The far right thinks there's a massive FBI-linked conspiracy around survivors of the Florida school shooting


  • The far right is claiming that two students who have been featured prominently since the Florida school shooting are actors, tied to the FBI, or both.
  • The conspiracy has been promoted by the office of a Florida state lawmaker and President Donald Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

There is a widening conspiracy theory gaining traction on the far right that student survivors of a Florida school shooting who have made a series of TV appearances since last week's massacre are actors, part of an FBI plot, or both.

The conspiracies have centered on David Hogg, who has been featured on CNN and CBS following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead and more than a dozen others injured, and Emma Gonzalez, who has spoken out about the need for politicians to enact gun-control legislation.

Hogg, a student journalist who says he interviewed classmates during the shooting, has since become one of the most prominent student voices, calling for stricter gun-control measures and characterizing the response of politicians — and specifically President Trump — as "disgusting."

Victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting
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Victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

Scott Beige - Geography Teacher

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth James Watt​​​​​​​

Chris Hixon - athletic director

Photo Credit: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

15-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff

Photo Credit: Florida Youth Soccer Association

14-year-old Alex Schachter

Photo Credit : Getty 

14-year-old Cara Loughran

Photo Credit: Facebook

17-year-old Helena Ramsey

Photo Credit: Facebook

14-year-old Alaina Petty

Photo Credit: Facebook

14-year-old Gina Montalto

Photo Credit: Facebook

15-year-old Peter Wang
18-year-old Meadow Pollack (left)

Student Jaime Guttenberg

Photo Credit: Facebook 

Student Martin Duque

Photo Credit: Martin Duque/GoFundMe

17-year-old student Nick Dworet

Photo Credit: Instagram 

Football coach Aaron Feis.

Photo Credit:

16-year-old student Carmen Schentrup

Student Joaquin Oliver

Photo Credit: Facebook

Student Luke Hoyer

Photo Credit: Facebook 


In his case, some far-right outlets have pointed to his father's being a retired FBI agent to suggest something nefarious in the student's frequent media appearances.

"Why would the child of an FBI agent be used as a pawn for anti-Trump rhetoric and anti-gun legislation?" Lucian Wintrich wrote on The Gateway Pundit. "Because the FBI is only looking to curb YOUR Constitutional rights and INCREASE their power. We've seen similar moves by them many times over. This is just another disgusting example of it."

On True Pundit, a story linking Hogg and the FBI ran under the headline "Outspoken Trump-Hating School Shooting Survivor is Son of FBI Agent; MSM Helps Prop Up Incompetent Bureau."

"The kid who has been running his mouth about how Donald Trump and the GOP are teaming to help murder high school kids by upholding the Second Amendment is the son of an FBI agent," an unnamed author wrote. "David Hogg is a school shooting survivor in Florida. At least that is what the mainstream media has told us. We wouldn't be surprised by anything involving the FBI at this point."

Pro-Trump accounts have shared the stories on Twitter and in some cases have thousands of retweets. The conservative One America News Network promoted a tweet suggesting Hogg may be "running cover for his dad who works as an FBI agent at the Miami field office."

The stories gained even more attention when Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., liked that tweet and another post sharing the True Pundit story.

This is 'the work of a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency'

Later on Tuesday, True Pundit posted another story under the headline "BUSTED: Trump-Hating School Shooting Survivor Visited CNN HQ Before the Shooting; Ranted Live on CNN After."

The far-right publication published photos, claiming to be of Hogg, both at a CNN newsdesk and wearing a CNN T-shirt before last week's shooting.

"But now we learn Hogg was hanging out at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, GA sometime Before the school shooting," the unnamed author wrote. "Before the shooting. Posing behind an news anchor desk? Perhaps Hogg's career dream is to sign on with the network — a young Jake Tapper — as he has portrayed himself since the deadly shooting that claimed 17 students as a 'student journalist and entrepreneur.'"

Some people online pointed to footage of Hogg from a CBS Los Angeles newscast last summer, when he discussed how his friend got into a verbal altercation with a life guard, as proof that he was an actor who appears at various crises.

Others went after Gonzalez for being "coached" on how to respond to the incident.

The conspiracies seemed to spill into the ranks of government too.

Benjamin Kelly, an aide to Republican Florida state Rep. Shawn Harrison told the Tampa Bay Times Tuesday afternoon that both Hogg and Gonzalez "are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen."

The prominence of the conspiracies led to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida publicly condemning those spreading the claims.

