A video producer for the conservative media site Independent Journal Review is quitting over concerns with the direction of the company, a person familiar with the situation told POLITICO.
Colin Chocola, director of IJR’s video department, put in his two-week notice on Monday. Chocola is the second staffer to quit the site over its direction in recent weeks. Earlier this month congressional correspondent Joe Perticone quit because he felt as though his credibility as a reporter was damaged by the actions of other writers on the site.
Perticone’s decision to leave was directly tied to a since-retracted post published that attempted to draw a connection between former President Barack Obama’s trip to Hawaii and a Hawaiian judge’s ruling on President Donald Trump’s travel ban — a suggestion also pushed by conspiracy-theory sites like InfoWars.
Last week, the site suspended and issued other punishments to the three staffers who allowed the post to publish. The conspiracy-theory fueled post landed as IJR, which is owned by the heads of Republican consulting firm IMGE, was coming under increasing scrutiny after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hand-picked an IJR White House reporter to accompany him on his first trip to Asia as secretary. In a breach of decades of tradition and protocol, Tillerson chose not to allow the State Department press corps to travel with him, leaving them to follow him on their own and not spend time with him on his plane, when past press secretaries often cultivated relationships with reporters.
The person familiar with Chocola’s departure said his displeasure with the direction of IJR predates both the Obama post and Tillerson’s decision to favor the site over other media.
And other staffers at IJR share his concerns and are looking to leave, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.
IJR spokesperson Matt Manda declined to comment on Chocola, instead pointing to four new hires the site has made including junior writer Josh Billinson, copy editor Ryan DesMarais, deputy of editorial operations Summer Ratcliff and breaking news writer Justin Baragona.