ABC News Suspends Reporter Over Inaccurate Reporting on Kobe Bryant Crash


In the immediate aftermath of the Sunday helicopter crash that killed Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others, there were plenty of unconfirmed rumors flying around.

And not all of them turned out to be true.

Now, a high-profile reporter who helped spread a big piece of misinformation following the tragic crash has learned his fate.

As news outlets were picking up the story about the crash, Matt Gutman, ABC News’ chief national correspondent, suggested on the air that all four of Bryant’s children had perished with him.

“The fact that four of his children are believed to be on that helicopter with him — all daughters, one of them a newborn, is simply devastating,” Gutman said.

However, the only other member of the Bryant family on the helicopter with him was Gianna — his three other daughters were safe.

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Kobe and Gianna Bryant, as well as the six other passengers, were flying to a girl’s basketball game that Gianna was set to play in.

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The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

On Wednesday, ABC News said it was suspending Gutman, though the network did not say for how long.

“Reporting the facts accurately is the cornerstone of our journalism,” an ABC News spokesperson 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.”

Gutman had previously apologized for his inaccurate reporting both on the air and on Twitter.

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“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 tweeted Sunday.

He issued another apology in a statement to the LA Times.

“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.”

The 42-year-old Gutman, who is based out of Los Angeles, has been a correspondent for the network since 2008.

Gutman’s reporting was far from the only misinformation that spread in the aftermath of Bryant’s death.

One false rumor which seemed to originate on social media claimed Rick Fox, a former teammate of Bryant’s on the Lakers, had died in the crash as well, according to The New York Times.

Moreover, in a segment on Bryant’s death, the BBC featured game clips of Lakers star LeBron James instead of Bryant.

The network later apologized.

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Joe Setyon was a deputy managing editor for The Western Journal who had spent his entire professional career in editing and reporting. He previously worked in Washington, D.C., as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine.
Joe Setyon was deputy managing editor for The Western Journal with several years of copy editing and reporting experience. He graduated with a degree in communication studies from Grove City College, where he served as managing editor of the student-run newspaper. Joe previously worked as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine, a libertarian publication in Washington, D.C., where he covered politics and wrote about government waste and abuse.
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