Commenting on the wildfires rampaging through the Western United States, Trump accused California of magnifying the crisis through “bad environmental laws, which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean.”

Governor Jerry Brown must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Can be used for fires, farming and everything else. Think of California with plenty of Water – Nice! Fast Federal govt. approvals.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2018

A simple Google News search on any relevant combination of words (try “wildfire water shortage”) will reveal media outlets such as CNN, NPR, Vox, Politifact, and the Huffington Post lending absolutely no credence to the president’s linkage of wildfires and water rights. NPR’s unequivocal suggestion that “fire experts say there is enough water in California to fight the fires” completely ignores media reports published before the tweetstorm suggesting that California firefighters at times face water shortages in battling the flames.

In December 2017, for instance, Brenda Gazzar of Los Angeles Daily News documented firefighters’ struggles getting water from maxed out hydrants and dried-up ponds. As for the water being diverted to the Pacific Ocean, it’s also possible to see the truth behind the claim—but only by looking at reports published before Trump’s comments.

In 2015, Andy Lipkis, founder of an NGO called Tree People, pointed out in a Forbes interview that, “The biggest misconception is that it doesn’t rain in California. The fact is, it does rain, even in Los Angeles and southern California. But we throw away …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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