Following an onslaught of criticism, ABC News has suspended chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross for four weeks without pay after his erroneous on-air report about Michael Flynn.
The inaccurate report was widely picked up by other media outlets and triggered a 350-point drop in the Dow.
“We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday,” ABC News said in a statement Saturday. “The reporting conveyed by Brian Ross during the special report had not been fully vetted through our editorial standards process.”
“It is vital we get the story right and retain the trust we have built with our audience,” the network added.
ABC News issued the inaccurate “special report” on Friday. It appeared on air shortly after the former national security adviser pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacting a Russian official and discussing American sanctions against Russia for its interference in the presidential election. Ross, citing an anonymous source, reported Flynn was prepared to testify that President Donald Trump told him to reach out to Russian officials during the presidential campaign.
ABC News later clarified — then corrected — the story to say Trump had instructed Flynn to contact Russian officials during the transition after the presidential election — not during the campaign. Flynn was reportedly told to discuss possibly working with Russia in Syria. Trump only instructed Flynn and other associates during the campaign to explore ways to “repair relations” with Russia and other regions, according to ABC.
The distinction was critical since special counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the presidential election.
After the report, ABC was slammed by conservatives charging “fake news” and a number of journalists for its tepid clarification rather than an outright, more definitive correction.
Ross tweeted following the announcement that his “job is to hold people accountable,” and that he should be held accountable as well.
My job is to hold people accountable and that’s why I agree with being held accountable myself.
— Brian Ross (@BrianRoss) December 3, 2017
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.