The USA Today newspaper has appended an “editor’s note” to an op-ed by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro criticizing coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, a controversial practice that critics have said amounts to censorship of debate.
As Breitbart News reported earlier this week, Navarro published an op-ed Tuesday in USA Today titled, “Anthony Fauci has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.” The White House stated Wednesday that it did not approve the op-ed, and President Donald Trump defended Fauci and his role on the coronavirus task force.
Now, an editor’s note appears on the article, written by Bill Sternberg, USA Today editorial page editor, who states (original emphasis): “[S]everal of Navarro’s criticisms of Fauci — on the China travel restrictions, the risk from the coronavirus and falling mortality rates — were misleading or lacked context. As such, Navarro’s op-ed did not meet USA TODAY’s fact-checking standards.”
The unusual intervention by the USA Today‘s editorial staff echoes the controversy at the New York Times last month, when editors attached a special note to an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) in which he had suggested that President Trump could legally use the military to quell unrest in America’s cities.
The note from Times editors included language similar to that later used by the USA Today, citing “factual” questions that should have prevented its publication (original emphasis):
[T]he essay should have undergone the highest level of scrutiny. Instead, the editing process was rushed and flawed, and senior editors were not sufficiently involved. While Senator Cotton and his staff cooperated fully in our editing process, the Op-Ed should have been subject to further substantial revisions — as is frequently the case with such essays — or rejected.
The Times controversy led to a rebellion within the newspaper, and the departure of several editors, including op-ed editor Bari Weiss, who cited an atmosphere of intolerance toward ideas other than those of the far-left.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.