ABC News | Poynter | The Hollywood Reporter
When director Tony Scott committed suicide in August, ABC News incorrectly reported that he had inoperable brain cancer. Even though the Los Angeles County coroner said at the time that the family denied that Scott had the disease, ABC did not correct the story until this week, after the release of a coroner’s report that said there was no sign of brain cancer. In its report Tuesday on the autopsy, there is a note: “ABC News has retracted that Aug. 20 story and extends a formal apology to Mr. Scott’s family and friends.”
That Aug. 20 story was picked up by People, Vanity Fair, Huffington Post, TMZ and others. The story continues to live online, with a note at the top that says, “The family of director Tony Scott, who died Sunday after jumping off a Los Angeles bridge, was not aware Scott had cancer, Los Angeles County Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter told ABC News station KABC in Los Angeles. ABC News was unable to reach Scott’s family to confirm the assistant chief coroner’s statement.”
The week of Scott’s death, ABC told Poynter (twice) it would not change the story until reaching the family directly. “ABC has continued to reach out to the family over the past few days to directly confirm the coroner’s statement and have not received a response to-date,” ABC News spokesperson David Ford told Mallary Tenore by phone.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published today, ABC News president Ben Sherwood addressed the reversal:
We made some mistakes, we corrected them immediately, we studied them closely and learned from them, and we are committed, as always, to getting it right. When you open up the pages of a major newspaper or a magazine, you inevitably see the correction box where every day, every week, every month, journalists doing their best, manage to make mistakes.