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Sinclair Signals It Will Air Report Containing Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories

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Sinclair Signals It Will Air Report Containing Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories

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Sinclair Broadcasting, one of the nation’s largest operators of local TV stations, said on Saturday it intended to present a weekend news report featuring commentators offering discredited conspiracy theories about the nation’s coronavirus pandemic, despite scrutiny and pushback that have erupted since CNN called attention to the program late Friday.

“We’re a supporter of free speech and a marketplace of ideas and viewpoints, even if incredibly controversial,” the Hunt Valley, Maryland, broadcaster said in a statement Saturday. Sinclair owns, operates  or provides services to 191 TV stations in 89 U.S. markets. Its stations are affiliates of Fox, CBS, ABC, Univision and many other top TV networks.

At issue is a segment of the Sinclair weekend program “America This Week,” hosted by Eric Bolling, a former Fox News host and personality. In the report, Bolling interviews Judy Mikovits, a widely discredited medical researcher who has gained some notoriety since appearing in a video segment from “Plandemic,” a conspiracy theory video that attempts to bolster several falsehoods about the origins of coronavirus. In the Sinclair segment, posted online in advance of its airing on TV, Mikovits appears to assert that Dr. Anthony Fauci, a prominent government official who is head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is responsible for coroniavirus being created – a specious claim. A chyron that appears at the bottom of the screen during her appearance reads: “Did Dr. Fauci Create COVID-19?”

Media Matters, a progressive-leaning organization that monitors media outlets, previously revealed the content of this weekend’s “America This Week” broadcast.

The controversial news content is the latest to surface from Sinclair, which has in the past mandated that conservative-leaning opinion segments be presented in its local news programs. While the onus of analyzing information and content is often the viewer’s, Sinclair’s business structure – its programming airs on stations that have strong alignments with NBC, the CW and others – often renders the task of putting those segments in proper context more difficult for the audience.

In 2019, Sinclair decided to stop distributing opinion segments from Boris Epshteyn, a former assistant to President Donald Trump, that drew attention for their right-wing opinion and because Sinclair often required that its stations air them.  In the prior year, the company mandated newscasters at its local stations read lines in promos that accused non-Sinclair outlets of disseminating “fake stories…stories that just aren’t true, without checking facts first.”

During the segment planned for distribution this weekend, Mikoviz tells Bolling that Fauci shipped coronavirus to Wuhan, China. Bolling counters that such an assertion represents a “hefty claim.” Larry Klayman, a conservative attorney who has also been involved in promoting discredited theories, also appears in the segment.

“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 Saturday, spelling the woman’s surname incorrectly. Sinclair noted that it “also interviewed a medical expert who debunked Dr. Mikovitz’s claims as conspiracy theories.” The company added: “We are incredibly aware of the dangers of COVID-19 and our stations across 81 markets have remained steadfast in covering their communities with a focus on safety and adherence to local protocols and regulations nationwide.”

 



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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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