September 5, 2019 10:19AM

Man Engages In Sarcasm On Social Media. Career Survives.

Leif Olson (who is no relation) is a well‐​known Texas lawyer who just landed a nice job at the U.S. Department of Labor. He’s a good friend of several people at Cato, and a Facebook friend of mine, although we’ve met in person at most briefly. We agree on many legal issues and likely disagree on some others.

This week, in one of the most unfair hatchet jobs I’ve seen over the years as a watcher of Washington journalism, a Bloomberg Law reporter took a heavily sarcastic Facebook post Leif Olson wrote three years ago and presented it as meant in all sincerity — complete with a partial screenshot which clipped off the comments that followed hailing the post as an elaborate exercise in sarcasm, which it obviously was.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the piece was compounded with other errors and distortions. As Josh Blackman points out, author Benjamin Penn asserted that “Olson filed an amicus brief for the Cato Institute in 2015, asking the Supreme Court to strike down” President Obama’s unilateral DAPA program on immigration. While Olson served as local counsel at earlier stages of the case, he wasn’t on that Supreme Court brief.

But don’t expect this to be one of those bilious damn‐​Washington, down‐​with‐​the‐​press stories. It isn’t. Instead of the pile‐​on you might have expected, social media almost at once was full of voices defending Leif Olson — not only dozens of his own friends and colleagues, but a robust line‐​up of media critics and commentators from places like the Washington Post, Vox, Slate, New York magazine, and Tablet. Most of them almost certainly do *not* share Leif Olson’s conservative political and legal views. But they saw that he had been wronged. Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Labor saw that too.

Take hope. Truth won out over partisanship, as it should. Most of the big press names who got involved deserve honor and respect for their role. Except those at Bloomberg Law, which as of this morning, in the teeth of near‐​unanimous criticism, has refused to correct, retract, and apologize for its report. But that’s for the next chapter.