Five days after the Associated Press cited an anonymous ‘senior US intelligence official’ in a story that claimed a Russian missile killed two Polish civilians, one of the two reporters behind the story was fired.
Reporters James LaPorta (fired) and John Leichester (not fired) share the byline on the now-retracted report, which sparked an entire news cycle that included talk of invoking ‘Article 5‘ – the mutual defense agreement between NATO members – and which would have obligated other members to engage in collective defense, aka WWIII.
As the day went on, President Biden popped out of a NATO / G7 briefing, and mumbled that “it’s unlikely” the projectile was fired from Russia. NATO then chimed in, saying it was more likely that the missile was fired by Ukrainian forces in self-defense (or was it?).
AP later retracted the story, and issued the following correction which pinned blame on the anonymous intelligence official;
“In earlier versions of a story published November 15, 2022, The Associated Press reported erroneously, based on information from a senior American intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity, that Russian missiles had crossed into Poland and killed two people. Subsequent reporting showed that the missiles were Russian-made and most likely fired by Ukraine in defense against a Russian attack.”
According to Mediaite, AP requires two sources for confirmation on this type of reporting when both are anonymous. No word on who edited the piece or what their fate might be.
On Monday, the Daily Beast reported that LaPorta had been sacked for erroneous reporting, while Leicester has, as of this writing, kept his job with the wire service.