By Bernhard, editor of Moon of Alabama
It is a sad experience to see that several writers I like and often agree with are now propping up a Russiagate like conspiracy theory about the origin of the novel coronavirus.
Let's start with Kit Klarenberg who, in a lengthy cherry picking 'lab escape theory' essay, quotes approvingly from a Technology Review piece:
[Computer modeling] generated a startling result: the spike proteins studding SARS-CoV-2 bound more tightly to their human cell receptor, a protein called ACE2, than target receptors on any other species evaluated. In other words, SARS-CoV-2 was surprisingly well adapted to its human prey, which is unusual for a newly emerging pathogen.
BREAKING: Virus which predominantly infects humans is well adapted to predominantly infect humans!
Which proves exactly what?
On May 7 Michael Tracey pushed similar nonsense:
As New Evidence Emerges For COVID "Lab-Leak" Theory, Journalists Who Screamed “Conspiracy” Humiliate Themselves
Over and over again early last year, as the COVID pandemic was ramping up but hadn’t yet reached the US in earnest, journalists working at prominent national publications claimed to have conclusive knowledge about the origins of the virus. It was trafficking in a “conspiracy theory” that had been roundly “debunked” — they collectively declared — to suggest that the virus may have originated in a laboratory that specializes in experimenting on human infectious diseases in Wuhan, China.
These declarations look dopier than ever after a new article was published this week by the journalist Nicholas Wade, who for many years was a science correspondent for the New York Times. At the very least, Wade demonstrates that the “lab-leak” theory ought not to be discounted. But he also goes much further, showing that the theory is in fact highly plausible.
Is the 'lab-leak' theory as 'highly plausible' as Wade's earlier theory that racial differences in economic success come from genetic differences amplified by culture?
The fact that 140+ well established genetic scientists signed a public letter which rejected the earlier Wade theory as "guesswork" might tell us something?
Two days ago Glenn Greenwald jumped in:
Glenn Greenwald @ggreenwald - 0:09 utc · May 25, 2021
It's stunning how quickly, in mainstream sectors, this traveled from "insane unhinged conspiracy theory that must be censored from the internet as harmful disinformation" to "serious and plausible possibility for which rational evidence exists."
Let's learn lessons from this.
The Hill @thehill · May 25
Former FDA chief: Growing circumstantial evidence that COVID "could have come out of a lab" http://hill.cm/cYH8yN8
Then, under a similar mantle of 'media critique', Matt Taibbi furthered the 'lab escape' theory:
When the Wall Street Journal came out with a story that a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report detailed how three Wuhan researchers became sick enough to be hospitalized in November of 2019, the toothpaste was fully out of the tube: there was no longer any way to say the “lab origin” hypothesis was too silly to be reported upon.
That’s not to say the “lab origin” theory is correct, at all. However, that’s irrelevant to issue at hand.
No, that is not irrelevant at all.
A few hours ago Jimmy Dore and Matt Taibbi again promoted that shit citing the dubious paper published on January 15 which was not, as claimed, an 'intelligence report' but stove piped speculation by a small group in Mike Pompeo's State Department and recently warmed up again by Michael R. Gordon(!) and others in the Wall Street Journal.
The Narrator has picked that shoddy performance apart:
TheNarrator @TheNarrator000 - 23:52 utc · May 26, 2021
I’m amazed to watch Matt Taibbi correctly note this issue is “highly technical” and requires arduous expert consideration, only to pivot to saying a fringe theory was suppressed in a form of “manufacturing consent.” Wow.
Since the virus emerged I have quite diligently followed the scientific discussions about the origin of SARS-CoV-2. I can authoritatively say that the Nicolas Wade theory is not 'plausible' and certainly not 'highly plausible' at all. Wade and others assert that two theses - 'the virus emerged naturally' and 'the virus was created in and/or escaped a Chinese lab' - have equal weight.
We know that trick. Back in 2002 the two claims - 'Saddam Hussein will soon have nuclear weapons' - and - 'Saddam Hussein does not have the means to develop nuclear weapons' - were promoted as equally likely even as they were not. Both of those theses were theoretically possible. But the first was obvious nonsense while the second was well founded in objective facts. The 'lab leak' theory is similar to the first WMD claim - evidence-free speculation long promoted by a neoconservative leaning administration that was extremely hostile to the 'guilty' country in question.
As a reminder here is what the very same Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller reported on September 8 2002:
More than a decade after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb, Bush administration officials said today."
The same day Condoleezza Rice went live to further that nonsense:
On CNN on Sept. 8, 2002, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice infamously warned — incorrectly — that Saddam Hussein may be close to producing a nuclear weapon. When asked how “close” Saddam was to “developing a nuclear capacity,” Rice replied:
RICE: The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
As a push for action against Iraq, she added, “How long are we going to wait to deal with what is clearly a gathering threat against the United States, against our allies and against his own region?”
