Contributor Post Created with Sketch. For Journalists, There Are No Consequences

 

And that’s just how they want it.

Early this morning, a story broke on Bloomberg Law about a Trump administration official from the Department of Labor who reportedly made anti-Semitic remarks on his personal Facebook account. The headline of the piece from reporter Ben Penn asserted: “Trump Labor Aide Quits After Anti-Semitic Facebook Posts Surface.”

In context, Olson’s Facebook post is so obviously sarcastic there is no mistaking it for anything but. Liberal and conservative reporters alike took issue with how Olson’s words were portrayed:

But Bloomberg and the reporter (as of this posting over twelve hours after the piece went online) are standing by the reporting.

Olson made a statement on his personal Facebook account, and his friend (and all day online defender Ted Frank reposted it on Twitter:

Inexplicably, the Trump administration has remained silent on the smear, and the Department of Labor accepted Olson’s resignation (though one has to wonder if they asked for it).

Several weeks ago it was front-page news that Trump officials were keeping track of journalists’ social media postings, with the actions deemed a war on the media by many of the self-proclaimed firefighters in the press. What those in the media don’t seem to understand is anyone involved in such an effort is merely fighting fire with fire. The media have purposefully placed itself in an adversarial role with the Trump administration and anyone who works for it. They have declared war, yet somehow act surprised when the Trump administration responds.

The Olson news comes on the heels of a court decision granting Brian Karem back his press pass after the White House suspended it following an outburst in the Rose Garden:

To their credit, the White House Correspondents’ Association didn’t unilaterally cheer the decision,

But nevertheless, Karem has his press pass back, and Ben Penn still has a job. For as much as they whine about accountability, for the media themselves, there is none.

 

There are 42 comments.

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  1. Zafar Member

    This honestly seems quite bizarre. 

    Perhaps it’s best not to use tropes of this kind at all, even to make fun of criticism of neo-cons?

    • #1
    • September 3, 2019, at 8:25 PM PDT
    • Like
  2. Max Ledoux Admin

    The Trump Admin should start ignoring these idiotic court rulings. No one has a first amendment right to enter the White House. This is ridiculous. 

    Zafar (View Comment):

    This honestly seems quite bizarre.

    Perhaps it’s best not to use tropes of this kind at all, even to make fun of criticism of neo-cons?

    Yes, that’s the ticket. We should use only the pre-approved words. After all, some people are retarded and don’t understand humor.

    • #2
    • September 3, 2019, at 8:56 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  3. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Max Ledoux (View Comment):

    The Trump Admin should start ignoring these idiotic court rulings. No one has a first amendment right to enter the White House. This is ridiculous.

    Zafar (View Comment):

    This honestly seems quite bizarre.

    Perhaps it’s best not to use tropes of this kind at all, even to make fun of criticism of neo-cons?

    Yes, that’s the ticket. We should use only the pre-approved words. After all, some people are retarded and don’t understand humor.

    There is that portrait of our seventh president hanging in the Oval Office…unfortunately, the facts of Jackson’s most obvious precedent are not ones which President Trump would wish to cite.

    • #3
    • September 3, 2019, at 9:41 PM PDT
    • Like
  4. Skyler Coolidge
    1.  What was he doing on facebook making comments at all? He works for the government. He should know better.
    2. If he was so innocent, why did he resign? Shouldn’t a lawyer know better than that? Why did he Flynn himself?

    If people want my sympathy, they should act with some sense.

    Member of the press is an evil troll. But trolls win if you give in to them.

    • #4
    • September 3, 2019, at 9:46 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Bethany Mandel: The Olson news comes on the heels of a [Obama activist appointee, Rudolph Contreras,] court decision granting Brian Karem back his press pass after the White House suspended it following an outburst in the Rose Garden:

    To their credit, the White House Correspondents’ Association [welcomed but] didn’t unilaterally enthusiastically cheer the decision,

    FIFY

    • #5
    • September 3, 2019, at 9:51 PM PDT
    • Like
  6. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If the Bloomberg case is not a textbook example of “actual malice” then none exists.

