Last week investigative reporter James LaPorta of the AP wrote that according to a “senior U.S. intelligence official, Russian missiles crossed into NATO member Poland killing two people.” The story caused a massive panic on social media as concerns that this would spark a third world war with nuclear power.
The Associated Press took down the report saying the intelligence official gave incorrect information. The editor of the AP said that reports showed Ukraine most likely fired missiles in defense of Russian attacks. The news outlet fired investigative reporter James LaPorta but kept co-author John Leicester. The article was taken down, and the report was fully retracted last Wednesday, stating that LaPorta violated AP’s policy.
SCOOP: The @AP has fired reporter Jim LaPorta, one of the two bylines on a retracted report last week alleging Russian missiles landed in NATO member Poland. The report relied a single anonymous source, a violation of AP's policy.
— Corbin Bolies (@CorbinBolies) November 22, 2022
The Associated Press did not directly comment in response to the firing. Instead, the AP issued a statement reiterating its mission for rigorous editorial standards as an independent news organization. Despite their mission to ensure and enforce fact-based standards, internal communications at AP show some confusion during the presentation of the fallacious report.
LaPorta shared the official tip in an email around 1:30 p.m. EST. Then, the editor asked AP if an alert should be issued on the tip, questioning whether confirmation from another source or Poland was needed. A second editor called to push the signal, stating that it would be unimaginable for a U.S. intelligence official to be incorrect.
Additionally, an AP employee said he witnessed LaPorta’s conversation with a senior manager on the source. It appeared that the tip had already been vetted and approved. The editor also had a sign-off history for LaPorta’s source on other stories.
There is no anticipated discipline for the editors involved at this time.