It seems that even after becoming a mouthpiece for the white nationalist “groyper” movement, far-right author Michelle Malkin still wasn’t content with the amount of damage she inflicted on her own career. Malkin, who has appeared on white nationalist podcasts like Red Ice’s Radio 3Fourteen, is using social media to elevate anti-vaxxers and COVID-19 truthers.
Since at least mid-April, Malkin has used her Twitter account to attack immunologists like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, advocate against taking the yet undeveloped vaccine against COVID-19, and promote the work of well-known quacks.
One such quack is Judy Mikovits, a disgraced doctor whose study linking a mouse retrovirus to chronic fatigue syndrome in humans was published by Science in 2009. The study could not be replicated, however, because of flaws like lab contamination. Two years later it was retracted without the authors’ consent.
Mikovits was later fired from her job at the Whittemore Peterson Institute and arrested on charges of stealing equipment and data. Those charges were later dropped, but Mikovits maintains that her arrest was part of an effort to silence her over her chronic fatigue syndrome study, which she insists was accurate.
In April 2020 she published Plague of Corruption: Restoring Faith in the Promise of Science. Co-written with Kent Heckenlively — a crank who calls himself the “world’s number one anti-vaxxer” and started a White House petition for a five-year moratorium on childhood vaccines — the book traffics in ridiculous conspiracies, and implied Dr. Fauci ordered the murder of virologist Kuan-Teh Jeang.
Anti-vaxxers, like pro-Trump cartoonist and conspiracy theorist Ben Garrison, have been drawn to the book, and it’s not difficult to see why. It even carries a foreword by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent attorney and anti-vaccine activist who continues to push the debunked link between autism and the MMR vaccine.
On April 16, 2020, Malkin tweeted a photo of herself holding a copy of Plague of Corruption and wrote, “Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates & #BigPharma don’t want you to read this book. Get #PlagueOfCorruption now & learn truth about public health industrial complex’s decades of research fraud and vaccine cover-ups.”
Among those tagged in Malkin’s tweet were actor and anti-vaxxer Rob Schneider, and Del Bigtree, the producer of the film Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe which promoted the discredited research of Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield pioneered the fraudulent study linking autism to the MMR vaccine, and lost his medical license in 2010.
The following month she retweeted this message, imploring her two million followers to “Get the truth about Fauci, Big Pharma and Deep State vaccine cover-up.”
On May 4, 2020, Malkin tweeted a link to a nine part anti-vaccine “docu-series” called The Truth About Vaccines 2020, which starred Mikovits and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
The next day she retweeted a message from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo about a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “The @gatesfoundation agenda for your children: Vaccinate. Indoctrinate. Subjugate,” she wrote.
The Gates Foundation has long been the subject of conspiracy theories about population control.
In the past few months, conspiracy theorists have also falsely alleged that the Gates Foundation had a hand in creating COVID-19, pointing to a patent by the Pirbright Institute — which received two grants from the Gates Foundation — for a coronavirus that primarily affects chickens.
Malkin attacked Gates several more times throughout May. On May 12, she referred to Bill Gates as “Freaky McControlFreak.” And on May 14 she wrote, “As a responsible parent & citizen, I will NOT let terror rule my children’s lives. We cannot hide from germs, people or adversary.” She used the hashtags #NoGatesVaccine, #FireFauci, and #ReopenSchools.
And it wasn’t just Bill Gates who was a target of Malkin’s ire. In a series of tweets on May 12, Malkin attacked Dr. Fauci, referring to him as “Fossil Fauci” and “Fearmonger Fauci.” She retweeted a message by Liz Cheney in which the representative praised Dr. Fauci as “one of the finest public servants we have ever had.” Malkin wrote, “Fact check: False.”
On May 7, Malkin tweeted that she was “Proud to have endorsed #PlagueOfCorruption a month ago,” and called Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s foreword a “must-read.” In another tweet she wedded her pet conspiracies — the claim that immigration is “destroying America,” and that vaccine “propagandists” are a threat to public health.
“It’s not conspiracy theory. It’s conspiracy TRUTH,” she wrote.
On May 9, she declared that she “will not take the Gates vaccine” or “bow down to jack-booted globalists.” She added that she would “use [her] platforms to share silenced views of whistleblowers & dissidents.” Two days later Malkin interviewed Mikovits on a YouTube live stream and promoted her COVID-19 conspiracy film Plandemic.
The half-hour pseudo-documentary makes a number of outrageous claims, including that COVID-19 was likely created in a laboratory, that flu vaccines increase the odds of being infected with COVID-19, that hydroxycholoroquine is the most effective means to treat the virus, and that wearing face masks can lead to infection.
During the interview, Malkin asked Mikovits “what [her] research tells [her] about the best way to approach boosting immune resiliency,” and accused Bill Gates of “deeming that we will all be hostages and slaves to this tyranny of experts until and unless we submit to his new mandatory vaccine regime.”
In a rambling answer, Mikovits addressed arguments no one made (e.g., pointing out that Bill Gates “is not a medical professional”), railed against social distancing, and advocated for the use of everything from hydroxychloroquine to Vitamin C to lemon juice in order to fight COVID-19.
She also downplayed its severity, asserting that a virus which has killed over 89,000 Americans and stands to kill tens of thousands more “isn’t as dangerous as they said it was.”
But Mikovits isn’t the only quack whose message has been amplified by Malkin. On May 12, she retweeted a tweet from Eileen Iorio which misconstrued Dr. Fauci’s warning about “really serious” consequences of reopening too soon as a “threat.” Iorio added that “since it’s really coming from Bill Gates, I think we should take it seriously.”
Eileen Iorio, like Judy Mikovits, is popular in anti-vaccine circles. In 2014 she was listed as a “Board Member and Fundraising Chair” for Epidemic Answers, a 501(c)3 which alleges in its Twitter bio that “RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE from autism, ADHD, allergies, asthma, etc.”
In 2014 Iorio was billed as a speaker at a conference put on by Epidemic Answers, alongside Dr. Gabriel Stewart, who runs a clinic in Ireland specializing in IV and chelation therapy, and Paul Shattock, a researcher who claimed in 2002 that the MMR vaccine “may cause one in ten cases of autism.”
On Twitter Iorio has advocated investigating the alleged link between autism and the MMR vaccine. In some tweets she’s indicated that she believes the MMR vaccine does, in fact, cause autism, at least in rare cases.
In response to a tweet quoting the director of the Vaccine Confidence Project about mapping the areas of the world where the “sentiment about vaccines causing autism” was prevalent in the media, she tweeted, “What if u map that against against meteoric rise in autism incidence and the increase in vaccine dosage?”
In 2018 Iorio published a book attacking the HPV vaccination, and she is listed as a contributing writer for Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s anti-vaccine Children’s Health Defense.
Although Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have technically banned COVID-19 misinformation from their platforms, there is still much more work to be done.
According to Digital Trends, “unofficial video links” to Plandemic “continue to seep through Twitter’s policies and moderating algorithms,” and are thriving on alternative video hosting websites. And as noted by Media Matters, YouTube continues to be a “cesspool of COVID-19 misinformation.”
As for Michelle Malkin, who has long warned her followers that she could be banned at any time, her tweets and videos on the subject are still very much visible.