Brian Ross
Ross in 2007
Brian Elliot Ross

(1948-10-23) October 23, 1948 (age 72)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
EducationUniversity of Iowa (B.A., 1971)[1]
OccupationTelevision journalist
Lucinda Sanman
(m. 1985)
WebsiteABC news

Brian Elliot Ross (born October 23, 1948)[2] is an American investigative journalist who served as the Chief Investigative Correspondent for ABC News until 2018. He reported for ABC World News Tonight with David Muir, Nightline, Good Morning America, 20/20, and ABC News Radio. Ross joined ABC News in July 1994 and was fired in 2018.[3] His investigative reports have often covered government corruption. From 1974 until 1994, Ross was a correspondent for NBC News.

Early life

Ross was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from the University of Iowa journalism school in 1971.[1]


After graduating, Ross worked for KWWL-TV in Waterloo, Iowa. He went on to work for WCKT-TV in Miami, Florida, and WKYC-TV in Cleveland, Ohio, before becoming a national correspondent for NBC News from 1974 to 1994.

NBC News

In the mid 1970s, while reporting for WKYC-TV in Cleveland, Ross reported on Jackie Presser and corruption in the Teamsters union and interviewed mobster Danny Greene.[4] He continued to report on the Teamsters after being hired by NBC News. His reporting on the Teamsters won him a Sigma Delta Chi Award in 1976 and a National Headliner award in 1977.[5]

ABC News

Since 1994, Ross has been a reporter for ABC News, working on programs such as World News with Diane Sawyer, 20/20, Good Morning America, Nightline, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, and ABC News Radio.[6]

In 2009, Ross and his investigative unit reported on Mohamed Atta and described him as the ringleader of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.[7] He also reported on Zacarias Moussaoui’s alleged role in the attacks and his questioning by the Federal Bureau of Investigation prior to September 11.[8]

His undercover investigation of nuclear smuggling, which questioned whether American authorities could stop a shipment of radioactive material from entering the country, received the duPont Award in 2004.[9]

On May 24, 2006, Ross reported that the Justice Department was investigating Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert for possible connections to the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal. Both the Justice Department and Dennis Hastert issued denials, but Ross insisted the story was correct.[10] He did say that the investigation might eventually "wash out and be nothing".[11]

On September 6, 2006, Ross reported that Pakistan had decided not to seek the capture of Osama bin Laden so long as bin Laden acted "like a peaceful citizen".[12] Pakistan denied the report.[13] The report was based on a telephone interview in which ABC quoted the Pakistani General as saying, "Q. ABC News: If bin Laden or Zawahiri were there, they could stay? A. Gen. Sultan: No one of that kind can stay. If someone is there he will have to surrender, he will have to live like a good citizen, his whereabouts, exit travel would be known to the authorities."[14]

On September 29, 2006, Ross reported that Rep. Mark Foley sent underage male congressional aides sexually explicit internet messages;[15] the ensuing scandal led to Foley's resignation. His 2006 investigation into the Congressional page scandal involving Foley resulted in his fifth Peabody Award for his series of reports: “Conduct Unbecoming”. That series also garnered Ross an Emmy Award,[16] a Peabody Award,[17] a USC Annenberg Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism,[18] an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award,[19] the 2007 National Headliner Award for Television Affiliated Online Journalism,[20] and the Online News Association Journalism Award.[21]

Ross received the 2007 Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting for a two-part "20/20" undercover investigation into retail pharmacy errors, focusing on large drugstore chains, including CVS and Walgreens.[22] He also received a 2007 Business Emmy for his work in exposing conflicts of interest of some West Virginia State Supreme Court justices.[23]

When the Madoff investment scandal broke in December 2008, Ross covered Madoff, his family and associates and reported on how the scam had been perpetrated over the years. His reporting on the subject led to his first book, The Madoff Chronicles: Inside the Secret World of Bernie and Ruth, published in 2009.[24]

In November 2009, Ross co-wrote an article titled "Officials: Army Told of Hasan's Contacts with al Qaeda", which claimed that Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan had made attempts to "make contact with people associated with al Qaeda".[25][26] He made the same claims on Good Morning America.[27] Other reporters said that Nidal's contact was limited to emails to his former imam, Anwar al-Awlaki, who had also been the imam of two of the September 11 terrorists.[28]

In 2010, Ross received his seventh duPont-Columbia Award for the “20/20” investigation “The Coach’s Secret”, which exposed a scandal in youth swimming.[29] This report also earned him a 2011 CINE Golden Eagle Award.[30] Ross's investigation, “Taking on Toyota”, which prompted one of the largest automobile recalls in history, was awarded the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association in 2011.[31] This report was publicly disputed by Toyota, which demonstrated that the "Toyota Death Ride" was largely fabricated by experts that were working for several trial lawyers with litigation pending against Toyota.

