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October 29, 2020, 10:24:14 am
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Author Topic: Will KTUL air Covid-19 conspiracy theory?  (Read 458 times)
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These Aren't the Droids You're Looking For

« on: July 26, 2020, 12:57:36 pm »

(Sinclair Broadcast Group) planned to air a new interview with discredited researcher and conspiracy theorist Judy Mikovits in which she suggests — despite all evidence and research stating otherwise — that one the Trump administration’s top scientists, Dr. Anthony Fauci, may have created the coronavirus.

Sinclair was fiercely criticized for its decision to give Mikovits a platform on an episode of America This Week initially set to air on its local stations this weekend, and after facing pushback from progressive watchdogs like Media Matters and influential journalists, the company announced that it would delay broadcasting the episode so it can bring “together other viewpoints and provide additional context.”

As things stand, Sinclair may still air a newly edited version of episode, giving Mikovits a broadcast platform. (Sinclair did not respond to a request for comment.) Even if the company ultimately decides to kill the episode, serious damage has already been done. The episode was placed on the show’s website, and the controversy alone has already brought a new wave of attention to Mikovits’s bizarre and widely debunked conspiracy theories about the virus, giving Mikovits’s fear-mongering about Covid-19 a broader audience.

In her new interview with America this Week, Mikovits alleges that Fauci has, for the past decade, “manufactured” and shipped coronaviruses to Wuhan, China. Her attorney Larry Klayman, a conservative lawyer with his own history of peddling bizarre conspiracy theories, also appeared on the show and claimed the “origins” of coronavirus were in the US. The host of the show, Eric Bolling, did not challenge or refute the evidence-free claims, despite scientists’ research suggesting Covid-19 jumped from an animal to humans. Throughout the segment an on-screen graphic reads, “DID DR. FAUCI CREATE COVID-19?”

Sinclair’s plan to broadcast conspiracy theories has experts uniquely worried. The broadcaster has vast national reach with its channels, and some may not realize their local news — typically a domain for what is perceived as apolitical information — is coming from pro-Trump company with a questionable commitment to truth-telling and an agenda to spread right-wing ideas.

Matt Motta, a professor of political science at Oklahoma State University who studies the intersection of politics and science, said in an email that Sinclair’s decision to air an interview could increase the number of true believers in the most extreme theories.

“Even though many Americans accept misinformation about the origins of Covid-19 (e.g., that it was created in a lab), belief in the ‘Plandemic’ conspiracy has largely been relegated to only the most ardent conspiracy theorists. That’s in part due to the relatively swift action social media companies took to remove the video from their platforms,” he wrote. “Sinclair’s decision to air this interview without challenging its claims risks pushing some of these extreme views into the mainstream.”


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