ABC News suspends Brian Ross for 4 weeks for the wrong story of Flynn


  Trump's praise of Michael Flynn over the years

ABC News announced on Saturday that it suspended investigative journalist Brian Ross for four weeks without pay after Ross was forced to correct a report on Michael Flynn

"We deeply regret and apologize for the serious mistake we made yesterday.The reports transmitted by Brian Ross during the special report had not been fully investigated through our editorial standards process," ABC said in a statement. "As a result of our continuous report in the next few hours, we finally determined that the information was incorrect and corrected the error in the air and online."

"It is vital that we have the right story and that we maintain the trust we have built with our audience: these are our basic principles," the statement adds. "We fell short of that yesterday."

Citing an anonymous source, Ross told viewers during a special ABC report on Friday morning that Flynn was prepared to testify that Donald Trump, as presidential candidate, told him to contact the Russians.

During Friday's edition of "World News Tonight," Ross retraced his report, telling viewers that the source who had provided the initial information for his story later told him he was as president-elect, not as a candidate, that Trump asked Flynn to contact the Russians.

An ABC News tweet about the report was retweeted about 25,000 times before being deleted.

The wrong Ross report caused a dramatic reaction in the financial markets, and the Dow fell more than 350 points. Stocks recovered much later in the day.

CNN initially contacted ABC News on Friday afternoon to ask why Ross's initial reports were not included in the chain's online story about Flynn pleading guilty to lying to the FBI. Hours later, a spokesman told CNN that a correction would be made.

But ABC News initially tried to minimize the error, referring to its correction as a "clarification" in "World News Tonight" and then online. After a barrage of criticism, the network changed the online language from "clarification" to "correction."

The Saturday afternoon statement further intensified the language; the network now calls it a "serious error".

Several ABC News employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not publicly authorized to discuss the matter, told CNNMoney on Saturday that there was internal embarrbadment over the error.

"It's a great shame," said an ABC News employee.

"It makes me tremble," echoed another. "This is not what any network needs when people are so quick to tell you," false news. "It makes my stomach sick."

This is not Ross's first high-profile error. In a 2012 piece for which he apologized, he suggested that the Aurora shooter might have had a connection to the tea party.

CNNMoney (New York) First publication December 2, 2017: 6:01 PM ET

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