ABC News’ Brian Ross & The Newark Airport Threat

By Molly Stark Dean Comment

ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross was the lead on “Good Morning America” Monday morning to report on the 12 men in three British cities who’d been arrested hours earlier for allegedly orchestrating a major bomb plot. But a potential threat closer to home, and how it was reported, has some TV news watchers critical of ABC’s coverage.

At 7:03amET, Ross was on the GMA set reporting on the UK bomb plot. 40 minutes later, the chief investigative correspondent was back on set, reporting on police activity at Newark Liberty airport in New Jersey:

“You are looking at a live picture of Newark airport. Authorities are investigating a possible bomb at the American Airlines terminal there. Terminal A is shut down. Bomb squads are on the scene. Apparently something suspicious was found behind the American Airlines’ baggage room…They’re really jittery about this. When this kind of thing happens, sometimes, there can be overreaction. We do not have absolute confirmation, but officers on the scene do believe it is a bomb.”

GMA EP Jim Murphy tells TVNewser the Newark story was being reported “against the backdrop of an unfolding terrorist plot in the UK, repeated warnings from officials all over the world that there could be attacks during the holidays and more than one reporter being told by sources at Newark that they were fairly certain they had a bomb on their hands.”

Ross continued his report,

“TSA officers are saying they believe this is some sort of an IED that was picked up by airport screeners at Newark airport that appeared in checked bags. They have now got a bomb agent on the scene. Sometimes, the early indications can be wrong. There can be false positives. But they are sending the bomb squad technicians in to control of it. It’s serious enough to shut down the airport.”

At 8:00amET, Ross was back on GMA reporting an all-clear at Newark. It wasn’t an IED at all, but a computer monitor in a passenger’s checked luggage.

Murphy tells TVNewser, “In these trying circumstances, we try very hard to make the correct choices on coverage. As soon as the reporting changed on the Newark story yesterday, we changed it on the air.”

“In the current atmosphere and given the volume of holiday travel,” Murphy adds, “that felt like it was worth reporting. And I decided to put it on television, not Brian or the other reporters involved.”

Watch the video from all of Ross’ reports on the threat here: