After watching a gunman shoot more than a dozen peers at his school, Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg has spent a good portion of the last fortnight defending himself from the absurd far-right conspiracy theory that he is fact a “crisis actor,” paid by agents of the left to make the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School seem worse than it actually is.
But while that particular claim has been widely debunked, the right-wing smears on Hogg’s credibility and character haven’t stopped — or even slowed. In the last 24 hours there have been a slew of new attacks on Hogg, from both the paranoid fringe and more established conservative media outlets.
The latest onslaught began yesterday when Erick Erickson published a story on his blog titled “David Hogg Is A High School Bully.” Erickson, who dubbed himself “the most powerful conservative in America” in 2015, endeared himself to some on the left in 2016 with his vehement support of the #NeverTrump movement — which he promptly ditched a few months into the administration.
“David Hogg is a bully,” Erickson writes. “He goes on television and knows he gets to use what happened to him as a shield to avoid criticism. The media allows him to attack all the targets the media would be attacking anyway. They do not question him or hold him accountable. It further emboldens him to attack others.” Erickson then doubled down on his smear today with another attack on Hogg, claiming that he had “a carefully orchestrated PR team [that] rallies social media trolls to attack anyone who questions him or points out his bullying. Meanwhile he organizes the trolls to go after businesses that do not bow to his wishes.”
The irony here his stunning. For years there’s been a fertile ecosystem for right-wing, paranoid conspiracy theorists, and trolls, who rally after every mass shooting to push the idea that anyone demanding greater gun control in the wake of a massacre is in fact working for the Deep State. But for Erickson, Hogg and his fellow seventeen-year-olds are the ones who can rally an army of social media trolls.
“Hogg has no special insight into [the mass shooting’s causes] — or frankly, into anything else,” Charles C. W. Cooke wrote in the National Review — a publication formerly friendly to the #NeverTrump caucus. “He’s ignorant about basic civics; he’s liable to backward reasoning… he has increasingly come across as slippery… Demosthenes he is not.” Cooke goes on to explain that the teenagers’ vocal advocacy for gun control “is not how republics work.”
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones piled on challenged Hogg to a “debate.” Hogg initially offered to debate Jones, before deciding against it based off Jones’ repeated claims that the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook never happened. After Hogg declined, Jones posted a series of tweets claiming that Hogg was “bullying and viciously attacking me.”
To longtime fans who have listen to the Infowars host’s repeated promises that he’s ready to die for Trump, Jones’ comments might seem a bit less confrontational than usual. That may be because Infowars is currently one strike away from being banned from YouTube after pushing conspiracy theories about the Parkland shooting. The first strike was for a video titled “David Hogg Can’t Remember his lines in a TV Interview.” Jones claimed that the strikes were part of a “CNN lobbying campaign” to silence him.