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Did the New York Times stifle lab leak debate? Were commercial relationships with China a factor?

Is Nikole-Hannah Jones the next Walter Duranty?(Mario Tama/Getty Images)


August 2, 2021   5 mins

The world’s verdict on the lab leak seems to be shifting. The Biden Administration now thinks there is a credible possibility that Covid-19 leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. WHO chief Tedros Adhanome Ghebreyesus has admitted that attempts to dismiss the hypothesis were “premature”. These are, of course, positive developments — but they should also leave us astounded.

In the opening months of the pandemic, the lab leak hypothesis was actively discredited by the media and scientific establishment, with anyone associated with it smeared as “racist”. The question we have to ask now is how, and why, did this happen?

To a great extent, I believe the answer lies with the world’s most powerful news outlet, the New York Times. At the start of the pandemic, the Times set the news and policy agenda on the lab leak hypothesis, discrediting it and anyone who explored it. The Times did so while taking money from Chinese state-owned propaganda outlets, such as China Daily, and while pursuing long-term investments in China that may have made the paper susceptible to the CCP’s strong-arm propaganda tactics in the first months of the pandemic.

As someone who has spent years researching the history of the Times, I was struck by the paper’s markedly pro-China bent at the start of the pandemic. It opposed Trump’s travel ban to and from China as “isolationist”. It all but ignored the unparalleled success of China’s arch-enemy, Taiwan, in containing the virus. It downplayed China’s economic war against Australia, whose prime minister early on questioned the CCP story on the pandemic’s origins. And it celebrated China’s success in battling Covid-19, taking the CCP’s absurd mortality numbers at face value, reporting in August 2020 that 4,634 Chinese people died from the virus and, six months later, that there were 4,636 total deaths. That in a country of 1.4 billion people only two people died of Covid-19 in the half a year defies logic and common sense. Still, the Times legitimised the CCP numbers by printing them as hard fact.

Of course, over the past year newspapers across the world have fallen for the CCP’s distorted Covid-19 narrative. And there is no evidence to suggest that the CCP did put pressure on the Times. But when it came to the lab leak debate, the Times was relentless. Starting in early 2020, when little was known about the virus — and nothing about its origins — the Times adopted a stridently anti-lab leak stance. In its first report on the topic, a February 17, 2020 article covering comments made by Sen. Tom Cotton, the Times stigmatised lab leak as a “fringe theory”. Once the story was published, its reporter took to Twitter to describe it as “the kind of conspiracy once reserved for the tinfoil hatters”.

Only one week prior, another outlet made strikingly similar claims. In an editorial, the CCP-owned China Daily thundered that Cotton’s decision to spread “malicious rumors” shows “how irresponsible some are in their haste to attack China”. The Times, echoing China Daily, also cast the lab leak hypothesis as a “rumor”.

Over the months, the Times’s coverage grew even more strident — and more in line with Chinese propaganda. In February 2020, it gave a platform to zoologist Peter Daszak, publishing an opinion piece by him which claimed that the pandemic was caused by “road-building, deforestation, land clearing and agricultural development”. Daszak argued that “discovering and sequencing” viruses like Covid-19 in labs like the one in Wuhan should be a priority.

The Times, which used Daszak as a key source in over a dozen articles, has never mentioned that Daszak’s organisation funded the Wuhan lab, in particular research into bats and coronaviruses, a flagrant conflict of interest. Crucially, there was no mention of this when a reporter interviewed Daszak this February, following his return from a heavily criticised WHO investigation into the virus’s origins. (Danszak later recused himself from the investigation because of the conflict of interest.)

But the Times also never revealed that Daszak was a favoured source for another outlet: China Daily. The state-owned media organisation, along with Xinhua and sister outlet Global Times, repeatedly quoted Daszak to assure readers of China’s full cooperation in the search for the virus’s origins — and to discredit the possibility of a lab leak.

