Some tough words from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) about President Obama and his team’s communications strategy were raising eyebrows in Washington Monday morning, but that was before Pelosi disavowed the quote and Newsweek’s Daily Beast admitted a mistake and retracted it.
“I think you need to talk about how poorly they [the White House] do on message,” Pelosi is quoted as saying in a story by Howard Kurtz. “They can’t see around corners; they anticipate nothing.”
Pelosi’s office quickly denied having ever made the comments, and Newsweek/Daily Beast has since issued a broad correction.“Editor’s Note: An earlier version of the story included a comment erroneously attributed to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, criticizing the White House’s efforts at political messaging. Newsweek and The Daily Beast regret the error.”
“Leader Pelosi spoke with Newsweek twice, and in both conversations she spoke positively of the White House’s messaging efforts,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill told TPM. “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,” he added.
Newsweek/Daily Beast said the error occurred when “the writer” misread notes of an interview conducted by a colleague.
“The article, Behind Obama’s Populist Makeover, included a comment erroneously attributed to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, criticizing the administration’s political messaging. The writer misread notes of an interview conducted by a colleague,” said the website’s Andrew Kirk. “The error has been corrected, and we’ve apologized to Nancy Pelosi’s office.”
The quick correction to Kurtz’ story follows a previous one earlier this year that left the Washington press corps scratching their heads. Kurtz has mistakenly attributed a quote to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), which was in reality from his then-ubiquitous spokesman Kurt Bardella. When caught, Kurtz accused Bardella of impersonating his boss in the interview.
Bardella later got fired over a different media controversy, worked for the Daily Caller for a brief stint, and now is back working for Issa in a non-press capacity. But the bizarre sourcing mistake and odd back and forth between Kurtz and Issa’s office left some observers a bit puzzled.
The mistaken Pelosi quote has even more serious ramifications for the news site, coming during tense times for the White House, which has experienced some intra-party friction after making a series of compromises with Republicans on the debt deal in early August.