The White House correspondent slot is a coveted perch in Washington, DC media real estate. After landing a nice job and a press pass, a select few of journalism’s crème de la crème get to march through the White House gates and mix it up with the president’s inner circle; they get the chance to tell truth to power at the highest level, or at least to sit in on White House briefings and go to the White House correspondents’ dinner.
Some news organizations have sent reporters to the White House gaggle who have gone on to enduring fame for their journalistic rigor and iconic visual profiles. Others—like the right-wing television channel Newsmax—seem to have missed the reasonableness memo.
Emerald Robinson, Newsmax’s White House correspondent, was taken to task this week for spewing some of the wildest COVID-19 vaccine disinformation seen on planet Earth to her 437,000 followers on Twitter. Robinson could simply have claimed that highly tested, safe, and effective coronavirus vaccines contain microchips that the government uses to track people. That would have been nonsense, but not far removed from a standard anti-vaxxer line. But Robinson made a more bizarre claim: She implied that the vaccines contain something even more devilish than microchips. The devil himself.
“Dear Christians, the vaccines contain a bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE so that you can be tracked. Read the last book of the New Testament to see how this ends,” she wrote in a since deleted tweeted.
PSA: the Moderna vaccine doesn’t contain luciferase. And luciferase isn’t named after Lucifer ?…it’s a common biological reporter that produces light which can be measured. Lucifer is Latin for “light bearer”. Luciferase is a natural enzyme that makes fireflies’ asses light up. https://t.co/7bD3Bypxt2
— Dr. Angela Rasmussen (@angie_rasmussen) November 2, 2021
Luceferin is an organic compound involved in bioluminescence; it aids the process by which, for example, lightning bugs make their blinking lights. Luciferase is an enzyme connected to the same bioluminescence process. Neither type of chemical is in the Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, or Johnson and Johnson vaccines, according to a Reuter’s fact check of claims similar to Robinson’s.
Let’s repeat: Luciferase is just not there in the vaccines and is unrelated to the devil, even if “lucifer” is in the name.
Leaving the strange world of chemicals beginning with a secondary name for Satan aside, Robinson recently emitted a variety of other tweets that spread mis- or disinformation related to the pandemic or vaccines. In one, she seemed to imply—without evidence, as some gullible news outlets describe the act of lying—that a player for the FC Barcelona soccer team, Sergio Aguero, was suffering from a heart condition brought on by a COVID-19 vaccine. She retweeted a tweet by an ESPN account wishing the player well after he was hospitalized, saying, “A month ago this star soccer player was encouraging young kids to get vaccinated.”
In another tweet, she accused US intelligence agencies of starting the pandemic. “Our spy agencies can’t discover the origins of COVID because they are responsible for the origins of COVID!” she tweeted on Oct. 30, linking to a Reuters’s article about an inconclusive review of the pandemic origins by US intelligence agencies.
In yet another tweet, this one on Nov. 1, Robinson wrote, “Dear @DARPA: if COVID was such a surprise to the world then how did you manage to fund implantable biochips to deploy Moderna’s vaccine last year,” implying, without evidence, that the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the research and development wing of the US military, knew in advance about the pandemic and created implantable biochips for COVID-19 vaccines, an assertion that is—to use the technical, scientific term—crazy. The tweet was eventually taken down by Twitter for violating the platform’s policies.
Robinson has not yet responded to a request for comment sent to her LinkedIn account.
Newsmax is no stranger to misinformation or outright disinformation. Along with One America News Network, Newsmax rose to prominence during Donald Trump’s presidency and feverishly promoted false allegations of election fraud that backed Trump’s utterly false claim that he had actually won the election. Dominion Voting Systems, a maker of voting machines, filed defamation lawsuits in August against both networks over broadcasts that claimed, falsely, that the company had stolen millions of votes from Trump.
Editor’s note: The Daily Beast reported Wednesday that Twitter has locked Emerald Robinson’s account for violating the company’s COVID-19 misinformation policy.
The Bulletin elevates expert voices above the noise. But as an independent, nonprofit media organization, our operations depend on the support of readers like you. Help us continue to deliver quality journalism that holds leaders accountable. Your support of our work at any level is important. In return, we promise our coverage will be understandable, influential, vigilant, solution-oriented, and fair-minded. Together we can make a difference.