After the family of Tony Scott denied an ABC News report that the director, who committed suicide on Sunday, had inoperable brain cancer, the pile-on by media reporters has been fierce and unyielding. It's been a rough month for the network news operation.
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ABC started backing off its scoop that Scott had cancer about a half an hour after it ran, Deadline's Nikki Finke and Mike Flemming reported. Scott's family "was not aware Scott had cancer," ABC News wrote, a claim that still sits at the top of the new story to which the original redirects, headlined "Tony Scott Brain Cancer Report Appears in Doubt." According to the Los Angeles Times, Scott's family wasn't just unaware of any cancer, they were actively denying the report. "The family told us it is incorrect that he has inoperable brain cancer," coroner's office chief Craig Harvey told Times reporters Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein.
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With two reporting gaffes on its record over the past month, media reporters are not letting ABC News off the hook for any part of this one. Finke and Flemming called back to ABC News reporter Brian Ross's inaccurate connection between the Tea Party and James Holme, the suspected Aurora, Colorado shooter, followed by the network's disputed report that Holmes's mother had confirmed her son was the shooter. "The issues all seem the same: ABC News is not properly vetting its reporting," the Deadline reporters wrote. Politico's Dylan Byers couldn't resist a swipe at Ross: "Brian Ross, who has been responsible for many inaccurate or misleading reports at ABC News, was not involved in the reporting on Scott's death, a network spokesperson confirmed to POLITICO." And Poynter's Andrew Beaujon noted that the URL on the original story misspelled "inoperable" (as inoprable, in case you were wondering). Though Beaujon did point out that ABC News was right with its anonymously sourced detail that the Sikh temple shooter was a white supremacist. Still, ABC News' pattern of inaccuracy appears to be wearing thin the goodwill of those whose job it is to report on the reporting.