Two stars of New Zealand’s The Bachelor have come under fire for inviting Australian conspiracy theorist Pete Evans on their podcast, allowing him to call the coronavirus pandemic a “fucking hoax”.
As pointed out by NewsHub NZ, Arthur “Art” Green and Matilda Rice, who host the health and wellness podcast Well & Good, allowed the former TV chef to explain his increasingly unhinged perspective on COVID-19 on today’s episode.
While the pair recorded a disclaimer to frame the discussion as just some guy’s opinion, Evans took the opportunity to say “this fucking virus doesn’t compare to what is happening in this world on a large scale”.
After pointing to issues like sex trafficking as pressing global concerns, Evans said, “I think this whole fucking thing is a hoax – not COVID, but the whole pandemic,” asking “why all the sudden we have to fix this thing.”
The obvious answer – that we’ve seen the virus rip across the planet, killing hundreds of thousands of people in recent months – didn’t appear to cross his mind.
Evans, who was recently fined $25,000 for falsely claiming a woo-woo machine could effectively treat coronavirus, also said the idea of wearing face masks or social distancing to stem the virus’ spread is “ridiculous.”
The episode has faced a sharp rebuke from some listeners, who are pissed the reality TV stars would grant a platform to Evans.
“Give someone a wellness podcast and it inevitably descends into absolute diabolical madness,” doco maker David Farrier said on Twitter.
“Feel like a dumbass for being disappointed in Art and Matilda,” added Kiwi podcaster Frances Cook.
“Is it impossible to have people who are into wellness, but not into conspiracy theories?”
“So dangerous and totally offensive to those who have lost family members, friends and colleagues to COVID-19,” one Instagram user wrote on a post promoting the episode.
“How about getting an epidemiologist on to discuss the very real impacts of COVID-19 from an actual scientific perspective?”
Notably, that post came directly after one promoting a discussion about the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
In early April, Green and Rice contributed to a social media campaign urging New Zealanders to stay home during the nation’s Level 4 lockdowns.
New Zealand emerged from lockdowns last month, and currently counts zero active cases of the virus within its borders.
The nation’s successful response to the virus didn’t stop Evans sharing a photo of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern standing next to Bill Gates to his Instagram account, an apparent reference to a truly batshit conspiracy theory involving the tech billionaire.
As it stands, nearly 500,000 people have died of COVID-19 worldwide, including 104 in Australia.Image: @art_green / @roar_collective.co / Instagram