ABC News was in cleanup mode on Tuesday after a video surfaced of “20/20" co-anchor Amy Robach expressing frustration that the network did not run her 2015 reporting on pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
The video — leaked on YouTube by conservative provocateur James O’Keefe — shows Robach at an anchor desk talking to a producer about a 2015 interview she conducted with Epstein victim Virginia Roberts that implicated Britain’s Prince Andrew, attorney Alan Dershowitz and former President Clinton. O’Keefe said that the tape was recorded in August and that it was provided by an ABC employee.
The most damning claim from Robach is that ABC News would not run the reporting because it feared losing access to coverage of the British royal family.
“I’ve had the story for three years,” Robach said in the video. “I’ve 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. We were so afraid we wouldn’t be able to interview [Kate Middleton and Prince William] that we quashed the story.”
Robach is also seen speculating that Epstein, who committed suicide while incarcerated, according to law enforcement officials, was actually killed. “So do I think he was killed? A hundred percent, yes I do,” she said. “He made his whole living blackmailing people.”
Robach issued a lengthy statement Tuesday in an attempt to roll back the remarks that she acknowledged were said late last summer.
“I was caught in a private moment of frustration,” she said. “I was upset that an important interview with Virginia Roberts didn’t air because we could not obtain sufficient corroborating evidence to meet ABC’s editorial standards about her allegations. My comments about Prince Andrew and her allegation that she had seen Bill Clinton on Epstein’s private island were in reference to what Virginia Roberts said in that interview in 2015. I was referencing her allegations — not what ABC News had verified through our reporting. The interview itself, while I was disappointed it didn’t air, didn’t meet our standards.”
Robach went on to say that she was never told to stop reporting on Epstein and that the network has continued to aggressively pursue the story.
An ABC News executive involved with the story who spoke on condition of anonymity said the interview with Roberts was set up after her allegations appeared in court testimony. By the time the sitdown took place, the court had struck her testimony from the record and the network had to corroborate her statements on Clinton and Prince Andrew on its own. “At the time, we didn’t have that protection by the courts,” said the executive, who was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter.
Roberts has accused Epstein of sexually abusing her and lending her out for sex nearly two decades ago as a teenager to Prince Andrew and other men. Clinton was also part of Epstein’s social circle.
ABC News continued to try to corroborate the details of Roberts’ story so that they met the division’s editorial standards but was unable to do so, the executive added.
In a separate statement, ABC News said “not all of our reporting met our standards to air, but we have never stopped investigating the story.” The network has prepared a two-hour documentary on Epstein and has a six-part podcast set to run next year.
The executive said that it heard from legal representatives of Prince Andrew regarding Roberts’ allegations but that there were no threats to cut off access to Middleton and Prince William.
The Robach video comes on the heels of allegations leveled by former NBC News correspondent Ronan Farrow that his former employer obstructed his efforts to report on sexual assault and harassment allegations against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Farrow eventually took his reporting to the New Yorker, where it earned him a Pulitzer Prize.
Farrow delivers a detailed account of his frustrations in getting his story on the air in his book “Catch and Kill,” the details of which have dogged NBC News management since its publication last month. The network’s executives have maintained that Farrow did not have an on-the-record account from a Weinstein victim or an eyewitness who saw his behavior.