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ABC News Reprimands John Stossel

August 10, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ ABC News has reprimanded reporter John Stossel and suspended a producer for their roles in a misleading ″20/20″ report questioning the safety of organic food.

An environmental watchdog group had been calling for Stossel to be fired for the report, first aired in February and then repeated July 7.

Stossel reported that a test conducted on produce for ABC News found that there was no pesticide residue on either conventional samples or organic ones. But ABC, after an investigation, concluded that no such test had been done.

``We’ve completed our review of the circumstances surrounding the error and have taken the appropriate measures,″ ABC News said in a statement. ``No further comment will be made.″

The network reprimanded Stossel and suspended his producer, David Fitzpatrick, for 30 days, according to a network source who asked not to be identified.

ABC had said earlier in the week that Stossel was relying on inaccurate information that had been provided by a staff member. Fitzpatrick apparently mistakenly believed that a test done on chicken had also been done on produce.

Stossel, who was ordered to apologize on the air for his mistake Friday, did not return a telephone message left on his answering machine Wednesday.

ABC did not address why Stossel was allowed to repeat the error, even though environmental groups complained to the network that his report was inaccurate after it originally aired in February.

The error has infuriated environmentalists and a trade group that backs organic food.

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