AP fires reporter behind retracted Russian missiles story


The Associated Press fired a reporter over a retracted story about Russian missiles amid ongoing tension in Europe and the war in Ukraine.

In an alert sent shortly after a Nov. 15 explosion in Przewodów, Poland, the AP reported a senior U.S. intelligence official said the explosion was the result of missiles that had been launched by Russia.

That report, which relied on a single anonymous source, turned out to be false, and the news organization eventually retracted the report and replaced it online with a correction.

“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,” the correction read. “Subsequent reporting showed that the missiles were Russian-made and most likely fired by Ukraine in defense against a Russian attack.”

An investigation from Poland and NATO suggested that it was actually a Ukrainian air defense missile that struck four miles from the border. President Biden also said it appeared unlikely that the missile that hit Poland was from Russia.

“There is preliminary information that contests that,” Biden told reporters last week, when asked whether the missile was fired from Russia. “I don’t want to say until we completely investigate. It’s unlikely in the minds of the trajectory that it was fired from Russia.”

On Monday the AP fired reporter James LaPorta in connection with the incident, according to multiple reports.

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When contacted by The Hill on Tuesday for comment, an AP spokesperson declined to identify LaPorta as the reporter fired in connection with the story, but said 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,” the spokesperson said. 

“When our standards are violated, we must take the steps necessary to protect the integrity of the news report. We do not make these decisions lightly, nor are they based on isolated incidents.”

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