ABC News has suspended a national correspondent whose initial report on the death of former basketball player Kobe Bryant drew strong social media condemnation.
During a news broadcast on Sunday, correspondent Matt Gunman speculated all four of Bryant’s daughters were on board a helicopter that crashed into a hill in a Los Angeles suburb. Only one daughter was on board at the time of the fatal crash. No other news outlet reported that all of Bryant’s daughters were on board the helicopter.
It was not immediately clear why Gutman reported the errant information or what led him to believe it might be accurate. After a flurry of social media criticism, Gutman acknowledged the mistake in a post on Twitter and issued an on-air correction.
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
On Wednesday, ABC News said it had suspended Gutman due to the mistake. The suspension was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
“Reporting the facts accurately is the cornerstone of our journalism,” an ABC News spokesperson told the Times in a statement. “As he acknowledged on Sunday, Matt Gutman’s initial reporting was not accurate and failed to meet our editorial standards.”
Gutman, who acknowledged the error in a separate statement on Wednesday, is the second ABC News correspondent in two years to be suspended over an on-air gaffe. In 2017, investigative correspondent Brian Ross was suspended after he claimed President Donald Trump had directed former national security advisor Michael Flynn to contact Russian officials during the previous year’s election, the Times reported.
It was not immediately clear how long Gutman’s suspension would last.