The well-known mainstream publication USA Today on Monday attempted to clarify one of its pieces, which ran on Friday night, about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (who is shown with his family above).
Originally published as a news story by writer Erik Brady, the piece attracted outrage, as many felt it unfairly smeared Judge Kavanaugh by suggesting he was unfit to be around children.
The original USA Today article, “presented as a news story rather than an opinion article,” as Fox News pointed out, focused on Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday.
“I love coaching more than anything I’ve ever done in my whole life,” Kavanaugh said in his opening statement.
“But thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to coach again.”
The publication’s tone in the first piece, which hinted at a serious charge of pedophilia concerning Kavanaugh, can be described as glib.
The USA Today writer in the original piece stated, “He just might be right. Oh, not the part about blaming Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee — that’s just to avoid placing blame on his wholly sympathetic accuser — but the may-never-coach-again part. The nation is newly vigilant on who coaches and trains its children given recent scandals in gymnastics and other sports.”
The article also carried a photo at the top of a smiling Kavanaugh with a team of young female basketball players.
Can Brett Kavanaugh still coach girls' basketball? https://t.co/MJ9ZIZExGI
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) September 29, 2018
By Monday, USA Today had put out a new article, titled “Fixing Our Brett Kavanaugh Column: Why Context Matters.”
“We published Friday night a column about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after the judge testified last week that all the scrutiny cast on his past could impact his ability to coach youth basketball,” said this new piece, written by standards editor Manny Garcia.
“The column set out to answer the question Kavanaugh raised: Could he still coach? However, the story and social media post connected to it could be construed as implying more.”
Many readers certainly felt the article did imply more — and didn’t hold back on social media.
WHAT?! USA Today Depicts Kavanaugh As A Pedophile Amid Allegations https://t.co/W2CDWmjFwN
— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) September 30, 2018
.@USATODAY tweeted this and then deleted.
This is how sick our media is. pic.twitter.com/yCG9Xw8deA
— The Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) September 30, 2018
USA Today deletes tweet and edits disgusting hit on Brett Kavanaugh (backlash only intensifies) https://t.co/3nZUM3IC01
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) September 30, 2018
This is the type of behavior that is common practice now. Unfortunately, with the click-bait business model & the philosophy of the ends justifies the means, this will continue to occur. Corrections will be made, statements will be deleted, but the harm that was done perpetuates.
— Mark A. López (@marklopeztkd) September 30, 2018
In explaining the positioning of the original piece as news and not opinion, Garcia wrote, “Our veteran sports writers also occasionally write opinions.”
He acknowledged the publication was not clear in letting readers know that — and that it also hadn’t made clear in the writer’s social media biographies that he sometimes writes columns.
The publication outlined the steps it had taken to rectify its actions at the direction of USA Today Editor-in-Chief Nicole Carroll.
“To be transparent, we removed the photo, removed two lines from the column, and made it clear in the headline that the column was opinion,” noted Garcia. “We also deleted the original tweet. Then we disclosed these actions to our readers on Twitter and in the column itself.”
The article says some of the USA Today staff “have been threatened on social media,” and that the publication has had to “notify law enforcement.”
USA Today also added this to the top of the original piece: “Editor’s note: Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh has told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee he loves coaching his daughters’ girls basketball teams, but said in testimony Thursday, ‘Thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to coach again.’ The intent of this commentary was to address that question. The column was re-edited to more closely reflect that intent and labeled to reflect it as the writer’s opinion.”
See a discussion about the mainstream media and how they treat the president in the video below.