Conservative commentator Candace Owens is using stunts and controversy to boost coronavirus conspiracy theories

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Conservative commentator Candace Owens is using stunts and controversy to boost coronavirus conspiracy theories
  • Conservative political commentator Candace Owens is facing backlash on Twitter after promoting several conspiracy theories related to coronavirus.
  • Actress Jackée Harry lashed out at Owens in a now-deleted tweet for spreading misinformation.
  • Owens has repeatedly spread misinformation about the coronavirus online and on TV.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Conservative political commentator Candace Owens faced backlash on Twitter for propagating numerous conspiracy theories and controversial opinions related to coronavirus, ideas that appear to be giving her more attention.

One of the most contentious has been her insistence that "the virus was never as fatal" as experts said, noting death projections that have been adjusted as the pandemic has spread, and that the public response has been overblown.

While the main model used to predict US COVID-19 deaths did reduce its death toll prediction, Dr. Gregory Roth of the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation told CNN that the model is frequently updated based on new data, which can be an indication that social distancing measures have been successful in mitigating the spread of the virus. Owens has argued that social distancing measures have been overblown and that people should be allowed to reenter public spaces.

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In what appears to be an expletive-filled and now-deleted tweet (Insider was only able to view screenshots at the time of publishing), actress Jackée Harry lashed out at Owens for spreading misinformation online. Harry said that Owens had "taken things out of context," and Owens replied by inviting Harry to her talk show with PragerU, conservative commentator and radio host Dennis Prager's online news video network.

Owens has not been shy about her coronavirus conspiracy theories. She has claimed that hospitals and states inflated the COVID-19 death toll for "a financial incentive," a claim that's been deemed baseless by fact-checking group factcheck.org, and spoken against social distancing measures.

In a Tuesday, April 14 appearance on Laura Ingraham's Fox News show, "The Ingraham Angle," Owens, who is black, claimed that Democrats were "racializing the coronavirus." She used a common conservative point, that racial disparities in medicine and healthcare are "economic" because black Americans are "poorer" due to Democratic policies, rather than the history of systemic racism in America.

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Owens previously founded a movement called "Blexit," which encouraged black Americans to leave the Democratic party.

Experts have continuously reported that economic disparities between white and black Americans is due to structural and systemic racism.

Also on Tuesday, Owens attempted to garner more attention around her ideas, claiming that she was confronted by police officers for not wearing a mask in a Whole Foods grocery store in Washington, DC, using the experience to boost her coronavirus claims online. Owens tweeted that she and her husband were stopped by police officers for shopping maskless. "WTF if going on," she said. In a video shared on Twitter, she said that coronavirus was "spiraling into tyranny."

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On April 8, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that masks must be worn in all grocery stores to help slow the spread of the virus in the city.

CNN commentator Joe Lockhart responded to Owens' tweet, explaining that the purpose of wearing a mask is to protect others from getting infected in case one is a carrier of the virus, adding that it was "a concept you clearly have no connection to."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that all Americans wear face coverings "in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain" — especially in grocery stores, the CDC highlights.

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It's unclear whether Owens' tweets are in violation of Twitter's updated misinformation guidelines, which include direct denials of "expert guidance" that could increase "the chance that someone contracts or transmits the virus." Insider reached out to a Twitter representative for comment.

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