In early January 2023, online users searched for whether the conservative commentator duo known as Diamond and Silk truly were once fired from Fox News for spreading conspiracy theories about COVID-19.
People were searching for answers about this subject following the death of Lynette Hardaway, whose nickname was "Diamond." As of Jan. 10, her cause of death had not yet been released, according to The Associated Press (AP). The other half of the duo, Rochelle "Silk" Richardson, is her sister.
The AP noted that a November 2022 tweet asked for prayers for Hardaway, but not did specify any further details.
Diamond and Silk rose to fame in right-wing circles around the 2016 U.S. presidential election, where they showed ardent support of former U.S. President Donald Trump.
It was Trump who announced Hardaway's death on Truth Social on Jan. 9:
Really bad news for Republicans and frankly, ALL Americans. Our beautiful Diamond, of Diamond and Silk, has just passed away at her home in the State she loved so much, North Carolina. Silk was with her all the way, and at her passing. There was no better TEAM anywhere, or at any time! Diamond's death was totally unexpected, probably her big and precious HEART just plain gave out. Rest In Peace our Magnificent Diamond, you will be greatly missed!
As for the claim about whether Diamond and Silk were fired from Fox News for COVID-19 conspiracy theories, we found credible reporting that supported this rumor.
On April 27, 2020, near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Daily Beast reported, "Fox News Cuts Ties With Diamond & Silk, Unofficial Trump 'Advisers' Who Spread Bonkers Coronavirus Claims":
Fox News has cut ties with MAGA vlogging superstars Diamond & Silk, who had contributed original content to the network's streaming service Fox Nation since shortly after its late 2018 launch.
The sudden split comes after the Trump-boosting siblings have come under fire for promoting conspiracy theories and disinformation about the coronavirus. "After what they've said and tweeted you won't be seeing them on Fox Nation or Fox News anytime soon," a source with knowledge of the matter told The Daily Beast.
After rising to prominence during the 2016 election, Lynette "Diamond" Hardaway and Rochelle "Silk" Richardson leveraged their newfound celebrity into regular sycophantic appearances on Fox News, resulting in President Donald Trump raving about their performances, featuring them at rallies, and treating them as "senior advisers."
The Daily Beast added that Fox Business TV host Trish Regan "was also ditched by Fox after her own comments calling the pandemic an 'impeachment scam.'"
The more recent reporting from the AP following Hardaway's death provided further details of the firing from Fox News:
The network removed them from its list of contributors in 2020 after they came under fire for spreading false information about the pandemic and vaccines. The duo had falsely suggested the virus was man-made and that the rising death toll was a media conspiracy to make the Trump administration look bad.
Twitter briefly locked their account for violating its coronavirus misinformation policy after they tweeted the baseless claim that "quarantining people inside of their houses for extended periods will make people sick."
Landing at Newsmax, a far-right cable news and digital media company, they hosted three seasons of their talk show "Diamond and Silk: Crystal Clear."
As of the original writing of this story, Hardaway's cause of death had not yet been confirmed.
On Jan. 23, The Associated Press reported that her death certificate said she "died Jan. 8 of heart disease due to chronic high blood pressure." The publication's article added, "COVID-19 was not listed as a cause or contributing factor on her death certificate, which was provided to The AP by the Hoke County Register of Deeds and was signed by a local doctor. No autopsy was performed."
This story will be updated if further details come to light.