For several weeks now, the theory that COVID-19 originated as an institute leak from a lab in Wuhan has been gaining more traction. Several media outlets and renowned scientists have supported this hypothesis through analysis and newly revealed information. However, a reporter from The New York Times (NYT), in charge of covering the coronavirus, asked to stop talking about the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) accident theory as it might be “racist.”
Apoorva Mandavilli, the journalist in question, wrote on her Twitter account that “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.”
In an interview published in the NYT, Mandavilli is described as “As a science reporter for The New York Times, Apoorva Mandavilli knows the world of research, labs and technical papers. It’s helpful that she’s trained in science, with a master’s degree in biochemistry. She brings that knowledge to her current beat: Covid-19, including the immune response to the coronavirus and the variants that have emerged.”
On this occasion, Mandavilli was not helped by her extensive experience in the area and criticism for her tweet was not long in coming. The journalist ended up deleting her post, but unfortunately for her, users took screenshots and spread it around the network.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald uploaded the screenshot of Mandavilli’s tweet and wrote: “Can someone explain to me why it’s racist to wonder if a virus escaped from a Chinese lab, but it’s not racist to insist that it infected humans because of Chinese wet markets? If anything, isn’t the latter more racist? Also, isn’t the relevant question: what happened? Or no?”.
In a second tweet, Greenwald referenced that Mandavilli is not only a Times journalist, but also charged with reporting news and analysis on COVID-19.
“Oh my god: I didn’t realize what her job is. The NYT’s COVID reporter is saying we should stop talking about the lab leak theory — even if it’s how COVID entered humans — because that theory (unlike, I guess, the wet market theory) is racist. Who cares what happened: NYT,” Greenwald wrote.
NYT reporter “clarifies” her tweet
A few hours later, Mandavilli wanted to justify his publication and said he deleted it because it was “badly phrased” and clarified that it is necessary to find the source of the virus because it is an “important line”.
“I deleted my earlier tweets about the origins of the pandemic because they were badly phrased. The origin of the pandemic is an important line of reporting that my colleagues are covering aggressively,” the reporter wrote.
Many of the progressive newspapers, magazines and fact-checkers who called the accidental leak from the Institute of Virology a “conspiracy” have already begun to retract their statements, which has also raised questions about the American press in general.