To see that writers like Tracey, Greenwald, Taibbi and Dore, usually considered to be adversarial to MSM nonsense, now cite such dimwits like Nicolas Wade and propagandists like Michael Gordon - who again quotes anonymous 'administration officials' - is beyond disappointing.
They encourage others like this BBC nitwit to follow Rice's path:
John Sudworth @TheJohnSudworth - 16:10 utc · May 25, 2021
There is no proof the virus leaked from a lab. But, of course, that’s the point. Without transparency we can’t rule it out either. I’m proud to have been part of one of the first MSM news teams to ask these crucial questions.
"There is no proof that Saddam will soon have nuclear weapons. But, of course, that’s the point. Without transparency we can’t rule it out either. I’m proud to have been part of one of the first MSM news teams to ask these crucial questions."
Yes, the sinophobe John Sudworth is again asking those crucial questions ...:
Hurry Up! Let's invade Iraq China!
Well then, how about these lab incidents:
From Jan. 1, 2015, through June 1, 2020, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reported 28 lab incidents involving genetically engineered organisms to safety officials at the National Institutes of Health, according to documents UNC released to ProPublica under a public records request. The NIH oversees research involving genetically modified organisms.
Six of the incidents involved various types of lab-created coronaviruses. Many were engineered to allow the study of the virus in mice. UNC declined to answer questions about the incidents and to disclose key details about them to the public, including the names of viruses involved, the nature of the modifications made to them and what risks were posed to the public, contrary to NIH guidelines.
When and where has John Sudworth, or any of the other writers mentioned above, asked the "crucial questions" about the University of North Carolina research with lab-modified coronaviruses?
That he would never dare to do so tells you everything you need to know about the issue. This isn't just about an implausible, evidence free tale of a SARS-CoV-2 lab escape. It is a campaign launched to depict China as an enemy of humankind.
If the question is “are both hypotheses possible?” the answer is yes. Both are possible. If the question is “are they equally likely?” the answer is absolutely not. One hypothesis requires a colossal cover-up and the silent, unswerving, leak-proof compliance of a vast network of scientists, civilians, and government officials for over a year. The other requires only for biology to behave as it always has, for a family of viruses that have done this before to do it again. The zoonotic spillover hypothesis is simple and explains everything. It’s scientific malpractice to pretend that one idea is equally as meritorious as the other. The lab-leak hypothesis is a scientific deus ex machina, a narrative shortcut that points a finger at a specific set of bad actors. I would be embarrassed to stand up in front of a room of scientists, lay out both hypotheses, and then pretend that one isn’t clearly, obviously better than the other.
Besides the hazy science, there is an undeniable political aspect to this argument. When violence against Asian people in the US is spiking, it’s naive at best and violent gaslighting at worst to pretend that supporting an evidence-free hypothesis that clearly adds fuel to the idea that China inflicted COVID-19 upon the world, that they did this to us, is noble scientific dispassion. There’s a choice being made here between two ideas — one that falls neatly within the world of biology, and the other that knots together conspiracy theory, political intrigue, and xenophobia.
To further baseless speculations about a 'lab escape' of SARS-CoV-2 has serious political consequences:
President Joe Biden said Wednesday he is ordering U.S. intelligence agencies to "redouble their efforts" to investigate the origins of COVID-19, including "specific questions for China."
Biden said an initial report he asked for earlier this month on whether the virus came from human contact with an infected animal or from a lab incident in China was inconclusive, so he's asking for a second report in 90 days to "bring us closer to a definitive conclusion."
"As of today, the U.S. Intelligence Community has 'coalesced around two likely scenarios' but has not reached a definitive conclusion on this question," Biden said in a statement. "Here is their current position: 'while two elements in the IC leans toward the former scenario and one leans more toward the latter – each with low or moderate confidence – the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other."
That cave in to the hawks of course only encouraged them to pile on:
"I think we should send a clear signal to China," [Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.,]said, "which seems to be the source of a lot of pandemics, that if this did occur in the lab, expect something to happen 'cause if we don't, we're just going to reinforce this in the future."
"President Biden sides with China, WHO and the liberal media on Wuhan virus—joining the 'nothing to see here crowd' by shutting down State Dept. pandemic origin investigation I commenced," [former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] tweeted. "This isn't political. America must lead on this."
With the lab-leak theory getting new attention, [former President Donald Trump] released a statement this week, saying, "Now everybody is agreeing that I was right when I very early on called Wuhan as the source of COVID-19, sometimes referred to as the China Virus."
The claim that SARS-CoV-2 is man-created and/or escaped from a laboratory is a theory without any supporting evidence. On the other side there are in total hundreds of adenoviruses, rhinoviruses and coronaviruses of various types that have naturally evolved and eventually managed to infect humans. To see Tracey, Greenwald, Taibbi and Dore blaming mainstream media for giving more weight to the well known natural process than to the evidence free 'lab escape' theory is not only hilarious, it is sad.
