In the tweets, Trump Jr. was responding to a segment in which Cooper, who said he rarely responds to online conspiracy theorists, rebutted a false narrative surrounding a misleading photo of the anchor covering a storm many assumed was during CNN's coverage of Hurricane Florence, which slammed North and South Carolina over the weekend.
"I debated whether I should even respond tonight to the president's son," Cooper said on "AC360" in a nine-minute segment to close out his Monday broadcast. "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 if he's actually been to a hurricane or a flood. 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."
The president's son responded Tuesday by tweeting: "If you're going to spend 10 minutes crying about a meme you may want to make sure you're actually right." In another, he claimed "the illusion created by the pic is illustrative of the bs you sell!"
The back-and-forth developed after Trump Jr. on Sunday shared a photo that had been making its way across social media, featuring Cooper reporting from waist-high water. Assuming the photo was from CNN's live coverage of Hurricane Florence, Trump Jr. used it to once again attack the network's credibility, echoing the battle his father has waged with the network over its coverage of his presidency.
"And they wonder why people don't trust the media," Trump Jr. wrote.
There's just one problem: The photo is from 2008, and shows Cooper in Texas during CNN's coverage of Hurricane Ike. The photo of Cooper was shared widely because his cameraman is standing on higher ground, giving the appearance CNN was trying to over-hype the storm's impact.
"I've been covering hurricanes for about 14 years, and it really does make me sad that anyone would believe that I would try to fake something or overly dramatize a disaster," Cooper said, before showing 10-year-old clips revealing him reporting that the flood waters were actually receding. He also pointed out that the water was much deeper just feet from the shoulder of the road.
"The idea that I am kneeling in water to make it look deep is, frankly, idiotic," Cooper said.
Cooper also pointed out that the crew member pictured in the photo, Doug Thomas, was a longtime CNN colleague who died in September 2017. "And we miss him every day," Cooper noted.
Trump Jr. was far from the only official linked to the Trump administration to share the photo context-free as recovery operations continue following Hurricane Florence. Lynne Patton, a senior official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, shared the photo on her Instagram along with the hashtag "#FakeNews." Gavin Smith, the former deputy director of communications at the Department of Health and Human Services, also shared the image, writing, "Apparently #HurricaneFlorence wasn't devastating enough for @CNN's @andersoncooper _ so he had to exaggerate for his live shot."
"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 pictures," Cooper said. "But I at least thought that they and you should know the truth."
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