Matt Drudge, author of the conservative media site DrudgeReport.com, is being ridiculed over his tweets in advance of Hurricane Matthew’s arrival in Florida.
Thursday afternoon and early Friday morning, the conservative firebrand took to Twitter to imply that the storm might not be as powerful as government officials say it is.
First he tweeted: “The deplorables are starting to wonder if govt has been lying to them about Hurricane Matthew intensity to make exaggerated point on climate.”
Drudge was apparently referring to Hillary Clinton’s description of some of Donald Trump’s supporters as “deplorables.”
Just a few minutes later, Drudge wrote: “Hurricane Center has monopoly on data. No way of verifying claims. Nassau ground observations DID NOT match statements! 165mph gusts? WHERE?”
The National Hurricane Center is a division of the federal government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
And in the wee hours of Friday morning, Drudge tweeted, “Don’t Blame Mother Nature. Blame Mankind…” with an unflattering photo of a windswept Clinton and a link to an article on the website ClimateDepot.com. The Climate Depot article downplays a possible link between extreme weather and climate change.
As NPR has previously reported, officials have urged or ordered millions of Americans along the storm’s path to head inland. In Haiti, where Matthew landed as a Category 4 storm, at least 280 people were killed, according to local officials.
Since Drudge’s tweets questioning the severity of the storm and official warnings about it, he’s drawn sharp rebuke. Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison tweeted, “So irresponsible. If you are in the path of Hurricane Matthew, do not listen to this man! Stay safe!”
Greg Fishel, chief meteorologist of WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C., tweeted: “Whatever respect I had for Drudge, which was minimal to start with, was destroyed with this tweet. How insanely asinine can one be?”
Others on social media suggested Drudge go to Florida himself, to really find out just how dangerous Matthew might be.
Drudge’s tweets tap into a sentiment held by some that climate change is not real, a view at odds with the overwhelming consensus of scientists. Trump, the Republican Party’s nominee for president, has said several times that climate change is a hoax. Trump tweeted that it was a myth created by the Chinese, though later said he was joking. (As NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben reported, 2016 seems to have been a year full of conspiracy theories, and they’ve been very hard to shake.)
And at a campaign event Thursday night, Trump urged people to stay safe and praised Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott for his leadership as the storm nears. He even offered a sort of warning to those in its path, “It looks like it’s a big one and it looks like it’s going to be a bad one, it looks like. Hopefully it takes that right turn.”