A high school student who survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, in Florida, has been accused of being a ‘crisis actor’ by conspiracy theorists.
These conspiracy theorists believe 17-year-old David Hogg is a paid actor being puppeteered by anti-gun groups.
The individuals believe Hogg and other witnesses are part of a group of actors who travel across the country to advocate for gun control.
Emma Gonzalez sat in front of me in AP Enviro and David Hogg sits beside me in astronomy. But please, continue to tell the world they’re actors because they are more intelligent and determined than you will ever be. https://t.co/YVVXQ4ebzK
— Liz Stout (@lizardstout) February 21, 2018
A video with the description, ‘DAVID HOGG THE ACTOR’, became one of the most popular videos on YouTube before it was taken down for ‘violating YouTube’s policy on harassment and bullying.’
Part of the footage showed another unrelated incident, where a video taken by Hogg, of a confrontation between a lifeguard and a surfer, went viral.
The way these people are dehumanizing a CHILD who survived a school shooting is frankly terrifying. Note how quickly their terminology went from describing David Hogg as a "son" to a "pawn" to an "anti-gun activist". pic.twitter.com/EPpVja38rE
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) February 20, 2018
Hogg became one of the more well known students to have been caught up in the massacre.
As an aspiring journalist, Hogg works at the high school’s television station and also volunteers at a local paper.
While hiding in a closet with several of his schoolmates, Hogg turned his camera to his fellow students and quietly interviewed them about their opinions on gun control.
Some ? from @SRuhle: "You know who liked a tweet that was going after that young man, David Hogg? [turns to camera] The president's son, Donald Trump Jr. I realize you're in India, sir, but I hope you get a chance to see this, and shame on you." pic.twitter.com/pw0ruO9zFX
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) February 21, 2018
Speaking with Time, Hogg explained his thought process:
While I was in there, I thought, ‘What impact have I had? What will my story be if I die here?’
The only thing I could think of was, pull out my camera and try telling others.
As a student journalist, as an aspiring journalist, that’s all I could think: Get other people’s stories on tape.
If we all die, the camera survives, and that’s how we get the message out there, about how we want change to be brought about.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Hogg was one of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students to come forward to speak with the media about the need for stricter gun laws.
Incredibly sad state of affairs when Stoneman Douglas shooting survivor David Hogg—who is 17—just had to say "I'm not a crisis actor" on CNN.
— Michael Del Moro (@MikeDelMoro) February 21, 2018
Disturbingly, even President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr ‘liked’ a tweet linking to an article which supported the conspiracy theory.
The tweet read:
Could it be that this student is running cover for his dad who works as an FBI agent at the Miami field office which botched tracking down the man behind the Valentine Day massacre?
Just wondering. Just connecting some dots.
Reminder that Trump Junior liked a tweet suggesting these kids are crisis actors. pic.twitter.com/dHC9rPMTXt
— William LeGate (@williamlegate) February 21, 2018
THIS CONSPIRACY THEORY IS INSANE. Our kids know David Hogg. My wife and I know his mom, who taught at our kids' elementary school before they moved to Florida. Although David is very articulate, he is not a crisis actor.
He is a student who lost 17 of his classmates to bullets. https://t.co/V9gLgbbdpk
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) February 21, 2018
The young man has now been forced to defend himself, making the following statement to CNN:
I’m not a crisis actor. 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 anyone’s behalf. Unlike the people who are tweeting that stuff about me and my dad, I haven’t lost hope in America and my dad hasn’t either.
You can watch Hogg speak about the conspiracy theory in the following clip:
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One of the people to come to Hogg’s defence was US Senator, Marco Rubio, who tweeted:
Claiming some of the students on TV after #Parkland are actors is the work of a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency
Claiming some of the students on tv after #Parkland are actors is the work of a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 20, 2018
Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by the Florida shooting.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.