Anderson Cooper is taking exception to criticism of his hurricane coverage and took 10 minutes of his show Monday to call out the most prominent of those accusing him of "fake news," the Hill reports. "I rarely respond to online conspiracy theorists," Cooper noted on Anderson Cooper 360°. The subject of his ire was Donald Trump Jr., who Sunday posted a much-circulated picture many claimed as proof that Cooper exaggerated Hurricane Florence's effects. The image showed Cooper standing in water up to his waist, while a nearby cameraman was in shallower waters—insinuating Cooper was kneeling to make flooding look worse. "It's a shame that CNN's ratings are down 41%," Trump Jr. noted in a tweet that got retweeted more than 8,000 times. "Stop Lying to try to make @realDonaldTrump look bad."
But Cooper explained in his clip that the photo was from Hurricane Ike 10 years ago in Texas, and was taken to warn people how quickly water could get deep and "how dangerous it [was] for anyone driving," per the Washington Post. "The idea that I am kneeling in water to make it look deep is, frankly, idiotic," Cooper said. "I've covered hurricanes for about 14 years and it really does make me sad to think that anyone would believe that I would try to fake something or overly dramatize a disaster." He also noted that Trump Jr.'s penchant for outdoorsmanship didn't seem to draw him to any disaster zones to help out. "I'm sure he was busy doing something important besides just tweeting lies," Cooper added, noting that the cameraman in the Ike clip, CNN audio tech Doug Thomas, died last year and so couldn't have been filming Florence footage.