After USA TODAY’s Editorial Board published the editorial “Will Trump’s lows ever hit rock bottom?”, some questions arose for our readers. While most reactions were congratulatory and positive, serious concerns about fairness and credibility were raised.
We can disagree about views and have an open discussion about different issues, but it is imperative to make a distinction that not many people understand: USA TODAY’s editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff.
In the spirit of fairness, it is USA TODAY tradition — and a unique feature — to feature an opposing view to our editorials. In this most recent example, Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, took the opportunity todebate with us. That being said, it is important to directly address comments and concerns.
The Opinion department, as you might expect, gets the “fake news” or “liberal bias” label almost every day when we post an editorial. And while we expect such comments, it unfortunately taints our readers’ perceptions of the news department. The president can claim bias all day long, but we trust our readers to see the differences between bias and thoughtful commentary that doesn’t stem from partisan lines but rather legitimate concerns for our country.
I completely understand where readers who share this opinion are coming from. As Americans, we’re trying to come together for the betterment of the country. And as a member of the Editorial Board, I know we all hoped we were wrong about Trump. But, at every turn (or tweet), the man just keeps validating our concerns about temperament and “basic human decency.”
“We said directly that this wasn’t about the ‘policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointments with some of their decisions.’ Any person with decency does not want to see a president stoop to this kind attack,” said Saundra Torry, Editorial Board member and co-author of the editorial.
“I agree with a bunch of Donald Trump’s policies, and it is infuriating that Trump’s fundamental lack of character sabotages his success at every turn. I am an American who wants a successful president, and Trump has shown he can’t be what we need,” agreed David Mastio, Editorial Board member, deputy editorial page editor and co-author.
“(The editorial) is hitting a nerve that is raw in America right now — women who are sick and tired of harassment and crude insults and are no longer willing to walk away. When a president turns to gutter behavior, people notice,” added Torry.
“Everyone was dancing around the full awfulness of what Trump’s tweet said. We came right out and said it in plain English and called the president to account. People were hungry for straight shooting that ditched the euphemisms,” said Mastio.
USA TODAY’s Editorial Board works on consensus, and we’re lucky enough to have a variety of opinions ranging from progressive liberals, to centrists, to conservatives, to libertarians. It keeps every member in check, makes for colorful discussions and well-reasoned arguments.
Regarding this editorial, “it was a team effort and not difficult. It was just a matter of gathering facts about what Trump has said and done — or not done. The story tells itself. And the consequences are to make people think, which they’re obviously doing,” Torry pointed out.
Mastio added: “The editorial was easy, it wrote itself. I did worry about the consequences, but I thought that just telling the straight-up truth without fear or frippery was more important.”
Our commitment to fairness has never wavered. Everyone in the Opinion department works tirelessly to highlight voices on all sides of an argument. Whether it’s through our opposing views, columns, letters or editorial cartoons, we are working to represent America.