Benjamin Kelly, aide to Florida State Representative Shawn Harrison (R-Tampa), was fired this week for spreading conspiracy theories about the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
On Tuesday, Kelly sent an unsolicited email to Alex Leary, Washington Bureau Chief of the Tampa Bay Times, claiming Emma Gonzales and David Hogg, both survivors of the school massacre, were not students at all.
Here's the email. I asked for more information to back up the claim and was sent another email that linked to a You… https://t.co/vZz9mXL2ML— Alex Leary (@Alex Leary)1519165091.0
In the email, Kelly claimed that both students were instead "actors that travel to various crises when they happen."
The email resulted in Kelly's immediate termination by Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran. He then offered a heart-felt apology on Twitter.
On behalf of the entire Florida House, I sincerely apologize to the students targeted and again commend them for t… https://t.co/WLMIgYrmEB— Richard Corcoran (@Richard Corcoran)1519170694.0
"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."
Harrison's Twitter has since been made private.
These conspiratorial claims are, of course, undeniably and unequivocally, false.
Hogg referred to the conspiracy theories as "immature, rude, and inhuman."
Senior David Hogg responds to the "immature, rude, and inhuman” smearing of Parkland students coming from some in f… https://t.co/jQQYN3NlZ6— Michael Calderone (@Michael Calderone)1519157073.0
"I feel sorry that these people have lost their faith in America," Hogg also said. "Because I certainly haven't."
"I feel sorry that these people have lost their faith in America. Because I certainly haven't." https://t.co/ctlnauz0dK— GQ Magazine (@GQ Magazine)1519263963.0
But certain influential individuals are still peddling these lies.
NRA member and outspoken gun enthusiast Ted Nugent believes them.
NRA board member Ted Nugent pushes the conspiracy theory that Parkland school shooting survivors are actors… https://t.co/rYyR1kz1zU— Media Matters (@Media Matters)1519224902.0
So does Tucker Carlson of Fox News.
Fox News mainstreams conspiracy theory about Parkland students, reports @mattwilstein: https://t.co/mC1sNrTibl— The Daily Beast (@The Daily Beast)1519182003.0
So does former Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA), who currently works as a CNN political analyst.
CNN's Jack Kingston pushes conspiracy theory that George Soros or Antifa are behind Parkland survivors' gun reform… https://t.co/4T2Q8NLSBN— Media Matters (@Media Matters)1519161411.0
Perhaps most disturbingly, however, so too apparently does Donald Trump Jr., eldest son of President Donald Trump. On Tuesday, Junior liked two tweets promoting these egregiously false and offensive narratives.
Below are the tweets liked by the son of the President of the United States.
VIDEO: Outspoken Trump-Hating School Shooting Survivor is Son of FBI Agent; MSM Helps Prop Up Incompetent Bureau https://t.co/AYCNLlXJqx— Thomas Paine (@Thomas Paine)1519089466.0
The account of the second tweet has since been deleted, but we have the receipts, thanks to Trump Alert.
@TrumpsAlert if anyone would know about running cover for his dad... https://t.co/qySga38WNt— bryson (@bryson)1519127128.0