Correction, please! ’60 Minutes’ falsely reports Pompeo said virus was ‘man-made’ in Chinese lab

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Once again, a major media outlet is feeding into Chinese propaganda by attacking a high-ranking Trump administration with an outright falsehood regarding the suspected origins of the coronavirus.

On Sunday, CBS’ “60 Minutes” program claimed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is attempting to “resurrect a debunked theory that the virus was man-made in China.” Only, Pompeo has never said definitively that the virus was “man-made,” and neither has anyone else in the Trump administration including the Defense Department and the Intelligence Community.

As Reuters reported May 3, Pompeo, in an interview with ABC News’ Martha Radditz, Pompeo noted, “There is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”

The report continued:

Pompeo then briefly contradicted a statement issued last Thursday by the top U.S. spy agency that said the virus did not appear to be man-made or genetically modified. That statement undercut conspiracy theories promoted by anti-China activists and some supporters of President Donald Trump who suggest it was developed in a Chinese government biological weapons laboratory.

“The best experts so far seem to think it was man-made. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point,” Pompeo said. When the interviewer pointed out that was not the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies, Pompeo backtracked, saying: “I’ve seen what the intelligence community has said. I have no reason to believe that they’ve got it wrong.”

And while it may, on the surface, seem like Pompeo was ‘backtracking’ in this article, the fact is Pompeo made clear, as noted in follow-up reporting, that he does not believe the virus was “man-made,” only that it was a natural virus that escaped from a lab in Wuhan city, China — a conclusion U.S. intelligence agencies also believe.

In addition, Pompeo made it perfectly clear during another interview on May 8 what he believes.

“We haven’t seen any evidence that this was a biological weapons effort that led to this. Indeed, the Intelligence Community concluded that this was…not a man-made virus. Fair enough,” he said.

So — why would CBS and “60 Minutes” make the claim that Pompeo is pushing the “debunked” theory? That’s a question only the network execs and the program’s producers and journalists can answer.

But again, here’s another instance of the mainstream media using a partial truth to push a lie about the Trump administration. And in this case, a lie that helps China, even as the program admitted that Beijing’s Communist government was hiding information related to the virus and the outbreak.

To be sure, this isn’t the first time major American media outlets have carried water for Beijing’s Communist regime.

In early April, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), the first U.S. lawmaker to state publicly the evidence indicates that coronavirus escaped from a Chinese lab, blasted the press for serving as Chinese “apologists.”

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

After making his initial claim earlier this year that the coronavirus likely escaped from a lab, Cotton was accused by the media of inventing a conspiracy theory about a Chinese ‘bioweapon.’ But he never said that.

“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,” he added.

A pair of Chinese scientists concluded in February “the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.”

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Jon Dougherty

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