On July 19, 2011, according to the presidential campaign of Michele Bachmann, when attempting to question Bachmann about her migraines, Ross "rushed toward" Bachmann and her staff and "disregarded repeated requests to stay back".[32] According to Michael Crowley, a reporter for Time who witnessed the resulting intervention by Bachmann staffers, the staffers "pounced on [Ross], grabbing and pushing him multiple times with what looked [...] like unusual force. In fact, [Crowley had] never seen a reporter treated so roughly at a campaign event, especially not a presidential one." Ross said he'd only been treated like that before "mostly by Mafia people."[33][34] Ross appeared on The View and various media outlets to discuss the incident.[35][36][37][38] The media also underscored 'concerns' regarding Bachmann's health.[39]

Over a 10-month period in 2011, Ross and Anna Schecter reported on the murder of a 24-year-old Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa. Ross and Schecter received the 2011 George Polk Award for Television Reporting for this series of reports.[40][41]

In 2012, Ross earned his sixth George Polk Award,[42] sixth Peabody Award[43] and second Emmy Award,[44][citation needed] including best investigation in a news magazine story for his “20/20” investigation “Peace Corps: A Trust Betrayed”, which exposed the cover-up of sexual abuse of Peace Corps volunteers and led to Congressional hearings and calls for new legislation.[45] He was also the recipient of a 2012 Gracie Award for the report.[46]

In 2013, Ross won the Hillman Prize and CINE Golden Eagle Award for his report Tragedy in Bangladesh[47][48] and "Outstanding Investigative Program or Feature" at the 2013 Gracie Awards for Undercover Granny: Medicare Fraud.[49]

Ross and his lead producer, Rhonda Schwartz, were suspended in the wake of his misreporting with regard to the Michael Flynn affair. They were transferred to Lincoln Square Productions upon their return. However, on July 2, 2018, ABC announced Ross and Schwartz were leaving the network.[50][51]

Law & Crime

In August 2018, Ross was hired at the Law & Crime network which “covers trials and crime 24/7,” as a lead investigative reporter and also host a weekly show called “Brian Ross Investigates”.[52]


In October 2001, Ross twice linked Iraq to the anthrax attacks in the United States. These reports, based on anonymous "high level" sources, were denied by the administration.[53] In November 2001, Ross updated the story, acknowledging that original reports of bentonite in the anthrax samples were incorrect.[54] Glenn Greenwald criticized Ross for the story, stating that Ross unwittingly helped build support for the invasion of Iraq as a result of this high-profile report.[55][56] Dan Froomkin asked on August 5, 2008, in The Washington Post: "So who told ABC the powder looked Iraqi?"[57] The New York Sun reported that Ross was the sixth journalist ordered by a federal judge to reveal his sources for federal anthrax attack stories.[58]

On January 14, 2004, a report by Ross, Chris Vlasto, and Rhonda Schwartz on the eve of the Iowa caucus linked presidential candidate Howard Dean to a trooper who worked for him when he was Vermont's governor and who had “‘engaged in acts of domestic violence’”.[59] ABC News was criticized in the Columbia Journalism Review for the report because the report presented no evidence to show that Dean was aware of the abuse when he wrote a character reference for the employee in a custody dispute, and because there was evidence to suggest that Dean was unaware of the abuse at that time.[60]

In 2006, Ross went on air with a "big scoop" about an al-Qaeda terrorist with links to Bin Laden. The Pakistani government said the story was "fictitious." ABC ended up retracting the story.[61]

Ross and the ABC News Investigative Team were awarded the 2011 National Edward R. Murrow Award for “Video Continuing Coverage” for their exclusive investigation, “Taking On Toyota”, that revealed how the car company for years ignored complaints from hundreds of its owners about cars suddenly accelerating out of control.[62] As a result, Toyota's market value and sales were driven down. However, Ross, as the correspondent, staged the famous “death ride” in a Toyota set up to accelerate without driver input. It was Ross’ report that featured a doctored shot of a tachometer suddenly racing to 6,000 rpm.[63][64][65][66]

