COVID damages memory of grant dismissal protestors, but the Internet never forgets

By Paul D. Thacker

Paul Thatcher is by far one of the best investigative journalists following the Wuhan lab leak theory and the nefarious role of the EcoHealth Alliance in dismissing that hypothesis.  He demonstrates how inattentive mainstream science journalists regularly get the real story wrong.

Michael Lerner

The National Institutes of Health terminated part of a grant last week that funded dangerous virus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, through a nonprofit called the EcoHealth Alliance. But you probably already read this at Politico, Science Magazine, NPR, CNN, New York Times, and Nature Magazine, right?

Oh, I forgot. These outlets forgot to do a journalism!

The only venue that found this grant termination newsworthy was a small outlet devoted to warning about the dangers fraught from misuse of modern science: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Here’s how the Bulletin reported it:

The termination notice comes after the NIH chided EcoHealth last fall for not immediately notifying the agency after its experiments showed modified coronaviruses replicated at a faster rate in experimental mice than an unmodified virus. The agency then asked for lab notebooks and other files pertaining to the experiments, and EcoHealth reported that it would relay the request to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. According to the new NIH letters, the Wuhan institute never delivered.

After the EcoHealth Alliance’s grant with the Wuhan Institute of Virology first came to national attention two years back, it created a media firestorm when the Trump administration suspended it, and various outlets reported that the scrutiny was driven by “conspiracy theories.” But now … crickets.

New studies find that COVID-19 damages people’s thinking, which may explain why science writers at NPR don’t remember that they reported removing this grant “sets a dangerous precedent by interfering in the conduct of science.” Luckily, the Internet never forgets.

A look back at reporting on this grant.

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