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Was China Money Behind the Media Playing Down Wuhan COVID Ties?

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Was China Money Behind the Media Playing Down Wuhan COVID Ties?

New Justice Department disclosures reveal major U.S. media organizations are continuing to take substantial amounts of money from a communist Chinese propaganda outlet in the guise of “advertising.” In light of President Biden’s announcement that COVID origins require a fresh look, it should be interesting to see how many of these news sites helped play down, or flat-out deny, any connection between the Wuhan lab and the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Let’s take a look.

“A news agency controlled by the Chinese Communist Party paid millions of dollars to American newspapers and magazines over the past six months, even as U.S. officials have sounded the alarm on Beijing’s propaganda activities,” the Washington Free Beacon reported May 25.

China Daily paid more than $1.6 million for advertising campaigns in Time magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, and Foreign Policy magazine, according to disclosures filed with the Justice Department. The Beijing-controlled news agency paid another $1 million to American newspapers, including the L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, and Houston Chronicle, to print copies of its own publications.”

‘Unsubstantiated,’ ‘Conspiracy Theory’

One year ago, many of these publications were scolding then-President Donald Trump for suggesting that the coronavirus pandemic may have its origins in a Chinese research lab in Wuhan.

Time magazine wrote on May 21, 2020:

“As the coronavirus pandemic rages, the Trump administration’s already-rocky relationship with China has deteriorated. President Trump has sought to blame the country for the public health and economic disaster, for a time calling the new coronavirus the ‘Wuhan virus’ or the ‘Chinese virus,’ and as recently as May 7, spreading unsubstantiated claims that the virus emerged from a lab in Wuhan. On May 14, he went so far as to suggest that the U.S. might ‘cut off the whole relationship.’”

The Los Angeles Times wrote on May 9, 2020:

“Like the virus whose origin it purports to explain, the following conjecture refuses to die: The novel coronavirus was cooked up in a Chinese lab and either escaped or was intentionally released.

It’s a claim without the support of any publicly available evidence. It implies that tight-lipped members of a large and malign network colluded to engineer the COVID-19 pandemic or to cover up an accident that caused it.

The story has all the earmarks of a conspiracy theory. And it has drawn support from the highest levels of the U.S. government.

By contrast, strong and widely available evidence supports a very different hypothesis about the virus’ origins: It evolved naturally.”

‘Doesn’t Make Sense’

James Le Duc

James Le Duc

The Houston Chronicle on April 22, 2020 wrote a feature article on James Le Duc, director of the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, Texas. Le Duc “has had a professional relationship with several Chinese biocontainment labs since 2013, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory, which studies some of the world’s most lethal infectious diseases, including coronaviruses in bats,” The Chronicle reported.

In the lead sentence of the article, it is reported that Le Duc “acknowledged that while that facility made security a priority, it is possible that an accident could have led to the global virus outbreak.”

But further in the piece, he dismisses the notion:

“It’s all speculation that the lab was involved and I think it’s very appropriate that people look into this because that’s where some of the work is done, but the timeline doesn’t make sense,” Le Duc is quoted as saying. “I’m not at all trying to defend… the laboratory, and frankly I think the Chinese government has done themselves and the global community a big disservice by not being more transparent as to what’s going on, but that’s a whole different set of issues.”

The Chicago Tribune appears to have relied heavily on Associated Press and New York Times accounts of its Wuhan coverage. Both outlets were stridently anti-Trump in their reporting.

An April 30, 2020 New York Times article reprinted in The Tribune began by stating:

“Senior Trump administration officials have pushed U.S. spy agencies to hunt for evidence to support an unsubstantiated theory that a government laboratory in Wuhan, China, was the origin of the coronavirus outbreak, according to current and former U.S. officials. The effort comes as President Donald Trump escalates a public campaign to blame China for the pandemic.”

Trump is now out of office, and a new spin is being put on the Wuhan allegations, one that chastises “mainstream” media outlets for being too focused on the former president at the time. The Hill reported on May 25:

“The media face hard questions amid a growing acceptance that it is possible COVID-19 originated in a Chinese laboratory.

The idea was disparaged as a conspiracy theory by multiple outlets last year — almost surely because its loudest promoter was then-President Trump.

Now, as uncertainty grows, there are burgeoning suspicions that the media overstepped their mark.”

The big-box media organizations displayed a virulent loathing for the Trump presidency. Given that Trump stood for taking a hard line on China in trade and other matters while the publications listed above were taking piles of cash from the Asian communist superpower, perhaps an honest reckoning on just why America’s corporate media despised Trump so much in the first place is in order.


Read more from Joe Schaeffer.

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