ABC News’ Brian Ross stepped on a rake with that botched Flynn-Russia story—and there are whisperings that his future might not be bright at the network. It all began when Ross reported that Donald Trump had ordered Michael Flynn, the ex-national security adviser, to make contact with the Russians during the 2016 election. Well, as it turns out, the timeline was off. It was after Trump had won the election, so President-elect Trump ordered Flynn to make contact with the Russians per the usual actions of any transition team laying the groundwork for an incoming administration. After several hours, ABC issued a correction:
Correction: During a live Special Report, ABC News reported that a confidant of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn said Flynn was prepared to testify that then-candidate Donald Trump instructed him to contact Russian officials during the campaign. That 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 on topics that included working jointly against ISIS.
Now, there’s audio of ABC News’ President James Goldston torching the news staff for allowing this shoddy story to get through and being reported on live television; Ross used a single, anonymous source for his report. Goldston noted how the whole news division, especially those in D.C., have to bear the brunt of this, how it makes everyone’ s job harder, and how it’s more important to be right than first. Yet, how this information was able to slip through the cracks is another issue altogether (via CNN):
During ABC News’ morning editorial call Monday, audio of which was obtained by CNN, Goldston excoriated his staff for the error.
“I don’t think ever in my career have I felt more rage and disappointment and frustration that I felt through this weekend and through the last half of Friday,” Goldston said.
“I don’t even know how many times we’ve talked about this, how many times we have talked about the need to get it right,” he added. “That how we have to be right and not first. About how in this particular moment, with the stakes as high as these stakes are right now, we cannot afford to get it wrong.”
Goldston also said, “If it isn’t obvious to everyone in this news division, we have taken a huge hit and we have made the job of every single person in this news division harder as a result. It’s much, much harder. We have people in Washington who are going to bear the brunt of this today and in the days forward. Very, very, very, very unfortunate. Really, really angry about it.”
The ABC News chief said that Ross reported information that was “just plain wrong,” and did so without anyone “having ever made a decision that we were going to go to air with that information.”
Goldston expressed additional frustration at the fact that it took more than seven hours for ABC News to clarify the story on ABC’s “World News Tonight.” Later, Friday evening, the network issued a full blown correction in a written statement.
“The thing that compounded our mistake is that not only did we make a mistake, if we had then corrected ourselves right away, again — we wouldn’t be in this position. It would have been a very different story,” he said. “But we ended up in the impossible situation where we had actually conflicting information that we said on air, which conflicted with the information that was online. And then it took us seven hours, eight hours to get our story straight. This is not acceptable. It’s not acceptable. And we will all pay the price for a long time.”
“No one wants to work with him [Ross],” said one ABC News employee.
“The future doesn’t seem bright for him,” added another.
Goldston added that Ross would no longer be covering Trump either. He was recently given a four-week, no-pay suspension for this trip up. This isn’t the first time Ross has got a face full of buckshot for reporting shoddy leads. In 2012, after the tragic Aurora shooting, Ross reported that the shooter, James Holmes, might be a member of the Tea Party Movement. ABC News was forced to apologize for that story as well.