Eric Bolling, a former Fox News host who now hosts a weekly program for Sinclair Broadcast Group that usually contains conservative misinformation, has been repeatedly spreading false claims and conspiracy theories about coronavirus vaccines for months. On his show and on social media, Bolling has downplayed the necessity of vaccines to fight the pandemic, displayed startling ignorance about the vaccination process, and even pushed conspiracy theories about the vaccines in the lead-up to their distribution.
On his Sinclair program America This Week, Bolling has spread misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic for months, downplaying its severity and attempting to absolve President Donald Trump of responsibility for his failures to deal with it. On two occasions, Bolling’s COVID-19 misinformation was so dangerous that Sinclair simply pulled it off its stations’ airwaves. The first time was in late July, when he interviewed a conspiracy theorist from the Plandemic viral video which had been banned from social media platforms for its harmful misinformation. Following widespread criticism, Sinclair pulled the entire episode after it aired on one station. The second occasion was in mid-October, when Sinclair cut a part of Bolling’s opening monologue in which he falsely claimed face masks and lockdown precautions do not help slow the spread of COVID-19.
But Bolling’s coronavirus misinformation was not limited to the terrible monologues listed above. In the past six months, Bolling has pushed conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccines which are currently being distributed, has argued against the necessity of waiting for widespread vaccination before resuming normal life, and has declared himself a “skeptic” after demonstrating that he doesn’t have the slightest idea of how vaccines work.
Bolling repeatedly aired and tweeted conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccine development
- In June, Bolling wrote a post on Twitter suggesting that Dr. Anthony Fauci was advocating for coronavirus vaccines because he might stand to personally profit from their use. That sentiment was shared by Plandemic conspiracy theorist Judy Mikovits, who Bolling interviewed in an episode of America This Week that Sinclair belatedly pulled from its airwaves.
- In mid-September, Bolling seemingly echoed a baseless Trump accusation that the Food and Drug Administration was delaying approval of a vaccine until after the election to harm his reelection chances. During an interview with Trump’s disgraced former coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas, Bolling asked if there is “any slow walking” of the vaccine. Bolling also referred to an FBI counterintelligence investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign, asking, “Is there any politics being played with the timing of a vaccine?”
- Bolling returned to this conspiratorial narrative after the presidential election. In mid-November, he falsely accused Pfizer of deliberately withholding news of its vaccine’s efficacy until after the election and suggested a “House investigation into the timing of all that went down.” He also wrote a Twitter post repeating the accusation, tagging the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, adding: “God help them if that’s true.”
- During a December episode of his Sinclair program, Bolling played a viewer voicemail that asked if the three ex-presidents who volunteered to publicly get vaccinated owned stock in vaccine companies “and are trying to make money.” Bolling said it was a “good question” -- a variation on a conspiracy theory he pushed before -- and that he’d look into it.
Bolling also dismissed the importance of widespread vaccination by airing and agreeing with dangerous calls to prematurely end COVID-19 restrictions
- In July, Bolling said he agreed with former Republican Sen. Jim DeMint that “we got to reopen the economy,” despite the “health risks” of doing so.
- In early September, Bolling’s program seemingly advocated for a strategy to intentionally expose hundreds of millions of Americans to the coronavirus to achieve herd immunity instead of maintaining or expanding social distancing restrictions until a safe vaccine has been distributed widely enough to achieve the same effect. Reporting at the time suggested that this strategy would lead to millions of American deaths, and Politico recently reported that a Trump plant in the Department of Health and Human Services repeatedly insisted that this was the administration’s strategy.
- Also in September, Bolling allowed Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) to say that there was no need to wait on a vaccine to lift coronavirus restrictions and people who contract the disease can just depend on treatments instead. Bolling said nothing to counter this, instead changing the topic to forest fires. (More than 100,000 additional Americans have died of COVID-19 since then.)
- In December, as the U.S. began regularly experiencing daily COVID-19 death tolls above 3,000, Bolling agreed with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that the country should immediately “open up” instead of waiting for widespread vaccination.
Bolling demonstrated ignorance of how vaccines work, risking misinformation being passed to local news viewers
- In a December segment with Dr. Dena Grayson, after the United Kingdom began its vaccination program, Bolling falsely suggested coronavirus vaccines are “not effective in preventing one from getting the disease.” Grayson corrected him.
- Bolling again claimed getting a vaccine is “not prophylactic to getting the disease” and asked if people should wait until they were feeling ill before getting vaccinated. Grayson corrected him again.
- Bolling then asked if younger people would be healthier if they got infected and survived rather than being vaccinated. Grayson explained that there are long-term health problems with many survivors of the infection, calling it “a pretty easy choice: The vaccines win hands-down.” During this part of the segment, a graphic shown on the screen read: “Get vaccine or get COVID-19?”
- Early in the interview, Bolling said he’s never gotten an influenza vaccine before and said he may get the coronavirus vaccine but “I still need to read more about it.” He also claimed at the end: “I don’t want anyone to email me or call -- I’m not an anti-vaxxer, I get it, I’m just a skeptic.”