Newsweek/The Daily Beast has apologized for a massive error — misquoting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as criticising the White House. Pelosi’s office denies that she, or anyone on her staff made the statements, though the remarks have already been picked up by Republicans.
Newsweek/The Daily Beast has yet to offer an explanation for how the mistake was made, though Pelosi’s office said they believe it was an “internal misunderstanding” at the publication.
Read our coverage below:
ORIGINAL POST (12:20): House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed President Barack Obama’s advisers in an interview with Newsweek/The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz.
In a story on how Obama is trying to reinvent himself as a populist, Pelosi said Obama’s team has no foresight.
Democrats in Congress add to the indictment, charging that the president failed to sell his successes more aggressively, letting the opposition define them. “I think you need to talk about how poorly they do on message,” says House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of the president and his advisers. “They can’t see around corners; they anticipate nothing.”
The criticism from the top House Democrat is particularly shocking — and underscores that Obama has a major problem with his base.
Liberals have criticised Obama’s strategy on everything from the health care reform law to the national debt, with Obama taking the high road while Congress digs in. They complain that by the time Obama tries to take ownership of an issue, he has already given up ground to Republicans.
UPDATE (12:50): A spokesman for Pelosi says the quote included in the story is inaccurate — and was never given by the minority leader. He said Pelosi only spoke positively of the White House in her interview with Newsweek/The Daily Beast. We’re reaching out to them for comment, as well as an explanation of how the error came about.
UPDATE 2 (1:50): Newsweek/The Daily Beast has posted the following editor’s note on the story, and has removed all references to Pelosi from the story:
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of the story included a comment erroneously attributed to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, criticising the White House’s efforts at political messaging. Newsweek and The Daily Beast regret the error.
UPDATE 3 (2:00): Kurtz tweeted the quote, implying he believed the quote from Pelosi to be correct as late as noon Monday. Kurtz has yet to correct the error on Twitter..
UPDATE 4 (2:20): The mis-quote has been picked up by the Republican National Committee, which has posted it under the “They said it!” tag, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s blog. [via Sam Stein]
UPDATE 5 (2:30): Kurtz just tweeted (at 2:30 p.m.) the following: “That Nancy Pelosi comment in Newsweek criticising the White House on messaging was erroneously attributed to her. We regret the error.”
UPDATE 6 (2:45): Pelosi’s office is out with a more detailed statement, that raises more questions about what caused this error:
Leader Pelosi nor anyone on her staff said the words attributed to Leader Pelosi either on background or off-the-record. Our understanding is that this was an internal Newsweek miscommunication.
UPDATE 7 (3:00): POLTICO’s Keach Hagey did some more digging and found that Kurtz did not interview Pelosi, but one of the reporters who contributed to it did.
In fact, Kurtz never interviewed Pelosi for the story, but was the lead writer on a story pulling together reporting from a group of reporters that included Lois Romano, who had interviewed Pelosi earlier for a profile that ran in Newsweek/The Daily Beast on September 25th. During that interview, Pelosi said some things that fit the theme of today’s story – about Obama’s return to populism – and so [reporter Lois] Romano turned over some of her unused quotes to Kurtz for his piece.
Apparently that “quote” was incorrectly included as part of the transcript. Romano worked at the Washington Post for 29 years, including as a national political correspondent, before joining Newsweek/The Daily Beast in April.
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