Parkland teenagers leading the movement for gun safety have the support of a vast majority of the country. And that's driving the conservative movement mad.
A considerable majority of Americans support the teenage activists from Parkland who successfully organized the historic March for Our Lives. And that has driven the right-wing media around the bend.
A new poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that the high school students have a 56 percent favorability rating. That compares to an anemic 39 percent favorable rating for the NRA.
The poll found that efforts to reduce gun violence are extremely popular, as well. 87 percent back universal background checks, while 64 percent support an assault weapons ban. And 60 percent overall want stronger gun laws.
“One new gun proposal voters don’t like though is giving them to teachers,” PPP notes. That absurd and dangerous idea — pushed by Trump, many Republicans, and the NRA — has only 35 percent support.
Gun control opponents on the right are on the losing side of this conversation. As a result, they’re getting in the mud and attacking the teens with a series of over-the-top, false, and pathetic smears.
Conspiracy theorist and Trump confidante and supporter Alex Jones released a video depicting Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez as a member of the Hitler Youth. Jones also dubbed audio from Hitler over a speech made by David Hogg, another survivor of the shooting.
Jones popularized the repulsive lies that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax and that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks. Now he’s applied the same kind of disgusting smears to the students’ movement. He now claims that the protests are part of a plot to overthrow the government and kill gun owners.
Notably, Jones has been a staunch advocate for Trump’s presidency and has reportedly maintained contact with him since the election.
But he isn’t alone in promoting unhinged commentary on the Parkland teens.
The conservative site Redstate, echoing Jones’ site Infowars, published a story claiming Hogg wasn’t on campus during the shooting. In reality, Hogg was in class as his classmates were killed, and even recorded a video of another student as they hid.
Redstate later retracted the story. But by then the fake news had been promoted by conservative pundit Erick Erickson. Erickson insisted that the story “isn’t fake news.” But it was.
And it was part of the mini-industry of hoaxes conservatives have created to attack the Parkland survivors
In one instance, they modified a video of Gonzalez ripping up a shooting target to instead appear as if she were tearing the Constitution.
They also claimed that Hogg was a so-called “crisis actor,” and not actually a Stoneman Douglas student.
When they aren’t making and circulating fake stories about the teens, the right has lashed out at them directly. The hateful attacks seem to grow out of jealousy for how their message has resonanted across the country.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson whined that they are “self-righteous kids screaming at you on television.” National Review simultaneously featured four stories attacking Hogg on the front page of the site. The articles called Hogg a “demagogue” and a “useful idiot.” And they complained that he delivered a “profanity-ridden rant” and called out Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for his fealty to the NRA.
That followed a widely ridiculed demand from former senator and failed presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who said the kids should learn CPR and stop protesting mass murder.
The right is losing this argument over a vital national issue.
They have been unable to win on the merits, as most Americans back gun safety reforms and legislation. So, they do what the right has done so often and effectively: smear, lie, and deceive without giving it a single second thought.
But it’s not working for them this time.