For months, Charlie Kirk has been on a relentless campaign against the COVID-19 vaccine, spreading fear and misinformation. Turning Point USA, the organization Kirk founded, has likewise been garnering donations from spreading hesitancy and conspiracy theories about the vaccine.
Despite even TPUSA co-founder Bill Montgomery dying of COVID-19 last summer, Kirk has been at the forefront of spreading misinformation related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began last year. He has undermined mask wearing, urged people to disregard public health guidelines, and claimed, “By historical standards, this is not a pandemic.” Kirk’s rhetoric regarding the vaccine, which is widely accepted as overwhelmingly safe and effective, may be the most dangerous.
Though Kirk has claimed that he is not against the vaccine and is “neutral on the topic,” despite his decision not to receive it himself, his Twitter feed, public appearances, and radio show tell a different story.
Kirk’s Twitter feed contains a lot of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, fearmongering speculation, and downright lies. On July 26, Kirk suggested that people were going to have vaccines forcibly injected into their bodies:
During public appearances, Kirk has used his platform to spread anti-vax rhetoric. On July 7, Kirk went on Tucker Carlson’s prime-time Fox News show and compared vaccine requirements to apartheid. He doubled down on this stance the next day on Twitter.
During a July 13 Freedom Square event, Kirk claimed that he has seen evidence that thousands of people are having adverse effects from the vaccine. He made a similar claim during his June 30 radio show.
During a TPUSA summit on June 11, Kirk warned that we’re being “intimidate[d]” to get the vaccine and said we shouldn’t trust public health professionals.
Kirk’s podcast and radio show have been the most extensive platform from which he’s engendered vaccine hesitancy and spread misinformation. There, Kirk has urged his audience to take the “red pill” on the COVID-19 vaccine, a reference to a common term among far-right circles meaning to have one’s eyes opened to the truth. In one example, he devoted an entire podcast episode to an interview with notorious anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
On July 21, Kirk speculated that 1.2 million people may have died from the COVID-19 vaccine.
Continuing to peddle the same conspiracy theory regarding VAERS data, Kirk said on June 18 that “about two 9/11s have already died” after getting the vaccine.
On July 16, Kirk warned: “If they can make you put a mask on, they'll take your guns. They can make you take a vaccine, they control your children.”
Adding an additional layer of paranoia, on July 13, Kirk warned: “They want to monitor your text messages about the vaccine. They’re going to monitor what you say to your family members and friends.”
During the same July 13 episode, Kirk lied, claiming “We don’t even know if this vaccine is effective against the Delta Variant.”
On June 18, Kirk said “history will vindicate” him for his decision not to get the vaccine. He went on to baselessly predict that some people “are going to have a lifetime of difficulties and health issues because of the Chinese coronavirus vaccine.”
On June 9, Kirk speculated whether the COVID-19 vaccines were made from “aborted fetal tissue.”
Like many others in the anti-vax world, Kirk has pushed conspiracy theories about billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates. On June 3, he said Gates is “micro-engineering the rest of the world to have mass vaccinations.” During the same episode, Kirk said: “Why is Bill Gates so fascinated with vaccinating the entire world? Is there something behind Bill Gates’ newly announced divorce?”
On May 26, Kirk said there is a “pathological fascination with mass inoculation” and warned that there are still many unanswered questions about the vaccine. Likewise, in a June 14 episode, Kirk called the effort to vaccinate Americans “deeply creepy.”
On June 18, Kirk called on all other conservatives to join in spreading vaccine hesitancy when he said: “I think it is irresponsible for any conservative to go on television or radio and not talk about all of these adverse reactions when it comes to the vaccine.”