Despite recent reports raising questions over whether Covid-19 originated in a the Wuhan virology lab and Dr. Fauci admitting that the leak theory was possible (and worth investigating), the science and health reporter for the New York Times declared yesterday that the theory was “racist.” Even Facebook has announced that it is willing to allow users to discuss the theory and underlying evidence. When the tweets triggered an outcry, Apoorva Mandavilli deleted the tweets and, when asked by a Fox reporter for a comment, added “please don’t write” about her controversy.
For over a year, mainstream media including the New York Times has declared that the lab theory was “debunked” which was always demonstrably untrue. The lab theory and the theory of natural origins are just that: theories. There is support and questions for each theory. However, during the Trump Administration, the lab theory became part of a narrative against Trump and his supporters as racists.
Last week, it was disclosed that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology required hospitalization in November 2019. It is also known that the lab was working on such bat virus, including dangerous “gain of function” research.
Now various scientists and sources have acknowledged that the lab could be the origin of the virus and should be investigated with the natural origins theory. The change is embarrassing to many reporters who assured readers that the lab theory was debunked racist conspiracy theory.
Apoorva Mandavilli is one of those who was supposed to be covering such stories and exploring all possible origins. She is insisting that, regardless of what Fauci or others say, it is nothing more than a racist conspiracy theory. She tweeted “Someday we will stop talking about the lab leak theory and maybe even admit its racist roots. But alas, that day is not yet here.” She added that “A theory can have racist roots and still gather reasonable supporters along the way. Doesn’t make the roots any less racist or the theory any more convincing, though.”
Many noted that a science writer should … well … follow the science. An objective reporter would recognize that either origin is possible but that there is thus far no conclusive evidence. The lack of evidence is due in large part to the Chinese government arresting scientists, barring access, and preventing full inquiries despite the death of millions around the world.
Mandavilli later revised her statement to say that the lab theory is “possible” but not “plausible.” She did not explain why it is not plausible or why (if it is possible) it is clearly also a racist theory.
Later she deleted the tweets and, when a reporter contacted her, explained “I deleted it because it unleashed some incredibly nasty tweets and DMs. So please don’t write about it.”
It was an ironic request because the New York Times had long decided not to write about the lab theory while claiming it was a racist conspiracy theory.
Mandavilli still seem to view this fact as “too good to check” despite growing countervailing statements. Asked if the virus’ origin presumptively was forged in nature, Fauci said: “No, actually. I am not convinced about that. I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened.” Likewise, former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield has said publicly that he believes the virus escaped from the Chinese lab.
Retired New York Times science editor Nicholas Wade has chastised his former colleagues for ignoring the obvious evidence supporting a lab theory as well as Chinese efforts to arrest scientists and destroy evidence that could establish the origin.
Mandavilli is one of those colleagues but she appears undeterred by the science and unmotivated to question her own rejection of lab theory.