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A new report from the Republican side of the House Intelligence Committee appears to refute Facebook "fact-checkers" who halted dissemination of a February 2020 New York Post column evaluating the proposition that the source of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic was a leak from a virology laboratory in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
The social media giant slapped a "False Information" notification over shares of the February 22, 2020 take from Steven Mosher – the president of the Population Research Institute and a vocal China critic – while the Post Editorial Board at the time remarked that the link was "opinion" not straight news reportage to begin with.
In the column, Mosher called China's claim that the virus came from a nearby seafood market "lame" and extrapolated on why he thought Chinese President Xi Jinping wasn't being aboveboard in investigating the true source of the pandemic.
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Last week, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee said that there is "significant circumstantial evidence" that the outbreak stemmed from a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and urged the federal government to put "more pressure on China" to allow for a "full, credible investigation."
The report, which Fox News first obtained from Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., alleges "clear signs" that U.S. agencies "may have funded or collaborated in Gain of Function research" at the Wuhan lab, claiming that research "was published even after the U.S. government had paused these kinds of studies in the United States due to ethical concerns over their biowarfare applicability and their potential to accidentally unleash a pandemic."
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The validity of the claims of gain-of-function funding in itself was recently brought to the fore in a gruff back-and-forth earlier this month between Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., – a doctor by trade – and Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease in Bethesda, Md:
"Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely, entirely, and completely incorrect," an irritated Fauci told Paul. "The [National Institutes of Health] has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology."
In response to Facebook censoring Mosher's column that February, the Post wrote another editorial later in the year which further criticized the Mark Zuckerberg-led company:
"When your defense against "fake news" all but kills free discussion, your system is worse than no defense at all."
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Now with the advent of Nunes' report, the Post hearkened back to getting stonewalled by purportedly pro-free-speech social media when Mosher first floated the idea that COVID-19 came from a Chinese lab leak.
In a Monday editorial, the Post asked two pressing questions: why Intel Committee Democrats – led by Chairman Adam Schiff of California – didn't "sign on" to Nunes' comprehensive report, and what Facebook must think after its "fact-checkers" censored a story they now reportedly didn't have the facts on to check:
"How foolish Facebook now looks for blocking The Post’s February 2020 column that first raised the Wuhan-lab-leak possibility."
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The Post pointed to a recent essay by former New York Times science reporter Nicholas Wade, who alleged that the New York-based "EcoHealth Alliance" and its president, Peter Daszak, gave more credence to the lab leak theory.
"Daszak channeled a substantial percentage of that money to the lab in Wuhan, which he described as, world-class lab of the highest standards.' Some of that work, paid for by American taxpayers, went to… gain-of-function research," Carlson said on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on March 31.
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In its weekend column responding to Facebook and other critics after the release of Nunes' report, the Post said that Fauci, the NIAID and China all have "explaining to do."
It also noted that the ruling Chinese Communist Party continues to stonewall truly independent access to the Wuhan lab or its data, "which means it’s hiding something; if only other biowarfare research that it insists it’s not doing."
Fox News' Brooke Singman and Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.
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