New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait blasted the “liberal media” for being dismissive of the long-running theory that the coronavirus originated from a leak from a Wuhan lab in China amid recent developments.
While Chait acknowledged that the hypothesis is “far from proven,” he highlighted a bombshell report from the Wall Street Journal that U.S. intelligence believes that at least three Wuhan scientists were hospitalized in November 2019 with COVID-like symptoms.
“This development would come as a shock to anybody who had been following this question in the news, especially its more left-leaning precincts. Many mainstream journalists, though not all, dismissed the lab-leak hypothesis out of hand as a conspiracy theory. In part, they were deceived by some especially voluble public-health experts. In part, they simply took Donald Trump’s bait, answering the former president’s dissembling with false certainty of their own,” Chait wrote on Monday. “It is not too early to grapple with the failures of the media, which reflect the wider struggles of trying to fairly convey the truth in an atmosphere deformed by misinformation. Rather than meet lies with truth, the media often met it with other lies.”
Chait knocked former President Trump for his “a mix of unproven, false, and irrelevant statements” about China’s culpability in the pandemic like the notion that the CCP “let” the virus spread across the world, but stressed that the lab origins and China’s coverup “was never clearly false.”
“Yet many media reports treated this aspect with the same skepticism as Trump’s other lies on the subject, often blending different aspects of these claims together,” Chait explained.
He then singled out various media outlets like The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR for resisting the lab leak theory and going after Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., for promoting the “conspiracy theory” that had already been “debunked.”
Chait also knocked PolitiFact for ruling it a “debunked conspiracy theory” and the Associated Press for referring to it as a “falsehood.”
“The lab-leak hypothesis may well turn out to be wrong. But that won’t make any of these reports right,” Chait continued. “The origins of COVID-19 were always hazy, and China’s lack of transparency created significant doubt. Reporters looked at the uncertainty and fell back on an impulse to straightforwardly call out racist lies, even though the evidence to call it lies was quite threadbare.”
He added, “It is true that most of these outlets were more faithful to the truth than Trump, whose gusher of lies vastly exceeded whatever false claims trickled out of the liberal media. But Trump is not the right standard for journalists. And those who chose to follow the ethos of moral clarity, at the expense of objectivity, misled their audiences.”