Attorney: Corporate media owe Sen. Tom Cotton an apology

by WorldTribune Staff, April 6, 2020

One of the first U.S. politicians to issue a warning about the seriousness of the coronavirus, as well as China’s negligence in its response to the outbreak, was routinely smeared as a conspiracy theorist by the major media.

Sen. Tom Cotton. / C-SPAN

In February, Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said that China was not being transparent about the virus and its origins. He also noted that Wuhan, which was the epicenter of the initial outbreak, had a biosafety Level 4 laboratory that specializes in researching coronaviruses.

Cotton specifically said that “we don’t have evidence that the disease originated there, but because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning, we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says.”

The corporate media quickly twisted what Cotton said “into an unrecognizable and conspiratorial claim that they then proceeded to debunk,” attorney A.G. Hamilton noted in an April 3 op-ed for National Review.

“Media outlets overwhelmingly declared Cotton was spreading dangerous conspiracy theories,” Hamilton wrote.

“The Washington Post insisted, ‘Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked.’ The New York Times, the Daily Beast, and other outlets repeated the same framing. Countless other members of the media and prominent commentators accused Cotton of being irresponsible and spreading dangerous claims. In perhaps the most embarrassing display, CBS’s Face the Nation had the Chinese ambassador on and set him up to label Cotton’s suggestion ‘absolutely crazy.’ ”

The media were quick to declare there was no evidence the virus was man-made or a bioweapon, a claim that Cotton never actually made.

“In almost every article, they cite Richard Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers and one of the leading biosecurity experts in the world, to dismiss the possibility that the virus was a bioweapon,” Hamilton noted. “They do not address Cotton’s actual claim. That’s because Enright has repeatedly acknowledged, and recently reconfirmed, that it is a very real possibility that the COVID-19 spread began at the Wuhan lab.”

Hamilton continued: “The very same expert they were using to ‘debunk’ Cotton’s question and smear him as a conspiracy theorist actually agreed that it was legitimate. There are plenty of reasons to ask the question and demand transparency from China’s government given its dishonesty, the history of similar viruses escaping from Chinese labs, and the specific research focus of that particular lab.”

The Washington Post has even published an article acknowledging that “scientists don’t rule out that an accident at a research laboratory in Wuhan might have spread a deadly bat virus that had been collected for scientific study.”

In other words, Hamilton noted, “they are now publishing the very claim that they insisted was a debunked conspiracy theory a month and a half ago.”

None of the previous articles attacking Cotton have been retracted.

“How are people supposed to trust these outlets and media personalities when they are willing to create a false narrative about a U.S. senator and accuse him of being a conspiracy theorist for asking legitimate and necessary questions?” Hamilton asked, adding that “all the outlets and commentators that attempted to smear Senator Tom Cotton owe him a public apology.”

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