'U Up?': FEMA Gives Trump The Ability To Mass Text America
Next Thursday, you -- along with most of America -- will be getting a special text message from none other than Donald Trump. Will it read, simply, "U up?" Will it be yet another denial of the fact that 3,000 people in Puerto Rico have died as a result of Hurricane Maria? Will it be a picture of his penis? No. Not for now anyway. It will just be a test of FEMA's new emergency alert system.
So, you know the alerts you get on your phone is there's some kind of serious weather emergency, or an Amber alert or something? For some reason FEMA has decided to "test these alerts on a Presidential level." According to CNN, "FEMA is also tasked with ensuring that the President can alert the public under all conditions in cases of national emergencies, including natural disasters and terrorist threats."
According to a press release from FEMA:
The EAS is a national public warning system that provides the President with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency. The test is made available to EAS participants (i.e., radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers) and is scheduled to last approximately one minute. The test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. The EAS message will include a reference to the WEA test.
It seems, frankly, that there are a lot of people out there who are more qualified to alert the public during a national emergency, and also to determine what a national emergency is. Judging by what he thinks is appropriate to say on Twitter, this could certainly get weird. And possibly racist. There's also no way to opt out of this -- if your carrier signs on, then you sign on.
This would be, I suppose, totally normal if we had a normal president with a normal idea of what constitutes a national emergency. As it stands, we do not! While Trump's texts to the nation will have to go some sort of vetting by FEMA, it is likely that this will turn into a whole THING where he whines that the "deep state" isn't letting him text all of America about his thoughts on the latest episode of "Fox and Friends."
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse