June 20 2021 — On Monday, comedian Jon Stewart hilariously promoted the theory that the coronavirus was created and leaked from the Wuhan lab in China on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
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UPDATE (July 11 2021) — In February 2020, The Washington Post published an article claiming the Lab Leak Hypothesis was a “conspiracy theory” that had been “debunked.”
The headline for the article was recently modified and The Post added a correction.
“The term ‘debunked’ and The Post’s use of ‘conspiracy theory’ have been removed because, then as now, there was no determination about the origins of the virus.”
To assert hat the Lab Leak Hypothesis had been debunked, The Post quoted Richard Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University.
When he spoke to The Post, Ebright discussed the lab leak theory, but those comments weren’t included in the article.
“I again discussed both the genome sequence and the lab-accident hypothesis — both on the record—with WaPo. I was surprised that the February 17, 2020, article in WaPo quoted only my comments on the genome sequence and not my comments on the lab-accident hypothesis,” he said.
This is Sunday and I do not want to be too serious, but allow me to make three quick points.
First, I would like to remind you that I immediately denounced the lies of the WaPo regarding Dr. Richard Ebright’s views on this matter.
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Here is what I posted in March 13 and April 2020:
March 13 2020 — In 2015, this laboratory published successful research on whether a bat coronavirus could be made to infect human cells.
But according to the Washington Post, this is just (another) amazing coincidence. People “less qualified” than the Post reporters are not so sure.
Richard H. Ebright — an American molecular biologist — is the Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University and Laboratory Director at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology.
According to Richard H. Ebright, the possibility that the virus entered the population due to a laboratory accident is very plausible.
But surely, considering the magnificent track records of the Washington Post, only conspiracy theorists will pay attention to Dr. Ebright?
Move on. There is no “there” there. Just another freaking coincidence…
April 16 2020 — More lies from the Washington Post — In a piece published on April 16 2020, Adam Taylor writes:
“Some scientists don’t dismiss this outright. In January, Ebright did not want to talk on the record about the idea of a leak because it was too speculative.
He changed his mind and this week told The Post that he thinks it “at least as probable” as an incident outside of a lab (…)”
That statement is clearly a lie. If you checked what I wrote a month ago, it is abundantly clear that Dr. Richard H. Ebright had always considered the possibility that the virus entered the population due to a laboratory accident as very plausible.
But, of course, at the time the Post was ridiculing the idea as a conspiracy theory. What else is new?
Second, I will make a prediction. The U. S. Intelligence Community report on the origin of the pandemic — which is due at the end of August 2021 and is expected to be made public — will not rule out the Lab Leak Hypothesis.
Thirdly, last and certainly not least, I believe that there should be an investigation of all of the reporting that falsely claimed that the Lab Leak Hypothesis was a debunked Conspiracy Theory.
This being said, who needs comedians when you have the WaPo journalists? Happy Sunday!
END of UPDATE
Stewart explained to a visibly surprised Colbert the reasoning behind his apparent conclusion with a series of trademark comedic analogies.
About the natural origin
“The disease is the same name as the lab. That’s just a little too weird, don’t you think? And then you have some scientists who are like, ‘So wait a minute, you work at the Wuhan Respiratory Coronavirus Lab. How did this happen?’ And they’re like, ‘Mmmm, a pangolin kissed a turtle?’
Doing a “Chomsky” comparison…
“Oh my god, there’s been an outbreak of chocolatey goodness near Hershey, Pennsylvania. What do you think happened? Like, oh, I don’t know. Maybe a steam shovel mated with a cocoa bean—or it’s the f***ing chocolate factory! Maybe that’s it!”
Just a ‘freaky coincidence’?
“It could be possible that they have the lab in Wuhan to study the coronavirus diseases because in Wuhan there are a lot of novel coronavirus diseases because of the bat population there,” Colbert said.
“Sure… I understand,” Stewart said, taking on a more sarcastic tone. “It’s the local specialty, and it’s the only place to find bats. You won’t find bats anywhere else. Oh wait, Austin, Texas, has thousands of them that fly out of a cave every night at dusk? Is there … an Austin coronavirus? No, there doesn’t seem to be an Austin coronavirus. The only coronavirus we have is in Wuhan.”
