CNN Finally Acknowledges Theory COVID Outbreak Linked to Lab in China

On Tuesday’s New Day show, CNN finally admitted that the Donald Trump administration might have been on to something in claiming that the COVID-19 virus likely originated in a lab in China rather than at a wet market.

The show devoted a segment to discussing a book by Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin in which he recounts reports that there was an outbreak in a Wuhan lab of a COVID-like illness before the pandemic, and that there had been previous concerns about the dangers of conducting research into bats at the lab.

Co-host John Berman brought aboard Rogin — who is also a CNN political analyst — for a seven-minute segment with Berman setting up: “So, as we mark one year of the coronavirus pandemic in this country, questions remain over the origin of the virus. A new book reveals warnings from U.S. diplomats of risky experiments at a Wuhan lab in 2018.”

After praising Rogin’s book, Chaos Under Heaven, as a “terrific read” and “great work,” Berman noted that the United Nations W.H.O. agency claimed that it was unlikely that a lab was the source for the virus before then undermining the claim: “Your ground-breaking reporting from over the last year, which you expand on in the book, it really casts doubts on what the W.H.O. is saying.”

Rogin previewed his column for later in the day which would point out that the Joe Biden administration agrees with some of President Donald Trump’s claims about the virus possibly originating in a China lab:

…the Biden administration is actually not disputing some of the Trump administration’s claims about this very lab, namely that the researchers there got sick in November 2017 [sic] with COVID-like symptoms, and that they were involved in some undisclosed research with the Chinese government and the Chinese military. These are some of the claims the Trump administration made. And while the Biden administration is not endorsing any theory about the origin … they are saying that some of the information about the lab that the Trump administration put forward is accurate, from U.S. intelligence community sources, and we need more information.

As he followed up, Berman recalled: “You reported extensively on diplomatic warnings from U.S. officials who were concerned about the possibility of accident in a lab where a virus, a SARS-like virus specifically, could end up getting out and being a threat.”

Rogin hedged about how accurate the Trump administration actually was but admitted there were credible pieces of information to take seriously:

[The Biden administration is] saying that there’s some evidence from the intelligence sources that there were some sick researchers and some undisclosed research. All that means is that we need to look at that theory more and that they want us to look at that more. Now, what I reported is that, four years ago, a bunch of diplomats who went there warned of safety concerns. They warned of the risky research that this lab was doing about bat coronaviruses, and they called actually for the U.S. government to give them more support and give them more help to get their lab up to snuff.

A bit later, he hinted that President Trump “politicizing” the issue was partly to blame for the reports not being taking more seriously last year:

Now, when I first reported these cables in April 2020, the issue of the origin was very highly politicized — not at least because the Trump administration politicized it, okay? They went beyond the facts. And they went beyond what we know to make allegations. And I’m not making those allegations. I’m saying we don’t know how the virus originated. But what I’m saying is that these warnings, when you take out the Trump administration, when you take out their unsupported allegations, leave a big question mark that even people inside the Biden administration want to solve. And that’s as far as we should go, and that’s as far as we can go. And what we need is an investigation of all the possible theories full stop.

This episode of CNN’s New Day was sponsored in part by Liberty Mutual. Their contact information is linked. Let them know what you think of this reporting.

Partial transcript provided:

CNN

New Day

March 9, 2021

7:52 a.m. Eastern

JOHN BERMAN: So, as we mark one year of the coronavirus pandemic in this country, questions remain over the origin of the virus. A new book reveals warnings from U.S. diplomats of risky experiments at a Wuhan lab in 2018. Joining me now, CNN political analyst Josh Rogin — he is the author of the new book, Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi and the Battle for the 21st Century. I’m holding the book right here, Josh — I read it this weekend — it’s a terrific read.

Congratulations — wonderful work. And it deals with the now, I think, as well. And insofar as the now goes, the W.H.O. is investigating now, the origins of the virus. They visited a Wuhan lab, and they put out a statement saying it’s highly unlikely that the virus originated here. Your ground-breaking reporting from over the last year, which you expand on in the book, it really casts doubts on what the W.H.O. is saying. How and why?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that’s right, John. I mean, even the Biden administration has said that they have deep concerns about the W.H.O. investigation that went to Wuhan because of some conflicts of interest among the staff but also because the Chinese government refused to put forth the data that they would really need to figure it out. So suffice to say the W.H.O. investigation, at least according to the Biden administration, will not be the end all and be all, which means that we still don’t know how the virus originated. And that’s not just the issue of blame. That’s an issue of tracing the origin in order to prevent the next pandemic, which will surely come. And what I’m adding in this book is a lot of warnings that were ignored frankly at the beginning of the Trump administration by diplomats who visited some labs. It doesn’t prove that the labs were involved — it doesn’t disprove it. It just points to the need for more investigation. That’s exactly what the Biden administration is calling for. 

And I’m going to break some news on your show right now. The — I’m going to have an article later today in the Washington Post that will report that the Biden administration is actually not disputing some of the Trump administration’s claims about this very lab, namely that the researchers there got sick in November 2017 with COVID-like symptoms, and that they were involved in some undisclosed research with the Chinese government and the Chinese military. These are some of the claims the Trump administration made. And while the Biden administration is not endorsing any theory about the origin — they don’t know, you don’t know, I don’t know how this started — they are saying that some of the information about the lab that the Trump administration put forward is accurate, from U.S. intelligence community sources, and we need more information. We need more investigation.

BERMAN: Let’s just talk, then, a little bit more about the undisputed facts then. The Biden administration not disputing there was a lab in Wuhan where there are — the Trump administration said there was an accident there. You reported extensively on diplomatic warnings from U.S. officials who were concerned about the possibility of accident in a lab where a virus, a SARS-like virus specifically, could end up getting out and being a threat. What more are the undisputed facts?

ROGIN: That’s right — right. And we have to be very precise here because we want to be absolutely accurate. The Biden administration is not saying there was an accident there. They’re saying that there’s some evidence from the intelligence sources that there were some sick researchers and some undisclosed research.

All that means is that we need to look at that theory more and that they want us to look at that more. Now, what I reported is that, four years ago, a bunch of diplomats who went there warned of safety concerns. They warned of the risky research that this lab was doing about bat coronaviruses, and they called actually for the U.S. government to give them more support and give them more help to get their lab up to snuff.

Now, when I first reported these cables in April 2020, the issue of the origin was very highly politicized — not at least because the Trump administration politicized it, okay? They went beyond the facts. And they went beyond what we know to make allegations. And I’m not making those allegations. I’m saying we don’t know how the virus originated. But what I’m saying is that these warnings, when you take out the Trump administration, when you take out their unsupported allegations, leave a big question mark that even people inside the Biden administration want to solve. And that’s as far as we should go, and that’s as far as we can go. And what we need is an investigation of all the possible theories, full stop.

 

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