This especially as they know that all their speculation does is to further warmongering China hawks.
Posted by b on May 27, 2021 at 7:33 UTC | Permalink
It is not impossible that China simultaneously has the most brilliant biological warfare programme in the world and also does not know how to keep the pandemic-inducing bugs under lock and key. Not impossible, just rather unlikely.
Great. Next we'll be hearing about "known unknowns" and "unknown unknowns" in China.
Posted by: bummo | May 27 2021 7:57 utc | 2
Hold on hold on! If the Wuhan lab published their records and lab findings, this would be cleared up in one second. Instead, they stonewalled their ally Peter Daszak and the WHO inspectors.
Meanwhile, Hussein was always in compliance with UN inspectors. Lastly, Iraq was NOT trying to build nukes but China WAS doing gain of function research. Don't shoot the messengers just because you don't like the message.
Posted by: Sam | May 27 2021 7:58 utc | 3
The reinvigorated propaganda-pushing is due to more and more people learning about the Ft Detrick origin hypothesis. As more, and earlier, evidence seeps into public awareness, more eyes will look towards the USA. Preemptive displacement of fact and reason with drilled agitprop is business as usual for the goons.
Posted by: Lurk | May 27 2021 8:17 utc | 4
@Sam "Don't shoot the messengers just because you don't like the message."
There is no "message". i.e. there is no peer-reviewed paper/article in the serious scientific arena that supports the lab-leak theory.
Posted by: Cornelius Pipe | May 27 2021 8:19 utc | 5
@ P Chaniet | May 27 2021 8:10 utc | 4
Do you have any evidence for the claim that scientists destroyed the Wuhan coronavirus samples they were working on?
But it is actually about local authority samples gathered by people already infected. The samples were destroyed because they are classed as a pathogenic biohazard but were not stored in the appropriate facilities and safety requirements. More propaganda spin from the West?
The Wuhan lab hypothesis is possible but without any evidence it is unlikely. For example the claim that because SARS-CoV-2 is more infectious in humans than other coronaviruses like SARs or MERS then that is evidence it was genetically engineered. Bullocks.
Consider the counterfactual, that a natural virus that wasn't infectious, infected people in China. Guess what, we wouldn't be discussing it because no one would notice because it would not have spread. The only reason people are making such a fuss is because this is a global pandemic. Viruses are the most prolific and varied "life" on the planet, far more than even bacteria. Poorly infectious viruses are infecting humans all the time, but no one notices. We only see the big ones.
Posted by: Mighty Druken | May 27 2021 8:31 utc | 6
All well as far as the lab theory being used for geopolitical propaganda against China is concerned. I am wondering, however, why our estimated host always forgets to mention Fauci, Daszak, Baric and gain-of-function research. The lab theory implicates the US first and foremost, perhaps even Fort Detrick, not so much China.
Have I missed b.'s take on US funding of gain-of-function research and on Daszak's attempts to destroy the lab theory as the editor of the Lancet article and as a member of the WHO team with obvious conflicts of interest?
Posted by: Cherrycoke | May 27 2021 8:32 utc | 7
To those individuals repeating the agitprop meme of Wuhan lab secrecy: when was the Fort Detrick lab EVER scrutinized independently, let alone by an international investigation?
By the way, could some propaganda drone explain this away, a retrospective analysis shows 1 in 70 blood donors in Dec 2019 to Jan 2020 had antibodies for sars-cov-2 in their blood? That extrapolates to more than 300.000 Americans having been in contact with the virus before the epidemic got started globally!
Try to EVAL-uate that for a change.
Posted by: Lurk | May 27 2021 8:35 utc | 8
Global Times is advancing the Fort Detrick theory via an Op-Ed.
Posted by: Smith | May 27 2021 8:41 utc | 9
It's painful to see Taibbi and Dore succumbing to this nonsense. As for Greenwald, I have long given him up. He's not better than Rachel Maddow.
Posted by: Steve | May 27 2021 9:02 utc | 10
"BREAKING: Virus which predominantly infects humans is well adapted to predominantly infect humans!"
Yes, CoV-SARS-2 predominantly infects humans because it is well adapted to predominantly infect humans. Nobody doupts that.. But how did the virus acquire that ability? A virus of zoonotic origin should be very well adapted to infecting it`s intermediate host or natural reservoir host - bats, pangolins or whatever - but innitially not particular well adapted to infeting humans. That`s a skill that according to evolutionary theory the virus should have acquired only over time. The fact that CoV-SARS-2 already at the beginning had been very well adapted to human cells is indeed a piece of circumstantial evidence that it did not evolve by natural evolution.
" The zoonotic spillover hypothesis is simple and explains everything."
