As Republican senator Ted Cruz came under fire for fleeing a freezing Texas for Cancun in February 2021, memes could be found all over social media — among them a screenshot of a purported tweet in which Cruz was quoted as saying he would believe that climate change exists “when Texas freezes over”:
In the circulating version, no likes or shares were visible, and the tweet read:
Ted Cruz @tedcruz
“I’ll believe in climate change when Texas freezes over.”
5:44 PM Sep 8, 2016 Twitter for iPhone
It wasn’t long before Cruz’s purported tweet about “when Texas freezes over” was transcribed, again, as a comment he authentically made:
We did a Twitter search for the phrase, and a large number of tweets appeared in it. The oldest tweets attributed to Cruz dated back only to February 17 2021:
A search on PolitWoops, which tracks deleted tweets from politicians, turned up nothing from either of his accounts using that specific phrase for that specific date or any other.
Another tweet used the specific phrasing (“I’ll believe in climate change when Texas freezes over”), but didn’t attribute the commentary to Ted Cruz:
Some popular iterations were deleted within an hour.
Based on the Twitter search results, it was safe to say neither Cruz nor anyone had said “I’ll believe in climate change when Texas freezes over” prior to February 16 2021, the oldest iteration of the phrase we located. We also did a Google search for the specific phrase in question, not date-restricted to before February 2021.
The only results returned were from February 18 and 19 2021. One result was misdated, indicating that a version of the tweet attributed to Ted Cruz was shared to Facebook; Facebook posts are frequently incorrectly dated in search results. Clicking through led to an unrelated September 2019 post by the “Occupy Democrats” page, with no new comments in February 2021.
In February 2021, a broader national pile-on included viral circulation of a tweet attributed to Ted Cruz, in which he purportedly said “I’ll believe in climate change when Texas freezes over.” No iterations of the phrase (attributed to Cruz or not) appeared prior to February 16 2021 on Google or Twitter search, nor did it appear on archives of politicians’ deleted tweets. The earliest iteration we located was a Twitter user attributing the quote to “someone,” and it was possible another user felt the commentary would be funny as part of the ongoing hazing of Cruz — but there was no evidence anyone (Cruz included) said it before February 16 2021.