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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

Oct 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Right-wing misinformation could gain steam post-election

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With less than a week until the 2020 election, researchers have expressed concern that the information ecosystem today is ripe for an unprecedented level of exploitation by bad actors, particularly hyper-partisan media and personalities on the right.

Why it matters: The misinformation-powered right-wing media machine that fueled Donald Trump's 2016 victory grew stronger after that win, and it's set to increase its reach as a result of the upcoming election, whether Trump wins or loses.

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.