In the wake of his botched exclusive about Michael Flynn, Brian Ross has been suspended without pay for four weeks, effective immediately, ABC News announced Saturday.
The network said in a statement that Ross’ report “had not been fully vetted through our editorial standards process.”
The statement added: “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.”
— ABC News (@ABC) December 2, 2017
Ross, ABC’s chief investigative correspondent, reported on Friday that Flynn would testify that then-candidate Trump had directed him to contact the Russians about foreign policy during the campaign — causing a media firestorm and stock markets to plummet.
The implication that the president had done something improper or possibly illegal during the campaign led to wild speculation throughout the day Friday that the president was about to be impeached.
ABC first “clarified,” then corrected Ross’s report, saying Flynn would testify that Trump’s directive had actually come after the election (when contact with foreign governments by a new administration is standard procedure).
Several hours after the initial report, Ross himself appeared on “World News Tonight” to offer a “clarification.”
“David, a clarification tonight on something one of Flynn’s confidants told us and we reported earlier today,” Ross said at the end of his “World News Tonight” story. “He said the president had asked Flynn to contact Russia during the campaign. He’s now clarifying that, saying, according to Flynn, candidate Trump asked him during the campaign to find ways to repair relations with Russia and other hotspots. And then after the election, the president-elect asked him–told him–to contact Russia on issues including working together to fight ISIS.”
Ross tweeted about his suspension late Saturday, saying he agreed with the decision:
My job is to hold people accountable and that's why I agree with being held accountable myself.
— Brian Ross Investigates (@BrianRoss) December 3, 2017
Saturday night Trump also tweeted about Ross’ punishment, congratulating ABC News for suspending Ross after “his horrendously inaccurate and dishonest report on the Russia, Russia, Russia Witch Hunt.”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2017
But not everyone was impressed with ABC’s decision to suspend Ross.
— Diamond and Silk® (@DiamondandSilk) December 3, 2017
So, Brian Ross is getting December off for totally screwing pooch on the scoop of the century, tanking market, lying & calling it a clarification.
— Mary Katharine Ham (@mkhammer) December 2, 2017
ABC was also ripped for initially offering a weaselly “clarification” rather than a “correction” for what was a monumental error.
.@ABC “news” owes it viewers an apology. Calling false reporting a “clarification” is a cop out and just another reason for the decline in trust of the media
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) December 2, 2017
— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) December 2, 2017
You just knew this report was wrong as soon as ABC and Brian Ross reported it. https://t.co/IMQSARzPGy
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) December 2, 2017
Fox News has a good round-up of Ross’ media malpractice over the years here.