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Kevin Hogg—the father of Marjory Stoneman Douglas student David Hogg, who has been outspoken in the wake of the mass shooting at his school last week—addressed on Tuesday the brewing right-wing conspiracy that he had coached his son to speak out against President Donald Trump.
“I don’t know how they believe that there is such a thing,” Kevin Hogg told Anderson Cooper last night about a narrative being pushed about his son in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, one of the worst school shootings in American history.
Though conspiracies about mass shootings always swell up in their aftermath, conservatives have gone particularly hard after Parkland, possibly because it has brought about a fierce push for gun control.
The theory that David, who is 17, was coached to speak out against Trump grew from a post by the Gateway Pundit, a hyper-conservative site with a track record for pushing conspiracy theories.
EXPOSED: School Shooting Surviver Turned Activist David Hogg's Father in FBI, Appears To Have Been Coached On Anti-Trump Lines [VIDEO] https://t.co/z2T0LgmyQ9
— Jim Hoft (@gatewaypundit) February 19, 2018
Yesterday, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., lent credence to the post by liking it on Twitter. David addressed the attempts to smear him as well.
“The fact that these people are being critical of me as a witness and personally as a victim to this incident and having to witness this and live through it again and again, it is unbelievable,” David said.
But this isn’t the only conspiracy theory being peddled in the wake of the shooting about David. Benjamin Kelly, an aide to a Rep. Shawn Harrison (R-Fla.) was fired after he emailed a reporter accusing Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, another vocal student from Stoneman Douglas, of being “crisis actors.”
I was just made aware that my aide made an insensitive and inappropriate allegation about Parkland students today. I have spoken to him and placed him on leave until we determine an appropriate course of action. I do not share his opinion and he did so without my knowledge.
— Shawn Harrison (@Shawnfor63) February 20, 2018
Tonight Mr. Kelly was terminated from his position as my District Secretary. I am appalled at and strongly denounce his comments about the Parkland students. I am again sorry for any pain this has caused the grieving families of this tragedy.
— Shawn Harrison (@Shawnfor63) February 21, 2018
Kelly had emailed Tampa Bay Times reporter Alex Leary about Hogg and Gonzalez.
An aide to state Rep. Shawn Harrison, using state email, sent me this: "Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen." https://t.co/UFD1ZXGNjr
— Alex Leary (@learyreports) February 20, 2018
Here's the email. I asked for more information to back up the claim and was sent another email that linked to a YouTube conspiracy video. pic.twitter.com/VRSVOcjj3E
— Alex Leary (@learyreports) February 20, 2018
The email had come unprompted after Leary published an article where he detailed how Parkland students were being attacked for their outspokenness. Kelly flagged a YouTube video where Hogg was seen in California, saying that since he was once filmed in another state, he must have been brought in during the shooting’s aftermath to speak in favor of gun control.
The Gateway Pundit and other prominent conservatives have also claimed the children have ties to George Soros, a wealthy liberal donor.
— Jim Hoft (@gatewaypundit) February 20, 2018
The well ORGANIZED effort by Florida school students demanding gun control has GEORGE SOROS’ FINGERPRINTS all over it. It is similar to how he hijacked and exploited black people’s emotion regarding police use of force incidents into the COP HATING Black Lives Matter movement. pic.twitter.com/XDZ3bcwF6F
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) February 20, 2018
The conspiracies being peddled about Stoneman Douglas students children come as Trump plans to meet with victims of several school shootings to talk gun-control proposals.
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]