At the onset of the Covid pandemic, the Trump administration said that the virus likely originated from a Wuhan lab leak, a theory that has gained credibility in recent months, but in 2020 disgraced former CNN boss Jeff Zucker said his network should not investigate the theory because it was a "Trump talking point."
A CNN insider told Fox News about Zucker's direction and said, "People are slowly waking up from the fog. It is kind of crazy that we didn't chase it harder."
The belief that the Covid pandemic began because of a lab leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China has gained significant credibility recently in the wake of confirmations via the US Energy Department and FBI Director Christopher Ray.
According to the New York Post, at the onset of the pandemic "prominent media personalities, public health officials, and elected officials from the Democratic Party" all discredited the lab leak theory and even suggested it was racist to say the virus originated from China.
After Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, he continually grew as a prominent figure in CNN's commentary under Zucker's leadership. As Fox reports, Zucker transitioned "what was once widely seen as a straight-news organization to an anti-Trump operation."
In March 2020, a story published by CNN’s Oliver Darcy titled "Here’s how to debunk coronavirus misinformation and conspiracy theories from friends and family" implied that the lab leak theory was a conspiracy theory.
Darcy said, "In some cases, relatives and friends share poor information – whether it is bad science related to how to prevent the virus, debunked rumors about cities being put on lockdown, or conspiracy theories about the origins of Covid-19. While any strain of misinformation is not ideal, misinformation related to a public health crisis has an especially dangerous element to it."
Fareed Zakaria said in one segment of the lab leak, "the far right has now found its own virus conspiracy theory."
In February of 2020, CNN responded to comments made by GOP Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas that advanced the Wuhan lab leak theory. In a published piece CNN cited a source they claimed was an infectious disease expert who said, "I have seen no one provide any solid information to support that theory. I think at this point you can draw a line through it and say that didn’t happen."
During a conversation with Dr. Anthony Fauci, CNN's John Vause said Cotton was pushing "misinformation."
In April 2020, a CNN headline read "Nearly 30 percent in the US believe a coronavirus theory that’s almost certainly not true" and reported, "Its origin is up for debate, but it wasn’t made in a lab."
Chris Cillizza, who was fired by the network in November 2022, said in an analysis, "Anthony Fauci just crushed Donald Trump’s theory on the origins of the coronavirus."
As Fox reports, CNN continued downplaying the lab leak theory through 2022.
In February 2022, Jeff Zucker was ousted from CNN leadership after revelations of a salacious affair scandal and Chris Licht took over as CNN president.Licht said in June that he wanted to reduce the partisan nature of some of the network's programming and on-air personalities.
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