About science & scientists
“This is not a conspiracy! But this is the problem with science. Science is incredible, but they don’t know when to stop and no one in the room with those cats ever goes, ‘I don’t know if we should do that.’ They’re like, ‘curiosity killed the cat, so let’s kill 10,000 cats to find out why.'”
Following a commercial break, Stewart told Colbert:
“Can I say this about scientists? I love them and they do such good work but they are going to kill us all.”
The Washington Post
Having noticed that segment seems like a potential inflection point in the debate over the coronavirus’s origins, The Washington Post felt the need to post two pieces about the show.
Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman wrote in a piece Tuesday morning that Stewart’s opinion offers another reason why Americans should take comedians’ scientific opinions with a grain of salt, arguing that a person might be too encouraged when a celebrity agrees with one of their beliefs. [The Hill]
“But they’re not experts, and the reason we listen to experts is that they know more than we do,” Waldman wrote.
In an analysis, Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake also notes that Stewart’s opinion may be an oversimplification of facts, and the lab in Wuhan specializes in coronaviruses because China has a history of these viruses and virology labs tend to specialize in the viruses around them.
Nevertheless, Blake admitted that Stewart may have done the right thing…
Stewart responded that it wasn’t a conspiracy theory. And he’s right to the extent you regard “conspiracy theory” as something that is implausible.
(I would still argue it applies to a situation in which the Chinese government would have spent a year and a half covering this up.)
It was just perhaps an oversimplification — the same kind of oversimplification for which the kinds of people promoting Stewart’s segment once pilloried him.
That said, it will very likely push that seeming coincidence even more into the debate over the lab leak, which might ultimately be a healthy thing.
Think about that…
So here we are… Believe what you want. But once again, a fact is indisputable.
When it comes to debating the origin of the pandemic, most people trust a comedian better than scientists, journalists, intelligence officials and politicians.
Perhaps the comedian is not the one to be blamed for this hilarious joke?
Why Jon Stewart’s Lab-Leak Moment Matters
Jon Stewart came along and brought comedy deeper into the political space, essentially merging the two, and did so from a liberal perspective during the height of the Bush-whacking years. Yet he was, and remains, a free thinker — an undeniably adroit one — who could agitate his own side, and both sides, when he deemed fit.
He was, in a sense, a transitional figure, bridging an era of political humor that used the former in service of the latter, and a modern era that flips the formula — so that the jokes, often stale and predictable, serve the cause.
So when mentor Jon Stewart joined protégé Stephen Colbert earlier this week and took it upon himself to savage the Chinese government and attempt to convert anyone still denying the plausibility of the COVID lab-leak theory, whether out of stubborn loyalty to one side’s narrative or for some other reason, it was a bellow from that era not quite bygone. It was an effective one. His Sauron’s eye for absurdity locked on its target and stated what is so painfully obvious to anyone willing to think outside partisan team-playing. (…)
More broadly, the Daily Show ex-host’s bit — flecked with his trademark flourishes of darting around the set, speaking directly to the camera, grimacing, going nasally, cracking up at his counterpart’s occasional riposte to restore levity — is a reminder that it’s okay, once in a while, to perceive that one’s political others are not all cretinous mouth-breathers; to weigh competing ideas before assuming the right one; and to say, “Wait a minute, the other side’s got a point.” [National Review]
Jon Stewart On Vaccine Science And The Wuhan Lab Theory
Jon Stewart goes all-in on the lab leak theory — Washington Post
Jon Stewart Says Wuhan Lab Leak ‘Not a Conspiracy’ on Stephen Colbert — Newsweek
Sunday Parody — Comedian Jon Stewart on the Wuhan Lab-Leak Theory
Sunday Parody — Comedian Jon Stewart on the Wuhan Lab-Leak Theory [UPDATE — WaPo U-Turns on Lab leak Hypothesis]