The news media and liberal pundits dismissed persistent claims from former President Donald Trump and other observers that the COVID-19 virus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China. The narrative changed after President Biden launched an investigation last week to reach a “definitive conclusion” about the origins of the virus which includes a look at the Wuhan lab theory.
Journalists, meanwhile, are acknowledging some shortcomings in their coverage.
“We in the press dismissed the lab theory because of an appeal to authority: When anti-Donald Trump spokespeople ridiculed it, that was good enough for us,” wrote Holman Jenkins Jr., a member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal.
“Most 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 and general incompetence,” tweeted Washington Post political analyst Josh Rogin on Saturday, referring to “Trump Derangement Syndrome.”
“I think a lot of people have egg on their face. This was an idea that was first put out by Mike Pompeo, secretary of state, and President Donald Trump,’ ABC News analyst Jonathan Karl said on “This Week,” the network’s Sunday morning talk show.
“Some things may be true even if Donald Trump has said them,” Mr. Karl noted.
“In recent weeks the controversial claim that the pandemic might have leaked from a Chinese laboratory — once dismissed by many as a fringe conspiracy theory — has been gaining traction,” said the British Broadcasting Corporation.
New York Times reporter David Leonhardt also addressed Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, who also espoused the Wuhan lab theory.
“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.’ Or they assumed that — and that’s not right,” Mr. Leonhardt told CNN.
“Tom Cotton does deal in misinformation about things like election fraud. He’s said some things that are just wrong. That doesn’t mean that everything he says is wrong,” the reporter continued.
“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,” Mr. Leonhardt told the network.
MR. COTTON HAS A SAY
The aforementioned Sen. Tom Cotton says he feels a “sense of relief” that others now heed his previous warnings about COVID-19.
“The only sense I have is a sense of relief that we’re finally going to try to find the true origins of this virus and I think all the evidence points to those labs in Wuhan, and if we find out that’s the origin of this virus, China really needs to pay,” the lawmaker told Fox News on Monday.
His revelation about the virus offers insight into media bias.
“The fact I was one of the first people to say it, and then President Trump said it as well — let’s just say most folks in the media don’t care for our politics. So if it’s coming from us, they immediately want to discount it,” he told the network.
Fox News analyst Charles Creitz wrote in response that Mr. Cotton was responding “to a sudden shift in the mainstream media’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, after months of discarding the claim that the virus was the result of an escape or accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. The Biden administration is now conducting an intelligence assessment of its origins.”
HARMONY BETWEEN TRUMP AND THE GOP?
Wait, he is “former” President Donald Trump, right? But consider the words to this spirited fundraising message, which went public Monday:
“Trump rallies are back! Despite Big Tech’s efforts to silence President Trump, he’s announced plans to come down to Florida to speak to great American Patriots at an epic rally,” the emailed outreach advises.
“With your support, Republicans will post a massive fundraising haul on the day of President Trump’s Florida Rally, which will show that he still has the support of true patriots. Big Tech can’t silence that!” the outreach notes.
“We are working day and night to defend the Trump legacy and stand up to liberal Censorship. If we aren’t fully-funded, the liberal media will continue to censor President Trump, including his upcoming rallies!”
This message does not come from Mr. Trump, however. The message is from the Republican National Committee.
Is there some harmony now between the establishment Republicans and Mr. Trump’s populist push? We may know soon. Mr. Trump’s next public event is the North Carolina Republican Party’s convention on Saturday.
A LITTLE REPUBLICAN SHOPPING
The Republican Party has quietly launched the new “Official GOP Store” — meant to crank up interest among the grassroots supporters of the Grand Old Party as the 2022 midterms election looms on the political horizon.
Among the new offerings: Coffee mugs bearing the motto “Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote Democratic,” and bumper stickers bearing the motto “American Made,” and “Freedom Matters” — which includes a nice graphic and an antique American flag. The familiar GOP elephant logo also appears on multiple items. Visit GOP.com for more information, under the “shop” heading.
POLL DU JOUR
⦁ 24% of U.S. adults say most Americans are “overreacting to the actual risks” of the COVID-19 virus; 43% of Republicans, 28% of independents and 8% of Democrats agree.
⦁ 36% overall say most are “behaving appropriately” when dealing with the virus; 35% of Republicans, 39% of independents and 37% of Democrats agree.
⦁ 31% overall say most are “underestimating the risks” of the virus; 15% of Republicans, 22% of independents and 51% of Democrats agree.
⦁ 9% are “not sure” about the situation; 8% of Republicans, 11% of independents and 4% of Democrats agree.
Source: A Yahoo/Yougov poll of 1,584 U.S. adults conducted May 24-26.
⦁ Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.