Pete Evans returned to Aussie screens on Sunday evening, and this time he wasn’t cooking up a feast of the food variety, rather openly discussing his coronavirus conspiracy theories on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes.
The segment, which caused a serious stir when the promo was released earlier in the week, was bound to spark debate, however, the full extent of the chef and another guest’s theorising has seen viewers swearing to switch off, and professionals slamming the decision to take the views to air, while loyal fans of the chef have heaped their praise upon him.
In the episode, both Pete Evans and a former security guard turned social media ‘truther’ Fanos Panayides were invited to extrapolate upon their ‘alternative’ theories regarding coronavirus, which Panayides denies exists.
Evans went on to release an unedited two-hour version of the interview to his followers on YouTube at the exact time Nine ran the episode, in a direct snub of the network and what he called a bid to avoid what he predicted would be a heavy editing hand used on his footage by the network.
Pete extrapolates of coronavirus theories on national TV
“To the best of my knowledge at this particular point in time, all the evidence proves or shows at this point in time that the COVID-19 virus exists.” Pete Evans tells #60Mins. pic.twitter.com/az2oxCkMXP— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) June 7, 2020
In the segment, Pete discussed his controversial $10k biocharger that he claimed could treat coronavirus earlier this year. He was later fined by the TGA over the unsubstantiated claim.
The chef also confirmed he was not strictly anti-vaxxer, but would not consider the coronavirus vaccine, should it be developed, unless it was proved ‘100% safe’.
He also confirmed his mistrust of science, which he claims has been compromised by monetary interests.
“I am sceptical,” he said in the segment. “And I also am suspicious because history has shown us that, I mean, even science and you know, this as a fact, science has been bought by vested interests in so many different fields over the years.”
He also broke down in tears recounting his decision to flaunt social distancing recommendations to give his mum a hug in the midst of the lockdown.
“I can’t imagine living in a society where I can't hug my mum because I've been told its unsafe,” he told Liz Hayes.
The segment also included a comment from scientific professionals who denied all claims that the virus was fake or being manipulated to serve a higher agenda.
Most controversial, however, was Fanos Panayides theory that the virus has been wholly fabricated, and his story of being warned by his father against ‘microchips’ being injected by governments.
He also claimed images of overflowing morgues abroad had been doctored by the media.
Backlash from professionals over ‘whacko’ messaging
The backlash to the episode online was swift from many professionals who slammed the segment for promoting ‘dangerous and unfounded’ theories that had no roots in cold hard science.
Biomedical scientist Dr Darryn Saunders was scathing in his assessment of the interview, arguing it was nothing but ‘free advertising’.
Why are 60min giving Pete Evans free advertising? The whacko conspiracy stuff, the anti-vaccine BS etc are all designed to harvest eyeballs to sell his books, his supplements and processed foods.— Dr Darren Saunders (@whereisdaz) June 3, 2020
He doesn’t care how much damage it does as long as those sweet $$ keep rolling in
He also wondered ‘where’s the duty of care in platforming and enabling it?’ of the network.
“Thank you so much 60 Minutes for again reminding me why I stopped watching your drivel about 20 years ago,” former viewer Grant Phelps wrote. “Life's too short to waste my time with you.”
One wondered if we would see other professionals crossing fields to extrapolate on things outside their expertise become the norm.
In the name of balanced journalism .Since @60Mins had Pete Evans on. Next week they have to interview an a Medical Scientist and get their thoughts on a making the perfect Chocolate truffle souffle— RandomReplyMan (@RandomReply_Man) June 7, 2020
Others said they were ‘disappointed’ at the decision to air the two viewpoints which didn’t serve up any indisputable scientific evidence to back up their claims.
Disappointed with 60 Minutes for giving these two guys air time and promoting their controversial views and programs. It is clear Pete has been deeply traumatised by iso and lockdown and needs to speak to a professional #60Mins— Michelle D'Souza (@michelledsouza) June 7, 2020
Pete Evans and Fanos on @60Mins are reminding me to be so thankful that Australia decided to listen to experts in science and medicine when tackling this pandemic... rather than celebrity chefs.— Alison Piotrowski (@apiotrowski9) June 7, 2020
Meanwhile, fans of the chef argued he was spreading ‘the truth’, and said his bravery in standing up against the available science should be commended.
Others, however, were less sympathetic to the cause, heaping ridicule on the chef’s appearance which they argued painted him in a very strange light.
It’s been a rollercoaster few months for Pete who was axed from My Kitchen Rules this year, following a $25,200 fine from the Therapeutic Goods Administration over the claim that a $15,000 lamp was a potential coronavirus treatment online.
The chef has courted a string of controversies in the past, including claiming ‘most sunscreens are dangerous’ despite Australia’s dangerous skin cancer rates and advising parents to feed newborn babies bone broth, but has ramped it up this year.
Earlier this week the chef shared a video of President Donald Trump declaring his intention to quash the Black Lives Matter protests and riots with ‘all federal resources, both civilian and military’.
The chef captioned the video with a love heart emoji, seeming to endorse the president’s response which has angered many. He gave no further indication of his view on the situation, simply stating he was ’sharing information that may not be seen on normal channels’.
Trump’s speech was broadcast by mainstream media and has been made widely available online.
The US protests initially broke out after footage of George Floyd being suffocated to death by a police officer who knelt on his neck for eight minutes began circulating online.
The officer in question, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged with third-degree murder.
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