USA Today under fire for allowing Stacey Abrams to retroactively edit op-ed to downplay boycott support
'The media is trying to cover up Stacey Abrams's role in MLB's boycott of Georgia,' Sen. Tom Cotton reacted
USA Today is facing intense backlash for allowing prominent Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams to retroactively make changes to a March 31 op-ed that watered-down her support for boycotts after Major League Baseball (MLB) moved its All-Star game out of Atlanta days later.
"Can’t say I’m surprised. The left spends weeks spreading lies and promoting boycotts, and their pals in the national media cover their tracks," Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted on Tuesday after Fox News first reported on the controversial USA Today op-ed. "Stacey Abrams can’t have it both ways. Hardworking Georgians deserve the truth."
USA TODAY EDITS STACEY ABRAMS OP-ED PUBLISHED BEFORE MLB PULLED GAME IN ATLANTA, WATERS DOWN BOYCOTT SUPPORT
"Stacey Abrams called for boycotts of Georgia—then when the MLB fell for her lies, she tried to rewrite her own words and cover it up with help from @USAToday," former Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler reacted. "Now, hardworking Georgians are set to lose $100 million—and they know exactly who’s to blame."
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark, who has been the subject of various "fact-checks" after accusing Abrams of emboldening the boycotts against the Peach State, wrote, "The media is trying to cover up Stacey Abrams's role in MLB's boycott of Georgia."
It wasn't until last week that USA Today included an editor's note to the op-ed, which was "updated" by Abrams on April 6.
A spokesperson for Gannett, USA Today's parent company, told Fox News, "We regret the oversight in updating the Stacey Abrams column. As soon as we recognized there was no editor’s note, we added it to the page to reflect her changes. We have reviewed our procedures to ensure this does not occur again."
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However, critics continued to hammer USA Today and Gannett, stressing that it wasn't the lack of an editor's note that was the issue but rather that her "changes" to the op-ed were allowed in the first place.
"Wow -- USA Today admits to letting @staceyabrams edit her op-ed after the MLB move to make it look like she had always been staunchly against boycotts but the problem isn't just that they didn't include a note, it's that they let someone edit an op-ed to cover their tracks!" exclaimed GOP strategist Matt Whitlock, who first spotted the stealth edits to the USA Today op-ed.
"Shorter @Gannett -- we'll let Democrats go back and edit published op-eds days or even weeks after the fact so they don't look bad.. but we promise to include a note at the top. Not a note detailing the changes, just a note that it was changed," Whitlock added.
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"Since when do politicians get to self-add editorial changes to an op-Ed after it was published?! This is going from bad to worse," communications strategist Andrew Clark reacted.
"So USA Today is admitting they made changes suggested by Stacey Abrams to an op-ed she had written, edits which made her look better after the fact? Wow," John Cooper of The Heritage Foundation wrote.
Gannett did not immediately respond to Fox News' additional request for comment.
In the original op-ed, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate appeared to justify the growing calls to boycott Georgia following the passing of the state's election reform bill that was signed into law.
"The impassioned response to the racist, classist bill that is now the law of Georgia is to boycott in order to achieve change," Abrams originally wrote. "Events hosted by major league baseball, world class soccer, college sports and dozens of Hollywood films hang in the balance. At the same time, activists urge Georgians to swear off of hometown products to express our outrage. Until we hear clear, unequivocal statements that show Georgia-based companies get what’s at stake, I can’t argue with an individual’s choice to opt for their competition."
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She continued, "However, one lesson of boycotts is that the pain of deprivation must be shared to be sustainable. Otherwise, those least resilient bear the brunt of these actions; and in the aftermath, they struggle to access the victory. And boycotts are complicated affairs that require a long-term commitment to action. I have no doubt that voters of color, particularly Black voters, are willing to endure the hardships of boycotts. But I don’t think that’s necessary — yet... I ask you to bring your business to Georgia and, if you’re already here, stay and fight. Stay and vote."
The article was "updated" April 6, the day MLB announced that it was moving the All-Star game to Denver, Colorado, but Abrams' commentary went through quite the transformation.
"The impassioned (and understandable) response to the racist, classist bill that is now the law of Georgia is to boycott in order to achieve change. Events that can bring millions of dollars to struggling families hang in the balance. Major League Baseball pulled both its All-Star Game and its draft from Georgia, which could cost our state nearly $100 million in lost revenue," Abrams' revisions read. "Rather than accept responsibility for their craven actions, Republican leaders blame me and others who have championed voting rights (and actually read the bill). Their faux outrage is designed to hide the fact that they prioritized making it harder for people of color to vote over the economic well-being of all Georgians. To add to the injury, the failed former president is now calling for cancellation of baseball as the national pastime."
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"Boycotts invariably also cost jobs. To be sustainable, the pain of deprivation must be shared rather than borne by those who are least resilient... I have no doubt that voters of color, particularly Black voters, are willing to endure the hardships of boycotts. But such monetary loss is unlikely to affect the stubborn, frightened Republicans who see voter suppression as their only way to win. Money isn’t quite as seductive as political power to these putative leaders. "
Her revised op-ed adds, "Instead of a boycott, I strongly urge other events and productions to do business in Georgia and speak out against our law and similar proposals in other states."
Critics called the moves by USA Today "Orwellian" and a "memory hole" inspired by George Orwell's"1984" as well as invoking Stalin-era "Pravda."