'They are a very hungry people': Fox News host fuels racist tropes about Chinese over coronavirus outbreak
The Fox News personality Jesse Watters on Monday invoked racist tropes about China and demanded that the country formally apologize over the novel coronavirus. "I'll tell you why it started in China," Watters said amid laughter from his cohosts. "Because they have these markets where they are eating raw bats and snakes." Scientists and journalism organizations have urged the media "to ensure accurate and fair portrayals of Asians and Asian-Americans" by not fueling xenophobia during the outbreak. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The Fox News personality Jesse Watters on Monday floated some racist tropes about China and demanded that the country formally apologize over the novel coronavirus. "I'd like to just ask the Chinese for a formal apology," Watters said on Fox News' "The Five." "This coronavirus originated in China, and I have not heard one word from the Chinese. A simple 'I'm sorry' would do. It would go a long way. I expect a formal apology tomorrow." His cohost Dana Perino interrupted Watters to ask if the coronavirus — which has killed more than 3,000 people, most of them in China — had originated from the US. Watters vehemently disagreed. "It didn't start here ... I'll tell you why it started in China," Watters said amid laughter from his cohosts. "Because they have these markets where they are eating raw bats and snakes." "They are a very hungry people," Watters added. "The Chinese communist government cannot feed the people, and they are desperate. This food is uncooked. It's unsafe, and that is why scientists believe that's where it originated." COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, in December. The specific origin is unknown, but scientists have detected similarities with past diseases found to be carried by bats, pangolins, and civet cats. And although scientists and public health officials are still investigating the disease's transmission capabilities, some misleading caricatures of eating habits, which did not originate from China, have emerged on social media.
Scientists and journalism organizations have called on the media "to ensure accurate and fair portrayals of Asians and Asian-Americans" and avoid fueling xenophobia during the outbreak. The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) urged news organizations to be cognizant of using "generic images of Chinatown," such as when "it is directly related to a news story, not as a way to illustrate the virus." "AAJA warns against blanket use of Chinatown images that reinforce stereotypes and create a sense of 'otherness,'" the organization said in a statement. The outbreak has also had an economic impact. The Shanghai Composite index has been pummeled in recent weeks, and East Asian communities in major US cities have been negatively affected by concerns about the coronavirus and its spread. "Pretty much all the restaurants in our entire shopping plaza [are down] anywhere from 50% to 75%, depending on the day," Debbie Chen, an owner of the Shabu House restaurant in Houston, told USA Today. "It's pretty challenging for all of us." To assuage concerns in his city, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ate at a Chinese restaurant in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens with members of the Chinese Business Association on February 13. "In hard times, New Yorkers know to stand by their neighbors," de Blasio said. "We're in Flushing today to embrace Asian American-owned small businesses and say to all New Yorkers: New York City's Chinatowns are open for business."SEE ALSO: A Democrat asked Mike Pompeo to point to things on a blank map in a nod to his awkward geography quiz Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths
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Mike Pompeo says there's 'enormous evidence' COVID-19 originated in a Chinese lab even though intelligence officials have said there's none
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said there was "enormous evidence" that COVID-19 originated in...Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said there was "enormous evidence" that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese lab. The president has made similar remarks, claiming on Thursday that he had seen evidence to support the theory, but could not share any of the details of his knowledge. US intelligence officials and experts have said there's no evidence to prove such theories, according to The Washington Post. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday claimed there was "enormous evidence" that COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, though there has been so far no public evidence to support such a theory. "There's enormous evidence that that's where this began," Pompeo told ABC News' Martha Raddatz during his appearance on "This Week." "We have said from the beginning, this virus originated in Wuhan, China. We took a lot of grief for that from the outset." "But I think the whole world can see now," Pompeo added. "Remember, China has a history of infecting the world and they have a history of running sub-standard laboratories. These aren't the first times that we have had the world exposed to viruses as a result of failures from a Chinese lab." Jonna Mazet, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Davis, who has worked with and trained Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers in the past, told Business Insider's Aylin Woodward that an accidental lab leak is extremely unlikely. The WIV houses China's only Biosafety-level-4 laboratory, and Mazet said that instead of an accident at the high-security lab, it's far more likely that the virus spilled over naturally from bats, jumping to humans via an intermediary animal host. Trump and his allies have pushed blame towards China since pandemic hit the US Pompeo is not the first US official to make such a claim. At a White House press briefing on Thursday, President Donald Trump said the US was investigating the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has studied coronaviruses that originate in bats. At that news conference, a reporter asked Trump whether he'd seen evidence that gave him a "high degree of confidence" to suggest the virus had originated in a Chinese lab. "Yes I have," Trump said, adding he was "not allowed to tell" anyone about the intelligence. Trump previously floated a similar theory on April 19, promising "consequences" if China was found to have created the novel coronavirus. Pompeo told Raddatz Sunday "the Chinese communist party has refused to cooperate with world health experts" and he could not answer whether