Farewell USA Today! (I Hardly Knew Ye)

The following is a news media commentary.

It was with great disappointment that I read that USA Today decided to take sides in a presidential race for the first time ever. The newspaper urged Americans not to vote for Donald Trump, whom it called a dangerous demagogue. It also took an editorial position on Hillary Clinton, refusing to endorse her because of her own issues (while still saying anybody would be better than Trump).

I remember when USA Today started in 1982, the year I graduated from college. It was written unlike other newspapers, without the pretentious tone, and in clear language people could easily understand without having to reread and diagram the sentences. Over the years, I also came to view USA Today as refreshingly free of many of the overt political slants we’ve grown accustomed to in other print media and—frankly—in nearly all news media today. I would read the stories and feel like I was getting a straighter, fairer, more coherent take on many issues.

Thursday, USA Today announced its editorial board felt so strongly, it was time to take a historic stance and deviate from its longstanding “no endorsement” policy, urging readers to reject Trump. Accompanying the announcement was an awkwardly-staged video with a USA Today media reporter “interviewing” the editorial page editor in a scripted event that was supposed to appear off the cuff.

For me, it will be difficult to view USA Today from now on as the newspaper it once was. After all, when an editorial board admits this sort of bias, it’s reasonable to suspect they’ll see fit to deviate from other normal editorial policies, slanting their news coverage in subtle if not overt ways.

USA Today now joins a cadre of media and journalists who have sacrificed their once-sacrosanct role of trying to remain at least relatively unbiased for the sake of the audience they serve. Instead, they are actively working to affect a national political campaign because they either feel so strongly personally they can’t help themselves; or they are so influenced by political, corporate or advertising factions that are increasingly twisting the arms of the media to advance their interests. Neither is a good scenario for a news organization, and neither is a good way to maintain the trust of readers looking for a fair news source. You might believe that well-meaning people at the newspaper simply feel so strongly, they had to take an unprecedented stand. Working on the inside for more than 30 years, I have a slightly more cynical suspicion: outside forces were at play in persuading the editorial board to take the action.

Others in the news media will be rooting on USA Today. They, too, have abdicated their independent roles, and are happy to have one holdout join the club.

It’s true that many people seek out news sources that express opinions with which they agree. But I’ve found these same people are often also thirsty for independent sources to turn to for the straight scoop without having to handicap the reporters’ or editorial board’s personal slants.

USA Today used to be one place like that. I don’t think it is anymore. That’s our loss.

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32 Responses to “Farewell USA Today! (I Hardly Knew Ye)”

  1. Douglas Doss
    September 30, 2016 at 2:04 am #

    Most people simply lack the time to investigate every event or utterance. Traditionally our reliance has been on professional journalists to filter wheat from chaff in an objective fashion, and when we have absorbed it, form our opinion. Whether the opinion is error free, or slanted to our own bias, it is at least our own opinion. At the national level, you are the only journalist I trust to provide us with facts as you find them, not as you wish they were, nor as you wish us to interpret them. That should make you proud individually, but I suspect as sad as I am at the condition of journalism generally. Many of these people were/are probably your friends. It must be especially disheartening for you. More on topic, I don’t really care who in the media supports whom. Usually vocalizing their preference is redundant anyway.

  2. Rick Berry/rodguy911
    September 30, 2016 at 7:04 am #

    Hi Sharyl,
    You may well be one of the last of the fair and balanced true journalists.
    Don’t stop being who you are.I wrote for the Miami Herald(always needed a lot of editing) for over ten years and had to cast them off as just another driveby msm biased rag.
    Hated to have to do that but its the sign of the times.I was also in radio for over 30 years.
    Your work remains impeccible and you don’t and shouldn’t change a thing
    you do as its is as journalistically as sound as there is in today’s world.
    keep up the great work
    RIck Berry–Islamorada
    (gator dad)

  3. Lou Zimmer
    September 30, 2016 at 7:09 am #

    What America needs urgently is an actual media. People like you can be the foundation of such a movement. What can the average joe do to help make this happen? All we want is the truth in our reporting.

    • Rjackrabbit
      September 30, 2016 at 7:30 am #

      What can someone do? Well with the internet, why doesn’t someone put together a group of free lance investigating reporters. The overhead would be far far less than the standard print media, no large office building, print connections, no distribution costs, etc. They only major cost would be salaries and no worries on advertising needs or demands.

    • Scot
      October 1, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

      The law changes and family ties between the elite media and govt / Wall St ensures there will be no truth in mainstream media until we crash and burn. The “actual” media is on the Internet, and honest brokers like Sheryl, Twisted, Armstrong, Denninger, Mish, Edmonds, Corbet, Jones, and other freedom/Constituion-loving, smart people are providing honest reporting. The big question is can the average Joe handle the truth, and what will they do about it? How many people know the big money-center banks are well-documenter fraudsters, but they still have bank/securities accts with these same banks?

