U.S. Energy Department Endorses Lab Leak Theory of COVID-19’s Origins
The U.S. Department of Energy has concluded that the most likely origin of COVID-19 is a lab leak.
The federal agency reviewed new intelligence, which prompted officials to revise their position that it’s unclear how the virus emerged. The White House and certain members of Congress also reviewed the intelligence, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Energy Department’s conclusion is made with “low confidence,” according to The New York Times, which was quick to point out that “U.S. spy agencies remain divided over the origins of the virus.” The FBI previously concluded with “moderate confidence” that intelligence pointed to a lab leak origin; other agencies have been skeptical or undecided.
The shifting consensus on this issue should be a cautionary tale for all the would-be censors who thunderously objected to such talk. In the first year of the pandemic, the idea that COVID-19 might have emerged from a coronavirus research facility in Wuhan, China, was widely branded a racist conspiracy theory. Social media companies such as Facebook vigorously suppressed discussion of the lab leak thesis, partly because U.S. health officials and mainstream news outlets expressed absolute confidence that COVID-19 emerged as a result of zoonotic spillover.
In February 2020, when Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Ark.) said a lab leak was possible, The Washington Post attacked him for “repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked.” The New York Times accused Cotton of spreading a “fringe” idea. CNN said the senator was “playing a dangerous game.” PolitiFact gave the lab leak theory a “pants on fire” rating, the most serious level of falsehood on the website’s trademarked “Truth-O-Meter.” NPR reported that scientists had debunked “the lab accident theory” and that therefore the case was closed.
CNN also chided lab leak believers for subscribing to a “theory that’s almost certainly not true,” and it criticized President Donald Trump for failing to heed the national intelligence community’s views on the matter. (For more examples of media misfires, see this thread from The Washington Free Beacon‘s Drew Holden.)
In hindsight, it’s astonishing how credulously—how gullibly—many journalists bought into obvious Chinese government spin. One of the very worst offenders was Apoorva Mandavilli, The New York Times‘ lead coronavirus reporter, who lamented in May 2021 that people would talk about a theory with “racist root
Article from Reason.com