ABC News faced backlash on Friday after the network corrected a bombshell report saying that as a presidential candidate, Donald Trumppressed Michael Flynn to make contact with Russia.
The network aired a special report Friday morning shortly after Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the month before Trump took office.
Financial markets shuddered after the report, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling more than 350 points.
ABC News announced Saturday that Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross would be suspended for four weeks without pay over a botched “exclusive” about former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
According to ABC, a Flynn confidant cited by the network clarified that it was after the election that Trump “directed Flynn to contact Russian officials on topics that included working jointly against ISIS.”
Still, the error drew scorn across the political spectrum and among journalists, who blasted ABC News for initially only issuing a clarification as opposed to an actual correction about what the confidant had said.
During a live “special report” Friday morning, Ross reported that Flynn would testify that Donald Trump had ordered him to make contact with Russians about foreign policy while he was still a candidate. The report raised the specter of Trump’s impeachment and sent the stock market plummeting.
Later in the day, ABC issued a “clarification” to Ross’s report, saying that Trump’s alleged directive came after he’d been elected president. Ross himself appeared on “World News Tonight,” several hours after the initial report, to clarify his error.
In a statement, ABC News said Ross’ 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,” ABC’s statement added. “These are our core principles. We fell far short of that yesterday.”