Speculations and conspiracy theories are rife, more than ever, amid the pandemic. The latest victim of conspiracy theories is Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases. According to a CNN report, local television stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the largest in the country, are set to air a conspiracy theory over the weekend that suggests Dr Fauci was responsible for the creation of the coronavirus.
It will air in a segment of the show ‘America This Week’, hosted by Eric Bolling. The report suggests that in this week’s episode of the show, Bolling spoke with Judy Mikovits, the medical researcher featured in the discredited ‘Plandemic’ video that went viral earlier this year and which was banned from platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Throughout the segment, the on-screen graphic read, “Did Dr Fauci Create Covid-19?” Bolling also spoke with Mikovits’ attorney, Larry Klayman, a right-wing lawyer who also has a history of pushing misinformation and representing conspiracy theorists, the report states.
In the pre-recorded video, Bolling interviewed Mikovits and Klayman about their plans to sue Fauci. He introduced Mikovits as “an expert in virology” who previously “worked with Dr Anthony Fauci.” As reported by Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog, Mikovits came into the limelight after she made multiple claims about the coronavirus and public health in ‘Plandemic’. Mikovits argued that mandatory coronavirus vaccines will “kill millions” and that “flu vaccines increase the odds by 36% of getting Covid-19” and are part of a plot against what filmmaker Mikki Willis called “natural remedies” for the virus.
Mikovits also asserted that it’s “insanity” to close beaches because somehow the sand and “healing microbes in the ocean” will actually help treat the virus. She also touted antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the virus, despite multiple studies casting doubt on its efficacy. She and the film also pushed the false claim that death count from Covid-19 is being inflated. Science magazine also reported that Mikovits made false claims about Fauci and her own credentials in the film, and FactCheck.org explained that she made false claims about face masks and Ebola.
As reported by CNN, during the interview, Mikovitz told Bolling that Fauci had over the past decade “manufactured” and shipped coronaviruses to Wuhan, China, which became the original epicenter of the current outbreak. Bolling noted that this was a “hefty claim” but did not really challenge Mikovits and allowed her to continue making her case. Klayman, who did not respond to a request for comment, also pushed conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. He said the “origins” of the virus were in the United States. Bolling didn’t meaningfully challenge Klayman either.
Bolling followed this interview with an interview of Fox News medical contributor Dr Nicole Saphier to respond to these claims. Media Matters stated, Saphier labeled those who believe Fauci created the coronavirus as “conspiracy theorists”, saying “it’s highly unlikely” and that she thought “Dr Fauci in no way, shape, or form has been involved in the manufacturing of this virus.” But in the same breath, she also suggested it’s likely that the virus was “man-made within a laboratory.” Bolling proposed his theory that China “accelerated the virus” while researching a vaccine and “it somehow leaked out of a laboratory.”
The claim that it has been created in a laboratory has been rejected by many experts. Nature journal states, “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus”.
Bolling, a former Fox News host, told CNN Business in a series of text messages that he invited Mikovits onto his show to “question and challenge her beliefs”. Bolling also said he does not control the on-screen graphics that appear during his show. He was not aware of the viral ‘Plandemic’ video Mikovits was featured in earlier this year, and said Saphier “was not originally booked on the show” and that he added her to “provide an opposing viewpoint”. But when asked whether, now that he was aware of the video, he had any second thoughts about airing the segment with Mikovits, Bolling replied, “I don’t second guess my producers and bookers”. Bolling added, however, that he “certainly didn’t endorse her theory.”
Some people opined on Twitter: “Right Wing TV network Sinclair Broadcasting to air #ConspiracyTheory documentary claiming Dr Anthony Fauci created the #coronavirus. I’m not sure how this helps #Trump.” Another said, “Sinclair Broadcast Group is going to get people killed in their desperate attempt to deflect blame from Donald Trump for his utterly incompetent response to the coronavirus epidemic.” Another slammed the company by saying, “What is wrong with people? Why would Sinclair broadcast Group be so unethical and so vile to lie about Dr Fauci who has worked for six presidents?.”
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