FLASHBACK: Media defended Anthony Fauci's false claims about Wuhan lab funding in feud with Rand Paul

Media top headlines October 22

In media news today, Cnn’s Biden Town Hall takes questions from 7 Democrats and only 2 Republicans, Associated Press issues a correction on a photo of a Netflix counter-protester, and CNN fires back at Joe Rogan over its coverage of ivermectin

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) admitted Thursday that it funded gain-of-function research on bats infected with coronaviruses at a lab in Wuhan, China despite repeated denials from Dr. Anthony Fauci that U.S. tax dollars were used.

Journalist Drew Holden, who is known for pointing out media hypocrisy in lengthy Twitter threads, brought receipts proving mainstream news organizations were wrong when they declared that accusations against Fauci and the NIH over the funding were false.

“I hope that outlets will correct the record,” he wrote before sharing the evidence.

“You may remember a dust up in July between Dr. Fauci & [Rand Paul] around precisely this point. It seems inarguable that what Fauci told Congress isn’t true. And the press uncritically helped him convince the American people otherwise,” Holden wrote, referring to Fauci’s July congressional testimony in which he clashed with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., while claiming that no NIH money went towards gain-of-function research in Wuhan. 

Holden detailed the framing by a number of media outlets covering the exchange and how they appeared to favor Fauci, including CNN writing that he “excoriated” Paul and MSNBC saying the exchanges weren’t going well for the Kentucky Republican.

MSNBC even referred to Paul’s pressure on Fauci as “slander,” and ran a softball interview with him rebuking Paul. 

Holden noted that Newsweek also picked up the MSNBC interview and ran its own headline “treating Fauci’s word as gospel.”

“This is yet another example of the power of media to frame stories. By choosing to focus only on what Fauci had to say, it conveys that there is only one side of this debate worth believing. That’s clearly not true,” he wrote, citing a headline from The New York Times.

He noted that The Washington Post also ran a story reiterating that officials had repeatedly dismissed Paul’s allegations and suggested the paper should follow up now that the NIH had corrected the record. He added that the Post’s resident fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, gave Paul’s allegations two “Pinocchios” and suggested he also follow up to correct the record.

Holden went on to call out reporting from NBC News, Reuters, Vanity Fair, ABC News, Deadline Hollywood and FactCheck.org for also covering the story “poorly.” 

Holden gave credit to some who stood in support of Paul but mocked some tweets from detractors, including The Lincoln Project, which accused him of lying and being a “moron.”

“Some might say that media are only as good as their sources: if the authority on this wasn’t truthful, how could the media know better? The problem, however, is that there was never even a shred of incredulity. The press took the government at its word and moved on,” Holden said. 

“It should go without saying, but this is simply an inexcusable way to handle getting to the bottom of whether American taxpayers were responsible for funding research that could’ve contributed to a global pandemic that has killed millions of people,” he added, before imploring media organizations again to correct the record.

Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.

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