columnist Paul Waldman and the outlet at large were ripped on Tuesday for an opinion piece comedian take on the 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.”
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 ofto publish articles and columns decrying the lab-leak theory as . It recently that declared the theory “debunked” and also published a that declared the lab theory was “suddenly” credible.
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.
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 wholeft-leaning outlets for so quickly sweeping the theory under the rug because it had first been suggested by conservatives like Sen. , R-Ark.