Rush Limbaugh promotes RFK Jr.’s conspiracy theory against Dr. Fauci and coronavirus vaccines

These conspiracy theories have been around for months — and Limbaugh may have just discovered them

Rush Limbaugh has begun promoting anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert Kennedy Jr. latest accusation, claiming that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the long-serving head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is personally profiting off of efforts to create a vaccine for the coronavirus pandemic.

Various such conspiracy theories have circulated for months, accusing Fauci and the National Institutes of Health of owning patents or other research to either create the coronavirus itself or to create a vaccine, all of which have been thoroughly debunked.

During his August 4 episode, Limbaugh brought up Kennedy’s accusations, quoting him and declaring: “Holy smokes. No wonder Dr. Fauci’s not wearing a mask out there at the Nationals game. He’s got a patent on the vaccine.”

Limbaugh also credited a recent post on The Gateway Pundit, a right-wing site that repeatedly falls for hoaxes and conspiracy theories.

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Citation From the August 4, 2020, edition of Premiere Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show

Earlier in the broadcast, when he first mentioned the claim, he admitted it can be difficult to sort out what might be true, versus what is just a “wild-ass conspiracy theory.”

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Citation From the August 4, 2020, edition of Premiere Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show

RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): I have a story in the stack today — I think it’s from Gateway Pundit — that Dr. Fauci holds a patent on one of the drugs being tested as a vaccine, and stands to make $500 million from it. I think it’s Gateway Pundit. I’ll get to it, as the program unfolds.

I saw that, and I said — you know, this is the kind of thing — is this really true? Is this a conspiracy story, or is it — because there’s so much out there. You know, weeding through the news today, and making sure that you don’t get fooled by some wild-ass conspiracy theories, it’s getting tougher and tougher and tougher to do.

But later in the broadcast, Limbaugh played an audio clip of Kennedy, who said: “Anthony Fauci put $500 million of our dollars into that vaccine. He owns half the patent. He has five guys who are working for him who are entitled to collect royalties from that. So you have a corrupt system and now they’ve got a vaccine and it’s too big to fail.”

As Media Matters has previously documented, Kennedy has promoted various false claims about coronavirus vaccine development, including an accusation that safety tests were not being conducted. He has also engaged in conspiracy theories often promoted by far-right outlets, such as alleging that past SARS outbreaks have been traced to accidents in labs developing vaccines, that Microsoft founder Bill Gates wants to help develop vaccines in order to track the world’s population, and that the coronavirus outbreak is associated with the installation of 5G cell phone technology.

For his part, Limbaugh has portrayed the pandemic lockdowns as part of a plan to “take out the United States of America” in order to “set up your precious globalism and world government,” and alleged that there is a “staged overrunning of hospitals,” and he has generally been one of the single worst purveyors of coronavirus misinformation and denialism.

During the same discussion of Kennedy’s accusations, Limbaugh took issue with Fauci receiving a “Ripple of Hope” award, named for the late Robert Kennedy Sr. (Limbaugh frequently called it the “Nipple of Hope” award), for the promotion of social change.

“You know what? I know what it is — social change is locking down the country,” Limbaugh declared. “Dr. Fauci’s constantly agitating for that, is he not? That would be social change — as in destroying the economy.”