The Pelosi quote that wasn’t

The Republican National Committee was delighted today to trumpet a quote from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) about the Obama White House. “‘I think you need to talk about how poorly they do on message,” she was quoted as saying about the president and his team. “They can’t see around corners; they anticipate nothing.”

I was curious about the context, so I went to the Newsweek/Daily Beast article that featured the quote. It wasn’t there. As it turns out, there’s a good reason for that.

Just one problem: She never said it, according to both her office and sources at Newsweek.

Newsweek has retracted the quote, and put an editor’s note on the piece: “Editor’s Note; An earlier version of this 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.”

Occasionally, an official will tell a reporter something off the record or on background, with the expectation that it won’t be aired or published. When the reporter forgets and runs the quote anyway, an angry phone call soon follows, leading to a correction or retraction.

So, is this one of those cases? Did Pelosi say this to Howard Kurtz quietly, and get burned when he published it? Pelosi’s office insists that’s not the case.

“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.

If so, that’s a pretty big screw-up.

Kurtz is the same veteran reporter who, by the way, ran quotes attributed to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), though he’s been talking to an Issa aide.

In any case, if you see the quote working its way around, it appears the criticism is bogus. Whether the apparently made-up quote has merit, meanwhile, is another question entirely.