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Reactions to RedState's Exclusive Reporting on Chinese Defector Dong Jingwei Show Disturbing Pattern

AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

When I published the first in what’s become a series about the defection of a high-ranking Chinese government official on June 4, there was zero reaction from the mainstream media, and the reaction from the professional former spook crowd was a quick dismissal of the story.

Granted, it hasn’t been the standard operating procedure for defectors to be handled by DIA or for the information to be kept from other agencies or the White House for a time. But, as I said in an editor’s note at the end of my first post, I stand by my sources.

RedState’s website felt the reaction about 12 hours later, though, experiencing a DDOS attack.

As the story has progressed, though, the reactions are an interesting and disturbing insight into how those with their own agendas attempt to shape the narrative and marginalize those who won’t go along with that narrative. This gets a little lengthy, so the “too long, didn’t read” summary is that what I’ll call the professional former spook community went from saying RedState’s reporting was completely untrue and used to attack Dr. Fauci, to admitting that parts of it could be true, to taking credit for the reporting.

June 11, 2021:

My second story in the series was published with further details about the information the defector provided and some of the ways in which it was validated. Particularly, I noted that information about the SARS-CoV-2 virus – information that was omitted in the partial genome sequence Beijing first provided the world – provided by the defector was sent blindly to a Stanford virologist, and that information (about a double CGG amino acid sequence) led to the virologist concluding that “the virus was developed in a laboratory.” The virologist and his partner, a scientist formerly with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, had published their findings in the Wall Street Journal on June 6.

I also noted that Dong had provided documentation that the Wuhan lab was in fact a military bioweapons research facility funded by and managed by the People’s Liberation Army, and that very technical details of Dong’s debriefing were shared with USAMRIID and lined up with information USAMRIID already had.

June 14, 2021:

It was then that a more concerted effort to “debunk” the story began. By Monday, June 14. the New York Times published an “unscheduled” interview with “Bat Woman” Dr. Shi Zhengli, who straight-up lied about her research and even denied that three Wuhan Institute of Virology employees had been so sick with coronavirus-like symptoms in the fall of 2019 that they had to be hospitalized.

ABC News covered the lab leak theory twice that day, first in a “teaser” segment on Good Morning America leading to that night’s episode of Nightline. The segment was touted as an “ABC News Investigates” piece about the origins of the coronavirus and featured colleagues of Dr. Peter Daszak and Dr. Ralph Baric saying with a straight face that “we’re looking at a virus that came from nature,” and that there are “no tell-tale fingerprints of overt bioengineering,” a way of hitting back against the WSJ piece claiming that the double CGG sequence is a “beacon” used by scientists to denote a bioengineered virus.

But, ABC News reporter Terry Moran did report that a former State Department official told them that the US government was aware of PLA financial accounts that were funding the WIV and its research, and that ABC News knew this in January 2021.

June 15, 2021:

I appeared on Newsmax with Chris Salcedo. The tweet from Newsmax quoted me as saying, “The Chinese military runs that lab entirely.”

The social media reaction to that appearance was basically, “Who is this lady?” “What does RedState know?”

June 17, 2021:

I appeared on “True Story” with Mike Slater on The First TV at 11:45 a.m. Eastern time to talk about PLA operation/control of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. He led off by asking about my editor’s note in the first piece, saying it was bold to “double down” on my story and why that was. I also talked about the efforts to proactively discredit what the defector would bring out and likened it to the complete discrediting of Dr. Yan Li-Meng facilitated by the FBI for the past year.

At 3:25 p.m. Eastern, Spy Talk, run by Jeff Stein, published a piece naming the defector and his position but claiming the defection was only rumored. The piece featured quotes from intelligence community/national security experts who said they doubted it was true and that even if it were, the information Dong had wouldn’t be world-changing. Both in the piece and in tweets publicizing it, Stein attempts to discredit RedState by labeling it a “pro-Trump website” and by saying we “weaponized” the information to mount an attack on Fauci.

Now, I’m not sure if this was an effort to get me to disclose sources or to somehow deflect attention, but it didn’t work that way.

I confirmed the defector’s information with my sources and in those conversations learned more about the breadth of information the defector brought with him, and published that at 8:00 PM Eastern. Not surprisingly, the reactions to that piece ran the gamut. The “former covert CIA officer” community completely dismissed the story at that time.

Between the time the Spy Talk piece was published and the time my update dropped, Allahpundit at our sister site Hot Air posted a piece casting a lot of doubt on RedState’s reporting, but that wasn’t enough for the Spy Talker.

