Montana newspaper disciplines copy editors for adding ‘allegedly’ to AP’s ‘Obama was born in Hawaii’ line

The Helena (MT) Independent Record has disciplined staffers for changing a line in an Associated Press story to read, “Obama was allegedly born in Hawaii.” A retired AP staffer who worked 28 years in the Helena bureau was one of the readers who complained about the addition of “allegedly.” He tells the paper: “That right-wing notion [that the president isn’t a U.S. citizen] 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.”

An editor’s note in the Lee Enterprises-owned paper says:

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. 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 staffer blasts Independent Record for “allegedly” insertion (
* Reader: “This is inexcusable for a purported news organization” (