In a recent press conference, Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich confronted White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about the Energy Department’s conclusion that COVID-19 likely originated in a Chinese laboratory.
The department came to this conclusion in a classified intelligence report, after the lab leak theory had been labeled a conspiracy theory by media outlets and several other prominent figures including White House senior health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci who insisted that the cause likely originated from natural transmission.
“Is it prudent to have members within the administration voicing support for one theory over another if there isn’t a consensus for that?” Heinrich asked.
“I do want to speak to Dr. Fauci because the political attacks on someone like Dr. Fauci, and public officials more broadly, but Dr. Fauci who has spent his career saving lives and whether it was the AIDS epidemic or … COVID, this once in a generation pandemic, these attacks have been counterproductive, they have not been helpful. This is someone, again, who has spent almost his entire career fighting for wellbeing, the health of the American people. I just want to call out the political attacks,” Jean-Pierre said.
The press secretary added that the administration needs to “get to the bottom” of the origins of COVID-19, praising President Joe Biden for directing the intelligence community to investigate the cause.
This prompted Heinrich to point to the officials who cast doubt on the lab leak theory in spite of the fact that they didn’t have the answers.
“There was, not so long ago, a point where anyone asking a question whether a lab leak was a credible theory that should be looked into, a lot of those people were derided as fringe, conspiracy theorists,” Heinrich added. “Are there lessons learned looking back about how we discuss theories when we don’t have all of the answers?”
“So, here’s what I can tell you is the president’s commitment to getting to the bottom of this. That is what’s the most important so that we can share this with Congress, we can share this with the American people,” the press secretary said. “That is why he asked the IC to do its work. And right now, there is no consensus … we’re going to do everything that we can … to figure out where it originated because of what could potentially happen next, because of the potential of having another pandemic and I think that’s what’s most important. That’s what the American people should have confidence in is that you have a president who wants to get to the bottom of this.”
Many media outlets, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and NPR initially discredited the lab leak theory as a conspiracy, although many Coronavirus experts refused to dismiss the possibility that the virus did leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China. Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler discredited the theory in May 2020.
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