A senior writer for the New York Times has suggested that the mainstream media dismissed the theory that the COVID-19 pandemic originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, simply because the publication refused to consider that Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, a conservative, might have been correct.
The New York Times writer David Leonhardt was asked by host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources: “This week … you wrote about the lab leak theory, and how the conversation about this possible COVID escaping the Wuhan lab theory has been re-evaluated. It’s been reckoned with all of a sudden. What happened this week? Why is this back in the news?”
“It’s pretty clear that we don’t know how COVID started,” Leonhardt answered. “Many people think the most likely explanation is that it jumped from an animal to a human being at a food market in Wuhan, China. That is certainly plausible. But it’s also plausible that, with some research at a top virology lab in Wuhan, China, it somehow escaped from there. We don’t know the answer."
"What happened was a bunch of people started arguing that it likely escaped from this lab in Wuhan. And some of them were scientists who you’ve never heard of, necessarily, and who made serious arguments. But some of them were conservative politicians like Senator Tom Cotton. And after Cotton started doing it, Donald Trump, when he was president, started doing it.”
“And I think people made this mistake,” Leonhardt admitted. “I think a lot of people on the political left and a lot of people in the media made this mistake. They said, ‘Well, if Tom Cotton is saying something, it can’t be true,’ they assumed that. And that’s not right.”
Cotton has said that the virus may have originated from the Wuhan lab as far back as January 30, 2020. Speaking at a Senate Armed Services Hearing, Cotton stated, “I want to talk about the biggest and most important story in the world. The Wuhan coronavirus. This coronavirus is a catastrophe on the scale of Chernobyl for China. But actually, it’s probably worse than Chernobyl, which was localized in its effect. The coronavirus could result in a global pandemic. While you were all sleeping overnight, the number of diagnosed cases in China increased by 30%. Let me be clear: that’s not new cases; that is just newly-admitted cases. It is probably several orders of magnitude higher than that.”
“We still don’t know where coronavirus originated,” Cotton said. “Could have been a market, a farm, a food processing company. I would note that Wuhan has China’s only biosafety level-four super laboratory that works with the world’s most deadly pathogens to include, yes, coronavirus.”
Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai called out Cotton’s suspicions over the origins of the virus, stating it was “absolutely crazy,” and claimed the virus was “probably coming from some animals.” Cotton fired back, “Here’s what’s not a conspiracy, not a theory: Fact: China lied about virus starting in Wuhan food market. Fact: super-lab is just a few miles from that market. Where did it start? We don’t know. But burden of proof is on you & fellow communists. Open up now to competent international scientists.”
A week after, Cotton appeared on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures, where he said “China was lying from the beginning and they’re still lying today. … Here’s what we do know: this virus did not originate in the Wuhan animal market. Epidemiologists who are widely respected from China who have published a study in the international journal the Lancet have demonstrated that several of the original cases did not have any contact with that food market. The virus went into that food market before it came out of that food market. So we don’t know where it originated. But we do know we have to get to the bottom of that. We also know that just a few miles away from that food market is China’s only biosafety level 4 super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases.”