USA Today adds note to Navarro op-ed knocking Fauci: Did not meet fact-checking standards

USA Today added a note to an op-ed written by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro published by the newspaper, saying that the Trump administration official’s op-ed criticizing Anthony FauciAnthony FauciUS to restrict travel from eight African nations over new COVID-19 concerns Israel warns of looming emergency after its first case of omicron, new COVID-19 variant Five things to know about omicron, new COVID-19 'variant of concern' MORE didn’t meet the newspaper’s fact-checking standards. 

The editorial note written by USA Today editorial page editor Bill Sternberg was added to the online version of the opinion piece Wednesday evening.

Sternberg said the editorial board reached out to Navarro, who has been critical of infectious disease expert Fauci, to provide a response published as an “Opposing View” to pair with an editorial the board wrote praising Fauci as a “national treasure.” 

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“Navarro’s response echoed comments made to other news outlets in recent days. We felt it was newsworthy because it expanded on those comments, put an on-the-record name to the attacks on Fauci, and contradicted White House denials of an anti-Fauci campaign,” Sternberg said in the note added to the story, which was first published Tuesday morning. 

“However, several of Navarro’s criticisms of Fauci — on the China travel restrictions, the risk from the coronavirus and falling mortality rates — were misleading or lacked context. As such, Navarro’s op-ed did not meet USA TODAY’s fact-checking standards,” he added. 

Navarro’s scathing op-ed accused Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force and the nation's top infectious disease expert, of being “wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.” 

Fauci responded in an interview with The Atlantic, telling the magazine he “can’t explain Peter Navarro.” 

“He’s in a world by himself,” the doctor said. 

Navarro’s public criticism came amid reports that the White House was aiming to discredit Fauci with a memo citing nearly a dozen comments he made about the pandemic that contradicted his later statements.

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Fauci told The Atlantic efforts to discredit him by members of the Trump administration are “bizarre.” 

“I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that,” Fauci said. “I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do, because it’s only reflecting negatively on them."

He has also defended comments he made months ago that differed from recommendations he’s now making to the public, such as wearing a mask, noting that recommendations changed as more knowledge about the virus was learned.

--Updated at 12:05 p.m.