    • #6
    • September 3, 2019, at 9:53 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  7. Jon1979 Lincoln

    If a Bloomberg reporter screwed up a business story as badly as Penn screwed this one up, he’d be escorted out of the building in about a minute. And that would be the same thing for other reporters at regional news outlets. The problem is inside the Beltway, and at places in New York or elsewhere that focus on or cater to actions inside the Beltway, being wrong no longer is grounds for termination if you’re wrong in the ‘right’ way.

    Make an error, even if it’s blatantly a deliberate one due to selective editing of posts or quotes, and your company will stand behind you if the error enhances The Narrative. Legal action and a hefty payout really is the only thing that will force changes to the current policies (but not because the people involved have seen the light and plan to change their ways, but only because they’re restrained and punished by a judge and jury).

    • #7
    • September 3, 2019, at 10:44 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. E. Kent Golding Member

    Zafar (View Comment):

    This honestly seems quite bizarre.

    Perhaps it’s best not to use tropes of this kind at all, even to make fun of criticism of neo-cons?

    Yeah, Sarcasm can get you fired. It may be wrong and unjust that it gets you fired, but it can. Conservatives, Libertarians, and moderates need to be careful with speech that can be twisted or taken out of contest.

    • #8
    • September 4, 2019, at 1:40 AM PDT
    • Like
  9. E. Kent Golding Member

    Max Ledoux (View Comment):

    The Trump Admin should start ignoring these idiotic court rulings. No one has a first amendment right to enter the White House. This is ridiculous.

    Zafar (View Comment):

    This honestly seems quite bizarre.

    Perhaps it’s best not to use tropes of this kind at all, even to make fun of criticism of neo-cons?

    Yes, that’s the ticket. We should use only the pre-approved words. After all, some people are retarded and don’t understand humor.

    You have a better employer than most, Max. Since you are very safe, you are in an awesome spot to criticize the caution of others.

    • #9
    • September 4, 2019, at 1:42 AM PDT
    • Like
  10. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    This honestly seems quite bizarre.

    Perhaps it’s best not to use tropes of this kind at all, even to make fun of criticism of neo-cons?

    Yeah, Sarcasm can get you fired. It may be wrong and unjust that it gets you fired, but it can. Conservatives, Libertarians, and moderates need to be careful with speech that can be twisted or taken out of contest.

    Anything can get you fired, unless you are in a protected class. Anything.

    What’s approved today will be heresy tomorrow. The left wants to pass you around like the new prisoner in the block.

    It’s best to stick to a pseudonym and not discuss anything under your real name. 

    That said, if anything bad happens to Penn, I’m going to laugh at his suffering. I hope he gets his private life exposed, and every potentially unwoke thing shouted from the rooftops. The only thing that will stop these scumbags is when they realize it could happen to them.

    • #10
    • September 4, 2019, at 2:30 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  11. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    Kind of shocking that this passes muster, from an editor. Clearly seeking bad things to tar the president.

    OK, fine. But take your sissy journalism degrees off the wall and chuck ’em away.

    • #11
    • September 4, 2019, at 3:26 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. Al Sparks Thatcher

    I would not consider the person involved to be a celebrity, but a low level official. People like that should be able to successfully sue members of the press and seek punitive damages.

    Perhaps we need a civil tort law similar to the Brits in this case when it comes to the press.

    • #12
    • September 4, 2019, at 3:53 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Zafar Member

    Max Ledoux (View Comment):

    Yes, that’s the ticket. We should use only the pre-approved words. After all, some people are retarded and don’t understand humor.

    It’s a pity – and impoverishes public discourse by reducing the space for wit, nuance, sarcasm and polemic.

    (Leave aside pre-approved words, this can equally be said to apply to pre-approved opinions.)

    When ill intent and mud slinging come into it – well.

    However.

    When the Right engages in exactly the same sort of thing with public figures like Michelle Obama (not proud of being American?!! What heresy is this, I ask?) or Ilhan Omar (hates America?!!! If she floats she’s…) then it has lost (if it ever had) the moral high ground on this. In fact it’s helped create the problem.

    Hoisted, dare I say, on one’s own petard.

     

    • #13
    • September 4, 2019, at 4:09 AM PDT
    • Like
  14. Kozak Member
    Kozak Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Zafar (View Comment):

    This honestly seems quite bizarre.

    Perhaps it’s best not to use tropes of this kind at all, even to make fun of criticism of neo-cons?

    Doubleplus ungood thoughtcrime.

