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The AP fired three staff members over a wrong report about Terry McAuliffe. (Credit: AP, screenshot)

The Associated Press fired a third employee over its bogus story claiming Terry McAuliffe lied to federal investigators.

As iMediaEthics has written, the AP’s report earlier this month was about McAuliffe, the Democratic Party’s candidate for governor of Virginia, and his relationship to an investment scam. McAuliffe was listed by court documents as an investor, but the AP story said that he was also “accused in court documents of having lied to a federal investigator looking into a benefit scheme.”  A “T.M.” was accused, but it was not Terry McAuliffe.

Longtime AP reporter Bob Lewis apologized on Twitter for the error, and the AP quickly retracted the story. On Monday, the Huffington Post reported that Lewis and editor Dena Potter were fired over the error.  And, on Oct 23 came the news that the AP fired Norman Gomlak.  According to Politico, “Gomlak was involved in editing Bob Lewis’s report on McAuliffe on the night of Oct. 9 along with Lewis’s editor, Dena Potter.”

While the AP hasn’t commented on the firings, the Washington Post reported that the AP said it had “serious deliberation” about its decisions.

Gomlak told Politico and the Huffington Post that he is “extremely disappointed by the AP’s response to this unfortunate incident.”  He added:

“I take my integrity as a journalist very seriously, and I strived to do my best under challenging circumstances. I was also saddened by the treatment of my two colleagues: Bob Lewis, a well-respected 28-year AP veteran, and Dena Potter, who was nothing short of a model employee for the news organization. I refer further questions to the News Media Guild.”

 

Reactions to Firings

The News Media Guild is filing complaints over the firings of Lewis and Gomlak. The News Media Guild’s president Martha Waggoner told the Huffington Post that “The firings have alarmed AP employees nationwide, and the News Media Guild will vigorously enforce the contractual rights of the employees it represents.”

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According to the Huffington Post, “The Guild represents Lewis and Gomlak, though it is legally barred from representing Potter because she held a management position.”

iMediaEthics has written to the News Media Guild’s Waggoner for more information and will update with any response.

As iMediaEthics previously wrote, various politicians tweeted positive comments about Lewis following his firing includingVirginia’s current governor, Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell commented further on Lewis’ firing, Politico noted.

In a statement to Richmond CBS-affiliate WTVR, McDonnell said that Lewis was a “tough, but fair and straightforward reporter.”

McDonnell added, “While I think that it is good to elevate the standard in the media…it appears though that this was a mistake as opposed to a knowing violation of journalistic standards. I’ve always had a high regard for Bob Lewis and I’m disappointed and sad for him and his family.”

Lewis told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the responses to his firing has been “humbling” and “very touching.”

“It’s good to know that there are people out there who thought highly of what I did and what I hope to do again,” he is quoted as saying.

“The only blessing out of this has been the expressions of support” Lewis added to the Washington Post.

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Third AP Staffer Fired over Terry McAuliffe Error

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