One Damning Move Hints 'Fact Checkers' and Mainstream Media Played Right Into China's Disinformation Campaign


The Washington Post made a quiet correction this weekend to a 15-month-old headline, but apparently only after The Daily Caller had “reached out” to the Post about its veracity.

The headline of a Feb. 17, 2020, Post story originally stated: “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked.”

Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a Republican, was one of the first high-profile politicians to say the virus may have escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China.

The Daily Caller reported that it “reached out to the Post seeking comment on the headline, given the increased interest in the possibility that COVID-19 had in fact originated from the Wuhan lab that was studying bat-borne coronaviruses.”

And over the weekend, the Post “updated” its headline. It now reads, “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus fringe theory that scientists have disputed.”

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The Post’s correction note reads: “Earlier versions of this story and its headline inaccurately characterized comments by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) regarding the origins of the coronavirus. 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 revelations contained in a trove of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci’s email communications covering the period from January to June 2020 have lent even more credence to the theory that the coronavirus may have escaped from the lab in 2019. After publicly claiming for well over a year that the virus had zoonotic origins, that it had jumped from an animal to a human, and downplaying the lab leak theory, Fauci may not exactly have been truthful with the American people.

The circumstantial evidence supporting the lab leak theory has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several weeks, and Fauci’s emails corroborate it.

Those who dared to mention this theory, and especially its extension — that the virus had been engineered in the lab — were derided as conspiracy theorists by a mainstream media that had long ago abandoned even the pretense of practicing real journalism.

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The Post was not alone in its mockery of anyone who took the lab leak theory seriously. Last week, PolitiFact was forced to retract a “fact check” it had published in September following Fox News’ Tucker Carlson’s interview with Dr. Li-Meng Yan, a virologist and former postdoctoral fellow at the University of Hong Kong.

Yan had told Carlson, “This virus, COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 virus, actually is not from nature. It is a man-made virus created in the lab. … I can present solid scientific evidence to our audience that this virus, COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 virus, actually is not from nature.”

The next day, PolitiFact published a fact-check with the title, “Tucker Carlson guest airs debunked conspiracy theory that COVID-19 was created in a lab.”

PolitiFact’s Daniel Funke wrote that “the claim is inaccurate and ridiculous. We rate it Pants on Fire!”

“The genetic structure of the novel coronavirus, which has been shared by thousands of scientists worldwide, rules out the possibility that it was manipulated in a lab,” Funke told readers. “Public health authorities have repeatedly said the virus was not created in a lab. Scientists believe the coronavirus originated in bats before jumping to humans. Experts have publicly rebuked Yan’s paper, and it’s unclear whether it was peer reviewed.”

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Funke made a heroic effort to disprove Yan’s claims, citing an endless number of experts, researchers and health officials. He even pointed out that Facebook and Instagram, those arbiters of the truth the left looks to for the final word on issues of importance, had both flagged the video as “false information.”

His entire argument boils down to: Because the experts say so. And they’ve said so repeatedly.

In doing so, those experts and the mainstream media have been supporting — intentionally or not — the Chinese Communist Party, which has repeatedly denied the coronavirus pandemic started with one of its labs. (The Chinese disinformation campaign has even included claims that the coronavirus was brought to China by the U.S. military. Not even The New York Times took that seriously.)

Obviously, we don’t have physical evidence to prove the origins of the virus because the Chinese government has obstructed every effort to obtain that evidence.

Nor did the mainstream media have any proof to dismiss the possibility of the lab leak theory and taunt those who were open to it.

Once again, the liberal media has wound up with egg on its face. Another disinformation campaign has unraveled.

Why were they so hellbent on silencing all dissent? Why, in the face of a frightening, new virus that was on its way to killing millions around the globe, would they work so hard to protect China? Why did Fauci and the rest of the international science community work so hard to promote a lie?

Why would they choose to protect China at the expense of the United States and the rest of the world?

Wittingly or unwittingly, they were all doing China’s bidding. Will any of them pay a price?

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Elizabeth writes commentary for The Western Journal and The Washington Examiner. Her articles have appeared on many websites, including MSN, RedState, Newsmax, The Federalist and RealClearPolitics. Please follow Elizabeth on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Elizabeth is a contract writer at The Western Journal. Her articles have appeared on many conservative websites including RedState, Newsmax, The Federalist,, HotAir, MSN and RealClearPolitics.

Please follow Elizabeth on Twitter.