- ABC News has suspended Brian Ross over his faulty report about former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
- The network had reported that then-presidential candidate Donald Trump directed Flynn to “make contact with the Russians.” It later clarified that Trump had given the instruction when he was president-elect, not a candidate.
- The original report shook US markets on Friday morning after it aired.
ABC News announced Saturday it has suspended its chief investigative correspondent for four weeks without pay for an inaccurate report on former national security adviser Michael Flynn that caused US stocks to tumble after it aired and made waves on social media.
Brian Ross reported in a live segment on Friday that Flynn intended to testify that President Donald Trump had “directed him to make contact with the Russians” when Trump was still a presidential candidate.
ABC News later issued a “clarification” that said Trump had, in fact, issued the directive to Flynn after he was elected president.
The network, which reported its story based in part on information received from one unnamed Flynn associate, said in its correction that Ross’ source later clarified that, “during the campaign, Trump assigned Flynn and a small circle of other senior advisers to find ways to repair relations with Russia and other hot spots.”
“It was shortly after the election that President-elect Trump directed Flynn to contact Russian officials,” the network’s correction said.
On Saturday, ABC News apologised for the error and announced Ross’ suspension.
“We deeply regret and apologise 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,” the network said in a statement.
“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.”
Flynn pleaded guilty to one felony count of lying to the FBI as part of a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is conducting the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between members of Trump’s inner circle and Russian operatives. Flynn is expected to be a cooperating witness in Mueller’s case.
Bryan Logan contributed reporting.
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