This is a rush transcript of “Special Report with Bret Baier,” June 2, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH DIRECTOR: There were a lot a conspiracy theories and other ideas floating around at that point.
One of them was that actually SARS-CoV-2 had been a bioengineered bioweapon created on purpose by human intervention by the Wuhan Institute of Virology. That doesn’t fit with what we know about this particular viral genome. Another was that NIH had somehow been complicit in the generation of this dangerous virus. And I can tell you categorically that did not happen. But then there was this other idea that maybe it was an accident, a lab leak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: The head of NIH talking about an email, you saw it up on the screen there briefly, back April 17th, 2020. It actually referenced our reporting here at FOX News about what U.S. officials, various U.S. officials were telling us about the origins of the coronavirus, that it may in fact have been a lab leak, not that it was created as a bioweapon. They weren’t saying that officially. They were saying that it possibly came from this lab. That was back in April, 2020. This links to a “Mediaite” story and it’s sent from Francis Collins to Dr. Anthony Fauci. Now his response is redacted in this particular email. But the emails overall show us what some top health officials were thinking, talking about at that time.
Let’s bring in our panel, Charles Hurt, opinion editor for “The Washington Times,” Katie Pavlich, news editor at Townhall.com, Charles Lane, opinion writer for “The Washington Post.” Katie, your thoughts on this and where this all stands?
KATIE PAVLICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think the media angle of this is just as damning as a lot of what Anthony Fauci was saying these emails. It wasn’t a conspiracy to believe that this virus came from a lab even early on. There is an email in this treasure trove of information from an NIH scientist from January 30th, 2020, writing to Dr. Fauci saying that there is potential that this was engineered in a lab. And you fast forward to March and April of 2020, and you have Anthony Fauci doing these regular White House press briefings as part of the coronavirus task force playing that down as a conspiracy theory despite the fact that it was being looked at by his own scientists, and of course people of the intelligence community and other epidemiologists around the world.
And when you look at the general narrative here, there is also an email here from Mark Zuckerberg, who is the CEO of Facebook, saying he wants to help Dr. Fauci get his message out. What does Facebook do a week ago? They have now lifted the ban on any kind of reference or stories about the lab leak theory. So while Anthony Fauci was downplaying the theory to the American people from the White House, you have Facebook also eliminating any discussion or scientific evidence and stories on that topic from their platform.
So this is a conspiracy not just between the government but big tech as well, and the kind of information that was invalid, that was being suppressed and taken away from the American people.
BAIER: You talk about the media denial. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY MACE, (R-SC): When former President Trump talked about a potential lab leak from the Wuhan lab last year, he was laughed off by the press.
I think a lot of people have egg on their face. Some things may be true even if Donald Trump said them, and because Trump was saying so much else that was just out of control, and because he was making a, frankly, racist appeal talking about “kung flu” and the “China virus.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES LANE, OPINION WRITER, “WASHINGTON POST”: Well, I think Jonathan Karl on the media angle summarizes a lot of how I feel about it. One of our opinion writers at “The Post,” Josh Rogin, I would say covered himself in distinction during this —
BAIER: Definitely, and we have focused on that, yes.
LANE: — by actually pursuing that reporting early on. So there was a kind of mixed bag in the media. But I agree that on the whole, the media tendency was, as Jonathan Karl says, to dismiss something just because it happened to come from Trump in this instance.
And there should be a willingness — “The Post” has publish a correction in one story — I think there should be a willingness on the media to look back on this generally and see what went wrong. Just as I think it’s wise that President Biden has initiated a 90-day intelligence review of the actual facts on this. A big problem in this country is nobody trusts institutions, and there’s a real opportunity here to restore trust if we can find some credible answer to the question. I want to say, it’s not like it has been proven that this was from the lab in Wuhan either. I think some people are jumping to that conclusion. But we have to pursue that as a realistic theory.
BAIER: Yes. Charlie?
CHARLES HURT, OPINION EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON TIMES”: To be sure it is pretty alarming to look around and to see the number of voices out there that are doing all that they can to try to shut off any sort of questions, any sort of debates going back to early 2020 as to what possibly may have caused a pandemic that has cost the world trillions of dollars and millions of people lost their lives.
But I think it’s a lot more than just the fact that President Trump posited that theory. I know that my newspaper had stories as early as January, 2020, suggesting this. Of course, those stories were vanished by Facebook and the rest of big tech. Those stories were fact-checked, Facebook paid newspapers like “USA Today” to fact-check those stories. And of course, our stories stand up still today, raising questions, among other things, that fact that the Chinese military was using that lab to do experiments, and raising serious questions.
But I think it might actually go a step farther than that. I think that this degree of collusion among the media and a lot of political actors to try to cover for China, try to erase any sort of questions about the Wuhan lab, had to do with the fact that it was in everyone’s best interest to make sure that there was only one villain in the pandemic, and that was Donald Trump in an election year. And any suggestion that they lab and Wuhan was fooling with very dangerous viruses and it may have escaped and killing millions of people around the world, any suggestion of that that would take heat off of Donald Trump in an election, they just couldn’t have that happen.
BAIER: President Biden hasn’t often talked about the Trump administration efforts in vaccines. Got close today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Getting the vaccine is not a partisan act. The science was done under Democratic and Republican administrations. Matter of fact, the first vaccines were authorized under a Republican president, and widely developed by a Democratic president, deployed by a Democratic president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Just take a look at the seven-day averages here, a rolling average of new confirmed cases stands at 17,248. That’s down 65 percent from the average one month ago. Seven-day rolling average of deaths currently stands at 588, 71 percent down from three months ago. And the seven average of hospitalizations admissions per day, 2,743, across the country, down 51 percent from the beginning of March. Katie, those stats indicate that a lot of places are changing quickly.
