The Associated Press has fired two journalists over a story that erroneously reported that Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe lied to federal officials in a fraud case, the Huffington Post's Michael Calderone reports. Longtime political reporter Bob Lewis was suspended last week and dismissed on Monday, along with Richmond-based news editor Dena Potter. A third journalist will be reprimanded for the report, too, sources told the Huffington Post.

The story appeared at about 9:45 p.m. on October 11th, and alleged that McAuliffe was the person identified as "T.M." in a Rhode Island case that involves Joseph Caramadre, an estate planner, who allegedly used the identities of terminally ill people to receive their death benefits. McAuliffe denied the report, and upon recognition that T.M. did not refer to McAuliffe, the AP retracted the story before 11:30, just under two hours later.

Despite Lewis's mistaken reporting in this instance, journalists and politicians alike are defending the well-regarded journalist. Virginia senator Tim Kaine tweeted, "Big loss for Virginia. @APBobLewis is an even-handed, talented reporter & a class act." And Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post blog The Fix added similar sentiments: "Folks, @APboblewis is a VERY good and fair political reporter. We ALL make mistakes." But Lewis shouldn't expect to be out of a job for very long, The New York Times' Jonathan Martin tweets: "Stunned that @AP would make this mistake. @APBobLewis is best state capitol wire man in the country. He'll be back in biz soon."

(Photo of Bob Lewis above: AP/Steve Helber)