After the news that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had pled guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI, the media was scrambling to figure out exactly what Flynn's next move might entail.
ABC News soon broke a story about what was to come, and made huge waves in the process, as the story was shared by multiple news outlets and even caused a drop in the stock market.
During a live news segment, ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross reported that Flynn was prepared to testify that, during the campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump had instructed him to make contact with Russian officials, according to a close confidant.
Needless to say, it was a huge news story in regards to the probe into Russia's interference with the 2016 election, as well as Trump's knowledge of the interference.
For a moment, an impeachment of Trump seemed like a done deal.
There was only one problem, however: the story wasn't exactly accurate.
ABC initially issued a correction later in the day, saying:
During a live Special Report, ABC News reported that a confidant of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn said Flynn was prepared to testify that then-candidate Donald Trump instructed him to contact Russian officials during the campaign. That source later clarified that during the campaign, Trump assigned Flynn and a small circle of other senior advisers to find ways to repair relations with Russia and other hot spots. It was shortly after the election, that President-elect Trump directed Flynn to contact Russian officials on topics that included working jointly against ISIS.
The distinction of when Trump told Flynn to contact the Russians makes all the difference, and people weren't happy about it:
CORRECTION of ABC News Special Report: Flynn prepared to testify that President-elect Donald Trump directed him to… https://t.co/8eBUS0fZSC— ABC News (@ABC News)1512186824.0
@ABC Another great day for journalism.— yimla (@yimla)1512227696.0
@ABC Come on man! And you wonder why media has lost credibility?— Terry Owen (@Terry Owen)1512199983.0
The backlash then sparked ABC News to apologize for their "serious error" on Saturday, leading to a four-week suspension without pay for Ross, effective immediately:
New: ABC News has suspended Brian Ross for four weeks, without pay, for his erroneous report about General Michael Flynn.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@Yashar Ali 🐘)1512254743.0
The statement read:
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. As a result of our continued reporting over the next several hours ultimately we determined the information was wrong and we corrected the mistake on air and online.
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.
.@ABC News statement on Michael Flynn report: https://t.co/sd9TeFiiLQ https://t.co/UtHFHeuwcM— ABC News (@ABC News)1512254628.0
The decision must have been made sometime later on Saturday, as Ross was on hand for Good Morning America to issue a correction from the previous day's story:
Flynn takes plea deal with special counsel; says he will cooperate in Russia investigation. https://t.co/jmyBsjHxm0… https://t.co/Vv39eg6MM6— Good Morning America (@Good Morning America)1512220565.0
Many in the news media were baffled by ABC's delayed reaction:
Yesterday it was just a “clarification,” ABC said. Now it’s a “serious error” https://t.co/V0S8MKjBtm— Brian Stelter (@Brian Stelter)1512255138.0
Wow - this story did an about face after being picked up yesterday everywhere. https://t.co/DoQJf4gugf— Bret Baier (@Bret Baier)1512255255.0
ABC says the report @BrianRoss went to air with "had not been fully vetted through our editorial standards process"— Oliver Darcy (@Oliver Darcy)1512254725.0
And some journalists felt the need to stick up for Ross, who seemed to be playing the part of the scapegoat for ABC:
I don't know all the details, but it seems to me that Brian Ross made an honest error. Suspending him for four wee… https://t.co/6tdxmDGA9g— Matt Fuller (@Matt Fuller)1512256662.0
There were those that cried foul over a double-standard:
this also explains media's timidity covering GOP: if you make a mistake, and Ross did, yr career can be crushed....… https://t.co/hU3mNo6aKU— Eric Boehlert (@Eric Boehlert)1512255894.0
And for others, the suspension doesn't seem like that harsh of a punishment:
So, Brian Ross is getting December off for totally screwing pooch on the scoop of the century, tanking market, lyin… https://t.co/MfuuuUjJe3— Mary Katharine Ham (@Mary Katharine Ham)1512257033.0
As some have pointed out, he essentially gets the holiday season off to spend time with his family. At 69, I think… https://t.co/SpItOYnpl6— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@Yashar Ali 🐘)1512254976.0
In the end, Ross agreed with the suspension, saying in a tweet: "My job is to hold people accountable and that's why I agree with being held accountable myself."
My job is to hold people accountable and that's why I agree with being held accountable myself.— Brian Ross Investigates (@Brian Ross Investigates)1512264405.0
But for the Trump trolls, it's just another rallying cry in the fight against "fake news":
And they should know:
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