Several survivors of the Parkland shooting in Florida have been the subject of criticism from right wing pundits for speaking out against President Donald Trump and the lack of gun control legislation.
Since the Feb. 14 incident that left 17 students and faculty of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School dead, mini rallies and demonstrations led by students have drawn more attention to the need for gun control. As students like Emma González and student reporter David Hogg continued to share their experience and demands for change in the state, conservatives have downplayed their tragedies with cheap conspiracy theories.
“Why would the child of an FBI agent be used as a pawn for anti-Trump rhetoric and anti-gun legislation?” Lucian Wintrich wrote on The Gateway Pundit about Hogg, who is the son of a retired FBI agent. Hogg, a Sun Sentinel Teenlink reporter, conducted interviews with students during the shooting and has been seen on CNN and CBS. “Because the FBI is only looking to curb YOUR Constitutional rights and INCREASE their power. We’ve seen similar moves by them many times over. This is just another disgusting example of it.” He also claimed that the students were “milking the death of their peers for careers.” on Twitter.
Hogg has also been called a “crisis actor” which he denied Tuesday (Feb. 20). Another story pushed by The Gateway Pundit suggested it, with Donald Trump Jr. liking the story on Twitter.
An aide to Florida state Rep. Shawn Harrison (R) spread the troubling narrative after speaking with Tampa Bay Times reporter Alex Leary. “Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen,” the unnamed aide Leary.
Hogg responded to Anderson Cooper about the claims on AC360. “I’m not a crisis actor,” Hogg said Tuesday evening. “I’m someone who had to witness this and live through this and I continue to be having to do that, I’m not acting on anybody’s behalf.”
“We need to do something,” Hogg also shared with CNN earlier this week. “We need to get out there and be politically active. Congress needs to get over their political bias with each other and work toward saving children’s lives. We’re children. You guys are the adults.”
Just days earlier, González responded to those who believed she should be grieving instead of speaking out. “This is the way I have to grieve,” González told The New York Times. “I have to make sure that everybody knows that this isn’t something that is allowed to happen.”
Popular Republicans like Bill O’ Riley and Dinesh D’Souza helped spread the noise on social media where they equally bashed the teens. O’Riley attempted to blame the media for giving the teens a voice while D’Souza made insensitive comments about the students.
“Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs,” he said in regards to a tweet about Florida lawmakers rejecting a bill on banning assault rifles. “Genuine grief I can empathize with. But grief organized for the cameras–politically orchestrated grief–strikes me as phony & inauthentic,” he continued on Twitter. “While the media exploits the Parkland shooting, my heart goes out to the parents & family members who are grieving the loss of loved ones.”
The big question is: should the media be promoting opinions by teenagers who are in an emotional state and facing extreme peer pressure in some cases?
— Bill O'Reilly (@BillOReilly) February 20, 2018
He later apologized about the tweets, but didn’t delete them.
Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs https://t.co/Vg3mXYvb4c
— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) February 20, 2018
While it aimed at media manipulation, my tweet was insensitive to students who lost friends in a terrible tragedy. I’m truly sorry
— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) February 21, 2018
“I think it’s very despicable that he would even have the audacity to say that,” student survivor Brandon Abzug told reporters. “Especially in the wake of a tragedy, we really show who we truly are. Just because we’re young we can’t make a difference is not right.”