PA fires reporter behind ‘Russian missile’ story – media – Reuters
The agency fired James LaPorta for a false alert, the Daily Beast and Washington Post reported.
The Associated Press has fired the reporter behind its since-retracted story that the missile that hit NATO member Poland last week was launched by Russia, multiple US media reported. .
News that the agency had terminated its contract with investigative journalist James LaPorta after a brief internal investigation was broken by the Daily Beast on Monday. The sacking was later confirmed to the Washington Post by “the people from the news agency.”
Last Tuesday, AP issued an alert citing “a senior US intelligence official”, who claimed that “Russian missiles ripped through NATO member Poland, killing two people.”
Such an event would constitute a major escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, given that an attack on a NATO member is meant to trigger a response from the entire US-led military bloc. The story was quickly picked up by many other media outlets and made international headlines.
Russia denied carrying out strikes near the Ukrainian-Polish border at the time of the incident in the village of Przewodow, while Polish, American and European officials were quick to say there was only one missile involved and that it was most likely fired by Ukraine.
AP then took the story written by LaPorta and published an editor’s note admitting that the single source used in the report was incorrect and that “Later reports showed the missiles were Russian-made and most likely fired by Ukraine to defend against a Russian attack.”
According to agency policy, a story requires at least two sources to be published, with only one source allowed when it is “an authoritative figure who provides information so detailed that there is no doubt about its accuracy.”
An anonymous AP employee told the Post that LaPorta misinformed his editors that a senior executive had already verified his source, leaving them “With the impression that the supply of the story had been approved.”
AP spokeswoman Lauren Easton declined to officially identify LaPorta as the author of the controversial alert, but told the newspaper that when the agency “norms are violated” he must act to protect his integrity and not “Take these decisions lightly.”
Poland calls Ukrainian missile attack an ‘unfortunate accident’
The 35-year-old investigative reporter had worked for the AP since April 2020, covering military affairs and national security issues. LaPorta is also a former U.S. Marine who served in Afghanistan, according to the Post. He declined to comment when approached by the newspaper.