USA Today is facing criticism after it allowed former Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams to water down her support for boycotts in Georgia after Major League Baseball pulled its All Star Game from the state – a move that cost Atlanta businesses millions.
The op-ed by Abrams came after the new Georgia voter integrity law, where she indicated in her original piece a movement to "swear off" products made in the state and have individuals "opt" for the "competition" of those who support such laws.
In the original piece, Abrams said "events that can bring millions of dollars to struggling families hang in the balance." In the revised version, she mentioned how the All Star Game was moved and blamed Republicans, claiming "their faux outrage is designed to hide the fact that they prioritized making it harder for people of color to vote over the economic well-being of all Georgians."
Abrams also took aim at former President Donald Trump, saying "the failed former president is now calling for cancellation of baseball as the national pastime."
After edits where she discussed how "boycotts invariably also cost jobs," Abrams then said she was against boycotts.
"Instead of a boycott, I strongly urge other events and productions to do business in Georgia and speak out against our law and similar proposals in other states," she said.
The piece was updated by Abrams on April 6 – a week after it was originally published – and did not contain an editor's note that informed readers of the changes until public backlash began to surface.
"We regret the oversight in updating the Stacey Abrams column," said USA Today in a statement. "As soon as we recognized there was no editor's note, we added it to the page to reflect her changes. We have reviewed our procedures to ensure this does not occur again."
Critics, however, said that the very practice of letting a political figure retroactively change their words was wrong, with some labeling it "Orwellian."
🔦 Critics have also accused fact-checking sites such as PolitiFact of downplaying Abrams's role in Major League Baseball moving its business out of Georgia. Abrams began publicly walking back her calls for boycotts earlier in April.