Faced with the mistake, AP moved swiftly to rectify the error. It sent out a “mandatory kill” notification 98 minutes after distributing [reporter Bob] Lewis’s item on its state wire Oct. 9. It then sent out a longer story under Lewis’s byline that recounted events accurately.
Then it turned inward.
After several days of deliberations, AP fired Lewis on Monday, followed by his immediate editor in Richmond, Dena Potter. On Tuesday, regional editor Norm Gomlak confirmed that he, too, had been fired over the story. Gomlak, who is based in Atlanta, was the primary editor of Lewis’s story because Potter was tied up with an unrelated story Oct. 9.
Lewis, 57, makes no excuses about the mistake. But, he said Tuesday, he feels “stunned and hurt” by his firing after 28 years of “unblemished” service to the AP. “I still can’t really wrap my head around it,” he said by phone from Richmond. “The only blessing out of this has been the expressions of support” from friends, colleagues and many of the officials he has covered over his career, including Virginia’s two senators and former governors, Timothy M. Kaine (D) and Mark R. Warner (D), and the state’s current governor, Robert F. McDonnell (R).