ABC News president James Goldson castigated staff Monday over an erroneous report about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Goldson announced that chief investigative reporter Brian Ross, who wrote the story, will no longer cover stories related to the president.
“I don’t think ever in my career have I felt more rage and disappointment and frustration that I felt through this weekend and through the last half of Friday,” Goldson said.
“I don’t even know how many times we’ve talked about this, how many times we have talked about the need to get it right. That how we have to be right and not first. About how in this particular moment, with the stakes as high as these stakes are right now, we cannot afford to get it wrong.”
The ABC News boss also told staffers that the network was conducting a “full review” of the incident.
Ross reported Friday that Flynn was prepared to testify that candidate Trump told him to contact the Russians, which led to speculation of impeachment and sent the stock market into a nosedive.
Ross corrected his story more than seven hours later that it was president-elect Trump that had made the request. ABC suspended him the next day for four weeks without pay for what it termed the “serious error.”
Goldson said the mistake could have been avoided if Ross hadn’t rushed the story.
“We just went on air with that information,” Goldson said. “We hadn’t approved doing that. And the thing that just kills me about this is all we had to do was wait. We had to wait a few minutes.
“A few minutes after that, the charging documents came out. We know that those charging documents had come out, and we had looked to those charging documents, and the charging documents didn’t match what we thought the story was. We would have not gone with that story.”
Goldson said the news division will “pay the price for a long time” because of the magnitude of this error.
This isn’t the first time Ross has flubbed a story.
Former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted Saturday about a story Ross wrote in 2001, which said Saddam Hussein’s regime might have been responsible for anthrax attacks shortly after 9/11.
I explicitly told ABC News not to go with the anthrax story because it was wrong. Brian Ross went with it anyway – and one week later issued a murky, hard to understand correction. https://t.co/JKB5Wtepwq
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) December 2, 2017
That was verified by Ross’ colleague Terry Moran, who then served as the network’s chief White House correspondent.
This is correct. https://t.co/mkEpu2VecC
— Terry Moran (@TerryMoran) December 2, 2017
ABC News could part with Ross when his suspension is over, if not sooner, as the network tries to wipe away the fake news label that now hangs over the network.