The zoonotic origin hypothesis stands and falls with the intermediate host. The longer it takes to find an intermediate host or natural reservoir the more it will lose credibility and the more the rival lab escape theory will gain traction. That`s the reason why an increasing number of writers contemplate this possibility. Not because of the war mongers in Washington.
Posted by: m | May 27 2021 9:04 utc | 11
Thanks for wading into this quagmire. It certainly gives me a few more 'data points'. However, just because you write:
Does not make you any kind of authority, and so all of of what you present are your opinions. I have read Wade's article in the bulletin and it was WAY more convincing than your splicing and conflicting of tidbits on Iraqi WMD.
Just because MSM and deep states are using this matter to their own advantage doesn't mean there is no there there. Also, you seem to have this great big blind spot wrt covid. From very early on you have been censoring the discussion on this topic. It is doing you no favours.
Disclaimer: I do not know the origins of the virus and I am no specialist, but the zoonotic origin seems very far-fetched to me. The lab origin is for me much more explanatory whether accidental or purposeful.
In these times of fake news and lies it is hard to get to any real facts, but the limited evidence presented so far suggests to me that we are being seriously mind-fucked and distracted from 'the truth'. This is important because blame games usually aim to cover up.
To sum up for me:
Posted by: Idiocrates | May 27 2021 9:04 utc | 12
Some more data points about how easy it is to fall into various kinds of traps wrt pandemics, misinformation, cover ups etc
It's a discussion on the history and origins of the so-called Spanish Flu of 1918.
Posted by: Idiocrates | May 27 2021 9:22 utc | 13
Interesting, i too had similar suspicions about the latest U-turn on reporting on this topic. In the end, it is likely we will never know the truth. So here is how i revert to constructing some sense of it all.
Fauci is not reliable, he has flip-flopped and been dishonest before. He is fundamentally a political actor.
The journalists (Dore is no journalist nor writer btw, though i respect what he does by bringing news on his show) mentioned by MoA seem to be quoting US intelligence... i share MoA's skepticism on the validity of their claims. The strength of the Wuhan lab theory is ultimately circumstantial in nature to most laymen. So why not push it if China is the enemy.
Now let us look at other factors.
Biden has all but committed to playing nice w Russia (Putin summit, no Colonial hack accusations etc.) and EU (no NS2 sanctions) in an attempt to focus on China, which has been singled out as the US' existential number 1 threat. Ironically, that was also Trump's attempted policy shift, but Russiagate blocked it.
I suspect the rebirth of the lab theory smells of US intel disnfo operation, there are many other indicators pointing to the US finally disengaging from many conflicts to focus on 'the China threat'. It would make sense to rebrand Trump's 'China flu' theory with the legitimacy of Fauci and Biden behind it, perhaps also as some other concessions may have been asked of the Military/Intel like pulling out of Afghanistan, Iran deal, ending US theft of Syrian oil, NS2 etc...
It's not to say the lab theory is not possible. All i can do is look at the breadcrumbs leading back to the media narrative and contextualise it, and just like MoA, there is enough fishiness to it for me to remain skeptical. Sadly, there is equally enough fishiness to a virus breaking out just walking distance from a lab researching coronaviruses.
Posted by: Et Tu | May 27 2021 9:23 utc | 14
"No, that is not irrelevant at all."
Meh. For the purpose of denouncing mass-media censorship it is indeed irrelevant.
As for the Iraq weapons, "without transparency we can’t rule it out either" is also a valid point. It's the next step: 'if we can’t rule it out then we must invade' that you should rage against.
You swing a bit too far, imo, and it hurts your credibility.
Posted by: Mao Cheng Ji | May 27 2021 9:27 utc | 15
If you find the above useful, pass it on! Become an "influence multiplier"!
The battle against the Big Lie killing the world will not be won by you just reading this article. It will be won when you pass it on to at least 2 other people, requesting they do the same.
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We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.
I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.
What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.
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It is not impossible that when Matt Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald talk up the possibility of the COVID crisis being caused by China, that they might be highly well-informed on this issue. Just rather unlikely.
More likely is the fact that since both Taibbi and Greenwald are under heavy attack from the American left for having dared to criticise the Glorious Leader His Bidennity, they are trying to show that at rock bottom they are trustworthy and decent people. Also, incidentally, both of them are pointing out something which is perfectly true, that the mainstream media has turned on a dime over this issue; in the past when anti-China propaganda benefited Lord Voldemort of Pennsylvania Avenue, it was not the done thing to promote this, but now that the youthful and ever-liberal Democratic Party is safe in control of everything except the Senate and the Supreme Court, it's OK to pile in on the yellow peril.
None of this is of any real value. Incidentally, neither Taibbi nor Greenwald benefit from any of this.
Posted by: MFB | May 27 2021 7:47 utc | 1