Anderson Cooper Defends CNN's Hurricane Reporting In Response To Ill-Founded Accusations

"It really does make me sad to think that anyone would think that I would try to fake something or overly dramatize a disaster," he said.

CNN host Anderson Cooper has responded to rumors spread online that he overdramatized his coverage of Hurricane Florence in order to boost ratings. The CNN anchor spent the final minutes of his Monday night show addressing the claims and refuting suggestions of fake or manipulative reporting.

The president's son, Donald Trump Jr., helped to spread those allegations on Sunday when he tweeted out a context-less picture of the anchorman standing in waist-deep water during a hurricane. In the photo, the cameraman filming Cooper can be seen standing in much shallower water that only goes up to his ankle. The discrepancy prompted accusations that Cooper was exaggerating the extent of the flooding and prompted a slew of online memes.  

"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," Trump Jr. wrote alongside the photo.

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Cooper debunked the allegations spread by the online rumor mill on Anderson 360, pointing out that the picture in question was actually taken in Texas in 2008 during Hurricane Ike, not during Hurricane Florence. Pushing back against the idea that the effects of the natural disaster were dramatized, Cooper played back several clips from the original broadcast that featured him walking around the floodwaters.  

"The idea that I am kneeling in water to make it look deep is, frankly, idiotic," he stated, going on to point out that the 2008 broadcast also featured footage of roads that weren't as flooded.

As for why he chose to respond to the tweets at all, Cooper said he simply wants to make it clear that he finds the dramatizing of a hurricane or any natural disaster unacceptable. "I've covered hurricanes for about 14 years and it really does make me sad to think that anyone would think that I would try to fake something or overly dramatize a disaster," he said.

He concluded by stating, "I don't expect the president's son to ever admit that he was wrong or one of the president's advisers or frankly anyone else who's retweeted any of these pictures. But I at least thought that they and you should know the truth."

As social media networks are forced to confront their part in spreading inaccurate or false news, Cooper's comments serve to reiterate the importance of providing context while sharing information — particularly in the wake of a natural disaster when people are trying to stay alert and safe.

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