In a tweet on Sunday, Donald Trump Jr. posted a picture of Cooper standing waist-deep in water while his cameraman stands on higher ground.
“Stop Lying to try to make @realDonaldTrump look bad,” Trump Jr. wrote.
The tweet also slammed CNN for having bad ratings and suggested coverage of the hurricane was exaggerated. Though he didn’t specify which hurricane, news coverage over the past few days has been focused on Hurricane Florence, which dumped torrents of rain on the Carolinas and flooded cities.
Cooper clapped back to the tweet on air during Anderson Cooper 360, showing pictures of Trump Jr. with hunting trophies saying, “I know he considers himself an outdoorsman and pays a lot of money to be led to wildlife in Africa that he then kills.”
“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,” Cooper said.
After Trump Jr. tweeted the photo, memes of Anderson Cooper spread online, with many people assuming it was a recent picture.
One trump official wrote on Instagram: “You know it’s sad when even the WEATHER is #FakeNews.”
Another Trump Staffer shared the photo on Twitter with the caption: “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!”
Cooper references one criticism, where someone claims that he was kneeling in the water saying, “The idea that I am kneeling in water to make it look deep is, frankly, idiotic.”
Cooper said that the photo was taken in 2008 during Hurricane Ike, explaining that he was near Bridge City, Texas, and was off the road in deeper water to stay out of the way of the rescue crews. He also explained that the cameraman stayed on the high ground because the equipment would fail in water.
He said he rarely responded to “online conspiracy theorists of cable new cranks,” but felt it was necessary to reply this time.
“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.
“Look, 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,” he concluded.
It’s not the first time Cooper has used his show to rebut specific comments: in January after U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly called Haiti and African countries “shithole” countries, Cooper made an emotional statement defending the Haitian people.