Ted Cruz mocks Washington Post as 'clowns' after fact-check declares Wuhan lab leak theory 'suddenly' credible

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Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler declared the Wuhan coronavirus lab-leak theory “suddenly credible” on Tuesday, after previously mocking Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and others last year for espousing the “virtually impossible” theory.

“The source of the coronavirus that has left more than 3 million people dead around the world remains a mystery. But in recent months the idea that it emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) — once dismissed as a ridiculous conspiracy theory — has gained new credence,” Kessler wrote, in a timeline article about how the story developed over the past year.

One of the outlets to dismiss it as a “ridiculous conspiracy theory” was Kessler’s: the Washington Post reported on Feb. 17, 2020, that Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., had “repeated a fringe theory suggesting that the ongoing spread of a coronavirus is connected to research in the disease-ravaged epicenter of Wuhan, China.” Kessler passively referred to the article as “critical” of Cotton.

COVID ORIGINS WHISTLEBLOWER TOUTS VINDICATION AS MEDIA, MEDICAL PROS CONSIDER LAB LEAK THEORY

On April 30, 2020, the Post published a fact-check video declaring it was “doubtful” the virus escaped from the nearby Wuhan Institute of Virology, known for its research on bat coronaviruses and lab safety concerns. The video included Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, flatly denying the virus could have emerged from the lab and praising the autocratic Chinese government as “incredibly open.”

Daszak had worked for years with Dr. Shi Zheng-li, who now runs the Wuhan Institute of Virology and who initially voiced fears that the virus had leaked from her lab. Daszak spearheaded a letter in The Lancet signed by 27 scientists last February that “strongly condemn[ed] conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” without disclosing to readers that Daszak’s group had funded coronavirus research at the Wuhan lab through government grants.

“Three of the signers have since said a laboratory accident is plausible enough to merit consideration,” Kessler wrote in the piece.

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The video also cited Dr. Shi and the Chinese government as having “adamantly denied” it came from the lab, while also admitting the Chinese government had ordered scientists to destroy early samples of the virus before reporting it to the World Health Organization. 

When Cruz decried the piece in a Twitter thread on May 1, 2020, for its effective conclusion that the natural origin story was most likely, Kessler was quick with a retort.

“I fear [Ted Cruz] missed the scientific animation in the video that shows how it is virtually impossible for this virus jump from the lab. Or the many interviews with actual scientists. We deal in facts, and viewers can judge for themselves,” Kessler wrote.

Cruz, referencing the Washington Post’s “Pinocchio” scale for defining the severity of falsehoods, gave the Post four clown emojis on Tuesday.

EXPERTS GIVING COVID ‘LAB LEAK’ THEORY SECOND LOOK AFTER MAINSTREAM MEDIA CRIED IT WAS DEBUNKED

Other critics jumped on the Post as well.

The Post’s story marked yet another example of the lab-leak possibility gaining increasing credence among mainstream press, after numerous outlets dismissed the notion as a “conspiracy theory” or “fringe” when Cotton and Trump administration officials broached it last year. The Post’s editorial board wrote last year Cotton had “leaped gleefully into the propaganda wars by amplifying a fringe theory that a high-level lab in Wuhan, where dangerous pathogens are the subject of research, may have been the source of the coronavirus.”

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Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield told CNN in March that he believed the virus could have accidentally escaped the lab, which CNN swiftly declared as an assertion lacking evidence.

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