China’s official tally of deaths attributable to the coronavirus stands at 3,341 as of April 14, 2020. Anyone who believes that this figure is anywhere near accurate should reflect on Confucius’s quote about truth: “Three things cannot long be hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”
The Chinese government withheld crucial information regarding the human to human transmission of the coronavirus in the early days of the outbreak and has published phony numbers on cases and deaths in China linked to the virus ever since. The truth is coming out slowly but surely regarding the real death toll in China. Some observers have estimated more than 40,000 deaths in Wuhan alone, based on a variety of data points, including the numbers of urns provided by funeral homes and the volume of cremations. More recently, according to new data intercepted and analyzed by the United States intelligence, as reported in an article published earlier this month by News NT, it is estimated that China has experienced at least 20.9 million deaths from December 2019 to March 2020 linked to the coronavirus. This was the period during which the spread of the deadly virus was reaching its peak in China.
One way of deriving a more accurate number of deaths in China as opposed to the Chinese government’s absurdly low propaganda number is to examine the number of cell phone account closings, which the Chinese government itself reported during the relevant time period. The Chinese government announced on March 19th that over 21 million cell phone accounts in China were canceled in the past three months, according to the News NT article. After some increase of cell phone accounts still open in December 2019, when the virus was first detected, the number of open accounts dropped sharply in 2020 as the coronavirus outbreak was raging in China. “Cell phones are an indispensable part of life in China and its only closed when the user is dead,” the intelligence report said, as quoted by NT News.
However, the U.S. media apologists for Chinese propaganda think otherwise. A so-called “fact-check” article written by Ryan Cooper, a former CNN employee who now writes for an organization called “Lead Stories,” purported to refute the accuracy of the NT News article. Cooper did admit that other sources were reporting the existence of an intelligence report in early April, which concluded that China had deliberately underreported the number of coronavirus cases and related deaths. Nevertheless, Cooper claimed that the NT News story “is false and wrongly interpreted data from Chinese cellphone companies to make a broad claim that isn’t backed up by facts.”
Cooper’s method of “fact-checking” included citing to an Associated Press article that quoted a representative of China Mobile Ltd., who claimed that the decline in cell phone accounts was due to a change in lifestyle. China Mobile is owned by the Chinese government. Does Cooper seriously believe that the ridiculous rationale offered by a Chinese-government owned mobile company for explaining the drastic increase in cell phone account closings during the relevant period of the coronavirus’s deadly spread in China should be taken at face value? Apparently, he does. Instead of independently fact-checking and evaluating the credibility of the sources on which he relied to challenge the accuracy of the NT News article, Cooper took the lazy path of trying to marginalize NT News itself. “News NT is a relatively new player online,” he wrote. He added that “its domain name was only registered a month ago. A subheadline written in Vietnamese in the republished English-language article suggests the site originates from that Southeast Asian country.”
It turns out that Lead Stories, the organization that Cooper has been writing for after he left CNN, was co-founded by another CNN veteran, Alan Duke. Duke, who serves as Lead Stories’ editor-in-chief, worked at CNN for 26 years. Out of the 15 writers listed on Lead Stories’ website, 7 of them (including Cooper) came from fake news CNN.
Corinne Weaver, a senior analyst for the Media Research Center, has done a bit of fact-checking into Lead Stories itself. Facebook has been using Lead Stories as one of its top “fact-checkers.” But Lead Stories appears to have bias problems of its own. “Lead Stories published 296 fact-checks between January 1, 2020, and March 9, 2020,” Ms. Weaver wrote. “Out of those, 55 entries were from right-leaning social media users and news outlets. Only 12 were from left-leaning social media users and news outlets.” Among Lead Stories’ targets so far in 2020 alone are The Washington Times, the GOP, Newsmax, Rush Limbaugh, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, Judicial Watch, Breitbart, and The Daily Caller. CNN meanwhile has escaped from its former employees’ clutches unscathed.
Lead Stories wants to go beyond its targeting of conservative outlets. Its editor-in-chief Alan Duke told his former employer CNN last October that there is “an urgent need for a fair method to identify egregiously false political ads in 2020.” He proposed that Facebook, working with his organization and other so-called “fact-checkers,” begin cracking down on political ads deemed to be false. “It would likely involve fact-check journalists researching and debunking,” Duke explained, “but with the added process of a nongovernmental, nonpartisan blue-ribbon panel reviewing the results to determine if a candidate’s political ad should be flagged and banned.” In other words, Lead Stories’ editor-in-chief advocates blatant censorship, aided and abetted by his fellow former employees of Trump-hating CNN who pretend to be “fact-checking journalists.”
Real fact-checking journalists should be investigating the Chinese government’s deliberate disinformation about the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan. Chinese officials manipulated the data from the start, using a variety of definitions as to what constitutes a COVID-19 infection.
“Early on we did not get correct information, and the incorrect information was propagated right from the beginning,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said last weekend.
To its credit, TIME ran an article on April 1st entitled “China Says It’s Beating Coronavirus. But Can We Believe Its Numbers?” As the article stated, “political considerations appear paramount” in the numbers that the Chinese government issues. The article continued: “TIME has spoken with many sickened Wuhan residents and relatives of presumed COVID-19 victims who were never included on official tallies during the outbreak’s peak. There are also countless reports of people collapsing in the street and bodies laid out outside apartment buildings. But only those who died after first being diagnosed with COVID-19 are included in official statistics.”
TIME quoted Mario Esteban, a senior analyst specializing in E.U.-East Asia relations at the Elcano Royal Institute in Madrid, who said, “Nobody believes China’s numbers.” Well, almost nobody. The CNN alumnus now working as a supposed “fact checker” with a bunch of other CNN alumni chose to believe, without any fact-checking, a Chinese government-owned company’s rationale for the steep increase in the number of cell phone accounts that closed while the coronavirus was ravaging the country. The U.S. intelligence report’s explanation buttressing the estimate of millions of coronavirus-related Chinese deaths is far more plausible: “Cell phones are an indispensable part of life in China and its only closed when the user is dead.”