US/World News

Trump official fired for Facebook post is reinstated

(JTA) – A Trump administration official accused of antisemitism was reinstated a day after resigning over allegations that he had accused American Jews of controlling the press. On Sept. 3, Bloomberg Law reported that Leif Olson, a recently appointed senior policy adviser at the Department of Labor, had used several antisemitic tropes in a 2016 Facebook post commenting on the political fortunes of Paul Nehlen, a white nationalist who had failed in his bid to unseat then-House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s Republican primary. Olson resigned several hours after Bloomberg contacted his department and the White House for comment. He defended his post as “sarcastic criticism of the alt-right’s conspiracy theories and antisemitic positions” – a position that was echoed by journalists and commentators across the political spectrum. His post said that Ryan had been “brought to heel” by an “uprising of the conservative masses of 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.” Responding to a commenter who asserted that Ryan was Jewish, Olson wrote that “it must be true because I’ve never seen the Lamestream Media report it, and you know they protect their own.”

Yair Rosenberg of Tablet wrote that the incident “ought to be an object lesson for reporters seeking to tackle this important topic,” while New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait said that firing Olson “as an antisemite over this post strikes me as terribly unfair.” The Anti-Defamation League, which initially condemned Olson, said it had accepted his explanation after reporting that highlighted later comments on the post in which its sarcastic nature was made explicitly clear.

According to the right-wing Daily Caller website, a senior Department of Labor official said that the department’s acting secretary reinstated Olson after reviewing the facts and circumstances. Bloomberg said it stands by its reporting.

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