Ex-USA Today editor tells why he spoke out against paper's woke reporting: 'The place has gone off the rails' – Fox News

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Straight Arrow News executive editor David Mastio shares how he was fired from USA Today for an op-ed stating that women are the ones who get pregnant.
Former USA Today editor David Mastio said he got into opinion because he is not the kind of journalist who can keep his “mouth shut.” When he could not hold back his tongue – or tweet in this case – about an article referring to “pregnant people” last year, it set forth a chain of events the veteran newspaperman did not see coming.
The then-deputy editorial page editor saw a news alert for a USA Today story about the CDC approving the COVID-19 vaccine for “pregnant people,” and, he told Fox News Digital, “it just sent me around the bend.”
“I knew there was a movement inside the paper to stop saying pregnant women and start saying pregnant people to be more inclusive of the men who get pregnant. Then I just needed to say something,” Mastio said. “You know, I got into opinion journalism because I’m not the kind of journalist who can keep his mouth shut. So I needed to say something.”
He tweeted “people who are pregnant are also women,” which, as he tells it, drew the ire of the LGBTQ Employee Resource Group and the newsroom “diversity” committee of the Gannett-owned newspaper. The country’s largest newspaper publisher by circulation, Gannett also owns such major local outlets as the Arizona Republic, The Tennessean, The Indianapolis Star, The Des Moines Register, The Cincinnati Enquirer and the Detroit Free Press.
The corporate flags for the Gannett Co and its flagship newspaper, USA Today, fly outside their corporate headquarters. Former USA Today deputy editorial page editor David Mastio said the newspaper has effectively purged conservatives in recent years.  (REUTERS/Larry Downing)
Though he was not fired – he was demoted down to being a columnist after being threatened with a huge pay cut – Mastio was still put off by the newspaper’s leadership being pressured to dismiss him. At one point during the paper’s internal investigation, he says he was confronted with the past sin of writing in 2017 that President Donald Trump wasn’t fit to “clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library.” According to him, that was viewed by leadership as casting toilet cleaners in a negative light.
After his demotion, he hung around for less than a year before jumping ship for the start-up outlet Straight Arrow News, where he says he is much happier. Mastio, who has also had stops at the Washington Examiner, Washington Times and The Virginian-Pilot, was in his third separate stint with USA Today since the 1990s before deciding he had enough. A staunch critic of Trump, he said he suspects the paper would have been even more “hostile” toward him if he had been a Trump supporter.
Mastio published an op-ed in the New York Post Friday outlining the saga and accusing USA Today and Gannett of effectively purging conservatives like him from the ranks. This is not the first time USA Today’s opinion side has come under fire nationally, following last year’s saga where the paper retroactively edited a Stacey Abrams op-ed to water down her support for boycotts when Major League Baseball moved its All-Star Game out of Atlanta.
A retroactively edited USA Today op-ed by Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams in 2021 put Gannett on the defensive last year. ( Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“Gannett’s top editors and publishers are filling the company with a cadre of young college graduates who share a narrow ‘woke’ ideology that is alien to the values of most of its readers,” he wrote. “In a closely divided America, Gannett has a grand total of one local conservative staff columnist. There’s one conservative editorial page left in the network. In recent years, I’ve watched good conservative editorial pages in Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Oklahoma City wink out to be replaced with bland corporate liberalism. There are zero conservative editorial cartoonists left in the network.”
Gannett did not respond to a request for comment.
Mastio also shared a lengthy Twitter thread outlining his story, and he said he was surprised by how much attention the story received on social media, until the news broke that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade. He said his decision to publish the New York Post op-ed was spurred by USA Today editorial page editor Kristen DelGuzzi’s remarks in a Washington Post report earlier this month about Gannett shrinking their opinion sections for fear of alienating readers.
“This is part of the overall evolution of our industry,” DelGuzzi told the Washington Post. “The opinion pages feel like the last part of the newsroom to evolve.”
“I just thought that was so at odds with the facts that it drove me to say something,” Mastio told Fox News Digital, saying over the past few years, Gannett had laid off conservative columnists and editorial writers and not replaced them.
St. Louis, MO. A USA Today newspaper despenser. (Photo by: Newscast/UIG via Getty Images)
DelGuzzi did not respond to a request for comment.
“It was not some grand conspiracy to get rid of conservatives,” Mastio said. “It was just not thinking that conservatives were important or not thinking that the tradition of having a conservative editorial page in a certain place like Indianapolis or Cincinnati, just not thinking that it was important. So it wasn’t like a political agenda. It was just a corporate agenda.”
Mastio also discussed “Gannett-mandated diversity training” in his piece, quipping in his piece that he recognized he had White privilege thanks to the teachings.
It started to really get bad about three years ago, and, you know, critical race theory is woven all throughout it,” he said, adding USA Today was a great place to work until recently. “It’s only in the last three or four years that the place has gone off the rails.”
As he left the paper in March, he had some parting words.
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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2022 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Legal Statement. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper.


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