The Associated Press is admitting that they were lied to by a white nationalist who claimed his group was connected to the school shooter in Parkland, Florida.
Jordan Jereb, a member of white nationalist group “Republic of Florida,” claimed on Wednesday that Nikolas Cruz, the shooter that killed 17 people at a Parkland high school, was a member of his group and participated in paramilitary drills with them. The Associated Press ran with Jereb’s claims, leading a number of outlets to publish blurbs of their report.
However, Jereb later backtracked on his claims and said he was “confused” because there are multiple men named Nicholas in the group and accused the media of “misrepresent[ing]” what he said. (RELATED: White Nationalist Claims Surrounding Florida School Shooter Highly Suspect)
The AP admitted on Friday night that they were misled by Jereb.
“A white nationalist appears to have lied to The Associated Press and other news organizations when he claimed that Florida school-shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was a member of his obscure group,” the outlet wrote in a follow-up piece. “Law enforcement officials have said they didn’t have any evidence to support the claim that Republic of Florida leader Jordan Jereb made in interviews with several news organizations.”
“It may seem odd that Jereb would bring attention to his group by claiming a connection to Cruz, but Jereb has always been somewhat of a publicity seeker. In 2014, in fact, he wrote us to complain that we had not already listed (Republic of Florida) as a hate group,” Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said Thursday.