After a FoxNews.com article drew howls and derision online for claiming the Obama White House received complaints from top CIA officials for holding weekly “political correctness” meetings, the author of the book admitted that he didn’t understand that the initials “PC” actually stood for “principals committee.”
In an article published on Tuesday to Fox News’ website, reporter Sam Dorman uncritically featured quotes from conservative political commentator Doug Wead’s upcoming book Inside Trump's White House: The Real Story of His Presidency to claim that the Obama administration was “too concerned with political correctness” as it “micromanaged intelligence matters.”
The basis of that claim came from an excerpt sent by the publisher’s PR firm ahead of the book’s Nov. 26 release. As quoted on Fox’s website, the Wead excerpt read:
“What the president did and what Mike did, as well,” my White House source told me, “was to decentralize a lot of the control. Giving it back to the experts in the field, who are now tasked to make these decisions. The most important decisions are still passed up [through the chain of command]. A lot of the others can be made closer to the action. We’ve got all of these great people throughout the government. The new Trump theory was to let them make choices. If they’re not making those decisions themselves, then we can always pull it back up. So that was the first thing.
“Next thing they said was that, in the previous administration, they spent a lot of time in the White House doing nonstop PC [political correctness] meetings. They would have a meeting every week, and at the conclusion of the meeting there was always the suggestion, ‘Let’s meet again in two weeks.’”
It didn’t take long, however, for journalists and national-security experts to point out that the “PC meetings” intelligence officials would be grousing about referred to the National Security Council Principals Committee, which is convened by the national security adviser and consists of cabinet-level officials and top advisers.
Amid the backlash, Fox added an editor’s note to the article: “The book that is the subject of this story is accurately quoted below in describing ‘PC’ as ‘politically correct’ in brackets. Fox News is aware that ‘PC’ may instead stand for ‘Principals Committee’ and has reached out to the author for further explanation. The story has been updated and will be further revised if necessary.”
Wead, a frequent Fox News guest who has touted Trump as the new FDR, eventually informed the network that there was simply a misunderstanding between him and his source. The admission prompted an amended editor’s note, now featured atop the Fox article: “An earlier version of this story accurately quoted the book as describing ‘PC’ as standing for ‘politically correct’ in characterizing certain Obama administration meetings. The author has since informed Fox News this was due to a misunderstanding between him and his source and that the initials referred to ‘Principals Committee.’”
The article’s headline was also changed from “CIA staff complained about Obama White House's political correctness, new book claims” to “CIA staff complained about Obama White House, new book claims.”
The PR firm handling the book told The Daily Beast, meanwhile, that Wead does not have any further comments on the issue and “the book will be updated and corrected in the next printing.”