Conservative musician Ted Nugent, who sits on the National Rifle Association’s board, on Tuesday shared an article that peddled the far-right conspiracy theory that a student survivor of last week’s deadly Florida school shooting is actually a paid actor.
Nugent promoted the article without further commentary on his personal Facebook page. He also liked a comment from a Facebook user who claimed that the student named in the article, David Hogg, is “26 years old and is a paid crisis actor” and that “news organizations hire him to be a scripted witness or survivor.” Hogg is 17 years old.
Hogg and other students who survived the shooting where 17 people died last week have publicly advocated for tighter gun laws. On Wednesday, a group of students marched on Tallahassee to make the same point at the state legislature.
Far-right outlets like InfoWars and Gateway Pundit have pushed the conspiracy theory that student survivors are speaking out because far-left, anti-gun groups paid them to do so. The article Nugent promoted was originally published on Natural News, a website that “strongly criticizes drugs-and-surgery medicine” and “vaccines” and actively touts its connection to InfoWars and “other alternative news organizations.”
Natural News’ article about Hogg, headlined “It’s all THEATER: Florida high school shooting survivor caught on video rehearsing scripted lines, coached by camera man,” also promotes that theory. The article claims that surviving students’ testimonials were “all scripted, in other words, to push a gun control narrative rooted in emotional reaction rather than constructive solutions.”
The baseless theory has gained a foothold in more mainstream GOP circles as well: An aide for a Republican state lawmaker in Florida was fired Tuesday evening after he told a reporter that Hogg and another vocal student, Emma Gonzalez, were both actors. President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., also liked tweets that promoted the conspiracy.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Tuesday tweeted, however, that the theory 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