TV stations across the US owned by Sinclair Television will this weekend runan interview with a conspiracy theoristwho claims baselessly that Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, created the coronavirus behind the current pandemic.
Dr Judy Mikovits, a former research scientist, is behindthe widely discredited Plandemic video, which makes a string of false and outlandish claims including that any coronavirus vaccine will kill millions and that beaches should not be closed because the sand and ocean will somehow treat Covid-19.
Fauci is the 79-year-old director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He has served six presidents but Donald Trump has sought to keep him off television, called him “alarmist” and frequently undermined his work.
The US is in the grip of a worsening coronavirus outbreak in which more than 4.1m cases have been recorded and more than 145,000 people have died.
Mikovits’ lawyer, Larry Klayman, also appeared on Sinclair’s America This Week with the former Fox News host Eric Bolling. The interview was posted online before broadcast.
Accordingto the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors far-right groups in the US, Klayman, the founder of the Judicial Watch, is “a pathologically litigious attorney and professional gadfly notorious for suing everyone from Iran’s supreme leader to his own mother”.
On Bolling’s show, Klayman and Mikovitssaidthey planned to sue Fauci because, Mikovits claimed, in the last decade the doctor “manufactured” and shipped coronaviruses to Wuhan, China, the origin of the pandemic.
Bolling told CNNhe did not “know of any video [Mikovits] was in prior to or after appearing on my show” and said: “Frankly, I was shocked when she made the accusation.”
The host also said he had questioned Mikovits’ claim, which on air he called “hefty”, and had added Dr Nicole Saphier, a Fox News contributor, to the show in order to provide balance.
“I asked our producers to add Saphier to the show for the express purpose of debunking the conspiracy theory,”he told CNN. “I believe viewers see that I did not and do not endorse [Mikovits’] theory.”
Saphier said it was “highly unlikely” Fauci made the coronavirus. But she also said it was possible the virus was made in a laboratory.
Leading Trump allies have pushed that claim as the administration seeks to blame China for the pandemic. Experts say the disease originated in a wet market, where live wild animals are sold for food.
“This sort of contagious disease that’s invisible makes people extremely apprehensive,” he said, adding that the coronavirus pandemic is “a profoundly displacing event and the uncertainty and anxiety it has generated in health, the economy and politics are just really deep.
“Some people are primed to seek out some sort of simple answer to very complex political and health issues and into that void conspiracy theories rush right in.”