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One of the first media outlets to hint at the possibility that COVID-19 could have come out of a Wuhan lab, specifically the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), was The Washington Post. That article, published in April 2020 by columnist Josh Rogin, revealed that American officials in Beijing sent diplomatic cables in 2018 alerting Washington to dangerous coronavirus experiments on bats conducted at WIV without the necessary biosafety standards.
The Post reporter’s story wasn’t enough; the media already had its editorial stance set: call the Wuhan lab’s plausible theory a “conspiracy.”
On Monday, May 24, Aaron Blake, also a Post reporter, wrote an analysis where he underhandedly criticized the media for dismissing the lab leak story. However, he also justified the journalists by blaming the “skepticism” generated by Donald Trump.
“It has been said many times that Donald Trump’s presidency was a stress test for democracy. And that’s certainly true. (It’s a reality that very much persists to this date),” Blake outlined.
“But it was also a stress test for those charged with covering it. What do you do when someone bulldozes so many political norms and unwritten rules of political discourse? How do you cover unfounded and specious allegations lodged not from some random Internet commenter, but from the most powerful man in the world? You can fact-check, but do you in the process inadvertently lend them credence?” the Post reporter wondered.
From his foxhole, Blake explains that the press decided to disqualify the story or the lab accident theory simply because Trump took it as an argument to pressure the Chinese regime.
“It has become evident that some corners of the mainstream media overcorrected when it came to one particular theory from Trump and his allies: that the coronavirus emanated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, rather than naturally.” the Post journalist acknowledged.
“It’s also true that many criticisms of the coverage are overwrought and that Trump’s and his allies’ claims invited and deserved skepticism,” Blake justified.
The Wuhan lab theory should have been looked into
What he argues in his analysis is that journalists had reason to believe that the Wuhan lab theory pushed by the Trump administration was a political strategy in an election year and in the midst of the pandemic. The progressive media, almost in unison, decided to stick to the strict “opinion” of experts who for much of 2020 called the lab theory implausible. Today, exhibiting their poor work, many are recanting.
Another argument outlined by the journalist to explain why the press dismissed the story is that the Trump administration presented no evidence, and that the accusations by the former president and former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo deserved to be set aside.
Blake says “the words ‘conspiracy’ and ‘unsubstantiated’ would indeed seem to apply, given such a leak would necessarily involve some kind of Chinese government coverup or a lack of actual, public evidence to prove the theory.”
This is hypocritical. What Blake is basically saying is that the same media that pushed the baseless Russian plot for years, that failed to cover the Hunter Biden case and the censorship of the New York Post, the same media that lent itself to a conspiracy between moderate left, far left and conservative elements to go against Trump in the election, decided to call the lab’s plausible theory a “conspiracy” just because Trump inspired distrust when making the allegations.
What they are doing is not journalism, it is partisanship. The job of the press is not to evaluate an allegation by the side making the allegation and refute it with the simple response of the opposing side. If the Trump administration denounced a leak from the Wuhan lab that could have triggered the worst health crisis in the history of the modern world, free journalism should have inquired, despite the opinion of the supposed experts who filled us with bad indications throughout 2020.
They can justify themselves all they want, but the American press, once again, decided to get on the wrong side of history by deciding to call the possible lab accident a “conspiracy.” Not because it happened, that still can’t be known, but by irresponsibly dismissing it for a whole year.
Instead of pressuring the Chinese regime to pursue a serious and objective investigation at WIV, they decided to inject poisonous headlines to the U.S. and the world pro-China and anti-Trump. All based on their harmful anti-ethical biases. In short, the hypocrisy of the mainstream media was exposed.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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