CNN's Brian Stelter calls out Sinclair and Fox News for mainstreaming conspiracy theories

Following Media Matters report, Sinclair pulled an interview with coronavirus conspiracy theorist

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Citation From the July 27, 2020, edition of CNN's CNN Tonight

DON LEMON (ANCHOR): Sinclair Media dropping a segment featuring a false conspiracy theory, a false one, of Dr. Anthony Fauci, after a lot of uproar over it. But it's not the only false story making it onto big platforms. Here's CNN's Brian Stelter.


BRIAN STELTER (CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT ): Sinclair, one of America's biggest owners of TV stations, is now disavowing a debunked segment that featured a kooky conspiracy theory, smearing Dr. Anthony Fauci.

During this segment on Eric Bolling’s show, a banner on screen said, “Did Dr. Fauci create COVID-19?” Attacking Fauci in service of supporting President Trump. That’s been the right-wing media's playbook all spring and summer long.

STELTER: But this interview stoked so many concerns and complaints that Sinclair shelved it over the weekend, and confirmed on Monday that it will never air. Sinclair went on to -- quote -- "reiterate our appreciation for Dr. Fauci."

A small victory for truth at a time when conspiracy theories seemed to be winning and the truth is losing.

STELTER: Eric Trump on Fox with Jesse Watters, claiming that pollsters are part of a mass conspiracy to fool America. In this interview, Watters brought up QAnon, a virtual cult that touts Trump and casts Democratic politicians and other elites as evil child abusers.

STELTER: Watters was concerned that Twitter removing the cult's lies would hurt Trump's reelection.

STELTER: A shocking thing for a TV host to say, since aspects of QAnon are downright delusional. It's connected to Pizzagate, which led a man to show up in a D.C. pizzeria with guns.

The FBI has warned of the QAnon conspiracy being a domestic terrorism threat. But Watters said they've uncovered a lot of great stuff. Eric Trump then drew a false equivalence between Q and some Democrats he doesn't like.

STELTER: Watters eventually came out with a statement that said, in part, "My comments should not be mistaken for giving credence to this fringe platform."

But the problem is that every time someone like Jesse Watters promotes QAnon, these crazy conspiracy theories become more mainstream. They become more validated.

Here's the good news, however. This garbage can be called out. It can be exposed. Sinclair backed down after CNN and other organizations questioned why this segment might be airing. That’s the good news here. Sunlight, Don, sunlight is still the best disinfectant.