Some 25% of Americans believe that there is at least some truth to the conspiracy theory that powerful people intentionally planned the new coronavirus outbreak, and conservative Republicans, blacks and Hispanics are more likely to fall into this group, according to results of a survey recently released by the Pew Research Center.
The results of the survey, conducted in June, were highlighted by the Pew Research Center just a day before Sinclair Broadcast Group announced it would delay airing a controversial episode of its program "America This Week," suggesting Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had a hand in the development of COVID-19.
In the “America This Week" episode, which still aired in at least one local market before Sinclair’s postponement, host Eric Bolling interviews Judy Mikovits, former research director of chronic fatigue syndrome research organization Whittemore Peterson Institute and her lawyer, Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch.
Mikovits, a well-known conspiracy theorist who appeared in the discredited “Plandemic” viral video, alleged that the NIAID under Fauci’s leadership had been illegally experimenting with coronaviruses and later funded that research in Wuhan, China.
“He’s the head of NIAID, he didn’t discover this particular coronavirus but they had been working on isolating coronaviruses from bats … since the mid to late '90s and they had shipped originally, funded the studies to Wuhan, China, when it was illegal in this country to do these types of studies further,” Mikovits told Bolling.
“We’re looking at a possible RICO case, Eric, and we’re analyzing that right now, what it appears happened is the Chinese got that virus. We know that $3.7 million was given as a grant during the Obama administration to that Wuhan laboratory. That’s not in dispute. And the Chinese then engineered it into a bioweapon,” Klayman told Bolling.
“So what happened here is relevant to our lawsuit in Dallas, Texas, our class action against the communist Chinese, for releasing either accidentally or by design this pandemic. So it’s a very serious matter and it needs to be looked into,” he continued. “No one wants to discuss it and I suspect that the president probably knows about this right now, which is why, and I support the president personally, but I think that’s why he’s not going real strong against China right now because this virus had its origins, apparently in a lab in Fort Detrick, Maryland.”
Dr. Nicole Saphier, a Fox News medical contributor, who is also featured in the postponed episode, agreed with Bolling that it was "highly unlikely" that Fauci was behind the coronavirus but said it was possible the virus was "man-made within a laboratory" and escaped. Some experts noted earlier this year that the virus was not engineered in a lab.
According to the Pew survey, 71% of Americans say they have heard of the “Plandemic” conspiracy but just 20% say it is probably true and 5% believe it’s definitely true.
Among conservative Republicans, the survey noted that 37% believe the conspiracy theory is probably or definitely true compared to 29% of moderate and liberal Republicans, 24% of moderate and conservative Democrats and 10% of liberal Democrats.
Some 33% of blacks and 34% of Hispanic adults also say the theory is probably or definitely true, compared with about 22% of white adults and 19% of Asian Americans. Women were slightly more likely than men, 29% vs. 21%, to see at least some truth in the conspiracy theory.
Lower levels of education were also associated with a higher likelihood of believing the conspiracy theory.
In an interview with CNN Business, Bolling said he was not aware of the viral "Plandemic" video. He noted that Saphier "was not originally booked on the show" and that he added her to "provide an opposing viewpoint."
"I don't know of any video she was in prior to or after appearing on my show. Frankly, I was shocked when she made the accusation," Bolling said. "I asked our producers to add Saphier to the show for the express purpose of debunking the conspiracy theory. I believe viewers see that I did not and do not endorse her theory."