Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post’s narrative about the coronavirus origins have been turned on its head. A recent column cited a leaked government diplomatic cable that warned of a potential coronavirus outbreak two years ago, which was a theory that the Washington Post called a “debunked conspiracy theory” in late January.

In late January, the Washington Post twisted statements by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) when he suggested several possible theories about the coronavirus’s origins. One of Cotton’s theories was that the virus was leaked from a Wuhan, China-based laboratory.

Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin pointed out that the U.S. government had known about the laboratory for several years and he cited a leaked U.S. State Department cable that reported safety issues at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2018. According to Rogin, one of the cables warned that the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses represented a risk of a new coronavirus pandemic similar to the SARS outbreak. Other similar safety concerns referred to the nearby Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Washington Post’s recent findings confirmed that Cotton’s theory could be the source of the coronavirus outbreak. The Chinese government insisted that the virus started in a Wuhan market, but no sources corroborated their claim. Yet the media called Cotton’s theory a conspiracy theory from the beginning.

The newspaper has not apologized to Cotton for calling him a conspiracy theorist and it should do so now that there is evidence backing up Cotton’s theory.

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