ABC News said on Wednesday that it had suspended a veteran correspondent after the journalist was secretly recorded on video by a right-wing activist group leveling criticism against the network and making disparaging comments about President Donald Trump.
“Any action that damages our reputation for fairness and impartiality or gives the appearance of compromising it harms ABC News and the individuals involved,” an ABC News spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday.
The ABC News spokesperson added that the correspondent, David Wright, had “been suspended, and to avoid any possible appearance of bias, he will be reassigned away from political coverage when he returns.”
It was not clear how long Wright had been suspended for and an ABC News spokesperson declined to say.
Wright is a veteran correspondent who has worked at ABC News since 2000. He has traveled the globe for the network covering major news stories, and interviewed Silicon Valley titans like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. Most recently, Wright has assisted ABC News with its coverage of Trump’s presidency.
Wright was approached by someone claiming to be a documentarian, a person familiar with the matter said. The correspondent didn’t know he was being taped, the person added.
The right-wing activist group that recorded Wright released the video of him on Wednesday. The group has a history conducting undercover sting operations against members of the news media. It previously targeted CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.
In the video released Wednesday, Wright compared Trump to a “nightmare spouse” and said he didn’t like him because he’s a “dick.” An off-camera voice was heard asking Wright about his political ideology, to which Wright responded by saying he identified as a socialist.
Wright also leveled criticism against ABC and other network news outlets for what he perceived as lackluster coverage of Trump.
“We don’t hold [Trump] to account,” Wright said. “We also don’t give him credit for the things he does do.”
Some of Wright’s criticisms against ABC News were not novel or outlandish. Wright, for instance, expressed dissatisfaction with some of the fluffier content aired on the channel.
“You can’t watch ‘Good Morning America’ without there being a Disney princess or a Marvel avenger appearing,” Wright said. ABC is a division of the Walt Disney Company, which also owns Marvel Studios.
The suspension of Wright was the third high-profile suspension ABC News has handed down in recent years. In 2018, the network suspended Brian Ross over an erroneous story on Michael Flynn. And in January, the network suspended reporter Matt Gutman over inaccurate on-air speculation in the immediate aftermath of Kobe Bryant’s death.