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USA Today newspapers delete senator’s op-ed blasting trans athletes in collegiate sports

An op-ed penned by U.S. Sen. John Kennedy has been deleted from eight USA Today-affiliated Louisiana newspapers for alleged “inflammatory” language toward transgender athletes.

On May 11, the Louisiana Republican’s piece ran in eight newspapers owned by USA Today’s parent company, Gannett. Now those URLs have the statement: “This content has been removed because it did not meet our editorial standards.”

USA Today has not responded to The College Fix’s requests for comment.

National Review on Tuesday republished the memory-holed piece, stating: “We are republishing it so that readers can judge its argument for themselves.”

Emails obtained by Fox News, which first reported the story, “showed the Republican was told his op-ed criticizing biological men playing women’s sports contained ‘inflammatory’ speech that didn’t meet company standards.”

In the op-ed, Kennedy criticized the recent surge in transgender athletes in high school and collegiate sports, comparing it to NBA star Zion Williamson joining a middle school basketball league.

“Men and women don’t compete for the same reasons. Yet transgender activists want athletic institutions to ignore these obvious physical differences so transgender athletes can feel included, even if it hurts biological girls in the process,” Kennedy wrote.

Kennedy then blasted a trend of prominent transgender athletes competing in women’s sports, most notably, former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas.

“These activists allowed the 554th-ranked male swimmer, then known as William Thomas, to become the NCAA Division I national champion named Lia Thomas,” the op-ed stated.

“…Many fair-minded people reject the idea that women and girls who work hard to develop their athletic talents must sacrifice their opportunities, privacy and safety to promote gender activism. I’m one of them,” Kennedy wrote.

Three days later, USA Today pulled Kennedy’s piece. Gannett Opinion Editor and Vice President of Standards and Ethics Michael McCarter told Fox News that the company stood by their decision to remove Kennedy’s piece, which had received no complaints from readers.

“Sen. John Kennedy’s submitted opinion column did not meet our ethical guidelines, which state we will treat people with respect. After further review, our editorial team removed the column from our website. Sen. Kennedy has been given the opportunity to revise his language – not his viewpoint – to adhere with our standards,” McCarter told Fox News.

The decision to delete the op-ed seems to have originated from the Shreveport Times, a Gannett-owned daily newspaper based in Shreveport, Louisiana. The paper’s standards department took issue with Kennedy’s use of the terms “biological male” and “biological female,” which the editor claimed was not in accordance with Associated Press guidelines.

“Should the Senator wish to resubmit the editorial without the loaded language, we would be happy to consider it,” Shreveport Times executive editor Mindy Castile wrote in a statement to Fox News.

Kennedy has stated regarding the incident:

“[The] USA Today Network apparently does not like the way I express myself. They think they are the speech police. Drunk on certainty and virtue, they think they are our moral teacher. This attitude is why so many Americans have lost confidence in the media. The media is not going to win that trust back until they return to neutrality instead of advocacy. Most people don’t support allowing biological men to participate in women’s sports because they think that will bastardize sports, skew the results, and hurt women. Other people disagree. Gannett should simply report the two sides and not try to silence the position it disagrees with.”

The removal of Sen. Kennedy’s op-ed is not the first time USA Today has faced allegations of left-wing bias on issues of gender.

In June 2022, then-USA Today editor David Mastio was targeted after he pushed back on an article’s use of the term “pregnant people” to describe pregnant women. In response to the headline, Mastio tweeted “people who are pregnant are also women.”

Mastio was chided by the company’s LGBTQ Employee Resource Group and the “diversity” committee of the Gannett-owned paper. He was also demoted from editor to columnist.

“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,” Mastio wrote in 2022.

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About the Author
College Fix contributor David Glasser is a rising second-year student at the Florida State University College of Law, with over six years of news and opinion writing experience for various publications. He is set to graduate in 2026.