USA Today on Wednesday published an op-ed promoting the idea of arming school teachers with concealed firearms to combat potential school shooters. And while the piece garnered some criticism online, the more controversial aspect for many readers was the author itself.
Jerome Corsi has served as the bureau chief of the far-right conspiracy theory outlet InfoWars since early 2017.
Run by glorified supplement salesman Alex Jones, InfoWars has peddled numerous unfounded conspiracy theories casting doubt on the legitimacy of shootings victims in Sandy Hook and Parkland, which have nearly gotten Corsi and InfoWars banned from YouTube.
Corsi himself has famously embraced exotic right-wing theories.
He previously wrote for conspiracy site WorldNetDaily, and was one of the most outspoken and earliest advocates of the “birther” theory, which wrongly claimed President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
Some of Corsi’s most recent work includes promoting “stories” relying on “evidence” from QAnon, an anonymous 4chan poster who claims to be a high-level intelligence operative who has frequently been wrong in his doomsday predictions.
In Tuesday’s op-ed, the InfoWars bureau chief argued that allowing teachers to arm themselves would “lend an element of uncertainty that would deter a would-be school shooter.”
He claimed that his credibility on gun-control issues came from his experience working with the State Department in the 1980s, where he consulted on “hostage survival training in terrorist events.”
“Arming all teachers and school staff is no solution in situations where teachers and staff feel fully committed to dealing with educational issues,” he wrote. “A would-be school shooter can be neutralized before schoolchildren are senselessly murdered.”
Originally, the op-ed did not once disclose that Crosi is an employee at InfoWars. Instead, it described Corsi as an “investigative journalist” and author of a pro-Trump book titled Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save President Trump.
In a statement to The Daily Beast on Wednesday, editorial page editor Bill Sternberg said the publication's Opposing View section valued perspectives from across the ideological spectrum, but added that Crosi's bio had been updated to note his current job at InfoWars.
"USA TODAY’s Opposing View shows readers more than one point of view on an issue. Our signature debate format reinforces our reputation for fairness, which is one of our core values," he said. "Today’s Opposing View issue and author have caused much debate and feedback. The Opposing View on arming teachers has been updated with more information about author Jerome R. Corsi."
Though it has become slightly more outspoken in recent years, the op-ed section at USA Today—perhaps a result of their status as the newspaper with the largest U.S. circulation—has always been careful not to offend its readers with opinions overly biased toward the political left. Though it broke precedent in 2016 by endorsing a candidates—it previously refrained from endorsing any candidates in presidential races—the paper did not overtly endorse Hillary Clinton, instead simply encouraging readers not to vote for then-candidate Donald Trump.
“Our editorial board believes in a common-sense, centrist approach in which the two sides work together to find reasonable compromises to solve the nation's problems,” editorial page editor Bill Sternberg said in 2016.