In fact, the Times appears to have been so enthusiastic in its attempts to discredit the lab leak hypothesis that Chinese propaganda outlets promoted its reporting on social media. In April 2020, for instance, the Times published an article claiming the Trump Administration’s investigation into a lab leak “has echoes of the Bush administration’s 2002 push for assessments saying that Iraq had weapons of mass of destruction.” Within minutes, a China Daily columnist retweeted the story and parroted its central claim.

But why would the Times stake its credibility on a position that had no evidence behind it, and one that, as we are now discovering, looks increasingly unlikely? Was it simply a knee-jerk response by a liberal outlet to President Trump’s endorsement of the lab leak hypothesis at the time? Perhaps — but I suspect the answer is more complicated than that. Researching and writing my new book, I discovered that the Times has a dark history of inadvertently helping authoritarian regimes with its reporting, including the Nazis, the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro.

In the case of China, this appears true to an alarming degree. For over a decade, the Times has nurtured a special relationship with the CCP — though we can only speculate as to whether this influenced its editorial output. Still, the Times certainly appeared unconcerned about the appearance of impropriety as it took millions of dollars from Chinese propaganda outlets, most prominently China Daily. In exchange for this badly needed revenue, the Times has published hundreds of “advertorials” written by Chinese propaganda outlets, including China Daily, which promote CCP messaging on the most serious topics, such as a double-page spread on the hotly contested Diaoyu Islands brazenly titled: “Diaoyu Islands Belong to China”.

But the paper’s advertising relationship with Chinese state outlets is only the visible part of the iceberg. In 2012, seeking to capitalise on China’s burgeoning middle and upper classes, the Times launched a Chinese edition of its daily paper followed by the launch of a luxury lifestyle magazine. “The appetite for New York Times journalism in Chinese has never been stronger,” a company press release stated at the time.

In investing so heavily in China, the Times unintentionally handed the rapacious CCP an editorial lever to sway coverage. The Times learned this first-hand when, in 2012, the CCP blocked Chinese access to the Times online in retaliation for an unfavourable article on the family finances of China’s outgoing premier, Wen Jiabao. The Times set out on a year-long “lobbying” effort to restore coverage that included meetings with Xinhua, the parent of China Daily.

Today, however, just as the tide is turning on the lab leak debate, so too is the Times’s approach to the subject. Last summer, the Times abruptly ended its advertising relationship with Chinese state media outlets and scrubbed all trace of the advertorials from its archive. And in recent months, it has published a handful of articles quoting scientists who believe we should take seriously the prospect of a lab leak.

But does this excuse the paper’s behaviour at the start of the pandemic?

Of course, the New York Times, like so many industry-leading corporations, should be expected to make mistakes. But unlike other big businesses, this one is entrusted with shaping our reality — especially on murky issues as critical as the origins of a pandemic that claimed four million lives. Only time will tell whether the lab leak hypothesis is true or false. But whatever the result, what a tragedy it would be if the Times’s coverage delayed that verdict.


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J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

The world’s verdict on the lab leak seems to be shifting.
I’m not sure that statement is accurate if, by the ‘world’, the author means the vast majority of ordinary people.
I think common sense has always suggested to the average person that the Wuhan virology institute might very well have been the source of the novel coronavirus especially since it’s known that the institute actively collected such viruses from animal sources.
If the author means the mainstream media’s verdict on the lab leak seems to be shifting, I would agree. Their position has been forced to shift by courageous, dogged investigating by journalists such as Ian Birrell who is an Unherd contributor.
But why would the Times stake its credibility on a position that had no evidence behind it, and one that, as we are now discovering, looks increasingly unlikely?
As the author suggests, I think the answer is money. There’s a wonderful interview by Bari Weiss on Triggernometry where she discusses the culture at the NYT where she used to work (and from which she was forced out for failing to conform to the prevailing ideology).
At the beginning of the interview, Weiss makes it clear that, about 10 years ago, the NYT faced the same choice as most mainstream media outlets: either try to do objective reporting and struggle to make a profit in the new media landscape dominated by the internet, or cultivate a tribe of avid supporters and become nothing more than the mouthpiece for that tribe. We all know which option the Times chose and its been a financial success for them. They are an echo chamber for the radical left. It’s no longer accurate to call them a newspaper in the traditional sense. If the Times did, indeed, parrot the CCP line on the lab leak hypothesis then they almost certainly did so for money and, of course, to undermine Trump’s opinion on the matter thereby pandering to their readership.
Stop calling the Times a news organization. They’re a debased, for-profit, propaganda organization.

