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Monday, August 21, 2017

As millions evacuate the west coast of Florida in preparation for Hurricane Matthew, which has already been responsible for 113 deaths across the Caribbean, the curator of the most widely read conservative website, Matt Drudge, irresponsibly peddled a conspiracy theory that federal officials have exaggerated the danger posed by Hurricane Matthew “to make exaggerated point on climate.”

On October 6, Drudge claimed “the deplorables” were wondering if the government was lying about the intensity of the deadly hurricane and also questioned the legitimacy of the National Hurricane Center’s data:

[Twitter, 10/6/16]


[Twitter, 10/6/16]

Drudge also used his website, one of the most widely read sites on the Internet, DrudgeReport.com, to put Florida residents in danger and push the conspiracy theory with a banner titled “STORM FIZZLE? MATTHEW LOOKS RAGGED!,” alongside links titled “IT’S A 4?” and “RESIDENTS NOT TAKING SERIOUSLY…”.

In direct contrast to Drudge, Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott warned those in the hurricane’s path that “this storm will kill you,” while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) described the storm as “dangerous.” Fox News host Shepard Smith warned Floridians that if they did not evacuate “you and everyone you know is dead,” and that “you can’t survive it,” while The National Weather Service for Melbourne, Florida warned residents that the storm was “LIFE-THREATENING,” and “more impacting than Hurricane David and 2004 hurricanes!”:

5 am | Matthew LIFE-THREATENING as it moves up the EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA coast. More impacting than Hurricane David & 2004 hurricanes!

Drudge joined Rush Limbaugh in peddling baseless conspiracy theories about the hurricane, placing their audience in danger. Earlier, Limbaugh downplayed the storm by ranting about “politics in the forecasting of hurricanes because there are votes,” and previously claimed the National Hurricane Center is “playing games” with “hurricane forecasting” to convince viewers of climate change.

UPDATE: Conspiracy theorist and Trump ally Alex Jones retweeted Matt Drudge, expressing support and agreement with his dangerous hurricane conspiracy while adding the white supremacist “altright” hashtag:

 

IMAGE: A man walks among trees damaged by Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

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