I am quite certain Donald John “Fake News Maven” Trump is going to crow like a rooster over this bit of news.
Let’s try to put this into a bit of perspective.
ABC News has suspended veteran correspondent Brian Ross for four weeks without pay for reporting erroneously on the Michael Flynn guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian collusion with the Trump transition team.
It might be that Ross will be canned soon. You see, this isn’t the first time Ross has stepped in it on the air. In 2012, he reported that a suspect in the Aurora, Colo., massacre was a member of the Colorado TEA Party; he wasn’t.
But here’s my point: ABC is doing its due diligence in policing its personnel. It’s what responsible media companies do, despite the howls we’re going to hear from those on the far right about “fake news.”
Ross went on the air to report falsely that “candidate” Donald Trump had instructed Flynn to make contact with Russian government officials. Actually, that instruction came after Trump had been elected president; thus it came from the president-elect, which is a significant difference from it coming from a mere presidential candidate.
ABC said its reporter had failed to check his sources adequately and that he “fell far short” of the standards the network has set for its reporting staff.
I accept that mea culpa as sufficient evidence that the network has taken ownership of its mistake.
As for Ross, who carries the title of “chief investigative reporter” for ABC News, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised — or disappointed — if he is shown the door at the network.
This kind of mistake — and the sanction that has followed it — are going to tar Ross’s work for as long as he continues to pursue what many of us still consider to be an honorable craft.