The Weekend Jolt

NR Webathon

Investigating Lab-Leak Is about Preventing the ‘Next One’

Security members keep watch outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology as members of the World Health Organization (WHO) arrive for a visit in Wuhan, China, February 3, 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Getting to the truth of how the COVID-19 pandemic started is not a matter of “I told you so’s.”

For all we know, the “zoonotic spillover” theory might hold in the end. Or it might not. But to this point, the competing lab-leak hypothesis was never truly examined; to the contrary, it was ridiculed, condemned, and treated as “dangerous” misinformation.

No, the purpose of determining how this catastrophe started is to fortify the world with the knowledge to prevent the next one, while also seeking accountability.

National Review never let up in the quest to find this answer, for more than a full year before the rest of the “establishment” caught up. So it is with a sense of duty, and gratitude, that we near the conclusion of this past week’s webathon by asking, once more, for your support to continue this important work. Due to the overwhelming response, we are raising our fundraising goal to $100,000 and extending the webathon to Monday.

Small donations, big donations (heck, even recurring donations) . . . all are welcome, if you are so inclined. Know this: The funding from readers like you goes a long way.

To wit: Earlier this week, Rich Lowry published a comprehensive list of NR’s coverage since April 2020 on the Wuhan lab theory. Take the time to scroll through it here.

Jim Geraghty, who’s been the tip of the spear on that reporting, wrote about how that coverage came together and how he was given complete editorial freedom to pursue this story, starting by following the strands from a YouTube video that posited a lab-leak theory:

[H]oly smokes, a whole bunch of the allegations in that video could be verified.

There really were pre-pandemic job postings of the Wuhan Institute of Virology declaring that “a large number of new bat and rodent new viruses have been discovered and identified,” and there really was a suddenly withdrawn research paper from a Chinese doctor asserting that the evidence pointed to a lab accident, not a wet market, and there really were Chinese state-television documentaries showing researchers in caves capturing virus-shedding bats with exposed skin.

And Jim has kept at it, publishing this troubling history of China’s lab-safety record just this week.

Charles C. W. Cooke followed up with a reminder of what the rest of the media were doing on the origin story while the evidence piled up. And Phil Klein brought us home with highlights of NR’s coverage. 

So here we are: June 2021, with President Biden calling for the intelligence community to report back after 90 days on the pandemic’s origins, and HHS secretary Xavier Becerra pressing the WHO to launch Phase 2 of its origins probe in a “transparent” fashion.

We won’t hold our breath. But we won’t let up either.

Because this is about learning what happened, and preventing the next catastrophe. Don’t take our word for it.

Virus expert Peter Hotez told Meet the Press on Sunday: “There’s going to be COVID-26 and COVID-32 unless we fully understand the origins of COVID-19.” (It was a bit rich how the Washington Post article on that same warning attributed the lab-leak theory to “new reports.”)

And former secretary of state Mike Pompeo told NR’s Jimmy Quinn last month: “It’s not important so that I’m vindicated. It’s important because the next one will kill 30 million people. And that lab is still operating today.”

However, the same barriers to truth exist today that have existed for over a year on this subject (among others). Please, help National Review keep up the pressure. We’ve been heartened all week to see readers like you not only open your digital wallets but also share your thoughts (positive thoughts!) about the work we do:

“I can’t imagine life without NR!”

“Mr. Buckley would be so proud of your work.”

“Thanks for the excellent writing and trustworthy investigative journalism!”

“That Weekend Jolt writer sure is handsome and quick-witted.”

Okay, that last one was made up. But the rest are bona fide. And that warmth is a two-way street. As ever, we thank you — our readers, our lifeblood — for your support, your interest, your curiosity.

Now, without further ado . . . here is your week in review.



Democrats should be thanking those lone senators in their ranks standing up for the filibuster: In Defense of Manchin and Sinema

Biden’s budget proposes killing America’s most important pro-life public policy: Save Hyde, Save Lives


Rich Lowry: How Southlake, Texas, Won Its Battle against Critical Race Theory

Kevin Williamson: A Dangerous State of Affairs

Kristi Noem: Why Is Biden’s Administration Fighting Fourth of July at Mount Rushmore?

