Trevor Noah didn’t even try to contain his laughter Wednesday night. Superimposed on the screen next to the Comedy Central host was an image taken earlier in the day of President Trump holding up what he claimed was an “original chart” forecasting the path of Hurricane Dorian. Only the map, dated Aug. 29, had been altered, and now featured a lopsided semicircle drawn with black marker.
“Did he draw. … Did he draw with a Sharpie?” an incredulous Noah asked before dissolving into giggles.
On Wednesday, days after Trump erroneously tweeted a warning that Alabama would be among the areas “most likely” to be hit by the powerful storm, the president was widely mocked for displaying the doctored graphic that extended Dorian’s projected cone into the southeastern corner of the state. The hand-drawn addition, which indicated the storm would move from Florida into Alabama, made it appear that Trump’s Sunday tweet was correct, despite officials with the National Weather Service and updated forecasts saying otherwise.
“I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m impressed that Trump can locate Alabama on a map,” Noah said. “But still, the president of the United States just changed a map with a Sharpie to make himself look right, and he thought we wouldn’t notice.” (White House spokesman Hogan Gidley confirmed that a Sharpie was used, but who drew the line remains a mystery.)
The illustration, shown in a video released by the White House Wednesday afternoon, instantly caught the attention of many, including late-night hosts, who ridiculed the president for once again appearing to distort facts. By early Thursday, “#sharpiegate” and other similar hashtags were still trending on Twitter.
“He’s not even trying to hide the lies anymore,” ABC host Jimmy Kimmel said. “Not only do we have fake news, we now have fake weather, too.”
On their respective shows, Noah and Stephen Colbert both cracked jokes about how the enhanced map reminded them of a breast augmentation surgery.
“Before I did that, it was a Category 5,” said Colbert, speaking in his Trump voice on CBS. “Now, she’s a Category 10.”
For Seth Meyers, Wednesday’s Oval Office briefing only raised more questions about Trump.
“After this, I have to wonder if his high school report card was legit,” the NBC host said, showing a photo of a fake document covered in F’s that were turned into A’s with black marker.
But as the jokes and memes poured forth on Wednesday, many stressed that changing an official government weather forecast isn’t just, as one person put it, “MASSIVELY dangerous and irresponsible,” it’s also illegal. According to U.S. Code, “Whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the Weather Bureau, United States Signal Service, or other branch of the Government service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both.” The hurricane chart Trump showed featured the official logos of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service.
“Oh my God, do you know what this means?” Colbert gleefully asked his audience. “We finally caught Trump doing something wrong.”
Colbert continued: “Mr. President, you’re going to weather jail.”
The host also came up with a new name for the gaffe.
“Now, because of the fact that the president misinterpreted where the water would go, I’m calling this scandal ‘Water-gate,’” he quipped.
Meanwhile, on social media, the hurricane map inspired many people to show off their own artistic abilities, tagging their marked-up images with #sharpiegate.
Black stick figures appeared on aerial photos from Trump’s inauguration. Crudely drawn walls popped up in the desert. Trump was shown with comically large hands.
No one has claimed credit for the hurricane map’s Sharpie art, but Colbert pointed to Trump as the culprit, suggesting the president’s interactions with reporters after the briefing were evidence of his guilt. When pressed about the unusual marking, Trump responded, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.”
“Oh, he did it,” Colbert said. “You know how I know? Because Trump has never ever ever said he doesn’t know anything. That’s a sure tell that he knows something.”
More from Morning Mix: