Bee centered the segment around the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre in Parkland, Florida, and the survivors – especially those that became prominent gun control activists – who have been smeared online as “crisis actors.” These conspiracy theories typically emerge in far-right corners of the Internet, where some believe that liberals and government officials fake mass shootings and other terror attacks to sway public opinion on gun issues.
Bee, however, swiftly countered that narrative, cracking, “Oh bless their hearts, I wish the left were that organized! Can you imagine how much power they could have if they stopped giving each other white dreads, and in-fighting at drum circles to cook up a whole plot like that?”
In the second half of the segment, Bee looked at the disconcertingly long history of “crisis actor” conspiracy theories, which first emerged in the 1860s when a group of African-Americans were invited to speak to Congress about slavery. The government offered to pay the group’s travel expenses, which they couldn’t afford, leading pro-slavery factions to claim the group couldn’t be trusted.
Similar hoaxes sprang up to discredit the Little Rock Nine and other Civil Rights activists, leading Bee to wryly quip, “Oh my gosh these all have something in common. And now even white children are being accused of being crisis actors. We really are post-racial.”
Since the Sandy Hook shooting, right wing radio host Alex Jones has emerged as the leading spewer of these conspiracy theories. And though such hoaxes may seem to exist on the fringe, Bee warned that Jones and others have accumulated massive audiences and prominent supporters, who have helped push their ideas into the mainstream. Even President Trump lent some legitimacy to Jones after he appeared on his show during his presidential run.
Bee closed her segment reiterating the obvious: that crisis actors are not real. However, she did mention finding one instance of a politician hiring actors to pose as real people: In 2015, the Trump campaign offered actors $50 to cheer for Trump at his campaign launch event.