Paper's birther joke draws rebuke

Nov. 21, 2012 at 11:41 AM   |   0 comments

HELENA, Mont., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- A change in wire service copy by a Montana editor to say President Obama "allegedly" was born in Hawaii drew a rebuke from a retired wire service employee.

An editor's note in the Helena Independent Record explained how it happened but did not apologize to the wire service or the president.

"Our copy desk made an error in judgment in editing the Sunday 2A Associated Press story about President Obama's trip to Asia and his place of birth," the editor's note said. "One of the copy editors inserted the term 'allegedly' born in Hawaii in the story thinking the other copy editor would catch it, he didn't. It was a poor attempt at humor and a poor decision, but was not intended to be printed in the paper. Those responsible have been disciplined."

Retired AP employee Tom Laceky in Helena didn't think it was so funny.

"The Independent Record made a small but damaging alteration to Sunday's Associated Press story about the president's trip to Asia, and the change needs to be noted," his letter to the editor said. "Otherwise, your readers might make the embarrassing assumption that the AP has joined the birthers.

"As a retired AP staffer of 38 years, the last 28 in the Helena bureau, I regret the unjustified ridicule that your readers may mistakenly aim at the AP.

"The violence was done by adding a single word to Jim Kuhnhenn's article from Washington about the president's trip to Asia. ... The word 'allegedly' was edited into the story by the IR. The AP has assured me it did not appear in the story as written and transmitted.

"'Allegedly born in Hawaii?' As if there is any doubt? That right-wing notion has been so thoroughly discredited that only Donald Trump and assorted other loonies still cling to it. Neither the AP nor -- I hope -- The Independent Record belongs in their company."

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