March 16, 2017

Independent Journal Review on Thursday took down a story that implied Barack Obama’s recent trip to Hawaii had something to do with a federal judge’s decision to block President Trump’s immigration order.

The story, published earlier today, was headlined “Fmr President Obama Made ‘Surprise Visit’ to Hawaii, Days Before Judge Issued Travel Ban Ruling.” It juxtaposed Obama’s visit to Oahu with U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson’s decision to halt Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from several Muslim-majority countries.

The story also noted that Watson was Obama’s classmate at Harvard University.

In an editor’s note appended to the story, IJR said the article “does not meet our editorial standards or represent IJR’s vision or values.”

Before pulling the story, IJR updated the language “to remove unnecessary speculation about the timing of the visit.”

“We apologize for any undue conclusions that might have been drawn from the report,” the earlier note read.

Later Thursday, Politico reported that the post was among the factors that drove congressional reporter Joe Perticone to resign from IJR. The author of the post, Kyle Becker, apologized to his colleagues in an email.

“I should have been more responsible, and will exert utmost efforts to adhere to the highest journalistic standards I can, while taking into account audience readership pressures. It was unwarranted to fuel baseless speculation, and there are no excuses,” Becker continued.

Credit where it’s due: IJR left the original post up in PDF form for scrutiny, a journalism best-practice not always followed by news organizations intent on removing content. In the past, sites including BuzzFeed and Gawker have simply purged controversial or non-standard content without leaving any traces of the original.

IJR, which was founded in 2012, is a center-right digital news organization founded by former National Republican Senatorial Committee employee Alex Skatell. It’s intent on building its journalism bona fides, having recently added eight new staffers to cover culture, entertainment and politics.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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