In March last year, the anti-Semitic broadcaster Rick Wiles said the spread of COVID-19 in Israel’s synagogues was a sign from on-high.
“God’s dealing with false religions,” Wiles said on a webcast from his site, TruNews. “God’s dealing with people who oppose his son Jesus Christ. He’s dealing with the forces of antichrist.”
That was just the start: As documented by the watchdog group Right Wing Watch, Wiles (above, center) and TruNews played into every angle of the pandemic, from speculating that it was staged in China to promoting the theory that the virus originated in a lab, to, more recently, warning that COVID-19 vaccinations are really an attempt at genocide.
What Wiles might not have planned for was an outbreak of his own: Since late last month, the host and several TruNews staff and family members have been hit hard with COVID-19, TruNews has said publicly.
“Trunews was hit suddenly by a cluster of flu and Covid among some employees and their relatives,” a May 28 newsletter from the website said. The following day, another newsletter reported that Wiles had been taken to the emergency room and was on oxygen.
On the social network Gab and dispatches from the TruNews newsletter in recent weeks, Wiles and TruNews have described the symptoms of Wiles’ daughter, as well as those of his wife and daughter-in-law. Wiles noted symptoms that other members of his family were experiencing, and said that TruNews personality Edward Szall “is very sick” and “three members of our team are recovering.”
Just a week before that update, Szall (above, right) hosted a TruNews segment on “JAB CROW LAWS: UNVACCINATED FACE SEGREGATION AND PERSECUTION BY TRIAGE TYRANTS.”
But first-hand experience hasn’t stopped TruNews. Even as fill-in hosts man the set as Wiles recovers, the site is still pumping out anti-vaccine misinformation to hundreds of thousands of followers.
TruNews has appearances to maintain: Earlier in May, Wiles pledged that he would not receive the vaccine and said “the only good thing that will come out of this is a lot of stupid people will be killed off” by the shot.
The same day TruNews announced the COVID cluster at its office, it promoted a video from Lauren Witzke — who’s temporarily co-hosting TruNews with Milo Yiannopoulos — claiming to show that the vaccine had magnetized her grandmother’s arm.
“Based Rick Wiles,” she crowed.
On Monday, TruNews’ Gab account re-posted a dispatch from the Washington Times columnist Tim Young referring to the golfer Jon Rahm, who was forced to withdraw from the PGA’s Memorial Tournament due to a positive COVID-19 test.
“Today I learned that COVID is so deadly that you can dominate a PGA tournament and not even know you have it,” the columnist said in the post TruNews amplified.
The COVID misinformation continued as Witzke and Yiannopoulos entered their second week as fill-in hosts, this time with a novel theory.
No, the TruNews team’s scary brush with the pandemic wasn’t a result of their anti-vaccine stance amid a virus that’s claimed more than 600,000 lives in the United States.
Rather, Witzke said, this was about Yiannopoulos, who claimed in March that he had become “ex-gay.”
“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the TruNews crew all got deathly ill, got very sick, right after they brought Milo onto their show and he shared his testimony,” she said, referring to Yiannopoulos as “Satan’s favorite sodomite” and saying the COVID outbreak was “retaliation.”
“We have to remember that this is a spiritual battle as well.”
Lauren Witzke says the wave of COVID-19 that swept through TruNews was a demonic attack on the network for having Milo Yiannopoulos on the program after "Satan's favorite sodomite" became "ex-gay" and a Christian. pic.twitter.com/3tewgOkPSH
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) June 7, 2021