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CBS News’ 60 Minutes misrepresented Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s position regarding the origin of the novel coronavirus in a Sunday tweet.
“Last Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attempted to resurrect a debunked theory that the virus was man-made in China,” read a Sunday tweet from the 60 Minutes account.
During the interview referenced in the 60 Minutes tweet, Pompeo was asked by ABC’s Martha Raddatz whether he thinks the coronavirus was “man-made or genetically modified.”
“Look, the best experts so far seem to think it was man-made. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point,” Pompeo said, apparently misspeaking.
Raddatz pointed out that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has said the scientific consensus was that the virus was not manmade or genetically modified.
“That’s right. I agree with that,” Pompeo said, clarifying his earlier remark. “Yeah, I’ve seen their analysis. I’ve seen the summary that you saw that was released publicly. I have no reason to doubt that that is accurate at this point.”
“I’ve seen what the Intelligence Community has said. I have no reason to believe that they’ve got it wrong,” the secretary of state responded, adding that “what’s important” is that the Chinese Communist Party “had the opportunity to prevent all of the calamity that has befallen the world, and here we find ourselves today.”
The State Department called the network’s mischaracterization of Pompeo’s position “deeply irresponsible.” CBS News also neglected to reach out to the State Department for comment or clarification before airing the report, the department said.
On Wednesday, Pompeo said at a press briefing that there is “significant evidence” to believe the coronavirus originated in a lab, but added that, “we don’t have certainty about whether it began in the lab or whether it began someplace else.”