TEXAS VIEW: Ted Cruz is the Senate’s master of misinformation

Terrorists aim to eliminate any sense of security among those they attack by revealing vulnerabilities and forcing people to live in fear of the next threat.

For many Americans, one effect of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is that any breaking news of a plane crash, shooting or abnormal vehicular accident anywhere in the nation raises immediate concern and speculation of a terrorist attack. This is especially so at a time of great international tension.

Most such incidents are not terrorist attacks, but even in the fast-moving digital world, it can take time for credible news sites and social media posts from responsible officials to elevate facts above fears and rumors.

Too often, though, we have noticed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is not one of those credible and responsible voices. The junior senator from Texas, who is more prolific in crafting social media posts than meaningful legislation, is often a fount of misinformation on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.

Two weeks ago, in response to a horrible and deadly car crash at the Rainbow Bridge, which connects the U.S. and Canada near Niagara Falls, Cruz was especially irresponsible and cynical, posting as if it were a terrorist attack.

It was, in fact, a horrific accident.

In the late morning of Nov. 22, a married New York couple died after their Bentley, traveling at a high rate of speed, went airborne, crashed and exploded on the U.S. side of the border.

With no evidence, Fox News reported it was a terrorist attack. Less than two hours after the accident, in retweeting an equally uninformed post by a right-wing commentator, Cruz wrote: “This confirms our worst fear: the explosion at Rainbow Bridge was a terrorist attack. Both attackers are dead, and one law enforcement officer was injured. I am praying that officer makes a full recovery and is able to spend Thanksgiving surrounded by family and loved ones.”

By that evening, law enforcement authorities were saying the explosion was not a terrorist attack. Still, it took several days for Cruz to delete the post, giving credence to misinformation.

Cruz was not alone. Election denier Kari Lake, a Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate in Arizona, posted that if this was a terrorist attack, President Joe Biden was to blame.

“If so, our worse fears are being realized,” she posted.

Terrorism is a legitimate fear, but concerns about terrorism should be grounded in fact. Senators, or those seeking such an office, regardless of political party, should be careful and precise in their language about threats and security.

In the past, Cruz has shared, among other things, a fake story made to look like it was from the Atlantic magazine; supposed footage of the Taliban hanging a man from an American Blackhawk helicopter that wasn’t true; and a hoax photo of a shark swimming on the flooded Interstate 405 in Los Angeles.

He also lashed out at Democrats as “power-drunk authoritarian kill-joys” after he saw a tweet posted by the “WA Government” about extending COVID protections. Cruz assumed “WA Government” was the state of Washington, but it was Western Australia.

Few Americans have better access to accurate information than a U.S. senator, especially one who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. But Cruz repeatedly uses his fingertips to tap out false information rather than seek the truth.

All this is more glaring given the tenuous political moment Cruz participates in. A very real threat came on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of fellow Americans stormed the U.S. Capitol, assaulting police officers and threatening to murder elected officials in a violent attempt to overthrow an election, an insurrection fueled by the Big Lie of voter fraud.

Cruz accelerated those false claims of voter fraud and sought to delay the certification of the election. A credible and responsible senator would have shown fidelity to the basic truths of the election.

San Antonio Express-News