ABC News suspended correspondent Matt Gutman for falsely reporting four of basketball star Kobe Bryant’s daughters died in the helicopter crash that took the life of Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
“You know, we grew up with Kobe, and the fact that four of his children are believed to be on board that helicopter with him, all daughters, one of them a newborn, is simply devastating,” Gutman said on air, as the news was developing.
There was no evidence, other than rumors, that four of Bryant’s children were on board. Gutman later apologized for reporting rumors.
“Today I inaccurately reported it was believed that four of Kobe Bryant’s children were on board that flight. That is incorrect. I apologize to Kobe’s family, friends and our viewers,” Gutman stated on Twitter.
Today I inaccurately reported it was believed that four of Kobe Bryant’s children were on board that flight. That is incorrect. I apologize to Kobe’s family, friends and our viewers. pic.twitter.com/yYwuB9vpZl
— Matt Gutman (@mattgutmanABC) January 27, 2020
“Reporting the facts accurately is the cornerstone of our journalism,” a spokesperson for ABC News told The Los Angeles Times. “As he acknowledged on Sunday, Matt Gutman’s initial reporting was not accurate and failed to meet our editorial standards.”
“We are in the business of holding people accountable. And I hold myself accountable for a terrible mistake, which I deeply regret. I want to personally apologize to the Bryant family for this wrenching loss and any additional anguish my report caused,” Gutman told the Times.
The length of the suspension has not been publicized. ABC News is not suspending reporters who make false claims about President Trump or Republicans.
ABC News is also known for a 2012 incident in which correspondent Brian Ross went on air to falsely imply the suspect in a Colorado mass shooting was a member of the Tea Party movement.
Ross made the claim after typing the suspect’s fairly common name into an Internet search engine and seeing a Tea Party member with a similar name.
“Now we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes, but it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado,”
Ross said on air. Liberal activists seized on the reporting to blame the shooting on Americans who opposed Obama.