Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post is being criticized for whitewashing the release of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s emails obtained through a Freedom of Information request, basically avoiding anything controversial and trying to show Fauci in the best possible light. 

“Worth noting in this Fauci FOIA madness that The Washington Post chose not share the emails they acquired with the public,” tweeted independent journalist Jordan Schachtel. “Instead, they teed up a glowing profile of Fauci, as expected from a state press agency.” 

Questions now proliferate about how prepared Fauci was to tackle the pandemic and the emails offer a chance to analyze his judgment in real time. But the Post chose only to highlight the least controversial messages. 

For example, one important message missing from the Post profile is the a message to Fauci from Peter Daszak, chairman of the EcoHealth Alliance, through which the US government funded research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology to the tune of $3.4 million. 

“The project was run by a U.S. nonprofit called EcoHealth Alliance,” NPR reported last year. “For more than a decade, the group has been sending teams to China to trap bats, collect samples of their blood, saliva and feces, and then check those samples for new coronaviruses that could spark the next global pandemic.” 

“I just wanted to say a personal thank you on behalf of our staff and collaborators, for publicly standing up and stating that the scientific evidence supports a natural origin,” Daszak wrote to Fauci in April of 2020. “Your comments are brave, and coming from your trusted voice, will help dispel the myths being spun around the virus’ origins.”

Fauci, as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was aware of the Wuhan funding, and most certainly understood that both he and Daszak could have been discredited if the link between US funding and a possible lab leak was revealed at the height of the pandemic. 

Indeed, Daszak organized a letter in the prestigious science publication The Lancet in March of 2020, signed by 27 scientists, scoffing at the idea that the COVID virus came from the Wuhan Virology lab, despite Daszak’s conflict of interest through his relationship with the Chinese virology outfit. 

The Lancet letter has been widely credited with creating the false image that anyone suggesting the COVID virus came from a lab leak or accident was anti-science. 

The email begs the question of just exactly what was the relationship between Fauci and Daszak. 

While the email reveals nothing inappropriate, responsible journalists generally would want to reveal the relationship between the two men who helped fund the Wuhan lab with an eye toward investigating the true origins of the virus.    

Generally speaking, when a person with a big conflict of interest takes a major role in papering over a conflict of interest, as Daszak has, it’s a sign that more investigation is needed. 

And newspapers, like the Washington Post, should lead the way. 




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