It’s unusual to see our flagship mainstream media outlets go after each other for propagating fake news, but that’s what happened this week after NBC News ran an embarrassing feature story about the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which some believe to be lab where the coronavirus escaped in December. The story, which saw reporters visit the Wuhan lab for seemingly no other purpose but to clear China of any conspiratorial wrongdoing in releasing the pandemic, was sharply criticized by Josh Rogin of the Washington Post.
“This NBC News report on their field trip to Wuhan Institute of Virology has several errors, but the most glaring is that it misrepresents what U.S. officials wrote in diplomatic cables in 2018,” Rogin tweeted.
In the NBC report, viewers were told that U.S. officials noted several safety problems in the lab. Rogin said that, to take it from the report, scientists at the Institute were the ones who notified U.S. officials about those issues in a cable from January of 2018.
“Wang Yanyi, director of the WIV, told NBC reporters the U.S. officials visited in March 2018, two months after the first cable was written,” Rogin tweeted. “The truth is they visited three times, both before and after the Jan. 2018 cable. Did U.S. officials make up an entire visit? Not likely…”
Rogin said that Wang’s reliability was up for serious debate, and that NBC News should not have aired her “facts” without letting viewers know about those credibility issues. In the report, Wang said that Institute officials never discussed biosafety with visiting U.S. officials, and she said that the officials were “fabricators” looking to make Wuhan look bad. Rogin questioned why NBC News thought it was okay to air this propaganda without providing any pushback at all.
Ultimately, Rogin cast doubts on the need for NBC News to go to the lab in the first place.
“What did they expect to find, a piece of paper they forgot to throw out that says ‘Coronavirus Origin Evidence’?” he asked. “It’s absurd to think that has any probative value. But there’s more. The NBC report says that Fauci ‘discounted the idea that the virus had accidentally escaped from a lab.’ If you read the interview, Fauci said it’s not important if it was a lab accident (which is wrong) but not that he rules out the possibility.”
Rogin noted that, in the report, the vice director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology said there was no evidence that COVID-19 jumped from animals to humans in the Huanan Seafood Market.
So, it didn’t come from the lab and it didn’t come from the wet market. It was undoubtedly, then, dropped into Wuhan by the CIA.
“Overall, the Chinese scientists can’t be blamed for toeing the Party line,” Rogin said. “They deviate from that under penalty of death. But U.S. news organizations must do better than presenting a walk around a lab and an interview with falsehoods in it as telling us anything about the virus.”