News and Analysis

CNN Doctor: Fox News Leads ‘Authoritarian’ Conspiracy To ‘Incite Violence Against Scientists’
Peter Hotez, founding dean and chief of the Baylor College of Medicine National School of Tropical Medicine, speaks during a House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, March 5, 2020.
Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg/Getty Images

TV medical expert Dr. Peter Hotez claimed to CNN viewers Tuesday night that Fox News and “members of the United States Congress” are leading a vast, “coordinated,” “authoritarian” conspiracy to “say things to incite violence against scientists.”

The doctor, who has become one of the most recognizable television “experts” thanks to CNN’s coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, said “major conservative news outlets” and “contrarian intellectuals” in think tanks also led the quasi-totalitarian campaign to violently intimidate public health experts.

CNN legal expert Laura Coates, who guest hosted Tuesday night’s “Don Lemon Tonight,” set up the doctor’s indictment by playing an out-of-context video of Fox News host Jesse Watters describing how to “ambush” Dr. Anthony Fauci and go for the “kill shot.” A full video of the remarks shows Watters merely telling young journalists how to shoot effective video footage of public officials caught lying to the public.

After playing the video, Coates asked Hotez, “Doctor, you personally know that language like this is incredibly dangerous, right? I mean, the ramifications, the consequences of having the temperature at that level is really unbelievable.”

Hotez responded by painting a sophisticated, right-wing conspiracy emanating from Fox News Channel to “discredit science” and ultimately resulting in “inciting violence against me and my family.”

“Look, this is not this one individual,” he said after naming Tucker Carlson. “Laura Ingraham has gone after me on several nights, and what follows is a series of e-mails that call on patriots inciting them to violence against me and my family.”

Hotez did not explain where the purported emails inciting violence came from, nor how they were related to Ingraham — if at all.

“This is a systematic attempt by the leadership of Fox News to target not only the science, not only to discredit vaccines, but to put a target on the back of scientists — prominent U.S. scientists,” he asserted.

His remarks, which came in the context of “violence,” implied that Fox News sought to place literal crosshairs on his family. “And it’s not only Fox News,” Hotez continued.” This is coming from all of the major conservative news outlets … and it’s coming from members of the United States Congress, who say things to incite violence against scientists.”

“It’s coming from the conservative news outlets,” he repeated. “It’s coming from a group of contrarian intellectuals from far-right-wing think tanks. This is a coordinated effort as part of an authoritarian attempt to discredit science, discredit scientists. And it’s a very scary time for a number of us.”

Hotez went on to call Watters a “terrible person” who made “egregious” comments about Fauci.

Not content with CNN’s shrinking audience, Hotez expounded on his allegations in a long Twitter thread, which linked Fox News’ alleged anti-science campaign to the Nazis, Soviet Communists, and unspecified totalitarians.

“[T]hese conservative news anchors who attack Me [sic], Tony, my opinion: they don’t do this on their own. They’re not big thinkers, they’re told to do this. Much like Hannah Arendt reported 70 years ago.”

He then linked the Wikipedia page for Arendt’s monumental study, The Origins of Totalitarianism. Other tweets shared articles about Hitler targeting scientists during the Third Reich and anti-science actions in the USSR.

Hotez did not specify how the “far-Right” exercises authoritarian dominion while the Democratic Party controls all nationally elected governing bodies. But he told CNN viewers he had coined a phrase for this alleged conspiracy: “I’ve been writing about it, and I call it anti-science aggression,” he said Tuesday night.

Hotez has uttered that phrase more than a dozen times on CNN since April 27, according to a search of CNN transcripts, including earlier that afternoon. Hotez told CNN’s Ana Cabrera, “Anti-science aggression is now probably one of the leading killers of young adults in the United States.”

Although Hotez blames public distrust of scientific spokesmen like himself on conservative media, he has repeatedly made inaccurate predictions and assessments over CNN’s airwaves. Dr. Hotez was particularly skeptical of President Trump’s promise that Operation Warp Speed would produce a vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of 2020.

Last April Fool’s Day, CNN published an article quoting Dr. Hotez assuring no vaccine would most likely be ready for a year or longer:

“Tony Fauci is saying a year to 18 months — I think that’s optimistic,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a leading expert on infectious disease and vaccine development at Baylor College of Medicine. “Maybe if all the stars align, but probably longer.”

Hotez reiterated that timeline a month later. “I don’t see a path by which any vaccine is licensed — whether it’s emergency use or otherwise — until the third quarter of 2021,” Hotez told CNN’s Brianna Keilar last May.

By the end of 2020, CNN moved on to complaining that the 2.8 million Americans who received the COVID-19 vaccination in December fell “well short” of the Trump administration’s “goal to vaccinate 20 million people by January 1.”

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  CNN Doctor: Fox News Leads ‘Authoritarian’ Conspiracy To ‘Incite Violence Against Scientists’