he believed the theory that the virus was intentionally released by the Chinese government or whether he believed it to be mistakenly released during a lab accident. The president and other members of his party have continued to attempt to shift blame toward China for the virus's impact on the US, where it has so far killed at least 66,430 and infected some 1,134,673, according to data analyzed by Johns Hopkins University. US intelligence officials said there is no such evidence that the virus originated in a Wuhan lab, according to reports from the Washington Post and New York Times. Experts told the Post that while a lab accident is possible, it's not entirely likely. One US official who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity said officials have been briefed that China could have initially downplayed the outbreak, but they had not seen evidence that COVID-19 was the result of accidental transmission in a Chinese lab. "It's far more likely that Mother Nature is just a step ahead of us and has created a novel pathogen, now able to move quite effectively from human to human," Jason Rao, a bio-security specialist and former senior policy adviser to President Barack Obama, told the Post.Join the conversation about this story »
Dr. Anthony Fauci at the White House on Friday rejected a conspiracy theory that the novel...Dr. Anthony Fauci at the White House on Friday rejected a conspiracy theory that the novel coronavirus was created in a Chinese lab. Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious disease, said the available evidence on the origins of the virus is "totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human." Fox News and Republican allies of President Donald Trump have been pushing the lab narrative hard in recent days, despite a lack of hard evidence to back it up. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious disease, on Friday, rejected a conspiracy theory that the novel coronavirus escaped a Chinese lab. "A group of highly-qualified evolutionary virologists looked at the sequences in bats as they evolve. The mutations that it took to get to the point where it is now is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human," Fauci said at the daily White House press briefing in response to a question from a reporter on the theory, which has been pushed by President Donald Trump's allies in recent days. The precise origins of the novel coronavirus, which is officially known as SARS-CoV-2 and causes the disease COVID-19, remain somewhat of a mystery. But, as Fauci underscored in his remarks on Friday, studies of the virus' genome have strongly indicated that it was transmitted from an animal to a human. "We do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible," an analysis published in Nature Medicine in mid-March said. The study, led by computational biologist Kristian Andersen of the Scripps Research Institute in California, compared COVID-19 to the six other coronaviruses known to infect humans. The analysis explicitly states that the evidence shows SARS-CoV-2 "is not a purposefully manipulated virus." But as research on the origins of the novel coronavirus continues, some in the Trump administration, including the president, are seemingly still open to the possibility it escaped from a Chinese lab. "More and more, we're hearing the story, and we'll see," Trump said on Thursday. Trump suggests there's merit to a Fox News story about the novel coronavirus originating in a lab in China pic.twitter.com/8HkVeiJQns — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 15, 2020 On Friday, when asked "how active" the investigation was into whether the virus escaped a lab in Wuhan, China, Trump said: "We are looking at it. A lot of people are looking at it. It seems to make sense ... We are going to find out." "A lot of strange things are happening ... We're going to find out," Trump added. But the US intelligence community has looked into the theory for months and hasn't found hard evidence to back it up, according to a report from Politico, which cited multiple sources familiar with the matter. An administration official told Politico, "There's no consensus." Trump on Wuhan lab investigation:“We’re looking at it, a lot of people are looking at it. It seems to make sense. … There is a lot of investigation going on and we’re going to find out." pic.twitter.com/nw6KDIpcl1 — JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) April 17, 2020 Fox News has been leading the charge on the Chinese lab conspiracy theory Meanwhile, Fox News, the president's preferred TV network, has been pushing the lab narrative hard over the past week. "Sources believe coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan lab as part of China's efforts to compete with US," a report published on Wednesday and co-authored by Fox News anchor Bret Baier said. Along these lines, Trump's advisers and congressional allies have been hammering China in recent days, excoriating the Chinese government over its lack of transparency in relation to coronavirus. GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas on Wednesday told Sean Hannity of Fox News that China "must be made to pay the price" if it's determined the virus came out of a Wuhan lab. Similarly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday told Fox News: "We really need the Chinese Government to open up. They say they want to cooperate. One of the best ways they could find to cooperate would be to let the world in, to let the world's scientists know exactly how this came to be, exactly how this virus began to spread." Trump denies the US has the most coronavirus deaths as his administration defends the country's testing capacity Trump on Friday also expressed skepticism over the Chinese government's official death toll from the novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China. Based on the available data, the US is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with the highest number of reported cases and confirmed deaths. But Trump dismissed those numbers. "We don't have the most in the world deaths. The most in the world has to be China. It is a massive country...they must have the most," Trump said during Friday's press briefing. As of Friday evening, there were nearly 700,000 reported cases of coronavirus in the US, and over 36,000 confirmed deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Comparatively, the data said China has seen nearly 84,000 cases and over 4,600 deaths. Beyond Trump, there's been widespread skepticism across the international community over China's official numbers, but the Chinese government has rejected allegations of a coverup. Amid the increased focus on China, the Trump administration