WND's Coronavirus Conspiracies: Even More Bad Takes
From mindless Fauci-bashing to declaring that a vaccine would be the mark of the beast, WorldNetDaily's columnists have been busy spreading fear and bogus claims about COVID-19.
By Terry Krepel
When the coronavirus pandemic began, WorldNetDaily did what it's done for more than 20 years: push bogus conspiracy theories and dubious medical claims, becoming strangely enamored of hydroxychloroquine as a miracle cure despite a lack of credible evidence.
As the pandemic has ground on, WND has as well, with its columnists continuing to dish out bad takes on COVID. Let's look at some of the stranger, and medically misleading, things they have claimed.
Mark of the beast
A coronavirus vaccine didn't even exist until December, yet WND has spent months fearmongering about it. For instance, a June 22 "news" article stated:
As the Trump administration expresses optimism about the development of a vaccine for the coronvirus, a religious-liberty group is warning that the top vaccines under development are made with "aborted baby cell lines."
Strangely, neither the WND article or the Liberty Counsel report it's based on offered any proof that this is the case; Liberty Counsel cited only "reports." Nevertheless, WND uncritically reported how "Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver is concerned that the top five vaccine research companies are 'using aborted baby cell lines to fuel their research and build their vaccines.'"WND also gave to Liberty Counsel to forward a conspiracy about drugmakers wanting a vaccine to make money:
The Liberty Counsel campaign points out vaccinations are big money for pharmaceutical companies.
In fact, that 0.26 percent number -- which came from a report by the Centers for Disease Control -- comes from a range of estimates and is subject to change, and the actual death rate is in all likelihood higher. Also, coronavirus is much worse than the flu.
Scott Lively spent a July 27 column freaking out over the remote possibility that the Supreme Court could mandate a vaccine, adding that "the only hope I can see for avoiding mandatory vaccines is a Trump reelection accompanied either by 1) full GOP control of Congress, or 2) a quick flip of SCOTUS to a conservative majority." This being the gay-hating Lively, he also took a detour to rant about gay marriage.
As vaccine candidates moved closer to approval, the fearmongering has continued. Barbara Simpson ranted in her Sept. 25 column that the idea a vaccine will "suddenly fix everything" couldn't be "further from the truth," citing relatively rare cases in Africa where some people have caught polio from the vaccine. From there, it was quickly onto Bill Gates conspiracy territory:
It doesn't help that there are some big names associated with the program. The vaccine being used in Africa comes from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) which is supported and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Daniel Joseph served up an Oct. 2 video asking the question, "Is a forced COVID vaccine the Mark of the Beast?" His answer appears to be yes, declaring that "this has the Antichrist written all over it." (Disclosure: We didn't sit through the entire tedious hour-and-a-half-long video to find out the full answer.)
Brent Smith's Oct. 9 column went anti-vaxxer, declaring that "if your diseased child doesn't negatively affect me or my family, it isn't my problem," adding: "The science is all there. Any parent can research the safety and warnings of vaccines and make an educated decision to vaccinate their children and themselves, or not. This may seem rather selfish, but that's the price of freedom, and your stupidity and fear shall not trump my liberty."
This followed up on a column Smith wrote in August declaring that getting the vaccine is a matter of "My Body, My Choice." He invoked both Saul Alinsky and Chinese "social credit" schemes in the process, the concluded by claiming: "They're already taking away our right to choose how we vote. Soon, I fear, we may have to make a hard decision to choose, or not, to be vaccinated. And if we choose the latter, there will be consequences, as we move closer to the Chinese model."
Imaginary grand jury
Joel S. Hirschhorn began his Sept. 29 WND column by claiming this:
With a grand jury approach, the revealing of evidence herein shows that Dr. Anthony Fauci has deliberately ignored massive amounts of data showing that hydroxychloroquine is a safe, cheap and effective remedy for COVID-19. By ignoring his ethical responsibility as a physician to first do no harm, his behavior continues to cause preventable pain, suffering and death. Evidence also vindicates what President Trump said and did early on to inform Americans about the benefits of hydroxychloroquine.
Hirschhorn's bio gives him the "Dr." honorific, but he's not a medical doctor. He may have a Ph.D., as indicated by his claim to have been a "full professor" at the University of Wisconsin, but any relevant medical experience is limited to claiming that he Has "a long history of working on health issues" and was "an executive volunteer at a major hospital," whatever that means.
