Russian bots have reportedly latched on to Fox News host Laura Ingraham in her crusade to mock a high school student who survived the massacre at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month, according to Hamilton 68, a website that tracks the unfurling of Russian disinformation on Twitter.
Over the weekend, the use of the hashtag “#IstandwithLaura” jumped 2,800 percent in 48 hours, The Washington Post was first to report Monday. The Post also cited the website botcheck.me, which tracks 1,500 different political propaganda bots, found that Ingraham’s, Fox News’ and the high school student David Hogg’s Twitter accounts were in the top six Twitter handles being tweeted by Russian-linked accounts over the weekend.
Russian Twitter bots have been spreading false information about the Florida high school shooting since it happened last month, when a 19-year-old former student opened fire at the high school, killing 17 people and injuring dozens. Student survivors like Hogg have since been advocating for tighter gun legislation and even organized a national school walk out and a march on Washington, D.C. to push for gun control policy.
Far-right conspiracists have seized on the students and their focused message, claiming the high schoolers are “crisis actors” or being paid by left-leaning groups. Ingraham last week tweeted a story from The Daily Wire, mocking Hogg for getting rejected from four colleges in California, including UCLA.
Hogg responded by tweeting the names of the companies that advertise on Ingraham’s Fox News show, calling on his Twitter followers to tell the companies to pull their advertisements from the show. Ingraham later offered an apology for her tweet, but that didn’t stop at least seven companies from pulling their advertisements from “The Ingraham Angle.” Hogg called Ingraham a “bully” during an interview with CNN and said he didn’t accept her apology.
Ingraham said Friday that she would be taking a week vacation for Easter, a break that was previously scheduled, a Fox News spokesperson told TPM this weekend.