22 November 2022

Fired for Almost Starting WWIII

Remember that AP story that came out when the missile fell on Polish territory, killing two?

It quoted an anonymous, "Intelligence Source," that said that the missile definitely was fired the Russians.

It is now almost certain that it was an errant Ukrainian SAM, and the Associated Press retracted in less than 24 hours. 

This clusterf%$# has gotten embarrassing enough that the AP has fired James LaPorta, the reporter who wrote the story.

Based on this report of what happened, it seems to me that this was a case of finding the least senior person to take the fall.

The editors should be flipping burgers as well:

The Associated Press scared much of the world last Tuesday when it alerted readers that “a senior U.S. intelligence official” said “Russian missiles crossed into NATO member Poland, killing two people.”

That report, which was widely cited across the internet and on cable news, was taken offline the following day and replaced with an editor’s note admitting the single source was wrong and that “subsequent reporting showed that the missiles were Russian-made and most likely fired by Ukraine in defense against a Russian attack.”

On Monday, the AP fired James LaPorta, the investigative reporter responsible for that story, Confider has learned.

The piece, which was originally co-bylined with John Leicester (who is still working at the AP), attributed the information to a single “senior U.S. intelligence official,” despite the AP’s rule that it “routinely seeks and requires more than one source when sourcing is anonymous.”


The only exception, according to its statement of news values and principles, is when “material comes from an authoritative figure who provides information so detailed that there is no question of its accuracy”—a situation that seemingly did not occur, as the report was fully retracted last Wednesday.


It is unclear who edited LaPorta’s reporting in question or whether they faced any discipline for the error. 

Until this story was debunked, numerous entities were talking about invoking NATO Article 5, which could have resulted in open hostilities between Russia and NATO.

If you are wondering why I think that the editors should have been fired ……… out of a cannon ……… and into the sun, there is this bit of editorial thinging that the Washington Post reports:


Internal AP communications viewed by The Post show some confusion and misunderstanding during the preparations of the erroneous report.

LaPorta shared the U.S. official’s tip in an electronic message around 1:30 p.m. Eastern time. An editor immediately asked if AP should issue an alert on his tip, “or would we need confirmation from another source and/or Poland?”

After further discussion, a second editor said she “would vote” for publishing an alert, adding, “I can’t imagine a U.S. intelligence official would be wrong on this.”

But a person at the Associated Press familiar with the larger conversations surrounding the story that day said LaPorta also told his editors that a senior manager had already vetted the source of LaPorta’s tip — leaving the impression that the story’s sourcing had been approved. While that editor had signed off on previous stories using LaPorta’s source, that editor had not weighed in on the missile story.

Easton said the organization did not anticipate any discipline for the editors involved.

(emphasis mine)

These folks are editors? They have the journalistic acumen of Little Orphan Annie.

I am not saying that LaPorta should not have been fired, but those editors should be rewriting obituaries for the next 18 months under the most forgiving of circumstances.


Quasit said...

They should be writing obituaries for their journalistic careers - and then be marched out at gunpoint and forced to dig their own graves.

I mean, graves for their careers. 😁

Post a Comment