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Bad week gets worse for ABC News, 2 longtime public radio hosts put on leave

For the second time in less than a week, ABC News has had to reprimand a staffer, this time for giving proprietary information to an official on Trump's presidential campaign.

At a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by ABC News in February 2016, Donald Trump and Chris Christie speak during a break.
At a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by ABC News in February 2016, Donald Trump and Chris Christie speak during a break.Read moreDavid Goldman

Last Friday, ABC News suspended investigative reporter Brian Ross for four weeks after he erroneously reported former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was prepared to testify that then-candidate Donald Trump directed him to contact the Russians. (Trump had already been elected and was waiting to take office, and directed Flynn to contact Russia about fighting ISIS, according to Ross's correction.)

Now ABC News has confirmed a report by Politico's Michael Calderone that the network has reprimanded Chris Vlasto, the head of its investigative unit, after revelations in a new book that Vlasto shared proprietary information with a Trump campaign operative on Election Night last year.

"When we found out about this, we asked Chris about it. He admitted it and was reprimanded," ABC News said in a statement. The network didn't reveal the type and length of the punishment.

In their new book, Let Trump Be Trump, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and current Trump aide David Bossie wrote that Vlasto, at the time a producer on Good Morning America, shared exit polling data with Bossie, who had known Vlasto for years.

"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, according to an excerpt published in Politico. "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."

The proprietary polling data, shared among TV news networks and the Associated Press, is typically kept under quarantine because polls are still open.

It's not the first time Vlasto has been linked to the Trump campaign. In December 2016, Vlasto took himself out of contention for a job on Trump's communication team after Politico reported he had meetings with the president-elect's transition team.

Two longtime public radio hosts put on leave

Longtime WNYC hosts Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz have been placed on leave pending an investigation into accusations of inappropriate conduct, according to New York Public Radio CEO Laura Walker.

In a statement, Walker said the station "takes these kinds of allegations very seriously and is reviewing these matters promptly."

The nature of the accusations against the two have not yet been disclosed. Lopate told the New York Times he was "baffled" by the station's sudden move to suspend him, and said WNYC "didn't even give me a clue" about the allegations made against him.

"It makes no sense to me," Lopate told the Times. "I am sure any honest investigation will completely clear me. That's the only thing I'm concerned about — the damage to my reputation."

The move comes just days after the network placed another popular WNYC figure, former host of The Takeaway John Hockenberry, on leave after he was accused of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior by several women.

Before Al Franken resigned, he had an unlikely supporter

Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) announced on the Senate floor on Thursday that he was resigning. Franken had come under increasing fire from Senate Democrats after a growing number of women have accused him of sexual harassment.

But on Wednesday night, Franken received some support from an the unlikely source: a Fox News host.

On the Ingraham Angle, Laura Ingraham issued a word of caution against those considering joining the majority of Democratic senators (34 at last count) who had called for Franken to resign after a sixth accuser went public to Politico, describing allegations of forced kissing.

"The drumbeat of accusations and the calls for scalps advance the false premise that the left are all about protecting women," Ingraham said, pointing out that Democrats have long tolerated the behavior of icons like Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton, and have cozied up for years with Hollywood figures like Harvey Weinstein.

Ingraham reiterated her position that Franken should not be forced to resign, echoing comments she made last month when she agreed with Democratic strategist Richard Goodstein that voters should decide what happens to the embattled Minnesota senator.

"If you're accused, and you're a man, you're done," Ingraham said. "No due process, no hearings."

But her advice doesn't come out of admiration for Franken or his politics. It comes out of fear that a Democratic housecleaning could make it easier to go after Republicans accused of sexual misconduct, including Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore and President Trump himself.

"So I'll tell you this tonight, be weary of the lynch mob you join today," Ingraham said. "Because tomorrow, it could be coming for your husband, your brother, your son, and yes, even your president."