What's the background?
Stewart — former host of "The Daily Show" and a longtime liberal darling — appeared on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" and said with a mixture of wit and wisdom that the pandemic was "more than likely caused by science" and then pointed to the infamous Wuhan lab.
After a series of mocking points, Stewart drove them home with a hilarious comparison between the COVID-19 pandemic and a "chocolate outbreak."
"Oh my God! There's been an outbreak of chocolatey goodness near Hershey, Pennsylvania. What do you think happened?" he wondered. "Oh, I don't know, maybe a steam shovel made it with a cocoa bean. Or it's the f***ing chocolate factory! Maybe that's it!"
Jon Stewart On Vaccine Science And The Wuhan Lab Theoryyoutu.be
Rather wasn't laughing
When Rather caught wind of Stewart's words, he wasn't happy:
Jotting down his thoughts on Steady, Rather noted that attacks on science aren't "just the work of cynical operatives on the political right" — and then proceeded to blast Stewart's take as "playing into the trope of the mad scientist":
I cannot overemphasize how dangerous this line of thinking is. It is true that some scientists have done some bad things in the name of research — such as the Tuskegee experiments. Scientists have been wrong. Science and technology have been tools that supported colonialism and oppression. Science does not release us from our moral responsibilities. All of this is the case because science is a human endeavor and scientists are human, subject to the same frailties and base instincts as any member of our species. But science is also a way of thinking, where we challenge our own dogmas and beliefs, where we change our minds and approach when the data show we were wrong.
Indeed, the virus-created-in-a-lab notion — initially dubbed a conspiracy theory by leftists and scientists — now is viewed a serious possibility. And Rather admitted as much: "A year and half later, the origins of the virus remain a mystery and China has been far from forthcoming — to say the least — about what they know, and did. It is also true that more scientists are considering the lab theory as worthy of examination, although there is no specific evidence to date that it is the source. Furthermore, it seems that most virologists do not think that the virus has the chemical fingerprints of human engineering. But that could be perhaps a possibility. We just don't know. And we need to try to find out, letting the facts lead wherever they may."
Speaking of the facts, let us not forget that Rather infamously stepped down from his CBS News perch after it came to light that his damning 2004 report on then-President George W. Bush's National Guard service used documents that weren't verified as authentic.
Regardless, leftists far and wide also blasted Stewart's words — and dutifully cheered on Rather's subsequent criticism of them.