Last edited 2 years ago by J Bryant
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Very good. The NYT is an extreme example, but this is happening across most mainstream media outlets to some degree or another. The Guardian and BBC very much to the fore in this country. Any writers and public intellectuals who don’t go along with this liberal Metropolitan worldview are branded heretics – I’m delighted to note this site is still home to many such heretics, and long may that continue!
Most readers won’t mind if an opinion piece is overtly coming down on one side of an argument – that is, after all, what the Opinion pages are there for. But what is troubling is the lack of objectivity in supposedly factual reporting.
Of course it is the duty of a journalist, editor and publisher to choose words carefully and ensure they report factually but who judges where the line between a newspaper’s narrative (that often borders on propaganda) and fake news should be drawn?
When I read a story in the Guardian, or Telegraph or Times – any reputable newspaper- I am reasonably confident that the basic “facts” of the story are accurate – but that often only gives me a fraction of the picture. The rest of it is supplied through the narrative, the framing of the message – it is that which tells a reader how to interpret the ‘facts’. With a shift in narrative the facts of a story can be presented in a radically different light.
The Guardian and BBC, along with every other newspaper and news outlet in this country, presents facts and statistics that back up the narrative they wish to promote. They also fail to report those facts and stats that might counter the narrative they wish to promote.
Are these deliberate falsehoods, ‘fake news’? You could argue that either way, but journalists know only too well that there are two sides (at the very least) to most stories and they choose to present the side that most closely fits their own world view, or the world view of their readers – or indeed the business interests of their owners.
Every day the same event, the same speech, the same policy initiative can be covered by the Guardian and by the Telegraph, with the “factual” points of the story presented, but it is in the framing of that presentation, in what details a journalist (or Editor) chooses to include or omit, that the narrative takes shape. The same information can be employed to tell two different stories that can be diametrically opposed to one another. Thus readers of those two different stories – based on the same facts but presented within a different narrative – can come away with an understanding that is 180 degrees out from one another. You could argue that isn’t ‘fake’ news because there are no absolute untruths involved – but if the same facts can be employed by either side of the argument to bolster their own version of the truth and undermine the other side’s version of the truth then how is it different?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, publications like the NYT, who profess to be most opposed to ‘fake news’, continuously turn out to be the biggest purveyors of the very thing about which they complain.
The NY Times, much like the BBC or Guardian, has a lens through which they see the world – and every day and in every way they find things matching their preconceived world-view. Any stories that might challenge that view are either not reported or are written up in a way that they bear little relation to the ‘truth’ as reported elsewhere.
I read several news sources a day and try to pick my way through the inherent biases of each to try and find the truths of a story and form my own opinion. But even that doesn’t get you to objective “Truth” because, of course I myself read those stories with a subjective eye, how could I not? We all have our own in-built bias towards what fits our world view.
Paul Mason claimed last year in the Guardian that, â€œThe clearest difference between the liberal-democratic newspapers – including this one – and those of the right is that the former have no overarching narrative,” I think he may well genuinely believe that. Which is rather terrifying.
When explaining away Brexit or a Tory success at the polls, bien pensants often talk of the right wing press brainwashing their readers with their narrative. I would suggest they merely reflect the opinions of their readers. (If you think the former then ask yourself, do you believe what you believe simply because the Guardian told you so, or do you read the Guardian because it reflects your worldview?)
As a result I find myself reading less and less reportage and instead choose to read more opinion pieces, simply because it is explicitly the opinion of the writer, that a reader can judge on its merits,  and not something that purports to be objective reporting whilst only offering half the facts and with a liberal/woke subtext smuggled in.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Great comment, Patrick!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

