NEW YORK, December 2, 2017 — ABC News announced that they have suspended senior investigative reporter Brian Ross for four weeks without pay for a “serious error” in his report on Michael Flynn.
In the news report on Friday, claimed that then-candidate Donald Trump directed Flynn to communicate with the Russians. If it were true, that would have been a massive development in the current investigation into whether the Trump camp colluded with the Russians to interfere in the 2016 election.
Brian Ross later walked back his claim, saying his source said Trump was president-elect when he asked Flynn to contact the Russians about working together to fight ISIS. ABC later issued a correction and statement.
“We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday,” ABC News said in a statement from Heather Riley, its vice president of communications. “The reporting conveyed by Brian Ross during the special report had not been fully vetted through our editorial standards process. As a result of our continued reporting over the next several hours ultimately we determined the information was wrong and we corrected the mistake on air and online.
“It is vital we get the story right and retain the trust we have built with our audience — these are our core principles. We fell far short of that yesterday. Effective immediately, Brian Ross will be suspended for four weeks without pay.”
President Trump quickly responded to ABC’s decision tweeting out “Congratulations to @ABC News for suspending Brian Ross for his horrendously inaccurate and dishonest report on the Russia, Russia, Russia Witch Hunt. More Networks and “papers” should do the same with their Fake News!”
Brian Ross accepted the suspension on Saturday and took to Twitter saying “My job is to hold people accountable and that’s why I agree with being held accountable myself.”
Ross has been with ABC since 1994 and has won multiple journalism awards including two Emmys. This is not the first time he has made a serious error. ABC was forced to apologize when Brian Ross appeared on ‘Good Morning America’ in 2012 and said that Aurora, Colorado shooter James Holmes might be connected to the tea party, because of a name listed on a web page. It was later discovered to be a different Jim Holmes.
The 2016 election has turned a spotlight onto “fake news” leaving many to consider what needs to be done to combat it. President Trump routinely responds to “fake news” reports on Twitter and attacks the story and network. However, I believe the media needs to take a closer look at what is published in newspapers and put on the air. As fake news continues to flood the media, the states are even higher. While Ross’ mistake was acknowledged and immediately suspended, it may cause some who align with Trump to label his report as bias and an attempt to attack Flynn and the Trump administration.