Conservatives skewer ABC News over faulty Trump-Flynn report (POLITICO)

Conservatives skewer ABC News over faulty Trump-Flynn report

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that “calling false reporting a ‘clarification’ is a cop out and just another reason for the decline in trust of the media.” | J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

Conservatives skewer ABC News over faulty Trump-Flynn report

Conservative commentators hammered ABC News over its clarification to a report Friday that claimed that then-candidate Donald Trump had directed Michael Flynn to contact Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.

The initial report, which aired during ABC News’ “Special Report” around 11 a.m. on Friday, cited a source claiming that a close associate of Flynn was prepared to testify that Trump "directed him to make contact with the Russians" during the course of the 2016 presidential race.

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Around 6:30 p.m. ABC News’ Brian Ross issued an on-air “clarification” that their source had explained that it was only after the election that “President-elect Trump asked [Flynn] to contact Russia on issues including working together to fight ISIS.”

ABC News added that the extent of campaign communications between Trump and Flynn on the matter, according to the source, was limited to “Trump asking him during the campaign to find ways to repair relations with Russia and other world hot spots.”

The original reporting, which proved to be inaccurate, appeared to link Flynn’s electoral contacts with Russian officials directly to the president, a connection he has repeatedly denied the existence of.

Right-wing media figures and commentators slammed ABC News for spreading the inaccurate information on Friday, decrying the report as “fake news” and evidence of an anti-Trump bias in the mainstream press.

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who often sparred with reporters during his West Wing tenure, tweeted that “calling false reporting a ‘clarification’ is a cop out and just another reason for the decline in trust of the media.”

“Blunders like this are why so few trust media and it is wrong to describe as merely a clarification-it is a correction to a sloppy reported story that conveyed a sinister narrative,” Greta Van Susteren, a former Fox News anchor, wrote on Twitter.

“Biggest story of the day, which tanked markets, is retracted. ABC and Brian Ross are fake news,” tweeted Mike Cernovich, a prominent conservative blogger and figure in the so-called “alt-right” movement. Reports showed the Dow Jones industrial average dropping sharply as news of Flynn’s plea and the ABC News report spread.

Breitbart News, the conservative news site led by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, took shots at ABC on Twitter over its clarified reporting.

“’Clarification’ is the new ‘I suck at playing telephone but I wanted them sweet, sweet Blue Check Mark retweets,’” the site’s official Twitter account quipped, linking to a story about the error.

ABC News social media posts citing the report, which was shared and redistributed by thousands on Twitter and Facebook, were later taken down.

Ross, the ABC News correspondent who broke the faulty report, has had some high profile errors. In 2012 he faced a firestorm of criticism after mistakenly reporting that the shooter responsible for the massacre in Aurora, Colorado, may have had ties to the Tea Party.

Over a decade prior, in 2001, Ross reported that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein may have been behind anthrax attacks on the U.S. The White House later said there was no evidence to back up those claims.


December 1, 2017 at 09:38PM