Misinformation is taking a dangerous hold on Fox News viewers. According to a new poll, half of all Americans who name Fox News as their primary news source believe the debunked conspiracy theory claiming Bill Gates is looking to use a coronavirus vaccine to inject a microchip into people and track the world’s population.
The Yahoo News/YouGov poll, released on Friday, found that 44 percent of Republicans also buy into the unfounded claim, while just 19 percent of Democrats believe the lie about the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist.
According to Yahoo’s report on the poll, neither Fox News nor President Trump has promoted the false Gates conspiracy. But sowing seeds of distrust of mainstream media and the spread of misinformation is a hallmark of the network and the current president. Last month, Fox primetime host Laura Ingraham shared a tweet where she expressed agreement with a user who wrote about the debunked conspiracy theory.
“Digitally tracking Americans’ every move has been a dream of the globalists for years. This health crisis is the perfect vehicle for them to push this,” Ingraham wrote.
Digitally tracking Americans’ every move has been a dream of the globalists for years. This health crisis is the perfect vehicle for them to push this. https://t.co/nkc0mSrM9u
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) April 7, 2020
The poll also found that just 15 percent of MSNBC viewers believe the untrue conspiracy theory which, according to the fact-checking publication Snopes, began with the anti-vaccine movement. They chose to target Gates specifically because of his decade-long advocacy for vaccines.
According to an April report in the New York Times that looked into the right-wing targeting of Gates, media analysis company Zignal Labs found that “misinformation about Gates is now the most widespread of all coronavirus falsehoods” that the company has tracked.
This debunked conspiracy theory could be especially menacing if it deters any portion of the population from getting vaccinated, if and when one becomes available, which would then make it much tougher to rid the world of the virus.
In another poll released on Friday by Reuters/Ipsos showed increasing mistrust in the president due to his consistent habit of sharing misinformation. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed said they would be less willing to take a vaccine if it were endorsed by the president.
The picture these polls paint is both sad and obviously dangerous for all of us, especially with the current pandemic. Unfortunately, our country’s lack of trustworthy leadership means that more and more people are susceptible to bad and untrue advice that is rampant on random Reddit forums, Facebook posts and, yes, even TikTok — where conspiracy theories are paired with viral dances.