Kathryn Jean Lopez: Let’s Learn from Mother Teresa, Not Attack Her

Brittany Bernstein: GOP’s Statehouse Victories Set Up Party for Strong 2022, Strategists Say

Helen Raleigh: The Dirty Secret of ‘Clean’ Energy

Charles C. W. Cooke: Adventures in Coronavirus Bureaucracy

Charles C. W. Cooke: Maggie Haberman Is Right

Dan McLaughlin: Kamala Harris Runs from the Border

Jim Geraghty: A Short History of China’s Biohazard Accidents — before COVID-19

David Harsanyi: The Media Finally Discover Antifa

Michael Brendan Dougherty: The Media’s Memory-Hole Privilege

Michael Brendan Dougherty: What the Fauci Emails Reveal

Isaac Schorr: A Trumpian College Republican Splinter Group Shows the Intra-GOP Fight Is Just Beginning

Christiana Holcomb: Why Are Editors at USA Today Censoring Women?

Ryan Mills: Rural Oregonians Launch Bid to Secede and Join Idaho: ‘Let Us Go’

Caroline Downey: Journalist Andy Ngo Recounts Brutal Beating at the Hands of Portland Antifa


David Eisner sees a historical parallel in the Colonial Pipeline fiasco, and the conundrum of how to deal with ransomware pirates: The Barbary Pirates Circa 2021

Victor Riches calls on Arizona’s governor to think big in the final stretch of his term: Governor Ducey’s Chance to Make History

Paul Jossey asks, and answers — Do we really need a Fedcoin? Central Bank Digital Currency: The Fed’s Coming Power Grab


Armond White draws a line between Jane Fonda’s anti-military activism and today’s anti-cop culture: Jane Fonda Cultivates the Saplings of Sedition

Brian Allen got the rare chance to witness the Torlonia Marbles, in Rome. Read about it, and see the pics: The Torlonia Marbles on Display: Roman Magnificence, Top Scholarship

Kyle Smith attends the “twee pity party” that is the new Moby documentary, and regrets every moment of it: Moby Is Even More Insufferable Than You Thought


Here’s more from that aforementioned Jim Geraghty piece on China’s lab-safety record:

May 2018: A profile of Luo Dongsheng, part of a team of researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology collecting samples from a cave in Hubei, central China, noted that, “Luo’s team has collected a full rack of swabs and bagged a dozen live bats for further testing back at the lab.” A picture illustrating the story showed the researchers with exposed skin on their wrists.

December 26, 2018: Three students were killed in an explosion in a laboratory at Beijing Jiaotong University while carrying out sewage-treatment experiments. The Beijing Emergency Management Bureau investigation subsequently concluded that, “the students purchased and stored dangerous chemicals and carried out risky experiments in violation of regulations. University personnel also failed to oversee and manage the safety of laboratories and scientific research projects.”

Sometime in 2018–2019: According to Voice of America, “About a year before the coronavirus outbreak, a security review conducted by a Chinese national team found the [Wuhan Institute of Virology] did not meet national standards in five categories.”

Rich Lowry dives deep into how one Texas community banded together to fight back against a critical race theory-inspired campaign in the schools, and finds the lessons conservatives can draw from this episode:

The beyond-parody plan was a blueprint for an “anti-racist” revolution in how the district’s schools conducted their business so radical and thoroughgoing it wouldn’t have been out of place at Oberlin College.

Nearly everything, from curriculum to discipline policies to teacher training to hiring decisions, would be filtered through the prism of diversity, equity, and inclusion. A director of equity and inclusion would be hired to oversee implementation of the plan, including the goal to “[e]mbed diversity and inclusion curriculum/initiatives for students as an ‘enrollment to graduation’ process in all grades.” . . .

The overwhelming sense from the plan is that it would have created a regime to constantly hector students about diversity and inclusion, snitch on them for any alleged offenses, and then hold them accountable for them.

Indeed, the most insidious part of the plan proposed to “[s]trengthen wording and consequences” in the student code of conduct “for microaggressions and discriminatory behavior.” It called for creating “a process for campus administrators to include incident notes to document microaggressions and discriminatory behaviors in the discipline offense history for students.” . . .

The uprising was almost instantaneous.

Caroline’s interview with journalist Andy Ngo about how he was spotted, beaten, and then pursued by Portland Antifa is harrowing:

Noticing that Ngo’s body language didn’t match that of the rioters, a member of the group approached him and asked “Can you see with those goggles on?” Ngo recognized the warning signs from his previous run-ins with the group and knew he had to evacuate. He hurried away, only to be confronted by another mob dressed in black just one block over. One member of the crowd then asked, “Why do you look so nervous?”

