Conspiracy Theory Allegations Demonstrate Presumption of the Biased

June 19, 2020 Updated: June 19, 2020

Commentary

Well aware of the power of a headline, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation published a “news report” under the dramatically deceptive title: “‘Racist and inflammatory’: Canadians upset by Epoch Times claim China behind virus, made it as a bioweapon.” The report was clearly intended to discredit The Epoch Times and the moral character of its readership.

The CBC offensive was primarily aimed at an Epoch Times special edition titled “How the Chinese Communist Party Endangered the World,” which dealt with the way Beijing initially covered up the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

The special edition, distributed to selected areas in Canada, was critical of Beijing’s lack of transparency in the developmental stages of the outbreak and of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) negligence, which allowed the virus to become a global pandemic.

The CBC report was immediately challenged by The Epoch Times Canadian publisher, Cindy Gu. Gu pointed out that the headline focused solely on one small part of the eight-page edition, a commentary article that discussed the history of a CCP defence minister talking about the development of bioweapons. She asserted that the commentary article did not claim that the Wuhan lab was developing bioweapons and said the title of the CBC report was deliberately misleading.

CBC eventually had to admit that despite it’s allegations, The Epoch Times didn’t claim that China made the coronavirus as a bioweapon.

A CBC spokesman also admitted that the claim The Epoch times was engaged in spreading “hatred” was purely an individual opinion that should not have reflected on the integrity of the news outlet.

The Epoch Times was founded by Chinese immigrants who fled communist repression in China. The special edition’s focus was how the CCP is endangering the Chinese people as well as people around the world by hiding the facts about the virus outbreak. The outlet is in no way racist against Chinese people; in fact, many of its staff are themselves Chinese.

Many who followed the CBC controversy noted that in the course of portraying Epoch Times contributors as racists and conspiracy theorists, the CBC had served a deliberate Beijing disinformation campaign calculated to stifle any criticism and exposure of its conduct.

In the wake of the controversy Conrad Black, an Epoch Times contributor, described the current CBC as “grossly unprofessional.” Writing in the National Post he also said: “It is compulsively misanthropic and nasty, and almost always takes a snide leftist view of everything, including foreign affairs.”

Other Epoch Times contributors, like myself, shared a quiet sense of pride in the way Cindy Gu successfully took on Canada’s national media behemoth. It was truly a David and Goliath moment in the history of Canadian journalism.

Curiously Well-Timed ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Survey 

For the ideologically biased, any admission of error is regarded as a sign of weakness. So, with almost military efficiency, just days after the allegations against The Epoch Times was demonstrated to be a CBC news hoax,  a school of journalism at a Canadian university marched to the sound of ideological gunfire.

Between May 5 and 8, the school launched a curiously well-timed survey of 2,000 Canadians ostensibly to measure the degree to which “conspiracy theories and incorrect scientific information about COVID 19 have taken root in Canada.”

The study proceeded eagerly to the conclusion that misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic was still spreading across the country. The researchers claimed to have discovered that nearly half of Canadians (46 percent) believed at least one COVID 19 conspiracy theory or “myth” examined by their survey.

One of the items in the survey reads, “True or false: Drugs such as hydroxychloroquine are effective in treating patients who have been infected with COVID-19.” The 22 percent of Canadians who responded “true” to this statement were tagged as “hydroxychloroquine hype believers.” The study received agreeable media coverage from many mainstream press outlets.

We have come to expect that schools of journalism are inclined to view the world through a generally leftist, anti-American political lens, and a review of the survey’s bias points to another media-driven disinformation campaign.

The Chinese Communist Party has been working overtime in recent weeks to spread its own conspiracy theories, including the notion that the virus may have originated in either Italy or as a biological weapon from the United States.

The survey of conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 didn’t probe how many Canadians are being impacted by Beijing’s false narratives and propaganda on the pandemic.

First Rule of The Press Club: Prove Trump Wrong

One of the questions on the survey asked respondents whether the statement, “Drugs such as hydroxychloroquine are effective in treating patients who have been infected with COVID-19” is true or false.

Readers will recall that early reports from physicians on the front lines of the pandemic indicated encouraging incidents of success in treating COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine.

Following these reports, U.S. President Donald Trump expressed considerable hope that hydroxychloroquine might serve as a safe and effective therapeutic for the disease. But the president’s hopeful enthusiasm appeared to prompt some public health officials to quickly sour on the drug’s potential.

According to a CNN investigation, federal agencies suspended funding for research on the drug and some public authorities made it difficult for practicing physicians to prescribe hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19.

As the controversy continued, the highly respected British medical journal The Lancet published a study claiming that hydroxychloroquine increases heartbeat irregularities and actually decreased hospital survival rates.

The Lancet article appeared to shake the scientific world, prompting the World Health Organization and other medical authorities to suspend clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine for use against COVID-19. The international press corps danced in the streets.

Earlier this month, however, The Lancet had to retract the study on the grounds the researchers had arrived at bogus conclusions based on flawed data. Well-qualified practicing physicians continue to prescribe hydroxychloroquine, especially for out-patients in early stages of the coronavirus disease. Some contend the now retracted Lancet study halted hydroxychloroquine trials which could have meant life or death for some patients.

The negative reaction to the use of the drug was clearly a function of the media’s hysterical opposition to Donald Trump rather than a clear lack of therapeutic efficacy or a danger of adverse side effects. The first rule in elite press clubs around the world is “prove Trump to be wrong.”

Presumption

One of the more tiresome, but at the same time comical, aspects of the journalism school study was the enormous over-confidence of the “researchers.” One couldn’t read their conclusions without being reminded of “that inseparable companion of the half-educated, that spring of an unmeasured ambition” referred to by Prince Klemens von Metternich as the “presumption” of a middle-class radical chic.

A co-researcher on the study said she found it remarkable that over half of those surveyed (57 percent) were confident that they could “easily distinguish conspiracy theories and misinformation from factual information about COVID- 19.”

“I was floored by the overconfidence Canadians have in their own ability to distinguish conspiracy theories and misinformation,” she said. “Anyone who thinks that it’s easy to distinguish conspiracy theories and misinformation is at high risk of being fooled.”

Imagine living in a free country where significant numbers of citizens weighed evidence, thought for themselves, and made well-informed judgements independent of the national broadcaster and leftist professors of journalism and communications.

Wouldn’t that be a liberating experience!

William Brooks is a Montreal writer and educator. He currently serves as editor of The Civil Conversation” for Canadas Civitas Society and is an Epoch Times contributor.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.