A viral video showing a tanker truck parked across from the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion in Jackson has sparked speculation online that Gov. Tate Reeves’ home is enjoying special access to clean water while most residents of the capital city go without safe running water.
But the speculation is wrong.
Two separate Trustmark employees told the Mississippi Free Press that the tanker parked across the street from the Governor’s Mansion is on standby to provide water to Trustmark Bank’s Jackson Downtown Branch, located in the building directly across from the residence.
“(It’s) just in case something happens with the water,” one of the employees said. “It’s not for them over there (at the Governor’s Mansion), it’s for us.” She added that the office has not had to use it.
After this story first published, Trustmark Director of Corporate Communications and Marketing Melanie Morgan responded to a request for comment Thursday afternoon and confirmed the employees’ story.
“It is absolutely solely for Trustmark,” she said, adding that they brought the tanker in to have on standby “out of an abundance of caution.” Morgan said the bank is asking many employees to work from home to save resources, but that the tanker is there in case it is needed to help keep key facilities operating, such as air-conditioning system for keeping computer servers stored in the building cool.
The tweet that fueled the erroneous speculation includes a clip showing the tanker parked next to the Trustmark building, but pans left to show the Governor’s Mansion on the other side. “Guess what this big ass tank outside the Governor’s mansion is?” wrote the Twitter user, whose account name is @comeback_squid.
The International Business Times later amplified the confusion with a story Thursday under the headline, “Mississippians Outraged As Tate Reeves Receives Fresh Water Truck Amid Water Crisis.” The story by Yasmin Tinwala appeared to accept the speculation as fact and included a number of tweets promoting the claim that the tanker was providing the Governor’s Mansion with water.
After the video went viral, Hunter Estes, the governor’s communications director, tweeted yesterday that “250,000+ people have now watched a video promoting a falsehood.” Tweets promoting the false claim had garnered thousands of retweets by 3 p.m. Thursday, while Estes’ tweet had earned just 13 and the video had surpassed 286,000 views.
“The Governor’s Mansion gets its water from the Jackson water system,” Estes said in a statement he shared with the Mississippi Free Press. “Many businesses have also brought in their own tankers. It is not supporting the Governor’s Mansion or any other state assets. City (water) distribution sites have been publicized.”
Failures in Jackson’s water system have left about 180,000 people without water around the capital city since Monday. On Tuesday, Gov. Tate Reeves requested and President Joe Biden approved emergency federal assistance to help the City of Jackson get its broken water system back up and running.