Erick Erickson, Apoorva Mandavilli is The New York Times’ COVID-19 reporter. “Someday we will stop talking about the lab leak theory and maybe even admit its racist roots. But alas, that day is not yet here,” she tweeted — not last year, but just a couple of days ago. The “lab leak theory” has always been the most likely theory for the release of the virus into the world.
Ironically, the alternative theory that Mandavilli seems to think is less racist is Chinese citizens in wet markets eating bats or some such. When Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton raised the lab leak theory last year, he was roundly attacked for racism. Members of the press, helped by some fringe conspiracists on the right, claimed Cotton was claiming an intentional release of a bioweapon, which Cotton never claimed. A year later, it looks like Cotton and former President Donald Trump were right. Intelligence does suggest workers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology got infected and accidentally began a global pandemic.
Two weeks ago, the Israelis bombed the Associated Press office in Gaza during the Hamas attacks. Journalists were furious. The AP demanded answers. But a little-noticed piece in The Atlantic from Matti Friedman in 2014 documented how the AP had, in fact, been using a building also used by Hamas. Friedman, a former AP reporter, documented how the AP would not cover certain Hamas-related activity because of Hamas harassment in their shared work environment. Concurrent to all of this, it took The New York Times a week to cover a wave of anti-Jewish attacks in New York City.
Recently, The Washington Post’s media writer, Margaret Sullivan, wrote a piece on her newspaper’s new female editor. She included a line from a correspondent who asked: “Does she understand — really understand — that… the United States is on track to become functionally an authoritarian white Christian nationalist state in the very near future? And if the answer is ‘Yes,’ what is she prepared to do about it? Right now nothing else signifies.” Jay Rosen, a highly respected journalism professor at New York University, highlighted that reader’s concern and agreed with it. The Democrats control all of Washington. Joe Biden just won the election by several million votes. But Rosen is worried we are on the verge of “an authoritarian white Christian nationalist state in the very near future.”
Last summer, reporters at CNN and MSNBC stood in front of rioters burning buildings in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and characterized the protests as peaceful. One correspondent actually said on television that they were fiery “but mostly peaceful.” As video showed antifa activists beating up people in streets across America, CNN’s Chris Cuomo claimed the group is peaceful.
As the virus raged through America last year and the country shut down, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi engaged in a series of partisan maneuvers to hurt the GOP and expand her Democratic coalition. Her efforts, including blocking financial relief to small businesses and individual taxpayers, was greeted by the American political press corps as strategic brilliance. Her brilliance nearly cost the Democrats the House. Republicans gained seats at the state level, held state legislative bodies they were expected to lose and came within five seats of taking back the House of Representatives itself.
The press has given up the veneer of objectivity while still demanding it serve as gatekeepers to truth. News outlets that claim ownership of truth and fact have become narrative-based mouthpieces for progressive politics and policy. The press is detached from America, and Americans are increasingly seeing the world and then seeing the press coverage of the world — and realizing the two are not the same.
It gives the GOP a latent advantage because the press, now constantly pushing back against Republican claims, winds up pushing back against reality itself. That, in turn, gives Republicans inroads into the minds of Americans who recognize disconnect between their lives and the way the press covers their lives. Americans then become more open to Republican claims, which sound more like the reality those Americans are living. Democrats, who overwhelmingly believe their own fawning press coverage, will never realize what has happened until it is too late.