(National Sentinel) ‘Clarification’: ABC News reporter Brian Ross was forced to issue a “correction” Friday during the network’s evening newscast to a bombshell report he filed earlier in the day claiming that President Donald J. Trump, as a candidate, asked advisor Michael Flynn to make contact with Russian officials.
The report yesterday morning caused political and financial reverberations throughout Washington and the financial sector, causing the Dow to fall 350 points, though by the end of the day markets had largely recovered.
CNN reported that Ross at first issued a “clarification” during “ABC World News Tonight,” saying that his anonymous source changed their story late in the day to claim that Trump asked Flynn to contact Russian officials as president-elect, not as a candidate.
The former claim fed into the long-running Washington narrative that the Trump campaign was ‘colluding’ with Moscow during last year’s election in an effort to undermine Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning.
But the corrected version of the story is much less impactful because it is customary for incoming administrations to make contact with foreign governments to discuss issues. In this case, Flynn had contacted Russian diplomats, ostensibly on the president-elect’s instructions, to discuss ISIS and Syria, other reports stated.
“[A] clarification tonight on something one of Flynn’s confidants told us and we reported earlier today,” Ross said during last night’s newscast. “He said the president had asked Flynn to contact Russia during the campaign.
“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 world hot spots. And then after the election, the president-elect asked him to contact Russia on issues including working together to fight ISIS,” Ross said.
At no time did he reveal the identity of his source. CNN also noted that the rival news network waited until the evening newscast to correct the record, even though Ross and news editors had known earlier in the day the initial reporting was factually incorrect.
A tweet published by ABC News containing Ross’ initial report had been retweeted more than 25,000 times and embedded in various news stories online before it was deleted. ABC posted a “clarification” on Twitter around 8 p.m.
An ABC spokesperson said the network learned its initial reporting was incorrect at about 6 p.m. The network spokesperson declined to say if any disciplinary action would occur.
The mincing of words drew immediate criticism from other news outlets.
“If we want to regain trust in the media, we need to admit our mistakes, especially when as consequential as this. Retract. Correct. Don’t use weasel words to describe it,” Jonathan Swan of Axios tweeted.
Former CNN and Fox News host Greta Van Susteren blasted ABC for trying to “sugar coat” its mistake by characterizing it as a “clarification.”
This is not the first occasion where Ross has made a major reporting error. In 2012 he was forced to apologize after suggesting that a member of the so-called Tea Party was responsible for the Aurora, Colorado, shootings.
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