ABC News president: Brian Ross will no longer cover stories related to Trump

Golly. It’s one thing to suspend a reporter for making an incredibly damaging error of basic fact on air. But to remove him from covering a particular subject altogether?

That’s the sort of thing you might do if you’d concluded he’s incapable of covering that topic fairly. If it’s an innocent mistake borne of carelessness, there’s no need to declare certain topics off-limits. You do that only when you think the reporter’s view of that topic will necessarily compromise his judgment.

And if you’ve got a reporter like that on staff and the topic happens to be the president and a major natsec investigation, why would you continue to keep that reporter on staff at all?

“I don’t think ever in my career have I felt more rage and disappointment and frustration that I felt through this weekend and through the last half of Friday,” [ABC News President James] Goldston said [in a conference call with the news division]…

“I don’t even know how many times we’ve talked about this, how many times we have talked about the need to get it right,” he added. “That how we have to be right and not first. About how in this particular moment, with the stakes as high as these stakes are right now, we cannot afford to get it wrong.”…

Goldston also said, “If it isn’t obvious to everyone in this news division, we have taken a huge hit and we have made the job of every single person in this news division harder as a result. It’s much, much harder. We have people in Washington who are going to bear the brunt of this today and in the days forward. Very, very, very, very unfortunate. Really, really angry about it.”

“250,000 tweets,” Goldston noted. “One percent positive, 99 percent negative about this news division.” Who the hell were the one percent?

I wonder if the media is more upset that Ross blew the story about when exactly Trump told Mike Flynn to reach out to Russia or that a high-profile error by a big-name reporter makes it that much easier to dunk on them for pushing “fake news.” The shots they hit get overlooked; it’s the airball in crunch time that everyone remembers. One Trump associate seemed ready to high-five people over Ross’s giant screw-up:

“The reason why this mistake by Ross is going to be helpful is that it plays into the beliefs that conservative voters already have about the mainstream media,” said one former White House official, who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “It was an affirmation of what they already believe to an extent about the ‘fake news’ media. That’s why it is so powerful.”

Ross’s report “didn’t go through the proper internal channels” before it went on air, according to BuzzFeed, but why? Was it because ABC thought it had a too-good-to-check scoop and wanted to beat competitors to the punch, or was it because Ross had the scoop and you don’t question a star reporter when he tells his underlings that what he has is solid and he needs to be put in front of a camera right now? Note this tidbit from former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer posted over the weekend:

Terry Moran is ABC’s chief foreign correspondent. When you’ve got someone from the network’s own news division publicly backing up a Bush alum who’s accusing one of his own network’s star reporters of being either an egregiously negligent hack or outright dishonest, you know the concerns at ABC about Ross run *deep*. I wonder what sort of impunity Ross was allowed to operate with until Goldston took over three years ago. He must have friends in very high places at the network; given the tenor of Goldston’s rant this morning on the conference call (read the CNN story up top for other choice quotes from his tirade), you get the sense that he would have canned Ross outright if he could have. If.

Here’s Joy Behar apologizing for all but popping the champagne on air on Friday over Ross’s report. Meghan McCain asks a good question: If it was so outrageous for Rush Limbaugh to say he hoped Obama failed in 2009, why is it kosher to cheerlead Trump’s problems now? A successful presidency benefits everyone, no?

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