Ross came under attack again Friday when he reported that James Holmes, the suspect of today’s theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., may have connections to the tea party — basing that on a single web page that listed an Aurora-based “Jim Holmes” as a member of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots….
But sources at ABC News, who spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity, said that for all of his landmark scoops, Ross’s latest and much-publicized blunder had further solidified his reputation inside the network as a reporter who is prone toward spectacular errors….
In 2001, Ross reported that Iraq and Saddam Hussein may have been responsible for anthrax attacks on the United States, citing four anonymous high-level sources who claimed there was bentonite in the anthrax. The White House later stated that “no tests ever found or even suggested the presence of bentonite” and that “the claim was concocted from the start.”
In 2006, Ross reported that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was a target in the federal corruption investigation involving then-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. After the Justice Department denied the story, Ross stood by his reporting and stated that Hastert was ‘very much in the mix’ of the probe, despite the fact that Hastert had never been approached by prosecutors.
In 2007, Ross accepted a claim by former CIA agent John Kiriakou that 35 seconds of waterboarding had led suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah to disclose terrorist plots to the CIA. Despite the fact that Kirakou was not present at Zubayadah’s interrogation, the claim was repeated for days by other networks and newspapers and used as evidence for advocates of the waterboarding technique. A year and a half later, a Justice Department memo would show that Zubayadah had undergone waterboarding “at least 83 times.” …
Glenn Greenwald, the lawyer and Salon columnist who has been one of Ross’s fiercest critics over the years, argues that the ABC reporter is driven by a penchant for sensationalism. “Brian Ross is responsible for several of the establishment media’s most shameful and reckless journalistic falsehoods of the last decade,” Greenwald told POLITICO. “His reporting philosophy seems to be to go on TV and say whatever he thinks will garner attention and create ‘scoops,’ without the slightest concern for whether it’s actually true.” …
Under David Westin, who served as president of ABC News from 1997 to 2010, the network seems to have tolerated Ross’s errors in exchange for his scoops and exclusives. Sources say they are uncertain how Ben Sherwood, who took over from Westin in 2010, will respond to Ross’s report on the tea party connection.
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