When you can’t win an argument with facts, lie.
That seems to be the strategy of David Hogg and Cameron Kasky, two students-turned-activists who have become household names — or at least faces — since the Parkland, Florida tragedy.
During a Friday appearance on CNN, the two young men made sweeping claims about the National Rifle Association and President Donald Trump. There was just one problem: Almost everything they said was false.
Amazingly, veteran journalist Anderson Cooper let them get away with it, and shied away from calling Hogg and Kasky out on the inaccuracies.
The first falsehood came when the duo was discussing Trump’s appearance at the NRA’s Annual Leadership Forum. Kasky insisted the NRA had swayed the president’s thinking to be more pro-gun before accusing the NRA of being backed by Russia.
“So as to whether or not the NRA meeting changed his views, that’s kind of up to speculation, but I will tell you that is hopefully the first Russian-funded group he has met with,” Kasky said.
Yes, it’s the new liberal favorite: when in doubt, blame Russia.
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) May 5, 2018
Kasky’s claim seemed to be based on reports that the NRA received roughly two dozen donations or membership dues from people with Russian addresses.
Some of those dues came from American citizens who are living in Russia, which is neither illegal or particularly suspicious. There are nearly 50,000 U.S. citizens who live in Russia, according to VOA News.
“The organization received about $2,512 from those with Russian addresses between 2015 and April 2018,” reported Bloomberg News.
“Of the $2,512, ‘about $525 was from two individuals who made contributions to the NRA,'” Bloomberg reported, citing an NRA letter. “The rest consisted of routine payments from about 23 individuals for membership dues and additional magazine subscriptions.”
Is $2,512 from members who live overseas enough to sway the NRA? In a word, no.
“The NRA also brings in approximately $400 million per year in revenue, meaning that only $2,512 in donations have come from Russian addresses in the same time span that the NRA has brought in over $800 million – which is only 0.00031% – hardly enough to call the NRA a ‘Russian-funded group,'” explained The Daily Wire.
It has apparently not occurred to these anti-gun activists that the reason the NRA is so well funded is because it has the support of millions of Americans and represents the views of a huge portion of the country.
But Hogg and Kasky weren’t done. Focusing on emotion over facts, Hogg declared to CNN that Trump and Republicans were “worried because of the support we’ve been getting and the support we’ll have in mid-terms.” He then smeared anyone who supports the NRA as people who don’t “stand with kids.”
Setting aside the fact that a huge chunk of the NRA’s 5 million members are likely parents themselves, Hogg’s claim just don’t hold water. Many well-regarded polls and news sources have confirmed that gun-control advocates are losing support, not gaining.
“Once-heightened concerns about gun violence have tapered back to previous levels, as has a desire for stricter gun laws and a belief that gun restrictions can be passed without violating Second Amendment rights,” the liberal Huffington Post reported.
“Fewer Americans now think gun violence is a bigger problem than even in 2017, right after the Las Vegas and Texas mass shootings — some of the worst in American history,” summarized The Daily Wire.
“About half of Americans now favor making gun laws stricter (down about 4 points from the days following Parkland), fewer Americans believe that it’s possible to enact more restrictive gun measures without infringing on the Second Amendment, and 10 percent fewer Americans see gun control as a necessary priority for Congress,” the outlet continued.
And the 2018 midterms? Gun control is sure to be an issue, but anyone predicting that Republicans are set to lose their control of Congress ought to learn from the failed 2016 predictions. The election could go either way.
Hogg saved his best fable for last, however, declaring that the president “cut mental health spending for schools by over $25 million.”
True? Not even close.
“The omnibus [that was signed into law] also included more funding for school-based mental health programs,” left-leaning Vox News reported.
“The American Psychiatric Association released a statement on the day the omnibus bill was signed into law, specifically saying that they ‘praised’ it, noting that, in total, it increases funding for mental health by billions of dollars,” noted The Daily Wire.
And, remember, that mental health funding is on top of additional state laws like the one signed in Florida. CNN made no effort to fact-check the Parkland students or question their skewed statements.
Whether Hogg and Kasky are being purposely deceitful or are just ignorant of the reality is up for debate, but one thing is clear: Emotion and vitriol are poor replacements for facts.
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