ABC chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross was suspended Saturday for an erroneous report on Michael Flynn. But it wasn’t the first time Ross came under intense scrutiny for an incorrect report.
What happened before?
Following the tragic shooting at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012, Ross, while live on ABC News, connected the shooting to the Tea Party.
According to Fox News: “Ross reported on ABC News that he’d found a web page for a ‘Jim Holmes’ on a Colorado Tea Party site.”
“There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year,” Ross said on air.
The suspect was eventually revealed to be 24-year-old James Holmes. The person Ross referred to was 52 years old. The journalist blunder led many to pan ABC for appearing to almost immediately politicize the shooting.
“The attempts of some media organizations to characterize the shooter as a Tea Party member without having made any effort to contact our organization are shameless and reprehensible,” the Colorado Tea Party said in a statement at the time, according to Fox News.
ABC and Ross later apologized for “for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.”
What happened on Friday?
As news broke that Flynn had reached a plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller for lying to the FBI, Ross exclusively reported, citing a single source, that President Donald Trump personally directed Flynn to contact Russian officials during the campaign.
In fact, as Ross later admitted on ABC’s evening news show, the directive was given during the presidential transition after Trump was elected president.
The difference is significant. Ross’ first report implied wrongdoing on the campaign’s behalf, but the correction showed nothing more than a key member of the transition laying the diplomatic groundwork for a new administration.
Ross has been suspended for four weeks without pay over Friday’s incident.