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Bug #27790 closed:unresolved

WSJ seems to invent story about an Obama shakeup

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This bug appeared in a news report published by Wall Street Journal on Nov 2, 2010 by Peter Wallsten and Jonathan Weisman. View the original news report.
Bug Type:  Fabrication

The headline and premise of this story are completely unsupported. The story contains zero evidence of "high-level Democrats calling for President Barack Obama to remake his inner circle or even fire top advisers" despite making that claim in the opening paragraph.

Instead what follows is a series of comments from Democratic strategists rehashing well-known gripes about the political tactics of the administration. Nobody quoted in the story says anything about "remaking Obama's inner circle" or "firing top advisers."


Supporting Information:

This story appeared atop WSJ's home page on the eve of election day; see attached screen shot.

Attached Files:


Anonymous has not contacted Wall Street Journal

Bug History

Nov 02, 2010 9:35 am Open Anonymous
Nov 02, 2010 11:20 am Open: Under Discussion Mark Follman
Nov 11, 2010 5:10 pm Open: Responded To Mark Follman
Jan 02, 2011 9:00 am Closed: Unresolved admin
Jan 02, 2011 9:00 am Closed: Unresolved admin

Discussion Leave a comment

We have emailed the lead reporter on the story, Peter Wallsten, seeking a response.

Nov 02, 2010 11:20 am

The journal's main election story today repeats the same claim also without any evidence to back it up-

"Even before the votes were counted, Democrats were pointing fingers over whom to blame for the drubbing. Some are calling for major changes in the tight circle of political advisers Mr. Obama keeps in the White House."


Nov 03, 2010 3:18 pm

This afternoon we also emailed WSJ.com managing editor Kevin Delaney seeking a response.

Nov 03, 2010 3:48 pm

Despite several more attempts to contact the Journal, we've gotten no response to date — for further details read my blog post from today:


Nov 10, 2010 3:18 pm

This afternoon we received this response from Karen Pensiero, assistant managing editor at the Journal:

"We fundamentally disagree with your assessment that our article 'Pressure Builds on Obama to Shake Up Inner Circle' was 'unsupported.' In fact, we were surprised that you took seriously the 'fabrication' claim by your anonymous contributor. As is clearly stated in our article, our premise came from 'interviews with Ms. (Dee Dee) Myers and other strategists in touch with the White House.' Those strategists told us that they 'expect more pressure for a complete West Wing overhaul,' as we clearly stated in the article. Not surprisingly, many of those high-level officials aren't comfortable with making those calls in public. But nonetheless, our reporting for this article was solid and complete. The remainder of the article laid out the reasons why pressure was building for a shake up in the White House inner circle. Please be assured that the Journal takes matters of fairness and accuracy very seriously. However, in this case we disagree with the premise of your contributor’s concern."

Nov 11, 2010 5:09 pm