October 4, 2019

FRIDAY NIGHT NEWS DUMP: Bloomberg Law Owes Readers an Explanation of Its Attempt to Smear Leif Olson.

I can’t help thinking this isn’t quite the happy ending it appears to be, though. Even amid the outcry and Olson’s reinstatement, Bloomberg Law chose to stand behind Penn’s “reporting” until it retracted the story on Friday, more than month after it was published. Internal emails showed that the outlet tried to stop employees from commenting on the story. Penn publicly defended his actions by claiming that all he did was present the Department of Labor with a screenshot of the post and ask for comment, but an email recently obtained through a FOIA request by Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute’s Ted Frank shows that claim was also false. In asking the Labor Department for comment, Penn actually framed Olson’s post as “disparaging to Jews” and questioned whether Olson was “fit for government service.” Yet, Bloomberg Law refused to acknowledge that Penn or its editorial staff had done anything wrong for more than a month.

In an ideal world, major news organizations wouldn’t hire reporters who abuse their platforms to try to punish political opponents, and would have protections in place to ensure that type of abuse wasn’t possible. In this case, Bloomberg Law failed on both counts. It owes its readers and the public an explanation of why, and of how it plans to ensure that such mistakes aren’t made in the future. If it hopes to be treated as a credible outlet moving forward, it must do better.

Narrator’s voice: as with the Des Moines Register, it won’t.

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