continues to face strong criticism from Democratic lawmakers and public health experts over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump spent weeks downplaying the threat of the virus on top of early stumbles at the federal level that left the US behind much of the world on testing for the virus. Some Democrats and former US officials have accused Trump of using China, and more recently the World Health Organization (WHO), as a scapegoat to deflect from his own failures in handling coronavirus. The president earlier this week announced a plan to cut funding to the WHO, criticizing the agency for praising China's transparency in the early days of the outbreak. But Trump was also praising China in this regard around the same time and continued to applaud its handling of the crisis well into February as the virus was spreading in the US. China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2020 Trump has pushed back hard on any criticism of his response and berated reporters who've questioned him about the testing shortages in the US. Vice President Mike Pence and other officials on the coronavirus task force on Friday said that the capacity of testing for coronavirus in the US has increased to a point where governors can initiate the first of three phases that are part of the administration's guidelines on easing social distancing and reopening the economy. But earlier on Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo emphasized that his state, which has been hit the hardest by the novel coronavirus, still needs help from the federal government with testing. VP Pence on coronavirus testing and reopening the U.S. economy: “Today, we have a sufficient amount of testing to meet the requirements of a Phase 1 reopening, if state governors should choose to do that” pic.twitter.com/AnX24wi8hc — QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) April 17, 2020 On Monday, Trump falsely claimed he had "total" authority to force governors to end coronavirus restrictions in order to restart the economy, but he backtracked by Thursday and said he would leave such decisions up to the states. By Friday, however, Trump was on Twitter encouraging residents of Virginia and Michigan to "liberate" their states, which came as some states have seen protests against stay-at-home orders. When asked about this at Friday's press briefing, Trump said he did not think his tweets were at odds with the administration's measured guidance for easing restrictions that leaves the timeline up to governors. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Tax Day is now July 15 — this is what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time
Rep. Dan Crenshaw accuses Rep. Ted Lieu of 'woke virtue signaling' after Lieu warned of xenophobia from what GOP members are calling coronavirus
Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas called a Democratic colleague "out of touch" after he raised...Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas called a Democratic colleague "out of touch" after he raised concern over the xenophobia that emerged in the wake of the coronavirus. Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California on Twitter expressed his condolences to a Republican lawmaker, who quarantined himself in light of a coronavirus scare. In the same tweet, Lieu also cautioned the Republican to stop referring to the coronavirus as the "Wuhan virus." Crenshaw characterized Lieu's statements as "some woke virtue signaling." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas called a Democratic colleague "out of touch" after he raised concern over the xenophobia that emerged in the wake of the coronavirus. Crenshaw on Tuesday criticized Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California after he expressed his condolences to Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, who quarantined himself after learning he may have been exposed to the coronavirus from a guest at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in late February. Gosar joins several other Republican lawmakers who quarantined themselves after interacting with the guest who tested positive, including Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina. Gosar said on Twitter that he and his quarantined staff were "all asymptomatic and feel great," but were also "being proactive and cautious." "Keep the person in the hospital in your prayers," Gosar added. Lieu replied to Gosar's tweet and said he would pray for him, his staff, "and the person hospitalized." In the same tweet, Lieu also cautioned Gosar that referring to the coronavirus or COVID-19 as "the Wuhan Virus" was "an example of the myopia that allowed it to spread in the US." "The virus is not constrained by country or race," Lieu said, adding that it would be "just as stupid to call it the Milan Virus," as he referred to the Italy's drastic measures to combat the spread of the disease in the country. Crenshaw; however, took issue with the Lieu's note. "When you're so out of touch with reality that your colleague announces the need to quarantine himself, and your reaction is 'this seems like a great opportunity for some woke virtue signaling,'" Crenshaw said in a reply to Lieu. Other lawmakers and conservative media personalities have described the coronavirus as the "Wuhan" or "Chinese" virus, weeks after it spread to other countries. Scientists believe the epidemic originated from Wuhan, China; however, activists have urged the media and others "to ensure accurate and fair portrayals of Asians and Asian-Americans," and avoid fueling xenophobia during the outbreak. The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), for instance, urged news organizations to be cognizant of using "generic images of Chinatown," such as when "it is directly related to a news story, not as a way to illustrate the virus." Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California in a tweet described it as the "Chinese coronavirus," prompting the Northern California-based newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, to publish a critical opinion column. "Anti-Chinese racism has a long and tragic history in California," The Bee's editorial board wrote. "Unfortunately ... Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield seemed to awaken the ghost of California's anti-Asian prejudice this week by going out of his way to inject racist overtones into the already tense situation around the coronavirus." "Perhaps McCarthy framed the coronavirus in racial terms by accident," the board added. "Or maybe he knew exactly what he was doing. Either way, McCarthy should apologize for his offensive tweet and pledge to do better."Join the conversation about this story »