When a conspiracy theory is really just a theory

A friend says he doesn’t always believe the news when it is first reported. He likes to let three or four days pass to see how everything is going, then determine if he believes in the first reports.

It hurts modern American journalism. When people just don’t believe the press – at least when they don’t take it for granted that the press is telling the truth – it damages democracy. This adds to the doubts about elections, vaccines and many other topics. But we hasten to add that we don’t blame the people who question the inner workings of modern American journalism. The fault is entirely ours. That is, modern journalism.

Remember when the talking heads in the media laughed at Tom Cotton for suggesting that the covid-19 virus might have been leaked in a lab in China? It was 15 months ago.

Frank Lockwood, of that newspaper, reported last week that even the experts cited in the reports at the time cannot entirely rule out the possibility. Here is Frank Lockwood’s lede in Sunday’s diary:

Fifteen months after accusing U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) Of spreading a “debunked” Covid-19 conspiracy theory, the Washington Post on Friday added a correction to its article acknowledging that he could not save some of the claims – and never could.

The February 17, 2020 article accusing Cotton of conspiracy now carries this correction: “Earlier versions of this story and its title inaccurately characterized Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) ‘S comments regarding the origins of the coronavirus. The term “debunked” and The Post’s use of “conspiracy theory” were removed because, then as now, there was no determination as to the origins of the virus. “


Worse yet, one of the experts cited in that Post article tells this article that some of his comments, which might have supported a leaked lab theory, were omitted from the original story. He sent this to the newspaper:

“The experience – cited in February 17 [2020] The Washington Post article in a way that materially distorted my views – opened my eyes. Seeing “the first draft in history” written as a partisan exercise rather than a journalistic exercise was appalling. “

It took over a year for this to appear in the papers. Maybe our friend’s three to four day rule is not adequate.

NB: Last week, President Joe Biden called for a new investigation by the intelligence community in this country. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, we must not confuse intelligence with intelligence. But word is that even this current presidential administration is wondering if the covid-19 virus made a natural leap from animals to humans, or if it could have been produced in a lab. (That’s not to say it was intentionally thrown into the environment; that could have been a horrible mistake.)

The Red Chinese are furious because it never happened. In fact, the Americans probably did. They have their own conspiracy theories, which include an American Covid-19 birthplace, and our spies somehow manage to smuggle it into Wuhan.

But back to Senator Tom Cotton. At first, he asked authorities to at least investigate the possibility that the thing had leaked from a lab. Why? Because the virus first appeared and ignited in Wuhan, China, where the Wuhan Institute of Virology is located. And if you want even more coincidences, the WIV is studying and experimenting with coronaviruses.

“The question is,” Tom Cotton told this newspaper last week, “why did the media reject this theory which is obviously plausible and reasonable and should have been carefully and thoroughly investigated by the media from the start? C It’s because I was the one.It’s because it might somehow help Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.

And that’s the story, simply put.

Not only is the media taking a second look; the United States government as well. Whether covid-19 has passed from a bat to a human, or passed from a lab shirt sleeve to an innocent, it will not bring comfort to the families of the millions of people who have died around the world.

But it could provide valuable lessons for mankind. Note, for the record, that this includes journalists.

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