A day after ABC News’s Brian Ross took to the airwaves during a special report to incorrectly report that candidate Donald Trump instructed Michael Flynn to contact Russians, the news organization formally issued a correction for the report and suspended Ross for four weeks without pay.
Several hours after Ross’s report aired (and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 300 points as a result), the news organization aired a clarification that Trump was President-elect when instructing Flynn and then a few hours after that ABC News deleted the incorrect tweet. The decision to label it as a “clarification” was also widely panned. As CNN’s Brian Stelter put it in his nightly newsletter, “But c’mon. It was a full on ‘correction.'”
Similarly with the clarification, ABC News did not seem to feel a sense of urgency when addressing this as Ross appeared on Good Morning America Saturday morning. Several hours after that appearance they released the statement announcing his punishment.
“It is vital we get the story right and retain the trust we have built with our audience –- these are our core principles,” ABC News said in a statement. “We fell far short of that yesterday.”
CNN’s Oliver Darcy has been a significant force in this story as his reporting led ABC News to acknowledge the error and then call the update a correction.
Ross, who has won six Peabody Awards, has fumbled other major stories in the past. He reported that Aurora shooter Jim Holmes might have been a member of the Tea Party, but that was a different Holmes. He also incorrectly reported that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the anthrax attacks in the early 2000s.