Apoorva Mandavilli is the New York Times’ COVID-19 reporter. “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 tweeted — not last year, but just a couple of days ago. The “lab leak theory” has always been the most likely theory for the release of the virus into the world.
Ironically, the alternative theory that Mandavilli seems to think is less racist is Chinese citizens in wet markets eating bats or some such. When Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton raised the lab leak theory last year, he was roundly attacked for racism. A year later, intelligence does suggest workers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology got infected and accidentally began a global pandemic.
Recently, the Washington Post’s media writer, Margaret Sullivan, wrote a piece on her newspaper’s new female editor. She included a line from a correspondent who asked: “Does she understand — really understand — that ... the United States is on track to become functionally an authoritarian white Christian nationalist state in the very near future? And if the answer is ‘Yes,’ what is she prepared to do about it? Right now nothing else signifies.” Jay Rosen, a highly respected journalism professor at New York University, highlighted that reader’s concern and agreed with it. The Democrats control all of Washington. Joe Biden just won the election by several million votes. But Rosen is worried we are on the verge of “an authoritarian white Christian nationalist state in the very near future.”
Last summer, reporters at CNN and MSNBC stood in front of rioters burning buildings in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and characterized the protests as peaceful. One correspondent actually said on television that they were fiery “but mostly peaceful.” As video showed antifa activists beating up people in streets across America, CNN’s Chris Cuomo claimed the group is peaceful.
As the virus raged through America last year and the country shut down, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi engaged in a series of partisan maneuvers to hurt the GOP and expand her Democratic coalition. Her efforts were greeted by the American political press corps as strategic brilliance. Her brilliance nearly cost the Democrats the House. Republicans gained seats at the state level, held state legislative bodies they were expected to lose and came within five seats of taking back the House of Representatives itself.
News outlets that claim ownership of truth and fact have become narrative-based mouthpieces for progressive politics and policy. This gives the GOP a latent advantage because the press, now constantly pushing back against Republican claims, winds up pushing back against reality itself. Americans then become more open to Republican claims, which sound more like the reality those Americans are living.