A widely shared photo purporting to show CNN’s Anderson Cooper exaggerating Florence-related flooding comes with some credibility problems of its own.
The photo of Cooper reporting from waist-deep water while a camera crew stands in ankle-deep water a few steps away has gone viral on social media, with Donald Trump Jr. and others using it to blast media coverage of Florence, which hit the Carolinas as a hurricane Friday.
“Stop Lying to try to make @realDonaldTrump look bad,” the president’s son wrote on Twitter, also repeating a right-wing talking point about massive ratings drops for CNN. Other reports put the network down 12 percent in August 2018 over 2017, although CNN did show a 41 percent drop for the week of Sept. 3 over the same week in 2017, when Hurricane Irma was at its height, which AdWeek found not “totally shocking.”
“Absolutely disgraceful!” wrote Gavin J. Smith, formerly with Trump’s presidential campaign, on Twitter. “Apparently #HurricaneFlorence wasn’t devastating enough for @CNN’s @andersoncooper — so he had to exaggerate for his live shot. #FakeNews at its finest!”
“They can’t help themselves,” reads a Twitter post from an account named WeSupport45, referencing Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. president. “Help us expose @AndersonCooper & @CNN as #FakeNews with a #RETWEET. Shameful #HurricaneFlorence2018 propaganda to attack @realDonaldTrump.”
Some online posts with the photo say Cooper was standing in a ditch to exaggerate the depth of the water, while others accuse him of sitting or kneeling in the water.
The photo of Cooper actually comes from coverage of Hurricane Ike in Texas in 2008, reported Snopes.com. It had nothing to do with Florence.
In addition, Cooper tells viewers up front that he’s standing in a roadside ditch and describes the variations in water depth as part of his report.
In the segment, aired as part of a two-hour special edition of Cooper’s CNN show on the storm, he tells viewers the water depth changes as he moves around, noting he’d be up to his neck if he moved back a few steps.
“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,” wrote one poster on Twitter.
“And Anderson Cooper was in that water making the point that the water was so thoroughly covering everything that you could not see where the roadside ended and the ditches began,” wrote conservative commentator Erick Erickson.
“If you watched the clip instead of seeing just the picture, you’d discover he moved from the road into the deep water and back to show just how dangerous the situation was due to being unable to see the road edge for the ditch,” Erickson wrote.
On Monday night, Cooper decried the hoax on CNN, reported The Washington Post.
“The idea that I am kneeling in water to make it look deep is, frankly, idiotic,” Cooper said, according to the publication. He also noted the photo was clearly not from Florence coverage as the camera person in the photo had died in 2017.
Cooper questioned whether Donald Trump Jr. knows much about hurricanes, reported the Post.
“I didn’t see him down in North Carolina over the last few days helping out, lending a hand, but I’m sure he was doing something important besides just tweeting lies,” Cooper said, according to the publication.
The president’s son responded twice Tuesday morning on Twitter to Cooper’s comments, arguing that he never said the photo was from coverage of Florence. Others on Twitter questioned why, in that case, he used a 2008 photo to accuse CNN of lying about his father, who took office in January 2017.
Hurricane Ike hit Houston on Sept. 13, 2008, killing dozens and causing $34.8 billion in damage, reported KTRK.