600,000 dead Americans later, right-wing commentators are furious. Because it was all for nothing. The shutdowns, the mask requirements, all of it—FAKE. Because Dr. Anthony Fauci got an email from Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, everything we know about Covid-19 is false.
Well, except for the 598,764 dead Americans. That really can’t be faked. Even by the dubious, duplicitous, Centers for Disease Control. You know, those bad guys who do things like wipe out polio and measles. (Well, formerly wiped out measles. Thanks, anti-vaxxers.)
Even worse, we learned that Fauci received an email from his counterpart in China. AND HE REPLIED TO IT! He is definitely a co-conspirator! This. Must. Be. Investigated. Let’s definitely do that. Maybe we can find another $150,000 and use the high-end folks the Arizona state legislature is using to “audit” the 2020 election by searching for bamboo fibers in absentee ballots.
This current hysteria is the latest breathless overreaction to commentators positing their opinion as fact. It isn’t helped by “analysis”: where news outlets “explain” to us what the facts mean. With the release, analysis and commentary of the Fauci emails, Americans aren’t getting the heart of the story unless they really search for it. And it isn’t a Facebook conspiracy, or collaboration with the Chinese. It isn’t even a deep state plot to shut down the country.
First, it is that there is more to the origin of Covid-19 than we know or may ever find out.
Second, it is that our news media, in general, don’t have the heart or stomach or political will to do objective reporting.
BuzzFeed News and The Washington Post submitted Freedom of Information requests for Fauci’s emails and received them early last week. From there, it sort of all went to hell. BuzzFeed’s original story is a bit more robust than The Washington Post’s, but both outlets basically said, “nothing to see here.” Virtually all of the coverage is about the reaction to the release of the emails.
Predictably, Fox News and its more vitriolic counterparts, Newsmax and OAN, had a field day and producers happily settled in for a new onslaught of outrage and conspiracy theories. The more left-wing media jumped in to defend Fauci. This is all post-factual analysis and opinion. And like good Americans in 2021, we are responding to the coverage that appeals to us on an emotional level, not a factual one.
If I may, allow me to offer my own analysis for some of the most sensational exchanges.
Mark Zuckerberg: The founder of Facebook asked Fauci if he would be interested in appearing in some videos as part of the social media portal’s pandemic resource center. He also seems to be offering some of Facebook’s considerable data tools in speeding vaccine testing (this portion was redacted by the Trump White House, according to BuzzFeed). Fauci forwarded it to his staff and wanted it vetted through the White House communications office. That’s not a friendship or a conspiracy.
George Gao: Fauci’s counterpart in China sent Fauci a message apologizing for his quote in Science Magazine stating that the U.S. was making a big mistake for not mandating masks. Obviously great fodder for conspiracy theorists. To me, not that upsetting. First, given Fauci’s stature as America’s leading infectious disease doctor since 1984, he would be a global authority and should have global relationships. Second, I can’t imagine anything being said of true import in an email originating from China, given the strict internet censorship there. My opinion is that it was a collegial message between professionals written to withstand the scrutiny of censors.
Wuhan bat virus research: Fauci received an email from a global health nonprofit that helped fund research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The executive thanked Fauci for stating that scientific evidence supports a natural origin vice a man-made origin of the virus. If there is a smoking gun, this is it, but it doesn’t necessarily point at Fauci. It points to the media, who with few exceptions did not follow this lead. The New York Times, Vox (an online publication, not related to my company) and the Wall Street Journal have all pursued this question. The Washington Post in particular has not. I think the WSJ sums it up best here: “It isn’t the predominant hypothesis for Covid’s origins, yet prominent scientists are calling for a deeper probe and clearer answers from Beijing.”
It also points to the Chinese regime. The National Institutes of Health at Fauci’s request did send a small amount of funding ($3.7 million) to the Wuhan lab in 2015 to continue research that was banned in 2014 in the U.S. due to public health concerns. The funding and research were cancelled in June 2020 at the White House’s direction. Our scientific and intelligence community must have the resources to pursue all leads regarding the virus’ origin.
Outsourcing disease research to foreign countries because we do not wish to risk an outbreak on U.S. soil is not necessarily unusual. The Department of Defense maintains disease laboratories in Ghana, Egypt and Kenya, for a start, although these labs are controlled by the U.S. military.
Whether we will ever get a final answer because of the totalitarian communist regime ruling China is another matter. The devastation of the virus, and our need to continue to check and prevent its spread remain real. This means vaccines, physical precautions in outbreak areas, and continued scientific research. These are facts, no analysis needed.