Perhaps this looked like a better idea in theory, but in practice, it looks more like a replay of Al Capone’s vault — as owned by Joseph Stalin. Spoiler alert — despite what CNN’s chyron and description say here, CNN’s David Culver only barely spoke with the widow of Li Wenliang, the Wuhan whistleblowing doctor who tried to warn the world that China was lying about what we now call COVID-19. Beijing had him arrested and detained in December, and kept him suppressed until he died of the virus in early February.
The only thing Li’s widow had to say to CNN — which never arranged an interview ahead of time — is that she had nothing to say. Gee, I wonder why …
CNN’s @david_culver contacted the widow of the doctor in Wuhan, China, who tried to sound the alarm about coronavirus and later died from the virus.
— New Day (@NewDay) April 24, 2020
Is China suppressing Li’s family too? Maybe, probably, but this clip does nothing to support that idea. CNN had as much support for that premise before Culver ever set foot in Wuhan. In fact, Culver’s clumsy on-camera attempt to get Li’s widow to talk likely made her more of a target for Beijing than before. What in the world were they thinking?
The most remarkable thing about this four-minute clip — other than CNN thought it was a good idea to make Li’s widow a target — is that there’s nothing in here at all worth watching. It consists of Culver walking around Wuhan but offering no new reporting at all. Culver suggests that Wuhan’s recovery could teach us some important lessons about how we reopen, which might be true, except that Culver doesn’t have any lessons or data for us. There is literally no payoff at all for sitting through the four minutes of this clip, except for CNN’s self-promotion.
One can use other gauges to see the level of transparency China is offering anyway. They have rejected a demand from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to allow international inspectors access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other nearby labs to check on their safety protocols:
“Any objective person will see that some U.S. politicians have been peddling lies that discredit China’s anti-epidemic efforts to fuddle people’s minds and deflect attention from the fact that they fell short of fulfilling their own anti-epidemic responsibilities,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Thursday.
Shuang’s statement was in response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who called for inspections at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other labs where Chinese scientists study coronaviruses and other pathogens.
“There are multiple labs inside of China that are handling these things,” Pompeo said Wednesday at the State Department. “It’s important that those materials are being handled in a safe and secure way such that there isn’t accidental release.
“We have to make sure that the Chinese Government is handling those materials in an appropriate way not only in the Wuhan Institute of Virology but elsewhere,” he added.
In other words, don’t expect any transparency from Beijing. Li’s widow is smart enough to know that without being told.