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Sunday, November 1, 2020
SHOCKER: WND Adds Correction Admitting Conspiracy-Obsessed Virologist Has Been Discredited
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily -- remaining true to its conspiracy-theory-driven nature -- got a lot of mileage recently out of a Chjinese virologist named Li-Meng Yan and her claims that the COVID-19 coronavirus was created in a laboratory:

A Sept. 11 article breathlessly wrote how Yan "says she has evidence COVID-19 is man-made and plans to publish it soon." On Sept. 16, WND hyped how Yan appeared on Fox News to claim that "the Chinese Communist Party manufactured and intentionally released the COVID-19 virus that led to mass shutdowns and deaths around the world."

An Oct. 6 item repeated a claim from unreliable fringe-right webstie ZeroHedge that Yan "says that the Chinese Communist Party has arrested her mother." The same day, a column by Andy Schlafly went into full victimization and conspiracy mode for Yan:

Though downplayed in the media, suspicion grows that COVID-19 was produced in a lab in Wuhan, which makes it a weapon of mass destruction different from past pandemics. Li-Meng Yan, a Chinese virologist who was a researcher at the Hong Kong School of Public Health, has explained why she believes the virus was made in a military laboratory by combining two bat coronaviruses.

If you have not heard of Dr. Yan, then it is probably because Twitter has censored her, too. As reported by Newsweek, Twitter suspended her account in mid-September without public explanation, despite her nearly 60,000 followers.

The Communist Chinese have recently arrested her mother as retaliation. But Joe Biden and Democrats are silent about this human rights abuse and remain unwilling to hold China accountable for causing so much harm.

Just one little problem: Yan's claim -- which runs counter to what actual experts have said for months -- keeps getting discredited, culminating in a summarization at CNN of howYan is linked to ex-Trump adviser (and current arrested criminal) Steve Bannon and finding that her research was "built on what appears to be the same theories, similar passages and identical charts presented by an anonymous blogger whose writings were posted on a website linked to Bannon months earlier," and that "three co-authors of Yan's paper used pseudonyms instead of their real names, a practice frowned upon in scientific and academic work."

So much so, in fact, that even WND has grudgingly admitted it. On Oct. 11, WND added an editor's note to its Sept. 11 article:

Appearances by Dr. Li-Meng Yan on media outlets in Britain and the United States have come under fresh scrutiny in connection with her own pre-print (an unpublished draft of a science paper) on the website Zenodo claiming to provide evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was created in a laboratory and is not of natural origin. Yan's pre-print, which was not peer-reviewed by other experts in the field, claims that some unique characteristics in the SARS-CoV-2 genome prove that the virus is man-made. However, experts disputed Yan's pre-print for being flawed and containing unsubstantiated claims. The exact origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus remains unknown. Dr. Yan claims to prove that the SARS-COV-2 virus originated in a lab, but a careful analysis of her pre-print actually shows this claim is unsubstantiated.

Unfortunately, WND did not feel this was a serious enough correction to do an entirely new article about how Yan has been discredited, nor did it append this correction to its other articles on Yan, nor did it otherweise call attention to the correction. So unless you stumbled across this article, which had long since disappeared from WND's home page, you wouldn't know of WND's half-hearted attempt to correct the record.

Well, it's a start -- if 23 years after its founding constitutes an appropriate learning curve for how to handle errors -- for a "news" organizaiton that usually doesn't publish corrections unless a lawsuit has been threatened.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:12 PM EDT

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