Donald Trump Jr. has found himself in a Twitter feud after being called out by Anderson Cooper for retweeting a misleading photo of the CNN host while accusing the news network of airing lies and failing in the TV ratings.
The photo, which was also tweeted out by other Trump administration officials, showed Cooper in waist-high water during Hurricane Ike in 2008 but was presented on social media as being taken during the current Hurricane Florence with the implication that the CNN anchor was deceptively kneeling in the water to make it look deeper.
Cooper corrected the false accusations in his broadcast yesterday, addressing Trump Jr.’s tweet directly.
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“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 pictures,” Cooper said. “But I at least thought that they and you should know the truth.”
The president’s son responded to Cooper in a tweet this morning that alleged that it was the CNN host who was peddling lies.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 18, 2018
Oddly, Trump Jr. never explains why, in a discussion of CNN’s ratings, he would attach an irrelevant photo that had been making the rounds on right-wing media as an example of CNN’s “fake news” coverage, foolishly eroding trust in news coverage of dangerous disasters in a way that could lead to people putting themselves in harm’s way by ignoring warnings of impending catastrophes.
Moreover, Donald Trump Jr. has a long history of spreading false information online, beginning with his initial denials involving the nature of the meetings he had with Russian agents at Trump Tower during his father’s campaign and more recently including his sharing last month of a photoshopped image of a CNN graphic that grossly inflated his father’s approval rating in a Gallup poll.
The president’s son—while suffering from a genetically inherited lack of credibility—seems incapable of admitting that the inclusion of the photo of Cooper was a dog whistle reference for his audience of right-wing trolls. His childish insistence that he never actually mentioned Hurrican Florence in his tweet may be factually correct, but his maliciously insinuating intention is clear.
Trump Jr’s claim that CNN is spreading lies about his father—a process that most intelligent observers would simply describe as accurate, fact-checked journalism—is particularly laughable given that his father has told lies at a pace that has increased logarithmically since his inauguration. At this point, no one in the Trump family is in a position to credibly make attacks on the truthfulness of any person or institution.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.