During coverage of the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting, Ross suggested on the air a connection between a member of a Colorado Tea Party group and the shooting, based on the gunman's name, without any confirmed evidence. Describing Ross as one of the most controversial reporters in television journalism, Dylan Byers reported that Ross had come "under attack again" for his reporting.[67][68][69] Conservative website PJ Media called for his firing.[70] Ross and ABC News President Ben Sherwood apologized for the comment.[68][71]

On December 2, 2017, Ross was given a four-week suspension without pay after erroneously stating during a special report that Michael Flynn was preparing to testify that Donald Trump had directed him to make contact with Russian officials during his presidential campaign. Ross issued a clarification on World News Tonight later in the day, explaining that Flynn had not been told to make contact with Russian officials until after the election, and that Trump had only asked Flynn and other advisors to "find ways to repair relations with Russia and other world hot spots" during his campaign. The incorrect report was criticized by conservative commentators, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 350 points after the report.[72][73][74][75]

In early 2018, after Ross's unpaid suspension, he returned as a chief investigative correspondent, but with a separate unit of ABC, Lincoln Square Productions.[76] However, in July, ABC announced Ross was leaving the network.[50]



  1. ^ a b "People: Brian Ross", University of Iowa, School of Journalism, Professional Advisory Board Emeriti
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  23. ^ "Emmy® Winners Announced For Business & Financial Reporting And Promotional Announcements". Emmy Online. 2 December 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  24. ^ "EXCERPT: Brian Ross 'The Madoff Chronicles'". ABC News. 12 January 2016.
  25. ^ "How ABC News' Brian Ross Cooked His 'Hasan Contacted Al Qaeda' Scoop". November 10, 2009. Archived from the original on April 8, 2010. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
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  33. ^ "Reporter Accosted After Bachmann Comments on Migraines". Time. July 19, 2011.
  34. ^ Sargent, Greg (July 19, 2011). "Should the U.S. seek to improve relations with Iran?". The Washington Post.
  35. ^ Fung, Katherine (20 July 2011). "ABC's Brian Ross Talks Bachmann Staff Shoving On 'The View' (VIDEO)". The Huffington Post.
  36. ^ News, ABC. "Video: Brian Ross on Being Pushed by Bachmann Staff". ABC News.
  37. ^ July, Published (July 21, 2011). "ABC News' Brian Ross on Bachmann Bodyguard Scuffle". Fox News.
  38. ^ Hudson, John (2011-07-19). "Brian Ross Received 'Mafia'-Style Bruising From Bachmann Staff".
  39. ^ Sargent, Greg (July 19, 2011). "Michele Bachmann's handlers get rough with reporter". The Washington Post.
  40. ^ Eltman, Frank (February 20, 2012). "AP reporting on NYPD is among Polk Award winners". Associated Press. Archived from the original on July 19, 2012. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
  41. ^ "ABC News Investigations of the Year: Peace Corps". ABC News. December 26, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
  42. ^ "Ross Unit Wins Polk Award for Peace Corps Investigation". ABC News. 22 May 2012.
  43. ^ "Ross Unit Accepts Peabody Award for Peace Corps Investigation". ABC News. 22 May 2012.
  44. ^ "ABC News Recognized with Seven News & Documentary Emmy Awards". ABC News.
  45. ^ "Brian Ross Investigates: The Peace Corps Rape Scandal". ABC News. 15 May 2011.
  46. ^ a b "ABC News Honored by Society of Professional Journalists with Three Awards". ABC News.
  47. ^ "2013 Hillman Prizes". 22 April 2013.
  48. ^ a b "Fall 2013 CINE Golden Eagle Recipients". 30 September 2014. Archived from the original on 26 January 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014. ABC NEWS BRIAN ROSS INVESTIGATES: TRAGEDY IN BANGLADESH
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  50. ^ a b Grynbaum, Michael M. (July 2, 2018). "ABC Parts Ways With Investigative Reporter Brian Ross". The New York Times. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  51. ^ Flood, Brian (July 2, 2018). "Brian Ross out at ABC News months after botched report on Donald Trump, Russia tanked stock market". Fox News. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  52. ^ "Former ABC News Reporter Brian Ross Lands Investigative Gig at Law & Crime". The Daily Beast. August 20, 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  53. ^ Ross, Brian; Isham, Christopher; Vlasto, Chris; Matsumoto, Gary (29 October 2001). "Troubling Anthrax Additive Found; Atta Met Iraqi". ABC News. Archived from the original on 14 April 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  54. ^ Greenwald, Glenn (April 11, 2007). "Response from ABC News re: the Saddam-anthrax reports". Retrieved July 26, 2012.
