A new NBC News report on the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) -- the lab from where the coronavirus pandemic may have originated -- is inconsistent and misleading, according to a thread of tweets from Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin.
“This NBC News report on their field trip to Wuhan Institute of Virology has several errors, but the most glaring is that it misrepresents what U.S. officials wrote in diplomatic cables in 2018,” Rogin began Monday afternoon.
The NBC report states that U.S. officials observed several safety issues in the lab. But according to Rogin, WIV scientists told officials about the issues in a January 2018 cable.
“Wang Yanyi, director of the WIV, told NBC reporters the U.S. officials visited in March 2018, two months after the first cable was written,” Rogin tweeted. “The truth is they visited three times, both before and after the Jan. 2018 cable. Did U.S. officials make an entire visit? Not likely…”
Rogin went on to question Wang's credibility, zeroing in on her claim that biosafety was not discussed with the U.S. officials and point and noting that she essentially called the Americans “fabricators.” He also criticized NBC for reporting Wang's claims "without any pushback."
The Post columnist also questioned why NBC's reporters bothered touring the lab at all.
“What did they expect to find, a piece of paper they forgot to throw out that says ‘Coronavirus Origin Evidence’?” he asked. “It's absurd to think that has any probative value. But there's more ... The NBC report says that [Dr. Anthony] Fauci ‘discounted the idea that the virus had accidentally escaped from a lab.’ If you read the interview, Fauci said it’s not important if it was a lab accident (which is wrong) but not that he rules out the possibility.”
Rogin added that WIV Vice Director Dr. Yuan Zhiming reiterated that there’s no evidence that the coronavirus was transmitted from animals to humans in the Huanan Seafood Market.
“Overall, the Chinese scientists can't be blamed for toeing the Party line,” Rogin said. “They deviate from that under penalty of death. But U.S. news organizations must do better than presenting a walk around a lab and an interview with falsehoods in it as telling us anything about the virus.”