Jul 25, 2020 - Economy

Sinclair tells local stations not to air controversial "plandemic" interview

Photo: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Sinclair Broadcast Group asked its dozens of local affiliates across the U.S. this weekend not to air a controversial interview conducted on its program "America This Week," which touted conspiracy theories that NIAID director Anthony Fauci started the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Sinclair has been caught up in controversies around journalism ethics before. Most notably, it asked journalists at affiliates to read pro-Trump scripts about "fake news" in 2018.

Catch up quick: The interview, conducted last week, features host by Eric Bolling, interviewing researcher and activist Judy Mikovits and her lawyer Larry Klayman, a right-wing activist, about the coronavirus.

  • In the interview, Mikovits says she believes that Fauci "manufactured the coronavirus" in monkey cell lines and paid for and shipped the cell lines to Wuhan, China. That assertion has been widely discredited by scientists and health officials.

Details: In a series of tweets, the broadcast giant said it decided to delay the episode's airing and "will spend the coming days bringing together other viewpoints and provide additional context."

  • "All stations have been notified not to air this and will instead be re-airing last week’s episode in its place."
  • "We would also like to clarify that at no point did we air the 'Plandemic' documentary, nor do we have plans to."
  • "This documentary has been widely discredited and we as a company do not support the baseless claims that were rebutted during the original segment."
  • "Further, we valiantly support Dr. Fauci and the work he and his team are doing to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 and are proud to have welcomed him to 'America This Week' as well as our stations via our national bureau to update and inform viewers."

Be smart: Mikovits came under fire earlier this year when a video she posted with similarly falsified information about Fauci's role in the pandemic went viral on social media.

  • Even big social media sites, which are usually more hesitant than traditional media companies to remove misinformation, yanked the video from their platforms.

The big picture: In the past few years, Sinclair as a company has solidified its reputation as a right-wing broadcaster by investing in a slew of conservative hosts and commentators.

Go deeper: The coronavirus conspiracy news cycle

Go deeper