Brian Ross, ABC’s longtime investigative correspondent, is leaving the broadcaster after his erroneous report on former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
Ross was suspended for four weeks without pay in December 2017 after falsely reporting Donald Trump directed Flynn to make contact with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. The truth was that Trump made that order as President-elect, thus establishing international relations during his transition into the White House. Ross’s executive producer Rhonda Schwartz is also leaving the network.
“After a great run of 24 years, we have decided to pack up and move on from ABC News, an organization that has meant so much to us. We leave with enormous gratitude for all those who supported us and helped build the industry’s most robust and honored investigative unit,” Ross and Schwartz wrote in a letter sent by ABC News boss James Goldston. “While we are signing off from ABC News, we are hardly leaving investigative journalism. There is much more to do.”
Goldston thanked Ross and Schwartz in a glowing memo to ABC staffers.
“They’ve exposed government corruption at every level, international human rights abuses and fraud, uncovered dangerous working conditions, sexual abuse cover-ups and dishonest business practices,” Goldston wrote. “Their work has led repeatedly to real changes in policy in the U.S. and around the world.”
“Over the years they have built a team of the best investigative journalists in our industry, and they leave behind an outstanding group that will continue to break stories for many years to come … We wish them well in their next chapter,” he added.
Ross infamously retracted his initial report claiming Flynn had pledged to testify against Trump and reveal he was directed by the President-elect to “make contact with the Russians.”
“A clarification tonight on something one of Flynn’s confidants told us, and we reported earlier today. He said the President had asked Flynn to contact Russia during the campaign,” said Ross. “He’s now clarifying that saying according to Flynn, candidate Trump asked him during the campaign to find ways to repair relations with Russia and other hot spots, and then after the election, the President-elect asked him, told him to contact Russia on issues, including working together to fight ISIS.”
The original false report sent the stock market into a sharp fall — over 350 points.
— ABC News (@ABC) December 2, 2017
ABC issued the following statement in response to Ross’ erroneous reporting:
“We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday. 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—these are our core principles. We fell far short of that yesterday. Effective immediately, Brian Ross will be suspended for four weeks without pay.”