Sinclair Broadcasting has postponed a new segment with a coronavirus conspiracy theorist, which includes a now-debunked conspiracy theory about Dr. Anthony Fauci. So far, it is not clear how long the segment will be withheld and whether or not it is being edited for accuracy. Sinclair Broadcasting is a huge conglomerate that owns many local news stations around the U.S.
Sinclair's postponed segment is hosted by America This Week's Eric Bolling, and includes an interview with medical researcher Judy Mikovits. Mikovits was featured in a viral video called "The Plandemic," which made the rounds back in May and popularized many of the conspiracy theories concerning the coronavirus pandemic. However, according to a report by Deadline, Bolling did not mention "The Plandemic" in his interview with Mikovits, instead simply referring to her as "an expert on virology" who had previously "worked with Dr. Anthony Fauci."
In fact, "The Plandemic" claimed without evidence that Fauci himself had somehow "created" the coronavirus. The video has now been banned from many social media platforms because it contains misinformation that could be harmful, according to a report by Media Matters.
Social media in general lashed out at Sinclair and Bolling for the Mikovits interview, possibly contributing to the company postponing its broadcast. on Saturday, Bolling posted a statement on Twitter defending the segment as legitimate journalism.
"I have always welcomed all points of on my show and have consistently stood for free speech in my 15 years in media," Bolling wrote. "In this case, admittedly I was caught off guard by some of Dr. Mikovits' claims. At no point did I agree with her. Further, I brought on another doctor to debunk the theories she espoused. I repeat: I do not agree with Dr. Mikovits."
Many critics took this incident as fresh fuel for criticism of the Sinclair Broadcast Group itself. The conglomerate has been called out for forcing manipulative messages into local news shows across the nation, most prominently in a 2018 segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
Oliver's show also took aim at "The Plandemic" and at conspiracy theories in general just last weekend. It pointed out some of the huge omissions from the video, and the selective information used to make Mikovits' position look more reasonable.
Mikovits' ideas have been debunked since long before the coronavirus pandemic, including her most prominent theory that murine endogenous retroviruses are linked to chronic fatigue syndrome. She is a prominent figure within the anti-vaxxer movement.