     

    • #14
    • September 4, 2019, at 5:22 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. Franco Member
    Franco Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    There is a pretty large mistake in this post.

    “Trump officials”. I heard it was Trump allies -which could be anyone with access to a smartphone. I checked the link and even in the headline it says “allies”. In fact the NYTimes calls them a “loose network”.

    So this change turns a non-story ( allies of all politicians are doing all kinds of nefarious things-not that outing journalists is nefarious) into a real story.

    I’ve seen this happen far too much coming from ‘our side’. At the very least it’s sloppy. Sloppy journalism. You should correct that.

     

     

    • #15
    • September 4, 2019, at 5:37 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. Franco Member
    Franco Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Reading that sarcasm, I can see why they accepted ( or asked for) his resignation. Outside of the unfairness of the smear, which is a case by itself, this guy is obviously mocking people who have serious reservations about a certain faction inside the GOP who are actively working against Trump and his agenda. 

    As though people like me are anti-Semitic unthinking conspiracy theorists. 

    Good riddance to this creep. He is being slandered – I’ll defend him on that, but ironically, his sarcasm was slandering a lot of Trump supporters who have a legitimate gripe with that faction.

     

    • #16
    • September 4, 2019, at 5:44 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  17. Max Ledoux Admin

    Skyler (View Comment):

    1. What was he doing on facebook making comments at all? He works for the government. He should know better.
    2. If he was so innocent, why did he resign? Shouldn’t a lawyer know better than that? Why did he Flynn himself?

    If people want my sympathy, they should act with some sense.

    Member of the press is an evil troll. But trolls win if you give in to them.

    The FB comment was from Summer 2016, so he wasn’t in the government then. But I agree he shouldn’t resign. When you resign you just make people think you’re guilty. 

    • #17
    • September 4, 2019, at 5:59 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  18. Songwriter Member
    Songwriter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    To the point of the OP, Thomas Sowell asserted in Intellectuals and Society that intellectuals (and his definition would include journalists) rarely are held responsible for their professional mistakes. In fact, they are often promoted in spite of those mistakes.

    • #18
    • September 4, 2019, at 6:02 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Franco Member
    Franco Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Moderator Note:

    Personal attack on post author.

    Franco (View Comment):

    There is a pretty large mistake in this post.

    “Trump officials”. I heard it was Trump allies -which could be anyone with access to a smartphone. I checked the link and even in the headline it says “allies”. In fact the NYTimes calls them a “loose network”.

    So this change turns a non-story ( allies of all politicians are doing all kinds of nefarious things-not that outing journalists is nefarious) into a real story.

    I’ve seen this happen far too much coming from ‘our side’. At the very least it’s sloppy. Sloppy journalism. You should correct that.

     

     

    [REDACTED]

    • #19
    • September 4, 2019, at 7:46 AM PDT
    • Like
  20. Franco Member
    Franco Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Isn’t it ironic?

    • #20
    • September 4, 2019, at 9:42 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel

    The line between officials and allies is in this case not substantial, there is a great deal of overlap happening between the Trump White House, the reelection side and Trump & his family. They are all working towards the same purpose.

    • #21
    • September 4, 2019, at 9:52 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. Franco Member
    Franco Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    In all fairness, maybe the author doesn’t know the difference between a loose network of allies and officials.

    But then, Ricochet has editors and fact-checkers, right? They are aware enough to redact comments, misreading putting the word journalists in quotes as a personal attack on the author. So maybe it’s too esoteric of a semantic ( not semitic!) challenge.

    • #22
    • September 4, 2019, at 9:54 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Franco Member
    Franco Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    The line between officials and allies is in this case not substantial, there is a great deal of overlap happening between the Trump White House, the reelection side and Trump & his family. They are all working towards the same purpose.

     

    The the New York Times reported “allies” and referenced it as a “ loose network”. I haven’t seen reporting on Trump officials tasked with researching the tweets of journalists for questionable utterances. Or is this your own reporting? 

    People working for the same purpose are not usually performing the same tasks. In fact, they are almost never performing the same tasks. A “trump official” is quite a different animal ( no offense intended) than a trump ally. Anyone can be a Trump ally. Allies are usually unpaid and unsupervised. Officials are vetted, hired and directed.

