What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

For kids who survived the Florida shooting, the next assault is from online conspiracy theorists

The immediate response to the school shooting in Florida was a national wave of prayers, condolences and political outrage. Then came a different flood: allegations and conspiracy theories about the students now calling for gun reform. Right-wing outlets and online trolls are promoting the false theory that the Parkland teens are actually paid actors or even FBI “plants.” Hari Sreenivasan reports.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We turn now to a darker side of the response to the Parkland shooting, something one of the students mentioned a moment ago.

    Hari Sreenivasan explores the lies and conspiracy theories that are cropping up online.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Our entire nation is praying for the victims and their families.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    The immediate response to the school shooting in Florida was a wave of prayers and condolences from around the country.

  • Rep. Paul Ryan:

    Our first thoughts are with the families who are lost.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    What quickly followed? A flood of allegations and conspiracy theories about the students calling for gun reform.

  • Alex Jones:

    I just know that we are being fed something as phony as a $3 bill.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Right-wing outlets like Gateway Pundit and Infowars and online trolls are promoting the false theory that some of the Parkland teens are actually paid actors.

  • David Hogg:

    This is not acceptable.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    The target of many of these attacks is Stoneman Douglas senior David Hogg.

    He has been called an FBI plant who was coached by his father, and a crisis actor, after video surfaced of a California CBS story featuring Hogg from August.

  • David Hogg:

    These people saying this is absolutely disturbing. And I'm not an actor in any sense, shape, way or form. I'm somebody that had to witness this and live through this.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Many of these false accounts came from extreme fringes of social media, but are now being amplified by better-known voices.

    Conservative writer Dinesh D'Souza tweeted that one of the students interviewed by a British news program seemed coached. And the president's son Donald Trump Jr. has liked some of these conspiracy tweets.

    But, on Tuesday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted the accusations against the students are — quote — "the work of a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency."

  • Rush Limbaugh:

    This is what our country has become.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Other Republicans stayed away from conspiracy theories about the students, instead accusing Democrats and gun control advocates of using the students to push their agenda.

    Former Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston-

  • Jack Kingston:

    Their sorrow can very easily be hijacked by left-wing groups who have an agenda. Well, let's ask ourselves, do we really think that — and I say this sincerely — do we really think 17-year-olds on their own are going to plan a nationwide rally?

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    FOX News anchor Tucker Carlson-

  • Tucker Carlson:

    All of a sudden, you're seeing these kids involved in calls for very specific pieces of legislation. And the allegation has been that they are in some way in contact with organized anti-gun groups.

    And people who have suggested that have been denounced as immoral and heartless and how dare you question these kids or attack them, which, for the record, I am certainly not doing. But I think it raises interesting questions about how we make our law.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Stoneman Douglas students are pushing back against the attacks and criticisms.

    I interviewed Ryan Deitsch over the weekend.

  • Ryan Deitsch:

    I, for one, just think, like, ignore it, first off, because these people are not taking action. We are. We're taking action. And I don't care what a troll says. They're just hiding behind a computer. We're out there on the streets.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Despite all the criticisms and false accusations, students still plan to march for gun control next month in Washington and around the country.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I'm Hari Sreenivasan.

Listen to this Segment