The Hunt Valley-based Sinclair Broadcast Group said on Twitter Saturday it is postponing a segment that featured an unfounded conspiracy theory suggesting Dr. Anthony Fauci was involved in creating the coronavirus.
The segment was scheduled to air at 11 p.m. Sunday in Baltimore on the Sinclair-owned WBFF on a weekly program titled “America This Week.”
Sinclair said in a tweet Saturday that last week’s installment of “America This Week” will air instead. The show is hosted by former Fox News host Eric Bolling and distributed by Sinclair to its national roster of local stations like WBFF.
CNN first reported the story of the Fauci segment Friday night.
A series of tweets from Sinclair on Saturday began with: “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.”
According to CNN, the episode of the show that was supposed to air included Bolling interviewing Judy Mitkovits, a medical researcher who told Bolling that Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has “manufactured” and shipped coronavirus to Wuhan, China, over the past decade.
After two more tweets defending its handling of the segment and the company’s commitment to responsible journalism on the pandemic, it announced the episode was being delayed.
“After further review, we have decided to delay this episode’s airing,” a fourth tweet said. “We 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.”
“America This Week” is usually posted online during the week at Sinclair stations. But this week’s episode was not there at 5 p.m. Saturday. CNN said Sinclair pulled the segment from its station websites.
In an email response to Sun questions, Scott Livingston, senior vice president for news at Sinclair, wrote,” I don’t believe the program was posted on WBFF’s website. The show will not air this weekend. We updated our statement on SBG Twitter.”
The steady right-wing, pro-Trump slant of “America This Week” can be seen in some of the show topics and headlines promoting them on the WBFF website. This one is from a month ago: “‘America This Week’: VP Pence says talk of coronavirus 2nd wave is ‘fearmongering.‘” This one is from June 30: “‘America This Week’ features President Trump, Roger Stone and more.”
This kind of content is what I have described as the stuff of Trump’s right-wing messaging machine.
In response to a question from the Sun, Livingston confirmed via email that Bolling is an employee of Sinclair.
Bolling left Fox News in 2017 in the wake of #MeToo allegations. At the time, Fox News said it had parted ways “amicably” with Bolling.
David Zurawik is The Sun’s media critic. Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @davidzurawik.
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