Right-wing commentators Diamond and Silk, who host a Fox News program and are surrogates for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, have been pushing a conspiracy theory that 5G towers are fueling coronavirus infections.
In a livestream posted on platforms like Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook, they have speculated that 5G -- the fifth generation of mobile technology that’s being rolled out across the world -- can “throw your body off” and mess with “your genetics.” They also asked whether “somebody” has “the power to turn things on and off to make sure that certain things go down so those hospital beds can be filled.”
Diamond and Silk (whose names are Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson) host a show for Fox News’ streaming service Fox Nation. They also co-chair the Trump campaign’s Black Voices for Trump advisory board and are members of its Women for Trump advisory board. They additionally make regular appearances at Trump campaign rallies and in campaign videos despite Fox’s stated policy that “talent” aren’t allowed to participate in campaign events.
In a report on 5G coronavirus conspiracy theories, the BBC wrote that “scientists say the idea of a connection between Covid-19 and 5G is ‘complete rubbish’ and biologically impossible.” But that hasn’t stopped people from falsely claiming that 5G technology can make people more susceptible to catching the virus or transmit it to them. The New York Times noted that the conspiracy theory has been gaining “momentum in Facebook groups, WhatsApp messages and YouTube videos.” In Britain, there have been numerous incidents of arson and vandalism against 5G towers and harassment against telecom technicians.
Diamond and Silk pushed the conspiracy theory in an April 10 online live stream which aired on their personal social media accounts. Diamond said she was concerned that “these 5G towers are going up, and if they’re in certain places, the frequency of that can really throw your body off“ to which Silk replied, “Your genetics, yup.” Diamond later said that it “can also cause for your genetic material to test for COVID-19. Now, I don’t know how true that is, but I believe somebody should look into it.”
The duo tweeted on April 16: “People are becoming very concerned about these 5G Towers that are going up in their communities. Is there any data that shows or suggests that this technology is safe for humans?”
Diamond and Silk’s April 10 livestream show featuring their 5G conspiracy theory remarks is available through Facebook and YouTube. Both platforms have claimed that they’re removing content promoting this sort of misinformation. The livestream was also broadcast on their Twitter account; the social media company has previously said that it's “prioritizing the removal of content when it has a call to action that could potentially cause harm.”
They have also been pushing other coronavirus misinformation, including tweeting that “The only way we can become immune to the environment; we must be out in the environment. Quarantining people inside of their houses for extended periods will make people sick!” Twitter later took down the tweet for violating its coronavirus misinformation rules. CNN’s Oliver Darcy asked Fox News for comment but never heard back. He concluded:
That's how far down the rabbit hole we are. Where two fairly prominent Fox News personalities — who have been elevated on numerous occasions by the President and Republican lawmakers — can promote wild conspiracy theories and dangerous misinformation and it does not even merit a response from the network's public relations office.
The next time you see a story about how serious Fox News is taking coronavirus, or a fancy promo from the network offering a similar message, remember this: The network is paying "Diamond & Silk" for their opinions and it doesn't seem to care much about the dangerous misinformation they disseminate.