- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 20, 2021

The idea that the COVID-19 outbreak may have originated at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology was never far-fetched.

After all, Shi Zhengli was conducting experiments with horseshoe bats, that of which the coronavirus most closely resembles, at the Wuhan Lab. She even expressed concerns last year the virus may have originated in her lab before she was silenced by the Chinese Communist Party.

Then there were also documented concerns of the lab’s safety. 

As Peter Navarro wrote in our pages: “With a biosafety rating of ‘P4,’ the Wuhan Virology Lab houses the most dangerous pathogens on Earth, including the deadly Ebola. However, no P4 lab is ever 100% secure as there are numerous examples of pathogens escaping. An accidental release of SARS-CoV-2 from the Wuhan Lab is therefore well within reason. This is particularly plausible given a U.S. State Department 2018 warning of sloppy safety precautions at the Wuhan Lab and the possibility of a ‘new SARS-like pandemic.’”

Yet, the mainstream media and Big Tech worked overtime last year, dubbing the common-sense lab leak theory a “conspiracy” and banning any mention of it from social media feeds. 

Sen. Tom Cotton took much of the initial heat for suggesting the plausibility of a lab leak in January 2020. The New York Times ran with the headline, “Senator Tom Cotton Repeats Fringe Theory of Coronavirus Origins,” reporting it was merely an “unsubstantiated rumor.”

In another piece last year, The New York Times concluded “most agencies remain skeptical” and “scientists are dismissive,” of the lab leak theory. 

CNN was also quick to defend Chinese Communist Party and place blame on former President Donald J. Trump for spreading the “almost certainly not true” theory.

“Nearly 30% in the U.S. believe a coronavirus theory that’s almost certainly not true,” CNN’s headline read last year. A separate article was titled, “Trump contradicts U.S. intel community by claiming he’s seen evidence coronavirus originated in Chinese lab.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper was quick to point out how Republican’s claims of a potential lab leak was something his viewers should “put in the conspiracy theory bucket.”

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes was more critical, stating of the lab leak potential, “The Trump administration is so desperately grasping at straws, trying to find someone to blame, they don’t even seem to understand what they themselves are saying.”

Fact-checkers at PolitiFact and The Washington Post were fast to claim the Wuhan lab theory was repeatedly debunked by experts, claiming the theory was false and/or highly doubtful. 

The reporting and fact checks lead to social media companies banning lab leak content from spreading online, for it was deemed “misinformation.”

Now, with more scientists questioning the origins of coronavirus, indicating it could have been leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, many of these reporters and news outlets are doing an about-face, pretending they didn’t work overtime to smear, dismiss and ostracize those with some common sense last year.

Wednesday night, Politico wrote an entire newsletter concluding the lab leak was indeed “possible.”

It was only after 18 scientists published in the journal Science last week that there is not enough evidence to conclude if the virus was naturally made or manufactured in a lab through so-called “gain of function” research. 

“Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable,” the letter stated, adding, “Anybody who’s making statements with a high level of certainty about this is just outstripping what’s possible to do with the available evidence.”

In addition, this month former New York Times science reporters Nicholas Wade and Donald G. McNeil Jr. both wrote long pieces on Medium explaining how a lab leak was plausible. 

It’s about time the theory makes it into the mainstream media and becomes scrutinized. 

Yet it may be too late. Americans’ faith in the media continues to plummet — mainly because of reasons like this one. 

Instead of being curious about the origins of the leak, the press was quick to dismiss it because Republicans were promoting it. They uncritically trusted dishonest sources in an effort to promote a narrative that they thought would hurt former President Trump.

Now egg is on their face. But don’t expect them to learn from the ordeal. If there’s one thing they’ve proven over and over, is that all that matters is the narrative, not the truth.

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