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WaPo writer who hit Jon Stewart’s ‘rant’ mocked despite claiming he’s ‘agnostic’ on lab leak: ‘Priceless’

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Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman and the outlet at large were ripped on Tuesday for an opinion piece dismissing comedian Jon Stewart’s take on the COVID-19 lab leak theory as a “rant,” despite Waldman claiming he’s “agnostic” on the subject.

On “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” Monday night, Stewart suggested it was highly likely the virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, as opposed to having occurred naturally. He compared the coincidence to an “outbreak of chocolatey goodness near Hershey, Pennsylvania.” 

Waldman said he was “shocked” by Stewart’s speech in his piece titled, “Jon Stewart’s rant is a reminder: Don’t rely on celebrities for covid-19 theories.”

WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST KNOCKS JON STEWART FOR PUSHING WUHAN LAB-LEAK THEORY: CELEBRITIES AREN’T ‘EXPERTS’

Waldman lamented Stewart “used to be an immensely important figure sitting at the place where politics and pop culture meet,” before ripping him for his opinion on COVID-19’s origins and instructing his readers not to listen to the liberal comedian.

“This provides an important lesson about celebrities: You shouldn’t get your political opinions from them, or your scientific opinions either,” Waldman wrote. 

The author preemptively addressed potential criticism that he’s only lashing out at Stewart because he’s adopted a position he doesn’t like, insisting that’s not true and that he’s “agnostic” on the lab leak question.

“I know what you’re going to say: ‘That’s just because this time a liberal celebrity is taking a position you don’t like!’” Waldman wrote. “But it’s not that. On the lab leak question, I’m agnostic. Might that be where the virus came from? Sure. Or maybe not. But it matters only for the historical record and questions like ‘What should international virology lab safety standards require?’ As a political question, it’s pretty much irrelevant.”

Media analysts observed the Washington Post has historically agreed with celebrities who appeared to share a more acceptable agenda. The Post was one of numerous outlets to publish articles and columns decrying the lab-leak theory as debunked claptrap. It recently corrected a piece that declared the theory “debunked” and also published a fact-check timeline that declared the lab theory was “suddenly” credible.

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Critics called the Washington Post inconsistent and hypocritical for publishing the op-ed.

“So he’s finally got an opinion they don’t like, and he’s become just a celebrity who should be ignored,” said Tim Murtaugh, the former Trump 2020 communications director. “Priceless.” 

Other observers just shook their heads or laughed at Waldman’s take.

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The media largely dismissed the Wuhan lab leak theory as a “fringe” concept last year. But recent reports revealing that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology developed COVID-like symptoms in November 2019 appeared to have engendered more open minds on the subject, in addition to Chinese government caginess, the Wuhan lab’s known experiments on bat coronaviruses, and experts like former Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield espousing the theory.

The New York Times’ David Leonhardt was among the journalists who shamed left-leaning outlets for so quickly sweeping the theory under the rug because it had first been suggested by conservatives like Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.