Just days into the Donald Trump administration, a pattern is already emerging wherein the Trump team is banning communication from various departments of government. But even in this incredibly alarming reality, there are hopeful signs of resistance.
Yesterday the Badlands National Park Twitter account published several tweets containing factual information about climate change:
The account has published similar factual information previously on many occasions, both before and after the 2016 election. However, these tweets came after the Trump administration had issued different forms of gag orders among various government departments, including specifically the Environmental Protection Agency, and in advance of the expected elimination of protective environmental regulations by the administration.
Additionally, the administration had previously specifically banned the National Park Service from using social media, even for crisis communications, in response to the main NPS Twitter account retweeting a post from a journalist that featured aerial photos comparing attendance at the Trump and Obama inaugurations (the National Mall is part of the National Park Service).
That ban was later lifted — but only after the retweet was reversed and an apology was issued:
We regret the mistaken RTs from our account yesterday and look forward to continuing to share the beauty and history of our parks with you pic.twitter.com/mctNNvlrmv
— NationalParkService (@NatlParkService) January 21, 2017
When Badlands National Park published the climate change facts, the tweets quickly went viral, and prompted a statement from Democratic National Committee national press secretary Adrienne Watson anticipating censorious action by the Trump team:
In less than one week in office, President Trump has put gag orders on the EPA, the NIH, the USDA, and the Department of Interior. The administration’s disturbing suppression of taxpayer funded federal agencies’ communication with the public and Congress undermines basic democratic norms. We cannot treat such borderline authoritarian actions as business as usual.
Watson added, “How long will it take for the Twitter account of Badlands National Park Service to be suspended for its defiance?”
While the account itself was not suspended, all of the tweets containing climate change facts were, in fact, later deleted. The deletions even included a tweet that had been pinned to the profile page of the account since November and quoted the 1916 law establishing the National Park Service:
In response to the forced deletions, the DNC’s Watson issued an additional — and chilling — one-line statement:
Vladimir Putin would be proud.