In the immediate wake of the Parkland school shooting the students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were immediate stars. They were passionate, articulate, polished, highly-motivated champions of gun control.
Perhaps there was a little more to the story than just a group of fabulous grieving students?
Kyle Smith on Opinion Laundering:
The reason television has made stars out of Hogg and González is obvious: They are telegenic, sympathetic vehicles for a message media personalities wish they could get away with openly espousing themselves. (“I get so angry talking to these gun nuts,” Piers Morgan said in a revealing moment on British morning television today.) Just as an op-ed editor at a newspaper can showcase his opinions without his name ever appearing in print by his selection of which articles to publish, the TV media keep giving airtime to students like Hogg because they’re saying all of the things the media’s nominally neutral hosts believe but don’t otherwise feel comfortable saying. Katy Tur, George Stephanopoulos, and Wolf Blitzer can’t passionately lecture the audience about why they think gun policy is crazy in this country, so they put the students on camera to say it. They’re simply laundering their opinions through these kids.
David Hines on Astroturfing:
On February 28, BuzzFeed came out with the actual story: Rep. Debbie Wassermann Schultz aiding in the lobbying in Tallahassee, a teacher’s union organizing the buses that got the kids there, Michael Bloomberg’s groups and the Women’s March working on the upcoming March For Our Lives, MoveOn.org doing social media promotion and (potentially) march logistics, and training for student activists provided by federally funded Planned Parenthood.
The president of the American Federation of Teachers told BuzzFeed they’re also behind the national school walkout, which journalists had previously assured the public was the sole work of a teenager. …
What’s striking about all this isn’t the organization. If you start reading books about organizing, it’s clear how it all works. But no journalist covering the story wrote about this stuff for two weeks. Instead, every story was about the Parkland kids being magically effective.
On Twitter, I lost track of the number of bluechecks rhapsodizing over how effective the kids’ organizational instincts were. But organizing isn’t instinctive. It’s skilled work; you have to learn how to do it, and it takes really a lot of people. You don’t just get a few magical kids who’re amazing and naturally good at it.
The real tip-off should have been the $500,000 donations from Winfrey and Clooney. Big celebrities don’t give huge money to strangers on a whim. Somebody who knows Winfrey and Clooney called them and asked. But the press’s response was to be ever more impressed with the kids.