What you say is quite correct, however I (maybe incorrectly) thought most of the traditional old broadsheets were left leaning or classic liberal. I didn’t have a problem with that, in fact I considered myself liberal for most of my life.
I now perceive that they have subsequently marched further left and are progressive/far left and it is when you reach the extremities of the continuum that the narrative gets deliberately distorted.
The NYT reporting/stance is frequently laughable, which gives a window into just how seriously you can take it. I think of a very recent incident where an editorial board member had been ‘triggered’ by the right wing American flag. The NYT supported her position.
My conclusion is that on the one hand you cannot take them seriously and on the other hand they have become downright dangerous, as is evidenced by their ‘hard hitting’ stance on things like the Wuhan lab leak.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Of course the Telegraph is not actually right wing. It’s centre-right but also contains a lot of one-off pieces from leftists (Chivers used to write for it, for example). This tolerance of opinion from the other side is utterly unknown in the left wing media. You would never get the Guardian publishing an article by Nigel Farage, for example. Furthermore, things like book and TV reviews are written according to the assumed politics of the reviewee. So books by right wing writers don’t get reviewed at all and Clarkson’s Farm got a nasty negative review because Jeremy Clarkson is not a leftist.

Lou Campbell
Lou Campbell
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

They did publish one for Osama bin Laden though!

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Absolutely right, Jon.
But it’s not just the leftish media itself, it’s their readers as well – neither capable of tolerating dissent.
How many times a day do we see someone who is arguing against the Guardian polemic du jour being told to “Go back to the Daily Mail” or some such?
Xenophobes and racists feel they have a right to tell people they consider “Outsiders” to “Go back where you came from”. The reaction to Trump saying something similar was almost universal condemnation.
All readers would, I hope, think that intolerant and morally unjustified.
But the more intellectually insecure Guardian readers calling for anyone who thinks differently to “Go back to the Mail” seems a reaction that comes from a similar place. Fear of the ‘other’ and a wish to see the ‘purity’ of their territory unsullied by people who look and think differently.
This is where the current progressive left seems to come unstuck, simply down to their absolute belief that their point of view is intrinsically virtuous, thus everyone who thinks differently to them must be wrong. And not merely wrong, but somehow “Evil”.
It seems they feel so sure of the ‘rightness’ of their position, that they hold the moral high ground in any argument, that it blinds them to the possibility that other, perfectly decent and thoughtful people might, quite justifiably, think differently to them.

Bill W
Bill W
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I am a great fan of both the DT and the Speccie which I have been reading for more decades than I care to recall. One thing I have noticed however about both of them is that, with the notable exception of a few contributors, their cultural/arts/books/fils/TV/podcast/ pages/reviews seem increasingly dominated by what feels like wet if not woke liberal lefty perspectives. I used to cherish reading every item in the Speccie and pretty much all the of Telegraph but sadly no more. As an aside, I am very grateful for Unherd to which I am more than happy to subscribe.

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
2 years ago
Reply to  Bill W

Agree Speccie reviews are increasingly woke. But maybe that’s because not much else is allowed to be published.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
2 years ago
Reply to  Bill W

#metoo

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
2 years ago
Reply to  Bill W

Those perspectives have changed because the writers have been processed through modern day university indoctrination.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

The Clarkson’s Farm review was so hilariously OTT that in any other publication, you’d think it was a parody of peak Guardian.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

When it comes to American imperialism and American supremacism, the NYT is pretty much on the same side as all US paper. You just have to look at their hysteria about Chinese medals in the Olympics, and the insane hysteria about the Uighers – something the muslim nations don’t even believe.
Whether or not the Wuhan leak is true or not ( it isn’t) the whole west has been pathologising China for a few years no, having moved on from Russia, Assad, Iran and all the other places we are supposed to hate.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

Curious that you say that the Wuhan leak isn’t true. I believe it is true, but I’m not going to say that it is true, because it is only my opinion based on what I judge to be likely. I just don’t know.
But you do.
And what have Russia, Assad, and Iran got to do with it?

