Newsmax journalist and notoriously far-right Twitter user John Cardillo caused some serious controversy with a recent tweet directed at California governor Gavin Newsom that mentioned basketball legend Magic Johnson and his HIV status.
On Monday, Cardillo posted a photo of an unmasked Johnson and Newsom at a recent NFL championship game and wrote: “HIV positive guy can be around 80,000 people unmasked while hugging @GavinNewsom but six year olds must be masked in school.”
The backlash was immediate, with many folks outraged that Cardillo seemed to be insinuating Johnson was endangering others by being unmasked and HIV-positive in public. One Twitter user who responded to the tweet reminded Cardillo “that conservatives had no problem with kids wearing masks to protect them from HIV,” and shared an image of a 1980s far-right poster that warned people about "catching AIDS."
However, Cardillo was quick to defend himself (though not without verbally abusing some of his critics), saying his comments were misunderstood and taken out of context. To another Twitter user who wondered if Cardillo believed HIV was air-borne he responded, “No dummy, but I do know that the ‘I’ in HIV stands for ‘immunodeficiency,’ so according to the CDC Magic Johnson should always be masked up.”