After FOX Sports hosts Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe both made negative comments about flu vaccines on their show Undisputed, their claims were promoted by conspiracy theory clearinghouse Infowars, with the outlet claiming the two men spoke out against “the globalist agenda.”
During the August 22 broadcast of Undisputed, three-time Super Bowl champion Sharpe sarcastically said that the only “shot” NFL team Arizona Cardinals have at success this season is “flu shots.” He also said that when he was at a CVS pharmacy he declined to get a flu shot. Bayless responded by saying, “I took one flu shot in my life and immediately got the flu. I did. That was the last one.”
Sharpe and Bayless’ anti-vaccine comments were subsequently promoted by Alex Jones’ Infowars website in an August 27 video. The Infowars webpage that hosts the video said host Owen Shroyer -- who is currently being sued for claiming a Sandy Hook father lied about seeing a bullet hole in his son’s head -- “breaks down this hilarious commentary against the globalist agenda.” In the video Shroyer said that “there is a powder keg waiting to blow up right now in the sports world” and speculated that “patriots” in the field will speak out openly against vaccines and cause a problem for “big pharma.” Shroyer highlighted that the comments were made by “two of the most popular commentators when it comes to sports talk” on “one of the most popular sports talk shows” and added, “It’s good to see people in the sports world not afraid to do a little subtle political nuance just to inject these things into that culture, into that commentary.”
The Bayless and Sharpe clip was posted to YouTube by a channel called “News Supreme” that otherwise mostly aggregates Infowars videos. (While YouTube banned Infowars from its platform as well as non-affiliated channels that exist primarily to share Infowars content, copycat channels have repeatedly sprung up.) It was then promoted by an Infowars producer on Twitter, before appearing on Shroyer’s show. Several fringe websites have since promoted Infowars’ claims surrounding the video.
Not everyone at FOX Sports is enamored with Bayless’ commentary. When he was hired in 2016, FOX Sports analyst Troy Aikman remarked, “Clearly, [Fox Sports president of national networks] Jamie Horowitz and I have a difference of opinion when it comes to building a successful organization. I believe success is achieved by acquiring and developing talented, respected and credible individuals, none of which applies to Skip Bayless.”