Ever since USA Today was founded in 1982, people at the national weekday newspaper have tried to maintain a reputation as a “centrist” media outlet.
However, that philosophy hit a roadblock last weekend, when a self-described “libertarian conservative” USA Today editor named David Mastio as a rejected an op-ed because the writer cited such “not reliable” sources as The Federalist and National Review.
According to an article by Margot Cleveland, a contributor to both conservative websites, she submitted an opinion piece on the report submitted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller “to USA Today, which had published my work several times, including as recently as last November.”
“On Sunday evening,” she noted, “after reviewing my submission, Deputy Editorial Page Editor David Mastio replied via e-mail that the paper would publish it the next day, pending a routine fact check.”
At that point, Cleveland “double-checked all of my supporting references and confirmed that they were solid.”
“Then came a shocker from Mastio,” who describes himself on Twitter as a “libertarian conservative,” that “USA Today had instead decided to reject the submission because I cited The Federalist and National Review.”
“Going forward, assertions of fact need to be backed up with mainstream media sources or original documents,” Mastio wrote. “Links to National Review or [T]he Federalist (or similar sites on the left) are not reliable.”
“The irony could not be richer,” Cleveland stated. “Within days of Mueller’s report exposing the mainstream media as highly paid scandalmongers, a USA Today editor branded The Federalist ‘not reliable.’”
“Never mind that USA Today just last month published an opinion article that directly cited The Federalist,” she continued in an email response to Mastio. “Never mind that the newspaper has repeatedly published articles that cite analysis from The Federalist and its writers.”
“And never mind that on the topic of my now-rejected op-ed -- how mainstream media ignored the real Trump scandal -- The Federalist was one of the only publications in the country that consistently got the story right.”
“The entire point of my op-ed is that the media ignored the true scandal,” Cleveland continued. “And had your fact checkers bothered to look at the articles, they would have discovered that every statement of fact was backed up with the original sources issued by the government.”
“Mastio didn’t even bother to suggest the facts I had asserted were false,” she noted. “How could he, when they were accurate? Instead, he snidely dismissed the source, as if the mainstream media ... were the only publications on earth that can be trusted on the matter.”
“So, what exactly did I write that USA Today found factually unsupported?” Cleveland asked.
“Mastio didn’t say, and the basic facts I presented couldn’t have been more vanilla....One must wonder whether Mastio even bothered to open the links I provided because had he done so, he would have known about my connection to The Federalist before he branded my publisher ‘not reliable,’” she stated.
“The articles from The Federalist I cited in my original submission to USA Today were mine, and heavily researched,” Cleveland added. “They provided citations and links to original, and government-generated, source documents.”
She then pointed to remarks made earlier this week by CNN president Jeff Zucker, who told The New York Times: “We are not investigators. We are journalists, and our role is to report the facts as we know them.” Okay, sure.
Nonetheless, Cleveland correctly stated that “USA Today can publish whatever news or opinion pieces it wants” even though “the mainstream media boycotts new media outlets -- and especially modern-day investigative journalists -- at its own risk.”
That risk is the chance of “losing any semblance of relevance and credibility remaining after bungling the biggest news story in a century,” Cleveland concluded. “And I’m not talking about Russia collusion.”