ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent
Brian Ross is an award-winning investigative journalist who serves as ABC News’ Chief Investigative Correspondent. He reports extensively for “World News with Diane Sawyer,” “Nightline,” “Good Morning America,” and “20/20,” as well as for ABC News Radio and “The Blotter” on ABCNEWS.com. Ross joined ABC News in July 1994.
Ross’s investigative reports have exposed corruption at all levels of government, led to changes in domestic laws and prompted reforms abroad. Most recently, ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity’s investigation into the coal industry and the hundreds of mine workers who were unable to claim disability benefits after contracting black lung disease resulted in the closure of the special black lung unit at Johns Hopkins Medicine and a federal probe into the cases. Last year, his investigation “Tragedy in Bangladesh,” which examined the dangerous safety conditions and controls at factories in Bangladesh where workers sewed clothes for iconic America brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Walmart was honored with the 2013 Hillman Prize for Broadcast Journalism and 2013 CINE Golden Eagle Award. In addition, Ross’s “Nightline” investigation “Undercover Granny: Medicare Fraud,” which unveiled an alleged Medicare fraud operation in Texas was honored with an award for “Outstanding Investigative Program or Feature” at the 2013 Gracie Awards.
In 2012 Ross earned his sixth George Polk Award, sixth Peabody Award and two Emmy Awards, including best investigation in a news magazine story for his “20/20” investigation “Peace Corps: A Trust Betrayed,” which exposed the cover-up of sexual abuse of Peace Corps volunteers and led to Congressional hearings and calls for new legislation. He was also awarded with a 2012 Gracie Award for the report.
In 2010 Ross received his seventh duPont-Columbia Award, one of the most prestigious awards in broadcast journalism, for the “20/20” investigation “The Coach’s Secret,” which exposed a scandal in youth swimming and led to major reform in the sport. This report also earned him a 2011 CINE Golden Eagle Award. In addition, Ross’s investigation “Taking on Toyota,” which prompted one of the largest automobile recalls in history, was awarded the Edward R Murrow Award from the RTNDA in 2011. Additionally, his exposé of a “pay-to-play” grading system by the Better Business Bureau brought about significant changes within that organization.
When the Bernard Madoff scandal broke in December 2008, Ross was at the forefront of the investigation into this multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme, breaking news on Madoff, his family and associates, and how the scam was perpetrated over so many years. Ross’s extensive reporting on the subject led to his first book, “The Madoff Chronicles: Inside the Secret World of Bernie and Ruth,” published in fall 2009.
In 2006 Ross made headlines with his exclusive investigation into the congressional page scandal involving Congressman Mark Foley and won his fifth Peabody Award for his series of reports: “Conduct Unbecoming.” Within 24 hours of the first report on ABC News.com, the congressman had resigned. Ross has received numerous honors for “Conduct Unbecoming,” including an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award, a USC Annenberg Walter Cronkite Award, an IRE Award, the 2007 National Headliner Award for Television Affiliated Online Journalism, and the Online News Association Journalism Award.
Ross received the 2007 Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting for a two-part “20/20” undercover investigation into retail pharmacy errors, focusing on large drugstore chains, including CVS and Walgreens. He was also honored with a 2007 Business Emmy for his work in exposing conflicts-of-interest of some West Virginia State Supreme Court justices.
Well known for his work in national security reporting, Ross was the first to reveal new details on the existence of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe, where top al Qaeda figures were held. The exclusive 3-part investigation, which aired on “World News” and “Nightline,” garnered a 2005 George Polk Award, the fifth time he has won the award in his career.
His noted undercover investigation of nuclear smuggling, which questioned whether American authorities could stop a shipment of radioactive material from entering the country, received the duPont Award in 2004.
Ross has also reported extensively on international human rights abuses, winning numerous top journalism awards for exposes on the sale of executed prisoners’ kidneys in China; sweatshop labor in Saipan and sexual misconduct by U.N. peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
During the 2008 political season, Ross and his team received an Emmy and a Goldsmith nomination for their continuing work on the influence of corporate money on politics, “The Money Trail” exposing the behind the scenes lobbying and influence of big money interests at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Ross and his team first launched the Emmy Award-winning series at the 1996 conventions.
Following September 11, 2001, Ross and the Investigative Unit broke numerous stories about the investigation into the terrorist attacks. Among several exclusive reports, Ross was the first reporter to name Mohamed Atta and describe him as the ringleader of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. He was also the first to report on Zacarias Moussaoui’s alleged role in the attacks and his questioning by the FBI prior to September 11. His “Primetime Thursday” story about the hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93 featured the first airing of transmissions between the plane’s cockpit and air traffic controllers.
In addition to filing for all ABC News broadcasts, Ross files reports for ABC News Radio, available to 2,500 affiliates around the country. He also reports throughout the day for the Investigative Unit’s website, “The Blotter,” on ABCNEWS.com. Since launching in April 2006, the Blotter has quickly become one of the most popular destinations on ABCNEWS.com, receiving an average of 5 million readers a month.
Ross’s work has been repeatedly honored with the most prestigious awards in journalism, including seven duPont-Columbia Awards, six Peabody Awards, six Polk Awards, 16 Emmys, five awards from the Overseas Press Club, and five Edward R. Murrow Awards and many more.
Prior to joining ABC News, Ross worked for 20 years at NBC News, reporting for the “NBC Nightly News” and “Dateline NBC.”
In an award-winning two-part report for “Dateline NBC” in 1992, Ross exposed Wal-Mart’s use of child labor in overseas sweatshops to provide clothing for their “Buy American” campaign. Ross also broke stories about French intelligence spying on American businessmen and was the first reporter to track down the fugitive Marc Rich at his Swiss hideaway.
Ross solidified his reputation for investigative reporting by breaking stories such as the 1980 ABSCAM story, for which he was honored with a National Headliner Award. His exclusive report in March 1990 about Iraq trying to buy trigger mechanisms for nuclear weapons just months before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait made headlines worldwide.
His five-part “NBC Nightly News” series on the Teamsters Union won the 1976 Sigma Delta Chi Award and a National Headliner Award. In 1977, he won a National Headliner Award for a five-part study of organized crime in the United States.
Ross began his professional career in 1971 as a reporter at KWWL-TV in Waterloo, Iowa. He later worked at WCKT-TV in Miami and WKYC-TV in Cleveland. A Chicago native, he is a graduate of the University of Iowa.