ABC News Suspends David Wright After Criticizing Trump, Own Network in Leaked Video

Brian Steinberg

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David Wright has told many stories during his two decades at ABC News. Now he finds himself at the center of one of them.

Wright, a veteran correspondent who has reported from Beirut, Gaza, St. Peter’s Square and the Congo, was suspended by the Walt Disney-owned news outlet Tuesday after Project Veritas, a conservative organization that has made a name for itself by recording conversations with TV-news journalists in candid moments and releasing leaked video, ran a video of Wright talking openly about his opinions on President Trump and the political news cycle. In some of the moments show on the video, Wright discusses how ABC News covers candidates and even offers his own opinions on President Donald Trump as well as the candidacy of Senator Elizabeth Warren.

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“Any action that damages our reputation for fairness and impartiality or gives the appearance of compromising it harms ABC News and the individuals involved. David Wright has been suspended, and to avoid any possible appearance of bias, he will be reassigned away from political coverage when he returns,” ABC News said in a statement Wednesday. A spokesperson declined to say how long the correspondent’s suspension would last.

Project Veritas has appeared to put ABC News in its cross hairs in recent months. In November, the organization leaked video of ABC News anchor Amy Robach visibly frustrated about not being able to get reporting aired about disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. At the time, ABC News said the reporting did not meet its standards for air, and Robach subsequently said she was caught in “a private moment of frustration.”

But the news division has been under some new pressures. In 2017, the news unit suspended Brian Ross, an investigative correspondent, for four weeks, after he reported that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was instructed to contact Russian officials during the campaign period by then-candidate Donald Trump. The report prompted a massive slump in the stock market, but was inaccurate. ABC News at the time said the reporting had not been vetted internally before being released on air. Ross left ABC News in July of 2018.

The video, taken during the media’s recent convergence on the New Hampshire primary, makes clear that Wright is not aware he is being recorded. At the same time, he offers candid remarks about his opinion about political subjects, even though he has been in the midst of covering news about the 2020 election. A person familiar with the matter said Wright was approached by someone claiming to be a documentary maker who began asking him questions, but had not given consent to be recorded.

And yet, Wright offered comments about his employer and its news operations that likely were not intended to be public. During the video, he discusses how ABC News often gives coverage to media projects that are of importance to its parent, Walt Disney, and suggests mainstream media don’t do enough to hold President Trump to account – or give him enough credit for his successes.

Wright has been with ABC News since 2000, has has reported from around the world, and taken up correspondent posts in New York, London and Los Angeles.

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