ABC News president James Goldston blasted the outlet’s staff Monday over a report about former national security adviser Michael Flynn that contained major errors and eventually caused the stock market to tank.
ABC News “spent this weekend getting absolutely pilloried as a news division for reporting fake news,” Goldston noted, according to a CNN report Monday afternoon. “250,000 tweets. One percent positive, 99 percent negative about this news division. Two tweets from the president,” he told staff.
Brian Ross initially reported Friday morning that Flynn was prepared to testify that President Donald Trump instructed him during the presidential campaign to reach out to the Russians. Flynn, a former White House senior adviser, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI as part of the investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 election.
It took Ross seven hours to correct the report. Flynn was prepared to testify Trump made the request as president-elect, he said in a corrected report on “World News Tonight” later that day. ABC News suspended Ross Saturday for a month without pay for what it termed a “serious error.” He was also prevented from issuing any more reports on the president.
Goldston lamented the damage Ross’ report caused.
“If it isn’t obvious to everyone in this news division, we have taken a huge hit and we have made the job of every single person in this news division harder as a result,” he said. “It’s much, much harder. We have people in Washington who are going to bear the brunt of this today and in the days forward. Very, very, very, very unfortunate. Really, really angry about it.”
Ross’ report should have been corrected sooner than it was, Goldston noted.
“The thing that compounded our mistake is that not only did we make a mistake, if we had then corrected ourselves right away, again — we wouldn’t be in this position. It would have been a very different story,” he said.
Goldston added: “But we ended up in the impossible situation where we had actually conflicting information that we said on air, which conflicted with the information that was online. And then it took us seven hours, eight hours to get our story straight. This is not acceptable. It’s not acceptable. And we will all pay the price for a long time.”
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