WaPo Reporter Blames Fetterman’s Office for Fake Quote...But...

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Earlier this week, Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) attempted to question the former CEO of the recently collapsed Silicon Valley Bank, and, as expected, it did not go well. When Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein tweeted about Fetterman’s “interrogation” and quoted the senator: “Shouldn’t you have a working requirement after we bail out your bank?” Stein’s quote of Fetterman began. “Republicans seem to be more preoccupied with SNAP requirements for hungry people than protecting taxpayers that have to bail out these banks.”

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Except, that wasn’t was Fetterman said at all. Fetterman, still experiencing communication difficulties and cognitive impairment as a result of his stroke a year ago, wasn’t so polished. What Fetterman actually said was, “Shouldn’t you have a working requirement after we sale [sic] your bank—er, with billions of your bank? Because they see me [sic] pre-preoccupied when then [sic] SNAP, uh, in the requirements for works [sic] for hungry people, but not about protecting the— protecting tax papers [sic] you know, that will bail the matter [sic] whatever does [sic] about a bank to crash it.”

Stein was swiftly mocked for posting the fake quote, which ultimately compelled him to delete the tweet.

Well, now Stein is trying to save some face. “Yesterday I tweeted this quote, provided to me by the Senator’s office, without checking it against the video,” he tweeted. “That was my fault. Though it captured his meaning, I deleted the tweet since some of the words in the quote were inaccurate.”

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If it’s true that Fetterman’s office provided the fake quote, then that’s actually a pretty significant story, as Fetterman’s Senate office is deliberately misleading the media. This may be true. Fortune published the cleaned version of the Fetterman quote—though it’s entirely possible that Stein’s tweet was the source the magazine relied upon for its story. The New Republic made an effort to clean up the quote with brackets. The Hill posted a partial quote that was cleaned up, but chose to summarize the latter portion—likely because they’d seen the video.

Is it possible that Fetterman’s office sent out the fake quote? Sure, but I’m doubtful. On Wednesday, Fetterman’s official Twitter account posted a video of the exchange, complete with Fetterman karaoke at the bottom, ensuring that viewers would see what Fetterman “intended” to say.

As you can see, Fetterman’s office’s version of what Fetterman was intending to say doesn’t match the quote provided by Fetterman’s office on the video. Had the two matched exactly, I’d be more inclined to believe Stein’s explanation.

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So, not only do I believe Stein is the source of the cleaned-up quote, but I believe he inadvertently told us his justification for doing so. In his tweet acknowledging the quote was inaccurate, he neverthless defended the cleaned-up quote by saying it “captured his meaning” while only conceding that “some of the words” were “inaccurate.”  That sounds like something you would say justifying sharing the fake quote to begin with, not while admitting you were wrong to post it.

PJ Media reached out to Jeff Stein and to Fetterman’s office regarding the quote posted by Stein, but neither responded in time for publication.

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