Brian Ross, the ABC News veteran and one of TV's best-known investigative reporters, is leaving the network, both Ross and ABC said Monday. Ross' departure comes in the wake of a 2017 report on President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, which ABC retracted.
"After more than two decades at ABC News, Brian Ross and [chief investigative producer] Rhonda Schwartz have decided to leave the company,” ABC News President James Goldston said in a memo to staffers Monday. “Over the years they have built a team of the best investigative journalists in our industry, and they leave behind an outstanding group that will continue to break stories for many years to come.”
Ross reported last December that Flynn had been directed by Trump to contact Russian officials during the 2016 election. In a tweet the network stated: “JUST IN: @BrianRoss on @ABC News Special Report: Michael Flynn promised ‘full cooperation to the Mueller team’ and is prepared to testify that as a candidate, Donald Trump "directed him to make contact with the Russians." ’ ” An on-air report followed.
But ABC subsequently deleted the tweet after determining that Flynn had been instructed to make contact after the election. It then issued a clarification the following day, which read in part, “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.”
Ross was suspended for four weeks and demoted.
Ross, who was a prolific investigator, occasionally was also error prone. Among a handful of prominent mistakes in recent years, Ross erroneously suggested in a 2012 report that the gunman in the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting was a local Tea Party leader.
In a statement, Ross said: “After a great run of 24 years, we have decided to pack up and move on from ABC News, an organization that has meant so much to us. While we are signing off from ABC News, we are hardly leaving investigative journalism. There is much more to do.”