On March 17, 2020, a group of several eminent virologists published a paper on the “proximal origin” of Covid-19. “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus,” it trumpeted. The editor in chief of Nature Medicine proudly retweeted it: “Let’s put conspiracy theories about the origin of #SARSCoV2 to rest and help to stop spread of misinformation.” The paper went on to say, “We do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible.”
One of the scientists, Kristian Andersen, sent an email to Dr. Anthony Fauci that morning, alerting him to the paper’s publication. Fauci replied to Andersen that very day, “Thanks for your note. Nice job on the paper.” He had praised an early draft of it as “very thoughtful summary and analysis.”
Almost simultaneously, Peter Daszak, the head of EcoHealth Alliance, which was the cutout through which the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases funded research on coronaviruses in Wuhan, sent an email to University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill virologist Ralph Baric informing him that an investigative committee would not be looking into a lab-origins theory.
Now Fauci tells the New York Times that he’s not sure he ever read the paper.
Immediately, the “proximal origin” paper was put to use to shut down debate. ABC: “Sorry, conspiracy theorists. Study concludes COVID-19 is not a laboratory construct.” Vice News: “Once and for All, the New Coronavirus Was Not Made in a Lab.”
Leaked messages now show that the “proximal origin” paper itself was the product of something like a conspiracy and was intended to mislead the public about the origins of Covid. FOIA requests of their emails and chat messages show that all of the authors of the paper expressed the exact opposite views of the conclusions in the paper. “60-40 lab,” Dr. Edward Holmes said. “I really can’t think of a plausible natural scenario,” wrote Robert Garry.
It turns out that while he was following Fauci’s guidance and advice in preparing the “proximal origin” paper, he had an $8.9 million research grant proposal sitting on Fauci’s desk, waiting for approval. Four days after the paper was published, Andersen’s grant was finalized. An appointment with the grant-maker has a wonderful effect of concentrating the mind.
It’s difficult to overstate the gravity of the fraud at work. The “proximal origin” paper was cited thousands of times and shaped coverage of the pandemic for years. To get just a flavor of it, Andersen brags about manipulating the New York Times coverage by science reporter Donald McNeil Jr., who was open to a lab-leak hypothesis. The Times eventually fired McNeil for unrelated reasons, and the Covid beat passed to a reporter who dismissed the lab leak as nothing more than a racist theory.
In the name of fighting disinformation, America’s leading scientists collaborated with America’s leading public-health authorities to create disinformation themselves — which just happened to be in the interests of funding for their projects and agencies. In trying to save science from public scrutiny, they permanently damaged the reputation of America’s public-health institutions and vividly demonstrated the ease with which the scientific enterprise itself could be corrupted by politics and venality. If the lab leak is the true origin of the Covid-19 pandemic, which appears increasingly likely, the American government and its leading minds were part of the cover-up operation, which spared not just the scientific community but the Chinese Communist Party as well.
Medical offices are still, in August 2023, requiring masks, even though every available high quality study and years of observational evidence have shown that they don’t work to stop respiratory viruses
This was the danger in allowing “experts” to lie about masks for three years, a permanent class of uninformed administrators demanding compliance with nonsensical mandates
The second thing the story reveals is how easily the fears of the Covid era have translated into fears of climate armageddon. So much so that America’s liberal elites now seem to want professional reassurance before stepping out of their air-conditioned homes on a hot day. It has effectively become a marker of high status to be ostentatiously afraid of the great outdoors and the invisible threats it supposedly poses, whether that’s from the Sun or from a virus.
By asking ‘Is it safe to go outside?’, the New York Times has shown us that it knows precisely how to monetise its audience’s anxieties.
The Biden Administration’s regulatory onslaught is more unrelenting than the heat. With Congress leaving town, the White House last week dumped another truckload of regulations that will cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars. Corporate lawyers, enjoy the beach reading.
• The Transportation Department on Friday proposed a 696-page rule raising corporate average fuel economy (Cafe) standards that would effectively require 100% of new cars to be electric by 2032. This is even more aggressive than California’s EV mandate, which wouldn’t ban the sale of new gas-powered cars until 2035.
There’s much more to say about this regulatory typhoon, which the Administration is counting on the press corp to ignore, as it usually does. But we thought Americans might like to know what regulators are up to while they vacation. The Administration is imposing by regulation what it can’t pass through Congress and hoping nobody notices.
“The use of the atomic bomb, with its indiscriminate killing of women and children, revolts my soul,” he wrote. “The only difference between this and the use of gas (which President Franklin D. Roosevelt had barred as a first-use weapon in World War II) is the fear of retaliation.”Those harsh words, written three days after the Hiroshima bombing in August 1945, were not by a man of the American left, but rather by a very prominent conservative—former President Herbert Hoover, a foe of the New Deal and Fair Deal.
In 1959, Medford Evans, a conservative writing in William Buckley’s strongly nationalistic, energetically right-wing magazine, National Review, stated: “The indefensibility of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima is becoming a part of the national conservative creed.” Just the year before, the National Review had featured an angry, anti-atomic bomb article, “Hiroshima: Assault on a Beaten Foe.” Like Hoover, that 1958 essay had decried the atomic bombing as wanton murder. National Review’s editors, impressed by that article, had offered special reprints.
Those two sets of events—Hoover in 1945 and National Review in 1968-69—were not anomalies in early post-Hiroshima U.S. conservatism. In fact, many noted American conservatives—journalists, former diplomats and retired and occasionally on-duty military officers, and some right-wing historians and political scientists—criticized the atomic bombing. They frequently contended it was unnecessary, and often maintained it was immoral, and that softer surrender terms could have ended the war without such mass killing. They sometimes charged Truman and the atomic bombing with “criminality” and “slaughter.”
Yet today, this history of early anti-A-bomb dissent by conservatives is largely unknown. In about the past 20 years, various American conservatives have even assailed A-bomb dissent as typically leftist and anti-American, and as having begun in the tumultuous 1960s. Such a view of postwar American history is remarkably incorrect.
The strongest postwar criticism of the atomic bombing by a prominent American ex-military leader probably came from Admiral William Leahy, a conservative who had also been a top military adviser to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. In his 1950 memoir, the recently retired Leahy declared, “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of not material assistance in our war against Japan.” That nation, he contended, was defeated and ready to surrender before the atomic bombing. He likened the use of the bomb to the morality of Genghis Khan. The crusty admiral wrote about the 1945 bombing, “I was not taught to make war in that fashion.” The United States, he asserted, “had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages.”
Spirited contentions that the atomic bombing was unwise, unnecessary, and immoral are not new, nor did they start in the 1960s. These charges appeared in much of the earlier post-Hiroshima criticism, which came substantially from conservative American publications and people. Such conservative support does not necessarily make those criticisms right or wrong, or good or bad history, but certainly an important part of an earlier postwar dissenting culture.