COVID lab leak is an unproven rumor we should all be actively spreading

When journalists cover other journalists

Hello friends,

The movie Nobody was great.

We do not know where COVID started.

Think of everything we’ve gone through as you roll that around in your head.

Economic sacrifice. Death of loved ones. Tiger King. A year of weddings, homecomings, holidays, girls nights out, chance meetings, water cooler chat, live professional wrestling, fan conventions, first dates blipped out of existence and we don’t know exactly how or when or where this all began.

We’ve got thoughts. We’ve got hunches. We’ve got scraps of evidence. But no one knows for sure. In fact, it’s reasonable to come to the realization that we might never know.

The most well known explanation is that it came from a wet market in China. An animal disease that jumped to humans like Avian Flu.

The most controversial theory is that it escaped from a Chinese lab where the virus was being engineered to understand how it affect humans.

I say we pump the lab leak theory up as the most discussed and likely option.

Why? Because with an absence of evidence the question becomes who we are protecting with our assumption of best guesses. To assume it’s a zoonotic disease is to write this off as an act of God, for which we only have theological recourse. To assume it’s a lab leak puts pressure on an actor who has not acted in good faith through this entire experience: The Chinese Communist Party.

The reason we don’t know how this started is the Chinese Communist Party. They have hid evidence, silenced whistleblowers and refused to provide reasonable information for impartial review. Is that simply CCP being CCP? Volunteering data is not a core value of the CCP in general. Hell, their official death COVID death toll of 4,636 is beyond parody. They’ve also recently offered a laughable fan fiction that COVID came to China on frozen meat from an unnamed other country.

Over the weekend CNN debuted an interview with former CDC head Dr. Robert Redfield who put a point on something that few reputable names have said: this virus emerged not from a bat at a wet market but rather the Wuhan Institute for Virology.

A Clinton-era NSC official takes to 60 Minutes tonight to blowtorch a WHO trip that was supposed to find answers.

Even though the idea that COVID jumped from animals to humans remains a strong possibility, the concept of a lab leak is there and to this point has not been disproven.

What is gained by sidelining this idea? In a world where anything is possible, what conceivable benefit does the rest of the world get by White Knighting the culpability of the Chinese Communist Party?

I say let it fester. If the CCP doesn’t want to be known as the country that affected the world because they couldn’t handle a virus all they have to do is prove that not to be true. Hell, a good faith effort to show any evidence would sway me. They have not, to this point, done that.

Either way there is enough evidence to prove China was not honest about when this virus began to spread and that lead time likely cost hundreds of thousands of lives and even more ongoing economic havoc.

So then the question becomes… what are we going to do about it?

Do you sanction China? COVID reparations? Do we challenge them militarily?

Joe Biden ran as a “Tough on China” candidate and belittled Trump for kowtowing to President Xi. In his first press conference he said that America would “outcompete” China on all fronts.

But what is competition if you can’t agree on the rules?

Apologize to Trafalgar Group!

In the waning weeks of the 2020 election I was only sure of one thing: it was going to be close.

This, shockingly, was a controversial statement to many who believed that Joe Biden was going to roll up a Reagan/LBJ style blowout. The polling indicated as such. To suggest otherwise was either cowardly or biased toward Trump.

Yet a few pollsters consistently showed more of a favorable look for the then-incumbent. One of the most notable was the Trafalgar Group.

And they paid a price for it, being labeled as GOP agitprop from both the high and low road.

And, of course, Trafalgar Group was right.

Their polls were more accurate.

They were unfairly maligned.

And with that I would like to congratulate one of those who maligned them: Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.

On the most recent episode of his podcast he revealed updated pollster grades using their 2020 records. Trafalger went from the C+ to an A- joining the ranks of the most reliable.

Silver even went further to apologize to Trafalgar Group, which I thought was nice.

More as much crap as Silver gets for being the mascot of polling, I do think he has a sense of when to eat the L. This is a vanishing trait in the world of journalism which is really funny since holding others accountable is kind of the gig. I was very glad to hear that happen.

How To Read The News: Journalists Covering Journalists

As a reporter, the fastest way to piss off another reporter is to report on them.

It’s a fascinating phenomenon. A career built on cold-calling strangers and requesting someone’s deepest darkest secrets for free and the practitioners are so sensitive when the shoe is on the other foot.

But sometimes you get stories like this one from Politico’s Playbook about Felicia Sonmez and the Washington Post.

Somnez is at odds with her editors. This started when she tweeted about Kobe Bryant’s rape case in the hours after news broke about his death, infuriating hundreds of thousands if not millions. For this, she was suspended and later reinstated after the newsroom revolted and demanded the punishment be reversed. She has since felt betrayed when the Post postures about supporting female reporters from online harassment as she feels they haven’t walked the walk.

It’s an office dispute. Like most office disputes where we don’t know the information about the local politics there are probably people that you think are in the right and in the wrong.

The question becomes… why do you care?

Why does the palace intrigue of the Washington Post staff warrant coverage in a newsletter dedicated to the news and rumor of elected officials?

I don’t have a good answer for you aside from the fact that Sonmez obviously leaked this to a former Post staff who now works for Politico so she can punish her bosses publicly.

You know this because she’s not mad about the story running.

That is what will get loaded into my Rav4 on Tuesday morning as I leave Oakland for the last time as a citizen. There will be no feedback email this week as I am driving across the country. But we will be back to normal next week.

See ya down the road!

- Justin