The possibility of a leak from a virus lab in Wuhan being responsible for the coronavirus pandemic was a mainstream theory on the virus’s origins when it was first advanced. The media was quoting their sources in U.S. intelligence that were looking into that angle. But after the tainted WHO origins team finished their “investigation” and announced that not only was there no sign the disease leaked from a Wuhan lab but that the team would no longer continue to investigate the lab-leak theory, the media began a campaign to silence those who wanted to write or talk about it.
Then, this past week, two stories appeared that changed the momentum of reporting on the lab-leak theory. A group of 18 prominent scientists said it was too early to dismiss the lab-leak theory and that the WHO investigation had been tainted by Chinese government interference. The scientists called for another independent investigation.
This past weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. intelligence believes that several workers at the Wuhan lab became ill in the fall of 2019, leading to hospitalizations.
Suddenly, it’s all the rage in the mainstream media to talk about the possibility of a lab -eak that caused the pandemic. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci has succumbed and now says he’s “not sure” the coronavirus occurred naturally.
But many prominent scientists have been calling for another investigation — including the lab-leak hypothesis — since the WHO team got back from China in March. And U.S. intelligence agencies have claimed all along that the lab-leak theory could not be dismissed.
They will never admit it, but the media and the left turned a reasonable hypothesis into a conspiracy theory almost overnight. In truth, there were some on the right advancing hysterical theories of a “bio-weapon,” but few serious writers ever posited the notion that the coronavirus was a deliberate attack.
But turning the theory into a “conspiracy theory” and all the baggage that term brings to the discussion was done because it was a useful political club to discredit Donald Trump and his supporters. Admittedly, the lab-leak theory is based on a lot of circumstantial evidence. But so is the animal-to-human theory of transmission. The key to understanding the media’s hysterical pushback against the lab-leak theory is in the burning desire to see Donald Trump — and his supporters — dismissed as kooks and crazies.
Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine has penned a sort of media “mea culpa” for being so hard on those wanting to talk about the lab-leak theory.
Many mainstream journalists, though not all, dismissed the lab-leak hypothesis out of hand as a conspiracy theory. In part, they were deceived by some especially voluble public-health experts. In part, they simply took Donald Trump’s bait, answering the former president’s dissembling with false certainty of their own.
It is not too early to grapple with the failures of the media, which reflect the wider struggles of trying to fairly convey the truth in an atmosphere deformed by misinformation. Rather than meet lies with truth, the media often met it with other lies.
Good people were defamed for advancing the lab-leak hypothesis. Tom Cotton was pilloried in the media for trying to make the argument that the lab-leak hypothesis should be investigated.
Why was the U.S. media so quick to believe the Chinese Communist Party and take them at their word? We’re not exactly dealing with the beacon of truth here. And will these outlets apologize for yet another rush to judgement?
Don’t answer that. It’s rhetorical Monday around here.
Bottom line, we don’t know what we don’t know, but many outlets were quick to dismiss one argument while embracing another.
Moving forward, perhaps following the old UPI adage would be a good idea. Get it first. But first, get it right.
The fact that three Wuhan lab workers were hospitalized in November 2019 with Covid-like symptoms was known to the WHO investigating team looking into the origins of the coronavirus. It was known to the media as well. One of the last acts of the Trump state department was to release a fact sheet on the coronavirus that included in the information that “several researchers at the lab, a center for the study of coronaviruses and other pathogens, became sick in autumn 2019 ‘with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.'”
Why are they so “surprised” now?
This was no “failure” of the media as Chait suggests. This was deliberate malfeasance on a scale we’ve never experienced. Biden may not want to know if the Chinese military, conducting “gain of function” experiments with bat viruses, allowed this particular coronavirus to escape the Wuhan lab.
But the rest of us do.