ABC News president James Goldston exploded on staff on Monday in the aftermath of the network’s badly botched report on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a report that led to anchor Brian Ross being suspended for a month.
Ross first reported that Flynn was ready to testify that then-candidate Donald Trump ordered him to make contact with the Russians. However, ABC News later issued a major correction that Trump gave the order after he was already president-elect.
MORE: Michael Flynn “is prepared to testify...against Pres. Trump, against members of the Trump family, and others in the White House,” @BrianRoss reports. https://t.co/aiagnvIJDs https://t.co/yuVw9iDrKp
— ABC News (@ABC) December 1, 2017
CNN obtained leaked audio of Goldston’s scathing remarks to staff — and to say he was furious would be an understatement:
"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.
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. 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. ...
The thing that compounded our mistake is that not only did we make a mistake, if we had then corrected ourselves right away, again — we wouldn't be in this position. It would have been a very different story. But we ended up in the impossible situation where we had actually conflicting information that we said on air, which conflicted with the information that was online. And then it took us seven hours, eight hours to get our story straight. This is not acceptable. It's not acceptable. And we will all pay the price for a long time."
Goldston was also furious that ABC News was excoriated on social media over the major error, as he reportedly said, “250,000 tweets. One percent positive, 99 percent negative about this news division. Two tweets from the president.”
President Trump made sure to capitalize on the erroneous report:
People who lost money when the Stock Market went down 350 points based on the False and Dishonest reporting of Brian Ross of @ABC News (he has been suspended), should consider hiring a lawyer and suing ABC for the damages this bad reporting has caused - many millions of dollars!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2017
Goldston also openly admitted that Ross reported information that was “just plain wrong."
Speaking to CNN, one ABC News employee admitted the reporting “makes me sick to my stomach,” as it makes it even easier for people to argue “fake news” against the network.