ABC News reporter Brian Ross, who botched a Trump-Russia story that sent the markets into a tailspin last December, is out at the network. In December of 2017, Ross aired a piece of fake news trash, reporting that Michael Flynn, who would later become Donald Trump’s short-lived national security adviser, went to Russia to make contact with them during the 2016 election. There was only one problem: Flynn made contact after the 2016 election, as part of any run-of-the-mill diplomatic reorganization concerning an incoming administration. It wasn’t news, but the anti-Trump bias within the news media and their Russian collusion fetish got the best of them. It was a total disaster.
Ross was given a four-week suspension without pay—and ABC News President James Goldston torched the news staff for allowing this single anonymously sourced story to make it the airwaves. What made matters worse is that it took ABC News several hours to issue a correction. After his suspension, Ross did not show up for work. At the time of his suspension, ABC News employees reportedly said that the future did not look good for Ross, and that no one wanted to work with him. Today, Ross announced his departure (via Free Beacon):
"After a great run of 24 years, we have decided to pack up and move on from ABC News, an organization that has meant so much to us. We leave with enormous gratitude for all those who supported us and helped build the industry’s most robust and honored investigative unit," the letter states.
ABC president James Goldston praised Ross and Schwartz’s work, stating in a memo that "they’ve exposed government corruption at every level, international human rights abuses and fraud, uncovered dangerous working conditions, sexual abuse cover-ups and dishonest business practices."
It's time to say good-bye after 24 years at ABC News, an organization that has meant so much to us. While Rhonda Schwartz and I are signing off from ABC News, we are hardly leaving investigative journalism. There is much more to do.— Brian Ross (@BrianRoss) July 2, 2018
Yet, this isn’t the first time Ross has stepped on a rake. He made an equally appalling error when he reported that James Holmes, the Aurora shooter, might be a member of the Tea Party. This was also total garbage, and the network issued an apology. And there are many more times Ross has tripped up (via Politico):
In 2006, Ross reported that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was a target in the federal corruption investigation involving then-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. After the Justice Department denied the story, Ross stood by his reporting and stated that Hastert was ‘very much in the mix’ of the probe, despite the fact that Hastert had never been approached by prosecutors.
In 2007, Ross accepted a claim by former CIA agent John Kiriakou that 35 seconds of waterboarding had led suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah to disclose terrorist plots to the CIA. Despite the fact that Kirakou was not present at Zubayadah’s interrogation, the claim was repeated for days by other networks and newspapers and used as evidence for advocates of the waterboarding technique. A year and a half later, a Justice Department memo would show that Zubayadah had undergone waterboarding “at least 83 times.”
In 2010, Ross reported that a defect in Toyota cars was responsible for “unintended acceleration.” As part of his report, he showed video footage of the Toyota’s tachometer going from 1,000 RPMs to 6,000 RPMs in a single second. But the same footage revealed that the car was actually parked with the doors open when Ross claimed it was moving. ABC News confirmed that the stage footage had been spliced into Ross’s video.
For six years, Ross also oversaw ABC News consultant Alexis Debat, the self-proclaimed counterterrorism expert who was forced to resign after it was revealed that he had misrepresented himself on his resume and faked an interview with then-Senator Barack Obama.
Glenn Greenwald, the lawyer and Salon columnist who has been one of Ross’s fiercest critics over the years, argues that the ABC reporter is driven by a penchant for sensationalism.
“Brian Ross is responsible for several of the establishment media’s most shameful and reckless journalistic falsehoods of the last decade,” Greenwald told POLITICO. “His reporting philosophy seems to be to go on TV and say whatever he thinks will garner attention and create ‘scoops,’ without the slightest concern for whether it’s actually true.”
Oh, and let’s not forget the shoddy 2001 report, where he said there might be a Saddam Hussein/Iraq link to the anthrax scare. Nope—that was total crap as well. Why hasn’t Ross been let go before? Who knows, but it looks like yet another colossal screw up that tanked the markets was the final straw, which says something about how the liberal media operates in the accountability department, but you all knew that already.