The media ignored a 2020 intelligence community assessment that COVID-19 may have originated in a Chinese laboratory and instead chose to portray the very idea as “racist,” a former intelligence official said Saturday afternoon.
Ric Grenell, the Trump administration’s acting Director of National Intelligence, incisively deconstructed the media narrative on “CNN Newsroom with Jim Acosta” just after 4 p.m. Eastern on Saturday afternoon.
Grenell noted that the nation’s intelligence communities came together to issue a joint statement on the origins of the coronavirus global pandemic in April 2020.
“The entire intelligence community believed either that it was an animal-to-human transmission or the Wuhan lab,” he said.
The U.S. intelligence community closed the statement, which is still available on the ODNI website, by pledging “to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
But the media ignored the second half of the statement, that the virus potentially originated at a laboratory like the Wuhan Institute of Virology, for nearly a year, Grenell said.
For much of 2020, legacy media outlets called any statement that the novel coronavirus may have spread to the rest of the world from a lab “baseless,” a “conspiracy theory,” or a racial attack to divert attention from President Trump’s allegedly inadequate response to the pandemic. Those media outlets have now tried to say that “new” intelligence has made the Wuhan lab story “suddenly” credible.
“I have to be clear, there has been no intelligence released that contradicts or adds to the last statement from 2020,” Grenell said. “Nothing has changed except for the media newsrooms suddenly now are charged up about something that they should have been charged up [about] in April 2020.”
Instead, “the entire D.C. political establishment and media newsrooms all focused on this as a racist comment towards China,” he said. “The narrative was more of a racist tone towards China.”
Acosta asked him, “What do you mean, Ric, when you say that?”
Grenell replied, “We have a thing called the German measles, but nobody says, ‘Hey, if you say the German measles, it’s somehow racist.’ What we mean by that is that it started in Germany. Whether it’s the African flu, or the German measles, or saying that COVID-19 started in China, that’s a very accurate statement.”
He added that “the intelligence community I was in charge of [was] backgrounding reporters to say, ‘Hey, this is not political. This started in China.’”
Acosta, who clashed publicly with President Trump numerous times during his administration, tried to blame the media’s dereliction on the former president.
“Ric, you say we’ve unfairly accused the president of being racist at the time, he did also use the term ‘Kung Flu,’” Acosta pushed back. “If he wasn’t being racist in saying these things, why was he saying things like the ‘Kung Flu’?”
Grenell said the media are free to critique any president’s words, tone, or actions. “All I’m saying is, if you look at the 2020 statement, it was clear that the intelligence community said that this was China, and yet it was wildly dismissed by our media in Washington and the political establishment,” Grenell said.
Acosta abruptly brought Grenell’s media criticism to an end by interrupting him and saying, “Let me ask you about something substantive here.”
He then asked if Grenell was optimistic that the People’s Republic of China would be forthcoming about the origins of the virus.
Grenell, a former spokesman to the United Nations, said China had aggressively infiltrated the leadership of U.N. agencies since at least the George W. Bush administration.
“I have zero faith the WHO is ever going to do anything but what the Communist Party of China wants it to do,” he added.