Fake News Reporter Brian Ross Leaves ABC News.
NEW YORK – July 5, 2018
Brian Ross, the chief investigative correspondent for ABC News, has been forced to resign because he embarrassed the network December 2017 when he did an on-air report that Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, would testify that President Trump had directed him to make contact with Russian officials while Mr. Trump was still a candidate.
Mr. Trump directed Mr. Flynn to make contact after the election, as president-elect, the network said.
It was later clarified that, in fact, Trump had asked Flynn to contact Russian officials when he was president-elect – a not-unusual request for an incoming president. The bombshell ‘news’ was so explosive that it even caused the stock market to tumble and ABC was forced to apologize for its “serious” error.
ABC initially issued a clarification after Mr. Ross made the statement during a live broadcast on Friday but later called it a correction.
“The reporting conveyed by Brian Ross during the special report had not been fully vetted through our editorial standards process,” ABC said in a statement.
ABC said the confidant later clarified that Mr. Trump’s request to Mr. Flynn during the campaign had been to find ways to repair relations with Russia. The directive to contact Russian officials on topics that included working together against the Islamic State came after the election, the network said.
“It is vital we get the story right and retain the trust we have built with our audience — these are our core principles,” the ABC statement said. “We fell far short of that yesterday.”
Hours after ABC’s statement, Mr. Trump used Twitter to praise the network for suspending Mr. Ross, calling his report “horrendously inaccurate and dishonest.” The president ended his tweet by referring to “Fake News.”
Congratulations to @ABC News for suspending Brian Ross for his horrendously inaccurate and dishonest report on the Russia, Russia, Russia Witch Hunt. More Networks and “papers” should do the same with their Fake News!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2017
Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary for President George W. Bush, wrote on Twitter that the error was the latest in a series of high-profile mistakes by Mr. Ross.
“I explicitly told ABC News not to go with the anthrax story because it was wrong,” Mr. Fleischer wrote, in reference to a 2001 report in which he said Mr. Ross inaccurately linked Iraq and its dictator Saddam Hussein to an anthrax attack on the United States. “Brian Ross went with it anyway.”
I explicitly told ABC News not to go with the anthrax story because it was wrong. Brian Ross went with it anyway - and one week later issued a murky, hard to understand correction. https://t.co/JKB5Wtepwq— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) December 2, 2017
Ross, an award-winning investigative reporter working for ABC for more than two decades, has made something of a career of explosive reports that later transpire to be inaccurate, or “fake news.”
In 2001, Ross reported that anthrax attacks in the US were likely the work of Iraq. Citing four anonymous sources, Ross claimed the anthrax contained bentonite, which was “known to have been used by only one country in producing biochemical weapons - Iraq."
In 2009, Ross claimed he had uncovered how Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan had attempted to reach out to “people associated with al Qaeda.” His report sparked theories that the Fort Hood shooting which left 13 dead was part of a larger terrorist plot. The Pakistani government said the story was "fictitious." ABC ended up retracting the story.
In 2010, Ross reported that Toyota cars had “unintended acceleration.” Ross demonstrated this in an on-air report showing him driving one of the cars going out of control.
The footage showed the car’s tachometer going from 1,000 RPM to 6,000 RPM in one second, but the dashboard lights also revealed the car was parked with the doors open at the time. This was then spliced into scenes of Ross driving the car in the report, Gawker reports.
In 2012, Mr. Ross and ABC issued an apology after Mr. Ross incorrectly suggested that the shooter in the massacre at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater was involved with a Tea Party organization. His investigation amounted to finding someone with the same name on a Tea Party Patriots website. ABC later issued a correction.
On Monday Ross announced that he would be leaving the network for good, along with his longtime producer Rhonda Schwartz. In a letter to staff, the pair wrote that “the time has come to say goodbye”.
Ross and Schwartz said that they leave with “enormous gratitude” to those who helped build what they called a “robust and honored investigative unit” but said it was time to “pack up and move on” after a “great run of 24 years”.
It's time to say good-bye after 24 years at ABC News, an organization that has meant so much to us. While Rhonda Schwartz and I are signing off from ABC News, we are hardly leaving investigative journalism. There is much more to do.— Brian Ross (@BrianRoss) July 2, 2018
Ross and Schwartz have won many awards over the years for their work. ABC News' Goldston listed “four George Polk awards, four Peabody awards, four duPonts, five Murrows, 17 News and Documentary Emmys and the Harvard Goldsmith Prize, in 2014, for the single best investigative report in print or broadcast.”