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Friday, September 18, 2020

Sinclair Broadcast Group boosts COVID-19 conspiracy theorist, cites free speech in defense

Sinclair Broadcast Group defended itself Saturday from criticism prompted by providing a platform for a conspiracy theorist to promote misinformation about the coronavirus and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“I believe Dr. Fauci has manufactured the coronaviruses in monkey cell lines and shipped them from and paid for and shipped the cell lines to Wuhan, China,” Judy Mikovits said during an interview set to air this weekend on Sinclair-owned television stations throughout the country.

The segment was made available online prior to appearing in the latest episode of the “America This Week” program distributed by Sinclair to the company’s nationwide network of local TV stations, sparking complaints that culminated in the company issuing a statement Saturday morning distancing itself from Ms. Mikovits, a medical researcher prominently featured in the viral “Plandemic” film that circulated online this spring, as well as her lawyer, Larry Klayman, who said he plans to sue Dr. Fauci on her behalf.

Conducted by Eric Bolling, a former Fox News host, the segment was released by Sinclair to include on-screen graphics during the interview asking “Did Dr. Fauci create coronavirus?” and “Was COVID-19 created in a lab?”

“We hear your feedback regarding a segment on this week’s ‘America This Week.’ At no juncture are we aligning with or endorsing the viewpoints of Dr. Mikovitz or Mr. Klayman or endorsing the ‘Plandemic’ documentary. Full stop,” Sinclair said in a statement Saturday.

“We also interviewed a medical expert who debunked Dr. Mikovitz’s claims as conspiracy theories,” Sinclair said in the statement. “We’re a supporter of free speech and a marketplace of ideas and viewpoints, even if incredibly controversial.”

Released in early May, the so-called “Plandemic” video contained many bogus claims about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, falsely presented as fact by Ms. Mikovits, ultimately resulting in its removal from online platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo.

In the Sinclair clip, Mr. Klayman said he would sue Dr. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, and was considering whether Dr. Fauci could have violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

“Well, we’re looking at a possible RICO case, Eric, and we’re analyzing that right now, but what it appears happened is the Chinese got that virus,” said Mr. Klayman, adding that “apparently” it originated inside a U.S. laboratory, made its way to Wuhan and “engineered it into a bioweapon.”

The World Health Organization has assessed the coronavirus “probably has its ecological reservoir in bats” and was transmitted to humans through an intermediate, unknown animal host, indicating it likely originated in the wild and, contrary to Mr. Klayman’s claim, not made in a lab. It has infected more than 15 million people worldwide and killed over 640,000 since the first cases became apparent late last year, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Sinclair currently owns local TV stations in 81 markets nationwide, according to the company.


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