The Florida school shooting has created a whirlwind of emotions, social media posts, opposing opinions, and all sorts of theories and even a few conspiracies. One of the unproven conspiracies is that some of the students are crisis actors. This theory is going around the Internet but has not been proven one way or the other. In particular, the focus has been on David Hogg, a young man who appears to perform very well on the camera and seemed to be very excited to speak about anti-gun movements and political views surrounding anti-gun laws. Some people on social media have called David Hogg a “crisis actor” and suggested that he travels to incidents to speak on them when they happen. Some people are sharing a video of an incident that occurred years ago in California where David Hogg may have been visiting for vacation or something else. Other people have claimed that David Hogg graduated high school in 2015 from a California high school, but that has already been debunked because the picture of him in a yearbook was from a 2017 Stoneman yearbook which someone recorded opening on a live video.
Americans are dealing with a giant mess on social media while all the rumors and controversies take over the Internet. One person, who is a Florida political aide, sent a controversial email to a reported. The email stated that David Hogg and the girl with the shaved head were “crisis actors” and his statement was not taken very well. This Tweet was not received well, and the aide was immediately placed on leave. The aide’s name is Benjamin Kelly, and he’s an aide to the Republican Representative Shawn Harrison in Florida. Harrison was likely shocked and embarrassed by the statements made about the anti-gun teenagers and placed the aide on leave until they determine what to do next. This proves that it’s one thing to think about conspiracies, but it’s not appropriate to stand behind the rumors unless there are definitive proof and facts to back it up with.
An aide to state Rep. Shawn Harrison, using state email, sent me this: "Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen." https://t.co/UFD1ZXGNjr
— Alex Leary (@learyreports) February 20, 2018
“Benjamin Kelly, the aide to Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison, emailed Tampa Bay Times reporter Alex Leary to claim that two Marjory Stoneman Douglas students who appeared on CNN weren’t actually survivors of the attack.
“Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen,” Kelly reportedly emailed the newspaper. When the Tampa Bay reporter asked for proof, the House aide sent a follow-up email claiming the same student who appeared on CNN, David Hogg, was in another state hundreds of miles away.
“There is a clip on you tube that shows Mr. Hogg out in California. (I guess he transferred?)” Kelly’s email reportedly stated.
Harrison took to Twitter Tuesday evening to explain that he “placed [Kelly] on leave until we determine an appropriate course of action,” adding that he doesn’t “share his opinion and he did so without my knowledge.”
Following Harrison’s post, Kelly wrote on Twitter that he’s been “terminated from the State House” because he “tried to inform a reporter of information relating to his story regarding a school shooting. This was not my responsibility. I meant no disrespect to the students or parents of Parkland.”
The aide added that Rep. Harrison “is an honest and respectable man. In no way should be held responsible for my error in judgment.”
Kelly’s Twitter account was later taken down.”
Here's the email. I asked for more information to back up the claim and was sent another email that linked to a YouTube conspiracy video. pic.twitter.com/VRSVOcjj3E
— Alex Leary (@learyreports) February 20, 2018
Richard Corcoran, the Florida House Speaker, was not very happy after reading the emails about the students. He’s the one responsible for sending aide Kelly packing his bags and off to a new job.
The problem with conspiracy theories and rumors is that they are sometimes shared so many times that they often become twisted and unrecognizable by the time they’ve been swapped 100,000 different directions. It’s like an old-school folk tale told by mouth – everyone tells it in their own way and eventually, the story takes another direction that has veered far from the original.
We don’t currently have proof that any students are legitimate crisis actors, so we should not make outright claims that they are. Upon receiving intelligence that David Hogg is a real crisis actor, then we will post that information here.
Some question Hogg’s ulterior motives. Does he want to be on CNN when he’s older and graduates high school? Is he an aspiring reporter who prefers leftist style news? That’s his decision and maybe he’ll take over when Anderson Cooper has finished his tenure and gets a tan. David Hogg might have different motives for seeming to find his way onto the news quite easily, but we must be very careful to make any accusations without evidence. If David Hogg is an aspiring journalist or would like to be on television one day, then one can make the argument that his activism and consistent appearances on television might be him using this tragedy to promote the future of his own career. That’s an argument one could make simply by seeing how often he’s been on television and smiling. Again – that would need to be more cemented in facts, but it’s safer to question ulterior motives than it is to claim that someone is factually a crisis actor. In order to say that someone is a crisis actor, then the world would need more evidence to properly back up all claims.
There’s a lesson to be learned here is that we must bite our tongue when making outright claims that someone is something that they may possibly not be. The mistake was to suggest that it was factual that the two activist students were factually crisis actors.
It would have been more responsible for the Florida aid to simply point to news stories that talked about it, but not be so adamant about it.
We don’t know if David Hogg is a crisis actor, but one day we might find out. The important thing is to discuss this openly, analyze the facts, and come to an intelligent conclusion after you’ve weeded out the fake stories.
I was just made aware that my aide made an insensitive and inappropriate allegation about Parkland students today. I have spoken to him and placed him on leave until we determine an appropriate course of action. I do not share his opinion and he did so without my knowledge.
— Shawn Harrison (@Shawnfor63) February 20, 2018