According to CNN, 294 local news stations, owned by the Trump-endorsing Sinclair Broadcast Group, will air an interview with noted coronavirus conspiracy theorist Judy Mikovits and her lawyer Larry Klayman this weekend. The interview will be included as a segment in “America This Week” hosted by Eric Bolling.
In the segment, which is available online ahead of its weekend airing, Bolling introduces Mikovits as someone who “worked with Dr. Anthony Fauci and is an expert in virology” before asking her what she believes Dr. Fauci has done wrong.
She responded by saying, “I believe Dr. Fauci has manufactured the coronaviruses in monkey cell lines and shipped them from and paid for and shipped the cell lines to Wuhan, China, now for at least since 2014.” Positioned underneath her as she spoke was a graphic stating: “DID DR. FAUCI CREATE CORONAVIRUS?”
“Doctor, that’s a pretty hefty claim,” Bolling said, “You’re claiming that there was a virus that Fauci discovered, the coronavirus -- again, there are many coronaviruses -- but he shipped this specific version to China —”
Mikovits interrupted Bolling to clarify her accusation—he didn’t discover it, he manufactured it—at which point Bolling retreated and encouraged her to explain, saying “tell us.” What followed was a freewheeling explanation in which Miskovitz and her lawyer ping ponged off of each other, dropping unfounded claims as frequently and confidently as a young SoundCloud rapper drops a new mixtape.
Wondering where Ebola came from? According to Mikovitz, it leaked out of a facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Curious why Trump is going so easy on China right now? Klayman thinks it’s because he knows the U.S. is responsible for the coronavirus.
Then, in what Bolling claimed to CNN was an effort to “provide an opposing viewpoint,” the host brought on Dr. Nicole Saphier, a Fox News medical contributor, to ask her what she thought of Mikovits’s claim. Both Bollier and Saphier agreed it was “highly unlikely” that Fauci created the coronavirus, but neither ruled out the possibility that the virus was created in a lab (it was not) or leaked out of one (it did not).
While it’s comforting to think that coronavirus conspiracy theories only exist in online, fringe communities, that no longer appears to be true. According to new research released by the Pew Center, 71 percent of Americans have heard a variation of the theory that the coronavirus was created in a lab by people in power and “a quarter of U.S. adults see at least some truth in it.”
Considering Sinclair’s extensive reach and positioning within local communities, it’s easy to see how conspiracy theories that once were only available to those who were curious about them have since spread across the public consciousness, infecting everyday people with the kind of dangerous misinformation we've come to expect from the Trump administarion.
Update: 7/26, 2:08 p.m.: Sinclair said it would delay the broadcast of its "Plandemic"-centric segment. According to Politico, America This Week host Eric Bolling said in a tweet that the segment will be "reworked to provide better context."
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