Last night at a Republican fundraiser in DC, Donald Trump claimed that wind turbines cause cancer with the citation, “They say the noise causes cancer.” This may be because the president has a grudge against wind power because he thought it would spoil the view from one of his golf courses in Scotland or it might just be because he is a complete and total idiot, but it is a patently ridiculous claim that it would be more or less a total waste of our time to debunk.
This does mean that the president’s flunkies and allies are in a tough spot. Do they risk angering their infamously thin-skinned boss by admitting that he pulled this one out of thin air? Or do they pretend the emperor is still wearing clothes? Of course it’s the latter. Behold, White House director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp responding to a question on whether wind turbines cause cancer with the answer, “I don’t have an answer to that.”
Question: "Do wind turbines cause cancer?"
Mercedes Schlapp, White House Director of Strategic Communications: "I don't have an answer to that." pic.twitter.com/cxcZHQoov2
— The Hill (@thehill) April 3, 2019
As NBC News’ Ben Collins points out, this chemtrail-level conspiracy theory was at least partially fuelled by Australian fossil fuel lobbyists and has no scientific support whatsoever (just like Trump’s belief LED lightbulbs cause cancer).
But because the president made an offhand, rambling remark about it — during a speech that he might not have known was being broadcast live on C-SPAN, judging by his remark that “Someone’s going to leak this whole damn speech to the media — the current position of the White House is that we just don’t know!
A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request Wednesday by The Washington Post for evidence to back up the president’s claim.
And some other Republicans are jumping on board. Per the Des Moines Register:
Gov. Kim Reynolds, also a Republican, addressed Trump’s remarks with reporters Wednesday as well and highlighted the important role wind energy plays in Iowa’s economy. However, she declined to say whether she thinks Trump is wrong that wind turbines can cause cancer.
“That’s not my place,” she said.
“You know how those things change,” she said. “One year, coffee’s good for you. The next year, coffee causes cancer.”
Hey, who’s to say whether apples aren’t oranges? Maybe oranges are just big, soft apples. Maybe apples aren’t even apples. Who can really know? Consensus reality needs a consensus!
Per Politico, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley managed to concede the cancer remark was “idiotic”, but then doubled back and claimed the president was joking:
The conservative Grassley said that he has to teach a lot of new politicians about wind energy and Trump is no different. And as far the cancer claim, which has no factual basis, Grassley called it “tongue in cheek.”
“I’ve lived through it, he never has, so I’m going to give him some leeway when he criticises alternative energy. Because I’ve gotta do it with 85 per cent of the people that are new since we developed all of this and they think it’s stupid that we have wind and solar and everything else, except for a few progressives,” Grassley said. “I’m not a progressive but I’m in favour of alternative energy.”
He’s not joking and you know it, Chuck.
In any case, this is what evidence-based policy in this White House is: Whatever the president heard one time is evidence enough, and in any case, we’ll be on to the next conspiracy theory soon.