In an article and TV segment yesterday, CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh and Vasco Cotovio argued that the Chinese virus pandemic was not the fault of China’s communist government or bats, but “human activity.” The big winner in this bizarre way of telling the story is China, which is launching a furious disinformation campaign to distance itself from blame for the pandemic.
According the CNN theory, the real problem is a global one. Through climate change and other means, natural habitats are being destroyed. This displaces animals such as bats. When the bats are displaced (and I’m not making this up), the bats get stressed out and are more susceptible to viruses they could otherwise fight off.
Here is the first mention of China, in the article’s fourth paragraph: “Scientists are still unsure where the virus originated, and will only be able to prove its source if they isolate a live virus in a suspected species — a hard task. But viruses that are extremely similar to the one that causes Covid-19 have been seen in Chinese horseshoe bats. That has led to urgent questions as to how the disease moved from bat communities — often untouched by humans — to spread across Earth. The answers suggest the need for a complete rethink of how we treat the planet.”
The next eight paragraphs are a zoology lesson on why bats breed viruses, then, finally in paragraph 12, we finally get to the subject of the Chinese wet markets, where experts believe the virus originated: “In the likely epicenter of the virus — the so-called wet-markets of Wuhan, China — where wild animals are held captive together and sold as delicacies or pets, a terrifying mix of viruses and species can occur.”
Woah, woah, woah. In 1,000 words we went from “Who knows where it started? It’s all of humanity’s fault anyway,” to “Oh, it probably started in markets that everyone has known for years are a huge problem China won’t address.”
There are a couple of things going on here. The first is a typical leftist fallacy in which any environmental issue requires not targeted measures, but wholesale change in how the entire world operates. The CNN authors declare “the need for a complete rethink of how we treat the planet.” Call it Green New Dealism.
But far worse and more pernicious is that CNN is carrying communist China’s water by deflecting blame from them and pretending that we are all equally at fault. Nowhere is the Chinese cover-up of the virus confirmed by the U.S. intelligence community mentioned. During the Russia probe, their word was gold.
China needs to be held accountable for its actions, not just as a matter of justice but also of public safety. If they are allowed to shirk blame with absurd lies about the U.S. Army bringing the virus to Wuhan, there is no reason to think their actions and inactions will change. By absolving China, CNN makes the task of making it tell the truth harder.
And it isn’t just CNN. A Vox explainer video on the Chinese virus had its title changed from “Why New Diseases Keep Appearing In China,” to “How Wildlife Trade Is Linked To Coronavirus.” A note under the video says the headline has been changed, but offers no explanation.
Meanwhile, The Daily Beast ran a breathless article about how the White House communications team is pushing back on Chinese propaganda and putting a strong focus on their lies and cover-ups. The category of the piece is “Blame Game.” It is absolutely appropriate and necessary for the United States to fight China’s lies. But for the good folks at The Daily Beast, it’s just Donald Trump trying to protect his own reputation.
Many in the media defend essentially erasing China from the Chinese virus story out of fears of racism against Asian Americans. This is a legitimate fear and something that everyone including in the White House should combat. But the answer can’t be to just give the Chinese government a pass.
Whatever one calls it for whatever reasons, the virus wracking the world is a product of China. The negligence of the Chinese government helped create it, and their cover-up sped the spread of what is now a global pandemic. The immediate question here is not how do we change our entire relationship to the planet, it is how do we make China start acting responsibly.