The fact-checking website Snopes, which has been cited on several media outlets including CNN and MSNBC, falsely suggested this week that Hurricane Katrina was the only cause of flooding to impact Louisiana.
Snopes made the suggestion while fact-checking a recent Twitter claim involving former President Barack Obama's response to flooding in Louisiana.
In the midst of growing damage from Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey, Snopes published a fact-check article after a Twitter user criticized Obama's response "when floods hit Louisiana." The article leads off with a tweet by Twitter-verified Jacob Wohl, a teenage hedge fund manager and Trump supporter.
Wohl responded to a tweet from President Donald Trump about the storm with a series of his own tweets. One tweet hit Obama for being "too busy worrying about the tough sand traps on the golf-course to go assess the damage" when floods hit Louisiana.
After witnessing first hand the horror & devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey,my heart goes out even more so to the great people of Texas!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2017
When floods hit Louisiana, Obama was too busy worrying about the tough sand traps on the golf-course to go assess the damage
— Jacob Wohl (@JacobAWohl) August 30, 2017
The tweet reflects one sent by Trump in 2016 when a series of storms unleashed nearly three feet of rain in Baton Rouge. Louisiana subsequently faced the worst floods since 2012 in which 13 lives were lost and 40,000 homes were damaged.
President Obama should have gone to Louisiana days ago, instead of golfing. Too little, too late!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2016
A local newspaper also criticized Obama for not making a visit to Louisiana sooner.
"Sometimes, presidential visits can get in the way of emergency response, doing more harm than good. But we don't see that as a factor now that flood waters are subsiding, even if at an agonizing pace. It's past time for the president to pay a personal visit, showing his solidarity with suffering Americans," the editorial board of The Advocate, a Louisiana-based newspaper, wrote to Obama.
CNN reporter Manu Raju tweeted that Obama was playing golf with comedian Larry David at Martha's Vineyard the day after the editorial was published.
Obama playing golf at Martha's Vineyard with Larry David today
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) August 18, 2016
Obama ultimately did visit Louisiana on Aug. 23, 2016.
Wohl did not mentioned Hurricane Katrina when criticizing Obama in his tweet. Nonetheless, Snopes immediately jumped from "Louisiana" in Wohl's tweet to "Hurricane Katrina," appearing to assume that his mention of flooding in Louisiana had to be a reference to the 2005 storm.
"The argument that Obama did not do enough after Hurricane Katrina lashed New Orleans, however, ignores the fact that Obama was not president at the time. Katrina made landfall in August 2005, during George W. Bush's presidency," Snopes said.
The article went on to provide additional background information about Obama during his time as an Illinois senator when Katrina hit. It then showed a screenshot displaying a small sample of tweets that directly accuse Obama of not responding appropriately during Katrina. The tweets range in date from Aug. 26 to Aug. 28, 2017. None of the accounts are verified, and many have less than 100 followers. One account was also suspended.
Snopes further acknowledged it could not verify how many of the anti-Obama tweets were manufactured by "bot" accounts or made in jest.