A reporter for a conservative website, whose profile has risen during the Trump administration, quit on Thursday over the publication’s false reports.
Joe Perticone felt as though his credibility as a congressional reporter was damaged by the actions of other writers on the viral news site Independent Journal Review, who feed their readers completely fabricated stories and conspiracy theories aimed at damaging the reputation of former president Barack Obama and other Democrats.
The last straw, according to people familiar with the situation, was a post published earlier on Thursday connecting former President Barack Obama’s visit to Hawaii with a Hawaiian federal judge’s ruling against President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, Politico reported Thursday.
According to the report:
The post meticulously pointed out all the possible connections between Obama’s visit and the judge, including that they attended Harvard at the same time, that Obama appointed the judge, and that a restaurant Obama ate at during his trip was close to the federal courthouse.
“This is not to allege the former president met with Judge Derrick Watson, but merely to point out the timing and the opportunity was there ahead of a controversial court ruling,” the story states.
The theory of Obama having a connection to the federal judge’s ruling was also promoted on sites with a conspiracy theory bent including InfoWars and Gateway Pundit.
Shortly after the story was posted, it received an editor’s note that said: “This story has been updated to remove unnecessary speculation about the timing of the visit. We apologize for any undue conclusions that might have been drawn from the report.”
By late afternoon, the story was pulled from the website. “IJR published an article that does not meet our editorial standards or represent IJR’s vision or values. We have retracted the story, and we deeply regret the error,” the page reads instead.
The author of the post, Kyle Becker, wrote an email to the staff of IJR apologizing for the post.
“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 said.
Perticone removed reference to IJR from his Twitter profile on Thursday afternoon, according to Politico.
“Joe’s a fantastic reporter with great instincts for covering the Hill. He’ll be an asset wherever he goes,” IJR founder Alex Skatell said in a statement.