ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Terry Moran appeared to criticize colleague Brian Ross on Twitter Saturday night over Ross’ reporting on the 2001 anthrax scare.
Ross, the network’s chief investigative correspondent, was suspended for four weeks without pay after he incorrectly reported that former national security adviser Michael Flynn would testify that Donald Trump ordered Flynn to contact Russian officials to discuss foreign policy before Trump was elected president last year.
Back in October 2001, Ross reported that an anthrax-laced letter sent to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle’s office contained traces of bentonite. Ross went on to report that “as far as is known, only one country, Iraq, has used bentonite to produce biological weapons.”
Ari Fleischer, who was White House press secretary at the time, tweeted that he “explicitly told ABC News not to go with the anthrax story because it was wrong. Brian Ross went with it anyway …” Hours later, in response to a Politico story about Ross’ mistake, Fleischer specified that he told Ross the report was wrong “BEFORE he aired his story about Saddam being behind the anthrax attack.”
Moran, who was ABC’s chief White House correspondent at the time, backed Fleischer up with a terse tweet saying, “This is correct.”
In Ross’ initial 2001 report, he said Fleischer “denied that bentonite was found on the letters, but another senior White House official backed off Fleischer’s comments, saying ‘at this point’ there does not appear to be bentonite.”
In a 2008 interview with TVNewser, Ross said the sources for the initial bentonite report later corrected themselves and he reported their correction several days later.
“My sources were good,” Ross said at the time. “We just got information that became outdated before they could update.”
Reps for ABC News did not immediately return phone calls and emails requesting comment.