Dan Rather: The voice of Florida survivors will change status quo

Former CBS anchor Dan Rather says he believes student activists from the Parkland, Fla., high school where 17 were killed in a mass shooting last week will "shake the political status quo" on gun violence.

In a Facebook post Wednesday night, Rather lashed out at conservatives who have sought to paint students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as "crisis actors" hired by left-wing interests to push gun control.

"The voice of a child is often a clarion call to action. In their purity lies passion and courage. They are our future. And when they roar, they will be heard and shake the political status quo of our nation," Rather said.

"But to all those 'adults' who mock or lie about the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High," Rather continued, "there is no place for you in civil society."

Rather's comments come after former GOP Rep. Jack KingstonJohon (Jack) Heddens KingstonCrowley, Shuster moving to K Street CNN parts ways with pro-Trump contributors Bauer, Kingston Top Lobbyists 2018 MORE (Ga.) said Tuesday that he believed the students were being "coached" on what to say to reporters by left-wing groups.

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"I think it's a horrible tragedy, and I am heartbroken that young people have gone through this, and I hope that it never happens again," Kingston said during an interview on CNN.

"I also know that their sorrow can very easily be hijacked by left-wing groups who have an agenda. ... Do we really think 17-year-olds, on their own, are going to plan a nationwide rally?" he asked.

Similar comments made via email by a GOP aide in Florida led to the staffer's firing earlier this week, and a condemnation of the remarks from Florida's House Speaker.

"Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen," an aide to state Rep. Shawn Harrison (R), Benjamin Kelly, said in an email to a Tampa Bay Times reporter.

Kelly's comments drew condemnation from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), as well as Harrison.

“On behalf of the entire Florida House, I sincerely apologize to the students targeted and again commend them for their courage through this unspeakable tragedy,” Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R) tweeted later.