The late Jeffrey Epstein — no relation! — was, in the words of ABC News’s Amy Robach, “the most prolific pedophile this country has ever known.” A visibly angry Ms. Robach made the comment in a private conversation earlier this year on the ABC News set, which leaked to the media this week courtesy of the provocateur James O’Keefe. In the video, Ms. Robach claims that she had “the story” about Jeffrey Epstein for three years before it finally broke publicly this summer — and only then when federal charges of sex trafficking were finally filed against him.
In the leaked video, Ms. Robach says she had secured the cooperation of Virginia Roberts, who had years before allegedly served as an underaged sex slave to Jeffrey Epstein. “[Virginia Roberts] had pictures, she had everything,” Ms. Robach said. “She was in hiding for 12 years. We convinced her to come out…It was unbelievable what we had, we had Clinton and everything.”
Yet ABC News blocked Ms. Robach from running the story.
Why? “First, I was told ‘who’s Jeffrey Epstein?’” she said in the video. “‘No one knows who this is.’”
Even if that were true, of course (and it isn’t: Mr. Epstein was a well-known figure in elite circles), it was not a sufficient reason to back off the story. Sure, Jeffrey Epstein was not as famous as some of his friends and acquaintances – Bill Gates, Alan Dershowitz, Bill Clinton, Les Wexner, Prince Andrew – but that someone so well connected and wealthy was alleged to have run a sex trafficking operation comprised of of underage girls was undeniably newsworthy. Heck, even if Jeffrey Epstein did not regularly hang out with society’s crème de la crème, the existence of such a wide-ranging sex trafficking ring was, by its very definition, news. (We will generously set aside the fact that George Stephanopoulos, ABC’s News chief news anchor, by his own admission had dinner at Mr. Epstein’s.)
The second excuse given to Ms. Robach was more revealing. “The palace found out we had …allegations against Prince Andrew and threatened us a million different ways…we were so afraid we wouldn’t be able to interview Kate [Middleton] and [Prince] Will that we quashed the story,” she said.
In other words; ABC News killed a story of national importance because it was afraid of not being able to interview two members of the British royal family.
Ever since the advent of television news, there has been a tension between commercial incentives and newsworthiness. CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News and the rest – yes, they’re “news” operations, but they’re also businesses. Their first priority is to attract eyeballs and sell ad space. CNN focuses obsessively on all things Trump – and nothing else – because it thinks that helps juice ratings. (Though oddly enough, there’s no evidence of that in the Nielsen statistics for the bottom dwelling network.) At one level, television news is just show business.
In a commercial environment, news organizations have to balance pecuniary concerns with their duties as journalists. And three years ago ABC News evidently made its decision: the possibility of a ratings bonanza supplied an interview with Kate and Will trumped the news of a wide ranging, child-abusing sex trafficking ring run by a close friend of many, many elite Americans.
ABC made its choice, and now we know. ABC and “News?” No relation!