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The pandemic

China has fooled the media over Wuhan

Researchers in Wuhan’s virus lab in February 2020. TPG/Getty Images

If Covid-19 turns out to have originated in a Wuhan lab, it will be scandalous, says Bret Stephens in The New York Times. Not just because China lied, but because we so readily dismissed the theory. Rewind to last February, when Republican Senator Tom Cotton flagged the “odd coincidence” of a pandemic originating in the Chinese city where a lab was experimenting with bat viruses. That was written off as a risible attempt by “right-wing yahoos” to deflect attention from the Trump administration’s bungling of the crisis.

But the mainstream narrative has “holes larger than Donald Trump’s mouth”. We’ve known for months that the lead author of the popular “natural origin” theory printed in The Lancet last February has ties to the Wuhan lab. We also know the “incorruptible, authoritative, noble” WHO has served as a mouthpiece for Chinese regime propaganda. Yet science reporters gobbled their words up anyway. “Good journalism, like good science, should follow evidence, not narratives.” Media gatekeepers have a duty to pursue impartial investigation, even if bigots “who rarely need a pretext” lap it up. Even now, the lab-leak theory is only getting airtime because “the right president”, Joe Biden, has blessed it. A credulous, incurious media loses our trust. “Sometimes the most destructive enemies of science can be those who claim to speak in its name.”

Read the full article here (paywall).