August 17, 2022

Pro-Trump media just launched a disgusting smear campaign against the Florida shooting survivors

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The horrifying saga of the Stoneman-Douglas high school massacre has triggered an infuriating response from American right-wing media at all levels, from the small-time sensationalist chuds who traffic in conspiracy theories at outlets like the Gateway Pundit to the snooty and unbearably smug so-called “intellectuals” who package their petty, pearl-clutching grievance politics into more articulate but no more sophisticated takes at outlets like the Federalist.


That much was made clear on Monday, when the conservative media machine embarked on a reprehensible smear campaign against the survivors of last Wednesday’s massacre, which killed 17 teenagers and injured many more.

The immediate, vocal, and deeply moving calls for commonsense gun reform from teenagers who just watched their classmates slaughtered by a man with an AR-15 assault rifle were met with scorn and derision from the right-wing, which began immediately trying to discredit the students’ campaign for political change.

The Gateway Pundit, a right-wing propaganda outlet that regularly publishes unsourced conspiracy theories, targeted student activist David Hogg and attempted to craft a narrative which somehow linked the Trump-Russia investigation to the shooting because Hogg’s father is a retired FBI agent – meaning not working for the FBI anymore.

Add your name to demand Trump & Congress act to prevent gun violence. THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE NOT ENOUGH!

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The author of the article, known deplorable smoothbrain Lucian Wintrich – who is most famous for getting arrested after attempting to give a speech entitled “It’s Okay To Be White” – seemed stunned by Hogg’s ability to string a sentence together and deduced that this must have been because he was “coached” by his retired FBI father.

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One student, in particular, David Hogg has been astonishingly articulate and highly skilled at propagating a new anti-Conservative/anti-Trump narrative behind the recent school shooting. Few have seen this type of rapid media play before, and when they have it has come from well-trained political operatives and MSM commentators.

Why would the child of an FBI agent be used as a pawn for anti-Trump rhetoric and anti-gun legislation? 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.

Not to be outdone by a shameless rag like the Gateway Pundit, the Federalist unveiled a double-barreled strike against the students in a pair of articles entitled
“Shooting Survivors’ Feelings Don’t Legitimize Their Ideas About Politics” and – in a particularly pathetic and transparent plea to the media – “Stop Putting Traumatized Teenagers On Television.”

The argument of the first article is a common theme that the pro-gun right has been pushing over the past few days, especially by Tea Party extremist and newly minted #resistance hero Joe Walsh, is that these kids are not “policy experts” on the extremely nuanced issue of gun control.

Chandler Lasch at the Federalist writes, again targeting David Hogg, that “Media tends to treat survivors like Hogg as if they are policy experts, rather than ordinary people who have witnessed something most of us will never understand. Reporters often ask questions that politicize shootings and ask for a survivor’s take on legislation.”

This isn’t an issue that can be “debated” with the nuances of healthcare or economic policy. One does not need to attend the Joe Walsh’s Freedom Academy of Constitutional Musketry in order to understand that the more guns there are, the more people will die. One needs to look at any other country in the world to see the startling difference in the rates of suicide, domestic homicide, and mass shootings.

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It comes down to a moral debate as to whether or not you find constant mass death and the slaughter of children to be an acceptable state of affairs, and who better to offer their opinions than the people who have seen the worst of what gun violence can do with their own two eyes?

The premise of the second article is just as appalling. “Stop Putting Traumatized Teenagers On Television” by David Marcus attempts to argue, in an incredibly condescending way, that the survivors are somehow enjoying the celebrity of surviving a mass shooting and we shouldn’t put them on television because nothing is going to happen and then they will be sad. 

“But what if that doesn’t happen? What happens in six months when CNN isn’t calling for interviews, they aren’t gaining thousands of Twitter followers a day, Congress once again fails to take up any of the meaningful measures they are calling for? What happens in a year or two, when the next school shooting occurs and #NeverAgain becomes simply again? Their movement and moment will be over, but their nightmares and trauma will still be fresh.”

Jim Gergahty at the National Review makes a similar case, but cloaked in much more uncontroversial packaging, arguing that while we should listen to the kids, we should hear them out and then ignore them, because they’re too dumb to know what they’re doing.

Moreover, these are teenagers. If you have ever been, or known, a teenager, you know that even comparatively well-informed teens are almost always just advancing arguments they’ve heard from adults, and typically without much consideration of the opposing arguments. (Ironically, the people arguing that we should let teenagers set national gun policy are in the same breath arguing that we should not let 19-year-olds own guns).

Can you imagine for one second the right-wing outrage if the liberal media was attacking and discrediting kids who just saw their friends murdered before their very eyes?

This is a new low, even for conservatives, who have spent decades howling about how their “free speech” is being repressed by intolerant liberals but now seek to stifle the voices of our next generation simply because they don’t agree with the narrative that the National Rifle Association has paid them to endorse.

Colin Taylor

Managing Editor

Colin Taylor is the managing editor of the Washington Press. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice, equality, and universal health care in America.

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