Hirschhorn's "grand jury approach" to "indicting" Fauci includes a lot of cherry-picked studies promoting hydroxychloroqine's alleged efficacy, whining that Fauci is a "tyrant" whose purported insistence on randomized control trials "has been sharply debunked," and summarily declaring: "In sum: Every single day people are suffering and dying unnecessarily because Fauci refuses to accept HCQ facts. Instead, in endless media statements and appearances he pushes masks, lockdowns and vaccines. Anthony Fauci benefits from incorrect views of HCQ in the mostly leftist press."
An actual grand jury -- not the one-man version residing in Hirschhorn's fevered brain -- would consider all evidence, not merely construct straw men for the purpose of easily knocking them down. Unsurprisingly, Hirschhorn arrived at his predetermined conclusion:
For this grand jury proceeding, substantial evidence supports the indictment of Fauci on these counts:
Shockingly, this is not the most extreme thing Hirschhorn written about Fauci, and just as shockingly, it didn't happen at WND. In an August column at some obscure website, Hirschhorn called Fauci a "war criminal" and claimed the Chinese "intentionally decided to spread the virus worldwide" so they "could make huge sums by selling the inevitably needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and, eventually, possible drugs and vaccines." He concluded by ranting that "until Fauci is knocked off his lofty pedestal they will continue to lose the war on the pandemic."
An Oct.. 12 column by Elizabeth Lee Vliet -- a doctor affiliated with the fringe-right Association of American Physicians and Surgeons -- once again shilled for hydroxychloroquine, asserting: "The failed Fauci model telling patients to go home, self-quarantine, do nothing and go to the ER if they get sicker exacerbated by the FDA's statements discouraging HCQ use, has caused the U.S. COVID death rate to be in the world's top 10."
This was followed by an Oct. 16 rant by Brent Smith:
How does Dr. Anthony Fauci still have a job? He's part of the Inside-the-Beltway Deep State and has attempted to undermine the president since he was elevated to the position of Doctor COVID Know-it-All. And here is just another example.
Smith waited until after asserting that "Trump was actually quite clear" to actually directly quote what he said, declaring that "Trump went on to do what a leader should instill confidence, not fear, and trust in the American people." And he wasn't done with his Fauci-bashing:
Jake Tapper knows he has an ally in Dr. Fauci. And Fauci continues to have no appreciation for the man, President Trump, who, in effect, made him a household name.
Since then, of course, it was Trump who has been fired, not Fauci.
Misleading about masks
A Dec. 1 WND column by Barry Shaw began by claiming:
Around the world there is a manic mask mandate on steroids. But do masks stop the spread of COVID-19?
Shaw then wrote:
Dr. Christine Laine, editor-in-chief of the Annals of Internal Medicine, said masks "are not a magic bullet."
But Laine also pointed out that the Danish study was inconclusive.
From there, Shaw moved onto another favorite right-wing narrative:
Sweden is a country that defied both mask-wearing and lockdowns.
And what was been happening in Sweden around the time Shaw's column was published? Coronavirus cases hit record levels, prompting folks to rethink the whole discouraging-masks thing.
Shaw then descended into the usual right-wing anti-Fauci and pro-hydroxychloroquine rants:
Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, said about Remdesivir on April 29: "Remdesivir has a clear-cut significant positive effect in diminishing time to recovery for patients with COVID-19. This will be the standard of care. A drug that can block this virus."
Breggin's article on remdesivir was published on his own website in May and has apparently never been peer-reviewed. Actual scientists doing actual research, meanwhile, have found some benefits for remdesivir in treating coronavirus. Zelenko, of course, is the doctor whose unverified claims about hydroxychloroquine WND has previously promoted.
Shaw concluded by scaremongering about a coronavirus vaccine: "Are there long-term side effects? Nobody knows."
'Orchestrated' economic collapse
Patrice Lewis began her Dec. 11 WND column by stating, "I'm going to be quoting a lot of sources in this column rather than writing much original content. That's because there are so many others saying things better than I can." Unfortunately, most of those sources are fringe-right conspiracy websites ranting about the coronavirus pandemic and asserting that all the chaos surrounding it has been planned, because this is the conclusion she came to:
Make no mistake, we're in the throes of an orchestrated economic collapse. Orchestrated. Got that? Orchestrated. It's not about controlling a virus; it's about controlling people. Even Rush Limbaugh is calling this a "plandemic."
Strangely, Lewis never identifies who specifically is behind this conspiracy beyond a shadowy "they."
'I don't believe' in COVID variants
Bad takes on coronavirus by WorldNetDaily columnists went into the new year, as evidenced by this Jan. 1 column by Brent Smith, headlined "Sorry, but I don't believe in the 'new strain' of coronavirus":
But just when people are beginning to breathe a sigh of relief, there are reports of a new, even worse, strain of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, in the real world, facts don't care about Smith's feelings -- coronavirus variants exist and are more transmissible than the original strain.