President Trump urged people Saturday to sue ABC News over a false on-air report that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was prepared to testify about Trump campaign collusion with Russia, which sent the stock market into a dive on Friday.
ABC News later corrected the story and suspended investigative reporter Brian Ross — but after the stock market closed for the day.
“People who lost money when the Stock Market went down 350 points based on the False and Dishonest reporting of Brian Ross of @ABC News (he has been suspended), should consider hiring a lawyer and suing ABC for the damages this bad reporting has caused — many millions of dollars!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.
By the end of the day Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had recovered most of the loses to close 41 points down. But market analysts attributed the volatile trading to the erroneous “bombshell” report.
Mr. Ross delivered the report on air as part of special coverage of Flynn pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russia. Mr. Trump’s foes had seized on the development as evidence that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe was closing in on the president.
Based on a single anonymous source, Mr. Ross told views during a ABC News special report Friday morning that Flynn was prepared to testify that Mr. Trump, while a candidate for president, instructed him to contact Russian officials.
On ABC’s “World News Tonight,” Mr. Ross said his source had clarified that Flynn actually was prepared to testify that Mr. Trump gave the instruction as president-elect during the transition.
Contacting foreign governments as a high-ranking member of the transition team would be business as usual for an incoming administration.
ABC News suspended Mr. Ross for four weeks without pay, the network said Saturday in a statement.
“We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday. 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,” ABC said in the statement.
“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 said.
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