A senior policy adviser at the U.S. Department of Labor stepped down from his post Friday after Bloomberg News accused the official of making antisemitic comments on Facebook, when a closer look at the online posts reveals clear sarcasm in mocking antisemitic conspiracy theories.
SCOOP: Trump Labor Department's new sr adviser Leif Olson posted on Facebook that Jewish media "protect their own." In response to my request for comment on Olson's anti-Semitic post, @USDOL says they've accepted his resignation. https://t.co/68kDvaFn0h
— Ben Penn (@benjaminpenn) September 3, 2019
While Bloomberg calls the posts antisemitic, Leif Olson, 43, was in fact mocking antisemitic views. The post, dated in early August 2016, was about then-House Speaker Paul Ryan facing a primary challenger against Paul Nehlen and suffering a “massive, historic, emasculating 70-point victory” against Nehlen.
Someone commented on the post that Ryan must be a neo-con and a Jew, to which Olson replied, “It must be true because I’ve never heard the Lamestream Media report it, and you know they protect their own.”
According to Bloomberg, however, Olson’s comments were antisemitic and worthy of resignation. The ousting of Olson has prompted backlash from both liberals and conservatives criticizing the report as unfair outrage.
Ironic that this disgracefully shamefully dishonest reporting is coming out the same day people are complaining that the Trump administration is going to hold reporters to the same standard. Here is the plainly ironic statement at issue: https://t.co/BTAcIpmE7J https://t.co/TnSuSM27qQ
— (((tedfrank))) (@tedfrank) September 3, 2019
Trump Labor official Leif Olson has resigned due to a putatively anti-Semitic Facebook post. But if you read the post, it appears to be mocking anti-Semitic conspiracy theories: https://t.co/C9UPvhKbzz
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) September 3, 2019
Ilya Shapiro, a legal scholar at the Cato Institute and a senior contributor at The Federalist, said he has known Olson for years and blasted Bloomberg for falsely labeling the posts as anti-Semitic.
Leif Olson, whom I’ve known since law school, is a good man and a talented lawyer. He’s also a great writer, which is why the sarcastic nature of the Facebook post that triggered this smear job is readily apparent to anyone with two brain cells to rub together — and especially to anyone who claims to have examined the rest of his social-media and professional output. This malicious move by a supposedly straight-news journalist to use his platform to destroy someone who disagrees with him politically is utterly shameless and, in a just world, would get Ben Penn fired rather than Leif. I will certainly have to think twice the next time a Bloomberg reporter comes calling.
Read the entire set of Facebook posts here.
This article has been updated since publication.