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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies on Oct. 22, 2015, before the House Benghazi Committee. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies on Oct. 22, 2015, before the House Benghazi Committee. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies on Oct. 22, 2015, before the House Benghazi Committee. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Jeff Cercone
By Jeff Cercone June 16, 2022

No, these mass shootings weren’t a plot to protect Hillary Clinton from negative news coverage

If Your Time is short

  • Ted Nugent shared a post implying that three separate mass shootings were timed to distract from specific controversies involving former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

  • Simple Google searches show that the dates of the shootings don’t match up with the stories about Clinton.

People often claim that horrific tragedies are staged to distract attention from other news stories. When doing so, it’s wise to check the dates first.

A June 14 Facebook post shared by conservative rocker Ted Nugent shows a screenshot implying that three separate mass shootings were timed to distract from various controversies involving former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But a simple Google search shows that the timelines between the shootings and the stories involving Hillary Clinton don’t closely match.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Here’s what the post says:

— "Remember when Hillary was testifying about Benghazi? Probably not. You were too busy watching the elementary school massacre in Connecticut."

— "Remember when Hillary got tattled on by Blumenthal for using illegal servers in the White House? Probably not. You were too busy watching the Charleston church shooting."

— "Remember that time Hillary’s campaign lawyer went to trial for lying to the FBI about Trumps-Russia collusion? Probably not. You’re too busy watching the Uvalde school shooting massacre."

Let’s address the claims one by one.

Clinton’s Benghazi testimony and the Sandy Hook school shooting

The first reference is to Clinton’s testimony about the attack on Sept. 11, 2012, by Islamic militants on U.S. sites in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. 

Clinton testified before Congress on two separate occasions about the attack. The first was on Jan. 23, 2013, when she testified separately before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In 2014, the House established a select committee to further investigate the attack. Clinton, a leading candidate at the time for president, again testified before Congress on Oct. 22, 2015, in a lengthy hearing that was carried live on major news networks and drew wide coverage.

Featured Fact-check

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where gunman Adam Lanza first killed his mother, then traveled to the school to kill 20 children and six adults before killing himself, happened on Dec. 14, 2012.

That’s over a month before Clinton’s first Benghazi testimony and nearly three years before her 2015 testimony.

Clinton’s email server and the Charleston church shooting

Another claim is a reference to the news that Clinton used a private email address instead of a government account during her time as secretary of state. That news first gained widespread attention after an article in the New York Times on March 2, 2015, but according to the Washington Post, the details first came out in 2013, when a hacker named "Guccifer" leaked emails from Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime friend of Clinton who worked as an adviser to President Bill Clinton.

The website The Smoking Gun mentioned Clinton’s use of a private email address in its 2013 report about emails sent to her by Blumenthal.

The FBI opened an investigation on July 10, 2015, and news coverage of it dogged Clinton for much of her campaign, even after then-FBI Director James Comey announced on July 5, 2016, there would be no charges. 

On June 17, 2015, a white supremacist named Dylann Roof killed nine Black people during a Bible study at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The shooting happened more than three months after news of Clinton’s private email address first gained widespread attention, three weeks before the FBI announced its investigation, and more than two years after Blumenthal’s emails were first leaked by a hacker. 

The Sussmann trial and the Uvalde, Texas, School shooting

Jury selection began on May 16, 2022, for Michael Sussmann, a Democratic attorney who represented Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He was facing charges that he lied to the FBI by saying he was not working on behalf of a particular client when he gave the FBI information about possible ties between Donald Trump’s campaign and a Russian bank.

He was acquitted on May 31 after a two-week trial.

On May 24, 2022, Salvador Ramos walked into Robb Elementary school in Uvalde and killed 19 students and two teachers. That shooting took place eight days after Sussman’s trial began.

Mass shooting conspiracies are common

The recent tragedy in Uvalde prompted a flurry of misinformation online, much of which PolitiFact has already debunked

Such theories are common after mass shootings, and people often make fantastical claims that they are false flags meant to further an agenda like gun control or to distract from another news event.

Our ruling

A Facebook post implied that three separate mass shootings — Sandy Hook, Charleston and Uvalde — were timed to distract from various controversies involving Hillary Clinton.

There’s no evidence to suggest any of the shootings were staged. And the timing of the shootings do not match up with the events from which they were supposedly meant to distract. 

Nugent already has two Pants on Fire ratings from us. This ridiculous claim makes it three: Pants on Fire!

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More by Jeff Cercone

No, these mass shootings weren’t a plot to protect Hillary Clinton from negative news coverage

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