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Breaking News Alert This Week In Lawfare Land: 'Deadly Force'

WaPo Corrects Story From Last February Claiming COVID Lab Leak Theory Was ‘Debunked’


After 15-months, The Washington Post stealth edited a headline claiming Sen. Tom Cotton’s “conspiracy theory” on the origins of COVID-19 was “debunked.”


The Washington Post changed the headline on a story published more than a year ago that accused Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., of pedaling a supposed “conspiracy theory.” The headline now calls the Wuhan lab leak theory “disputed,” instead of “debunked.”

Speaking to Fox News in February 2020, Cotton alluded to the idea that a Wuhan lab examining bat coronaviruses could have been the origin of COVID-19.

“We don’t know where it originated, and we have to get to the bottom of that. 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,” said Cotton.

“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,” he said.

After Cotton’s comments, the Jeff Bezos-owned paper crafted the headline “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked.”

Recently, the outlet changed the title from 15-months ago to now read “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus fringe theory that scientists have disputed.”

The Wall Street Journal reported in May that three laboratory employees at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms prior to the first area outbreak. Amid increasing evidence pointing to the plausibility of the lab-leak theory, the Post is the latest legacy media outlet to admit defeat on its own misguided narrative war.

On May 25, the Post published a piece titled “Timeline: How the Wuhan lab-leak theory suddenly became credible,” weeks after long-time New York Times writer Nicholas Wade published a Medium article giving credence to the various origins of the coronavirus. Conservative media outlets reported on the theory as plausible for months but were smeared as pedaling in conspiracy theories.

One professor who was cited in the Post’s report claims the outlet did not include quotes of his at the time acknowledging the potential that COVID-19 came from a lab.

“I was surprised that the February 17, 2020 article in WaPo quoted only my comments on the genome sequence and not my comments on the lab-accident hypothesis,” Richard Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University said in a recent interview.

The Washington Post declined to comment to The Federalist as did the Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler. The correction stated that “[e]arlier versions of this story and its headline inaccurately characterized comments by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) regarding the origins of the coronavirus” and “The term ‘debunked’ and The Post’s use of ‘conspiracy theory’ have been removed because, then as now, there was no determination about the origins of the virus.”

This story has been clarified.