ABC’s Jon Karl Struggles to Admit Trump Could Be Right About Lab Leak Theory

News & Politics

The media’s derangement over the former president is still alive, even as some reporters this week admitted their own bias against the president prevented them from fairly reporting on the coronavirus pandemic origins.

ABC News’ Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl gave the most mockable but truthful admission on this front, while on ABC’s political roundtable, This Week, yesterday. After host Martha Raddatz admitted that some who rejected the premise that the virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China now have “egg on their face,” she asked Karl why finding out the origins of the pandemic “matters.”

Karl struggled to admit Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could actually have been right for proposing this theory a year ago. But he defended and rationalized the media’s irresponsible and childish behavior in refusing to find out the truth about the coronavirus origins just to snub the president and his administration:

We need to know how it started and yes, I think a lot of people have egg on their face. 

This was an idea that was first put forward by Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, Donald Trump. And look, some things may be true, even if Donald Trump said them. 

And there was — because Trump was saying so much else that was just out of control, and because he was, you know, making a frankly racist appeal talking about ‘kung-flu’ and the ‘China virus,’ his notion that put forward that this may have, or that he said flatly that this came from that lab, was widely dismissed. But actually, there’s some real reason — we don’t know, by the way, we still don’t know, we absolutely don’t know, but now, serious people are saying it needs a serious inquiry.

Other reporters made similar mea culpas for the media this past week on the lab leak theory. 

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CNN analyst and Washington Post reporter Josh Rogin appeared on CNN to criticize the Biden administration for thwarting an investigation into the pandemic’s origins, but he also wrote a scathing Twitter thread blasting his own liberal media peers for automatically dismissing the theory because of their own, “TDS:”

Likewise, on CNN’s Reliable Sources Sunday, New York Times reporter David Leonhardt told host Brian Stelter that the media “made the mistake” of “assuming” conservatives like Senator Tom Cotton and Donald Trump were wrong, simply because of who they were: “And I think people made this mistake, I think a lot of people on the political left and a lot of people in the media made this mistake, they said, ‘wow if Tom Cotton is saying something it can’t be true’ or they assumed that and that is not right.”

Like Karl, the NYT reporter rationalized the media’s biased rejection of a theory backed by conservatives because “Tom Cotton does deal in misinformation about things like election fraud, he said some things that are just wrong,” but “that doesn’t mean that everything that he says is wrong and a lot of people including people in the media leaped to dismiss the lab leak theory because of where its would coming from and the reality is we don’t yet know how COVID started.”

Fellow NYT reporter Maggie Haberman had a less charitable take, while on CNN last week, putting the blame entirely on the Trump admin for the media’s refusal to examine the facts:

Look, I do think that it’s important to remember that part of the issue when this was first being reported on and discussed back a few months after the pandemic had begun, then President Trump and Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, both suggested they had seen evidence that this was formed in a lab and they also suggested it was not released on purpose, but they refused to release the evidence showing what it was. So because of that, that made this instantly political. I think this was example 1000 where the Trump administration learned when you burn your own credibility over and over again, people are not immediately going to believe you, especially in an election year. However, that does not mean it’s not worth discussing.

Read transcript portions below:

This Week with George Stephanopoulos

5/30/2021

MARTHA RADDATZ:  And Jon, I want to turn to COVID. We talked about COVID this week and travel is up again, and the numbers of COVID cases are way down, but a lot of talk this week about the origin of COVID, again. Tom Cotton especially and many people in the Trump administration said it originated in the lab in Wuhan, China, not with bats. They’re taking a second look at that. Some people have egg on their face, and why does this matter? 

JONATHAN KARL: Well, look I mean it matters, for the same reason we were talking about the January 6th commission. We should find out what happened. This is one of the greatest crises our country has ever faced and the world has ever faced. We need to know how it started and yes, I think a lot of people have egg on their face. This was an idea that was first put forward by Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, Donald Trump. And look, some things may be true, even if Donald Trump said them. And there was — because Trump was saying so much else that was just out of control, and because he was, you know, making a frankly racist appeal talking about ‘kung-flu’ and the ‘China virus,’ his notion that put forward that this may have, or that he said flatly that this came from that lab, was widely dismissed. But actually, there’s some real reason — we don’t know, by the way, we still don’t know, we absolutely don’t know, but now, serious people are saying it needs a serious inquiry.

Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter

5/30/2021

NYT DAVID LEONHARDT:

….And a bunch people argued that it likely escaped from this lab in Wuhan and some of them were scientists who you’ve never heard of, necessarily. And who made serious arguments. But some of them were conservative politicians like Senator Tom Cotton and after Cotton started doing it, Donald Trump when he was president started doing it. And I think people made this mistake, I think a lot of people on the political left and a lot of people in the media made this mistake, they said, ‘wow if Tom Cotton is saying something it can’t be true’ or they assumed that and that is not right. Tom Cotton does deal in misinformation about things like election fraud he said some things that are just wrong but that doesn’t mean that everything that he says is wrong and a lot of people including people in the media leaped to dismiss the lab leak theory because of where its would coming from and the reality is we don’t yet know how COVID started. 

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