Accuracy in Media

All the left-wing vitriol pointed at congressional Republicans had nothing to do with a Bernie Sanders follower shooting a Republican congressman as he practiced for the annual congressional baseball game for charity.

But everyone who has participated in any of the various “online conspiracies and threats” that have emerged against students who used the shootings at a Parkland, Fla., high school to become gun control activists shares in the responsibility for a “swatting” incident at one of the activists’ house Tuesday morning.

The story on the swatting of David Hogg’s home in Florida, written by Post staffer Abby Ohlheiser, takes readers through the activists’ journey from being endangered by a troubled classmate who shot 17 people to death through becoming a hero to the anti-gun left to “harassment” from Americans who don’t share their views. It is as if the writer thinks opposition to their gun control activism is in and of itself wrong.

“Hogg, along with a group of other Parkland survivors, responded to the Feb. 14 massacre at their school by becoming outspoken, viral advocates for increased gun control, arguing that the measures were needed to prevent another shooting like the one that killed their classmates,” Ohlheiser wrote. “That advocacy made Hogg, Emma Gonzalez and other Parkland students the targets of online harassment and conspiracy theories.”

Swatting is when people place fake emergency calls to local law enforcement with the goal of getting a SWAT team from the agency to set upon the house. It began as a way for people involved in computer gaming to get back at each other but has “expanded to become a cruel way to target online enemies and victims of harassment, or anyone experiencing viral fame,” according to the Washington Post.

An anonymous caller to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office claimed there was a hostage situation at the home of Hogg, who just graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where the shootings occurred. Hogg was in Washington, D.C., with his mother to accept an award for his anti-gun activism at the time, and police quickly determined the call was a prank and left.

Ohlheiser has been defending the Parkland activists for some time. In March, she wrote a story about how “Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg and the other Parkland teens fighting for gun control have become viral liberal heroes, the teens are villains on the right-wing Internet and fair game for the mockery and attacks that this group usually reserves for its adult enemies.”

She traced the history not of Hogg’s taunting his opponents but of his opponents opposing him.

From Day 1, Ohlheiser wrote, the activists had been subjected to conspiracy theorists who claimed the shootings were a false flag operation designed to increase support for gun control and that extreme websites warned those near the scene to look for “crisis actors,” people who create chaotic scenes for money.

Ohlheiser dubbed the second week’s activities “#MAGA Internet, implying President Trump was causing the protests Hogg, Gonzalez and others were experiencing. But “Hogg, along with Gonzalez, had found their voices,” she wrote. “In one CNN interview, the pair called for the National Rifle Association to disband.”

In Week 3 after the Feb. 14 shootings, conservatives and others opposed to gun control began to notice their social media censoring some posts. This was not censorship, Ohlheiser wrote. “The conspiracy Internet – and some of its Trump supporters – turned the conspiracy theories surrounding the Parkland students into a crusade against what they saw as censorship on major Silicon Valley platforms.”

The students were not your normal protesters, Ohlheiser wrote, even though a study of their pre-eminent public event – the March for Our Lives protest in Washington, D.C. – revealed attendees matched the demographics of standard rallies centered on liberal issues.

“The Parkland teens, as they took on such a polarizing issue, were always going to have opponents – including from more conservative Parkland students who also survived the massacre,” Ohlheiser wrote. “But the deeply personal, conspiracy-minded attacks targeting Hogg, Gonzalez and their fellow classmate activists have gone from the conspiracy fringes to a larger audience.”

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