Trump’s Hurricane Dorian tweet mistakenly flames a Kentucky pastor
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Baptist pastor in Kentucky was mistakenly flamed Monday by President Donald Trump in a since-deleted tweet intended to criticize media coverage of Hurricane Dorian.
The president was lashing out at several national media outlets for reporting how statements from Trump on which states could get hit by Dorian were misleading.
“Such a phony hurricane report by lightweight reporter @jonathancarl of @ABCWorldNews,” Trump tweeted Monday evening. “I suggested yesterday at FEMA that, along with Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, even Alabama could possibly come into play, which WAS true.”
Bahamas devastated: Historic hurricane Dorian growing, lurching toward USA
The problem is, @jonathancarl is the Twitter handle for Jonathan Carl, the lead pastor of South Fork Baptist Church in Hodgenville, Kentucky, which is about 55 miles south of Louisville.
Confused? Yeah, a bit of background info is necessary in this case.
On Sunday, Trump had tweeted that Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama would “most likely be hit much harder than anticipated” by Hurricane Dorian, which battered the Bahamas Monday.
Dorian, at one point a Category 5 hurricane, had weakened early Tuesday to a Category 2 and was expected to turn toward Florida and the East Coast after pounding the Bahamas, where it left at least five people dead and destroyed roughly 13,000 homes.
About 20 minutes after Trump’s Sunday tweet, the National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama, tweeted that Alabama “will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian.”
“We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama,” the weather service office tweeted. “The system will remain too far east.”
Trump also told reporters at the White House later Sunday that “Alabama is going to get a piece of it, looks like. But it can change its course again and it could go back more toward Florida.”
That prompted numerous news outlets and reporters — including Jonathan Karl, the chief White House correspondent for ABC News — to point out that Trump’s statement on Alabama was misleading or incorrect.
‘He is a terrible mayor’: Trump defends golf during Hurricane Dorian preparations in attack on London Mayor Sadiq Khan
Surprising to perhaps no one, the media correction did not sit well with the commander-in-chief.
At 7:12 p.m. Monday, Trump berated the “phony hurricane report by @jonathancarl,” accidentally mentioning the Kentucky pastor instead of “@jonkarl” with ABC News.
Four minutes later, the initial tweet was deleted and replaced with a verbatim statement that mentioned Karl instead of Carl.
“They made a big deal about this …,” Trump continued in a follow-up tweet, “when in fact, under certain original scenarios, it was in fact correct that Alabama could have received some ‘hurt.’ Always good to be prepared! But the Fake News is only interested in demeaning and belittling. Didn’t play my whole sentence or statement. Bad people!”
Carl, who has served at South Fork Baptist Church in Hodgenville since 2011, was suddenly and unknowingly thrown into the Trump Twitterverse.
But the 39-year-old pastor and Army veteran who served in Iraq seemed to handle the mix-up just fine.
“I’m not on Twitter too often, so somebody on Facebook gave me a heads up,” Carl told the Courier Journal. “I just had a laugh. … I’m a victim of a drive-by tweet.”
Dorian wreaks havoc on the Bahamas: Here’s how you can help storm victims
On his Twitter and Instagram accounts, Carl posted a screenshot of Trump’s tweet that mentioned him.
“When the President of the USA accidentally tags you in a tweet … you get a lot of interesting correspondence lol!!” Carl posted Sunday evening. “Praying for those in the path of the hurricane and for all of our governmental leaders!”
Carl said other social media users have previously mixed him up with Karl and sent him “snarky” comments, but he has never been on the receiving end of “presidential snarkiness.”
Carl added he did not feel angry but rather sad for the president.
“Politics aside, I’ve seen a lot of the stuff the president puts out there. The people who receive that from him, you get the crazy responses,” Carl said. “There is a lot of hatred out there in the world, and it’s sad when somebody’s that negative and picking on people pretty consistently.”
‘Waffle House Index’: It’s a real thing during disasters. How does the restaurant chain do it?
Carl said Trump’s recent tweets take away from the bigger issue of people “who are really suffering right now in the Bahamas” and others on the East Coast who are scrambling or preparing for the worst.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Dorian was expected to move “dangerously close” to Florida’s east coast late Tuesday through Wednesday night before continuing north along the Atlantic coast later this week.
“People should choose kindness instead of being hateful,” Carl said. “It goes a long way.”
Follow Billy Kobin on Twitter: @Billy_Kobin