US & Canada

Hurricane Matthew: Matt Drudge conspiracy comments kick up storm

Trees blown sideways as Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in Adelaide, New Providence island in the Bahamas. 6 October 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hurricane Matthew has already torn across the Bahamas

Conservative US blogger Matt Drudge has kicked up a storm by suggesting that the warnings over Hurricane Matthew are a government conspiracy to make "an exaggerated point on climate" change.

The founder of the Drudge Report tweeted that the US hurricane centre had a monopoly on data and there was "no way of verifying claims".

Critics said his comments were not only wrong, but dangerous.

Experts warn the storm is deadly and those in its path should heed warnings.

The category three hurricane has sustained winds of 120mph (193km/h) and is bearing down on the US east coast.

Image copyright Twitter

President Barack Obama has declared a State of Emergency in Florida and thousands of people have been evacuated from the states of Georgia and the Carolinas.

The storm has already devastated parts of Haiti, leaving more than 300 people dead, and has battered Cuba and the Bahamas.

Nevertheless, Matt Drudge tweeted: "The deplorables are starting to wonder if govt has been lying to them about Hurricane Matthew intensity to make exaggerated point on climate."

"Deplorables" is believed to refer to supporters of US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has expressed scepticism about climate change, following comments from his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Matt Drudge also questioned data from the US National Hurricane Center, saying it did not match information coming from the Bahamas.

Image copyright Twitter

Journalist Libby Nelson, writing for news website Vox, said there was "no evidence" for Matt Drudge's claims and that such conspiracy-mongering was "a dangerous game".

"The implication of Drudge's tweet is that resisting evacuation isn't a bad, self-destructive move but a brave way for 'deplorables' to stand up for [sic] the government. That's not just stupid - it could very well be deadly," she said.

Hugh Cobb, chief of the hurricane centre's tropical analysis and forecast branch, told Popular Science magazine that he was aware of Matt Drudge's comments but would not comment on them himself.

He said all data was being collected straight from the storm using reconnaissance aircraft.

Earlier this week, conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh also speculated about whether hurricanes have been exaggerated.

"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," he said on his namesake show.

But Limbaugh added that this was not the case with Matthew, which he called a "serious, bad storm".

Other respected meteorologists also took issue with Matt Drudge.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

Sean Breslin, digital editor of the Weather Channel suggested the Drudge Report "stick to sports"

Greg Fishel, Chief Meteorologist for WRAL-TV in North Carolina, tweeted: "Whatever respect I had for Drudge, which was minimal to start with, was destroyed with this tweet."

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