ABC's Brian Ross problem is far from over

Allahpundit talked about the four week suspension of Brian Ross at ABC News last night, as well as digging into some of Ross’ history of other notable “mistakes” in reporting. Still, four weeks isn’t enough time for everyone to simply forget about this and get on with their lives. Heck… I’m not sure four years would be. (Then again, who knows? Brian Williams is back to work pretty much full time.)

The biggest part of this punishment isn’t the suspension, though, as Allahpundit mentioned. It’s that Ross is going to be barred from covering President Trump after he gets back. In case you missed the origin story here, the Washington Times has a fairly thorough background piece on it.

Brian Ross, ABC News’ chief investigative correspondent, will be barred from covering President Trump after his four-week suspension at the network ends.

False reporting regarding former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn last Friday dented the credibility of ABC News and sent Wall Street stocks tumbling. The fall-out was too much for network president James Goldston to dismiss, and on Tuesday it was announced that Mr. Ross is forbidden from touching stories on Mr. Trump.

So all ABC has done for themselves right now is purchase a four week cooling off period. But then the star reporter is going to be back on the air and their producers are going to have some tough decisions to make. If you plan on keeping Ross on the payroll into 2018, what exactly is he going to be covering?

The national news just isn’t that compartmentalized these days. It used to be that you could segregate your news segments into a few easy categories such as domestic, foreign, sports, entertainment and the like. But in case ABC hasn’t noticed, we’re living in the post-2016 world now, baby! Trump gets into everything. He comments and tweets about everything. And once he jumps in he becomes not only part of the story, but the part that most of the networks are leading with. One can imagine the conversations going on with Ross’ producers as they attempt to prepare to load up the teleprompter for him.

“Okay, so we can’t cover the White House presser today. What else do you have?”

“Brexit negotiations?”

“Trump has Theresa May all over his back right now.”

“There was a big brawl at the Steelers game.”

“Nope. one of the players took a knee and Trump tweeted about it.”

“The power’s still out in more than half of Puerto Rico. We could do something on…”

“Forget it. He’s still having a food fight with the Mayor of San Juan.”

“There are those terrible wildfires in California.”

“Nope. Trump already declared that FEMA is basically doing a heckuva job.”

“The stock market is surging…”

“He already took credit for that, plus he just blamed Ross for the dip it took on Friday.”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake!”

That may sound fanciful but think about it. Precisely what is left for Ross to cover? The dog show in New York? (And don’t put it past Trump to weigh in on that.) ABC either needs to let Ross do his job or cut their losses and bail out of this. Neither option looks particularly tasty at this point. If they let him go back to covering the President, everyone will be second-guessing his every syllable. If they boot him entirely they’re admitting that it wasn’t just a “critical mistake” but part of a larger pattern of bias. But this compromise they’ve worked out may be the worst option of all if Ross winds up having to stand down from 90% of the actual news going on. He’ll just be a constant reminder to everyone of how they landed in this mess in the first place.