ABC News has suspended chief investigative reporter Brian Ross for errors made during his reporting on the guilty plea of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in connection with the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
ABC News issued a lengthy correction Saturday regarding Ross’ reporting on the timing of Flynn’s contact with Russian officials during the campaign. Ross has been suspended for four weeks without pay, ABC News said.
“We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday. The reporting conveyed by Brian Ross during the special report had not been fully vetted through our editorial standards process,” ABC News said. “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.”
Ross reported Friday that Flynn was instructed to contact Russian officials during the campaign period by then-candidate Donald Trump. The charges against Flynn brought by special counsel Robert Mueller only claim that Flynn was directed to contact Russian officials during the post-election transition period in an effort to work together on battling ISIS and other issues. Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI during its initial investigation on Russian activity in the U.S. during the 2016 race.
Ross has been with ABC News since 1994. He’s earned six Peabody Awards and six Polk Awards, among many other kudos, during his long career as a reporter. He spent 20 years with NBC News before shifting to ABC.
ABC’s swift decision to suspend the veteran correspondent underscores the heightened pressure on news organizations at a time when mainstream outlets are regularly lambasted by President Trump as “fake news.” The probe by former FBI director Robert Mueller into Russian interference and questions of the Trump campaign’s involvement has become a highly polarizing issue for politicians and voters alike.
Ross acknowledged the suspension in a tweet sent Saturday evening.
“My job is to hold people accountable and that’s why I agree with being held accountable myself,” he wrote.
Donald Trump weighed in on the situation Saturday morning, posting a tweet calling on people who lost money due to the incorrect report’s effect on the stock market to hire lawyers and sue ABC News “for the damages this bad reporting has caused — many millions of dollars!”