For leftists, a rising swell of righteous joy crested on social media last week over the opportunity to skewer Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for a comment Cruz never made.
Some creative soul decided that the confluence of Cruz’s long-standing and very public opposition to climate change theories and the devastating winter storm that pummeled Texas last week was simply too good to ignore.
And so was born a social media fake that took untold numbers of liberals.
Alleging itself to be a screenshot of a Sept. 8, 2016, tweet from the account of @tedcruz, the image buzzing about social media quoted Cruz as tweeting, “I’ll believe in climate change when Texas freezes over.”
All it took was to dangle the bait, and that little bit of false information was all over the internet in a heartbeat, with those who shared it scoring thousands of likes, shares and retweets.
Then came that party’s-over moment when fact-checkers from Politifact, CNN, Reuters, the Houston Chronicle and other outlets delivered a crushing verdict to the hate-Cruz crowd: They had been fooled. The alleged post was a fake.
Some who posted the fake tweet noted that on their accounts. Others just left it up there to do what damage it may. One who left a meme of the comment up on her Twitter account was the leftist singer and actress Bette Midler.
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) February 19, 2021
Sooo...you believe NOW, @tedcruz?
Asking for millions of frozen Texans. pic.twitter.com/Pjd5qddjSz
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) February 19, 2021
The fact-checkers were very thorough.
“Reuters found no record of this purported tweet in 2016. The tweet is not visible on Twitter search when looking for tweets sent around Sept. 8, 2016 ( bit.ly/3sgxv2N). Politwoops, a project by ProPublica that archives deleted tweets from politicians also shows no record of the alleged tweet, indicating it was likely fabricated recently (here),” the Reuters staff wrote.
“A search of the words ‘climate change’ in his timeline brought up three tweets, none of which match this quote. Reuters also revised Cruz’s other Twitter account, @SenTedCruz, and found no such tweet ” Reuters added.
The Houston Chronicle said those who fell for it should have known better. (Though its headline seemed to wish otherwise: “This Ted Cruz tweet is obviously too good to be true.”)
“But anyone who’s been on the internet for more than a month should be able to spot it’s a fake. The font is wrong. It’s rendered fuzzy. Both are telltale signs of a fraudulent post,” Chronicle environment reporter Jay R. Jordan wrote.
CNN added an official denial.
“It’s fake,” Cruz communications adviser Steve Guest said.