Reuters under fire for confusing report alleging George Soros connection to Occupy Wall Street

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A Reuters story about Occupy Wall Street is drawing widespread criticism — first for its unsubstantiated attempt to connect liberal billionaire George Soros to the protests, then for a lack of transparency as it was corrected. As it became clear that the original story relied on unsourced speculation, indirect financial ties and baseless assertions by Rush Limbaugh, Reuters reversed course. The difference in the stories is captured in the headlines:

  • “Who’s behind the Wall Street protests?”
  • “Soros: Not a funder of Wall Street protests”

Now two different stories share the second headline. The second story carries a note that says, “Recasts with comment from Soros aide, adds new details to clarify. The original version can be found here.” Foster Kamer describes the reversal: “So: Reuters changed the story. Not ‘corrected,’ or ‘published a rebuttal to the original reporting,’ but ‘changed the story.’ ”

According to Adam Clark Estes, the editor on the story said she may have been partly to blame because she made a mistake with the content management system. It’s not clear whether the mistake was in prematurely publishing the first story or publishing a second story separately. But Reuters’ editor for ethics & standards said update stories like this are pretty common.

Criticism came from within the organization, too. Jim Impoco, executive editor of Thomson Reuters Digital, responded, “That’s putting it kindly” when Jay Rosen tweeted that the original story was “pathetic.” Reuters opinion blogger Felix Salmon said there was “no real substance” to the reporting, which suggested that Soros and the protesters had similar ideology and that there was a link between Soros and Adbusters, which conceived of Occupy Wall Street.

Related: Reuters to change how it handles retractions after killing David Cay Johnston’s News Corp. column

Steve Myers contributed to this post.

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  • F. Douglas

    I am curious what you are saying. Whether Soros has been providing assistance to the “Occupy” movement obviously would be a story if it were true. Are you saying that you “know” that he has not provided direct or indirect assistance to the movement? If so, how do you know? Are you saying that journalists should not be taking a look at this issue?

  • Jay Markowitz

    To the above commentators:

    Some folks whom actually have careers in the mainstream medai would reply to your ludicrous and silly posts that actually belong more on ‘Redstate,’ or any of the right-leaning sites that entertain hillbilly conspriracists such as youselves, but they are too busy laughing at you right now.

  • IntelHub

    are you seriously kidding me? Are you actually trying to say their is no link between Soros and adbuster? That is an outright LIE

  • Anonymous

    Very well stated. It is insane how libprogs can turn up to down and out to in on any given subject while ignoring evidence right in front of their faces.

  • Anonymous

    We see the Fact that mainstream News Media is a co-opted organized machine for Ideological bias and Propaganda…not a Free and Objective Press. George Orwell foretold this in his anti-Marxist, anti-Totalitarian and anti-Socio-Political and Religious Tyranny of a Leftist Government and Single Party State. No matter how the Leftists and Social Democrats in this Nation seek to co-opt George Orwell, the Founding Fathers and Jesus Christ for their own social and political agendas……they are both ethically and politically bankrupt.

  • Anonymous

    The first Reuters story was a first, childlike attempt to report on a long ignored story. It failed in not going back in recent history and tying Soros money to, HuffingtonPost, The Apollo Project, Center For American Progress, ACORN and its re-organized names and the myriad of groups long funded by Soros involved in the ‘arab spring’ and occupy Wall St.

    The story here is that the ‘press’ is interested in covering up any reporting on the connections with Soros money and a vast array of leftist front groups involved with “grass roots” protests.