ABC has come under scrutiny for its decision not to air a 2015 interview with one of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers, after leaked footage emerged showing an anchor for the network saying the piece had been “quashed.”
In the video, which far-right website Project Veritas circulated on Twitter on Tuesday morning, 20/20 co-anchor Amy Robach tells someone offscreen that ABC killed her interview with Virginia Giuffre, who had claimed in a lawsuit that same year that she was recruited into Epstein’s alleged child sex-trafficking ring when she was underage, and was forced to have sex with him and Prince Andrew. (Both men have vehemently denied the allegations.)
“We had everything,” a visibly frustrated Robach says in the video, which is reportedly from August of this year, a few weeks after Epstein was found dead in his jail cell. “I tried for three years to get it on [air], to no avail, and now it is all coming out … I freaking had all of it.”
In the video, Robach also says that Buckingham Palace “threatened us a million different ways” once they became aware that someone at the network was looking into the allegations against Prince Andrew. “We were so afraid that we wouldn’t be able to interview Kate and Will, that also quashed the story,” she adds.
In a statement today, Robach walked back her claims, calling her comments in the video “a private moment of frustration” over the fact that the interview couldn’t air “because we could not obtain sufficient corroborating evidence to meet ABC’s editorial standards.” A spokesman for ABC echoed this sentiment, writing, “At the time, not all reporting met our standards to air, but we have never stopped investigating this story.” (As BuzzFeed notes, ABC News did report on the fact that Epstein and Prince Andrew were mentioned in Giuffre’s lawsuit at the time, despite not running any interviews with their alleged victims.)
This isn’t the first time ABC News has come under fire for its handling of Giuffre’s claims. In August of this year, in a story about “the three major American outlets” that dropped the ball on Epstein reporting, NPR focused closely on what happened to the 2015 interview. According to the outlet’s reporting, producers from the network paid for Giuffre and her family to fly to New York from Colorado, put them up in a hotel, and “interviewed Giuffre on tape for more than an hour about Epstein and his entourage.” Though ABC News would not comment on its editorial choices, an anonymous staffer told NPR that one of Epstein’s top lawyers, Alan Dershowitz, called the network and urged them not to run the interview — a narrative corroborated by Dershowitz himself. “I did not want to see [Giuffre’s] credibility enhanced by ABC,” Dershowitz told NPR, adding that he spoke to two producers and a lawyer at ABC in an attempt to intervene.
And Giuffre, just like Robach, was disappointed that the story never ran. “Appearing on ABC with its wide viewership would have been the first time for me to speak out against the government for basically looking the other way and to describe the anger and betrayal victims felt,” Giuffre wrote in an email to NPR. She says she was never told why the story didn’t run.