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As mainstream pundits apologize, fringe sites cash in on attacking Parkland teens

The people behind Natural News, who publish stories about the dangers of tap water and vaccinations, launched a new hub eight days ago called HoggWatch.com.
by Ben Collins /
Image: David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, speaks at a rally calling for more gun control three days after the shooting at his school, in Fort Lauderdale
David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, speaks at a rally calling for more gun control three days after the shooting at his school, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Feb.17, 2018.Jonathan Drake / Reuters file

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One of the most notorious internet purveyors of conspiracy theories and debunked science has launched an entire website dedicated to attacking a single person: David Hogg, who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The people behind Natural News, who publish stories about the dangers of tap water and vaccinations, launched a new hub eight days ago called HoggWatch.com. The website is populated almost entirely with content from Natural News founder Mike Adams and senior writer J.D. Heyes.

Fringe websites have ridiculed the surviving teens from February’s shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as they’ve spurred nationwide anti-gun protests in the last month. Hogg and classmate Emma Gonzalez have been the subject of high-profile conspiracy theories in the aftermath of the shooting — some even pushed by celebrities like Roseanne Barr and Frank Stallone.

Criticism of Parkland students has been met with its own counterattacks, including from the students themselves. Fox News host Laura Ingraham lost several major advertisers and apologized after attacking Hogg. But on the fringe parts of the internet, attacking Hogg remains a popular — if not lucrative — endeavor. On Monday, Hoggwatch pushed users to Natural News’ sprawling network of sites, where Adams sells dietary supplements, water defluoridation devices and doomsday preparation materials.

An article that was crossposted on both HoggWatch and Natural News received several call-outs on Monday from Alex Jones, whose InfoWars website also makes money from similar ads. Gateway Pundit, whose articles appear on Hoggwatch, have devoted much of their website’s coverage to criticizing Hogg’s media appearances since the shooting.

Adams has been publishing pseudoscience and conspiracy theories on the internet for decades, though it’s not known how much money he makes off his websites.

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for Adams named Lacey M., who declined to give her last name on the phone or in an email, said that “Mike's schedule is completely booked and is not available for questions.” She did not respond to several more requests for comment. Heyes, the site’s other writer, also did not respond.

Every article on HoggWatch is about Hogg or refers to him in some way. HoggWatch hammers home many of the same conspiracy theories and inflammatory political talking points pushed by Natural News and InfoWars, but uses the Parkland student as a central antagonist.

Adams, whose flagship site Natural News was banned from YouTube in March, penned an article titled "Hogg Hitler! YouTube puts warning on hilarious David Hogg spoof video.” Several articles attack CNN, and other articles warn of an impending civil war.

In one story, titled “Gun control fascist youth front man David Hogg sides with MONSANTO, falsely claims atrazine herbicide doesn’t interfere with hormones,” Adams attacks Hogg for comments he made about InfoWars.

“For example, on InfoWars, one of his most famous statements is saying that tap water turns frogs gay, and it will turn you gay, too,” Hogg told C-Span. “First off, gay people are awesome. I don’t think that’s a problem at all.”

Hogg is referencing an Infowars segment in which Jones claimed that chemicals in tap water are “turning the freaking frogs gay.”

Adams then wrote on Hoggwatch that “it turns out Alex Jones is right, and David Hogg is scientifically illiterate.”

But according to a researcher cited within that same Hoggwatch article, Adams is off-base in his reading of her research.

“Oh, no. That’s not right. Homosexuality is way more complex than that,” the researcher, University of Kentucky lecturer and evolutionary biologist Kay Shenoy, told NBC News.

Shenoy has studied atrazine’s affect on fish, and said the chemical affected the orange-colored spots on male guppies, which use the spots as “a mating signal or a sexual signal” to female fish.

“You can’t just take this one thing and make it into that,” she said. “It’s just so off the mark.”

The Hoggwatch article about atrizine links out to Pesticides.news, which sells breath sprays and other supplements through Natural News’ store.

The site’s article feeds are hosted on a Natural News subsite, AlternativeNews.com, and shares a Disqus comment section with Natural News.

Natural News claims on its website that it is "affiliated with the 501(c)3 nonprofit known as the Consumer Wellness Center.”

The phone number for the nonprofit is shared with one used for Natural News, and a call rang through to the voicemail for Natural News’ advertising department.

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