Washington Post corrects year-old headline that claimed COVID-19 lab leak theory was already debunked

The Washington Post has been under fire recently, after critics noticed a correction to a story published 15 months ago that debunked the “conspiracy theory” that Covid-19 originated from a Wuhan lab.

The original article attacked Republican Senator Tom Cotton’s claims that the virus may be traced back to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. The article headline stated, “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked” but was modified Tuesday to read, “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus fringe theory that scientists have disputed.” The increasing popularity in the lab-leak explanation in mainstream media has likely contributed to the Washington Post editing the headline [Yahoo News].

The editors of the publication added a note to the article alerting readers to the correction. “Earlier versions of this story and its headline inaccurately characterized comments by Senator Tom Cotton regarding the origins of the coronavirus. 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,” the editor’s note read. The revision comes after several prominent public health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, confessed that they could not rule out a leak from the Wuhan lab.

The Biden administration accepted the theory as plausible after the Wall Street Journal reported on three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been hospitalized with symptoms consistent with COVID back in November 2019. The incident occurred more than a month before China said it recorded the first confirmed case. Biden has directed U.S. intelligence agencies to investigate the situation. Facebook was among the first of the social media giants to announce they will no longer fact check posts relating to this theory.


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