ABC News is being flayed on social media over a blockbuster report that appeared to negatively affect the stock market, but was later “corrected” with what sounded more like a retraction.
Here’s when the original news broke:
Just now, @BrianRoss on ABC: Michael Flynn "has promised full cooperation to the Mueller team. He's prepared to testify, we are told by a confidante, against President Trump, against members of the Trump family and others in the White House."
— David Wright (@DavidWright_CNN) December 1, 2017
ABC reported that Flynn “has promised full cooperation to the Mueller team.”
“Retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn has promised ‘full cooperation’ in the special counsel’s Russia investigation and, according to a confidant, is prepared to testify that Donald Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians, initially as a way to work together to fight ISIS in Syria,” the report from ABC News read.
“The confidant told ABC News that Flynn felt abandoned by Trump in recent weeks, and told friends about the decision to make the plea deal within the last 24 hours as he grew increasingly concerned about crippling legal costs he would face if he continued to contest the charges,” it continued.
The ramifications of what seemed like a major scoop made the stock market crash by 400 points.
— Ryan Saavedra 🇺🇸 (@RealSaavedra) December 2, 2017
But hours later, they issued a correction which nearly erased the import of the entire scoop.
Here’s the correction from Brian Ross:
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) December 1, 2017
Here’s the clarification to the published ABC News story:
“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,” it read.
“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.”
CLARIFICATION of ABC News Special Report: Flynn prepared to testify that President-elect Donald Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians *during the transition* — initially as a way to work together to fight ISIS in Syria, confidant now says. https://t.co/ewrkVZBTbc pic.twitter.com/GQAKwT1Eda
— ABC News (@ABC) December 2, 2017
The original story implied possibly illegal actions by then-candidate Trump, but the clarification merely describes acts that would be normally expected by a president after he was elected.
What was the reaction?
Many saw the correction as disproportional to the original story, and some suggested that ABC needed to simply retract the story entirely.
Former Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren tweeted, “Blunders like this are why so few trust media and it is wrong to describe as merely a clarification-it is a correction to a sloppy reported story that conveyed a sinister narrative.”
CNN editor Kyle Blaine wondered aloud why it took so long for a clarification to be released. “Why did ABC News leave this hanging out there until 6:30 pm?” he tweeted.
Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer jumped in, demanding an apology.
.@ABC “news” owes it viewers an apology. Calling false reporting a “clarification” is a cop out and just another reason for the decline in trust of the media
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) December 2, 2017
Will anyone be disciplined for the error?
CNN’s Oliver Darcy questioned ABC about corrective measures. “An ABC News spox told me the network learned its initial reporting was incorrect around 6pm. Spox declined to say if disciplinary action would occur,” he said.