NBC News reporters Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins published a story that accused me of spreading rumors that the coronavirus is a hoax. Let me be blunt: the story is a lie and the reporters are liars.
They made me the focus of a nasty hit piece titled, "Coronavirus deniers take aim at hospitals as pandemic grows."
There is no doubt we are dealing with a global pandemic. The virus is real and dangerous and people should take whatever precautions necessary to protect themselves and their families.
The focus of my video was to call out the Mainstream Media for turning this crisis into some sort of Hunger Games/Mad Max/Contagion reality show. And that is unacceptable.
They are causing unwarranted fear and hysteria, when they should be reporting the facts.
CBS News was forced to admit they used footage filmed inside a crowded Italian hospital and passed it off as a New York City hospital. They said it was an "editing" error.
The news coverage seems to be focused on just a handful of hospitals that have been truly inundated with coronavirus patients -- especially the hospital in Elmhurst.
But what about the other hospitals in New York City?
Bloomberg reports there are 23,000 hospital beds in New York City. How many of those beds are still available? How many hospitals are filled to capacity? Are we talking about an overwhelming majority of the hospitals or just a handful?
These are reasonable questions that journalists across the country should be asking. But they are not.
Last week, my team reached out to a number of hospitals across the city to find out what was really going on. We asked whether they were at capacity, whether they had enough supplies, whether they were having to turn away patients.
One hospital responded and they declined to comment. I had also reached out to The Brooklyn Hospital Center and they, too, did not respond.
On Saturday I walked over to The Brooklyn Hospital Center and decided to film what I saw. I wanted to illustrate an argument I've been making on my daily radio show -- that the Mainstream Media has been sensationalizing the coronavirus coverage.
"Starnes' tweet — viewed 1.3 million times — was one of the first and most popular examples of the wider conspiracy theory that spread on social media over the weekend centered on the #FilmYourHospital hashtag, which called for people to go to hospitals and capture what was happening," NBC News reported.
I have to assume that Ms. Zadrozny and Mr. Collins wrote their hit piece without actually watching the video. Either that or they did watch the video and chose to lie about what I said.
"They’ve been telling us on the news and the Democrat leaders have been telling us the hospitals here in New York City have been turned into war zones," I said. "I thought it would be good to get out today and to show you what’s happening at least in my neighborhood."
Notice that I qualified the intent and purpose of the video - it's what's happening in my neighborhood.
"This is not to diminish the virus – the crisis at all. This is simply to explain to you what we are seeing in reality compared to what we are seeing on the television and what the Democrats in charge are telling us," I went on to say.
I would like for NBC News to explain how they got "coronavirus hoax" out of that statement?
"This is the line to get tested for the coronavirus. Folks, I’m here to tell you at this very moment, not a single person is in line waiting to get tested," I said. "This is the emergency room, you would expect if you believe the mainstream media – that this emergency room would be overflowing with people."
And then I qualified my remarks again:
"This is not to say that this situation could change, but I’m telling you right now – this is what’s really going on in New York City here in Brooklyn," I said.
NBC News wants you to believe my video was part of some grand conspiracy to advance some sort of coronavirus hoax narrative. Again, let's go to the video for the truth:
"This is what really aggravates me," I said. "Yes – this virus is a serious issue. But the reality is – I’m afraid the Mainstream Media has been overblowing the coverage. There’s been a lot of fear-mongering going on and that is unacceptable."
On Monday I reached out to The Brooklyn Center Hospital again by telephone - but no one answered. So, after my radio show I walked over to the hospital to try and find someone in person to speak with.
After taking my temperature I was allowed to enter the building and was connected with hospital spokesman Lenny Singletary in the lobby.
He told me while the hospital is close to capacity, they still have beds and they are not turning away any patients. The hospital is providing care to both coronavirus patients and non-coronavirus patients.
He also said at the time of my visit the hospital had experienced a lighter than normal volume of traffic.
Mr. Singletary also told me the hospital had administered 1,250 coronavirus tests and the majority of the individuals were sent home.
It's unclear how many tested positive because they are waiting for the results.
However, Mr. Singletary told me it is believed that many of those tested simply have anxiety about having the virus.
One final note, he also confirmed the validity of the video showing bodies being placed into a truck. He said the morgue had reached capacity and the bodies had to be moved.
Had Ms. Zadrozny and Mr. Collins bothered to contact the hospital they would have discovered the same information I discovered.
Instead, they decided to punish me for not following the Mainstream Media's sensationalism by writing a fake news story that attempts to characterize me as a far-right conspiracy theorist.
I have asked NBC News for a retraction and a correction. It's the reasonable thing to do -- right a wrong.