GOP aide fired after calling Parkland student activists “actors”

A Florida state representative has apparently fired an aide who emailed a reporter a claim that two survivors of a south Florida school shooting were actors. Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison tweeted a comment that he didn’t agree with the “insensitive and inappropriate comments” made by aide Benjamin Kelly. 

Kelly later tweeted that he’d been terminated and said it was a mistake to make the claim in an email to Tampa Bay Times reporter Alex Leary. Kelly’s Twitter account had been deleted within a few hours Tuesday night.

“I made a mistake whereas I tried to inform a reporter of information relating to his story regarding a school shooting,” said the now-deleted tweet by Kelly. “This was not my responsibility. I meant no disrespect to the students or parents of Parkland.”

Leary tweeted about the email he received from Kelly. It had a screenshot of two Marjory Stoneman Douglas students being interviewed on television and said the students were actors. 

Harrison said in his tweet that Kelly acted without his knowledge.

Students from Parkland have become increasing vocal since the shooting that killed 17 of their classmates. Six days after the shooting, 100 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School boarded buses and headed 450 miles north to Tallahassee. Hours earlier, the Florida House voted down a motion to take up a bill that would ban assault rifles, effectively killing the measure for this session. 

But members of the conservative media have begun to go after the students. In the National Review, Ben Shapiro wrote “What, pray tell, did these students do to earn their claim to expertise? They were present during a mass shooting, and they have the right point of view, according to the Left.” 

Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly tweeted the media is “exploitative” in speaking to students who are “in an emotional state and facing extreme peer pressure in some cases.” 

Additionally, the right-wing website Gateway Pundit ran a piece saying student David Hogg was “coached” by his father, a retired FBI agent. The website True Pundit also ran a similar story, and President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. liked a tweet with the True Pundit story. Trump Jr. also liked a tweet by One America News (which has since been deleted) that claimed Hogg was a plant by the FBI, according to Mediaite.

Alex Jones’ InfoWars dug up an old clip of Hogg on the Miami CBS affiliate, WFOR, talking about a fight between two friends, saying there are “questions swirling” about Hogg. 

Hogg, a student journalist at the high school television station, appeared on “CBS Sunday Morning,” saying “this tragic event must never be forgotten.”

“So as American citizens, unite, and stand up in the face of division — not any political agenda, but for the lives of millions of schoolchildren,” Hogg said. 

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