Conservative commentator Matt Drudge joined the likes of Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday by floating a conspiracy theory that the government is lying about the intensity of hurricanes to convince people climate change is real.
In a series of posts to Twitter, Drudge, creator of The Drudge Report, said there is “no way of verifying claims” made by the National Hurricane Center, which has warned that Hurricane Matthew could have “potentially disastrous impacts” on the southeast Atlantic Coast.
Drudge suggested the government has a “monopoly on data” and is fudging its forecasts to make an “exaggerated point on climate.”
As of around 8 p.m. EST on Thursday, Matthew was listed as a Category 4 hurricane with a maximum sustained wind speed of 130 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
But in Drudge’s amateur opinion, the people of Florida can expect to experience a far weaker storm.
As of 7 p.m. EST, wind gusts at the Settlement Point weather buoy, off Freeport, had reached 104 mph.
What Drudge didn’t mention in his storm of tweets are the casualties ― nearly 300 people were killed by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, according to officials who spoke to the New York Times. Or that President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Florida. Or that more than 2.5 million people had been ordered to evacuate from the southeast U.S.
Mandatory evacuations are place in numerous coastal Florida counties, from Palm Beach to Nassau, and evacuation is voluntary for Broward and Miami-Dade.
But Drudge isn’t alone in his conspiracy theory. Earlier this week, Limbaugh had this to say on the subject: “It’s in the interest of the left to have destructive hurricanes because then they can blame it on climate change, which they can desperately continue trying to sell.”
But while Drudge and Limbaugh deny any danger, others are exceedingly concerned. In a candid broadcast Thursday, Fox News’ Sheppard Smith warned that if Matthew moved 20 miles to the west, “you and everyone you know are dead. All of you, because you can’t survive it. It’s not possible unless you’re very, very lucky. And your kids die too.”
Drudge did not immediately respond to The Huffington Post’s request for comment.
This story has been updated to include the hurricane’s new reported death toll in Haiti.