ABC News On The Defensive After Video On Epstein Coverage Is Leaked On the video, anchor Amy Robach complains that ABC News "quashed" her interview with a Jeffrey Epstein accuser, suggesting the network yielded to threats from powerful forces.
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ABC News Defends Its Epstein Coverage After Leaked Video Of Anchor

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ABC News Defends Its Epstein Coverage After Leaked Video Of Anchor

ABC News Defends Its Epstein Coverage After Leaked Video Of Anchor

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A video surfaced yesterday of an ABC News anchor expressing anger about a big story that got away. As NPR disclosed in August, ABC's Amy Robach had interviewed a young woman years ago. The woman had accused the late Jeffrey Epstein of trafficking her for sex. ABC never ran that interview, and this video shows Robach caught on a hot mic saying this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AMY ROBACH: I tried for three years to get it on to no avail, and now it's all coming out, and it's like these new revelations, and I freaking had all of it. I'm so pissed right now.

CHANG: This video was published by a right-wing website. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik has more on this development. Hey, David.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.

CHANG: So that video we just heard has kind of thrown ABC on the defensive now. Can you just give us a little more of the backstory here, what that video showed?

FOLKENFLIK: So Robach was reacting to our story of late August. This was a couple of days later. She's on the set at ABC's "Good Morning America" either before the broadcast, early morning hours, or during advertising breaks. She's talking to somebody off camera. Let's hear another clip of what she had to say.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROBACH: I had this interview with Virginia Roberts. We would not put it on the air. First of all, I was told, who's Jeffrey Epstein? No one knows who that is. This is a stupid story. Then the palace found out that we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us a million different ways.

FOLKENFLIK: So let's unpack that a little bit. Virginia Roberts Giuffre was a woman who was talking about activities almost two decades ago. When she was a teenager, she first met Epstein. She's alleging that he trafficked her out for sex to powerful men, including such figures as Prince Andrew - the palace you heard there was Buckingham Palace - Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz and also claiming that she saw Bill Clinton in Epstein's presence, although she didn't witness him participate in any sexual activities.

I want to be clear Andrew, Dershowitz and others adamantly deny this.

CHANG: Now, just to be clear, ABC News said back in August that it didn't air the interview because it hadn't been able to verify enough details of Giuffre's story. So what is ABC, what is Amy Robach saying now?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, Amy Robach is now backtracking. In a formal statement to us and other reporters, Robach has said that she was expressing extreme frustration, but the reason that wasn't able to air was that they hadn't been able to verify enough of the details of what Giuffre was saying.

ABC News, similarly, is making consistent statements. I talked to executives at ABC, and they said part of their problem was that certain information that had been contained in a federal lawsuit had been struck by a judge from the record and that as a result of that, it put more legal obligation for them to be able to independently corroborate a lot of the details and that those details are hard to pin down.

CHANG: OK, so maybe it got legally complicated, but I understand from some of your reporting that there were other elements at play here.

FOLKENFLIK: Well, I mentioned earlier Alan Dershowitz. Again, he's an emeritus Harvard law professor. He served as a legal adviser to Jeffrey Epstein. Giuffre had accused him of being part of the trafficking - that is that she was loaned out to Dershowitz for sexual activities. I want to be very clear. Dershowitz adamantly denies this.

But nonetheless, he said he called ABC News shortly before it was due to initially broadcast Giuffre's interview. He called it three times, spoke to, he believes, two producers and a lawyer to try to knock down the interview. He said he wanted to make sure she didn't have credibility because of the other claims she would later be making about him. And the network has confirmed those calls. It just discounts the idea that Dershowitz's calls had anything to do with its decision not to broadcast the interview.

CHANG: We should also talk about how this video even came to light. It was posted by Project Veritas, which is a right-wing activist group that has targeted lots of media outlets before, including NPR. What credibility does Project Veritas have, you think?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, Veritas' founder James O'Keefe said he received it from somebody who's an employee at ABC News. They've done a lot of things to try to capture, to expose media outfits. At times they've faked stunts to try to fool The Washington Post into thinking a fake accusation against a Republican Senate candidate in Alabama might be true. In this case, that tape seemed to be unedited. ABC's not disputing it. And what Project Veritas has posted has forced ABC to revisit this issue once more.

CHANG: That is NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. Thanks, David.

FOLKENFLIK: You bet.

(SOUNDBITE OF RECONDITE'S "CAPABLE")

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