One of the biggest names in investigative journalism who was suspended last year for a botched report about presidential aide Michael Flynn is reportedly leaving ABC News.
Page Six of the New York Post says Brian Ross, the chief investigative correspondent for the network, is leaving along with his executive producer Rhonda Schwartz.
“The time has come to say good-bye,” the pair said in a letter to staff with an announcement by ABC News president James Goldston, the paper reported.
“After a great run of 24 years, we have decided to pack up and move on from ABC News, an organization that has meant so much to us. We leave with enormous gratitude for all those who supported us and helped build the industry’s most robust and honored investigative unit.”
“While we are signing off from ABC News, we are hardly leaving investigative journalism. There is much more to do.”
Ross was suspended by the network in December for a month without pay for a false report on ousted White House national security adviser Flynn. At the time, Ross claimed President Trump ordered Flynn to contact Russian officials.
ABC’s stock plummeted in the wake of the report, and the network issued an apology, stating: “We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error.”
Upon learning of the departure of Ross, radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh said Monday, “That’s another one down, folks, from the Drive-By Media.”
“This guy has been exactly what is wrong with the American media,” he continued, noting Ross once wrongly reported Limbaugh was involved in a money-laundering operation.
“He’ll be hired by CNN by tonight, or MSNBC,” Limbaugh impishly surmised, adding that former NBC News anchor would likely host a dinner in Ross’ honor soon.
“They cannot allow the last news about Brian Ross to be that he made up a story about Michael Flynn,” Limbaugh concluded.
Ross is also remembered for wrongly suggesting that the shooter who killed 12 people at a Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012 could have tea-party connections.
As the shooter’s name emerged as 24-year-old James Holmes, Ross said on the air that he had found a web page for a “Jim Holmes” on a Colorado tea-party site.
“There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado tea-party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year,” Ross reported.
He added: “Now we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes, but it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.”
It turned out the man was not the same as the shooter. The Colorado Tea Party Patriots, whose website Ross was examining, slammed Ross for floating the possibility, noting the tea-party Jim Holmes was 52 years old and not the same person.
Meanwhile, Monday’s memo from Goldston reportedly shed praise upon Ross and his producer, Page Six noted.
“They’ve exposed government corruption at every level, international human rights abuses and fraud, uncovered dangerous working conditions, sexual abuse cover-ups and dishonest business practices,” it said. “Their work has led repeatedly to real changes in policy in the U.S. and around the world.”
“Over the years they have built a team of the best investigative journalists in our industry, and they leave behind an outstanding group that will continue to break stories for many years to come … We wish them well in their next chapter.”
Follow Joe Kovacs on Twitter @JoeKovacsNews