Reaction to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida
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Reaction to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida

**Click through the following slides to see how lawmakers and well-known figures responded to the shooting on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.**

(John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavi…
We are grieving with Parkland. But we are not powerless. Caring for our kids is our first job. And until we can hon…
No words, no actions, no laws are enough until we end this epidemic of school shootings in our country. My heart is…
My heart is broken again — this time for the victims of the Parkland school shooting, and the families whose childr…
My heart is heavy over the school shooting in Florida. Keeping all affected in my thoughts & prayers.
April 16, 2007, was the worst day of my life—when 32 people were shot and killed at Virginia Tech. Nearly 11 years…
Imagine your child never coming home from school. Then imagine having to tell that story to every new person you me…
Don't tell me tomorrow isn't the appropriate time to debate gun violence. If you're a political leader doing nothin…
I am at a loss for what more to say. I grieve with the families in Parkland today. I grieve with the families acros…
Heard the word “tragedy” 100 times already about the school shooting - not really, by the classical definition: tra…
Praying for the innocent lives lost, their families and the Parkland, Florida community in the wake of today’s unspeakable tragedy.
Broward school shooting--There will be prayers from Blabbermouth Don, Pence the Grinch, and their rightwing cohorts…
Another senseless tragedy at an American school. My heart is with the victims and their families. When will we wake…
Praying for everyone at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Just spoke with Broward Undersheriff to ensure they h…
Sending my love to #parkland. #guncontrol #policyandchange
Just spoke with @POTUS about shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. My thoughts and prayers are with the…
The accounts from today's school shooting in Parkland, Florida strike fear into all Americans. Is it safe to send o…
We owe it to our children and our teachers to keep them safe while at school. Prayers won't do this: action will. C…
Sen. Chris Murphy addresses Florida school shooting on Senate floor: "Let me just note once again for my colleagues…
Heartbroken over the news of another school shooting. This is the 18th in 45 days of 2018. Students & teachers shou…
Yeah, it’s pretty rough to talk about shootings right after they happen. I know if someone was burning down house…
I’m horrified by the reports coming from Parkland, Florida. Please take a moment to pray for the victims and first…
Relieved that the shooter is in custody. Praying for the victims and their families during this harrowing experien…
Please join me in praying for the students, faculty, and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as…
It’s so easy these days to just scroll by a story like this. But this is developing and we should pay attention. Th…
Devastating news from Florida. As further details emerge, join me in praying for everyone at Marjory Stoneman Dougl…
My heart deeply hurts for the children and their families in South Florida that are going through a living hell. T…
Another school shooting. Sad. Prayers to the families #ParklandShooting
Just reading about the shooting at the High School in Parkland, Florida. Thoughts & prayers with all those affecte…
As we send our thoughts & prayers to the people of Parkland, Florida how about we, the people & govt of America, ac…
My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or an…
We have to do more to protect our children our teachers our families our people, no Matter what ! 🙏🇺🇸
We’ve been praying. It’s time to work. It’s time to change. Faith + works. Prayer + action.
Prayers to everyone in Parkland Florida 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
If people can blame drug dealers for the drug problem then we can blame the @NRA for the mass shooting problem.
Today is the day that inevitably comes when your prayers don't do anything to prevent it, but your vote might.
These lawmakers took the most money $$ from the @NRA
Praying for all impacted by the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward, especially th…
My heart goes out to the victims who were killed or injured, and their families, in the school shooting in Florida.
If people can blame drug dealers for the drug problem then we can blame the @NRA for the mass shooting problem.
Our prayers go out to the families and friends of victims in Florida.
My heart goes out to all those affected by the shooting in Florida. I am praying for these precious children and th…
My heart breaks again today at news of the school shooting in Florida. It's long past time for action to stop the g…
Lots of people lamenting "nothing will change" today. That's what people said before the Montgomery boycott. Th…
As we rise this morning let us pray for the victims and families of this horrific tragedy that has fallen on our co…
Our community has suffered devastating tragedy. We lost sons, daughters, teachers, coaches, friends, neighbors, bro…
Prayers without accordant action are silent lies told to oneself, heard by no God, amounting to nothing. Action is…
Like thousands in South Florida, we sent the boys to school in Broward County this morning... there are no words to…
Just heard the tragic news about Florida. My heart breaks for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.…
Our hearts are shattered by the terrible news about Parkland… love you so so much Florida ❤️

"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," he tweeted. Hogg responded to Rubio's tweet, thanking him for his comment.

The Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran announced Kelly's firing late Tuesday: "On behalf of the entire Florida House, I sincerely apologize to the students targeted and again commend them for their courage through this unspeakable tragedy," Corcoran said.

By Tuesday evening, Kelly's Twitter account had been deleted.

The focus on Hogg and Gonzalez comes in the wake of another popular right-wing theory related to the shooting — that the FBI missed warning signs about the Florida gunman because of its investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 US election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow.

Trump claimed over the weekend that this may have been what led to the FBI failing to follow protocol when it received a tip about the shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

"Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter," he wrote Saturday just before midnight. "This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!"

The FBI has more than 35,000 employees and runs hundreds of investigations simultaneously, and a special counsel outside of the Justice Department is leading the Russia investigation. The bureau, however, acknowledged last week that it had failed in following up on a tip last month about the suspect in the Florida school shooting.

Trump has repeatedly accused leaders within the Justice Department and the FBI of being biased against him.

SEE ALSO: Some of Trump's most fervent supporters have started to criticize a school-shooting survivor who has made a flurry of media appearances

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