In keeping with the rhetoric of President Donald Trump, many conservatives leap at any chance to accuse the media of “fake news,” especially CNN.
The usual target is the network’s political reporting, of course, but as Hurricane Florence swept through the Carolinas, conservatives instead began targeting its weather coverage, starting with a widely-shared meme of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper standing in waist-deep water, claiming that Cooper had staged the shot.
The meme was even shared by senior Housing and Urban Development official Lynne Patton.
In addition to Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump loyalists.
It’s a shame that CNN’s ratings are down 41%. What’s worse is there’s a simple solution that they refuse to accept. Stop Lying to try to make @realDonaldTrump look bad. https://t.co/O3XyWchsJh pic.twitter.com/BCUCxKnOvO
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 16, 2018
Absolutely disgraceful! Apparently #HurricaneFlorence wasn’t devastating enough for @CNN’s @andersoncooper — so he had to exaggerate for his live shot. #FakeNews at its finest! pic.twitter.com/9pUJ6Ulgqf
— Gavin J. Smith (@iamgavinjames) September 15, 2018
Anderson Cooper of CNN in a ditch pretending to be in waist deep water#CnnIsSoFake
They can’t help themselves.
Help us expose @AndersonCooper & @CNN as #FakeNews with a #RETWEET
Shameful #HurricaneFlorence2018 propaganda to attack @realDonaldTrump
Join https://t.co/ZbnntViW4T pic.twitter.com/2JPOAxv6s8
— We Support 45 (@WeSupport45) September 15, 2018
But turns out, the claim is honest to goodness fake news.
According to Snopes, the pictures of Cooper come from his 2008 coverage of Hurricane Ike in Texas. When faced with this reality, some conservatives insisted that it didn’t matter. The point was silent.
It's still fraud your point is mute
— EVILEAGLE (@JasonWWalton1) September 16, 2018
Even if it’s an old photo.. it’s still @CNN caught creating fake news
— OrgConservAmericans (@OCAmericans) September 16, 2018
But, again, that was fake news.
Not only is the coverage not of Hurricane Florence, but Cooper’s report is addressing the abrupt changes in water levels to warn viewers of flood hazards, which he demonstrates.
A lot of right wing loons are spreading a photo of Anderson Cooper waist deep in water during Hurricane Florence. They allege he was faking the extent of the flood.
It was actually Hurricane Ike and Anderson was showing how deep the water was in places.
He even petted a dog. pic.twitter.com/mWcT1URVmw
— #VotePlease (@Care2much18) September 17, 2018
Users were eager to point this out.
It was actually from a special that he ran the day after Hurricane Ike. He is standing in a ditch and during the special he also walked around in order to show the variations of depths in the water. Even if that wasn't what he was doing EVERYONE looks for the best shot!
— MMackie (@mackiem68) September 15, 2018
Cool pic. Why don’t you tell your followers it’s ten years old? Has absolutely nothing to do with coverage of your dad. And it demonstrates the dangers of driving in flooded areas – a few inches to feet without warning, which has resulted in many deaths. Who’s misleading who?
— Matt Dornic (@mdornic) September 16, 2018
However, the facts didn’t seem to change too many minds.
Many still continued to claim that Cooper was on his knees to make the water look deeper.
That’s when the homophobic jokes about Cooper, who is gay, ensued.
It looks like Anderson is on his knees….
…a position with which he is very familiar…
— Mark Leberer (@MarkLeberer) September 16, 2018
Anderson Cooper on his knees…… hmmmmm, that's never been said before
— Lane Philbeck (@thunderp73) September 16, 2018
Others diverted to another video that went viral. This time, of Weather Channel Reporter Mike Seidel appearing to fake struggling against strong winds as two people behind him walked past casually.
— Tony scar. (@gourdnibler) September 14, 2018
— Froggy 🎙 (@froggyradio) September 17, 2018
OMG…is that Anderson Cooper? Nothing like a bit of drama to show what a great journalist you are. I put this in with that Weather Channel guy that faked his difficulty in keeping his balance during Florence. Too late Coop…we know you're fake trying to salvage your career… https://t.co/jfCArRN4qu
— White Eagle (@WhiteEagle1927) September 16, 2018
To give Conservatives credit, at least this footage was actually from Hurricane Florence. However, The Weather Channel claimed that Seidel was merely trying to keep his balance on the slippery grass:
“It’s important to note that the two individuals in the background are walking on concrete, and Mike Seidel is trying to maintain his footing on wet grass, after reporting on-air until 1:00 a.m. ET this morning and is undoubtedly exhausted.”
While this explanation may not be convincing, it still doesn’t somehow discredit CNN–an entirely different network. In fact, CNN’s own Twitter pointed out Seidel’s theatrics.
— CNN (@CNN) September 15, 2018
Nevertheless, as has been proven time and again, facts don’t tend to matter unless they’re of the alternative variety.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Florence has killed over 20 people.