On Tuesday, the editorial board of USA Today published a piece praising Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House task force's epidemiological ace, calling him a "national treasure" and warning we'd be foolish not to listen to him amid the pandemic. The paper then proceeded to publish an opposing viewpoint from White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who claimed Fauci has been "wrong about everything I have interacted with him on." Now, the newspaper has slapped a disclaimer on Navarro's piece, explaining how it came to pass in the first place and noting that, after a careful review, it "did not meet USA Today's fact-checking standards." Bill Sternberg, the paper's editorial page editor, notes that USA Today was the one that reached out to Navarro to see if he'd write an "opposing view" column to counteract its own editorial, which Sternberg says has been a longtime tradition at the paper.
"We felt it was newsworthy because it expanded on [Navarro's previous Fauci] comments, put an on-the-record name to the attacks on Fauci, and contradicted White House denials of an anti-Fauci campaign," Sternberg wrote. He put up a link to a fact check of Navarro's piece, noting that multiple assertions by Navarro were "misleading or lacked context," including claims about hydroxycloroquine and wearing masks. The New York Times notes that Sternberg didn't get into if or how the fact-checking process before initial publication had failed. Per Business Insider, the White House has since said that Navarro acted on his own in penning the editorial, with chief of staff Mark Meadows calling it an "independent action" on Navarro's part. However, an administration official tells the Los Angeles Times that "not only was [Navarro] authorized by President Trump, he was encouraged." (Read more USA Today stories.)