A Tale of Two Articles

Washington Post Jun 03, 2021
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Charles Dickens wrote one of the most memorable opening lines in history. In 1859, he penned A Tale of Two Cities. There's a conflict. Two cities, two different viewpoints. Not a little different, the most different. From the first line we see the best and the worst, superlative differences. Mr. Dickens cannot say any more strongly that these two cities, coexisting in time and continent, are complete opposites. The opposites that they view are driven by the noisiest authorities. It's often considered very apropos, today.

We have two articles. Although they differ by a year, they still share time and space. They use the same source and talk about the same thing.

The first, from the Washington Post on February 17th, 2020.

Title: Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked


“There’s absolutely nothing in the genome sequence of this virus that indicates the virus was engineered,” said Richard Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University. “The possibility this was a deliberately released bioweapon can be firmly excluded.”

The second, from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on May 30th, 2021.

Title: Cotton's theory on virus origin no longer dismissed


Ebright, whose objections were previously noted by journalist Michael Tracey, said the lab-leak hypothesis has long been the most plausible explanation for the outbreak of covid-19 in downtown Wuhan.

It was the worst of theories it was the best of theories. But the quotes aren't contradictory. The meaning of the quotes was decided by the noisiest journalist.

Mr. Ebright says as much:

"The experience -- being quoted in the February 17 Washington Post article in a manner that materially misrepresented my views -- was eye-opening," said Richard Ebright, a Rutgers University chemistry and chemical biology professor. "Watching 'the first rough draft of history' being written as a partisan exercise, rather than a journalistic exercise, was dismaying."
"All evidence available today [May 30th, 2021] was available twelve months ago, and most evidence available today was available fifteen months ago," he wrote. "All that has changed is that the small circle of scientists and larger number of journalists that seized control of the narrative in February 2020 and falsely claimed for fifteen months that a natural-spillover origin of COVID-19 was an established fact now have lost control of the narrative."

We have a contradiction in articles. The contradiction was because the present period was so much the present period. The present period being what it is, can this really be surprising?

How much conflict can anyone take? Can it really be the best of times and worst of times? In Mr. Dickens' Tale, the answer was no. The conflict in experience while sharing time and space led to the French Revolution. What happens in our conflict?