An aerial photo of Fort Detrick, Maryland, U.S., May 25, 2007. /CFP
Editor's note: Andrew Korybko is a Moscow-based American political analyst. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.
CNN released a story on Thursday headlined "Exclusive: Intel agencies scour reams of genetic data from Wuhan lab in Covid origins hunt." The outlet cited unnamed intelligence officials to claim that the U.S. intelligence community somehow received genetic data from 22,000 virus samples from China which they've allegedly been processing throughout the course of U.S. President Joe Biden's 90-day review into COVID-19's origins. The intelligence community is expected to release their report later this month as planned, hence the timing of CNN's so-called "exclusive" story.
The problem, however, is that there's nothing really "exclusive" in what they reported apart from the revelation that the U.S. intelligence community allegedly stole Chinese data. Even that can't be proven though since it's entirely reliant on unnamed sources who haven't publicly furnished any proof in support of their claims. Furthermore, the U.S. intelligence community is notoriously known for lying as evidenced during the recent Russiagate saga where similar unnamed sources spewed ultimately debunked claims about former U.S. President Donald Trump's connections with Russia.
The article itself even has a section titled "No 'smoking gun'" which cites some of those same unnamed sources as acknowledging that they don't have proof to support the weaponized conspiracy theory claiming that COVID-19 originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It's of course to CNN's credit that they even included their comments in the story, but that just goes to show that its intentions aren't to inform the public but to hype them up with dramatic speculation. This can be seen through the detailed description of how U.S. spies might struggle to process such large amounts of information as well as references to the lab leak conspiracy theory.
As could have been predicted, some of this dramatic speculation implies that China at the very least tried to cover up how serious the pandemic was during its early stages. That point can be interpreted as a narrative concession to precondition the public into accepting that there's no evidence in support of the lab leak conspiracy theory but still manipulating them into remaining open to the secondary conspiracy theory that China irresponsibly responded to the outbreak. Even though that version of events is equally false, it might find some wishful thinkers who'll cling to it out of desperation to believe something conspiratorial at all instead of the truth.
Finally, the third purpose of CNN's so-called "exclusive report" can be intuited from its final paragraphs where the outlet reports that its sources in the administration allegedly told them that another 90-day review might be commenced right after the present one ends. That part might also be meant to precondition the public into accepting a seemingly never-ending "review" until one or another conspiracy theory is ultimately "legitimized" through its findings, even if the conclusion isn't ever certain but something more along the lines of a vague "highly likely" akin to how the U.S. intelligence community describes alleged Russian plots.
CNN should have been more careful in how it manipulates its audience though since its psychological warfare operations might come back to haunt it. With the American public more hyped up than ever while awaiting the 90-day review's findings, they might never be satisfied with whatever they're told about COVID-19's origins. Some might even become disillusioned and start wondering why their government isn't investigating itself, particularly its controversial Fort Detrick that's accused of secretly manufacturing biological weapons as well as some American authorities' efforts to downplay the virus exactly as they accused China of doing.
To any objective observer, it doesn't make sense why the U.S. would investigate the lab leak theory concerning China while not doing the same when it comes to Fort Detrick. It's also irrational to investigate China for the so-called "covering up the initial COVID-19 outbreak" when there are still political officials such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who don't take the virus all that seriously. These double standards speak to the U.S.' true intentions, which are to manipulate the world's perceptions about China's response to the pandemic to then exploit those manufactured perceptions to further pressure the People's Republic.
(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at [email protected].)