PAVLICH: The stats are wonderful and they can be attributed to Operation Warp Speed, and we are happy that the Biden administration has been able to get these vaccines out to people who want them. However, the president was pretty dishonest today when he started at the January 20th mark when it came to the overall decline in hospitalizations and vaccines when we started seeing that number on January 9th. We’ve also seeing a habit of this administration of saying that they started from scratch when it came to vaccine distribution. They set expectations very low when it came to vaccinating 100 million Americans in the first 100 days when that was the speed that they were given when President Trump left office.
And so I’m glad he gave President Trump at least a little bit of credit today if not by name. But without Operation Warp Speed, we wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we are with the numbers that you had up on the screen.
BAIER: And last word, Chuck. Do you think that the perception about some of the states that have been really reticent to change mask mandates and everything else, looking at those stats, are going to change in coming days?
LANE: I sure hope so. I think the country badly needs to return to normal.
I think — to my understanding, at least — many of the most reticent states are moving in that direction. Look, this is unfortunate. Like everything else it got caught up in politics. It got caught up in people’s partisan prior beliefs. But I think as the president was trying to indicate today, if that was ever a problem, it’s time to move past it. It’s time to stop thinking — that was directed at his own people, too, I think. It’s time to stop thinking of this in terms of red and blue and to get these vaccines and to get the country back moving, which is by and large what is happening right now.
BAIER: Panel, stand by. Up next, President Biden on infrastructure, problems with the NAACP, and what comes next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: June should be a month of action on Capitol Hill. I hear all the folks on TV saying why doesn’t Biden get this done? Well, because Biden only has the majority of effectively four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Specifically calling out yesterday the Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin from West Virginia, both Democrats, but both, guess what, vote 100 percent of the time with President Joe Biden. Not 90, 85 —
100 percent of the time they voted with the Biden administration and President Biden.
Meantime, today, President Biden met with Republican senator from West Virginia Capito, Shelley Moore Capito, and we don’t have a real read out of exactly what happened other than it was constructive and frank, according to the White House. Charlie, that usually doesn’t mean big things as far as breakthroughs, “frank”.
HURT: Yes, “frank” is usually not a buzzword for a lovefest in Washington.
There is no doubt that Biden is feeling pressure right now. He is feeling pressure not only by the slim majorities that he has, but he also knows that he is probably at best got have a full, complete two year window, which is we already six months in that. And then you at the election on the back end of that and it gets much, much smaller. And that clip that you played earlier where he is talking about the vaccines and he makes — and I applaud that, reaching out to Trump supporters and Republicans by giving the credit that Trump deserves for the vaccines.
But you can only wonder how much damage has already been done to the credibility of the vaccines because he didn’t say that earlier. But then there’s a whole host of other issues where Biden is clearly not being bipartisan on, whether you’re talking about the border or some of the language about police and things like that, that it sort of makes you wonder, is he really trying to be the dealmaker that he claims to be? Or is he just paying lip service to that?
BAIER: Chuck, the White House calling for a month of action. But you look at the possibilities here, you wonder what kind of action is going to happen. In the meantime, the NAACP has a problem with the president not pushing for bigger efforts to clear student loans.
LANE: Yes, it’s going to be very difficult. Chuck Schumer has said he wants to get this infrastructure bill moving by July. It’s going to be very difficult to cut a deal between now and then. And I agree with you guys, constructive and frank is another way of saying we are nowhere near each other.
On the student loan peace, that is a tragic one. That’s a hard one, because if you clear the student loans of all the students, I’m not sure you narrow the racial wealth gap because many, many white families, including many who are quite upper income would be included in that. And furthermore, what about future students and the money that they would borrow just to start the whole problem over again?
But I think it does, apart from the policy side, it does illustrate that there is unrest or unhappiness or dissatisfaction in various elements of President Biden’s progressive coalition. And they are the ones I think he is mostly responding to as this goes along.
PAVLICH: We do know that President Biden will meet with Senator Capito on Friday to continue their negotiations, but when you are asking Americans to pay for spending with a tax increase, it is a pretty difficult push, especially when most the bill has nothing to do with physical infrastructure.
BAIER: Thanks panel. When we come back, tomorrow’s headlines tonight with the panel.
BAIER: Finally tonight, a look at tomorrow’s headlines with the panel.
HURT: I am afraid tomorrow’s headline will be another cyberattack. We have already had an attack on our oil supply, and now an attack on our food supply, and we’re going to keep having them until our government takes a stand against paying off ecoterrorists.
PAVLICH: President Trump relaunches his blog after a false alarm that Facebook reinstated him.
BAIER: And just to be clear, the blog is down, Facebook is not reinstated, neither is Instagram. They put out the statement. But the blog is down by the Trump choice. OK, Chuck?
PAVLICH: Maybe it will be back up.
LANE: My imaginary headline tries to put together a program for all the baseball teams that aren’t doing so well. As you know, the contenders are giving free tickets to people who get vaccinated, but what about all the losers? So my headline is Baltimore Orioles threaten fans who don’t get the vaccine with two free tickets.
BAIER: They have to go.
All right, panel, thanks so much. Tomorrow on SPECIAL REPORT, despite what some members of what the so-called squad may want on Capitol Hill, President Biden’s budget shows no letup in U.S. support of Israel. We’ll look into that.
Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That is it for this SPECIAL REPORT, fair, balanced, and still unafraid. “FOX NEWS PRIMETIME” hosted this week by Ben Domenech, starts right now. Hey, Ben.
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