    The difference is important because many voters might find White House officials tasked with digging up dirt on journalists unseemly, even alarming. Whereas a loose network of allies doing the same is barely news.

    • #23
    • September 4, 2019, at 10:38 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  24. DrewInWisconsin, Negative Infl… Coolidge

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    That said, if anything bad happens to Penn, I’m going to laugh at his suffering. I hope he gets his private life exposed, and every potentially unwoke thing shouted from the rooftops. The only thing that will stop these scumbags is when they realize it could happen to them.

    Yes. This. Until we are willing to “punch back twice as hard,” things like this will (mysteriously) keep happening.

    A shame that so many on our side will happily toss their own under the bus while hoping that the dragon will eat them last.

    • #24
    • September 4, 2019, at 11:19 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. DrewInWisconsin, Negative Infl… Coolidge

    Zafar (View Comment):
    When the Right engages in exactly the same sort of thing with public figures like Michelle Obama (not proud of being American?!! What heresy is this, I ask?)

    It’s her own words.

    • #25
    • September 4, 2019, at 11:24 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. Old Bathos Moderator

    In the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge (1937) Pius XII condemned idolatry of race and of the state. There was already a struggle underway to urge Catholic parents to keep their kids out of Hitler Youth but many ignored the moral danger thinking what is the harm in wholesome outdoor activities and the résumé-building and college admissions boost that summers in the Hitlerjugend can provide.

    Similarly, parents today send kids to ivy league schools at absurd expense and brush off the substantial risk of moral and cognitive deformation of their offspring.

    Our education establishment is devoted to the project of separating youth from the moral contexts provided by parents, extended family, church, tradition and community. In every culture until the advent of modern ideological horror shows, the basic human moral reference point was whether parents, grandparents, aunts uncles, older siblings, teachers, clerics and respected elders would approve of an action at issue. Nazis, Communists and Education majors vigorously attack those contextual bonds in order to leave the state or the Party or the Narrative as the sole moral reference point.

    Ben Penn and his editors apparently have no adult moral reference points. Being shown to be materially wrong, sloppy, lazy, not very bright and malicious would embarrass normal, well-adjusted, moral, non-sociopaths and result in corrective action and an apology. They instead stand by the story Party Narrative.

    Now that the Narrative has become the moral compass for the journalistic industry, It will seem like there are a lot of Ben Penns out there online.

     

    • #26
    • September 4, 2019, at 12:51 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. Henry Castaigne Member

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Max Ledoux (View Comment):

    Yes, that’s the ticket. We should use only the pre-approved words. After all, some people are retarded and don’t understand humor.

    It’s a pity – and impoverishes public discourse by reducing the space for wit, nuance, sarcasm and polemic.

    (Leave aside pre-approved words, this can equally be said to apply to pre-approved opinions.)

    When ill intent and mud slinging come into it – well.

    However.

    When the Right engages in exactly the same sort of thing with public figures like Michelle Obama (not proud of being American?!! What heresy is this, I ask?) or Ilhan Omar (hates America?!!! If she floats she’s…) then it has lost (if it ever had) the moral high ground on this. In fact it’s helped create the problem.

    Hoisted, dare I say, on one’s own petard.

     

    Michelle Obama and Illhan Omar unironically made statements that were dumb and anti-American so conservatives didn’t like that. Speech does matter and it should have consequences. But sarcasm is a different deal.

    • #27
    • September 4, 2019, at 2:36 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  28. Zafar Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):
    When the Right engages in exactly the same sort of thing with public figures like Michelle Obama (not proud of being American?!! What heresy is this, I ask?)

    It’s her own words.

    Add impoverished by the loss of hyperbole to that list.

    • #28
    • September 4, 2019, at 3:25 PM PDT
    • Like
  29. Roberto, Crusty Old Timer LLC Member
    Roberto, Crusty Old Timer LLC Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    We appear to have a reversal from the Department of Labor on this.

     

    • #29
    • September 4, 2019, at 4:00 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    Zafar (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):
    When the Right engages in exactly the same sort of thing with public figures like Michelle Obama (not proud of being American?!! What heresy is this, I ask?)

    It’s her own words.

    Add impoverished by the loss of hyperbole to that list.

    There’s a list?

    • #30
    • September 4, 2019, at 4:07 PM PDT
    • Like

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