COVID might’ve come from a lab leak. Was the conspiracy theory label used too early?

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Health workers in protective suits record patient information at a hospital in Wuhan, China on Dec. 31, 2022. Photo by Tingshu Wang/Reuters

It’s been three years since the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread and completely shut down most of the world. But there are still many unanswered questions surrounding the virus, including where did COVID actually come from?

The argument over the virus’ origins almost instantly became political. Democrats and many scientists suggested it likely emerged from nature. But Republicans insisted it emerged from a lab in Wuhan, China, which was labeled misinformation by the left. 

But this week, that debate came back into view. The U.S. Energy Department said they had “low confidence” that a lab accident was the most likely origin. Can Republicans say, “Told you so?”

This ignited a storm of finger-pointing from both sides. And it adds a new facet to the conversation regarding how social media and internet platforms should define or handle misinformation.

Was it fair to take down content suggesting a lab leak? And if Democrats hadn’t dismissed that claim, would we be closer to understanding COVID’s origins?

Host David Greene discusses with Mo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, and Sarah Isgur, senior editor at The Dispatch.

Plus, Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot became the city’s first incumbent mayor in 40 years to lose reelection. This week, she failed to make the runoff. 

Lightfoot served during a tough time in Chicago – she led the city through the pandemic and civil unrest, and tried to fight rampant crime. But 63% of Chicagoans say they don’t feel safe, according to a recent poll.

So, what did Lightfoot get wrong? And what does this election say about the politics of the nation’s other big cities?

And why do our politics feel so reactionary? Political comedy writer Jeff Maurer discusses his article, “‘Omg Stop Freaking Out!!!’ Is a Bad Response to Right Wing Freakouts” from his Substack blog “I Might Be Wrong.” He weighs in on neverending freakouts from all sides and the evolving political news landscape.




David Greene