Accuracy in Media

After almost a year and a half, the Washington Post through its fact-checker admits that the possibility that the coronavirus emanated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology bolstering claims made by former President Donald Trump and widely dismissed by the media.

Glenn Kessler, who leads the Post’s fact-checking team, briefly explained why things changed in his view.

“How and why did this happen? For one, efforts to discover a natural source of the virus have failed. Second, early efforts to spotlight a lab leak often got mixed up with speculation that the virus was deliberately created as a bioweapon. That made it easier for many scientists to dismiss the lab scenario as tin-hat nonsense. But a lack of transparency by China and renewed attention to the activities of the Wuhan lab have led some scientists to say they were too quick to discount a possible link at first.”

Kessler continues noting Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) role in keeping the story alive as well as the Trump administration’s attempts to gain some traction for the story.

“Sen. Tom Cotton from the start pointed to the lab’s location in Wuhan, pressing China for answers, so the history books will reward him if he turns out to be right. The Trump administration also sought to highlight the lab scenario but generally could only point to vague intelligence. The Trump administration’s messaging was often accompanied by anti-Chinese rhetoric that made it easier for skeptics to ignore its claims.”

The Post published an extensive timeline of key events and admitted that while important information was available it was generally ignored, but that has started to change leading to renewed calls for an investigation into the lab’s activities and is now a credible theory.

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