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.
Wow. @ABC just admitted they were wrong about this report. Kobe Bryant’s daughters were NOT on board. ABC should be ashamed for adding to the tragedy by making fans, loved ones and friends think his daughters died. Sickening they reported this unconfirmed. pic.twitter.com/k3N5ja8UJH
— Darren F. Wilson (@DWilson2121) January 26, 2020
However, the only other member of the Bryant family on the helicopter with him was Gianna — his three other daughters were safe.
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.
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.
“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.
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
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.
I have personally communicated with Rick Fox via text since the news about Kobe dying came out PLEASE STOP spreading “news” unless you personally can confirm it!
— Jared Greenberg (@JaredSGreenberg) January 26, 2020
Moreover, in a segment on Bryant’s death, the BBC featured game clips of Lakers star LeBron James instead of Bryant.
I genuinely cannot believe that the actual BBC News at 10 just did this pic.twitter.com/n6csMV9OOG
— Matthew Champion (@matthewchampion) January 26, 2020
The network later apologized.
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