Ngo, now panicked, heard someone say “I think it’s him.” He started north, walking briskly, until more Antifa members caught up to him and demanded he remove his facial covering, Ngo said. When Ngo refused, someone pulled off his mask, exposing his identity. They yelled, “It’s him! Get him! Get him! It’s Andy!,” Ngo recalls.

After sprinting several blocks, flagging down traffic and running down the middle of the street, Ngo was viciously attacked by a member of the mob. The aggressor beat the back of his head repeatedly. Bleeding in several areas, Ngo managed to escape from his clutches and bolted away again, he said.

With many businesses in Portland boarded up in response to the constant destruction, Ngo said he had limited options for refuge at 11:30 p.m. He finally found shelter in the Nines Hotel, but upon entry was immediately asked to wear a mask and then exit, despite his many frantic pleas to “Call the police.”

“It felt like at any moment the hotel security were going to feed me to the wolves,” Ngo commented.

David Eisner encourages our leaders, in dealing with Colonial Pipeline-style ransomware thieves, to strategize a response by looking to the nation’s dealings with . . . the Barbary pirates. It’s history stuff for history buffs:

On May 15, 1815, Captain Steven Decatur led a powerful group of ten ships to Algiers. Within weeks, Decatur had so convincingly defeated Algiers that he was able to dictate unprecedented surrender terms from the Algerians; they would cease to receive tribute from the U.S., they would pay $10,000 in damages, and they would release all American captives unconditionally. Decatur then sailed on to Tunis Tripoli and Morocco, where he made similar demands and received similar terms. The Second Barbary Wars opened free trade in the Mediterranean, not only for the U.S., but also for Europe. A mere 50 years after American independence, the U.S. was still isolated but able to defend its commerce. Free of piracy, American trade flourished.

America today faces the modern equivalent of the Barbary pirates. And, similar to the Barbary pirates, today’s hackers often operate with the support or cover of hostile powers. The wisdom of our Founding Fathers should not go ignored.

Christiana Holcomb, who represents the high-school athlete whose USA Today op-ed was edited post-publication to scrub the word “male” in describing transgender athletes she had to compete against, sounds off here:

There’s no mistaking what happened: USA Today editors, rather than stand up as honest brokers of public debate, gave in to the demands of the woke mob and replaced a word — even removing a whole sentence explaining that men have natural physical advantages — without notifying Chelsea.

This is wrong. It’s also out of touch with the majority of Americans. Just this week, Gallup released data saying that most Americans believe that athletic competition should be separated based on biological sex.

Charlie entered the COVID-bureaucracy black hole in his travels back home to England. He writes about it here, and it’s bonkers:

COVID-19 may well be waning in Britain, but the regulations it has yielded are most certainly not. The current British approach to travelers flits wildly between bureaucratic imbecility, calculated indifference, and jarring Orwellianism. By the time I got on the plane to London, I had had two vaccinations, taken a stateside COVID test, pre-booked a test in the U.K. for the return leg, and filled in a “passenger locator” form that the British government intended to use to make sure that I was quarantining as promised. But this wasn’t enough. To get into England, I was also obliged to spend $170 to pre-purchase a couple of at-home COVID tests that would be delivered by mail once I had arrived.

Oh yeah, and that report on Trump insisting he’ll be “reinstated” by August? It’s confirmed.


Douglas Murray, at UnHerd: Do the culture wars really exist?

Kevin Daley, at the Washington Free Beacon: Biden Administration Embraces Democrats’ Least Favorite Legal Defense

Angela Morabito, at Campus Reform: Lehigh econ prof draws ire for saying poverty not determined by race

Christos A. Makridis, at City Journal: Politicization Isn’t Sustainable

Honorable Mention

Next weekend, Isaac Schorr will be pinch-hitting on the Weekend Jolt. In all likelihood, this whole operation will run much more smoothly in light of this fact.


Maybe you know Buddy Rich as the idol of Miles Teller’s character in Whiplash. Maybe you already were a fan. But this isn’t about Buddy Rich. This is about Don Menza.

The Buffalo-born tenor sax player let loose one of the most furious solos in history in 1968, belting it out around the five-minute mark of “Channel One Suite” with the Buddy Rich Big Band. The entire composition swings, and is well worth the listen, but if you’re pressed for time in between Zoom calls, then skip to the Menza cadenza. It’s also a crash course in circular breathing, for those curious.

Got a tune? Want to share? Send a link to Thanks for reading.


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