CNN host Anderson Cooper flattened Donald Trump Jr. in his Monday commentary at the close of the show.
“I rarely respond to online conspiracy theorists or cable news cranks looking to get into a mutually beneficial beef that will boost their ratings,” confessed the host. “I try not to argue other TV anchors, and I usually let conspiracy theorists go unanswered. For years, Alex Jones claimed that I didn’t go to Sandy Hook after the shootings there and claimed an interview I did a grieving mother was instead done in front of a green screen in a studio somewhere with a crisis actor.”
He noted he never understood the logic of the conspiracy theory.
He explained that he spends hours weekly flying all over the world to cover stories and asked why he wouldn’t drive just a few hours to go to Connecticut to cover the murders of children.
“Recently, I saw another online conspiracy theorist claim that the little boy I helped in Haiti who had been struck in the head a piece of concrete by a mob was actually a little child I was using a human shield to protect myself,” Cooper said. “I really don’t even know what to say to that ridiculous idea.”
This weekend, however, President Donald Trump’s son, who Cooper called “Donny Jr.” tweeted a photo of Cooper waist-high in flood waters while his camera crew stood on top of things a few feet away.
“He claimed it was me faking the depth of floodwaters to somehow harm his father,” Cooper said. “A guy named Gavin J. Smith, who I’ve never heard of, tweeted, ‘Absolutely disgraceful, apparently Hurricane Florence wasn’t devastating enough for CNN’s Anderson Cooper, so he had to exaggerate for his live shot. Fake news at its finest.’ The picture popped up in various memes alleging fake news.”
Another person made a homophobic joke that Cooper was on his knees in the water. Cooper sarcastically called it “very classy.”
“Anyway, I’ve covered hurricanes for about 14 years and it really does make me sad to think that anyone would believe that I would try to fake something or overly dramatize a disaster,” the host said. “I debated whether I should even respond to the president’s son. I know he believes himself to be an outdoorsman and likes to go to Africa and kill animals, but I don’t know if he’s ever been to a flood. I didn’t see him down in North Carolina in the last few days, but I’m sure he was doing something important besides just tweeting lies.”
Cooper then debunked the conspiracy by saying that the photos were actually taken several years ago on Sept 13, 2008, when he did a two-hour broadcast from Bridge City, Texas by Highway 62. He then aired the footage from that report.
“For those who think I was kneeling or faking the water level or making it look worse than it was or standing in some sort of a hole, this is an area where people had been trapped on the roofs of their homes by water,” the host explained. “Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who I actually interviewed during this broadcast called it the largest rescue and recovery operation in Texas state history.”
The host said he noted that to explain how “idiotic” the comment was, particularly since his report was about how the water was actually receding.
“Again, I’m not trying to play up how bad it is, I’m pointing out that this water is actually lower than it was earlier in the day,” Cooper explained. “Also in this clip, before you see it, I point out that there is a road right next to us that is being used to evacuate people and I wasn’t standing on the road because I didn’t want to get in the way and invade people’s privacy.”
In the broadcast, he explained the cameras were standing on the road because it was important to keep the equipment dry. He played more clips from the two-hour show, even one where he was making fun of himself during the broadcast when he got freaked out at a water moccasin.
“Look, I don’t expect the president’s son to ever admit he was wrong or one of the president’s former advisers or frankly anyone else who’s retweeted these should know the truth,” Cooper said. “And finally, for anyone who still thinks that this was taken in Florence, the person you see there, his name was Doug Thomas, the audio tech, he worked for CNN for 26 years, he covered a lot of storms and a lot of stories, he died a year ago this month and we miss him every day.”