One month and one Freedom of Information Act post later, Bloomberg finally retracts smear story on Trump Labor appointee

If you want to get a sense of why the public distrusts the media, Bloomberg Law's Ben Penn is a good place to start. Penn's the leftist reporter who attempted to smear a young Trump administration Labor Department appointee as an anti-Semite, an utterly false charge based on a clearly sarcastic social media post, in a textbook case of putting someone in a false light as well as a libel with actual malice. The story actually resulted in the guy getting fired from his job, at least until the facts got out.

The story wasn't about facts.

Bloomberg Law just let that go, even after a slew of negative coverage as the full context of the sarcastic post became clear. The reporter knew it was clear, yet he was just too excited at the prospect of painting a Trump official as an anti-Semite. I, and a lot of the press, wrote about that fiasco here.

Then someone did a Freedom of Information Act inquiry which resulted in the release of his original letter to the Labor Department, which not only made him look like a leftist troll, it left Bloomberg Law looking bad.

According to Erik Wemple of the Washington Post:

“Bloomberg Law has retracted this article, published on Sept. 3. In reporting on a series of social media posts from Department of Labor official Leif Olson, we failed to meet our editorial standards for fairness and accuracy. We regret that lapse and apologize to our readers and to Mr. Olson,” notes the outlet.

A note to staff from Editor in Chief Cesca Antonelli strikes some of the same notes, pledging to strengthen “policies and processes.” According to the top editor, the retraction comes at the end of protracted review: “We received several complaints about our story. We took the complaints seriously and have spent the last few weeks reviewing our coverage and our editorial processes. We addressed these issues with all staff involved. The last of our review meetings was conducted yesterday afternoon.”

That was fast. Not.

Which raises questions as to why it took them so long to yank that garbage from their website. Or why they still employ someone like Penn, who really ought to be working at some place like Media Matters, where he'd be a better fit.

Normally, a news agency wants to get bad information off its site as fast as it can because it makes them look bad. All reporters make mistakes, so the sooner the bad information is off, the faster the problem is over.

Bloomberg Law took four weeks of discussions and meetings to get its story straight and finally yank the trash piece, something that only seems to have been triggered by the new FOIA information showing that the reporter had it in for the young Labor Department employee from the very beginning. The motive was clearly political and now Penn is protecting his tweets. Even the Washington Post noticed that curious timeline coincidence, though Bloomberg Law denied it. Oh to be a fly on the wall of all those four weeks of meetings!

Which raises questions about Bloomberg's credibility, given that they tried to sweep the whole smear under the rug, taking four week to fix the easily spotted problem. 

Any questions as to why the public distrusts the mainstream press?

Image credit: Twitter screen shot

 

 

If you want to get a sense of why the public distrusts the media, Bloomberg Law's Ben Penn is a good place to start. Penn's the leftist reporter who attempted to smear a young Trump administration Labor Department appointee as an anti-Semite, an utterly false charge based on a clearly sarcastic social media post, in a textbook case of putting someone in a false light as well as a libel with actual malice. The story actually resulted in the guy getting fired from his job, at least until the facts got out.

The story wasn't about facts.

Bloomberg Law just let that go, even after a slew of negative coverage as the full context of the sarcastic post became clear. The reporter knew it was clear, yet he was just too excited at the prospect of painting a Trump official as an anti-Semite. I, and a lot of the press, wrote about that fiasco here.

Then someone did a Freedom of Information Act inquiry which resulted in the release of his original letter to the Labor Department, which not only made him look like a leftist troll, it left Bloomberg Law looking bad.

According to Erik Wemple of the Washington Post:

“Bloomberg Law has retracted this article, published on Sept. 3. In reporting on a series of social media posts from Department of Labor official Leif Olson, we failed to meet our editorial standards for fairness and accuracy. We regret that lapse and apologize to our readers and to Mr. Olson,” notes the outlet.

A note to staff from Editor in Chief Cesca Antonelli strikes some of the same notes, pledging to strengthen “policies and processes.” According to the top editor, the retraction comes at the end of protracted review: “We received several complaints about our story. We took the complaints seriously and have spent the last few weeks reviewing our coverage and our editorial processes. We addressed these issues with all staff involved. The last of our review meetings was conducted yesterday afternoon.”

That was fast. Not.

Which raises questions as to why it took them so long to yank that garbage from their website. Or why they still employ someone like Penn, who really ought to be working at some place like Media Matters, where he'd be a better fit.

Normally, a news agency wants to get bad information off its site as fast as it can because it makes them look bad. All reporters make mistakes, so the sooner the bad information is off, the faster the problem is over.

Bloomberg Law took four weeks of discussions and meetings to get its story straight and finally yank the trash piece, something that only seems to have been triggered by the new FOIA information showing that the reporter had it in for the young Labor Department employee from the very beginning. The motive was clearly political and now Penn is protecting his tweets. Even the Washington Post noticed that curious timeline coincidence, though Bloomberg Law denied it. Oh to be a fly on the wall of all those four weeks of meetings!

Which raises questions about Bloomberg's credibility, given that they tried to sweep the whole smear under the rug, taking four week to fix the easily spotted problem. 

Any questions as to why the public distrusts the mainstream press?

Image credit: Twitter screen shot