CNN Boss Told Staff Not To Pursue COVID Lab-Leak Theory, Source Says

Then-CNN president Jeff Zucker called theory 'a Trump talking point'

The Wuhan Institute of Virology and former CNN president Jeff Zucker
March 6, 2023

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, then-CNN president Jeff Zucker reportedly instructed his staff not to look into the theory that COVID-19 originated from a lab leak in Wuhan, China—a theory that government reports have since validated.

The FBI and Energy Department have both concluded that a laboratory leak at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology most likely caused the pandemic. When Republicans first raised the theory early in the pandemic, Democrats and members of the media were quick to dismiss it. Zucker barred his staff from looking into the theory he believed was just a "Trump talking point," a CNN insider told Fox News.

"People are slowly waking up from the fog," the insider said. "It is kind of crazy that we didn't chase it harder."

When then-president Donald Trump and other Republicans embraced the lab-leak theory, the anti-Trump outlet was quick to knock it down. In a Feb. 18, 2020, "Facts First" examination of the claims, CNN insisted that "it's possible, yet unlikely, that the lab was connected to the start of the outbreak." An April 2020 headline read, "Nearly 30% in the US believe a coronavirus theory that's almost certainly not true."

CNN host Jake Tapper called the theory a "new, bizarre conspiracy theory" pushed by Republicans, while network anchor John Vause deemed it "misinformation."

In an interview with Fox last week, FBI director Christopher Wray said the agency has known "for quite some time now" that COVID's origins are "most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan."

"U.S. State Department cables written in 2018 and internal Chinese documents show that there were persistent concerns about China's biosafety procedures, which have been cited by proponents of the lab-leak hypothesis," the Wall Street Journal reported in its article on the Energy Department's conclusion.