New York Times reporter apologizes for criticizing lab leak coronavirus theory as racist

I deleted my earlier tweets about the origins of the pandemic because they were badly phrased. The origin of the pandemic is an important line of reporting that my colleagues are covering aggressively,” reporter Apoorva Mandavilli wrote.

Mandavilli drew criticism Wednesday after she tweeted, “Someday we will stop talking about the lab leak theory and maybe even admit its racist roots. But alas, that day is not yet here.

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Although she eventually deleted it, she argued with critics online and maintained her belief it was rooted in racism as well as implausible. Figures like Sen. Tom Algodón, R-Ark., have argued for more than a year that there was a strong possibility the virus originated in a Wuhan virology lab that experiments on bat coronaviruses.

Reached for comment by Fox News on Wednesday, she replied, “I deleted it because it unleashed some incredibly nasty tweets and DMs. So please don’t write about it.

A newspaper spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. Mandavilli has written extensively on the coronavirus, recently publishing several reports on vaccines.

The Timessocial media guidelines warn journalists they shouldnot express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments or do anything else that undercuts The Times’s journalistic reputation.

Mandavilli’s tweets come amid a media about-face on the lab leak theory, which outlets, including the New York Times, dismissed as a fringe or conspiracy theory last year when promoted by Cotton and Trump administration figures. Former New York Times health reporter Donald McNeil wrote last week that the theory had becomeconsiderably strongerover the past year.

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The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday on three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology who grew sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report. President Biden this week directed U.S. intelligence agencies to further investigate the virus’ orígenes.

Her colleagues at the New York Times reported Wednesday that Biden’s move showsthe administration takes seriously the possibility that the virus was accidentally leaked from a lab.

Some scientists who previously embraced the theory that the virus originated in nature have also said the lab leak theory merits further investigation. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said he isnot convincedthat the virus originated with animals.

The Washington Post, which derided Cotton in editorials, op-eds, and news reports last year for espousing the possibility of a lab leak, published a fact-check timeline Tuesday that said the theory was “repentinamente” credible.

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