It was just last year that PolitiFact labeled Fox News host Tucker Carlson a “pants on fire” kind of liar for his report that the COVID-19 virus wasn’t just a naturally occurring virus, but one that was actually created in a lab in Wuhan. It wasn’t just a wild claim either. Carlson brought on virologist Dr. Li-Meng Yan from the University of Hong Kong who said she could actually produce scientific evidence for the claim.
Yet, the “fact-checkers” at PolitiFact weren’t just dismissive, they seemed to get a bit defensive.
“The claim is inaccurate and ridiculous,” wrote Daniel Funke in September. “We rate it Pants on Fire!”
Now, PolitiFact is walking their ruling back and archiving it away for good measure with an editor’s note:
When this fact-check was first published in September 2020, PolitiFact’s sources included researchers who asserted the SARS-CoV-2 virus could not have been manipulated. That assertion is now more widely disputed. For that reason, we are removing this fact-check from our database pending a more thorough review. Currently, we consider the claim to be unsupported by evidence and in dispute. The original fact-check in its entirety is preserved below for transparency and archival purposes. Read our May 2021 report for more on the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19.
This correction comes on the back of an article penned by Tom Kertscher and Noah Y. Kim which stated very plainly that they don’t know the origin of the COVID-19 virus and listed four points, all of which point to possible manipulation of an existing virus to infect the human population.
- SARS-CoV-2 was first noticed in Wuhan, close to a lab where bat coronaviruses were being studied and far from the location where naturally occurring relatives of the virus were found. However, there are other plausible explanations of how the virus could have made its way to Wuhan besides a lab leak.
- Researchers at the Wuhan lab used reverse genetics on bat coronaviruses to create viruses not found in nature. Some of this research was funded by a grant provided by the National Institutes of Health. However, there’s no evidence that this research led to the creation of SARS-CoV-2.
- Scientists who have studied the coronavirus have generally concluded that it resembles naturally occurring viruses. However, we can’t completely rule out that the virus was somehow manipulated. Some extremely competent forms of gain-of-function research don’t leave signatures or telltale signs of manipulation.
- The early outbreak of the coronavirus was linked to various wildlife markets, which lends support to the claim that the virus jumped from animals to humans. However, scientists haven’t yet identified an intermediate host animal that could have incubated the virus before it jumped to humans.
When the possibility was first brought to the public’s attention, those who label themselves fact-checkers, many of whom declared very confidently that the virus itself showed no possibility of lab manipulation.
Interestingly enough, more information is coming out about the United States’ own National Institute of Health, under the nation’s most famous virologist, Anthony Fauci, approving grants to the Wuhan Lab where the virus possibly originated.
So the angle that Carlson reported on wasn’t so crazy after all. What’s more, it exposes the fact that “fact-checking” sites such as PolitiFact will move against an idea without all the data themselves, and even spew false information in ignorance in order to protect a political narrative.
It’s not just happening on PolitiFact either. The Facebook “fact-checkers” have also been censoring debate about climate science as Townhall reported on Thursday.