It has been a less than spectacular week for ABC News.
Days after the network suspended its chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross for four weeks due to an inaccurate report concerning Michael Flynn’s guilty plea in the Russia investigation, Politico is reporting that ABC News’s investigative unit chief Chris Vlasto has been reprimanded after it was revealed in Let Trump Be Trump, written by Trump campaign insiders Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, that Vlasto provided the Trump campaign with proprietary exit poll numbers on election night 2016.
“When we found out about this, we asked him about it,” an ABC News spokesperson told TVNewser. “He admitted it and was reprimanded.”
In the book, Lewandowski and Bossie state that Vlasto, who at the time was an ep at GMA before moving to the investigative unit this past summer, called Bossie, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, at 5:01 p.m. ET on election night with info being shared within a consortium of the Associated Press and the TV news networks.
“Vlasto had the early exit numbers that the consortium of news networks – the Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News – had collected,” Lewandowski and Bossie wrote. “The consortium followed eleven battleground states, including Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Trump was down in eight of the eleven states by five to eight points. The news was devastating. A kill shot.”
Two sources familiar with the consortium process told POLITICO that Vlasto should not have been providing such detailed information to people outside the group, which spends millions of dollars on exit polling and shares the information on Election Day. Representatives from the AP and TV networks crunch the numbers under strict quarantine until 5 p.m. on election night, at which time they can share the data with other members of their own organizations involved in coverage. News organizations involved in the consortium typically warn staffers not to provide specific exit-poll numbers to outsiders, especially given that the polls are still open.
Vlasto, a 28-year ABC News vet, and Bossie have known each other for years, and Vlasto was even considered for a senior comms role in the Trump White House last December before pulling himself out of consideration.
“I was approached about a job in the new administration. I had preliminary conversations with the transition team, and I’ve taken my name out of consideration,” Vlasto stated on Dec. 14, 2016.