Leif Olson, the senior Department of Labor official who was fired over a false accusation by a reporter, got the last laugh after an online firestorm.
“I’m grateful to be heading back to work,” tweeted Olson on Wednesday. He thanked Acting Secretary Pat Pizzella and Administrator Cheryl Stanton, with a link to the statement from the Department of Labor about his reinstatement.
“On Friday, August 30, 2019, Senior Policy Advisor of the Wage and Hour Division, Leif Olson offered his resignation and the Department accepted,” the statement explained.
“Following a thorough reexamination of the available information and upon reflection, the Department has concluded that Mr. Olson has satisfactorily explained the tone of the content of his sarcastic social media posts and will return to his position in the Wage and Hour Division,” they added.
The reinstatement followed upon rancorous criticism of the report in Bloomberg by reporter Benjamin Penn, who mischaracterized a sarcastic post by Olson as “anti-Semitic.”
Here’s Penn’s reporting:
Olson, an unsuccessful GOP candidate in 2012 for a Texas district court judgeship, fired off a series of late-night posts on his personal Facebook page three years ago that started as a sarcastic quip about former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s blowout primary victory. They then devolved into an exchange referencing two anti-Semitic tropes: that Jews control the media and that they look out for members of their own faith.
Olsen defended his comments by telling them they were meant to be a sarcastic. “It was sarcastic criticism of the alt-right’s conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic positions,” Olsen told Bloomberg.
Even many on the left excoriated Bloomberg and Penn for mischaracterizing a joke by Olsen in order to target an administration official.
Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner called the episode, “one of the most shameful, egregious media failures of the year.”
Olson thanked those who reached out to defend him against the media smear after the announcement of his reinstatement.
“Each of you is a blessing, and we hope to bless you in return. Thank you, and thank you again,” he concluded.