ABC News Apoligizes For Story (Update: AGAIN), Four Years Later

By Alex Weprin 

Four years ago, ABC News ran a story from correspondent John Stossel about Dr. Frederick K.C. Price (pictured right), the founder of Crenshaw Christian Center and subject of an investigation. The team was looking into whether ministers were using donations from their congregation to support luxury lifestyles.

The LA Times explains what happened:

The segment featured a 10-second video clip taken from a previously televised sermon that showed Price saying: “I live in a 25-room mansion, I have my own $6-million yacht, I have my own private jet and I have my own helicopter and I have seven luxury automobiles.”

In reality, Price did not own any of those things: He was preaching about a hypothetical person who was rich but spiritually unsatisfied. “Friends, to me that’s bad success,” Price added during the sermon, though that part was cut from the ABC News segment.

Stossel may have left ABC to join Fox Business network, but Crenshaw did not forget the piece, and yesterday ABC News formally apologized. Update: ABC News actually apologized to Price shortly after the story aired four years ago, the new apology was the result of a legal settlement between the organization and Price. A transcript of Stossel’s apology is after the jump.

“ABC News apologizes for any harm caused to you as a result of its broadcast of a video clip that ABC News stated was of you speaking about yourself when in fact you were talking about a hypothetical person,” Kerry Smith of ABC News said in her statement to Price. “ABC News regrets that it did not conduct sufficient investigation of the clip after receiving it to establish its correct context. By presenting the footage out of context, ABC News misled its audience and failed to meet its own standards, which ABC deeply regrets.”

The original apology from Stossel, which ran less than two months after the piece aired in March 2007:

Now I’m John Stossel and I want to correct a mistake we made. Several weeks ago, in a story about financial openness of Christian ministries, we aired this clip of televangelist Frederick Price.

[Replay of the Clip.]

We thought Dr. Price, founder of Crenshaw Christian Center, was talking about himself, but we later learned he was preaching a sermon about a hypothetical person who had many material possessions but lived a spiritually unfulfilled life. We had used his quote out of context, and for that, we apologize to Dr. Price and the Crenshaw Christian Center. And we apologize to you if we misled you. Also, the Center sent us a statement saying Dr. Price is paid, quote, “a salary commensurate with his duties” and that the church, quote, “openly shares its financial information with its congregation.”