October 5, 2019

A LITTLE LATE: Bloomberg Law finally retracts article accusing Leif Olson of anti-Semitism. “Last month a reporter named Ben Penn published a story at Bloomberg Law which insinuated that a Department of Labor employee named Leif Olson had posted some anti-Semitic tropes on his Facebook page. Olson was fired and Penn seemed to be celebrating his first scoop on Twitter. Only it turned out he had gotten the story completely and hopelessly wrong. Why did it take them a full month to get there when they knew the story was completely wrong within about 24 hours? In a note to the staff from the Editor in Chief, he explained the site had ‘spent the last few weeks reviewing our coverage.'”


But the real issue is that Bloomberg Law has had the emails Penn sent the whole time. They knew weeks ago that what he had asked wasn’t a fair reading of the Facebook posts. And yet, they left their story up. It certainly looks like they sat on what they knew hoping people would forget about it. Only when people outside the company pushed the issue by revealing the contents of the query publicly did they finally decide to retract the article.

This may turn out to be another case where a reporter digging up old social media posts gets canned but once again it’s not solely the fault of the reporter (who’d only been at Bloomberg Law a few weeks). The editors who approved the article ought to have known better even if the reporter didn’t.

Yes. They should be fired, too.

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