CNN’s then-president Jeff Zucker told his staffers not to investigate the “lab leak theory” behind the origins of COVID-19 because he thought it was a “Trump talking point,” according to a report.
A “well-placed” CNN insider told Fox News Digital on Monday that Zucker gave the order in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.
“People are slowly waking up from the fog,” the insider told Fox News Digital.
“It is kind of crazy that we didn’t chase it harder.”
Mainstream news organizations including CNN, The New York Times, MSNBC, and others have been pilloried in recent days following a recent government report which concluded that an accidental leak from a Chinese laboratory is the most likely explanation for the COVID outbreak.
In the initial weeks and months of the pandemic, prominent media personalities, public health officials, and elected officials from the Democratic Party dismissed the “lab leak” theory as “debunked” — with some suggesting it was racist to even discuss the topic.
The Post has sought comment from CNN and Zucker.
One of Zucker’s charges who follow through on his boss’ reported edict was Oliver Darcy, the network’s media reporter who wrote an item in the initial days of the pandemic titled: “Here’s how to debunk coronavirus misinformation and conspiracy theories from friends and family.”
“While the coronavirus pandemic has isolated family and friends inside their homes, it has in many cases increased online or over-the-phone communication with loved ones,” Darcy wrote on March 28, 2020.
“But, in some cases, relatives and friends share poor information — whether it is bad science related to how to prevent the virus, debunked rumors about cities being put on lockdown, or conspiracy theories about the origins of Covid-19,” he wrote.
“While any strain of misinformation is not ideal, misinformation related to a public health crisis has an especially dangerous element to it.”
Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” said during a broadcast that “the far right has now found its own virus conspiracy theory” when discussing the lab leak.
Last week, Tom Elliott, an independent journalist, posted a Twitter thread showing clips of MSNBC and CNN personalities dismissing the possibility of the lab leak as a “conspiracy theory.”
Under Zucker’s watch, CNN became the news network that took the most adversarial stance toward then-President Donald Trump.
During news conferences, Trump famously sparred with CNN correspondents, particularly Jim Acosta, the combative White House reporter.
Last year, Zucker was forced to resign as CNN president after it was learned he had been carrying on a consensual, years-long relationship with his top marketing officer, Allison Gollust.
Zucker has been replaced by Chris Licht, who was given a mandate by his bosses at corporate giant Warner Bros. Discovery to steer the network away from partisan commentary and toward straight-down-the-middle news reporting.