New York (CNN Business)The Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI) said Saturday it will postpone and rework a segment it planned to air this weekend that suggested Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, was responsible for the creation of the coronavirus.
The baseless conspiracy theory was set to air on stations across the country in a segment during the program “America This Week” hosted by Eric Bolling. The show, which is posted online before it is broadcast over the weekend, is distributed to Sinclair’s network of local television stations, one of the largest in the country.
In a memo sent to its local television stations on Saturday, Sinclair instructed news directors to avoid airing for now the most recent episode of Bolling’s show, which was supposed to include the conspiracy theory.
“After further review of this week’s originally planned episode, it’s clear that we need to provide additional context to the highly controversial segment regarding the COVID pandemic and Dr. Fauci,” Scott Livingston, Sinclair’s senior vice president of news, wrote in the memo, which was obtained by CNN Business.
“In order to meet our standard of providing an open and honest marketplace of ideas and viewpoints, even if incredibly controversial,” Livingston added, “we will need to rework the segment to ensure viewers get the best information available.”
The episode of Bolling’s show that featured the conspiracy theory was also pulled from local Sinclair websites, where it is often posted before airing on the stations over the weekend. People now trying to access the videos on local Sinclair websites are met with an error page.
The company confirmed in a series of tweets that it had pulled the segment from this weekend’s programming. A spokesperson for the company did not respond to an email from CNN Business asking whether it was appropriate at all to give airtime to a conspiracy theory like this one, even if presented alongside other views.
In the episode of the show that was set to air, Bolling spoke with Judy Mikovits, the medical researcher featured in the discredited “Plandemic” video that went viral earlier this year and which was banned from platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Throughout the segment, the on-screen graphic read, “DID DR. FAUCI CREATE COVID-19?”