Amongst members of the Senate, Ted Cruz (R) has a storied history of internet mishaps. From liking porn using his official X (Twitter) account to fighting with Big Bird about vaccines, the Texas Senator’s reflexive posting has made him one of the most lampoonable figures in government. But August could go down as a banner month for Cruz, who publicly embraced not one but three easily debunkable hoaxes over the course of just a few weeks.
It’s been more than a decade since the meme known as “Hurricane Shark” first achieved virality in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene’s 2011 devastation of Puerto Rico. The image, which depicts a photoshopped shark swimming up a flooded highway, is revived (and debunked) during virtually any natural disaster involving water. The image has attained copy-pasta status, practically an enshrined, lighthearted tradition of American hurricane coverage.
So if you’re still falling for “Hurricane Shark” posts in 2023, you either haven’t had access to the internet for the last 12 years… or you’re Ted Cruz.
“Holy crap.” Cruz tweeted, chomping down on the bait of Barstool Sports podcaster Dan Katz, who had posted Hurricane Shark amid the severe storm flooding in Los Angeles.
Cruz was rightfully ridiculed and later added that he had been “told this is a joke. In LA, you never know… 🤷🏻♂️”
One would hope that after such an avoidable public slip-up, any sane person would learn that googling before posting can be a vital preventative skill. Not Ted Cruz. In his apparent view, things people say on the internet are entirely credible as long as they provide an avenue to swipe at one’s political opponents.
On August 27, the right-wing X account “End Wokeness” posted a video purporting to show that the Biden administration had “welded open the Trump border wall in Tucson, AZ.”
“This…is…nuts. #BidenBorderCrisis,” Cruz tweeted in response.
They would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those pesky fact-checkers and community notes.
Users quickly pointed out that the open grates depicted in the video were not openings created by the Biden administration but floodgates that were required to be open during Arizona’s monsoon season. They had been installed during the Trump administration’s border fence construction.
And then, as the last days of summer waned away, Cruz and a whole cohort of right-wing commentators began harping on an imaginary attack against America’s favorite sunshine pass time — drinking lots of beer.
The claim achieved virality when Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy questioned White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre regarding a report that the head of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggested his organization could look to lower the amount of weekly alcohol consumption recommended by the USDA to two drinks (two beers) a week.
Not a law, not a mandate, but a recommendation that won’t even be up for review until 2025. But much like panic around gas stove bans and the green M&M no longer being a sex symbol, conservatives have run with the claim that the beer stasi is coming to your door.
“They’re trying to go after and regulate ceiling fans,” Cruz told Newsmax, “and now these idiots have come out and said ‘drink two beers a week’ that’s their guideline.”
The senator proceeded to take the most awkward, choreographed sip of beer in recent cable memory.
The clip has already been satirized on social media and even got its own parody ballad. As comedian Nick Lutsko summarized it, if restrictions were actually placed on beer, the most likely place one would find Cruz is “on the very first flight to Cancun, Mexico, with a six-pack of Modelo.”
At least Ted Cruz seems to be keeping whoever runs X’s community notes team pretty damn busy.