ABC suspended prominent investigative journalist and anchor Brian Ross for four weeks without pay on Saturday after he made a high-profile mistake involving President Trump.
In a statement, ABC said, “We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday.”
After Michael Flynn was arrested and pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI on Friday, Ross reported that Flynn planned to tell authorities that President Trump had personally directed him to make contact with Russia while he he was a candidate for president. The explosive claim, which suggested a new dimension to Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, was picked up by many other journalists, and even caused a significant, temporary dip in the stock market.
But Ross later issued a “clarification”: His source, he said, had actually told him that Trump had made the comments in question when he was the president-elect, not a candidate — making the explanation for them far more innocuous. Ross’s not-quite correction did little to stem the tide of disapproval from a bipartisan spectrum of journalists and commentators. Later, the clarification was amended to a correction.
Ross has been a mainstay at ABC News since 1994, and has won his share of prestigious awards. But he has also made several noteworthy blunders over the years, including falsely connecting mass shooter James Holmes to the Tea Party and reporting that Saddam Hussein might have been behind anthrax attacks on Americans.