USA Today criticized for printing Trump op-ed despite inaccuracies

Jason Abbruzzese

USA Today is under fire for publishing an op-ed from President Donald Trump on the Democratic party's efforts to push for "Medicare for All" that many allege contains factual inaccuracies.

The op-ed, published Wednesday morning, claims that the Democratic plan would hurt seniors and effectively eliminate the Medicare program, which provides healthcare to Americans older than 65 and those with disabilities, among other dubious statements.

"How can @usatoday allow Trump tp [sic] publish an article with documented falsehoods?" tweeted Glenn Kessler, who writes the "Fact Checker" blog for The Washington Post.

Others pointed out that the op-ed contained links that included information directly refuting the op-ed's claims.

"Pretty amazing," tweeted Matthew Gertz, a senior fellow at liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America. "USA Today lets Trump lie about his position on pre-existing conditions, but if you click through the link you get a WaPo fact-checker piece pointing out that his administration is trying to gut those protections in court."

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"USA Today not only published a White House press release disguised as an 'op-ed by Donald Trump,' it is using its Twitter account to blast out the article's lies to 3.6 million followers," tweeted Daniel Dale, Washington correspondent for The Toronto Star.

"Publishing this op-ed is journalistic malpractice," tweeted journalism professor Dan Gillmor. "It is full of outright lies, easily demonstrated lies. Disgraceful."

Requests for comment emailed to USA Today's standards editor and to the White House were not immediately returned.

The op-ed and following criticism comes as Trump has ramped up his efforts to campaign on the behalf or Republicans for the 2018 midterm elections, appearing at rallies and ratcheting up rhetoric directed at Democrats.

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Chip Stewart, professor of journalism at Texas Christian University, said USA Today and Trump do not bear any legal issues with regard to printed falsehoods, but said he felt the paper had given the president too much leeway.

He noted newspapers sometimes provide a wide berth to powerful people who offer to write for their op-ed pages, but that Trump poses unique challenges to existing newspaper norms.

"When you know the president is going to be using your pages for partisan purposes and is going to more than just stretch the truth in doing so, you really ought to go back and run a fact check on that or have an editor's note in there saying that some of those things aren't actually true," Stewart said. "It just seems negligent on behalf of USA Today not to provide some check to that."