WaPo Kinda Sorta Walks Back Headline Slamming Tom Cotton and Wuhan Lab Leak Theory

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The headline was used to unjustifiably slam Sen. Tom Cotton for more than a year, but over the past few weeks, even members of the mainstream media used it as an example of a possible “overreaction” to anything Donald Trump said about the coronavirus back at the beginning of the pandemic. And now, The Washington Post changed the headline, “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked,” to, “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus fringe theory that scientists have disputed.

A correction was posted at the top of the story.

It reads:

Earlier versions of this story and its headline inaccurately characterized comments by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) regarding the origins of the coronavirus. The term “debunked” and The Post’s use of “conspiracy theory” have been removed because, then as now, there was no determination about the origins of the virus.

I call BS.

The Post is correct that there was no determination about the origins of the virus then or now, but that sure as hell isn’t how they portrayed it then. And how does removing the use of “conspiracy theory” relate to any determination about the origins of the virus?

Besides, using the word “fringe” in the new headline tells us everything we need to know about how The Post still feels about a lab leak theory. Or, as some of their writers have claimed, are they okay looking into a lab leak theory but just can’t stomach having to fully retract their comments about Tom Cotton?

They’re pretty fond of twisting his (and every conservative’s) words. In the original story, they took Cotton’s contention that we needed to look into where the virus “originated” to mean he was claiming either that the virus was man-made or a bioweapon – but who can really tell, based on this paragraph from the original:

In response to Cotton’s remarks, as well as in previous interviews with The Washington Post, numerous experts dismissed the possibility the coronavirus may be man-made.

“There’s absolutely nothing in the genome sequence of this virus that indicates the virus was engineered,” said Richard Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University. “The possibility this was a deliberately released bioweapon can be firmly excluded.”

For reference, here’s what Cotton said:

“We don’t know where it originated, and we have to get to the bottom of that,” Cotton said. “We also know that just a few miles away from that food market is China’s only biosafety level 4 super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases.”

Unless Cotton was using some super-secret code words, nowhere did he say that he believed the virus was a bioweapon or man-made. He also made no reference to any type of conspiracy – except perhaps by the CCP, to conceal data that might make them look bad.

What kind of “correction” might be needed should the lab leak theory turn out to be correct, as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proclaimed on Twitter today?