No, Anderson Cooper was not exaggerating Florence flood levels

No, Anderson Cooper was not exaggerating Florence flood levels

(RNN) - Anderson Cooper said he rarely responds to conspiracy theorists.

For years, Cooper ignored Alex Jones' claims that he didn't go to Sandy Hook after a gunman opened fire at an elementary school in 2012, and that he interviewed a crisis actor in front of a green screen.

There was also a claim that Cooper used a Haitian boy as a human shield to protect himself. He had actually carried the boy after the child was struck in the head by a piece of concrete.

Even so, the CNN anchor reached his breaking point over the weekend when former Trump administration official Gavin J. Smith made a claim that Cooper was exaggerating flood levels during Hurricane Florence coverage.

Smith tweeted a photo of Cooper in waist-deep water on Saturday. The camera crew can be seen standing in water that was only shin-high.

"Absolutely disgraceful! Apparently #HurricaneFlorence wasn't devastating enough for @CNN's @andersoncooper — so he had to exaggerate for his live shot. #FakeNews at its finest," Smith tweeted.

The next day, Trump Jr. chimed in. He tweeted another picture of Cooper in the same context as Smith. He claimed CNN's ratings are down 41% and that the network is lying to make President Donald Trump look bad.

"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.'s tweet read.

Cooper used the final nine minutes of his show Monday night to debunk any claims he was dramatizing his Florence coverage.

"This was not Hurricane Florence," Cooper said of the images shared by Trump Jr. and Smith. "This was taken 10 years ago during Hurricane Ike."

Hurricane Ike struck parts of Texas, not the Carolinas like Florence.

He then took aim at the claims that he was kneeling in the water to make it look deeper than it actually was. As it turns out, the road his camera crew was standing on was higher ground and one of the only passable routes into and out of the area.

People were still being rescued, so Cooper was simply trying to stay out of the way of rescue vehicles. The camera crew didn't join him in the deeper water because it's not safe to put the equipment in water that high.

"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," Cooper explained. "Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who I actually interviewed during this broadcast, called it the largest rescue and recovery operation in Texas state history."

Cooper continued to show clips of Ike coverage in which he walked around in the deeper water with people he was interviewing, proving he was not kneeling.

He even made note of how the water was receding when the camera panned over to a nearby utility pole.

"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 Monday night. "But I at least thought that they and you should know the truth."

Cooper wrapped up the segment by identifying the audio tech captured in the photo with Cooper.

"The person you see there, his name was Doug Thomas. He worked for CNN for 26 years. He covered a lot of storms and a lot of stories," Cooper explained. "He died a year ago this month and we miss him every day."

Trump Jr. pushed back on Tuesday saying he never said Cooper was covering Florence in his tweet.

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