Last edited 2 years ago by Colin Elliott
Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Yes. From the start of the pandemic it’s been obvious that a lab leak was a possibility. Just because previous viruses have – probably – come about due to zoonotic transmission, doesn’t mean this one did. Why anyone would think this some nutty conspiracy theory is beyond me.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

You bracket together the BBC and the Guardian.
I quite understand why, but of course there is a difference; the Guardian is fully entitled to hold and print whatever opinion it likes, and even be selective about facts, but there are three distinctions when it comes to comparison with the BBC; the BBC is financed in a way enforced by criminal law and the expenditure of much money, it greatly dominates the news output within the country and, to a remarkable extent without, and over the years since its foundation, it justly earned a vast credibility, although that is now falling rapidly.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Quite right. The Guardian is free to print what they want, being a commercial venture.
The reason I bracket them together is because the BBC acts almost as the Guardian’s on-air wing. They take an identical stance on practically every issue – have done for years.
The Guardian’s circulation is paltry, yet its influence is enormous and pernicious. Once you’ve read that day’s Guardian, you know exactly the line that all BBC news output will be taking through that day’s news cycle. The Guardian is required reading for the legions of metropolitan fauxialists who manage practically every quango and institution in the country. Not to mention that it is the go-to news source for the vast majority of the teaching profession.
So although circulation figures are ever dwindling, it informs the worldview of a great many people who influence the agenda and shape the country’s -and our children’s – future. The Britain hating, race-baiting, class-envy, history-revisionist, woke, pc leftist clap-trap that we all complain about across these pages, is down to the Guardian dripping its poison every day, thirstily imbibed by readers who influence and skew the national discourse.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Even worse, I don’t even have to read the Guardian to know what they’re going to say on everything from England’s penalty takers to the immigrant “channel funnel”

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

At issue in many “news”: reports which frame the narrative are the adjectives like debunked, outrageous, falsely, unsubstantiated, etc. The instant I see these words which reflect opinion, I understand that a bias exists. I imagine I’m not the only one who detects the bias but it seems to sway many who repeat it widekly.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

“Very good. The NYT is an extreme example, but this is happening across most mainstream media outlets to some degree or another.”

And Social Media, and Education, and Entertainment industry, and the Bond Market and Interest and Inflation….

And this is because there is a Global Conspiracy to control the world. Coming soon is the global financial collapse brought by the Covid response – the trillions of $ created, 50 trillion globally maybe, on top the 300 trillion global debt, it all will crash down as interest is zero, and all savings eaten by the 5% inflation, and all is a looming disaster. , the enforced crash in productivity, the loss of freedoms tested and found to be easy to force. The New World Order is coming, and you will be a pawn of it.

Youtube, Munger, Dalio, Rickards, Rogers, Schiff, Burry, Stansberry, Lex Fridman, Demartino Booth – 1000s of youtube videos on the world’s top money people explaining the coming crash because of this spending – try some, they are very interesting…And the crash is looming. Do not be caught unawares.

Alan T
Alan T
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes, there has been a slight shift in mainstream reporting of this issue but the coverage is still very low key and dismissive. Most people that I speak to have accepted the natural spillover narrative and do not think Covid’s origin is a matter for concern.
By the way, have Private Eye treated the issue with any investigative seriousness yet? Last time I looked earlier in the year they were just making jokes about it.

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I agree with you. From the get go I had not a shred of doubt that the virus escaped from Wuhan Laboratory and was partly man made. Does “the world” also believe the recent American election was a fair fight?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“As the author suggests, I think the answer is money.”