Stein wrote, in somewhat broken English — or a typo, your choice:

“I appreciate you paying such attention to our story re rumors of the defection of Dong Jingwei, but you egregious conflated the unfounded takes of RedState with our own, careful reporting on the issue.”

June 18, 2021:

The CCP issued a press release that Dong led a seminar that day in China – which was not accompanied by any photos or videos. The press release was printed by the South China Morning Post with a photo of a dissenter (not Dong Jingwei) as the featured photo, which (laughably) some on social media took to be a photo of Dong.

The press release was also printed in “China Peace,” which, as you can tell by the URL in this tweet from Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz, is a Chinese government site.

Some argued that SCMP is in Hong Kong so therefore they have freedom; this week’s roundup of the executives publishing Apple Daily and the ransacking of their Hong Kong offices says differently.

John Schindler appeared to be particularly affected by the “rumors” and RedState’s role in them.

He apparently dissected the nonsense claims, but it’s behind a paywall.

Bill Gertz had a different take later in the day:

June 19, 2021:

BBC’s John Simpson reports on “rumors in Washington & London” about Dong defecting to the US.

Schindler changes his tune – now it’s maybe a defector in Europe who doesn’t trust any US agency.

But also addresses Simpson’s tweet – allowing that “it could be true.” Think about it. If the defector had information that would clearly be contrary to Schindler’s worldview, why in the world would they tell him about it?

Gordon Chang, who had appeared on WMAL’s Vince Coglianese Show the day before, appeared on Newsmax talking about the import of the rumors. While on the Vince Coglianese Show, the basis was RedState’s reporting (which he didn’t dismiss in any way); by the time of his Newsmax appearance, the talk was about “original reporting by Spy Talk… and others.” I don’t fault Chang for this, since he was simply the guest, though.

Addressing the criticism that the story can’t be true because Dong allegedly went to the DIA and bypassed CIA and FBI, this thread appeared on Twitter.

The thread reads:

Short thread

Comments from Col. Patrick Lang who at the Defense Intelligence Agency, was the defense intelligence officer (DIO) for the Middle East, South Asia and counter-terrorism, and later, the first director of the Defense Humint Service.

At the DIA, he was a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service. He participated in the drafting of National Intelligence Estimates. From 1992 to 1994, all the U.S. military attachés worldwide reported to him.

These are his thoughts on Chinese Defector “Dong”:

OK pilgrim turcopoles, here is the deal. This man, as Chinese counter-intelligence boss looked around the IC and decided that he was most likely to survive an internal leak if he defected to DIA.

That means that in spite of the fact that DIA had an internal Chinese mole (recently arrested at DIA request by the FBI), the rest of the agencies are worse in the level in Chinese intelligence penetration not only of their analytic people but also of their operations staff.

How do I know that? Material from the defector (Dong) would not normally be shared with analysts if it had his name in it. His identity would be held in operational channels.

Clearly, this man believes that; CIA. army intelligence, naval intelligence, USAF intelligence and all the rest are heavily penetrated. pl

*Someone asked about how the info was released, here is his very strategic response:

“I suspect that DIA deliberately leaked this info to make it more difficult for CIA to try to take him away from them. I would have done that.”

After reading this, I spoke with someone who worked with Col. Lang at DIA to see if this was legit. That person said they hadn’t spoken to Lang about the issue but that the verbiage sounds like him. Obviously, that isn’t evidence, but could be an insight into Dong’s thought process – and the DIA’s.

June 20, 2021:

Piggybacking on Newsmax’s story, Australia’s news.com.au writes about the defection, crediting Spy Talk.

Australian Broadcasting Company conducted a radio interview with Chang, with the ABC interviewer again only referencing the Spy Talk article. Chang did say that it’s more likely than not that Dong defected.

What’s funny about Spy Talk getting the credit is that they are completely dismissive of my story. At the same time, it gives them credibility in shaping the narrative about this defection (likely downplaying the role of the PLA in the Wuhan lab and biowarfare) and completely ignores the problems within the intelligence community and the alleged penetration of CIA, FBI, and state by Chinese assets.

So, there you have it. First, ignore. Then, attack the source’s credibility. Then, leak information to take the story in a different direction. If none of that works, again attack the source’s credibility and attempt to introduce contradictory evidence. If that doesn’t work, claim ownership of the story and start shaping your own narrative.

It’ll be interesting to see what the next week brings. Catch me on The Chris Salcedo Show on Newsmax on Tuesday to go over the latest developments.