There is a lot of misinformation surrounding the coronavirus outbreak in China and elsewhere, mostly thanks to the communist nation’s crackdown on letting real information out.
The American media, however, is more concerned with dunking on Republicans and “fact checking” them to bolster claims they’re liars than with actual information regarding the coronavirus. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) has said multiple times that we currently don’t know where exactly the coronavirus has originated (he said China’s explanation that it originated in a fish market is untrue). Cotton has also said that just miles away from that food market is a Chinese super lab that studies human infectious diseases.
Cue media fact checkers. The fact checkers point to “experts” who have “debunked” Cotton’s claims. Except they have “debunked” things Cotton never said.
The Washington Post is the most recent to “fact check” Cotton, quoting him saying one thing and experts talking about something else. The Post included two quotes from Cotton.
“We don’t know where it originated, and we have to get to the bottom of that,” Cotton said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.” “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.”
During that same interview, Cotton acknowledged that the U.S. needs more information from China about where the disease originated.
“Now, we don’t have evidence that this disease originated there, but because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning, we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says,” Cotton said. “And China right now is not giving any evidence on that question at all.”
Nowhere in those interviews does Cotton suggest China hand-made the disease in those labs, yet that is what the “fact checkers” are debunking. The New York Times and The Daily Beast also “debunked” Cotton’s claims.
Richard Ebright, chemical biology professor at Rutgers University, told the Post “There’s absolutely nothing in the genome sequence of this virus that indicates the virus was engineered.
“The possibility this was a deliberately released bioweapon can be firmly excluded,” he added.
Except, Cotton didn’t suggest it was manmade. He said the lab “researches” human infectious diseases. He didn’t say they engineered them. Ebright’s other point also can’t be “firmly excluded” just because the virus may not have been human engineered. Surely the Post edited his remarks.
Vipin Narang, associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, came the closest to “debunking” what Cotton said, by saying it was “highly unlikely” the virus infected the general population due to an accident at the lab. That’s more in line with what Cotton was saying.
Narang then went sideways by debunking something Cotton didn’t say.
“It’s a skip in logic to say it’s a bioweapon that the Chinese developed and intentionally deployed, or even unintentionally deployed,” Narang said.
Yes, it is a skip in logic. One Cotton didn’t make.
Cotton responded to media outlets “debunking” claims he didn’t make on Twitter.
“Let me debunk the debunkers. @paulina_milla and her ‘experts’ wrongly jump straight to the claim that the coronavirus is an engineered bioweapon. That’s not what I’ve said. There’s at least four hypotheses about the origin of the virus:” Cotton said. He then outlined the four hypotheses, which he said are not “theories,” but “hypotheses that ought to be studied in light of the evidence, if the Chinese Communist Party would provide it.”
Let me debunk the debunkers. @paulina_milla and her “experts” wrongly jump straight to the claim that the coronavirus is an engineered bioweapon. That’s not what I’ve said. There’s at least four hypotheses about the origin of the virus: https://t.co/536ygN1gC7
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) February 17, 2020
The first, which Cotton said is the most likely, is that the virus came from natural causes. The second hypothesis is that the virus was accidentally released from the lab. The third is that it is an engineered-bioweapon with an accidental release, and the fourth hypothesis is that it was a deliberate release.
Cotton listed these hypotheses after the “debunkers” started jumping to conclusions to fact check him.