On Saturday, ABC News announced that they suspended chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross for four weeks without pay “effective immediately” for his erroneous reporting on Michael Flynn on Friday.
In a statement, ABC News said: “It is vital we get the story right and retain the trust we have built with our audience — these are our core principles. We fell far short of that yesterday.”
The “serious error” came when Ross reported on live television that Flynn was prepared to testify that then-candidate Donald Trump told him to contact Russian officials — a statement with serious implications as it suggests that the Trump campaign and Russian officials possibly “colluded” during the 2016 presidential election.
ABC News finally corrected the mistake after nearly eight hours — a period in which the stock market took a direct hit as a result of the false report. The correction stated that it was president-elect Donald Trump who instructed Flynn to reach out to Russian officials, signifying that whatever transpired happened after the election.
The network was met with harsh criticism across social media platforms and from other news outlets over the report, including CNN, who pushed ABC News for answers about their reporting:
The Associated Press reported on January 13, 2017, that State Department spokesman Mark Toner said he did not see anything wrong with Trump’s transition team contacting Russian officials and other foreign states; he also indicated such actions are normal.