Three reporters suspended by conservative IJR for Obama conspiracy theory

Three reporters suspended by conservative IJR for Obama conspiracy theory
© Getty Images

Three members of the Independent Journalism Review's (IJR) editorial staff have been suspended for a published story about former President Obama's recent trip to Hawaii and a federal judge who blocked President Trump's revised travel ban, according to a new report.

“We are committed to an editorial team that includes voices, perspectives and geographies that span the country but equally committed to quality standards in our newsroom," reads a statement to Business Insider, which broke the story. "As we’ve grown we’ve sought to improve on that front and last month we launched our six person editorial operations team along with enforcement and review for all editorial content.

"Last week we got it wrong and ultimately deserve all the criticism if we want to be taken seriously," the statement from IJR founder Alex Skatell continues. "As a result of last week’s failure (viral editor) Kyle Becker has been suspended indefinitely as well as his supervisor and Chief Content Officer Benny Johnson and the content editor approving the post Becca Lower.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We are reviewing all the details to determine if further action is necessary, this ultimately falls on me to get right and we have to do better in the future,” IJR added.

The viral story, which was retracted shortly after it was published, drew a connection between Obama's recent visit to his home state and a Hawaiian federal judge's ruling that blocked Trump's revised travel ban.

The story attempted to connect Obama's visit and U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson, who attended Harvard the same time as Obama, from 1988 to 1991. The story also pointed out that Obama ate at a restaurant in Hawaii close to the federal courthouse at which Watson presided. 

Last Thursday, IJR's congressional reporter Joe Perticone resigned, following more than 10 staffers who have left the conservative news outlet in the past year, according to Business Insider.

The site was also thrust into the spotlight earlier this week when it was revealed that its reporter Erin McPike was the only reporter chosen by the State Department to travel with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on an overseas trip to Asia. Several members of the foreign policy press complained upon learning of the decision via press reports and not from State Department officials.