AP fired a reporter after a dangerous blunder. Slack messages reveal a chaotic process.
Max’s stories appear in Semafor’s Sunday evening media newsletter where we explore the news behind the news. Sign up here.
A 10-minute miscommunication on Slack between journalists at the Associated Press resulted in an erroneous report last week that appeared momentarily to bring tensions between NATO and Russia to their highest point since the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Last Tuesday, AP posted a news alert saying that a “senior U.S. intelligence official says Russian missiles crossed into NATO member Poland, killing two people,” and noting that leaders in Poland were “holding an emergency meeting due to a ‘crisis situation.’”
The report, which would have represented a Russian missile striking a member of NATO, immediately sparked fear of a dramatic escalation of tensions between the US and Russia.
But national security officials said the report was false, and the Associated Press retracted the piece a day later. On Monday, it fired James LaPorta, the national security reporter for the wire service who got the initial tip that set the story in motion.