In the world of hacks like Jeremy Peters and Brian Stelter, only journalists should be able to ruin someone’s life over past statements or offensive lines that were either harmless or sarcastic. Because if anyone other than them decides to hold people (but especially journalists) to account, it’s a smear campaign undermining not only the First Amendment, but American democracy.
Unfortunately, the former case happened Tuesday as Bloomberg’s Ben Penn forced Labor Department official Leif Olson to resign after just 18 days because, according to Penn, had “a history of advancing controversial conservative and faith-based causes in court” and writing “a 2016 Facebook post suggesting the Jewish-controlled media ‘protects their own.’”
Well, that does sound bad. But upon further review, the entire episode was a farce as Olson’s post was instead what Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner called “a clearly sarcastic post from 2016 about Paul Ryan crushing alt-right challenger Paul Nehlen.”
Unless Penn had never heard of sarcasm, behold the latest attempt to ruin the lives of those who think differently than the vast majority of liberal journalists.
Here was the post regarding the anti-Semitic, alt-right racist Paul Nehlen’s failed campaign against Paul Ryan in 2016 (click “expand”):
Establishment RINO corporate tool Paul Ryan was finally brought to heel in tonight’s primary election by an uprising of the conservative masses in Real America eager for an authentic voice in Washington instead of the same tired globalist open-borders pap they’ve been pushing on us since the Elites abandoned the People.
The guy just suffered a massive, historic, emasculating 70-point victory. Let’s see him and his Georgetown cocktail-party puppetmasters try to walk that one off.
And then in a comment to that post, he sarcastically wrote regarding quips that Ryan’s a neocon and therefore Jewish: “It must be true because I’ve never seen the Lamestream Media report it, and you know they protect their own.”
And now here are excerpts from Penn’s smear job (click “expand”):
“It was sarcastic criticism of the alt-right’s conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic positions,” Olson said in an interview. He declined to respond to other questions about his resignation and the Facebook post, including whether he wishes to apologize or if he regrets his actions. The remark remained on his Facebook feed through the end of August.
The revelation of Olson’s Facebook post also comes on the heels of President Donald Trump’s Aug. 20 claim that it’s disloyal for Jews to vote for a Democrat. That sparked charges that he was invoking an old anti-Semitic notion that Jews harbor “dual loyalty” to a foreign territory.
A review of a decade of Olson’s Facebook posts shows that he usually promotes his Christian faith and conservative views. The Paul Ryan exchange appears to be the only appeal to Jewish stereotypes. A few weeks later, he took to Facebook again on the eve of the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah: “My Jewish friends, I wish you a happy new year. My non-Jewish friends, I wish you a happy Jewish new year.”
But perhaps the best takedown of all this was Commentary’s John Podhoretz sliding into Penn’s DM’s, unleashing a torrent of condemnations, calling him “stupid or...utter garbage” and a “repugnant child.” Needless to say, Penn appeared triggered but undeterred, thus proving Podhoretz’s points.
Just after 3:00 p.m. Eastern, Penn gloated: “Lost in all of this is that Olson was part of a team of political appointees tasked with the heavy lift of drafting wage-hour regulations that are high priorities for Trump White House, business community. They're now down one adviser.”
So the Darcys, Stelters, and Vogels out there can puff their chests about their strict editorial standards ensuring stories were airtight, but the more items like this (or Lawrence O’Donnell’s tale last week) were published, but it only takes a few brain cells to figure out what’s worth getting worked up about, what’s sarcasm, and what constitutes behavior worthy of consequences.
Until the media decide to not willingly ruin the lives of those who think differently, they can expect the rest of us to hold them to account because, contrary to their worldviews, the rest of the public should be forewarned about the ruthlessness of the liberal media.