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.”
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.”
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.”