Long famous as a font of political and economic distortion, the Wall Street Journal's opinion section has more recently become a center of lab-leak speculation, Michael Hiltzik, a U.S. columnist with The Los Angeles Times and a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, said on Friday.
In a column of the newspaper, Hiltzik urged the stop of lab-leak propaganda published by the Wall Street Journal, calling it "scientifically unvalidated."
The Wall Street Journal's opinion pages have been bashing China over the coronavirus through unsigned editorials and contributions from its stable of staff commentators and guests such as former CIA Director Mike Pompeo, he said.
The news veteran, who has contributed to the Los Angeles Times for three decades, wrote that The Wall Street Journal's opinion section "hit a low note" this week, with an op-ed by two would-be experts declaring that the lab-leak hypothesis has been all but "confirmed" by some recent research.
Hiltzik refuted an article published on Tuesday by Richard Muller and Steven Quay, neither of whom is trained in virology.
Muller and Quay's article is "a return to a theory of deliberate virus creation that has been abandoned by all but the most febrile conspiracy theorists" and notably, they "don't mention at all recent research that undermines the lab-leak hypothesis, including the discovery of bats harboring viruses very similar to SARS-CoV-2 living in caves in Laos, some 750 miles from Wuhan," Hiltzik wrote.
Muller and Quay sliced and diced research, some of which has been sitting around on the shelf for more than a year, and reinterpreted to fit their own predilections, Hiltzik added.
"It's important to recognize that virologists believe the natural spillover hypothesis to be vastly more likely than a lab leak. Findings lending credibility to that theory have been proliferating in the scientific press. Yet, no one has found any evidence for a lab leak, whatsoever," he noted.
"The Wall Street Journal opinion section has a desire to portray China as a sinister entity, and the pandemic has been a superlative cudgel for use against a country that has emerged as a potent threat to America's worldwide economic primacy," Hiltzik concluded, adding that this caliber of work will only embarrass the newspaper's serious journalists and damage the newspaper's credibility.
Hiltzik received the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for articles exposing corruption in the entertainment industry.