Video shows US reporter complaining about handling of discussion with Virginia Giuffre
ABC News is facing questions about its reluctance to air a sensitive story of alleged sexual misconduct, after a leaked video emerged of the reporter Amy Robach complaining about how her bosses handled an interview with a Jeffrey Epstein accuser.
The conservative website Project Veritas released video of Robach venting that every day I get more and more pissed that her 2015 interview with Virginia Giuffre was never shown. Robach made her remarks late in August, sitting in a Times Square studio with a microphone but not on the air.
The US news organization said on Tuesday that the interview did not meet its standards because it lacked sufficient corroborating evidence. Robach, co-anchor of ABCs 20/20 news magazine, said the leaked video caught her in a private moment of frustration.
The episode was reminiscent of Ronan Farrows accusations that NBC News discouraged his reporting on the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinsteins misconduct. Farrow then took his Pulitzer prize-winning story to the New Yorker magazine.
ABC sought to minimize the comparison, saying it had pursued and aired other stories about Epstein, the New York financier who died on 10 August while in police custody on sex trafficking charges.
Project Veritas is known for efforts to embarrass mainstream media outlets, often sending undercover reporters to catch employees making statements with an anti-conservative bent. But it needed no such help with the Robach video, which Project Veritas said came from an ABC insider it would not identify.
The correspondent was visibly exasperated as she complained: I tried for three years to get [the interview] on to no avail and now its coming out and its like these new revelations and I freaking had all of it.
Giuffre, whose maiden name is Roberts, alleged that as a teenager she was forced by Epstein to have sex with prominent men, including Prince Andrew. The prince and Epstein both denied the allegations.
In the video, Robach said she was told: Whos Jeffrey Epstein? No one knows who that is. This is a stupid story.
Robach also complained in the video that the lawyer Alan Dershowitz and the British royal palace applied pressure on ABC not to air the interview with Giuffre. She suggested that the network feared the interview would hurt its ability to get interviews with Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.
ABC denied that outside pressure had influenced its decision.
At the time, not all of our reporting met our standards to air, but we have never stopped investigating the story, ABC News said in a statement Tuesday.
Giuffre first outlined her allegations against Epstein anonymously in a lawsuit filed in 2009, and she did her first on-the-record interviews about them with the Daily Mail in 2011. At the time of ABCs interview, Giuffres lawyers were battling with Dershowitz, who was fighting back against her claim that he was among the men who had sex with her when she was a minor.
While her allegations received widespread attention, some news organizations have treated elements of her story with caution because the list of prominent men she accused was long and her allegations difficult to independently confirm.
The Associated Press does not generally identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault, unless they come forward publicly as Giuffre has done.
Robach said in her statement Tuesday that she had been referring in the video to what Giuffre had said in the interview, not what ABC News had verified through its own reporting. Corroborating evidence of the type the network sought could include interviews with people familiar with Giuffres allegations or records that would verify she was at the places the alleged sex acts took place.
The interview itself, while I was disappointed it didnt air, didnt meet our standards, Robach said on Tuesday. In the years since, no one has ever told me or the team to stop reporting on Jeffrey Epstein, and we have continued to aggressively pursue this important story.
ABC says it plans to air a two-hour documentary and six-part podcast on the Epstein case next year.
It is still unclear whether Robachs Giuffre interview will be part of it. Now that it is four years old, it would probably need to be updated.