This article originally appeared on VICE US.
“It’s over for humanity,” Mike Adams declared the other day. The self-proclaimed Health Ranger and one of the internet’s more prolific conspiracy-mongers offered a dark prophecy. “There will only be lone survivors. The strategy must now shift. You can be a survivor. We can help you survive, the information here at Infowars and what I do.”
Adams is the founder and main voice at Natural News, the often demented “health site” which has trafficked for years in anti-vaccine misinformation, bogus cancer cures, and heated warnings about what the globalists are up to. Adams has recently claimed that unspecified shadowy attacks are making it difficult for him to share information on the coronavirus on his own site (which has, in fact, run dozens of specious articles on the coronavirus.) On a recent afternoon, in a change of venue, he was calmly predicting the end of humanity on InfoWars’ live webcast, where he shared a segment with its founder, Alex Jones. Over the course of an interminable two hours or so, the two men had a couple of aims: to lavish each other with mutual praise over their bravery against the Deep State and, more importantly, to foment as much fear and panic as possible about the coronavirus, the epidemic which originated in Wuhan, China and has, to date, killed at least 81 people.
It’s not surprising that conspiracy theories and hoaxes have begun circulating about the coronavirus. Conspiracy peddlers make their money and retain their audiences by selling panic, and they’ve leaped onto this new epidemic with glee, using it to sell all kinds of bullshit theories, market questionable products, and—in a particularly depressing twist—push the Trump administration to impose new, xenophobic travel bans.
The claims are multiplying by the day. The Canadian conspiracy site Global Research falsely claimed that the virus was “tightly focused to Chinese” (meaning only Chinese people were getting it), and strongly implied it had been brought into the country by Western forces, writing that there is a “history of American universities and NGOs having come into China in recent years to conduct biological experiments that were so illegal as to leave the Chinese authorities enraged.” The site Communal News, meanwhile, which allows anyone to upload articles, has claimed that the virus leaked from a Chinese “biological warfare weapons lab,” an assertion that’s also being floated in the slightly more mainstream Washington Times.
Meanwhile, the website Health Impact News, which is not a real news site, has been among many conspiracy sites peddling a video which purports to show that the coronavirus epidemic was predicted at Event 201, a forum hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. On the internet, that’s quickly transmuted into a claim that Bill Gates is somehow profiting from the coronavirus or holds a patent for its cure. The QAnon personality Jordan Sather claimed that a “patent” had been filed for the coronavirus in 2015, a claim that InfoWars’ Rob Dew has also made. One of the more fringe ideas holds that the coronavirus is being conveniently pushed out by shadowy forces in order to impose “harmful” 5G technology and radiation on an unsuspecting populace, tapping into an ongoing controversy over the use of 5G.
But sites like Health Impact News or Global Research also have another reason for promoting misinformation about the epidemic: It allows them to position themselves as being among the few trustworthy sources of information about it. “Sites like ours may soon be blocked from reporting on this emerging worldwide health crisis if this simulation is accurately predicting just how these events are about to unfold,” Health Impact News proclaimed. (Readers are encouraged in a pop-up window to subscribe to updates while they still can.)
The slightly more mainstream peddlers of xenophobia and conspiracy theorists have had a different focus. Both Jack Posobiec, the former Game of Thrones blogger turned right-wing media star, and Ann Coulter, a desiccated racist who’s prone to promoting a variety of utterly false theories (including claiming that the U.S. has “taken in one-fourth of Mexico’s population”), have suggested that the coronavirus means that China should be subject to a travel ban because, as Posobiec scientifically pointed out, “This is how the plot of World War Z began in the book.”
Accusations that the government isn’t doing enough to stop the spread of the disease have also been met by accusations that they’ll soon be doing too much. A site called Twisted Truth was among those spreading the claim that the government would soon impose martial law on Americans to contain the outbreak.
Adams and Jones, meanwhile—both big fans of apocalyptic claims about FEMA camps themselves—saw something special at work too; as with most human events that fall under their mutual gaze, they claimed that the coronavirus is nothing less than a global depopulation effort.
“The coronavirus obviously is a prepared simulant,” Jones declared. “A cover for other stuff, because they always have something else that’s really doing and they got the virus [sic],” he added, a bit confusedly. “I mean, you can see all the stuff going on. It means we’re now game-time. The ball’s been kicked off. It’s 2020. New World Order toe-to-toe with humanity.”
“The masses will be slaughtered,” Adams added. “The depopulation agenda cannot be stopped. Do you understand? Do you effing understand?” He didn’t see much hope of a solution: Over the course of the segment, Adams claimed that a coronavirus vaccine, if it appeared, would be untrustworthy and would contain “live virus,” and that if the masses were truly awake “there would be millions of people marching to demand control over our borders” so infectious diseases couldn’t be brought into the country. He and Jones agreed that the coronavirus was, in their words, a “bioengineered weapons system that is being deliberately released,” and that natural cures for the illness will be criminalized because “the globalists want to kill as many people as possible.”
(Natural News has previously suggested that baking soda can “enhance” cancer treatments and cure auto-immune diseases.)
Luckily, they had a solution: Every InfoWars story we’ve seen about the coronavirus has concluded with a link to one of Jones’ products. “People who know what’s coming,” one read, “are taking advantage of the up to 50% off savings on our storable food.”