ABC Suspends Correspondent Over Major Mistake In Kobe Bryant Crash Report
In the minutes and hours just after the helicopter crash that killed NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, numerous erroneous reports emerged. Some said four people had perished; in fact, nine people, including the pilot, died. Other reports said former Bryant teammate Rick Fox was killed in the crash. He wasn’t. Still others said the chopper had caught fire. It did, but only after it crashed.
But nobody got it as wrong as Matt Gutman, the chief national correspondent for ABC News. He reported that all of Kobe Bryant’s children were involved in the fatal crash. In fact, only one of the Bryants’ four children, 13-year-old daughter Gianna, died.
“Before Gianna’s death was confirmed, Gutman said during a live report that Bryant’s other daughters — Natalia, 17; Bianka, 3 and Capri, 7 months — were on the helicopter as well,” the New York Post wrote. “He later corrected the error and apologized, writing 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.'”
ABC News has now suspended Gutman. “Reporting the facts accurately is the cornerstone of our journalism,” an ABC News representative said in a statement to The Los Angeles Times. “As he acknowledged on Sunday, Matt Gutman’s initial reporting was not accurate and failed to meet our editorial standards.”
In a statement to The Times, Gutman issued another apology.
“We are in the business of holding people accountable,” Gutman said. “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.”
Rick Fox also blasted the media for mistakenly reporting that he was killed in the crash.
“My family went through in the midst of all this something I couldn’t have imagined them experiencing,” he said Tuesday night on TNT during a special honoring the former Los Angeles Lakers star.
“One of my daughter’s greatest fears is finding out that a parent or one of her parents would be lost through social media instead of from a loved one or a family member and she fortunately called me. We were just talking and crying about the news of Kobe,” said Fox, 50.