COVID-19 Misinformation & Disinformation
Sinclair says no conspiracy theory airtime for now
Sinclair Broadcast Group said over the weekend it would “delay” a new episode of one of its nationally syndicated programs after public outcry over a segment that gave voice to a conspiracy theory which, in part, blames U.S. virus specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci for COVID-19.
Sinclair’s local station in Kalamazoo, WWMT, was set to air the episode of America This Week with Eric Bolling on Sunday on two of its digital stations, including its flagship channel 3, until Saturday afternoon when Sinclair withdrew the orders to air.
WWMT did publish a story highlighting the episode and streamed it on its website, but then took both down Saturday afternoon.
The controversial segment interviews a discredited virologist who is at the heart of a pseudo documentary called “Plandemic” that received internet attention briefly in the spring. The video claims Fauci is part of a plan to spread the virus and then profit from developing a vaccine.
The segment also included a lawyer who is spearheading a proposed class action lawsuit against Fauci, as well as an epidemiologist who criticized part of the conspiracy theory. The epidemiologist’s critique received less than half of the airtime as the lawyer and virologist.
“At no juncture are we aligning with or endorsing” the lawyer, virologist, or the documentary, Sinclair said in its statement Saturday. “We’re a supporter of free speech and a marketplace of ideas and viewpoints, even if incredibly controversial.”
Multiple scientific and fact-checking organizations have pointed out flaws in the “Plandemic” documentary, calling it either accidental misinformation or intentional disinformation, thus disqualifying it from inclusion in any serious discussion about COVID-19.
The Sinclair statement goes on to publicly support local decisions and national regulations aimed at preventing the spread of the pandemic, praised Fauci, and said it was never going to air the entire “Plandemic” documentary anyway.
“We will spend the coming days bringing together other viewpoints and provide additional context,” the statement said.
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