ABC News’ Brian Ross reported that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had cut a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and he was set to testify that “candidate” Donald Trump had directed him to call Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
ABC News issued a major correction twelve hours after the bogus report had roiled markets and fueled wild speculation that Trump impeachment was imminent.
CORRECTION of ABC News Special Report: Flynn prepared to testify that President-elect Donald Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians *during the transition* — initially as a way to work together to fight ISIS in Syria, confidant now says. https://t.co/ewrkVZTu2K pic.twitter.com/URLiHf3uSm
— ABC News (@ABC) December 2, 2017
The glaring issue with the report is that is neither abnormal nor illegal for presidential transition teams to engage in initial foreign affairs. Not only did the transition team, headed by Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, reach out to the Russians, it did with 12 other foreign governments as well.
Fox News later reported that the senior Trump official who directed Flynn to reach out to Ambassador Kislyak was K.T. McFarland, who became the deputy national security adviser before resigning in April.
Now, ABC News has announced that it is taking disciplinary action against Ross:
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. 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.
It is a serious punishment for the journalistic malpractice, but some might ask why he is still with ABC News after a false report about the Aurora shooting that a “tea party member” named “Jim Holmes” was a suspect in the mass murder. Not only was there no tea party member involved, but the innocent man caught up in the phony report suffered immensely for it.
“An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted,” the apology read at the time.
It appears that “fake news” is being held up as a “conservative” problem, when it is actually a long-running mainstream media tradition. No “fake news” report on the right, however, has led to a market dive, like Brian Ross’s has.
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