Before we get into the release by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas of that video starring “Good Morning America” co-host Amy Robach and her story that ABC spiked her report about the late serial sex predator Jeffrey Epstein, let’s do something else first.
Let’s remember what ABC, NBC and other media did to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing just a year ago, destroying his reputation, smearing him without evidence because he wasn’t on their political team.
Oh, you don’t want to go near Kavanaugh? Then just get off the bus, because I’m going there.
There is just no responsible way to discuss ABC’s alleged spiking of the Epstein story — or NBC’s spiking of the Harvey Weinstein story — without dealing with how those news networks, and other media outlets, worked frantically to destroy Kavanaugh.
Many in the media had one standard for Epstein and Weinstein, who had clout with Democrats, including Bill and Hillary Clinton.
But Kavanaugh? He’s a Bush Republican nominated by President Donald Trump.
So that other standard was applied, one that allowed unsubstantiated allegations to be reported and repeated, endlessly, in an attempt to ruin him and keep him off the Supreme Court.
It seems clear now, from the Ronan Farrow stories and other accounts, and from Robach’s hot mic take, that NBC and ABC showed great deference to Epstein and Weinstein.
But Kavanaugh? He wasn’t treated deferentially. His reputation was destroyed by wild, unsupported and fantastic allegations that he was a serial sex predator.
Without corroboration, Kavanaugh was even shamed as the leader of a gang-rape crew that drugged young women before attacking them. The unctuous and now discredited lawyer Michael Avenatti was constantly on TV, welcomed on ABC, with his lips and tongue wet and malicious with gossip.
When Kavanaugh dared become angry about the smears, TV panels of talking heads said he was all but insane. Newspapers were also attacking Kavanaugh, and now many are busy skinning Trump and calling his 60 million voters — some being their own readers — stupid.
But much of the damage done to Kavanaugh was delivered on TV news, because TV news shows, particularly those vapid morning shows like “Good Morning America,” aren’t really about news.
Network TV is about entertainment and the selling of emotion, a place where repeated follow-up questions are avoided, because, we’re told, it’s not good TV.
“I had this interview with Virginia Roberts,” Robach said on that video, referencing an alleged Epstein sex slave victim. “We would not put it on the air. The (British royal) palace found out that we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us a million different ways. We (ABC) were afraid we wouldn’t be able to interview (English royals) Kate and Will, that we … that also quashed the story.”
ABC lawyers earned their pay and issued statements that the Epstein reporting wasn’t up to standard. And a Robach statement was issued, saying that the Project Veritas video caught her “in a private moment. … I was upset that an important interview I had conducted with Virginia Roberts didn’t air because we could not obtain sufficient corroborating evidence to meet ABC’s editorial standards about her allegations.”
Again: Where were those standards when Avenatti client Julie Swetnick smeared Kavanaugh about leading the gang-rape crew?
Where were the standards when ABC News honcho George Stephanopoulos — Clinton Foundation Donor Zero — attended a New York party at Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse after the sex predator was released from his slap-on-the-wrist 13-month jail sentence in Florida?
Prince Andrew was there. And other media types were there as well, sniffing up to the royals for access.
With Epstein and media show ponies hobnobbing in all that glitz, you might wonder if they pondered their standards.
And, as they held glasses of Champagne and made witty party talk with Epstein and other guests, you also might wonder if their tails twitched.
In the video, Robach comes off as bright, committed, exasperated and upset. But she’s a news pro, wearing a hot mic, talking on set. So, I don’t believe it was a mistake. It seemed rather like a declaration.
Before the Project Veritas story broke, Margaret Sullivan, the media columnist for The Washington Post, excoriated NBC for its handling of the Harvey Weinstein story.
Sullivan properly noted that others at NBC News, from Lester Holt to Rachel Maddow, had demanded answers and hadn’t received answers.
Farrow, then of NBC News, had the story about the Hollywood producer and alleged sexual predator Weinstein. NBC wouldn’t run it, insisting it didn’t meet its standards.
Farrow and others, including NBC producer Rich McHugh, blamed the spiking of the Weinstein story on worries that NBC’s own star at the time, news anchor Matt Lauer, was also facing sexual assault complaints and NBC was protecting itself.
Farrow went to The New Yorker, which published the Weinstein story, for which he received a Pulitzer.
There are many excellent, hardworking and scrupulous journalists in this country, from all political points of view, taking real risks to tell real stories. They are not, as Trump says, the “enemy of the people.”
But then there are those network news honchos who decide that it is open season on people like Kavanaugh, while others who are on their team are protected.
These are the unctuous enemies of something vital to a free republic. They’re the enemies of journalism.
And they’re doing their best to shame it.
John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. His Twitter handle is john—kass.