Critics have questioned whether 17-year-old David Hogg and the other high school students demanding that the nation’s gun laws be strengthened are mature enough to understand the complex policy positions they’ve staked out.

But this weekend, Hogg labelled one of his harshest critics using a word familiar to almost anyone who’s ever walked a school hallway: “bully”.

Hogg went on CNN to talk about his latest run-in with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who made fun of the teenager’s very public lament about being rejected by colleges he had applied to.

“It’s disturbing to know that somebody can bully so many people and just get away with it, especially to the level that she did,” he told the broadcaster. “No matter who somebody is, no matter how big or powerful they may seem, a bully is a bully and it’s important that you stand up to them.”

Poking at Hogg’s comments about his rejection letters, Ingraham tweeted a story from a conservative news site that described the teenager as a “Gun Rights Provocateur” – and said Hogg had not been accepted by four University of California schools.

“David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it,” Ingraham tweeted. “(Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA … totally predictable given acceptance rates.)”

On CNN, Hogg said the tweet – and Ingraham’s criticism of him – was in line with bullying statements she’d made about others: a conflict with gay people while she was at Dartmouth in 1984 and, recently, responding to LeBron James’ political statements by saying the NBA star should “shut up and dribble”.

They also deserve apologies, Hogg said.

James responded to Ingraham during an NBA All-Star weekend press conference.

Hogg’s number of Twitter followers has surpassed 700,000. He compiled a list of 12 companies that advertise on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” and sent a message to his supporters: “Pick a number 1-12 contact the company next to that #”.

In a matter of days, Ingraham lost more than a dozen advertisers, including Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé, Hulu, Jos A Bank, Jenny Craig, Ruby Tuesday and Miracle-Ear.

A short time later, Ingraham apologised, but Hogg blasted the apology as an insincere “effort just to save your advertisers”.

“The apology … was kind of expected, especially after so many of her advertisers dropped out,” Hogg said on CNN. “I’m glad to see corporate America standing with me and the other students of Parkland and everybody else. Because when we work together we can accomplish anything.”

Ingraham is off the air this week. She told her Fox News viewers on Friday that the trip is an Easter vacation. The network told The Washington Post the holiday was preplanned.

The advertisers’ efforts to distance themselves demonstrate the influence Hogg and the other survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting have gained – and companies fears’ about becoming collateral damage in polarising controversies.

© Washington Post