ABC’s Fake News Causes Stock Market to Plunge
Even in an era where mainstream media fake news has become the norm, it’s a relative rarity to see a major press organization like ABC News indulge in the sort of reckless reporting that we saw on Friday. Yes, CNN, NBC, the New York Times, and the rest of them let their abject bias color their Trump coverage and yes, they quote endlessly from unnamed, suspicious sources, but it’s not all that often that they just blatantly publish fact-free nonsense.
But that’s exactly what they did last week when reporter Brian Ross gave the network his “insider knowledge” about Michael Flynn and his grand jury testimony. It was a stunning example of media irresponsibility, and it even had tangible effects on the stock market, which plunged 350 points in the wake of the report.
In the morning, based on Ross’s reporting, ABC News said that, as a CANDIDATE, Donald Trump ordered Flynn to make contact with the Russians. If this reporting had been accurate, it would have been the bombshell of the day, overshadowing even the basic (true) news that Flynn had pled guilty to lying to the FBI and that he was prepared to testify that he was ordered to make contact with Russian government officials as part of the transition effort. It would have been the clearest piece of hard evidence yet that the BIG STORY – that the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow in an effort to win the election – actually had some merit to it.
Only problem? It wasn’t true.
By the evening’s “World News Tonight” broadcast, ABC News was forced to issue a correction to their illegitimate bombshell, bringing their reporting back in line with everyone else’s – that Flynn had only contacted Russian officials as a member of the transition team, AFTER Trump had already been elected president.
“A clarification tonight on something one of Flynn’s confidants told us and we reported earlier today,” Ross said Friday evening. “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.”
The next day, after a barrage of angry criticism, ABC News issued a statement apologizing for the report and confirming that Ross would be punished for his sorry journalism.
“We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday,” the company wrote. 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,” ABC continued. “We fell far short of that yesterday. Effective immediately, Brian Ross will be suspended for four weeks without pay.”
ABC News should be commended for taking strong steps to correct for this error, but it’s one that would have never happened in the first place if the press were more concerned about accurate journalism than they are about their dual interests of generating ratings and destroying President Trump. They can play whack-a-mole with every false report, losing more viewer trust every time, or they can re-evaluate their entire approach to covering this presidency.