By Sam Dorman
Published November 30, 2019
The Newsweek writer behind a story on President Trump's Thanksgiving plans has been fired but is pushing back on the perception that the published story -- initially leaving out that Trump was visiting troops in Afghanistan, but rather mistakenly saying he would be "tweeting" and "golfing" -- was her fault.
“Newsweek investigated the failures that led to the publication of the inaccurate report that President Trump spent Thanksgiving tweeting and golfing rather than visiting troops in Afghanistan," a Newsweek representative told the Washington Examiner in an exclusive piece published Saturday.
The Newsweek piece was originally published on Thursday before Trump's overseas trip -- a deliberate surprise -- became public. According to White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, only some White House officials knew about the trip, which was kept secret for security reasons.
The story was certainly was a surprise to the troops, the public and the media -- and some outlets were caught completely off-guard. Newsweek had to overhaul the article that it had earlier posted, which continued to incorrectly state that Trump would be playing golf and tweeting, even though his trip to Afghanistan had been announced.
"The story has been corrected, and the journalist responsible has been terminated," the Newsweek rep told the Examiner. "We will continue to review our processes and, if required, take further action.”
"The next day, [writer Jessica] Kwong reached out to the editor on duty and relayed the president's latest actions, after which the story was published," according to the Examiner. "When the president's trip to Afghanistan was announced, that editor then decided to assign another reporter to write a new story about it but neglected to update Kwong's original piece in a timely manner."
She initially tweeted the old headline that read: "How is Trump spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, golfing and more."
After Trump's trip became public, she tweeted a correction, saying that she made an "honest mistake" and that it was written before knowing about the trip.
Kwong later told the Examiner that she was assigned the Thanksgiving story in advance and filed it to her editor on Wednesday, a day before Trump's trip became public.
President Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., responded to the initial story by deriding Newsweek.
"Fake news gonna fake!" Trump Jr. tweeted. His father retweeted that post, asking: "I thought Newsweek was out of business?"
Trump Jr. also responded to Kwong's follow-up tweet by suggesting she was lying and that her actions fit a broader pattern of media bias against his father.
"It wasn’t an 'honest mistake' you tried to dunk on Trump and ended up dunking on yourself because you couldn’t resist. Notice how there’s never been a story that broke in Trump’s favor & had to be corrected the other way? These aren’t mistakes, they are a very consistent pattern," he said.
Kwong received an onslaught of criticism from others on Twitter, as well.
The old headline for Kwong's piece was eventually updated to read: “How is Trump spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, golfing -- and surprising U.S. troops in Afghanistan."
A note at the bottom of the story claimed it was updated and edited at around 6:17 p.m. ET -- hours after news of Trump's trip surfaced.
Kwong graduated from UC-Berkeley and, according to her LinkedIn profile, has received numerous awards for her work in journalism. She's held positions at the Orange County Register, San Francisco Examiner, Time Warner Cable Sports, La Opinion and the San Antonio Express-News, per her profile.
It's unclear whether the editor involved was held responsible, as Newsweek didn't respond to the Examiner's questions regarding that.
Fox News' Adam Shaw and Kristin Fisher contributed to this report.