When Allahpundit wrote about ABC News’ big “clarification” of the Trump-Russia story Friday, he closed with a simple question about Brian Ross:
How can ABC go on letting him report major scoops when he has a pattern of being either flatly wrong or so careless with the information as to suggest that he doesn’t understand the nuances of the story, as was true of today’s “candidate” error?
Saturday, ABC decided Ross needed to pay a price and suspended him for four weeks without pay. From the Associated Press:
“We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday,” the network said in a statement Saturday. “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. We fell far short of that yesterday. Effective immediately, Brian Ross will be suspended for four weeks without pay.”
It’s fair to ask, as Allahpundit did, whether Ross really ought to be reporting major scoops at all at this point. Everyone on the right remembers his attempt to blame a mass shooting on the Tea Party five years ago based on nothing more than his name.
Putting aside whether ABC News should make Ross’ suspension more permanent, it’s worth noting that Ross is not the first major reporter to wind up way out over his skis on a story involving Trump and Russia. In fact, there seems to be something about this story that has major reporters tripping over themselves for the next big report.
Back in June, CNN fired three reporters after they published a story suggesting a connection between Anthony Scaramucci and a Russian investment fund. The story had to be completely retracted. That high profile failure was partly the result of an effort by CNN to keep up with the pace of Trump-Russia scoops that were coming out almost daily at the time. After the three reporters were fired CNN’s investigative team was essentially told to lay off the Russia collusion beat.
That wasn’t CNN’s first mistake in a Russia-related story. A couple weeks earlier, CNN hyped a big scoop about testimony James Comey was about to give, claiming he would directly contradict the president on whether or not he had provided assurance Trump himself was under investigation. From the Washington Post:
CNN assigned four reporters to inaccurately predict testimony that was coming in a matter of hours. Why throw a squadron of talent after what New York University professor Jay Rosen calls an “ego scoop”? Who would ever remember this exclusive? Does CNN believe the entire country is checking its countdown clocks every few minutes?
The network prized the testimony preview because this was COMEY WEEK. According to an account from NewsBusters, CNN hyped the upcoming testimony for 10 hours from noon on June 1 through noon Wednesday. Such big-event hysteria apparently ruled out considerations that testimony prediction would prove to be an ephemeral and pointless pursuit.
The same kind of over-eager desire to do a dance in Trump’s end-zone was on display yesterday when Brian Ross first announced his big scoop:
It’s not Joy Behar’s fault that Brian Ross and ABC got this wrong, but her foolish excitement over the story may be one reason false scoops like this keep getting reported in the first place. Simply put: There are a lot of people, including left-leaning journalists, who want these stories to be true. Add to that the fact that bringing down the president would be the ultimate scalp to claim, one that makes ordinary journalists into legends, and you have a lot of incentive to rush these stories out.
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