Wuhan lab leak theory: all politics are content

Will we ever know what role, if any, the Wuhan lab had in the emergence of COVID-19? That’s hard to say. But in the absence of certainty, there’s great demand to gin up suspicion in the direction. There are information politics around this, I argue in a piece for Molly McKew’s Great Power newsletter.

To quote: President Joe Biden’s “willingness to wade into this topic in such a forthright way [by announcing the intelligence review] is surprising. But real caution is warranted. Biden wouldn’t be the first president to have their agenda co-opted or swayed by noise driven by social media, including in ways that ultimately undermined their stated policies.”

There is the vivid example of the online chatter around the Syrian Civil War in President Barack Obama’s time.

“Attention absorbed by the Mideast helped prevent the US from carrying out its long-promised Pivot to Asia in earnest, which then gave China more time and room to move in the region. I watched this play out in news cycle after news cycle from my vantage in Australian news.”

It’s also worth acknowledging that some of the loudest proponents of Wuhan lab leak theory are also oblivious doves on Russian meddling in the West. Chief among them: the GOP and associated rightwing commentators. This raises the question of how much pro-Kremlin propaganda blends in with this China-phobic content. That brings the unanswered question: why?

Read the full piece here.

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