      The bottom line is the ownership of the mainstream media by banksters and the fraudsters in govt will not change until the career politician is eliminated, which means de fact term limits must be installed by voting out EVERY incumbent, EVERY election (see Step 1 of 5-STEPS – http://twistedlittlethings.com/tlt/the-5-steps/).

      Revolutions are always led by a small minority, as the majority go with the flow, in the beginning. The inescapable change that is staring us in the face, due the popping of the govt debt bubble, will force everyone to make hard decisions under VERY difficult conditions. Will the majority of Americans choose freedom’s lifeboat, or will they choose the totalitarian lifeboat launched by the establishment?

      Cycle studies have predicted for decades the rise against the establishment in 2016 & 2018, and we are seeing it play out all over the world. It is not a coincidence that massive govt debt/malfeasance is causing economic contraction and civil unrest. These are the same characteristics that have brought down all great and not so great societies, because the passions of man never change.

      I do think the silent majority / Invisible Hand will come out in force for Trump, but the establishment will not go down without a fight. The “fun” will only begin after the election.

  4. J Bostwick
    September 30, 2016 at 8:03 am #

    Sharyl, Thank you for being “a voice in the wilderness” for those who want to hear the truth. It has been obvious for a long time that the media is no longer that establishment that is supposed to hold our government accountable and give us the truth. They have become shills for those who like their power and want to keep it. It is truly sad to see how they are literally making themselves inconsequential and they don’t even seem to realize it.

  5. Bill Carey
    September 30, 2016 at 8:18 am #

    Excellent article. Kudos for your courage and reason.

  6. David Lister
    September 30, 2016 at 9:10 am #

    Dear Sharyl:
    In my youth I thought of the press as a beacon of light watching over our nation, exposing wrong. Now I see the press as no more, for the most part, part of the downturn of our nation. They are actively bringing down our nation and what they don’t understand they are bringing down their own industry. The print media is closing one paper after another, lay offs in the news business yet they just don’t see they are alienating their own customers. Their bias have shown themselves to be out of touch as well as shown us business wise they have made themselves stupid. America is, in my opinion, center right yet the media is so far left I don’t know if you can even put them on the chart anymore. Here in Pittsburgh we have one more paper shutting its doors. At this point I really don’t care anymore as there are so many independents reporters, blogs, doing a better job, you being one of them.
    Thank God for journalist like yourself who still do their job and shine light in dark places for the public to see. Keep up the great work.
    To the others good riddance to bad trash as it leaves an opening for those doing a good job to rise.

  7. Robert Henderson
    September 30, 2016 at 9:23 am #

    USA Today lost that independent perspective long ago. Keep doing what you do. You are the best in the business.

  8. Nicole
    September 30, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    The pharmaceutical industry is one of USA Today’s major sources of advertising revenue. Follow the money. Pharma will suffer if Trump is elected.

    • James
      September 30, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

      What is it that will make pharma suffer if Trump is elected? I haven’t seen anything indicating that

      • Scot
        October 1, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

        The healthcare cost problem is rooted in establishment politics – http://twistedlittlethings.com/tlt/2016/08/28/epipen-the-only-drug-that-gouges-consumers-not/, and Trump is against the rampent fraud and corruption that is associated with absolute power. The explosion in healthcare costs is the result of 35 yrs of govt spending on healthcare growing at an average rate on 9.3% PER YEAR. Anyone that passed 5th grade math would know this is an exponential function that goes parabolic, and is thus unsustainable, no matter how much one thinks should be spent to keeping someone alive for an extra few months.

        Denninger has written extensively about the problem sources and solutions – http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?singlepost=3402144, and Trump is the only option RIGHT NOW that is willing to take on this problem. The more incumbents that are rooted out every election, the better chance Trump will have in fixing the root problems. One thing is certain – the problems will only get worse with Clinton.

  9. David McConville
    September 30, 2016 at 11:31 am #

    Georgetown and Upper West Side cocktail party invitations can be very expensive.
    They cost your integrity.

  10. Larry Blake
    September 30, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

    “USA Today’ was once my favorite newspaper. No more.

  11. Scot
    September 30, 2016 at 2:10 pm #

    You have witnessed the media bias first hand for a long time. This should not be a big shock, as Hillary is the only establishment hack still standing. The ethically-challenged that benefit from the rigged gambit are going to pull out all stops to make sure Trump cannot take office, including assasination if thex can’t rig the election. Unfortunately, this is what it may come to because, like the Brexit vote that was also highly propagandized, the turn out by the silent majority will be too overwhelming to rig.

    Whether for growth or necessity (need for the banksters to roll the debt of highly leveraged media companies), the mainstream media has been captured by the central planners for a long time – http://twistedlittlethings.com/tlt/2016/07/31/congress-authorized-propaganda-against-americans/#more-3628.

