When SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, first emerged, the main question that everyone wanted answered was simple: Where did it come from?
China quickly said the virus emerged at a “wet market” in Wuhan — which also happens to be home to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, one of the communist nation’s most advanced biological research laboratories.
The World Health Organization (WHO) toed the line. After a month-long fact-finding mission in China, a WHO team investigating the origins of the virus concluded it originated in bats and passed to people through an intermediate animal.
But then-President Donald Trump wasn’t convinced. With China offering no proof the virus occurred naturally, Mr. Trump repeatedly mused that it came from a lab, either deliberately or accidentally.
That prompted social media giants like Facebook and Twitter to ban any discussion of where SARS-CoV-2 originated (both would later ban Mr. Trump altogether from their platforms). No one was allowed to mention that maybe — just maybe — the virus didn’t come from a bat at a wet market and spread across the entire world, killing more than 3.5 million people.
Now though, the whole story is unraveling and U.S. lawmakers — along with foreign leaders and even members of President Biden’s administration — are openly discussing the theory.
The new interest in the origin of the virus comes amid reports emerged that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 in November 2019, weeks before China officially announced the emergence of the virus.
Some “journalists” at liberal “news” outlets suddenly are openly admitting that they put the kibosh on the story because of Mr. Trump.
ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, whose own network ignored the story, said “a lot of people have egg on their face” for dismissing the COVID-19 lab leak theory simply because it came from Mr. Trump, saying not everything is false just because “Donald Trump says them.”
“This was an idea that was first put forward by Mike Pompeo, secretary of state, [and] President Donald Trump. And look, some things may be true even if Donald Trump said them. Because Trump was saying so much else, it was just out of control. And because he was — you know — making a frankly racist appeal, talking about ‘Kung Flu’ and the China virus, he put forward this notion … and it was widely dismissed,” Mr. Karl said.
New York Times reporter David Leonhardt last week said he thinks people “leaped to dismiss” the theory because it was being touted by Mr. Trump and Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican.
“I think a lot of people on the political left and people in the media made this mistake and said ‘Wow, if Tom Cotton is saying something, it can’t be true,’” Mr. Leonhardt said on CNN. “Or they assumed that. And that’s not right.”
Mr. Leonhardt said Mr. Cotton supported the idea that there was fraud on the 2020 presidential election, but added “that doesn’t mean that everything he says is wrong, and it seems like a lot of people, including a lot in the media, leaped to dismiss the lab leak theory because of where it was coming from, and the reality is we don’t yet know how COVID started.”
Another reporter, this one from The Washington Post, went further.
“It has become evident that some corners of the mainstream media overcorrected when it came to one particular theory from Trump and his allies: that the coronavirus emanated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, rather than naturally,” senior reporter Aaron Blake wrote in an analysis piece.
Mr. Blake said reporters steered clear out of an abundance of caution, but “that (very much warranted) caution and skepticism spilled over into some oversimplification, particularly when it came to summarizing the often more circumspect reporting” among scientists themselves.
On Saturday, amid all the new interest in the virus’ origin, Josh Rogin, a columnist with the Post, blasted MSM journalists for canceling the story.
“Most MSM reporters didn’t ‘ignore’ the lab leak theory, they actively crapped all over it for over a year while pretending to be objective out of a toxic mix of confirmation bias, source bias (their scientist sources lied to them), group think, TDS [Trump Derangement Syndrome] and general incompetence,” Mr. Rogin wrote Saturday on Twitter.
He noted that lab leak theory has not changed and “suddenly become credible.”
“The theory has always been the same,” he wrote. “The people who got it wrong changed their minds. They are writing about themselves, with zero self awareness. All these reporters scrambling to defend their own records on the lab leak theory are exposing their own hypocrisy and ignoring their basic error.”
“Just report the facts. Don’t act like its your job to tell us what’s ok to think or talk about. Own up to it when you fail your readers,” Mr. Rogin wrote.
Well said, J.R.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.
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