Donald Trump Jr.’s disingenuous claim that he didn’t intend to suggest CNN’s Anderson Cooper of faking a flood photo continued to stoke Cooper’s colleagues, even as “Donny Junior” doubled and tripled down on his denials.
“Jake, it’s laughable to watch you try to claim the moral high ground when the premise of Anderson’s attack on me was false (as usual),” Trump Jr. tweeted this afternoon. “I never said it was Florence. Meanwhile several of CNN’s biggest ‘bombshell’ lies about me and my father remain uncorrected. Why is that?”
Earlier today, CNN’s Jake Tapper had tweeted, “It would show a lot of character if those who put out the dishonest meme about Anderson’s hurricane coverage watched this, corrected the record, deleted their false memes, and apologized. Of course one has to have character before one can show it, I suppose.”
On Sunday, Trump Jr. retweeted a meme of Cooper standing in waist-deep floodwaters, writing “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.” The meme was making the Twitter rounds in an apparent attempt to suggest Cooper was kneeling in the water to make it look deeper.
And while it’s true that Trump Jr. didn’t say that the photo was taking during CNN’s coverage of Hurricane Florence – it’s a 10-year-old photo of Hurricane Ike – the implication was, well, an implication.
Trump Jr.’s tweet was followed by a similar one from former Trump official Gavin Smith (“Absolutely disgraceful,” he tweeted), and on Monday, as the death toll in North Caroline rose, HUD official Lynne Patton (Trump Jr.’s former wedding planner) took time from her day to share an Instagram meme of Cooper about to be devoured by shark. “You know it’s sad when even the WEATHER is #FakeNews,” Patton wrote, right around the time that an infant had been reported drowned in the flooding.
Lynne Patton, a top official with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and a longtime Trump family employee, shared the meme on her Instagram account over the weekend. She added the caption, “You know it’s sad when even the WEATHER is #FakeNews.”
The memes drew an angry on-air nine-minute response from Cooper last night, who pointed out the actual location and date of the photo and called the crackpot conspiracy theory “frankly idiotic.” Referring to “Donny Junior,” Cooper said, “I’ve covered hurricanes for about 14 years and it really does make me sad to think that I would fake something or overly dramatize a disaster.”
Watch Cooper’s response above.
“I whether I should even respond tonight to the president’s son,” Cooper said. “I know he considers himself an outdoorsman and pays a lot of money to be led to wildlife in Africa that he then kills, but I’m not sure he’s ever actually been to a hurricane or a flood. I did not see him down in North Carolina the last few days helping out or lending a hand, but i’m sure he was busy doing something important besides tweeting lies.”
The CNN host ended the segment noting that the camera operator shown in the Hurricane Ike photo, Doug Thomas, passed away last year.
“I don’t expect the president’s son to ever admit he was wrong,” Cooper said, “or one of the president’s former advisers, or, frankly, anyone else who’s retweeted these pictures. But I at least thought that they and you should know the truth.”
Trump Jr. responded to Cooper’s response today, noting, among other things, “I never said the pic of him was from Florence.” The tremendously wet tweet had “Nothing to do with Florence.”
Tapper’s tweet, though, just might win the day: “Of course, as my Grampie always said, what to expect from a pig but a grunt?”