Opinion Telling the Truth About Lab-Leak Theory Wouldn’t Help Trump
The Lab-Leak Trap
Recent coverage has ensnared readers in semantic quibbles, side points, and distractions. To focus better on what really matters, watch out for these traps:The No-Evidence TrapIt would be confusing—merely confusing—if no one could agree on the strength of the evidence for a laboratory accident. But certain pundits have suggested that we’re still completely in the dark.
Last night, Lindsey Graham told Sean Hannity’s audience that the news media’s dismissal of the“changed the course of this election.” Graham’s argument is that, had the media acknowledged the theory, “the election would have been about holding China accountable,” and hence Trump would have won.
This analysis makes about as much sense as anything else said on Hannity’s show. First, the lab leak was and is a hypothesis, so the extent of China’s culpability, if any, would never have been proven in any case. Second, Trump himself repeatedly praised the’s handling of the virus — “China has been working very hard to contain the coronavirus,” he tweeted on . “The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency” — at a time Biden was raising about the lab leak. And third, Trump’s efforts to hold China’s government “accountable” would have simply failed, merely highlighting once again Trump’s total inability to handle the pandemic.
Social Media Companies, Fact Checkers Shrug Off Wuhan Lab Leak Embarrassment
Some social media companies and fact checkers are backtracking on their earlier positions about the Wuhan lab leak theory, which President Biden said last month requires further investigation.An explosive series of reported features published in late May and early June documented the shift among social media companies and fact checkers as the Wuhan lab leak theory, once dismissed as a far-right conspiracy theory, was folded back into the public discourse as worthy of investigation.
However the virus originated, Trump’s responsibility was to protect the country. Whether he failed to prepare, while repeatedly lying about it, after the virus came from a wet market or a lab seems unlikely to have made much of a difference.
Oddly enough, though, support for Graham’s case is also coming from the opposite side of the political spectrum. The left-wing writerargues that a group of “centrist contrarians,” a group in which he includes me, has aided the far right by criticizing inaccurate media coverage of the lab-leak hypothesis.
I question both terms in his label. Given that my views place me to the left of roughly 90 percent of the American electorate, my chosen description of “liberal” seems more accurate than Heer’s “centrist.” I likewise object to “contrarian.” After all, my position on the lab-leak hypothesis — that it is unproven but plausible — accords with the Biden administration, members of Congress of both parties and, now, nearly all mainstream media. If anybody is “contrarian,” it is the handful of progressive dissidents continuing to try to defend a position the authorities have soundly rejected.
WHO-China COVID-19 origins team labeled lab leak concerns 'conspiracy theories'
Meeting minutes from discussions between Wuhan lab scientists and the WHO-China COVID-19 origins joint study team reveal lab leak concerns were referred to as “rumors,” “myths,” and “conspiracy theories.” © Provided by Washington Examiner The Trump and Biden administrations cast doubt on the joint study by Chinese government-linked scientists and international scientists organized under the auspices of the World Health Organization that was conducted early this year. The WHO-China report said a lab leak was “extremely unlikely” and that a jump from animals to animals to humans was most likely.
Heer does not join the dead-end argument that the lab leak is still a conspiracy theory that should be dismissed out of hand. Instead, he argues, “Politicians on the extreme right are getting help in mainstreaming a conspiratorial view of the lab-leak theory” from we “contrarian centrists.” He cites, in particular, the belief by many Americans that the virus was created in a lab and deliberately released into their own population as a way to eventually hurt the United States, in some bizarre global-scale version of a plot from.
Now, to be clear, everything I’ve written on the subject has explicitly denounced both the absurd claim that China deliberately spread the virus through its own population, and the conflation of this claim with lab-leak hypothesis by Trump and other Republicans.
So, Heer and I agree that lab-leak hypothesis is unproven but worth exploring. We also agree that the claim China intentionally caused a pandemic is absurd and should be described as such.
Uncovering the origins of the virus that sparked a pandemic
Unlocking the mysteries of the exact origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 and launched a global pandemic in March 2020, has become one of the most burning questions in the scientific community. But the effort, like so many other coronavirus-related issues, has become hotly contested, fraught with implications for international relations and, in the United States at least, laced with conspiracy theories and politically motivated posturing.
Our sole point of disagreement is telling. Heer believes it is wrong to criticize the news media for conflating the (plausible) lab-leak hypothesis with the (absurd) intentional-release charge. He does not actually defend the stories that claimed lab-leak was impossible — stories that have in many cases been corrected. (It’s possible he believes this, but nowhere in his column does he actually say it.) He simply objects to the criticism on the grounds that it “helps” the far right.
Here we have an apparent difference in how to combat right-wing conspiracy theories. My belief is that the proper response is to rigorously distinguish fact from fiction. While I’d mock, say, Marjorie Taylor Greene’s allegations that California wildfires were secretly caused by a Rothschild, I would not deny that wildfires took place.
Indeed, had the mainstream media decided to respond to this theory by insisting the wildfires never happened, I would consider that a major error. After all, if the media labels something a false conspiracy theory, and the theory then turns out not to be false, it is much easier for conspiracy theorists to pass off the other, false parts of their theory. Heer’s view, in contrast, appears to be that the whole problem lies in criticizing the media’s coverage of the issue, rather than in the coverage itself.
State dept 'civil war' as officials at loggerheads over COVID lab leak
Chris Ford (top right) warned his State Department colleague Thomas DiNanno (bottom right) that he was risking 'embarrassing' the U.S. with unverified COVID lab leak claims.A series of emails from January this year show a civil war within the State Department, as Donald Trump insisted he had seen evidence that COVID-19 escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, and the scientific community remained adamant that Trump's theory was unlikely. They have now reversed course, and the 'lab leak' idea is gaining more legitimacy.
Right-wing liars are obviously going to seize on any admission of failure by the mainstream media. But that failure isn’t necessary for Lindsey Graham to come up with some reason to tell Fox News viewers that Donald Trump was mistreated. In reality, the plausibility of a lab leak makes Trump’s performance look worse, not better, having based his case for doing nothing on the reliability and transparency of the Chinese Communist Party.
I would further suggest that if either of us is helping support Trump’s lies, it is Heer, by insisting that his false claims of an intentional leak should be treated the same way as more serious claims. To be sure, I don’t know it helps Trump. Perhaps the opposite is true. Politics can be tricky.
My controlling belief is that journalists should say what is true, rather than shade the truth out of fear that truth might help the wrong people. And if the progressive movement has gotten to a point where conceding the truth makes you “contrarian,” that is an indictment not of the “contrarians” but of the progressive movement.
Chris Wallace Challenges Pompeo: You ‘Had Almost a Year’ to Prove Lab Leak Theory .
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace confronted former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday over the lack of hard evidence provided by the Trump administration to prove that COVID-19 originated from a Chinese lab, telling Pompeo he had “almost a year” to prove the theory. With circumstantial evidence indicating that it is possible that the virus behind a worldwide pandemic could have leaked out of a lab in Wuhan, President Joe Biden has called for the intelligence community to “redouble” its probe into the origins of COVID-19.