Did the Covid-19 virus come from a lab in Wuhan, China?
To ask that question in public was, until recently, to out yourself as a person wearing a tinfoil hat. It was nothing more than a far-right crackpot conspiracy theory, “disinformation” that could get you banned from Twitter, YouTube and Facebook all at once, the kind of thing you only dared discuss in private.
Yesterday I asked that question of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. His answer: Yes.
He told me he’s believed that it’s come from a lab for “some time” and lays out the evidence. (Evidence, he says, that has troubling implications for Dr. Fauci.)
Why does this matter?
Because we want to prevent it from happening again.
Virology labs are typically highly regulated and monitored with specific precautions for certain work. If a virus that’s claimed 3.4 million lives escaped from the Wuhan lab — one that former New York Times correspondent Donald McNeil points out was “highly prone to porous leaks” — we should know what went exactly wrong.
Another reason this matters is because it could reveal important things about the nature of the Chinese Communist Party, which disappeared and jailed journalists who dared to report on the virus, silenced heroic whistleblowers, and used the World Health Organization to broadcast its propaganda.
So why is this theory only now being discussed? Well, at The New York Times, as Donald McNeil points out in a post just published on Medium, staff was hamstrung. Sources in the Trump administration posited the lab leak theory, so it must be untrue, thought reporters and editors. Epidemiologists cast doubt on it, so it couldn’t be true.
For further evidence of this dynamic, read another former Times writer, Nicholas Wade, entertain the lab-leak theory in a Medium post of his own. (Note, of course, not just where it was published, but where it wasn’t.)
To run an Op-Ed or news piece speculating or theorizing or reporting on the origin of SARS-CoV-2 in a lab was considered dangerous. A path not to be tread. So, at least at The Times, it wasn’t. The idea, save for the pages of conservative and right-wing publications, couldn’t break through. It took until January of this year for New York Magazine to run this comprehensive piece by Nicholson Baker.
This is very troubling, but it is also, at this stage, unsurprising. On so many topics, the legacy press has forcibly limited the scope of legitimate discussion. The downstream effect of this is as obvious as it is alarming: It denigrates trust in institutions that are meant to be in the business of pursuing the truth. And it drives curious people to dark corners of the Web, where conversations about the origins of the virus mix easily with those about the Rothschilds.
In our wide-ranging conversation, Mr. Pompeo explains why he thinks China — which seeks nothing less than to “build an empire”— is by far the gravest threat facing the United States and the West. He explains how the CCP is exercising serious influence over higher education, Hollywood, agriculture, the NBA and even local elections. “The Chinese Communist Party is attending city council meetings all across America,” he says.
We also discuss Iran and Israel, whether he has any regrets about working for Donald Trump.