  12. SportsJunki
    September 30, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

    Here’s the real headline:

    USA Today is Unfit for Journalism

  13. Joe
    September 30, 2016 at 3:36 pm #

    Funny. I clicked on the headline thinking it said, “Farewell, U.S.A., I hardly knew ye.” All things considered, that headline is just as appropriate.

  14. Brandon Craig
    September 30, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

    “Donald Trump, whom it called a dangerous demagogue”

    There is nothing untrue about that statement.

    • Scot
      October 1, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

      Please explain what you think is dangerous about Trump. Trump is dangerous for the establishment and their self-enriching gambit. Democrats and the neocons in the Republican party that believe in nation building are putting their self-interest ahead of America.

    • Richard Ong
      October 1, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

      You’re right. USA Today did call Trump a dangerous demagogue.

  15. Bob
    September 30, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

    Thanks for honest, fair journalism!

  16. Phoebe
    September 30, 2016 at 5:31 pm #

    There are no honest, ethical journalist remaining! The media is now “paid per viewpoint”. And they all wonder why no one is buying their biased, pernicious papers.

  17. Sam
    September 30, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

    Sharyl, as always your reporting is terrific! As a true journalist with inside experience your analysis and conclusion are insightful. You are a professional journalist. One who cares about the well being of our country. Yes, the establishment is revealing its power and lengthy tentacles and no main stream media to stop them. Unfortunately, the main stream media is part of the establishment.

    This election is not about Trump, Hillary, democrats or republicans. It is about America as we know it. We can continue the destruction of our values, no law and order, attacks on the constitution, attacks on Christianity, continue open borders, killing the country with unsustainable debt, and finally the disappearance of the “American dream” and a destroyed America or we can fight for our country.

  18. Stephanie
    September 30, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

    From my research – Donna E. Shalala is the president of the Clinton Foundation.
    She was also the longest serving member on the board of directors of Gannett.
    (She had to retire due to age restrictions.)
    Gannett is the parent company of USA Today (and the Arizona Republic which also endorsed Clinton).
    My guess is that Gannett is pressuring its newspapers to endorse Hillary???
    I have no evidence to back that up. Probably coincidental?

    You are my hero Sharyl Attkisson. I admire your integrity and independent journalism.

  19. Rudy Yarbrough
    September 30, 2016 at 6:06 pm #

    I have read of the issues that you have encountered in your work and admire you for your independence. That is the word missing from most journalist profiles today, independence. The whole point of freedom of the press was to act as the eyes and ears of the public and to inform us of the happenings in the Capital. No longer. They now have taken a side and their reporting is only to assist that side in its endeavours. I am not happy with my choice this time around but I cannot imagine hillary pointing her finger at me on the nightly news and scolding me about how I live my life. Then telling me how she is going to make things better for me by taking away some of my rights and freedoms. Trump may be an ego maniac but he will have a lot of good people throwing stones at him if he misbehaves. But hillary will have all the usual sycophants working in every position in the federal government and will obey her most unconstitutional command. We are truly screwed if she wins.

  20. adrian nunes
    September 30, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

    MSM as we know it is all done/agenda driven/all changed a long time ago when JFK was murdered. Walter Cronkite changed rifle(GERMAN MAUSER)THE REAL RIFLE USED………..and later recanted and was told to say MANNLICHER CARCANO………….for the record,second MAUSER found on depository roof/30 yard 6 shell casing found on roof of records building in 1986……………….our government murdered JFK………………..september 30 2016 trump 25,000+ in MICHIGAN………CLINTON couldn’t fill up a porta john at at rock concert if she paid them…………….everyone i’ve talk too around the country……mojo all trump….rallys tell you that……………………….they just hate her…..young and old………………pretty sad…………………….S.A……..superb work ethic keep up the honest investigative journalism/stay safe and healthy

  21. csmats
    September 30, 2016 at 8:33 pm #

    Ms. Attkisson is right on point as usual. As someone who walked away from Emmy awards and major network primetime TV on principle, she speaks with the ultimate credibility on this issue.

  22. Missy
    October 2, 2016 at 11:50 am #

    The lies and propaganda surrounding presidential politics is bad, but war propaganda is the worst – http://twistedlittlethings.com/tlt/2016/10/02/war-propaganda-is-the-worst/.

  23. Jeffery Tartt
    October 7, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

    I remember too when U S A Today started. I was in the Army at the time and it was actually kind of a big thing that there was a newspaper that covered the country. Over the years like many others, they lost their glory, their usefulness and now their dignity. Goodbye, so long U S A Today.

  24. reidh beallagh
    October 18, 2016 at 4:52 pm #

    Sorry Sheryl it ( USA TODAY ) always was shit.


  1. USA Today Breaks Tradition and Makes a Presidential Endorsement, of sorts - September 30, 2016

    […] Sharyl Attkisson says “Farewell USA Today.” […]

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