AP Fires Reporter Who Wrote False Russian Missiles Story

The corporate media is working to unwind the controversy and high tension that resulted from a report last week that Russia had fired missiles that struck in Poland, killing two residents of the NATO member nation. The report published initially by the Associated Press led to immediate speculation about the danger of a NATO response that could trigger World War III. The AP has now fired the reporter who first ran with the story.

James LaPorta was the AP reporter who said he relied on a “senior U.S. intelligence official” when he wrote that “Russian missiles crossed into NATO member Poland, killing two people.” The story took the tensions surrounding the war in Ukraine to unprecedented levels, as an attack on the soil of a NATO member could trigger a joint military response from all member nations, including the U.S.

The AP retracted the story one day later with a correction statement saying the intelligence official had provided LaPorta with inaccurate information. The correction also said that the missiles were in fact Russian-made but had been fired by Ukrainian forces in defense against a missile attack.

LaPorta was fired by AP although it retained reporter John Leicester, who shared the by-line on the incorrect reporting.

A long-standing AP rule provides that it “routinely seeks and requires more than one source when sourcing is anonymous.” The only exception the AP recognizes to that rule is when the anonymous source is an “authoritative figure” who relays information that is so “detailed that there is no question of its accuracy.” That exception appears not to have applied in the retracted story.

When LaPorta was reportedly fired over the inaccurate sourcing, the AP did not provide any additional details regarding his employment. It only issued a separate statement providing that its “rigorous editorial standards and practices” are critical to its mission.

The statement added: “To ensure our reporting is accurate, fair, and fact-based, we abide by and enforce these standards, including around the use of anonymous sources.”