After the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, which left 20 young children and six adults dead at the hands of a gunman wielding a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle, far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones called the tragedy “a synthetic completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured.” That insidious—and outrageously false—conspiracy theory didn’t stop then-candidate Donald Trump from not only appearing on Jones’ program (where he sang his praises), but also using Jones as an informal adviser.
“The Republican presidential nominee of the United States is being advised by a delusional sociopath. It speaks for itself,” Mark Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son Daniel at Sandy Hook, told me. “What else can you say about that? It’s disgusting.”
Now, following the recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a 19-year-old armed with a legally purchased AR-15 assault rifle gunned down 17 people, many of the same far-right kooks—including a Florida GOP representative’s office—are coming out of the woodwork, claiming that the surviving school kids speaking out so eloquently for gun control are “crisis actors” in league with mysterious left-wing forces, or that they’re agents of the FBI since David Hogg, one of the surviving kids, has a father who once served in the bureau.
“These are impressive kids,” said Jimmy Kimmel on Wednesday night. “Even if you don’t agree with them, they should be applauded. But unfortunately, there are some who, not only are they not supporting these children who just lived through a nightmare they’ll never forget, there are some who are attacking them. Who call them fake news, who call them fake students, they say they’re ‘crisis actors.’”
He continued: “You know, yes, there are always crackpots in situations like this who come out of the woodwork with this paranoia-fueled nonsense. It happened after Sandy Hook, too. It happens a lot. The far right wing thrives on conspiracy theories. Global warming is a ‘conspiracy,’ the Russia investigation is a ‘conspiracy,’ Obama’s birth certificate was a ‘conspiracy.’ And those are just the big ones—there are a hundred others. There’s Pizzagate, Scalia’s ‘murder,’ the 3 million ‘illegal voters.’ But in this case, we have known people—people like Donald Trump Jr., the president’s least-favorite son—perpetuating this kind of stuff.”
Indeed, as Kimmel pointed out, Donald Trump Jr. took time out of his busy schedule trolling U.S. Olympic athletes on Twitter and meeting with the Russians to “like” a pair of tweets on Twitter linking to conspiracy theory tales about the Parkland shooting survivors, accusing them of being in league with the FBI.
“That is our president’s son doing that: liking a story that directly defames a student that survived a shooting,” said Kimmel, clearly beside himself.
And Don Jr. wasn’t alone. “Ted Nugent, who’s a member of the board of the NRA, shared this [fake] article on Facebook: ‘It’s All Theater.’ The kid [Hogg] who just watched his friends die is a ‘puppet,’ according to Ted, and it’s a ‘puppet show.’ Is that OK? Should the person who actively spreads this garbage around be a member of your board if you are a reputable organization? I don’t think so.”
The comedian then issued a message to Trumpsters and NRA members:
“I want you to consider this, especially if you are a Trump supporter or a member of the NRA: Do you really think these kids, these teenagers who spoke out after a shooting at their school, are ‘actors’ who are part of some ‘deep state, left-wing conspiracy?’ If the answer is ‘yes, I do believe that,’ I have some bad news for you: You’re crazy. You are a crazy person. Your brain is not functioning, and I’m worried about you.”
He added, “If you aren’t crazy, which most of you aren’t, and you agree that accusing teenagers of being part of some underground, diabolical government scheme is nuts, you can’t just sit there and let these scumbags spread these lies about these kids.”