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NR Was Right on the Wuhan Lab-Leak Theory, and We Have the Receipts

Members of the World Health Organization team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus sit in a car at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, February 3, 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)
We believe this sort of piercing journalism is vitally important and hope you will help support it.

These days, a majority of Americans believe that the coronavirus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and the possibility is considered to be at least plausible by much of the media as well as a cross-section of high-ranking officials. That wasn’t always the case. Last year, much of the media dismissed the lab-leak theory as fringe or a conspiracy. Even fact-checkers claimed it was debunked. But National Review was willing to take the lab-leak theory seriously from the beginning and throughout the past year. And we have the receipts. As you read some of the examples of fearless journalism below, we hope you will consider participating in our current donation drive.

Rich Lowry previously flagged 75 stories that we have run on the lab-origin theory, and here are some excerpts from them:

April 3, 2020: “It is a remarkable coincidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was researching Ebola and SARS-associated coronaviruses in bats before the pandemic outbreak. . . . And the fact that the Chinese government spent six weeks insisting that COVID-19 could not be spread from person to person means that its denials about Wuhan laboratories cannot be accepted without independent verification.”

April 6, 2020: “We do know for certain that two laboratories in the city — the Wuhan Center for Disease Control & Prevention and the Wuhan Institute of Virology — were researching coronaviruses in bats. While it is theoretically possible that Dr. Botao Xiao is insane and/or just making it all up, his withdrawn research paper offered the surprisingly specific contention that 605 bats in total were being used in research at Wuhan Center for Disease Control & Prevention.”

April 7, 2020, noting that Wuhan wet markets had reopened: “Why are Chinese authorities not worried about a second outbreak at those markets, or some new virus emerging from their crowded, unsanitary conditions? Maybe Chinese authorities are just insanely reckless. Or maybe they have some reason to believe that the market wasn’t really the origin point for SARS-CoV-2.”

April 13, 2020: “The existence of accidents at other laboratories does not prove that a lab accident is the origin of SARS-CoV-2. But the argument that the scientists at either laboratory in Wuhan are simply too well-trained and diligent to ever make a consequential mistake is not persuasive.”

We also defended Senator Tom Cotton when he was attacked as a conspiracy monger for questioning China’s official zoological-transmission story. On April 3, 2020, we ran an article declaring that the media owed Cotton an apology for distorting his words, noting, “The very same expert they were using to ‘debunk’ Cotton’s question and smear him as a conspiracy theorist actually agreed that [the lab-origin story] was legitimate.”

On May 1, 2020, we slammed those who were swallowing the Chinese Communist Party’s story whole: “There is this weird wave of pro-Beijing cheerleading going on right now, and I can’t tell whether it’s anti-Trumpism run amok, it reflects the parent companies of media institutions having extensive business interests in China, or whether some American elites look at the stability and social control of authoritarian China and see a system they would like to emulate. It may not matter that much; these are all bad reasons to echo the propaganda of a regime that has at least a million, and perhaps as many as 3 million, ethnic minorities in concentration camps.”

Stories such as these continued throughout 2020 and into this year as more outlets joined the parade.

Here at National Review, we believe this sort of skeptical journalism is vitally important in an era when too many other news outlets simply want to follow the mob. But such journalism does not come easy, nor does it come cheap. We can only survive with the support of readers who value our commitment to relentlessly pursuing the truth, rather than waiting for permission from others to pursue stories. If you believe in helping us preserve this mission, please help us meet our goal of raising $75,000 in the next several days. Every dollar counts, and we have been welcoming donations ranging from $5 to $1,000.

Thank you again for reading and for your continued support.


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