You'd think some in the media might have learned their lesson when they embarrassed themselves the first time on this subject. In their haste to criticize all things Republican or Trump-related, many outlets blasted Sen. Tom Cotton as a conspiracy theorist for suggesting that COVID-19 may have escaped from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan. Cotton was excoriated over the suggestion, which was falsely framed as "debunked." In numerous cases, his detractors lazily conflated what Cotton had theorized with a far more inflammatory claim (that the Chinese deliberately developed or unleashed the virus as a biological weapon), raging against a straw man. The Washington Examiner's Tim Carney cited numerous examples from the pile-on last April, arguing that a lot of people owed Cotton an apology. Writing at National Review, AG Hamilton covered the same episode last year:
Media outlets overwhelmingly declared Cotton was spreading dangerous conspiracy theories. The Washington Post insisted, “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked.” The New York Times, the Daily Beast, and other outlets repeated the same framing. Countless other members of the media and prominent commentators accused Cotton of being irresponsible and spreading dangerous claims. In perhaps the most embarrassing display, CBS’s Face the Nation had the Chinese ambassador on and set him up to label Cotton’s suggestion “absolutely crazy”. How did the media end up declaring that Cotton was spreading a debunked conspiracy theory? By completely distorting what he said...They do not address Cotton’s actual claim. That’s because Enright has repeatedly acknowledged, and recently reconfirmed, that it is a very real possibility that the COVID-19 spread began at the Wuhan lab. The very same expert they were using to “debunk” Cotton’s question and smear him as a conspiracy theorist actually agreed that it was legitimate. There are plenty of reasons to ask the question and demand transparency from China’s government given its dishonesty, the history of similar viruses escaping from Chinese labs, and the specific research focus of that particular lab. Now the Washington Post has published another piece acknowledging that “scientists don’t rule out that an accident at a research laboratory in Wuhan might have spread a deadly bat virus that had been collected for scientific study.” In other words, they are now publishing the very claim that they insisted was a debunked conspiracy theory a month and a half ago.
So the Washington Post blasted Cotton for spreading a "debunked" claim by inaccurately describing his claim. Then the same newspaper published a piece giving legs to his actual claim, and additional reporting has indicated that the theory he initially floated remains viable in the minds of US officials – and has not been ruled out. Fast forward to this past weekend, when former CDC Director Robert Redfield stated that he believes the same thing that Cotton suggested roughly a year ago. Like clockwork, many in the media rushed to paint him as a reckless zealot, embracing a nonsense story, based on nothing. The New York Times revived the "debunked" calumny, later editing the headline to be less definitive, but still hostile. China watcher and Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin couldn't hide his frustration with the reflexive media framing that attacks American officials for raising a plausible theory, while effectively carrying water for the Chinese Communist Party:
To anyone saying there is a "scientific consensus" about the origin of the coronavirus - Robert Redfield is a scientist. There is no consensus. Stop writing that falsehood into your stories, please.— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) March 28, 2021
The New York Times changed the headline to: “The C.D.C.’s ex-director offers no evidence in favoring speculation that the coronavirus originated in a lab.” They are bending over backwards to defend one theory over another. It’s the opposite of objective. https://t.co/wdk5QtZDDd— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) March 28, 2021
This very sloppy article quotes scientists denying a theory Redfield didn’t even suggest. He said it was the result of an lab accident following gain of function research, not “created” or “designed” in a lab. Major news organizations have to do better than this. https://t.co/YCPWbGBwtl— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) March 27, 2021
The Times story cites a forthcoming report from the World Health Organization (WHO), and quotes WHO experts calling the lab leak theory "extremely unlikely." Recall, however, that the WHO is hopelessly compromised on this issue, as is its Beijing-selected leader. President Trump was right to cut ties with this corrupted iteration of the organization, and even the Biden administration is dubious of its findings on this matter:
.@SecBlinken on the soon-expected WHO COVID19 report: “We’ve got real concerns about the methodology and the process that went into that report, including the fact that the government in Beijing apparently helped to write it.” Wow. @DanaBashCNN @CNNSotu— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) March 28, 2021
Above, Rogin criticized a "very sloppy" CBS News article attacking Redfield. Perhaps some journalists at CBS News should watch "60 Minutes" on their own network. Whatever China is claiming, and whatever "findings" the WHO puts out, there is no reason to believe any of it. Watch this clip from start to finish:
China ruled out a lab accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology before a WHO-led team arrived in China to look into how and where the COVID-19 virus originated. The team found that the virus most likely spread from wildlife farms to a Wuhan wet market. https://t.co/HVr5RFCXs6 pic.twitter.com/Yhs47k8WrD— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) March 28, 2021
China had veto power over the panel's participants (unsurprisingly, they approved someone like this), insisted on doing much of the "investigating" themselves, limited where the investigators could go and for how long, and withheld direct data. The team spent a grand total of three hours at the lab in question, and none of the investigators were trained in identifying lab leaks. A complete joke, top to bottom. We still do not know how Coronavirus originated, but the CCP's parade of opacity, obstruction, and bullying suggests that they have something to hide (don't forget the whistleblowers who were disappeared). Anyone taking their word on anything, or promoting the shaky conclusions of their WHO proxies as useful, let alone definitive, shouldn't be taken seriously. I'll leave you with this:
As you watch this please remember that, in April, Google raised 7.5 mil & your favorite celebrities raised 150 million more, not for ppl waiting on food pantry lines but for the World Health Org which has completely bungled COVID-19 pandemic AND got completely played by China. https://t.co/dGTPHVjOcc— Karol Markowicz (@karol) March 29, 2021
My only quibble is that the WHO didn't get "played" by China. They are corrupted by China.