ABC News is facing heavy backlash over its response to a video showing one of its anchors claiming that the Disney-owned network “quashed” her story about convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Project Veritas, whose controversial founder, James O’Keefe, describes himself as a “guerrilla journalist,” published footage showing ABC News anchor Amy Robach saying her network refused to air an interview she conducted with one of Epstein’s accusers.
“I’ve had the story for three years… we would not put it on the air,” Robach said on the hot mic. “It was unbelievable what we had, Clinton, we had everything,” an apparent reference to the former president.
Robach quickly admitted the authenticity of the video, which has not been independently verified by Fox News, but dismissed the notion of unethical journalism.
“As a journalist, as the Epstein story continued to unfold last summer, I was caught in a private moment of frustration. I was upset that an important interview I had conducted with [Epstein accuser] Virginia Roberts didn’t air because we could not obtain sufficient corroborating evidence to meet ABC’s editorial standards about her allegations,” Robach said in a statement provided to Fox News.
ABC News downplayed the significance of the video, telling Fox News that the Epstein story wasn’t fit to air.
“At the time, not all of our reporting met our standards to air, but we have never stopped investigating the story. Ever since, we’ve had a team on this investigation and substantial resources dedicated to it,” an ABC News spokesperson told Fox News. “That work has led to a two-hour documentary and 6-part podcast that will air in the new year.”
“It doesn’t say great things about the integrity of ABC News that they get one of their reporters to put their name to something so obviously / self-evidently dishonest like this,” BuzzFeed opinion editor Tom Gara reacted.
NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck listed ABC News’ journalistic blunders in recent years, including the later-retracted report that President Trump “directed” then-national security advisor Michael Flynn to contact Russia following the 2016 election to the network mistakingly using footage taken at a Kentucky gun rage in its report on the fighting in Syria, and said Robach’s tape will also “live in infamy.”
“ABC’s quashing was a terrible breach of journalistic ethics, so it was even more embarrassing to see the milquetoast statements by ABC and Robach that illustrated how their hands remain firmly stuck in the sand,” Houck told Fox News.
Many critics compared the controversy to the ongoing scandal at NBC News, which was accused by “Catch and Kill” author and former NBC News reporter Ronan Farrow of killing his Harvey Weinstein story.
“Just like the Weinstein story just didn’t hang together enough for NBC’s rigorous standards,” author James Hasson wrote, mocking ABC’s statement citing “standards” that allegedly prevented Robach’s Epstein story from airing.
Even Robach received criticism for describing her remarks about her Epstein story as a “private moment of frustration.”
“ABC News’ comms team let a statement go out saying that a moment where Amy was on set, in front of cameras, and wearing a mic was a ‘private moment’? Amy is a total pro who has been in this business for two decades…she knew where she was and it certainly wasn’t private,” journalist Yashar Ali tweeted.
Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report.
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