Anderson Cooper in May. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
Media critic

Out on the nasty fringes of social media, CNN host Anderson Cooper is sustaining some Anthony Weiner jokes. No — Cooper hasn’t been found guilty of sharing racy pictures of himself or, heaven forbid, sexting with a minor. That said, a rather edgy message came rocketing out of Cooper’s Twitter account on Wednesday morning.

In response to this tweet from President Trump:

Cooper’s account replied:

In the hour it spent online before its deletion, it chalked up in excess of 16,000 likes and 2,700 retweets. What a popular tweet!

Yet officialdom at CNN, which claims neutrality by news anchors, was eager to disavow it:

Cue the jokes about Weiner, who claimed Twitter hacking years ago when his X-rated social-media activity was outed.

Later in the morning, this tweet appeared on Cooper’s timeline:

Though it’s a claim guaranteed to arouse skeptics, Cooper has a point: If you scroll back on his tweets, you’ll see that he’s not much for expressing opinion-cum-analysis on Twitter. For him, the platform appears limited to promoting his stories at CNN and elsewhere. It’s the Twitter account of a Twitter hater.

There are millions of news consumers who’ll never believe the network’s contention that Cooper was hacked Wednesday morning. That said, it behooves CNN to push out whatever information it has on this front. If this was indeed a hack, after all, it’s just another moment in a campaign to undermine the U.S. media and whatever trust it has built with the American public.

UPDATE 4:10 p.m.: A CNN statement explains, “Geolocation tools confirm that the tweet in question was not sent from Anderson Cooper’s phone. Anderson was in Washington, and we have proof the tweet was sent from New York, from a phone belonging to his assistant. His assistant inadvertently left his phone unlocked and unattended at the gym early this morning, and someone took the phone and sent the tweet. His assistant, who has worked with Anderson for more than a decade, is the only other person with access to Anderson’s Twitter account.”