PolitiFact's Lie Of The Year: Online Smear Machine And Parkland Students
The year that was, 2018, was an action-packed - and error-filled - year of news, according to the people working over at PolitiFact.
There was a lot of competition for their annual Lie of the Year honon. President Trump was at the top of many reader's lists: Comments about the migrant caravan from Central America. Claims and counterclaims about Russian interference in American elections.
But there was a bigger story that particularly affected Floridians.
Here's PolitiFact's Lie of the Year for 2018:
In the days after 17 people were viciously gunned down at a high school in Florida, the state’s Republican governor called for tighter gun laws and President Donald Trump hosted victims’ families in the State Dining Room.
The nation seemed steadfast in seeking answers and finding solutions.
"It’s not going to be talk like it has been in the past," Trump said. "It’s been going on too long. Too many instances, and we're going to get it done."
But in the shadows, the internet engine of hoaxes and smears had started.
The lies went like this: David Hogg, an outspoken student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was really a "crisis actor" coached on what to say. Hogg wasn’t even from Florida, he was from California. Students, who began to advocate for restrictions on guns, had secretly organized before the shooting or were backed by radicals with a history of violence. Another student, Emma González, was a communist with ties to Cuba. She even ripped up the U.S. Constitution.
The students and the country were about to learn a hard lesson about participating in democracy in 2018. That you don’t have to be a politician to be on the receiving end of the internet’s worst hoaxes. That the lies don’t vanish after being debunked. That the same hoaxes will spread again after the next attack.
At least there was this: During a time of so little bipartisanship, the attacks on the Parkland students set off a shared outrage in nearly all political corners.
"Claiming some of the students on TV after #Parkland are actors is the work of a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency," wrote Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on Twitter on Feb. 20.
"THIS CONSPIRACY THEORY IS INSANE," tweeted U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif. "Our kids know David Hogg. My wife and I know his mom, who taught at our kids' elementary school before they moved to Florida. Although David is very articulate, he is not a crisis actor."
In another year of lament about the lack of truth in politics, the attacks against Parkland’s students stand out because of their sheer vitriol. Together, the lies against the Parkland students in the wake of unspeakable tragedy were the most significant falsehoods of 2018. We name them PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year.