ABC suspends journalist over inaccurate Flynn report

In this Nov. 16, 2015 photo provided by ABC, correspondent Brian Ross speaks on “Good Morning America,” which airs on the ABC Television Network, in New York. ABC has suspended investigative reporter Ross Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, for four weeks without pay. (AP)
Updated 03 December 2017
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ABC suspends journalist over inaccurate Flynn report

WASHINGTON: The US news network ABC announced Saturday it had suspended its chief investigative correspondent for four weeks without pay after he was forced to correct a bombshell report on ex-Trump aide Michael Flynn.
Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI over his contacts with Russia, a dramatic escalation of the sprawling investigation into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign team and Moscow.
Brian Ross, a longtime ABC reporter, said during a special report shortly thereafter that Flynn would testify that the president ordered him to reach out to Moscow during the campaign — news that sent Wall Street shares tumbling.
ABC later issued a clarification, saying its source had in fact indicated that the orders from Trump came during the presidential transition, after the November 2016 election.
“We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday,” ABC said in a statement, adding that the special report “had not been fully vetted through our editorial standards process.”
“It is vital we get the story right and retain the trust we have built with our audience — these are our core principles,” the statement continued.
“We fell far short of that yesterday.”
Trump quickly jumped on Twitter to praise ABC’s move: “Congratulations to @ABC News for suspending Brian Ross for his horrendously inaccurate and dishonest report on the Russia, Russia, Russia Witch Hunt. More Networks and ‘papers’ should do the same with their Fake News!“
Flynn’s guilty plea, on a federal charge of making false statements to investigators, came with a pledge to cooperate with special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
Mueller’s focus goes beyond possible collusion with Russia to shady business dealings and whether Trump himself tried to thwart the investigation.
The White House rejected the idea that Flynn could implicate “anyone” else, as the inaccurate ABC report had suggested.
Ross also took to Twitter to comment on the blunder: “My job is to hold people accountable and that’s why I agree with being held accountable myself.”


Google employees demand more oversight of China search engine plan

A Google sign is seen during the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference (ChinaJoy) in Shanghai, China August 3, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 19 August 2018
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Google employees demand more oversight of China search engine plan

  • Hundreds of employees have called on the company to provide more “transparency, oversight and accountability
  • Employees have asked Google to create an ethics review group with rank-and-file workers, appoint ombudspeople to provide independent review and internally publish assessments of projects

SAN FRANCISCO: Google is not close to launching a search engine app in China, its chief executive said at a companywide meeting on Thursday, according to a transcript seen by Reuters, as employees of the Alphabet Inc. unit called for more transparency and oversight of the project.
Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told staff that though development is in an early stage, providing more services in the world’s most populous country fits with Google’s global mission.
Hoping to gain approval from the Chinese government to provide a mobile search service, the company plans to block some websites and search terms, Reuters reported this month, citing unnamed sources.
Whether the company could or would launch search in China “is all very unclear,” Pichai said, according to the transcript. “The team has been in an exploration stage for quite a while now, and I think they are exploring many options.”
Disclosure of the secretive effort has disturbed some Google employees and human rights advocacy organizations. They are concerned that by agreeing to censorship demands, Google would validate China’s prohibitions on free expression and violate the “don’t be evil” clause in the company’s code of conduct.
Hundreds of employees have called on the company to provide more “transparency, oversight and accountability,” according to an internal petition seen by Reuters on Thursday.
After a separate petition this year, Google announced it would not renew a project to help the US military develop artificial intelligence technology for drones.
The China petition says employees are concerned the project, code named Dragonfly, “makes clear” that ethics principles Google issued during the drone debate “are not enough.”
“We urgently need more transparency, a seat at the table and a commitment to clear and open processes: Google employees need to know what we’re building,” states the document seen by Reuters.
The New York Times first reported the petition on Thursday. Google declined to comment.
Company executives have not commented publicly on Dragonfly, and their remarks at the company-wide meeting marked their first about the project since details about it were leaked.
Employees have asked Google to create an ethics review group with rank-and-file workers, appoint ombudspeople to provide independent review and internally publish assessments of projects that raise substantial ethical questions.
Pichai told employees: “We’ll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here” on Dragonfly, according to the transcript. He noted the company guards information on some projects where sharing too early can “cause issues.”
Three former employees involved with Google’s past efforts in China told Reuters current leadership may see offering limited search results in China as better than providing no information at all.
The same rationale led Google to enter China in 2006. It left in 2010 over an escalating dispute with regulators that was capped by what security researchers identified as state-sponsored cyberattacks against Google and other large US firms.
The former employees said they doubt the Chinese government will welcome back Google. A Chinese official, who declined to be named, told Reuters this month that it is “very unlikely” Dragonfly would be available this year.