For three hours, a video claiming that student survivors of the Florida shooting were crisis actors, was the #1 “Trending” video on YouTube. The video, posted by a user named Mike M., and viewed more than 216,000 times, was hastily removed by YouTube. If you click on the link to the video now, you’ll see a black screen and the following message:
“This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s policy on harassment and bullying.”
The video, uploaded with the caption “DAVID HOGG THE ACTOR,” describes a confrontation between the lifeguard and Hogg’s friend, who put his boogey board on a trash can in Redondo beach. After his friend told the lifeguard to go away, the lifeguard was provoked and told him not to give him lip. During the confrontation, his friend is seated on the beach, and the lifeguard is standing and leaning down very close to him. Meanwhile, Hogg secretly records the incident, and later claims in a news segment that his friend felt “threatened” and “worried” by the lifeguard. When speaking on behalf of his friend, his comments are made in a monotone and robotic manner.
The censored video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvZD7UkJd24
Hogg and his friend get exactly the reaction they want from the lifeguard: anger and frustration. It was calculated to get news coverage, and viewership on YouTube; Hogg had the camera rolling, and recording before the confrontation even started.
Why is YouTube censoring the video for the sole purpose that the caption reads, “DAVID HOGG THE ACTOR”? The link above is a news clip of the incident; the full, unedited version of the incident is here:
And Hogg makes clear he owns the copyright to that video with a copyright disclaimer written across the clip. The comments section for both videos have people accusing Hogg of being a crisis actor.
But a clip suggesting that Hogg is a crisis actor (in its caption) isn’t all too crazy considering that apart from the sketchy recording of the lifeguard incident, we know that:
- He only recently moved from California to Parkland, Florida to attend Douglas High School.
- His instagram profile claims he’s a Sun Sentinel Teenlink reporter, and Student film maker.
- As a high-school sophomore, he reportedly created broadcast packages and said that television news was his passion.
- David’s father (Kevin Hogg) was a retired FBI agent assigned to the L.A. International Airport until 2014.
Hogg’s journalistic ambitions, along with the timing of his move to attend Douglas High, as well as his father’s career at the FBI, is raising eyebrows. Further, during the shooting incident, while hiding in the closet with classmates, he decides to start recording himself interviewing his classmates. He and the other students seem surprisingly composed given the possibility that they could be killed at any moment. Nobody is pleading for help, or sending shout-outs to loved ones. Here are some of what the students had to say:
- “At this point, I don’t even want to be behind a gun.”
- “We need more gun control in our country.”
- “No amount of money should make it more easily accessible to get a gun.”
- “I personally have rallied for gun control.”
Gun control, gun control, gun control. If you heard that clip, you would think it’s a PSA for gun control, rather than a live recording of students interviewed during a shooting.
The other strange thing about this incident is that Hogg changes his story about whether he knew the incident was a drill when he was hiding in the closet. In his recording, he talks to the camera, saying that he initially thought it was a drill, but after hearing more gunshots, knew it wasn’t. (Therefore, he knew that it wasn’t a drill before he hid in the closet.)
However, in an interview with MSNBC anchor, Stephanie Ruhle, Hogg says it wasn’t until he was in the classroom closet hiding, and checked his phone and saw news reports of the shooting, that he decided to record footage of the incident. “Once we were all in the room and started seeing the headlines, we realized this was anything but a drill,” said Hogg. Oddly, in that same interview, he mentioned that the janitor had warned them that the shooter was in the direction they were evacuating, and that they shouldn’t proceed that way. (And that’s why they hid in that classroom closet instead of evacuating.)
Did he learn that it wasn’t a drill after hearing multiple gunshots, or after checking the news in the classroom closet? Did he think the janitor was a part of the drill? (That would be surprising.) So exactly when did he know it wasn’t a drill? This is important because he says he only started recording after he knew it wasn’t a drill, so their voices would be heard in case they were killed. Maybe if MSNBC anchor, Stephanie Ruhle, had spent less time showering Hogg with praise, and more time asking about the details of the incident, we would’ve gotten a straight answer.
Then you have Hogg doing an interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN. Hogg responds to a question by Anderson Cooper, in which he’s asked how he feels about Trump Jr. liking a tweet claiming that the incident was a conspiracy perpetrated by Hogg and his father. Hogg sounds like a politician off the bat, not replying to the question, but instead saying how he’s “so sorry that people have lost their faith in America.” Eventually, he claims that he’s “not an actor in any sense, way, shape, or form.” He appears stoic throughout the interview, and periodically looks to his right (as if he’s referring to notes). At the end, he insists he isn’t anti-second amendment, and only wants people with major convictions and mental illnesses barred from buying guns.
But that’s bogus. In another interview with CNN, he refers to the NRA as “child murderers” and agrees with another student that they should “dismantle” and not make another organization under another name. (Nevermind that after the Vegas shooting, the NRA agreed to background checks and a ban on bump stocks on guns (which effectively turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns)).
YouTube banned a video solely because its caption claims Hogg is an actor. Hogg likes the limelight, and this can be seen with his previous recording where he set up a lifeguard in a terse exchange with his friend, and later speaks on behalf of his friend to reporters about the incident. We know that he contradicts himself about when he first learns that the shooting wasn’t a drill (and this is important because his rationale for recording was so that their voices could be heard in case they died). Further, he and his classmates in the recording seem unusually composed, and coherent in their support of gun control, given that at any moment they could be found and shot. Finally, he appears stoic and scripted in his interview with Anderson Cooper and others.
An actor? Possibly. Since the same video is on YouTube, people can go check that out, look at his background, and look at his interviews with Anderson Cooper and others, and make up their own minds.