If there is one thing I’ve learned to loathe and despise it is people who use faux outrage and blame shifting as something they consider to be a leadership technique. I saw a little of it in the military and most of the guys who practiced it were weeded out. But in the private sector–and in government–it is basically a cross between a religious practice and an art form.
Last Friday, ABC’s Brian Ross ginned up a literally fake report that said that Mike Flynn would testify that “candidate Donald Trump” ordered him to get into contact with the godless Russkies for some nefarious purpose that was not spelled out.
This was not just any story. The Dow Jones noticed immediately, dropping 300 points following the time this story aired.
The story began to unravel very quickly but it took some seven hours for ABC to make a retraction…or rather, as they call it, a “clarification.”
Ross was suspended a month without pay.
The ABC News president, James Goldston, was not pleased with it all and blistered every ass in sight:
During ABC News’ morning editorial call Monday, audio of which was obtained by CNN, Goldston excoriated his staff for the error.
“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,” Goldston 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,” he added. “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.”
CNN provided the quotes from the recording included in this article to an ABC News spokesperson, who did not deny that they were authentic. The spokesperson declined to comment beyond Goldston’s remarks.
Goldston noted that ABC News “spent this weekend getting absolutely pilloried as a news division for reporting fake news.”
“250,000 tweets. One percent positive, 99 percent negative about this news division. Two tweets from the president,” he told staff.
Goldston also said, “If it isn’t obvious to everyone in this news division, we have taken a huge hit and we have made the job of every single person in this news division harder as a result. It’s much, much harder. We have people in Washington who are going to bear the brunt of this today and in the days forward. Very, very, very, very unfortunate. Really, really angry about it.”
The ABC News chief said that Ross reported information that was “just plain wrong,” and did so without anyone “having ever made a decision that we were going to go to air with that information.”
“We just went on air with that information,” he 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.”
Goldston expressed additional frustration at the fact that it took more than seven hours for ABC News to clarify the story on ABC’s “World News Tonight.” Later, Friday evening, the network issued a full blown correction in a written statement.
“The thing that compounded our mistake is that not only did we make a mistake, if we had then corrected ourselves right away, again — we wouldn’t be in this position. It would have been a very different story,” he said. “But we ended up in the impossible situation where we had actually conflicting information that we said on air, which conflicted with the information that was online. And then it took us seven hours, eight hours to get our story straight. This is not acceptable. It’s not acceptable. And we will all pay the price for a long time.”
Here is the audio recording:
Well, I wasn’t quite accurate about him blistering every ass in sight. His ass was left unblemished.
Brian Ross has been ABC’s chief investigative reporter forever. Goldston, according to his ABC bio, joined ABC News in 2004 and was assigned as “senior producer of primetime specials and investigative reports.” Let’s look at Brian Ross’s trail of fraud and fake news. This is from my earlier post on the Ross retraction:
This is well trod ground for Brian Ross. If you recall, back in 2012 there was a shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Brian Ross was on the scene identifying the shooter as a Tea Party member.
Editor’s Note: An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.
Brian Ross reported Saddam Hussein was behind the 2001 anthrax attacks.
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
In an episode very similar to yesterday’s, Ross portrayed Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan’s contacts with a radical cleric as him “reaching out to al Qaeda.”
ABC retracted a Brian Ross story in which he claimed that a guy released from Guantanamo was behind the 2009 “underwear bomber” when he was actually in Saudi custody.
And remember the time he staged footage of a “runaway” Toyota?
Most of this happened while Goldston was a senior man at ABC. It is hard to believe he could have been pig-ignorant of these events. And yet, he kept Ross on staff. His blaming of people who weren’t even involved for Ross’s ad libbing (if we are to credit Goldston’s account) the report about Flynn is just douchebaggery. This guy is more responsible for the Ross blunder than Ross because he knew what kind of an amoral cretin Ross could be in pursuit of a scoop and let him loose unsupervised. What did he think Ross was going to do when given a chance to make up a big story? Default to telling the truth?
If there is any justice at all remaining in the world, Ross will be terminated and Goldston will get the heave-ho along with him.