Sinclair drops segment featuring conspiracy theory about Fauci
The Sinclair Broadcast Group said Monday it will not move forward with airing a segment featuring a conspiracy theory that suggested Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, was responsible for the creation of the coronavirus.
Over the weekend, Sinclair announced it would postpone and “rework” the segment featuring discredited “Plandemic” researcher Judy Mikovits which was set to air during the program “America This Week” hosted by Eric Bolling.
But on Monday, the company pulled the plug altogether.
“Upon further review, we have decided not to air the interview with Dr. Mikovits,” a spokesperson for Sinclair told CNN Business in a statement. “Although the segment did include an expert to dispute Dr. Mikovits, given the nature of the theories she presented we believe it is not appropriate to air the interview.”
“We also reiterate our appreciation for all that Dr. Fauci and his team have accomplished for the health and wellbeing of Americans and people worldwide,” the Sinclair spokesperson added. “During this pandemic, Sinclair and its affiliates have positively and prominently featured Dr. Fauci on air, including interviews with our stations and our network, Stadium. There remains an open invite for Dr. Fauci to appear on our stations any time.”
On Monday afternoon, when asked for comment on Sinclair’s decision, Larry Klayman, an attorney for Mikovits, responded in an email by reiterating legal threats against CNN for its reporting. Previously, Klayman said he stood by what his client said on Bolling’s show. CNN stands by its reporting.
In the segment that the company had initially planned to air, Mikovits 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 meaningfully challenge Mikovits and allowed her to continue making her case.
Video of the segment was posted to local Sinclair websites last week before its planned airing over the weekend. The videos have since been pulled and people trying to access them on local Sinclair websites are met with error pages.
The segment ignited significant controversy after CNN Business reported on it Friday night. Local stations across the country started receiving complaints from viewers who requested they not air the segment, people who work at Sinclair stations told CNN Business Saturday, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly.
Sinclair initially defended airing the segment in a series of tweets Saturday morning, saying it did not endorse the conspiracy theory but was committed to providing its audience diverse viewpoints.
But Saturday afternoon it told stations to hold off airing the episode that included the segment. The company also stressed that it never planned to air the “Plandemic” video, a widely discredited short film that went viral earlier in the year and which was banned from platforms like Facebook and YouTube.
Bolling had also previously stood by the segment, telling CNN Business that he also did not endorse the conspiracy theory, but that he was comfortable airing it because in a segment after the interview with Mikovits he spoke to a doctor who dismissed the idea Fauci was responsible for the virus.
In a statement provided to CNN Business Saturday afternoon, Bolling said he has “always welcomed all points of view” on his show, but that he was “caught off guard” by Mikovits’ claims.
“I recognize this segment does need to be reworked to provide better context, and as such we are delaying the airing of the episode for one week,” Bolling said. “Let me also add that I have immense respect for Dr. Fauci and recognize him as the leading expert on this topic. For the past two months, I have consistently pursued the opportunity to bring Dr. Fauci on air so that he may provide critical information to the public about the virus. The invitation stands.”
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