Washington Post ripped for quietly adding ‘correction’ to article ‘debunking’ Covid-19 Wuhan lab origin theory
The Washington Post is facing scrutiny after critics noticed a correction to a story published last year debunking the “conspiracy theory” that Covid-19 could have originated from a Wuhan lab.
The correction came after journalist Michael Tracey pointed out that the piece “flagrantly mischaracterized a key expert” quoted.
Just saw this. The Washington Post has now “corrected” its Feb 2020 article declaring the lab leak theory a “debunked conspiracy” after I reported that journalist @paulina_milla had flagrantly mischaracterized a key expert she quoted in the article https://t.co/pYMc8edeCqpic.twitter.com/lgwkbpm40b— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) May 31, 2021
“Earlier versions of this story and its headline inaccurately characterized comments by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) regarding the origins of the coronavirus,” the correction states. “The term ‘debunked’ and the Post’s use of ‘conspiracy theory’ have been removed because, then as now, there was no determination about the origins of the virus.”
The original story was published in February of 2020 and covered an interview Cotton did with Fox News in which he floated the idea that Covid-19 could have originated in a Wuhan lab studying infectious diseases.
“Now, we don’t have evidence that this disease originated there, but because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning, we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says,” he said. “And China right now is not giving any evidence on that question at all.”
The Post ran with the headline “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked” at the time, but has since changed it to read, “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus fringe theory that scientists have disputed.”Also on rt.com In algorithms we trust? Twitter draws criticism over potential new ‘misinformation warning’ system
Richard Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University and an “expert” interviewed for the piece, is quoted as dismissing any theory that Covid-19 “was engineered.”
He revealed to Tracey recently, however, that he also thought a lab leak could be a possible origin for the virus, something The Post did not include in their coverage.
“I was surprised that the February 17, 2020 article in WaPo quoted only my comments on the genome sequence and not my comments on the lab-accident hypothesis,” he said.
Cotton himself went after The Post’s story earlier this week on Twitter.
The Post is only the latest to walk back on dismissing theories that Covid-19 was man-made, with Facebook reversing a policy flagging posts asserting the theory only months after implementing it. Politifact also fact-checked a past story deeming the lab origin theory “debunked.”
Critics have accused The Post and other mainstream media outlets of purposefully dismissing the theory for political purposes, despite the origin of the virus still being investigated.
“If [the virus] leaked from a lab near Moscow, liberal pundits would be demanding that families from Idaho, South Carolina and Oklahoma prepare for war,” Glenn Greenwald tweeted on Tuesday.
The death of journalism, in plain sight https://t.co/iQFwwEl64i— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) June 1, 2021
If a virus that caused a worldwide pandemic was found to have leaked from the military lab at Fort Detrick, Maryland I tend to doubt liberal pundits would be shrugging off the origin as something that “doesn’t matter”— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) June 1, 2021
Democracy dies in stealth edits on 15-month-old headlines pic.twitter.com/FW6DoiqXSz— Greg Price (@greg_price11) June 1, 2021
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