An Orwellian Reversal on the Origins of Covid
Its been decades since I last read George Orwells 1984, but portions of that classic dystopian novel have become part of our common political culture.
Theres that famous scene in which an orator is giving a lengthy wartime speech at a political rally, praising the heroic ally of Eurasia and denouncing the arch-foe of Eastasia, but then is quietly handed a note partway through and completely reverses himself, vilifying the former and hailing the latter. We have always been at war with Eurasia.
Over the last couple of weeks, we have witnessed in real time this sort of stark and sudden reversal in long-held positions with regard to the origins of the global Covid epidemic, which has devastated much of the world. From early 2020 onward, the mainstream narrative had been that the virus was completely natural, and anyone who suggested that it might be the man-made product of a laboratory was denounced as a conspiracy theorist, closely akin to the QAnon activists endlessly ridiculed in the media. This official party-line was often harshly enforced by our leading social media monopolies, with Facebook summarily banning all posts suggesting otherwise.
But this situation has now entirely changed, and in recent days the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and our leading electronic media outlets have carried top stories treating that former heresy in a very respectful manner, and even suggesting that the weight of evidence might favor it. The Senate has voted in favor of immediately declassifying all our intelligence documents related to the origin of the virus, and massive political pressure upon President Joe Biden has forced him to order that a full intelligence review be produced and released within 90 days. It appears that an emerging elite consensus may soon favor theories that had previously been consigned to odd corners of the Internet.
The triggering event for this remarkable reversal in American elite sentiment was a closely reasoned and persuasive 11,000 word article by journalist Nicholas Wade. Although the author had spent more than four decades as a top science reporter at the New York Times and other leading outlets, his work was quietly released May 2nd on the Medium blogging site, lacking any endorsements or prestigious imprimatur, then republished on May 5th by the low-traffic website of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
Origin of Covid Following the Clues Did people or nature open Pandoras box at Wuhan? Nicholas Wade Medium May 2, 2021 11,000 Words
Despite such extremely inauspicious beginnings and the cautious and subdued tone of his text, the consequences were dramatic. Although nearly all the facts and evidence that Wade discussed had already been publicly available for most of the past year, his careful analysis and considerable journalistic credibility quickly transformed the intellectual landscape. He began his long article by explaining that from February 2020 onward a huge ideological bubble had been inflated by political propaganda masquerading as science, a bubble that was afterwards maintained through a combination of journalistic cowardice and incompetence. President Donald Trump had proclaimed that the virus was artificial, so our media therefore insisted that it must be natural, even if all the evidence seemed to suggest otherwise.
Wades careful presentation immediately punctured that bubble, and upended the public discussion of an epidemic that had killed millions around the world. By May 28th, the Wall Street Journal carried the headline Facebook Ends Ban on Posts Asserting Covid-19 Was Man-Made, so that in less than one month a self-published article had already changed what nearly three billion individuals around the world were allowed to read and write. This illustrates the totalitarian control of information on the Internet held by Americans huge Tech monopolies, which determine the limits of permitted discussion worldwide at the flip of a switch. Can there be any better example of the ridiculous, Stalinesque climate of intellectual censorship currently enforced by those corporate giants?
Although Wades article served as the crucial catalyst, something similar had almost happened in early January, when prestigious New York magazine published a 12,000 cover-story by prominent liberal public intellectual Nicholson Baker, which reached very similar conclusions and might have produced the same impact. But Bakers article ran on January 4th, and two days later our DC Capitol was suddenly stormed by a mob of outraged Trumpists, ensuring that all other matters were quickly forgotten for the next couple of months:
The Lab-Leak Hypothesis
For decades, scientists have been hot-wiring viruses in hopes of preventing a pandemic, not causing one. But what if
? Nicholson Baker New York Magazine January 4, 2021 12,000 Words I think a strong case may be made that the Covid epidemic has been the most important global event since World War II, and so sweeping and rapid a journalistic about-face seems almost unprecedented. Leading members of the Fourth Estate have fully recognized the magnitude of this reversal and the dire implications for their profession, registering their reactions, whether with delight or resigned embarrassment.
As a leading critic of our media establishment, famed investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald Tweeted out his own harsh verdict:
Click for Full Text!