Controversial Washington Post journalist Taylor Lorenz has slammed her own newspaper’s reporting on China and its opposition of Covid lockdowns in the country.
On Saturday, the Post tweeted an article about China’s record number of coronavirus cases, noting how only a tiny proportion its billion-strong population are vaccinated.
‘A coronavirus outbreak on the verge of being China’s biggest of the pandemic has exposed a critical flaw in Beijing‘s ‘zero Covid’ strategy: a vast population without natural immunity,’ the post said.
Within hours of the tweet, Lorenz, an ‘internet culture’ columnist for the paper, re-tweeted the report with her own view on the matter, tearing apart the reporting.
‘There is no lasting ‘natural immunity’ to COVID. You can get covid over and over and over again bc there are so many endlessly evolving strains and antibodies wane. Also, choosing not to kill off millions of vulnerable people (as the US is doing) isn’t a ‘critical flaw’,’ Lorenz wrote.
Twitter users were appalled Lorenz would seemingly defend the authoritarian country’s lockdowns and implied human rights violations – with one user accusing her of ‘spreading misinformation’ noting how her editors were unlikely to sanction her because any controversy would lead to more views for the Post’s website.
Lorenz later attempted to clarify her earlier tweet by suddenly praising the Post’s reporting adding how the article contained ‘a lot more nuance btw’.
There were also very few direct responses to Lorenz’s original tweet because her Twitter settings do not allow for a right of reply unless followed by her directly.
China is battling a surge in infections that has prompted lockdowns and other restrictions in cities across the country as Beijing adheres to a zero-COVID policy even as much of the world tries to coexist with the coronavirus.
China defends President Xi Jinping’s signature zero-COVID policy as life-saving and necessary to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system.
Officials have vowed to continue with it despite the growing public pushback and its mounting toll on the world’s second-biggest economy.
Lorenz’s Twitter posting quickly drew criticism from other users online, although none to her own profile because she has restricted her account to only allow replies from people she follows.
‘Sickening. Washington Post ‘journalist’ and obsessive Covid maximalist Taylor Lorenz is now full-on defending the Chinese Communist Party’s massive human rights violations… just days after civilians burned to death in a locked-down apartment block in Urumqi,’ Christina Pushaw wrote.
‘Nothing to see here, just @TaylorLorenz (I’m blocked) of the Washington Post defending China’s insane, authoritarian ‘zero-covid’ strategy. Hundreds of millions of people living like slaves, testing every single day and having no personal freedom, i.e. Taylor Lorenz’s dream,’ Maxwell Meyer tweeted.
‘It is common knowledge at WaPo that Taylor Lorenz uses the paper to settle personal & political scores but they do nothing because the misinformation she spreads creates epic levels of controversy that deliver epic numbers of clicks. WaPo IS #fakenews,’ stated one user.
‘Taylor Lorenz is a terrible and talentless person,’ wrote another.
Over the weekend, videos from Shanghai widely shared on Chinese social media showed crowds facing dozens of police and calling out chants including: ‘Serve the people’, ‘We don´t want health codes’ and ‘We want freedom’.
Shanghai’s 25 million people were put under lockdown for two months earlier this year, an ordeal that provoked anger and protest.
Chinese authorities have since then sought to be more targeted in their COVID curbs, but that effort has been challenged by a surge in infections as China faces its first winter with the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
While low by global standards, China’s case numbers have hit record highs for days, with nearly 40,000 new infections reported by health authorities on Sunday for the previous day.
It’s not the first time Lorenz has generated controversy. She faced backlash online earlier this year when she published a piece revealing the identity of the person behind the Libs of TikTok Twitter account.
The account has 1.2 million followers and regularly posts videos that were originally published on TikTok featuring liberals allegedly ‘grooming’ children on LGBT issues.
Lorenz’s intention to reveal the identity of the account holder – whom she later named as Chaya Raichik, who worked as a real estate agent in Brooklyn – first became public knowledge on April 18 when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press secretary shared a screenshot of an email allegedly sent by Lorenz asking for comment on the story.
The email showed Lorenz was working on a story ‘exposing the woman’ behind the Libs of TikTok account, and asking Christina Pushaw for a comment.
She simply replied in the tweet with a clown emoji.
Soon after, conservatives on Twitter accused Lorenz of ‘doxxing’ and harassing the creator. Many also accused her of hypocrisy for allegedly exposing another woman to the same type of online harassment she had complained of receiving in an MSNBC interview.
By April 19, the Libs of TikTok account shared a photo apparently showing Lorenz at the house of some of Raichik’s relatives.
Raichik wrote at the time: ‘Thankfully I’m currently holed up in a safe location.
‘I’m confident we will get through this and come out even stronger.’
Lorenz used to work for DailyMail.com between 2011 to 2014.
In May, she was forced to walk back a claim that she was being ‘relentlessly harassed’ by an editor at Drudge Report – just hours after making the accusation.
She tweeted that an editor for Drudge Report had been ‘calling and texting me relentlessly for the past couple of weeks.’
She also wrote that the editor then ‘called my personal cellphone number, yelled at me when I asked him to leave me alone and said he would ‘blast my name all over Drudge Report until it ruins my career,” in now-deleted tweets.
But when Oliver Darcy, a senior media editor for CNN, contacted founder Matt Drudge, he said that he ‘never contacted her, nor has anyone associated with Drudge Report.’
He added that he sent Lorenz an email asking for correction – and when she received the request she deleted her tweets about the alleged harassment and posted a clarification.
‘For anyone who saw my post abt this man claiming to be from Drudge calling me nonstop, good news: I heard from Matt Drudge and this man has zero power over Drudge.
‘He’s claiming to be an editor all over the Internet, but he’s not,’ she tweeted, adding: ‘Sorry to disappoint everyone saying Drudge is based.’
In a statement from the Washington Post, a spokesman clarified: ‘Taylor was repeatedly contacted by someone who claimed to be a Drudge editor.
‘As soon as she learned the person had no connection to the Drudge Report, she deleted the original tweet, and wrote a tweet apologizing for her comment.
The newspaper was also forced to issue more corrections earlier in the year when Lorenz’s story about the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial wrongly claimed she had reached out to two YouTubers for comment.