No, this is a global conspiracy. Dorsey in Twitter has been locking down accounts of any dissenters ferociously! Eric Weinstein and Lex Fridman had a good youtube where they Eric talks of the global conspiracy of silence – he is a friend of Dorsey and says this censoring is way over even Dorsey’s power, it is forced onto him too, the power to censor is bigger than Dorsey can resist!. The banning on Facebook, and Google and all the rest, and NYT is a global conspiracy. This with the taking over of all MSM and Education and entertainment by the same forces….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2nG7-eXxko

check out the part where they talk of Jeffry Epstein (2:13) and how he was associated with MIT (The host is a top AI professor at MIT, Eric is one of the world’s top mathematicians and Physics people). Eric tells how utterly totally Epstein is blocked from ALL sources, how the entire world conspires to keep his evil hidden. (Epstein has the dirt on all the power people in the world – that was his function – and it is shut up or be killed, according to Eric) – check out the video, these are hugely important people talking. Epstein was killed, and so are others.

See, there is a global conspiracy, and canceling you is the first tool, killing you comes later if that does not work – watch it, google the guys…

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Triggernometry is great. Amazing the world has to resort to a couple comedians to provide intelligent commentary on the state of Western civilization.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago

The NYT’s proud boast used to be “ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO PRINT”
which has now become “ONLY PRINT THE NEWS THAT FITS”
Narrative trumps Truth in today’s media.
We see it every day. The framing of a story – that tells readers and viewers how to interpret events – is deliberately shaped so that the story conforms to the media outlet’s worldview, or so that it suits the agenda of the media outlet’s owners.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
Satyam Nagwekar
Satyam Nagwekar
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Agreed. NYT’s conduct has been quite egregious. Not just corporate media, independent outlets like UnHerd are also prone to this.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

The left tells lies on an industrial scale? Well, I’m sure we’re all shocked by such a revelation.

Naren Savani
Naren Savani
2 years ago

This is the sort of journalism which makes a subscription to unherd a must for all of us. The BBC has become a basket case in terms of honest reporting

Martin Brumby
Martin Brumby
2 years ago

The fact that the MSM headed by the NYT, Washington Post, Grauniad, BBC have all gone with the almost preposterous ‘wet market’ story promoted by the CCP (when not pointing the finger at USA and / or Italy as the source) is itself highly persuasive that it came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
That’s in addition to the data and very much expert opinion.
A more controversial question is whether it was just a leak. Let’s face it, it was at least “lucky” for Xi Jinping that the virus was especially virulent amongst the very elderly and those with one or more serious medical conditions. In other words, those economically inactive and a drain on the State’s resources. From Xi’s point of view (and, indeed from the view of our own Beloved Leaders), what’s not to like?
The virus also appears to be much more virulent in the West than in Asia (although the latter likely has some significant immunity from exposure to SARS 1.) But I can’t but wonder what was going through the CPP’s collective mind when, having blocked internal movement in China, they flew 4 million of their minions around the world, starting with Northern Italy, the first and most important ‘Belt & Road’ terminus in Europe?
Funny as well, that the western media seems to have reported no fatalities amongst senior CCP elites, Chinese Billionaires, Celebrities? (I know, tautological…). Perhaps Sinopharm works in China? Only 4 Covid deaths since 17 April 2020 – if their figures are to be believed! Yet just a few months earlier, camaramen were on hand filming average, healthy looking citizens, collapsing and suddenly dying in the street. We seem to have been spared that sort of drama in the West.
And then, has anyone else wondered how things are in the Institute of Virology over the last 16 months? After the big clean up, are we to suppose that Shi Zhengli as just concentrated on her knitting?
Strange that there was that big surge in New Delhi, bringing us the allegedly deadly Delta variant. Opinions differ as to the deadliness but it does seem to be a variant, alright. And appearing just after a massive surge in the Sino-Indian border dispute. I wonder if there are any Chinese diplomats in New Delhi?
Obviously this is just a despicable conspiracy theory.
But a stretch more likely than the bat who flew 1,000 miles, hitching a ride from a pangolin and ending up in one of the wet markets.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Brumby
Peter Francis
Peter Francis
2 years ago

