CBS News’ “60 Minutes” lied about claims from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, playing a partial clip from ABC’s “This Week” and saying he “attempted to resurrect a debunked theory that the virus was man-made in China.” CBS cut the ABC interview before Pompeo’s immediate on-air clarification.
As the U.S. took the lead for illness and death from coronavirus, the White House moved the focus to the Chinese government. Last Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attempted to resurrect a debunked theory that the virus was man-made in China. https://t.co/MZbfe4LeXi pic.twitter.com/bIjTRfboTg
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) May 10, 2020
“Look, the best experts so far seem to think it was man-made. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point,” Pompeo said in response to ABC’s Martha Raddatz query about whether he believed the virus “was man-made or genetically modified” last Sunday.
Raddatz continued, “Your Office of the DNI says the consensus, the scientific consensus, was not man-made or genetically modified.”
“That’s right. I agree with that,” Pompeo replied. CBS cut the interview there, saying “Pompeo tried to have it both ways.” The “60 Minutes” segment omitted the secretary’s following clarification and Wuhan lab comments, which disproved CBS’s accusations that Pompeo was pushing “a debunked theory.”
“Yeah, I’ve seen their analysis,” Pompeo continued. “I’ve seen the summary that you saw that was released publicly. I have no reason to doubt that that is accurate at this point.”
“Okay,” Raddatz continued. “So just to be clear, you do not think it was man-made or genetically modified?”
“I’ve seen what the Intelligence Community has said. I have no reason to believe that they’ve got it wrong,” Pompeo said, explaining that the important context is the Chinese Communist Party’s failure to curb the outbreak, instead reverting to its authoritarian disinformation campaign “to conceal and hide and confuse.”
CBS also failed to include Pompeo’s framing immediately before, in which he raised the possibility that the virus came from a lab in Wuhan, which experts say is possible, not that it was “man-made,” an important distinction.
[T]here is enormous evidence that [that Wuhan lab is] where this began. We’ve said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China. We took a lot of grief for that from the outside, but I think the whole world can see now. Remember, China has a history of infecting the world and they have a history of running substandard laboratories. These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab. And so while the Intelligence Community continues to do its work, they should continue to do that and verify so that we are certain, I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.
CBS News failed to reach out to the State Department for clarification or a comment before it broadcast the deceptive report.
Pompeo further clarified his position during a press briefing Wednesday, when reporters tried to juxtapose the secretary’s comments both that the U.S. doesn’t know for sure whether the virus originated in the Wuhan lab and that evidence suggests it did.
“We don’t have certainty, and there is significant evidence that this came from the laboratory. Those statements can both be true. I’ve made them both. Administration officials have made them. They’re all true,” Pompeo said, emphasizing the ongoing risk to Americans because of China’s lack of transparency. Pompeo has consistently noted that evidence suggests the virus may have come from the Wuhan lab. This claim, however, is completely different from the idea that the virus was man-made in the lab or a move of biological warfare, which Pompeo has denied.
Mike Pompeo: "We haven’t seen any evidence that this was a biological weapons effort that led to this. Indeed, the Intelligence Community concluded that this was…not a man-made virus. Fair enough."https://t.co/XaAgNMMyvo
— Jonathan Cheng (@JChengWSJ) May 8, 2020
Do people really not have the intellectual fortitude to understand that "originated from a lab" isn't the same as "created in a lab"
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) May 11, 2020
CBS refused to make that distinction, while ABC managed to note the difference.
CHINA COVERUP? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there's "enormous" signs the outbreak originated from a lab in Wuhan — but stopped short of saying it was man-made — as U.S. intel accuses China of hiding the extent of the epidemic. @DymburtNews reports. https://t.co/v5OEVFksm9 pic.twitter.com/NT7rjogf9B
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) May 4, 2020
But the blatant lies about Pompeo were just the tip of the iceberg in the China-sympathetic “60 Minutes” segment, which waited until halfway through to mention, “The Chinese Communist Party has also blocked the truth,” as if the authoritarian regime’s actions are a pandemic footnote. In fact, the segment kicked off with correspondent Scott Pelley essentially equating the U.S.’s response to the COVID-19 with Red China’s propaganda campaign, saying, “Both the White House and the Chinese Communist Party have been less than honest.”
And the lie has a purpose. NIH is cutting the grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where intel agencies increasingly think COVID-19 may have originated. 60 minutes paints that as a conspiracy to dismiss cutting the grant as irresponsible. https://t.co/j2DDdQcV9t
— AG (@AGHamilton29) May 11, 2020
Instead of looking at the possibility honestly and considering the evidence (proximity, China's history of leaks from similar labs in Bejing, the lab's focus, evidence they locked down and cleaned the lab), they twist claims and dismiss it as a political conspiracy.
— AG (@AGHamilton29) May 11, 2020
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) May 11, 2020
If CBS wants to cover attempts to “resurrect debunked theories,” perhaps it should start with its own reporting. In the same segment, Pelley did the CCP’s bidding, reinforcing the notion that the United States outpaced China in coronavirus infections and death, saying, “As the U.S. led the world in illness and death, the White House moved the focus to the Chinese government.” This claim aligns with the rest of the mainstream media’s narrative of America’s ineptitude to handle the virus relative to China’s glowing efforts. The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway handily debunked that theory in light of the wholly unreliable numbers from Chinese state media, a propaganda machine that has peddled false data from the outset, even successfully coercing the World Health Organization to kowtow to its lies.
According to “60 Minutes” guest Peter Daszak, a scientist from EcoHealth who studies viruses with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, “This politicization of science is really damaging.”
“The conspiracy theories out there have essentially closed down communication between scientists in China and scientists in the U.S.,” Daszak continued, closing out the “60 Minutes” segment with a message that sounded like it came straight from the mouth of Xi Jinping. “We need that communication in an outbreak to learn from them how they controlled it so we can control it better. It’s sad to say, but it will probably cost lives.”