A Month After Getting Trump Official Fired, Bloomberg Apologizes For Hit Piece

Labor appointee was rehired after hit job was discredited

Labor Department / Getty Images

Bloomberg Law finally apologized and retracted a September article that falsely accused Department of Labor appointee Leif Olson of anti-Semitism.

In September, Bloomberg Law unearthed social media posts in which Department of Labor official Leif Olson mocked anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists. The reporter used the posts to accuse Olson of himself being anti-Semitic, prompting the official's resignation. Editor-in-Chief Cesca Antonelli told staffers she made the decision after "we spent the last few weeks reviewing our coverage and our editorial processes." The story "did not meet our editorial standards for fairness and accuracy." She did not elaborate on why the review took so long given immediate pushback from reporters and fellow attorneys.

"We regret that lapse and have retracted the story," Antonelli said on Friday. "We are also strengthening our policies and processes."

Bloomberg Law, the flagship legal publication in the media empire, published the article on Sept. 3. While the article included screenshots of the posts, it edited out subsequent comments clarifying Olson's obvious sarcasm. The retraction decision came soon after a freedom of information act request filed by the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute revealed that Bloomberg Law had excluded exculpatory information when it confronted the department with Olson's posts.

https://twitter.com/tedfrank/status/1179872742545473540

Benjamin Penn, the reporter who wrote the piece, received backlash for the "bad-faith hit job." The Washington Examiner said the piece was "a shameful episode in media bias." After this backlash, acting Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella reinstated Olson to his previous position because he "concluded that a correction is much better than an injustice," in the words of a senior Labor Department official.

"I’m grateful to be heading back to work. Thank you, Acting Secretary @PatPizzellaDOL and @WHD_DOL Administrator Cheryl Stanton for the opportunity to continue to serve," Olson said in a now-deleted tweet.

"And to everyone who reached out, and especially to each of you who risked your own credibility and reputation to defend mine: Jo and I can never thank you enough. Each of you is a blessing, and we hope to bless you in return. Thank you, and thank you again," he wrote in another now-deleted tweet.