Los Angeles - Despite the announcement 25 minutes before that Good Morning America had tied Today in the demo last week, ABC News president Ben Sherwood spent the majority of his session at the TCA press tour here Thursday apologizing and answering for Brian Ross' reporting last Friday that incorrectly
linked Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes to the Tea Party.
"We put something on the air that we did not know to be true
and the part of it that we knew to be true was not germane to the story that we
were covering," Sherwood said. "We don't do
that at ABC News. That was a violation of our standards."
Sherwood told a smaller group of reporters after the session that Ross has not been suspended or formally
reprimanded as a result of the misreporting, though Sherwood said he had a
"serious and stern conversation with him" and that Ross has personally apologized to
the James Holmes in question.
"We've learned from it as an organization. We have very high
standards and practices. We know that that particular moment did not live up to
the standards and practices of ABC News," Sherwood said. "I take responsibility for
it. The buck stops with me. The news division knows how displeased I am with it
and we will do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again."
Sherwood said that his team is reviewing its procedures for
reporting breaking news to improve internal communication about what is
reportable, what is conformed and what is only for background in future situations.
He also defended two other disputed ABC News reports related
to the Aurora massacre, saying ABC News stands by its producer's
characterization of a conversation with Holmes' mother, in which she reportedly said "you've got the right person" when told of the allegations against her son. Holmes' mother has since made a statement saying the quote was mischracterized. Sherwood also defended its sourcing of a story that reported
Holmes was spitting at jail guards -- a story that a Denver ABC affiliate
disputes as incorrect -- and noted the ABC News online story includes an editor's note with the