At a time when false information about the coronavirus can be a matter of life and death, Infowars is working overtime to mislead its audience. From cries of false flag operations to its call for viewers to film their hospitals to spot nefarious activities, Infowars has ably demonstrated why its ban from YouTube and Facebook was justified.
And on March 26, 2020, Owen Shroyer — host of the Infowars show War Room — outsourced the job of spreading coronavirus conspiracies to antisemitic self-styled theologian E. Michael Jones.
Jones, who has appeared on a number of white supremacist online shows and believes the Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus Christ, told Shroyer that the coronavirus was a weapon, possibly engineered by the U.S. government.
Jones said there were two explanations. The first is that the virus originated at a “wet market” in Wuhan, which he said “doesn’t sound very convincing.” The second explanation is that the virus is actually a biological weapon. To show this was more plausible he cited the January arrest of Harvard professor Dr. Charles Lieber.
Lieber and two Chinese nationals were charged “in connection with aiding the People’s Republic of China” according to a Department of Justice release. Lieber, who chaired the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, was accused of lying about working with Chinese organizations which he took vast sums of money from.
One of the nationals, who identified herself as a “student” on her visa application, was accused of accessing U.S. military websites and sending documents to China. Another national, a cancer researcher, stole “21 vials of biological research” and tried to smuggle them onto a flight bound for China, according to the DOJ.
But the website FactCheck.org looked into the allegations that the arrests and indictments had anything to do with the novel coronavirus outbreak and rated the claims as false. When asked whether the indictments had anything to do with the engineering or smuggling of the coronavirus, a DOJ spokesperson said, “The Department of Justice has made no such allegation.”
“So I think that the plausible explanation here is that we’re dealin’ with a weapon,” Jones said, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. “I think it’s much more plausible than some type of weird event coming from a market. And we’re dealing with a weapon that has certain characteristics. And I think in order to understand what’s going on, we have to talk about a weapon.”
But his conspiracy became muddled when he discussed how there was no “delivery system” (e.g., bombs) for the virus to infect specific targets. “You have to have a delivery system to deliver it, and there apparently is no delivery system for the entire world,” he said. “So what you’re gonna see, I think, here, is areas where it’s really bad because it was probably weaponized.”
So, to recap, because the virus doesn’t seem to have any of the characteristics of a biological weapon, E. Michael Jones believes it is probably a biological weapon. And this should go without saying, but he doesn’t get brownie points for predicting that there will be “areas where it’s really bad.”
Then, he began speculating about who created the virus — noting that the Chinese government accused the U.S. military of engineering it and deploying it against China. Jones said that the U.S. had a “motive” to attack both China and Iran, where coronavirus cases are especially numerous. But what about Italy, which also saw a great number of cases?
“There’s no motive with Italy,” Jones admitted, though he added that the outbreak in Italy was likely “collateral damage.”
But COVID-19 wasn’t the only thing Jones spread disinformation about during his War Room appearance. He also went on a rant about HIV/AIDS and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the public face of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Dr. Fauci was appointed director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1984, and his research was key to understanding how the HIV virus destroys the body’s immune system.
Jones, on the other hand, lamented that research into HIV helped to destigmatize people who had the virus, particularly the gay community. “In the early ’80s we realized that homosexuals were dying, it was clearly limited to a group of people that had a particular lifestyle that was not particularly healthy, and nobody was really that concerned,” Jones told Shroyer.
“That all changed when the government got involved, in 1984 Margaret Heckler — head of Health and Human Services — said it wasn’t lifestyle, it was a virus,” Jones complained. “Oh, we’re back to viruses again. And since we isolated the virus, we’re gonna have a cure. Well that immediately rehabilitated homosexuality.”
Jones also claimed that AZT, a antiretroviral medication that was initially developed for cancer patients but used by people with HIV to extend their lives, “killed more homosexuals than AIDS did.” The kernal of truth in Jones’ rant is that AZT, when it was first introduced as a drug for HIV positive people, was prescribed in high dosages that could prove fatal.
Patients were initially given 1,500 mg doses which were far too strong for a drug that, in high doses, can limit the polymerase that human cells need for cellular division. In fact, in 1989 SPIN published an article called “Sins of Omission” about the drug’s toxicity and the push to make it the drug of choice for patients with HIV.
Today AZT is still used to treat people with HIV, albeit in much smaller doses — usually around 300 mg. Still, for some inarticulable reason Jones called for Fauci to be held responsible for the “AIDS debacle.”
Then Jones pivoted to repeat the dumb and dangerous claim that what he calls “African AIDS” is a myth.
“15 years ago I was in Africa, I gave a talk in Nairobi hospitals, universities saying African AIDS was made up and everybody was shocked,” he boasted. “Last year I went back, I ended up in the exact same room at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and I said to the people, ‘How many people woke up this morning worried about dying of AIDS?'”
Jones recounted that “no one raised their hand,” and said that we need to keep this anecdote in mind because we “have to keep the distinction between medicine and social engineering in mind, here.”