I’m conflicted about this. Not on the underlying point — McCarthy is a thousand percent right that ABC should explain its decision to bury Robach’s missing report to the public.
I’m just wary of having a government official make that point. The healthy libertarian response to a member of Congress demanding that a news organization explain its editorial process is a series of four-letter words. None of your business, apparatchik.
But McCarthy has three things going for him. Here’s the letter:
I am deeply concerned that ABC News chose to bury the truth about Jeffrey Epstein's role in human trafficking. @RepDougCollins, @RepMcCaul and I sent a letter to the President of @ABC News requesting more information about their enabling of Mr. Epstein. pic.twitter.com/AVqfZKqmt6
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) November 18, 2019
One: It’s not a demand inasmuch as he’s not threatening consequences if ABC doesn’t comply. Essentially it’s a press release designed to call attention to ABC’s silence. And McCarthy isn’t on a fishing expedition. He’s responding to specific claims of something shady going on in the decision-making process in this case by one of ABC’s own anchors.
Two: This isn’t any ol’ news story. It’s a story about one of the most notorious child traffickers in the world, whom we have every reason to believe was still engaged in the practice in 2016 when ABC was preparing its story. International sex trafficking is, of course, a practice that’s within Congress’s power to punish. If ABC had evidence in its possession that Epstein was engaged in that offense in an ongoing basis at the time of the Robach segment, did it alert anyone — the police, if not the public — that this needs to be investigated immediately?
Three: It’s gooooood politics for a congressman to show interest in getting answers about Epstein. ABC’s lost segment is probably unknown to most Americans outside the right-wing activist class, people who read Project Veritas and watch Fox News, but lots and lots and lots of people know the Jeffrey Epstein story and its suspicious ending by now. I’d bet public interest in getting to the bottom of the Epstein saga outpaces public interest in getting to the bottom of the Ukraine saga by 10 to one. So here’s McCarthy letting Americans know that he’s concerned about what many of them would say is the more important mystery of the two. From the letter:
Yeah, I’d like to hear more about those “outside forces” too.
He handed this scoop to Megyn Kelly last night, which was another smart move inasmuch as her following is mostly right-wing and she’s well known at this point for exposing sexual misconduct at Fox News (and for criticizing it at NBC News). She also landed the interview with the CBS producer who was fired for allegedly leaking the Robach segment to Project Veritas, a claim the producer denies. This was right in Kelly’s wheelhouse.
Here’s a question for McCarthy, though: Why did he need the Robach footage to pique his interest in investigating Jeffrey Epstein? Why wasn’t Congress all over this years ago? Robach’s lost 2016 segment would have been an unusually visible showcase of Epstein’s crimes for the American public but information about him has been floating around for ages in plain sight. Here’s a Guardian story from early 2015 about an affidavit signed by Virginia Roberts alleging coerced sex and brutal physical abuse. Here’s a Smoking Gun round-up of information on Epstein, including links to old police reports, from around the same time noting that he was still circulating in elite society despite his earlier sex-crimes conviction. Roberts’s diary entries also made it into the American press in early 2015. Meanwhile, author James Patterson and a pair of co-writers cranked out a book about Epstein that came out in October 2016, a month before a presidential election between former Epstein friend Donald Trump and the wife of longtime Epstein friend Bill Clinton.
So why did he and we need to wait for ABC and Robach to take a run at the story? Considering that Epstein went right back to his old ritzy lifestyle after leaving prison, why wasn’t the DOJ sniffing around to see what he was up to as soon as he made parole? Congress itself could have held hearings on sex trafficking at any point and called Roberts to testify. Why didn’t it? Why haven’t the Democratic House or the Republican Senate held any hearings about Epstein yet?
ABC should answer, but a lot of people need to answer. The conspiracy of media silence is an important part of the Epstein saga, but just a part. We’ll see if they respond to McCarthy.