The New York Times, as well as the authors of the notorious Lancet Letter, both sneakily foisted on the public the false notion that the Lab Leak Theory is a conspiracy theory. It is not a conspiracy: it was a c0ck-up followed by a cover-up.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago

the Times abruptly ended its advertising relationship with Chinese state media outlets and scrubbed all trace of the advertorials from its archive.”
That’s worrying. The NYT was always considered a “newspaper of record” – the first draft of history and all that. Deleting stuff from their record/archive just shows that we still need libraries to collect the printed copies, and keep them, for future reference. Archiving what they put on, and delete, from their websites, is another problem.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 years ago

Oh I’m sorry. Was you header a rhetorical question?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

I’d be interested to know if there are any examples of right-wing organisations (which is admittedly pretty much an oxymoron) beinbg captured by China in the same way that the NYT has been.
It seems likely to me to be rare, probably because left-wing organisations reflexively admire Chinese communism and hence are its fellow travellers.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

O’Sullivans Law applies.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

According to Private Eye, the Telegraph was taking Renminbe for similar Chinese guff – up to the pandemic starting.
But as a long term subscriber I’m disappointed that I was never alerted to this delightful propaganda.

Earl King
Earl King
2 years ago

The NYT is not journalism. It is activism. It’s job is to frame or re-frame stories that support a political position. As a consequence, what ever was the most supportive controversy that would look bad for the Trump Administration was written to make Trump look bad. So for example when Trump banned China travel…he was xenophobic. Claim the Chinese lab leaked the virus…make Trump look like an insane conspiracy theorist. Operation Warp speed, President and VP signaled they wouldn’t take any vaccine Trump approved. Stay in Mexico policy? Inhumane. Open border with its drug and human smuggling, migrant children being dumped and dropped over an incomplete fence is so much better. So the times has to frame anything and everything any GOP politician attempts as racist, xenophobia, misogynist or whatever other polemic fits. They simply can no longer give the facts without adding in propaganda.

Dr Stephen Nightingale
Dr Stephen Nightingale
2 years ago

The idea that the New York Times “sets the news and policy agenda” suggests that a preponderance of the *other* newspapers and online media wait to hew to the NYT line. Don’t we have different media sources in order to gain access to different assemblages of fact and ‘policy’ framing?
I rarely read, and never bought, the NYT even when I was living on the East Coast. Too full of itself, and certainly not a privileged frame of reference.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago

I don’t know why this should be a surprise. The NYT was pro Soviet Union with Walter Duranty. They are pro statist totalitarians. They always have been. They’ve never hidden it.

Diana Durham
Diana Durham
2 years ago

Good to be on the NYT’s case. Perhaps a whole series could be dedicated to their demise as a trustworthy or competent source of news. Not forgetting the fact that they ignored the results of the investigation into Russian and Trump entanglement, which showed Trump had been defamed all along.

Geoffrey Wilson
Geoffrey Wilson
2 years ago

Excellent article, and many well-thought-out comments. I would like to see more thought put into what we as individuals can do to support those who see and want to resist this drift. Another piece today paints a grim and all too likely future for the US. I have read History Today for many years, and the drift in academia has been really clear to me. Articles have had many more simple assertions, and many fewer facts and rational deductions, as the years have passed. It seems no article can get published unless the author slips in a few, usually with no relevance at all (to me!), snide comments saying Trump or Brexit-voters are nasty. I try to find authors saying sensible things, like Douglas Murray, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Jonathan Sacks, and buy lots of their books.

Last edited 2 years ago by Geoffrey Wilson
Addie Schogger
Addie Schogger
2 years ago

I don’t know if you are aware but sadly Rabbi Sacks died last autumn..

Geoffrey Wilson
Geoffrey Wilson
2 years ago
Reply to  Addie Schogger

Indeed I saw that – his last book Morality included his afterwords written after the pandemic hit us, which to me reinforced the strength of his book’s message. I hope my buying several copies of the book helps his estate and heirs.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 years ago

The NYT has removed many of its previous articles on China from its archives. It is trying to cover its own tracks as a propaganda mouthpiece for the CCP.