ABC has suspended Brian Ross after he falsely reported that then-candidate Donald Trump instructed Michael Flynn to contact Russian government officials before the election.
Ross, citing anonymous sources, claimed that Flynn agreed to testify that before the election Trump told him to contact Russian officials. His “source” had actually told him that the order came only after Trump had won the election.
The difference is important. Before winning the election, Trump is just like any other private citizen and would be prevented by the Logan Act from interfering in international politics. But contacting Russian officials after winning the election would just be prudent transition outreach.
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
For his “serious error”, ABC has suspended Ross for 4 weeks without pay while they “get the story right.”
“We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday,” ABC News said in a statement. “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.
This isn’t Ross’s first foray into fake news. In 2010, he was found to have faked video of a Toyota vehicle demonstrating “unintended acceleration.” Earlier in his career, he reported that Aurora, Colorado shooter Jim Holmes may have been a member of the Colorado Tea Party – another factual inaccuracy for which ABC was forced to issue a correction.