Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Sinclair Broadcast Group briefly shamed out of airing COVID-19 conspiracy theory

Not going to lie: We have such a soft spot for these “spooky logo” images that are all over Getty Images.
Not going to lie: We have such a soft spot for these “spooky logo” images that are all over Getty Images.
Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Sinclair Broadcast Group is a lot like a headache. You can go for long stretches of time without thinking about the fact that large swathes of small-town TV in America are owned, and have content dictated to them, by a company with an unabashed right-wing ideological bent that’s utterly unafraid to put words in local anchors’ mouths. But then the information creeps back in, and bam, there it is, like a dull drill going through your frontal lobe: Sinclair!

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Today, the country’s second-largest TV station operator was forced to walk back a controversial decision, after coming under fire for the content of an upcoming episode of America This Week, a weekly news-ish program distributed to its member stations (which operate in roughly 40 percent of the markets in the U.S). In the episode, host Eric Bolling interviews Judy Mikovits, one of the main voices on a widely discredited online video titled “Plandemic,” which offers up the conspiracy theory that Dr. Anthony Fauci intentionally created the COVID-19 coronavirus and then infected the entire planet with it in the interest of…Well, we don’t actually know what. Supporting The Army Of The 12 Monkeys? Being the subject of some passive-aggressive/aggressive-aggressive presidential tweets? Getting to be really bad at throwing out the first pitch at baseball games?

In any case, Sinclair has now—amidst reasserting its support for Fauci, its belief in the seriousness of the coronavirus, and its sincere desire to not get yelled at about this any more—announced that it will be delaying its broadcast of the episode. Originally shown online, the segment included large portions of time in which a chyron reading “DID DR. FAUCI CREATE COVID-19?” was broadcast on the screen, somehow absent the accompanying, “NO, DON’T BE A DUMBFUCK” caption it pretty obviously deserves. To his credit, Bolling did push back on Mikovits’ claims with all the vigor of a particularly anemic breeze, dubbing them “hefty,” before allowing her to continue spewing this particularly vile spigot of shit. (In an interview with CNN, Bolling pointed out that he also pushed for the inclusion in the segment of an interview with Fox News medical correspondent Dr. Nicole Saphier, who said the idea of Fauci engineering the virus was “highly unlikely,” which is nice.)

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Sinclair—which has always claimed it has zero ideological leanings whatsoever, even when it’s, say, shoving Trumpian talking points directly into anchors’ mouths with its prepared “must read” statements—first tried to plead Mikovits’ right to have her wild conspiracy theorizing be heard. But as the outrage against the segment picked up, the company announced that it’s taking the episode back to the drawing board, in hopes of providing “other viewpoints” and “additional context” to make the dangerous dumbness of these ideas that they’re apparently still committed to broadcasting more clear.

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