Despite labeling CNN "fake news," President Donald Trump used a report by the network as reason to reach out to Tangier Island Mayor James "Ooker" Eskridge — an island community in Virginia — whose small island was the subject of a CNN segment about the effects of climate change.
Trump called Eskridge on Monday after seeing a CNN report about the weather's detrimental effect on the shrinking island. The president reportedly introduced himself and then said to the mayor "you’ve got one heck of an island there" before telling him not to worry about the rising tides.
"He said we shouldn’t worry about rising sea levels," Eskridge said, according to a Wednesday report from the Washington Post. "He said that 'your island has been there for hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more.'"
The mayor of the small community was flabbergasted, calling the phone call "unreal," according to a Tuesday report by Delmarva Daily Times, a local USA Today syndicate. He explained that the administration reached out to the Tangier Oyster Co. first, looking for a way to contact him. Eskridge got notice of the call while he was in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, crabbing, prompting him to rush home to wait by the phone.
"So I came in from crabbing and they said I got a call — I said, 'That's not real.' Anyway, I hung around. I left for a short time to go to my crab house, and then came back and I got this call and the lady says, 'I'm with the president's office. The president would like to know if he could speak to you. I said, 'Yes, he sure can,'" Eskridge continued.
The island community voted overwhelmingly for Trump in November — 87 percent — and Eskridge is an ardent supporter of the president, saying that he views Trump like family. "Donald Trump, if you see this, whatever you can do, we welcome any help you can give us," Eskridge said in the CNN piece. "I love Trump as much as any family member I got."
The CNN piece outlined the dangers that the rising tide poses to the island, saying that the coastline of Tangier Island, with an estimated population of 450, is losing roughly 15 feet every year. The island is now only 1.3 square miles and shrinking more every day.
This is not the first time that Trump has reacted to reports from the mainstream media, which the president frequently dubs "fake news" on Twitter. Some of his more controversial tweets coming out directly after reports are made by Fox News. For example, in January, CNN's Brian Stelter noted that Trump's tweet about Chelsea Manning being "an ungrateful traitor" came just 14 minutes after "Fox and Friends" ran a segment with the same characterization for Manning.
14 minutes apart: Fox says "ungrateful traitor," Trump says "ungrateful traitor," Fox says "weak leader," Trump says "weak leader." pic.twitter.com/f7urTOUG1L
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 26, 2017
Using CNN as a source is surprising for Trump given the hostile nature of the president's relationship to the network, with him branding them as the "Clinton News Network" during the election season and more recently calling it "Fake News."