The Associated Press (AP) fired the reporter behind the now-retracted report that claimed Russian missiles “crossed into NATO member Poland” and “killed two people.”
Last Tuesday, the AP published the above claim by citing a single “senior U.S. intelligence official” as the source of the information. The outlet scrubbed the report from its webpage the following day, replacing the story with the following editor’s note:
“[S]ubsequent reporting showed that the missiles were Russian-made and most likely fired by Ukraine in defense against a Russian attack.”
Polish, U.S., and NATO officials corroborated the belief that Ukraine fired the missiles on Wednesday.
The mistake cost investigative reporter James LaPorta his job. The AP hooked him on Monday, according to a report from the Daily Beast.
The AP requires reporters to seek more than a single source when sourcing is anonymous. However, its statement of news values and principles states the outlet makes an exception when “material comes from an authoritative figure who provides information so detailed that there is no question of its accuracy.”
The senior U.S. intelligence official is an authoritative figure, thereby LaPorta could cite them under AP standards. Unfortunately, there was a “question of its accuracy.”
It’s unclear if the editor of the story, whoever that may be, will also face discipline for publishing erroneous information.
It’s good to see a news organization holding a reporter accountable for publishing reckless information. And LaPorta’s report was inaccurate by all accounts.
This is not NBC suspending “Today” show correspondent Miguel Almaguer for a report on Paul Pelosi that ran afoul of the mainstream narrative, which a credible local affiliate has since corroborated. NBC Bay Area reported last week that Pelosi was not in immediate danger when police arrived at his home before his attack, essentially confirming the information Almaguer had. Almaguer remains suspended, anyway.
Too bad such standards didn’t apply during Donald Trump’s presidency when “news” outlets continued to post dubiously-reported information that tied Trump to Russian collusion. That goes for both the AP and NBC.
So, where does James LaPorta land next? CBS?