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  57. ^ Froomkin, Dan (August 5, 2008). "A White House Forgery Scandal?". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  58. ^ "Journalist Ross of ABC Ordered To Disclose Sources". New York Sun. September 28, 2007. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  59. ^ "Dean's Trooper Accused of Abuse". ABC News. 7 January 2006. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  60. ^ Roth, Zachary (January 15, 2004). "ABC: An Example of Abuse". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  61. ^ Paul Farhi (4 December 2017). "Brian Ross is an investigative reporting star. But he's made some staggering blunders". The Washington Post. Retrieved 3 July 2018. In 2006, ace ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross went on the air with a big scoop: Pakistani officials, he reported, had arrested Matiur Rehman, an al-Qaeda explosives expert who kept an "official" list of terrorist recruits. Ross suggested the arrest could lead to Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader who was a fugitive at the time. One problem: Rehman hadn't been arrested. A Pakistani foreign ministry official denied the story, calling it "fictitious." ABC retracted it.
  62. ^ Noyes, Rich (21 June 2011). "IBD Blasts Award for ABC's Hyped Coverage of Runaway Toyotas". Newsbusters.
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  67. ^ Byers, Dylan. "Ross takes heat for another blunder". POLITICO. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
  68. ^ a b Stelter, Brian (July 20, 2012). "A Misstep on 'GMA' as Networks Rush to Cover Shooting". The New York Times.
  69. ^ Mirkinson, Jack (July 20, 2012). "ABC Reporter Incorrectly Suggests Possible Tea Party Link In CO Shooting". The Huffington Post.
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  76. ^ Stelter, Brian (5 January 2018). "Brian Ross is returning to ABC News, but with a different job". CNNMoney. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
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  80. ^ a b c d "Awards Recipients". Overseas Press Club of America. The David Kaplan Award 1990; Brian Ross, Ira Silverman; NBC News: The Carl Spielvogel Award 1991; Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz ; NBC: The Carl Spielvogel Award 1994; Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz, Brenda Breslauer, Jill Rackmill; Dateline NBC: The Eric & Amy Burger Award 1997; Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz, David Rummel, Phyllis Mcgrady; ABC News-Primetime Live
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  84. ^ WRAL. "WRAL Wins Investigative Report Honors ::".
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  86. ^ "SPJ News – Society of Professional Journalists".
  87. ^ "Sigma Delta Chi Awards – Society of Professional Journalists".
  88. ^ "2002 Award Recipients – Broadcast Division, Feature or Human Interest Story". National Headliner Awards. First Place: ABC, Brian Ross & Jill Rackmill, “From the Tower”
  89. ^ "2003 Loeb Awards – UCLA Anderson School of Management".
  90. ^ "2004 Award Recipients – Broadcast Division, Investigative Reporting". National Headliner Awards. First Place: ABC News, Brian Ross and Rhonda Schwartz, “Charity Investigation”
  91. ^
    • "Daniel Pearl Awards". International Consortium Investigative Journalists. Retrieved 15 September 2019. Brian Ross, David Wilson Scott, and Rhonda Schwarts, ABC News 20/20, Peace at What Price: Investigating UN Misconduct in the Congo documented systematic sexual exploitation of girls and boys by UN peacekeepers and civilians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Ross, Brian; Scott, David; Schwartz, Rhonda (10 February 2005). "Peace at What Price?: U.N. Sex Crimes in Congo". ABC News. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  92. ^ "George Polk Awards/Past Winners 2005". Long Island University.
  93. ^ Gough, Paul J. (26 September 2006). "NBC News wins Emmy for Katrina coverage". The Today Show. NBC News. Retrieved 15 September 2019. winning for investigative journalism in a nightly newscast was the "Money Trail" series on ABC's "World News Tonight" about big money and politics.
  94. ^ "Brian Ross & the Investigative Team Nab Honors". ABC News. 25 September 2007.
  95. ^ 66th Annual Peabody Awards, May 2007.
  96. ^
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  105. ^ "UCLA Anderson School of Management Announces 2014 Gerald Loeb Award Winners". UCLA Anderson School of Management. 24 June 2014. Archived from the original on 1 February 2019. Retrieved 31 January 2019.