Associated Press fires reporter behind retracted story that a US official said Russian missiles had come down in Poland
- James LaPorta reported a ‘senior US official’ said the missile was Russian
- The Associated Press retracted the story the following day
- LaPorta, 35, was fired Monday after he ‘violated’ their standards, they said
- Some have expressed doubts that Ukraine was responsible for the missile
The Associated Press has fired the reporter behind its retracted story that claimed a ‘senior US intelligence official’ said a Russian missile had killed two people in Poland last week.
James LaPorta, a 35-year-old award-winning investigative reporter, filed the story last Tuesday which caused panic across the world that NATO would be dragged into the war.
It stated: ‘A senior U.S. intelligence official says Russian missiles crossed into NATO member Poland, killing two people.’
The newswire report was sent to media outlets across the world who published the breaking news to their readers, sparking very real fears of World War Three breaking out.
But the following day, US and NATO leaders said the missile was instead misfired by Ukraine in defence against Russia.
The Associated Press has fired James LaPorta (pictured) after they were forced to retract his story about Russian missiles landing in Poland
Crew members look through a crater next to an overturned vehicle at the site of an explosion in Przewodow
Polish President Andrzej Duda played down suspicions that Moscow was behind the S-300 missile, insisting it was ‘highly probable’ that it had come from Kyiv‘s forces.
But Ukraine still claimed Vladimir Putin was responsible and is yet to fully admit responsibility.
Western officials have also cast doubt over Poland’s version of events, with some fearing NATO could be burying the truth in order to avoid being dragged into war.
By Wednesday, with the missile’s origin still unknown, the Associated Press took the story offline by the Wednesday and it was replaced by an editor’s note saying the source was wrong.
It added that ‘subsequent reporting showed that the missiles were Russian-made and most likely fired by Ukraine in defense against a Russian attack’.
LaPorta, who previously served in the Marines before moving to journalism, working for the Washington Post, the Daily Beast and Newsweek, was fired yesterday, The Daily Beast learned.
The Associated Press has a rule that it ‘routinely seeks and requires more than one source when sourcing is anonymous’.
A chunk of metal is pictured lying in the dirt after the explosion. The Polish president said the missile appears to be ‘Russian-made’
An exception can be made when ‘material comes from an authoritative figure who provides information so detailed that there is no question of its accuracy’.
But bosses have made clear they felt LaPorta fell foul of their news values and principles over the story.
An AP spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The rigorous editorial standards and practices of The Associated Press are critical to AP’s mission as 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.
‘When our standards are violated, we must take the steps necessary to protect the integrity of the news report.
Polish investigators work at the site where a missile hit a tractor carrying grain on Tuesday afternoon, killing two farm workers
‘We do not make these decisions lightly, nor are they based on isolated incidents.’
MailOnline has also contacted LaPorta.
It is not known who edited his story or if they faced any disciplinary action.
Last week, Volodymyr Zelensky said he had ‘no doubt that it was not our missile’ based on military intelligence.
He also accused Ukraine’s Western allies of blocking his investigators from inspecting the crash site or being part of the probe into exactly what had happened.
Kurt Volker, former US special envoy to Ukraine, appeared to throw his weight behind Zelensky saying Kyiv has ‘very sophisticated’ missile tracking systems and ‘knows what’s going on’.
Though he did not specifically endorse Zelensky’s version of events, he called for Ukraine to be included in the missile probe.
‘The Ukrainians have very good data collection – they have good radars, they track every single missile, I’ve been to their headquarters where they do this,’ he told the Washington Examiner.
‘They know what’s going on. I’m sure the Poles do as well. I’m sure we do as well. So the Poles and Ukrainians need to sit down with their experts and look at their data… and come up with what they think actually happened.’
One European official told the same newspaper he was ‘puzzled’ by the different versions of events being put forward, pointing out that claims the missile was Ukrainian have ‘calmed down the situation’ for NATO, at least for now.