Corporate media outlets are misconstruing former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield’s theories about the origins of COVID-19 after he said he doesn’t believe the virus outbreak began with transmission from a bat.
“I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped,” Redfield told CNN in an interview. “Now, other people don’t believe that, that’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out. It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in the laboratory to infect the laboratory worker.”
The Chinese Communist Party has worked strenuously to suppress discussion of and investigation into this possibility. Corporate media outlets assisted that effort by taking issue with Redfield’s comments and issuing misdirected “fact checks” of a Wuhan lab theory separate from the virologist’s initial suggestion.
CBS News took the first swing at the Trump-era official in an article headlined “Former CDC chief says ‘most likely’ cause of coronavirus is that it ‘escaped’ from a lab.” While the article stated that “it’s too early to know for sure and investigations are ongoing” and clarified that Redfield does not think the virus was manmade, CBS devoted multiple paragraphs to airing the opinions and concerns of scientists and other “experts” who claimed that “none of (Redfield’s) comments” are “backed by available evidence” and that “there is ‘no evidence’ to suggest that [COVID-19] was created in a lab.”
One of the sources quoted in the article even claimed that Refield’s hypothesis is “‘counterproductive,’ especially given the rise in discrimination and violence against Asian Americans during the pandemic.”
This very sloppy article quotes scientists denying a theory Redfield didn’t even suggest. He said it was the result of an lab accident following gain of function research, not “created” or “designed” in a lab. Major news organizations have to do better than this. https://t.co/YCPWbGBwtl
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) March 27, 2021
The New York Times made a similar mistake in its coverage of Redfield’s comments, claiming that the former CDC director “favors debunked COVID-19 origin theory.”
“The C.D.C.’s ex-director offers no evidence in favoring speculation that the coronavirus originated in a lab,” the headline stated.
This New York Times story on Robert Redfield's comments saying he thinks the most likely origin for the coronavirus is accidental escape from a Wuhan lab appears in Google search with the headline: "Ex-CDC Director Favors Debunked Covid-19 Origin Theory."https://t.co/wF7eRYdRbE pic.twitter.com/mqaEBdKXVo
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) March 27, 2021
In the article, the Times quoted the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s statement claiming that the “Covid-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified,” a theory Redfield did not discuss in his interview, to conclude that “intelligence agencies…had no evidence that the coronavirus had escaped from the lab” and that he was wrong.
The same statement from April 2020 that the Times relied on for this conclusion, however, clearly states that intelligence agencies “will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
Also. NYT says "the message from intel agencies was clear...they had no evidence the coronavirus escaped from the lab." But ODNI said "the IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging info & intel to determine if the outbreak...was the result of an accident at a lab in Wuhan." pic.twitter.com/wHdthcNJAw
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) March 27, 2021
Corporate media outlets such as The Times and the Washington Post previously smeared Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas early in the pandemic, often claiming he was peddling conspiracy dangerous theories after he suggested the U.S. look into communist China’s attempts to cover up the origins of COVID-19.
“Since the start of this outbreak, I’ve maintained that animal-to-human transmission or a ‘good science, bad safety’ accidental breach in a lab studying coronavirus — like the one in Wuhan — are the most likely origin scenarios,” Cotton tweeted.
Since the start of this outbreak, I’ve maintained that animal-to-human transmission or a “good science, bad safety” accidental breach in a lab studying coronavirus—like the one in Wuhan—are the most likely origin scenarios. Too bad he couldn’t be bothered to ask. pic.twitter.com/IVOYKWThtk
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) April 8, 2020
“Because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning, we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says. And China right now is not giving any evidence on that question at all,” Cotton later added.