Jordan Klepper: Parkland Students Took Control of Media ‘Narrative’ Away from Trump

Getty Images for Comedy Central

WASHINGTON — Jordan Klepper, host of Comedy Central’s “The Opposition,” thinks that the high school student survivors of the Parkland, Fla., shootings have done what so many others have not: They “took control of the media narrative and took it away from Donald Trump.”

“They were able to beat Trump at his own game. They were able to own the social sphere,” Klepper told Variety on Wednesday.

He was referring to Trump’s ability to draw attention, and even guide the conversation, on a host of issues, whether through public statements or tweets. But this time around, the students have rallied support in their effort to create a movement, pressuring Trump and other lawmakers to respond.

That was in evidence at Trump’s White House meeting with Capitol Hill lawmakers, in which the president expressed support for a set of measures including expanding background checks and raising the minimum age for the purchase of the AR-15 assault rifles, legislation opposed by the National Rifle Association. That is a different response from Trump versus previous mass shootings, in which any talk of gun violence actions has faded in the news cycle.

The students “are so thoughtful, optimistic and inspiring in the face of tragedy,” Klepper said. “I hope that this is a new moment, that we can keep a light on this issue.”

Popular on Variety

Gun violence has been one of Klepper’s signature issues on his show, launched last September, and in a special that preceded it, “Jordan Klepper Solves Guns.”

This week, two of the Parkland students, Carly Novell and Delaney Tarr, appeared on his show, and it will be a topic of a segment later this week from his visit to the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Klepper this week started a new campaign called #BlameKeppler, in response to being a target of Alex Jones, the host of the conspiratorial website Infowars. In an over-the-top rant, Jones has called him a “parasite” and a “classic psychopath,” and mispronounced his name as “Keppler.” Klepper has riffed on Infowars claims that the Parkland students were “crisis actors.” This week, Infowars received a second strike from YouTube for violating its terms of service against bullying and harassment.

“If you watch Infowars, they fill an incredible amount of airtime,” Klepper said. “They fill it in with guesses and projections that lead in to these dangerous spaces.”

He said that such comments have real-life consequences, as survivors of the tragedy face online harassment.

He agrees with what YouTube did.

“I think with all these social platforms — they need to take responsibility for the content that they put out there and that their users share,” he said.