Remember when social media platforms forbade anyone from even suggesting that the COVID virus may have leaked from a lab in China that was studying coronaviruses?
Pepperidge Farm remembers.
But that was way back then. Now, much of the COVID narrative is falling apart — new studies have suggested that masks don’t work, lockdowns were ineffectual, the vaccine is now mostly ineffective, and the U.S. Energy Department says that it’s likely the Wuhan lab was the source of the virus.
One person who’s been following the whole saga is Bill Maher, host of HBO’s “Real Time.”
“I feel like the people who were the dissenters are looking pretty good. I was one of them,” Maher said during a panel discussion on his show Friday night. “I remember getting a lot of s*** from a lot of places.”
A guest on the show, comedian and Rumble host Russell Brand, jumped in, saying dissent “is a great duty around all topics” as he criticized those who are “too desperate to shut down a conversation.” That, he said, actually results in the “ironic” rejection of science and inquiry.
“The problem I feel that we had is that only experimentation was taking place that was beneficial to certain interests,” Brand said. “Only arguments were being advanced that were beneficial to certain interests. Only regulations were being imposed that were beneficial to certain interests.”
“The Wuhan lab leak theory being just one example — [top COVID official Dr. Anthony] Fauci himself was seriously considering that this was a likely origin for the virus,” the actor said.
“How could it not be a possibility?” Maher said incredulously. “It’s a lab in Wuhan where the virus started that studied the virus and was doing gain of function research on the virus. How could it not be?!”
Another guest on the show, liberal MSNBC analyst John Heilemann toed the party line, blaming former President Donald Trump for “politicizing” the issue and putting the lab-leak theory in doubt.
“If you go back to that time, why do people seize on the notion that they’ll reject the lab-leak theory? Because like everything else in COVID, Donald Trump politicized it from day one,” he said.
“His thing in that first two weeks was ‘kung flu.’ And it was not just that it started in a lab, but then that the Chinese had released it on the world, that it was a bioweapon. This wasn’t a leak. It was just not like there was an accident in the lab. The notion that was put forward by the administration in some case was there was political interest to make China the villain,” Heilemann said.
But Maher pushed back. “So everybody else has to take his bait like that and double down on stupid?” he said.
Brand piled on, saying it wasn’t just Trump who politicized the virus.
“It seems that it’s not solely the responsibility of Donald Trump that this issue has become politicized. When we take the issue of natural immunity, the efficacy of masks, it’s difficult not to posit that perhaps increasingly a centralized authority becomes subject to inquiry that has never before face to because of the advancement of technology, because of our media ability to communicate, they are doubling down on authoritarianism,” Brand said.
Maher’s criticism follows that of Jon Stewart, a dyed-in-the-wool liberal who once hosted “The Daily Show.” He was roundly ripped by fellow liberals when he vehemently (and in a quite funny way) declared in June 2021 that the COVID virus emerged from a lab in Wuhan, China.
He felt vindicated when the U.S. Energy Department said this week the virus likely emerged from the lab.
“The larger problem with all of this is the inability to discuss things that are within the realm of possibility without falling into absolutes and litmus-testing each other for our political allegiances as it arose from that,” he said.
“My bigger problem with that was, I thought it was a pretty good bit that expressed kind of how I felt, and the two things that came out of it were, I’m racist against Asian people, and how dare I align myself with the alt-right,” Stewart said.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.