The initial report from ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross, which aired during the “Special Report” program at about 11am on Friday, stated that an anonymous source told the reporter a close associate of Flynn was ready to testify that Trump had “directed him to make contact with the Russians” during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Ross later corrected the report on ABC News’ Friday night edition of “World News Tonight,” telling audiences that the source who had provided the initial information told him later on that President Trump was actually president-elect when he asked Flynn to contact Russia.
ABC News subsequently reported that then-President Elect Trump ordered Flynn to contact Russia in order to find ways to repair relations between the two countries.
In any event, the news appeared to have done some damage, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeting more than 350 points. It recovered by the end of the day.
Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer took to his Twitter, saying that “ABC ‘news’ owes it viewers an apology. Calling false reporting a ‘clarification’ is a cop out and just another reason for the decline in trust of the media.”
A Twitter user named Josh Jordan suggested in a tweet that “ABC News and Brian Ross” helped Trump more than the president could have asked for with their “irresponsible Flynn plea deal reporting.”
This is not the first time a flawed report about alleged Russian election meddling has hit the airwaves. In September, NBC News also falsely reported on such alleged interference.
In late September, Homeland Security spokesman Scott McConnell notified 21 states that the department told “the Secretary of State or other chief election officer in each state of any potential targeting we were aware of in their state leading up to the 2016 election.”
The notification from the DHS did not mention any election hacking, but NBC Politics tweeted out the story as “JUST IN: ‘Russian government cyber actors’ unsuccessfully attempted to hack 2016 election results in Wisconsin, DHS tells state officials.”
NBC Politics later sent out what they called a clarification, but Pro Publica election reporter Jessica Huseman was quick to criticize the news outlet’s errors and said: “You do not ‘clarify’ false information. You delete and correct.”