Journalist Brian Ross © Brad Barket / AFP
Journalist Brian Ross’s inaccurate report on Mike Flynn’s guilty plea on Friday caused stocks to plummet and forced ABC to issue a correction, but this isn’t the first time he’s been caught making fake news.
Citing anonymous officials, Ross claimed Flynn agreed to testify that candidate Trump told him to contact the Russians during the election on ABC’s “Special Report.” However, the source told Ross that the order came when Trump had already won the election and was president-elect.
Ross, an award-winning investigative reporter working for ABC for more than two decades, has made something of a career of explosive reports that later transpire to be inaccurate, or “fake news.”
In 2001, Ross reported that anthrax attacks in the US were likely the work of Iraq. Citing four anonymous sources, Ross claimed the anthrax contained bentonite, which was “known to have been used by only one country in producing biochemical weapons – Iraq.”
At the time, Ross was in good company, with Senator John McCain also suggesting the anthrax was the work of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The White House, on the other hand, said“no tests ever found or even suggested the presence of bentonite.” The FBI later concluded that the attacks were carried out by US Army biodefense expert Brucer Ivins, and not Hussein, who at that stage was long dead following the 2003 US Iraq invasion.
Following the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting in 2012, Ross told “Good Morning America” that he had discovered that shooter Jim Holmes may be a member of the Colorado Tea Party.
His investigation amounted to finding someone with the same name on a Tea Party Patriots website. ABC later issued a correction.
FORT HOOD SHOOTER
In 2009, Ross claimed he had uncovered how Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan had attempted to reach out to “people associated with al Qaeda.” His report sparked theories that the Fort Hood shooting which left 13 dead was part of a larger terrorist plot.
Ross’ scoop was based on Hasan’s emails to one individual, Anwar al-Awlaki, a cleric living in Yemen who used to be the iman of Hasan’s mosque in Virginia. The FBI was already aware of these emails, which consisted of conversation about academic research, and had found they didn’t warrant investigation. When pressed on his claims, Ross admitted that the“people” he was referring to was just Awlaki.
Hasan later told the court that he was attempting to defend the leaders of the Taliban.
Ross reported in 2010 that Toyota cars had “unintended acceleration.” Ross demonstrated this in an on-air report showing him driving one of the cars going out of control.
The footage showed the car’s tachometer going from 1,000 RPM to 6,000 RPM in one second, but the dashboard lights also revealed the car was parked with the doors open at the time. This was then spliced into scenes of Ross driving the car in the report, Gawker reports.