Anti-Trump crusader dishonestly reports anti-Semitic 'scoop' and runs young Trump appointee out of his job
There's nothing like the power of dishonest journalism, and don't think the mass media don't know it.
One of the people Ben Rhodes probably meant when he spoke of 27-year-olds "who know nothing," named Ben Penn over at Bloomberg, has come up with a dishonest story claiming to prove that a young Trump official named Leif Olson at the U.S. Department of Labor is an anti-Semite. His big scoop (Penn's word, not mine) concerned some doxx-style digging of his on (or maybe an activist tip against) the low-level staffer, followed by an irony-challenged claim that a Facebook post the young man made was his presented evidence of anti-Semitism. It wasn't true — it actually was the opposite of true — and wiser heads pointed it out. But Olson nevertheless resigned.
Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner wrote a column exposing just how disgusting the whole story was, noting:
In reality, the Facebook post in question was the opposite of anti-Semitic. It was a clearly sarcastic post from 2016 about Paul Ryan crushing alt-right challenger Paul Nehlen. If the over-the-top language isn't a tip off, it's a fairly dead giveaway that Olson refers to Ryan having "suffered a massive, historic, emasculating 70-point victory."
When one of the commenters suggests Ryan must be a "neocon" and a Jew, Olson, clearly joking, responded, "It must be true because I've never heard the Lamestream Media report it, and you know they protect their own."
And yet Bloomberg used this to tear him down. Ted Frank, a lawyer and friend of Olson (who happens to be Jewish), has a Twitter thread on this disgrace. Frank also notes that "a good man who just moved his family from Texas to engage in public service has his life disrupted." Even liberal Jonathan Chait, no fan of the Trump administration, acknowledged this was "terribly unfair."
Has that served to chastise Ben Rhodes's finest?
Not in the least. He's doubling down to defend his dishonest story because he's happy he got his scalp:
SCOOP: Trump Labor Department's new sr adviser Leif Olson posted on Facebook that Jewish media "protect their own." In response to my request for comment on Olson's anti-Semitic post, @USDOL says they've accepted his resignation. https://t.co/68kDvaFn0h— Ben Penn (@benjaminpenn) September 3, 2019
This is the latest in a series of mishaps under the Trump administration personnel vetting system. What makes this one remarkable is that Olson's Facebook page was public to his non-friends. Any cursory screening of his social media accounts could've uncovered the anti-Semitism.— Ben Penn (@benjaminpenn) September 3, 2019
After that, Penn brought up what was really bothering him:
Before public service, he was an appellate atty in Texas advancing core religious conservative causes. Olson sued Houston law recognizing same-sex marriage licenses - even after Supreme Court ruled gay marriage legal nationwide.— Ben Penn (@benjaminpenn) September 3, 2019
Mollie Hemingway pointed out that Penn has a pattern of this kind of obsession.
After that, Penn played the victim:
Nothing says ‘I’m a great journalist’ like defending your garbage journalism by spilling private texts all over your Twitter feed to pretend you’re a victim https://t.co/sXyiBTYuwv— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) September 3, 2019
Klein points out that the Trump administration was remiss in forcing the young man out and should have doubled down in exposing just how dishonest the report was and certainly should have exonerated Olson. He's right on that.
Along with Klein, Mollie Hemingway wrote a piece blasting the travesty. So did Rod Dreher, calling it "a revolting smear" and noting its resemblance to communism. So did the Tablet's Yair Rosenberg. Update: So did National Review's Michael Brendan Dougherty, calling it "bad faith." So did Will Chamberlain at Human Events. So did, hold your socks...Vox of all places. And get ready to lose your wig: Matthew Gertz at Media Matters.
To cave on this slimy effort to slime an innocent man is very un-Trumpian behavior, raising questions about the competence of the Labor Department's bosses who caved so quickly.
One tweeter, who identifies himself as an Orthodox Jewish conservative, had a good idea for how to make this right:
The Department of Labor should rescind their acceptance of Leif Olson's resignation, and he should be promoted to make up for this,— The Meturgeman (@DraftRyan2016) September 3, 2019
I have an even better one: President Trump should step in and declare the resignation null and void. The doxxing of low-level staffers by a dishonest press reporting a quote out of context in a bid to weaken the Trump administration has gotten out of control.
Regardless of what happens, an incident like this is certain to sour the public just a little bit more on the press with all its double standards (hellooo, Ilhan Omar!) — and throw fuel to the already growing public support for the backatcha doxxing of journalists as righteous payback.