Media

New York Times COVID-19 Reporter Expresses Regret After Doubling Down On Claim That Lab Leak Theory Has ‘Racist Roots’

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Michael Ginsberg General Assignment Reporter
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A New York Times reporter who often covers COVID-19 for the outlet doubled down Wednesday on claims that the lab leak theory has “racist roots.” The reporter later deleted the tweets and expressed regret for sending them.

Apoorva Mandavilli tweeted her hope that “Someday we will stop talking about the lab leak theory and maybe even admit its racist roots.”

Mandavilli deleted the tweet, but later doubled down on the claim.

Mandavilli then followed up by explaining why she deleted the tweets, indicating she eventually regretted sending them.

The lab leak theory posits that COVID-19 could have or did escape from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where scientists have conducted gain-of-function research on bat-based coronaviruses. Gain-of-function research entails making viruses more deadly or transmittable, and can have civilian or military uses.

Mandavilli did not explain how the lab leak theory is racist or how it has “racist roots.” Many Democrats, including New York Mayor Bill De Blasio and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, have claimed that referring to COVID-19’s origin in Wuhan, China is “racist.” (RELATED: Kamala Harris Introduces Resolution To Condemn The Terms ‘Wuhan Virus’ And ‘Chinese Virus’ As Racist)

Many media organizations also referred to the lab leak theory as a conspiracy theory. Slate claimed that “the rumors of a lab escape or a bioweapon stem from historical amnesia, a caricatured villain, and good old-fashioned racism.”

The New Republic described the lab leak theory as “outlandish” and derided supporters as “jumping down a rabbit hole.”