A leading American newspaper published a controversial article about pedophiles, and the controversy heightened after the news outlet's social media account deleted its initial accompanying remarks about the piece.
USA Today attempted to reframe the controversial topic of pedophilia as something that's "misunderstood." A majority of the piece brings up how child molesters complicate the public image of pedophiles.
One of the quotes in the pieces comes from psychologist, author, and "internationally recognized expert" Anna Slater, who says there are people who "molest kids because they're scared of adult women. They molest kids to get revenge, but they don't actually have an age preference for prepubescent children."
The theme of the article tries to argue the psychological situation of pedophiles, claiming it's a condition they're born with.
USA Today later deleted a thread of tweets that espoused the same talking points from the article and were met with a heavy ratio on Twitter.
(It should be noted that in the original "for subscribers" blurb, USA Today went with "Pedophiles and child molesters are not the same thing. Understand the difference" for the piece's preview.)
One of USA Today's sources, Dr. James Cantor, in December 2018 advocated for pedophilia to become a sexuality that's treated the same as general LGBTQ+ advocacy: "Speaking as a gay men, I believe we SHOULD include the P. To do otherwise is to betray the principles that give us our rights."
After significant backlash online on Tuesday, USA Today Life deleted their initial tweets. But shortly after doing so, they republished a thread with a replacement and explanation.
"A previous thread did not include all information and the story it was written about is behind a paywall. We made the decision to delete the thread," USA Today claims on Twitter. They went on to say there was important "context" lacking from the original Twitter thread that was within the story itself.
USA Today removed the paywall for the story to that effect. The social media reactions and sentiments over the episode were of shock and disgust.
"To me (and probably anyone who has been watching) this is nothing more than the first step of trying to normalize this kind of behavior," Donald Trump Jr. said.
Arsenal Media Group digital director Logan Hall said "next corporate media endeavor: normalizing pedophilia."
"Ah, yes. Here we go with the liberal media celebrating and trying to normalize pedophilia," NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck said.
"You can't normalize and destigmatize pedophilia in context. It's a nonstarter. You should pull down the entire story, not just the twitter thread."
"They are hardly the first to attempt to normalize pedophilia and won’t be the last."
The USA Today piece cites the controversy between Old Dominion University and Dr. Allyn Walker, who talked about "destigmatizing pedophilia" and referred to pedophiles as "minor-attracted people," from last year. Walker resigned from their job with the school in the fallout from an interview they gave to pedophilia advocacy group, the Prostasia Foundation.