Epstein cover-up conspiracy theories are dangerous

Here’s a newsflash for those who automatically presume that Robach expressing understandable frustration that she could have broken the Epstein story long before he was finally arrested: sometimes reporters exaggerate what they had on a story when they are looking back in retrospect after that story has broken wide open and everything they suspected to be true at the time turns out to finally be verified. It’s much like commentators who had a feeling Donald Trump would win in 2016, but never actually felt confident enough to say it publicly or definitively.

ABC and Robach released statements that what they had (like NBC and Ronan Farrow’s Harvey Weinstein story) never met the network’s editorial standards for being aired. I am suspicious that Robach was on to something when she indicated, in the leaked tape, that fear of upsetting the British royal family was part of why ABC decided going after Epstein at the time just wasn’t worth it. But their primary point, especially given the apparent factual problems with the accuser she had interviewed (Epstein associate Alan Dershowitz, a Trump friend that right-wingers are now essentially implicating here, tweeted support for ABC’s decision last night), seems to be both valid and important.

The most dangerous aspect of this controversy is that media outlets are now being roundly criticized, via 20/20 hindsight, for having held to very legitimate journalistic standards. These are guidelines, it should be noted, which were clearly more stringent before the #MeToo movement exploded two years ago, and are now particularly vital to preventing total chaos.