Parkland Massacre Becoming New Conspiracy Theory Circus

Parkland, Florida: One week after the horrific Parkland Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, cracks are already developing in the solidarity of the Parkland students who are speaking out in the wake of the tragedy.

That solidarity lasted for exactly seven days. That’s how long it took for one of the survivors, Colton Haab to charge that CNN attempted to script his comments for him during last night’s televised town hall meeting with Florida Senators Marco Rubio, the incumbent Republican, and Bill Nelson, the incumbent Democrat now running for re-election against term-limited Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Colton Haab’s Allegations Against CNN

In a copyrighted CNN news story by Ian Schwartz, Colton Haab, one of the true heroes of February 14th, charged that the cable news network refused to allow him to ask a question about using veterans as security guards in public schools. Instead, the network gave him a “scripted” question that they wanted him to ask during the town meeting. (Haab was one of the Parkland students whose quick thinking pulled a number of students out of harm’s way.)

Haab now claims that CNN initially asked him to write a speech and questions. “I expected to be able to ask my questions and give my opinion on my questions,” explained Haab, adding that he didn’t think the meeting would get anything accomplished because the questions the teachers, parents and students really wanted to ask would not be asked or answered.

Specious Allegations against David Hogg

Parkland Massacre becoming new Conspiracy Theory Circus
Parkland Massacre becoming new Conspiracy Theory Circus

Meanwhile, one of the most articulate Parkland students, David Hogg, is now being attacked on the internet with claims that Hogg is an actor and is not a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Hogg, who has a background in video production and runs the high school’s closed circuit television channel, is being accused of being a “crisis actor,” a term used to denote paid performers who travel to locations where shootings have taken place and pretend to be victims so they can espouse an anti-gun platform.

There is absolutely no doubt that David Hogg is a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Someone actually went to the extent of getting a copy of the school’s year book and opening it to the page where Hogg’s name and picture appear…on a YouTube video. (See: Yearbook Video.)

Nevertheless, accusations that Hogg is an actor (something his fellow students find laughable), and that he is being scripted, has rehearsed, and is reading from cue cards have proliferated across the internet in a series of withering attacks on the high school student. Attackers are questioning his age, his background, his place of residence, and just about anything else they can think of. Some people are claiming that they went to school with David Hogg in some other state. Others claim that he was caught lying on the video he recorded during the attack.

The “Evidence” Against David Hogg

As evidence, some detractors are pointing out that Hogg was involved in a videotaped altercation with a lifeguard on a California beach, while he was on vacation there. Conspiracy theory addicts have turned that YouTube video into “proof” that Hogg isn’t a student in a Florida high school because he was on a beach one day last year in California. The reporter who covered the incident clearly reported that Hogg was on vacation in California at the time.

One of those detractors, Alex Jones, had his Infowars post claiming that David Hogg was an actor removed by Facebook, which replaced it with a placard indicating that the video had been removed for violating YouTube’s policy on harassment and bullying.  Nevertheless, Jones continues to spin theories that Hogg and some of  his classmates are actually CNN interns and that there is a conspiracy to remove any evidence of Hogg’s association with CNN from the internet, which makes it very convenient for Jones to assert that the missing evidence proves his case.

One of the most damaging attacks on Hogg is a video clip that is purported to be proof that Hogg actually recorded his “live” interviews with students hiding in a closet during the attack at 9:32 a.m. , five hours BEFORE the attack took place. In order for Hogg to do this, he would have needed foreknowledge about the attack. Hogg critics point out that he says the video was being made at 9:32 a.m. on the sound track, but that statement was spliced into the “closet video” from another David Hogg video. This can easily be proven by referring to the original video itself, which is available on the Miami Herald website and then comparing it to the doctored video here.

Finally, there is in fact some truth to the contention that David Hogg occasionally reads from cue cards when he is making videos of his own.  It’s relatively easy for an expert to watch his eyes and determine whether he is reading from a cue card…but that behavior has been evident only in Hogg’s self-produced videos. It is not present in his interviews with the media.

Much has also been made of the fact that Hogg sometimes appears to be wearing an ear piece, with the implication that he is being coached through the ear piece.  In reality, interviewees always wear those earpieces when they are being interviewed from remote locations because that’s the only way they can hear the questions being asked by the reporter in the studio.

The verdict: David Hogg is not anything other than what he appears to be, an articulate, committed and very pissed off high school student. Case closed.

So, What’s REALLY Going On Here

Do Colton Haab’s claims that CNN attempted to censor him in any way support the contention that David Hogg is somewhere between a manipulated dupe being forced to read off cue cards or an active agent provocateur on George Soros’s payroll?

Not really.

What’s really going on here is the distorting influence of the media lens. Point a camera at people and they morph into media creatures on cue. In their rebuttal to Mr. Haab’s claims, CNN points out that they invited him to join the Town Hall meeting but did not give him – or anyone else – scripted questions. They also refused to allow him to make a speech….but that was because the Town Hall format is not designed for members of the audience to give speeches. Mr. Haab’s father pulled his son out of the event when it became clear that he would not be allowed to give his speech.

For those of you who have never participated in one of these events, it is a standard practice for the attendees in such meetings to submit their questions in writing in advance of the meeting. Members of the audience are sometimes pre-interviewed by the production staff in order to get some perspective about the things they are likely to say. This gives the producers the ability to sort through a range of opinions and to select the questioners on the basis of the questions they have submitted.

It is easy for people who are not familiar with the process to feel as though they are being censored and, in a sense, that is exactly what is happening. Questioners will be selected on the basis of the questions they want to ask, but that is not the censorship of an individual. It is, however, quite clearly the censorship of the group as a whole.

Television producers do these things because they have discovered over the years that having different people asking the same questions over and over again makes boring television. Instead, they want to represent the range of opinions present in the audience.

Getting back to Colton Haab and David Hogg. Whether they wanted to be or not, they are now cast in the roles of adversaries on the gun control issue. Hogg clearly wants much stronger gun control laws. Haab wants armed veterans stationed in public schools. Those aren’t necessarily incompatible positions, unless you don’t want any guns in your school at all.


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