“Lies, lies, lies, lies.” That’s either part of the refrain of a Violent Femmes song or the government telling the American public about COVID-19 and the press regurgitating what they said without question. The song says “lies” at least 45 times, which would qualify the Femmes for a job in the legacy media.
So-called journalists reported everything government flunkies told them and either censored or undermined everything else. It’s not just what the government got wrong, it’s more like what the government got right. But nothing was as bad as the lab leak. It was dismissed as a conspiracy theory, a silly Republican claim or, worse, outright racism.
Now, the FBI and Energy Department both say it is likely. FBI director Christopher Wray spoke on Fox News Tuesday and said COVID-19 “most likely” came from a lab in Wuhan, China.
When conservatives or Republican politicians discussed the possibility that the virus might have escaped from a Wuhan lab, they were skewered by leftist journalists who practically carried pitchforks and torches. The reason for the theory was the lab that does that kind of work happens to be located in (Drumroll, please!) Wuhan, China.
This “coincidence” was immortalized by liberal comedian Jon Stewart when he was interviewed in June, 2021, by Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show.” Stewart caught the host off guard by talking about the origin of COVID-19. “‘Oh, my God, there’s a novel respiratory coronavirus overtaking Wuhan, China,'” he told the crowd. “What do we do?’ ‘Oh, you know who we could ask? The Wuhan novel respiratory coronavirus lab.’ The disease is the same name as the lab. That’s just a little too weird, don’t you think?”
With the Energy Department chiming in, Stewart used his AppleTV+ show to reflect on the abuse he received for the segment. “My bigger problem with that was, I thought it was a pretty good bit that expressed kind of how I felt, and the two things that came out of it were, I’m racist against Asian people, and how dare I align myself with the alt-right.”
He certainly wasn’t the only one who got beaten up for this view.
Let’s start with the most crazy; even saying the “China virus” was called racist by the press, who often used it as another club to beat Republicans. New York Times reporter Apoorva Mandavilli tweeted about how horrible it was to discuss where COVID-19 might have originated. “Someday we will stop talking about the lab leak theory and maybe even admit its racist roots. But alas, that day is not yet here,” she whined. Mandavilli previously wrote for right-wing outlets like The Atlantic, The New Yorker online and Slate. (Yes, that was sarcasm, folks.)
The legacy press proclaimed it racist to even say where the virus came from. “CBS This Morning” correspondent Weijia Jiang explained how “President Trump is also under fire for frequently referring to coronavirus as the ‘Chinese virus.’” She quickly made it clear what she meant: “But many Asian Americans say it is racist and that the president’s actions have led to a growing number of attacks on the community, both verbal and physical.”
Even Bally Sports (?!) got into the act, claiming “Houston Texans Chairman and CEO Cal McNair made a racially insensitive comment at the team’s charity golf tournament” in 2021. His crime? He said: “I’m sorry that we couldn’t get together last year, because of the China Virus.”
There was more. A lot more. CNN Editor-at-large Chris Cillizza in an “Analysis” said “Anthony Fauci just crushed Donald Trump’s theory on the origins of the coronavirus.” This is Fauci who lied about masking and even The New York Times admitted Fauci had been “moving the goal posts” on herd immunity. Not exactly the most trustworthy source. CNN reporter Drew Griffin explained: “Did it come from bats? Most likely.” He later argued the lab leak was “widely debunked.”
Time magazine blamed Trump, naturally, under the headline: “How Distrust of Donald Trump Muddled the COVID-19 ‘Lab Leak’ Debate.” So did MSNBC’s Joy Reid. She described the theory as “debunked bunkum.”
Politico delivered a classic inside-the-Beltway take: “Top Trump officials pushed the Covid-19 lab-leak theory. Investigators had doubts.” It piled on the scorn with the subhead: “New documents and interviews show how the president and his senior aides cherry-picked evidence and sidelined the government’s own virus sleuths.” Pretty cool wordsmithing for a Democrat press release.
This piece could go on another couple hundred thousand words with nearly infinite examples, but it’s also important to mention just a few other things the press got wrong about COVID-19. Here’s a quick list (and a hat tip to Becker News CEO Kyle Becker for highlighting some of them.):
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was one of many to claim this. “Now we know that the vaccines work well enough that the virus stops with every vaccinated person.” Nope.
Lots of people said this, three years later it’s laughable.
Studies call this one into question. But there was always the logic point. If that’s true, then why does everyone have to wear one? If you want to be safe, shouldn’t you wear a mask and be just fine?
Yep, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta told a packed and unmasked townhall: “For someone who’s healthy, it’s not going to protect you against the virus,” he said. “It may actually become a reservoir when you’re taking it on, when you’re taking it off. You could actually contaminate yourself. It traps viral particles. It doesn’t do what people think it would do.” This quote has all-but gone into witness protection.
There was a lot more from claims that natural immunity didn’t exist to attacks on other treatments to minimizing dangerous or possibly deadly side effects. It was also somehow OK to do the bidding of the radically leftist teachers union and keep kids at home, even though that did generational harm.
And if you disagreed with any of it, you weren’t following the science. Apparently, no one in the media even took high school science long enough to grasp the concept of the scientific method.
The virus caused a crisis of contempt for traditional journalism and forced a slight update to an old expression: How can you tell when legacy journalists are lying? Their lips are moving.