Parkland survivor David Hogg on conspiracy theories: ‘It’s sad’

"It's a testament to the state of America when people feel the need to call out the witness of a school shooting," Hogg said Tuesday evening.
Screen grab from David and Kevin Hogg's Tuesday, February 20 appearance on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360.
Published Feb. 21, 2018

In the immediate aftermath of the Parkland school shooting, survivor David Hogg burst onto the national scene as an outspoken student advocate for change.

He became a fixture on television news programs, calling out lawmakers for inaction on gun legislation.

Then the false narratives began to fly.

Conspiracy theorists labeled Hogg, 17, a Democratic Party pawn. He's too articulate in interviews to not be "heavily coached," the fringe website Gateway Pundit wrote. He's an actor who travels "to various crisis [sic] when they happen," a former Florida state House aide told a Tampa Bay Times reporter. (The aide, who at the time of the comment worked for Tampa Republican Shawn Harrison, was fired.)

Parkland truthers have vandalized Hogg's personal YouTube channel with comments accusing him of misrepresenting himself. Accusing his father Kevin, a former FBI agent, of a grand scheme to undermine President Donald Trump, or gun rights, or this or that.

"It's a testament to the state of America when people feel the need to call out the witness of a school shooting," the younger Hogg said in an interview.

Hogg said he supports the Second Amendment. He just wants to make sure the only people who can access guns are those who are mentally stable.

It hasn't stopped internet commenters from throwing out wild theories. Some have seized on a video Hogg made in California in early August 2017. Their logic: No Florida high school student could possibly have been in California in early August — the dead of summer. So Hogg must not really be a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland.

Hogg moved from California to Florida at the beginning of high school, he said. He goes back every summer to visit his friends.

"It's sad. It's really sad," Hogg said when asked about the speculation.

Still, Hogg said, if critics want to say he's too well-spoken, he's fine with that.

"It's almost like a compliment for them to say I'm reading off a cue card," Hogg said.

That polish comes from years of participation in the school debate program, Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said.

"That's why he's so articulate," Runcie told the Times.

As for Hogg's dramatic talents? One of Hogg's Marjory Stoneman Douglas classmates took to Twitter on Tuesday to throw cold water on the idea of Hogg as a crisis actor.

"@Davidhogg111 can't act to save his life," Sarah Chadwick tweeted Tuesday. "The fact that some people think he is being payed to is hilarious."