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A CNN team did not let the hot summer weather in Florida get in its way of tracking down a doctor accused of spreading misinformation about COVID-19.
A segment that aired Wednesday night showed all the steps taken to secure an interview with Joseph Mercola, who the New York Times identified as being among a group of "superspreaders of anti-vaccine content" with his online posts, citing researchers and regulators who have scrutinized the information the doctor has shared with his followers.
CNN reporter Randi Kaye showed her journey in seeking out Mercola to "ask him about the misinformation" related to the coronavirus, which included stops at his office in Cape Coral and his gated home. Both appeared to prove fruitless.
Later, Kaye said, her team spotted the doctor riding his bike outside. "Once he stopped, we thought: 'This was our opening to get some answers as to why he is pushing false claims about masks and the vaccines.'"
Kaye is seen approaching Mercola, who was shirtless and standing next to a bike rack. After they greeted each other, Kaye identified herself as a CNN reporter and asked if she could ask Mercola a few questions, to which he said, "No," and started walking away with his bike. But the reporter persisted.
"Do you feel responsible for people who didn't get vaccinated, possibly got sick, and died because of what you told them about the vaccines?" she asked.
When he didn't reply and got on the bike, Kaye asked, "What do you say to families who lost loved ones? Are you spreading misinformation? Why won't you speak to us?"
That's when Mercola rode his bike away from the CNN crew. Kaye tried one more time, saying, "Here's your opportunity to speak with us and answer questions."
In a voiceover that followed in the segment, Kaye said, "Despite all his bravado online, Mercola suddenly had nothing to say."
The segment continued with Kaye noting her team got a response from Mercola via email, including the message: "I encourage every person to fully educate themselves to make individual decisions about medical risk-taking."
Following the New York Times report published over the weekend, which said he is included on the “Disinformation Dozen" list by nonprofit organization Center for Countering Digital Hate, Mercola said he stands by his claims, but "the course of action I am now forced to take, is to remove my entire archive of articles." Mercola said he will post content again on his website, but the information will come down after 48 hours, Fox 4 News reported.
He told the New York Times in an email: “Local communities must come together when the federal health agencies and mainstream media are under the influence of the pharmaceutical industry.”
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Original Author: Daniel Chaitin