Tom Cotton blasts media ‘apologists’ for accepting Chinese propaganda surrounding coronavirus origins

Andrew Kerr, DCNF

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said Wednesday it is wholly appropriate to question whether the coronavirus outbreak originated from a biochemical lab in Wuhan, China, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Noting the Chinese government’s dishonesty surrounding the outbreak from its earliest stages, Cotton criticized the media for their inclination to accept Chinese propaganda at face value.

“The mainstream media are largely apologists for Chinese communists and they will accept Chinese communist propaganda,” Cotton said. “They immediately try to accuse anyone who raises these reasonable questions as conspiracy theorists that are accusing China of creating a biological weapon.”

Cotton denied that he ever suggested that the coronavirus was a Chinese-manufactured bio-weapon.

Cotton, who was one of the first senators to raise the alarm about coronavirus, was widely criticized in February for suggesting that the novel virus could have been leaked from a biochemical lab situated just a few miles away from the Wuhan wet market which at the time was generally thought to be the outbreak of the virus.

The lab, run by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, has a history of studying coronaviruses isolated from bats. In 2017, a lead researcher at the institute, Zhengli Shi, announced that she and her colleagues had discovered 11 new strains of coronaviruses in horseshoe bats that when put together contain the genes necessary to make a SARS coronavirus similar that of the 2003 outbreak.

A second lab situated about 300 yards from the Wuhan wet market, the Wuhan Center for Disease Control & Prevention, has also conducted studies involving horseshoe bats, according to a study from two Chinese researchers in February on the possible origins of the novel coronavirus.

“The reason I have raised these questions from the very beginning is because of China’s statements and their actions,” Cotton told the DCNF. “After concealing the virus for many weeks in December and then minimizing its severity for most of January, they then peddle an origin story about the food market in Wuhan.”

“Given their dishonesty and the proximity of these labs, which we know were working with coronaviruses, it is only reasonable and responsible for us to ask the question and demand the answers.”

The lab leak theory grew new legs on Tuesday evening after Fox News host Tucker Carlson covered the study from two Chinese researchers that reported that horseshoe bats, which are suspected to be the source of the novel coronavirus, are not found within 600 miles of Wuhan. According to interviews conducted by the researchers, the bat was “never a food source in the city, and no bat was traded in the market.”

“The killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan,” the Chinese researchers stated.

At the same time Cotton has been criticized in the media for calling attention to the lab leak theory, he said he’s been approached by senators on both sides of the political aisle saying they share his concerns.

“Anytime the question returns to the forefront of the news, several of my peers say that they think that it’s very suspicious and that we ought to get to the bottom of it,” Cotton said.

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