‘USA Today’ Should Be Ashamed Of Itself For Publishing Trump’s Fact-Free Op-Ed

Besides publishing the lie-filled article, the paper also uncritically tweeted out snippets from the piece as if they were statements of fact.
Image: flickr.com

What the bloody hell was USA Today thinking?

Readers of the national newspaper were greeted this morning with an op-ed penned by President Donald Trump in which he slammed Democratic proposals to expand Medicare to all Americans, otherwise known as “Medicare-for-All.” The article was presented uncritically by the paper — as if just another opinion piece by a random author — and promoted numerous times by the outlet’s 3.6 million-follower Twitter account and USA Today reporters.

It wasn’t just that the paper gave the president — someone who gets more press coverage than any other living human — unfettered access to its readers, it published a piece that was completely devoid of truth. In a fact-check of the column, the Washington Post found that “almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or a falsehood,” noting that many of the claims that Trump made in the piece have been debunked over and over again.

Media Matters’ Matt Gertz explained that since the president lies constantly and that he keeps lying even when he’s been proven to be wrong, it is “journalistic malpractice for any newspaper to give Trump unimpeded access to its readers.” After pinpointing the numerous times Trump lied in the article, Gertz concluded that it is “simply unbelievable” that the paper’s editorial page editors wouldn’t know “that the president will lie to their readers if they give him the opportunity.”

Meanwhile, journalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen tore right into the paper, saying it had “lost its mind” by publishing the piece. “What a humiliation for everyone who works there,” he added.

And that’s the thing. This was nothing more than a press release disguised as an op-ed. Worse, even as a press release, it was filled with falsehoods, lies, and misstatements. Why would USA Today push out this dishonest and mendacious piece to its millions of readers? What’s the point, other than to place itself right in the middle of a culture war?

There’s also no backing out by the paper. They can’t apologize for publishing the piece, can’t retract it, and can’t even amend it with editor’s notes as they’ll be flooded with accusations that they’re bending to the will of the left-wing mob. The damage is done now.

The paper has to deal with the fact that it allowed itself to be a propaganda arm of the president to spread lies to the American public in an effort to scare older voters into voting Republican. There’s really no other way to look at their decision to publish this piece.

Congratulations, USA Today, you done played yourself. Now you need to sit there in shame.

UPDATE: Shortly after publication, USA Today sent out a couple tweets saying the paper treated Trump’s op-ed just like any other column submission, meaning it gave Trump “wide leeway” to express his opinion. It also welcomed readers to submit their opinion to the piece.

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Justin Baragona is the founder and publisher of Contemptor. He was previously the Cable News Correspondent for Mediaite and prior to starting Contemptor, he worked on the editorial staff of PoliticusUSA. During that time, he had his work quoted by USA Today and BBC News, among others. Justin began his published career as a political writer for 411Mania. He resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and pets.
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