As a surge of warm weather throughout the eastern United States brought either a respite from January cold or the shape of winter to come for the climate anxious, the White House posted an innocuous, if bizarre, image on its official Twitter page on Sunday night:
Though the Trump administration has a thorough record of suppressing climate politics — from dropping out of the Paris Agreement to attacking the science underlying EPA research — the picture was odd, considering that D.C. residents would immediately know it wasn’t true: D.C. on Sunday hit a high of 69 degrees, and bottomed out at 49 degrees.
The idea behind the image — the administration of the entertainer turned politician is lying about the weather — would be a dollar-movie-bin ripoff of Orwell if it wasn’t utterly harmless. (There are more concerning examples of Trump lying about the weather, however, including his refusal to admit that he doctored a map charting the expected landfall for Hurricane Dorian.)
In instances as ridiculous as these, the administration appears to be prodding at an unusual question: Are they messing with us? Why bother to post such an image on a disturbingly warm day if not to goof on the capital city’s liberal inhabitants, or anyone who can look up the weather for that matter? The question is especially salient in light of a prank late last week from a GOP pollster, Frank Luntz, who told Vanity Fair that Trump once told him his middle initial, J., stood for “genius.” While it’s possible Luntz could be covering himself post-publication, the magazine published the claim without presenting it in the context of a joke.
Though Newsweek reports that the White House later amended the claim, stating that the image was from snowfall on January 7, the picture comes days after an intergovernmental European agency released its data showing 2019 to be the second-hottest year on record.