An ABC News correspondent has been suspended after he wrongly said live on-air that all four of Kobe Bryant’s daughters were killed in the fatal helicopter crash on Sunday.
Matt Gutman, the chief national correspondent for ABC News, was reporting live from the scene of the crash when he said the basketball star’s other daughters were on board the doomed flight.
At the time, the passengers on board the helicopter had not been confirmed.
Gutman, 42, corrected the error and apologized for the misinformation in a later report for ABC after authorities confirmed that one of Bryant’s daughters, 13-year-old daughter Gianna, died in the crash with the NBA star and seven others.
Matt Gutman, the chief national correspondent for ABC News, was reporting live (above) from the scene of the crash when he said the basketball star’s other daughters were on board the doomed flight
Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa posted this family photo Wednesday. Gutman wrongly said live on-air that all four of Kobe Bryant’s daughters were killed in the crash. It was later confirmed that one of Bryant’s daughters, 13-year-old daughter Gianna (top left) died in the crash with the NBA star (center) and seven others on Sunday
Gutman, 42, corrected the error and apologized for the misinformation in a later report for ABC. He also took to Twitter to apologize to Bryant’s family (above)
Social media was divided over Gutman’s apology
Some praised the correspondent for taking responsibility for the error
Others blasted Gutman for causing more pain for the victims’ families
Some called on the correspondent to resign
Gutman also took to Twitter to apologize to Bryant’s family.
‘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,’ he wrote.
Social media was divided over Gutman’s apology.
Some praised the correspondent for taking responsibility for the error.
‘Owning up to ones mistakes is hard to do. Admission of such in a pubic arena that much harder,’ another person tweeted.
‘There was lots of misguided information following this incident; from many news agencies. As with any mistake; learn from it. Matt you are a good reporter.’
Others blasted Gutman for causing more pain for the victims’ families and called on him to resign.
‘Unbelievably irresponsible and unthinkable. Do the right thing now and resign,’ one tweet read.
‘Your credibility is gone.’
ABC News confirmed Wednesday that they had suspended Gutman.
‘Reporting the facts accurately is the cornerstone of our journalism,’ a representative said in a statement to The Times.
‘As he acknowledged on Sunday, Matt Gutman’s initial reporting was not accurate and failed to meet our editorial standards.’
The journalist also issued a statement apologizing.
‘We are in the business of holding people accountable,’ Gutman told The Times.
‘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.’
It is unclear how long Gutman will be suspended for.
Gutman is the second journalist to be axed by their employer following comments made in the immediate aftermath of Bryant’s death.
Bryant with his family at his retirement from basketball in 2017
Bryant and eight others died Sunday when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed in Calabasas, California
ABC News said in a statement that the mistake about the NBA star and his Family (left) ‘failed to meet our editorial standards’ and confirmed that they had suspended Gutman (right)
A Washington Post reporter was suspended by the newspaper for tweeting about Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault case in the hours after his death, before being hastily reinstated following a public backlash.
Felicia Sonmez, who covers national politics for The Post, took to Twitter shortly after the world learned of Bryant’s death aboard his private helicopter on Sunday.
She posted a link to an April 2016 story from the news site The Daily Beast which carried the headline: ‘Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession.’
Bryant was accused of rape in 2003 by a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado hotel.
Sonmez’s tweet generated hundreds of shares and thousands of likes as well as many comments.
In follow-up tweets, Sonmez wrote: ‘Well, THAT was eye-opening.
‘To the 10,000 people (literally) who have commented and emailed me with abuse and death threats, please take a moment and read the story – which was written 3+ years ago, and not by me.
‘Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling.’
Sonmez later deleted the tweets due to the overwhelming backlash, including calls for The Post to axe the reporter.
The Post’s managing editor Tracy Grant confirmed to DailyMail.com on Sunday that Sonmez had been placed on administrative leave following the comments.
‘National political reporter Felicia Sonmez was placed on administrative leave while The Post reviews whether tweets about the death of Kobe Bryant violated The Post newsroom’s social media policy,’ said Grant.
‘The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues.’
The decision to suspend Sonmez led to a backlash against the paper from her fellow reporters who leaped to her defense.
The reporters, all members of the newspaper’s union, said Sonmez has received death threats after posting the tweets and demanded the newspaper provide protection for the journalist.
The union protested against Sonmez being placed on administrative leave while newsroom leadership reviewed the paper’s social media policy.
Additionally, the reporters said the company should issue a statement condemning abuse of its reporters, allow Sonmez to return to work, rescind the sanctions she was facing over the tweet, and provide her with ‘any resources she may request as she navigates this traumatic experience’.
Sonmez slammed The Post for how it had handled the situation in a Tweet directed at Marty Baron, the newspaper’s editor, Tuesday
‘I believe that Washington Post readers and employees, including myself, deserve to hear directly from @PostBaron on the newspaper’s handling of this matter. My statement on The Post’s decision tonight:
‘Washington Post journalists endeavor to live up to the paper’s mission statement, which states, ‘The newspaper shall tell ALL the truth so far as it can learn it, concerning the important affairs of America and the world.’
Felicia Sonmez, a national political reporter for The Washington Post, was suspended by the newspaper for tweeting about Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault case in the hours after his death, before being hastily reinstated following a public backlash
Sonmez was reinstated after the Post said that an internal review had determined she was ‘not in clear and direct violation of our social media policy,’ but maintained that her tweets were ‘ill-timed.’ Sonmez slammed her employer’s handling of the case on Twitter on Tuesday (above)
Sonmez (left) took to Twitter shortly after the world learned of Kobe Bryant’s (right) death and posted a link to an April 2016 story that recalled rape allegations made against the player
How it all started: Hours after it was learned that Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were among nine people who were killed in a helicopter crash, Sonmez tweeted a link to a 2016 story about the 2003 rape accusations against the basketball legend
‘My suspension, and @PostBaron’s Jan. 26 email warning me that my tweets about a matter of public record were ‘hurting this institution,’ have unfortunately sown confusion about the depth of management’s commitment to this goal.
‘I hope Washington Post newsroom leaders will not only prioritize their employees’ safety in the face of threats of physical harm but also ensure that no journalist will be punished for speaking the truth.’
In a statement Tuesday, the Post confirmed that it had reinstated Sonmez.
It said that an internal review had determined that Sonmez was ‘not in clear and direct violation of our social media policy,’ but maintained that her tweets were ‘ill-timed’.
‘We consistently urge restraint, which is particularly important when there are tragic deaths. We regret having spoken publicly about a personnel matter,’ Grant said.
TMZ has also come under fire for its news coverage of the helicopter crash.
Law enforcement slammed the website for breaking the story before authorities could alert all of the family members of the victims.
Gutman has been a correspondent for ABC News since 2008 and has won journalism awards for his work on the 2017 Las Vega shooting massacre and the 2018 Thailand rescue mission of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a cave.
In 2017, ABC News suspended veteran investigative correspondent Brian Ross, who later left the network, for four weeks after he said live on-air that President Trump had directed his national security adviser Michael Flynn to contact Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The coroner’s office confirmed Tuesday that rescuers have recovered all nine bodies
Investigators continue to work at the scene of the crash (above)
The crash on Sunday which claimed the lives of the former NBA star and eight others