AP Reporter Fired over False Story on Russian Missiles Hitting Poland

The Associated Press has reportedly fired the journalist who retracted the story about Russian missiles hitting Ukraine last week, which led to heated speculation of a possible World War III scenario.

Last week, the world came to a standstill after investigative reporter James LaPorta of the Associated Press wrote that a “senior U.S. intelligence official” indicated that “Russian missiles crossed into NATO member Poland, killing two people.” The story set off a firestorm of concern across social media as people wondered if this would be a Franz Ferdinand-type of event that would plunge the Western world into full-scale war with a nuclear power. One day later, the Associated Press took down the story and issued an editor’s note saying that the unnamed “senior U.S. intelligence official” relayed incorrect information.

“Subsequent reporting showed that the missiles were Russian-made and most likely fired by Ukraine in defense against a Russian attack,” the editor’s note said.

According to the Daily Beast, the Associated Press fired investigative reporter James LaPorta while retaining reporter John Leicester, who co-wrote the piece.

The piece, which was originally co-bylined with John Leicester (who is still working at the AP), attributed the information to a single “senior U.S. intelligence official,” despite the AP’s rule that it “routinely seeks and requires more than one source when sourcing is anonymous.”

The only exception, according to its statement of news values and principles, is when “material comes from an authoritative figure who provides information so detailed that there is no question of its accuracy”—a situation that seemingly did not occur, as the report was fully retracted last Wednesday.

The Associated Press issued no comment in response to the firing and issued only the following statement: “The rigorous editorial standards and practices of The Associated Press are critical to AP’s mission as an independent news organization. To ensure our reporting is accurate, fair and fact-based, we abide by and enforce these standards, including around the use of anonymous sources.”

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