USA Today is congratulating itself for transparency over a story on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s suitability to coach girl’s basketball. An editor’s note that sits atop a Friday piece by sports staffer Erik Brady reads like this:

Editor’s note: Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh has told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee he loves coaching his daughters’ girls basketball teams, but said in testimony Thursday “thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to coach again.”  The intent of this commentary was to address that question. The column was re-edited to more closely reflect that intent and labeled to reflect it as the writer’s opinion. 

Manny García, the standards editor for the USA Today Network, discussed edits to the piece under this subheadline: “Our sports writer wrote an opinion column but didn’t mean to malign the Supreme Court nominee. For transparency, here’s how we corrected it.” Though Brady is a sports reporter, veterans in that department occasionally chime in with opinion pieces. There were several changes made to the presentation, noted García: “To be transparent, we removed the photo, removed two lines from the column, and made it clear in the headline that the column was opinion. We also deleted the original tweet.”

On a more granular level, here are the lines that were removed to align the column with its original “intent”:

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Brett Kavanaugh testified the other day that he might never coach girls’ basketball again.
He shouldn’t – at least not until further investigation has concluded.
The U.S. Senate may yet confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, but he should stay off basketball courts for now when kids are around.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testified the other day that he might never coach girls’ basketball again.
“I love coaching more than anything I’ve ever done in my whole life,” Kavanaugh said in his opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. “But thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to coach again.”
He just might be right. Oh, not the part about blaming Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee – that’s just to avoid placing blame on his wholly sympathetic accuser – but the may-never-coach-again part. The nation is newly vigilant on who coaches and trains its children given recent scandals in gymnastics and other sports.

Here’s another example. Original text:

Hill did not comment on Kavanaugh specifically but more generally about cases with facts similar to Kavanaugh’s circumstance. Hill said decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. And he said there is no statute of limitations.
The nation is deeply divided. Sometimes it feels like we don’t agree on anything anymore. But credibly accused sex offenders should not coach youth basketball, girls or boys, without deeper investigation. Can’t we all agree on that?

Current text:

Hill did not comment on Kavanaugh specifically but more generally about cases with facts similar to Kavanaugh’s circumstance. Hill said decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. And he said there is no statute of limitations.

Bolding added to designate the text that appears to have been removed.

The backdrop for the Kavanaugh-basketball column was, of course, an allegation from Christine Blasey Ford, a Palo Alto University professor, that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s, back when he was a student at Georgetown Prep. In emotional remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday, Kavanaugh bellowed, “Thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to coach again.”

As the Brady column points out, that comment could have referenced the difficulty of Kavanaugh’s resuming the life that he once lived. Disruptions may now follow him.

In any case, the revisions to the story don’t appear to actually realign it with the writer’s “intent.” That intent — to aver that Kavanaugh should stay off the court for now — appears quite clear in the original piece. This has the look of a retraction, with the edited version of the opinion piece stripping it of opinion. USA Today would boost its transparency quotient to acknowledge as much.

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