CNN's Brian Stelter on Tuesday used video evidence that ABC had buried a story on Jeffrey Epstein to argue that conservatives had weaponized the video to harm the media.
The CNN chief media correspondent framed the story as ABC News going on the "defensive" against Project Veritas, which Stelter called a "right-wing, pro-Trump activist group."
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"Tuesday's video clip caused widespread outrage, particularly on the right, with many commenters using it to stoke hatred of the media writ large," Stelter wrote in his nightly newsletter. "Personally, the most troubling part to me is Epstein's usage of high-profile, high-priced lawyers to intimidate news outlets…"
In the leaked footage, ABC's Amy Robach said her interview with alleged Epstein victim Virginia Roberts was suppressed in response to pressure from external sources, including the British royal family.
Project Veritas's James O'Keefe slammed the newsletter for calling his organization an "activist group" and warned that there are "more network insiders" with damaging information.
The leaked video, allegedly recorded last August, showed Robach saying that three years ago she had the story on Epstein's sexual trafficking of Roberts but was not allowed to air it. Roberts, whose name is now Virginia Giuffre, has alleged that Epstein trafficked her to Prince Andrew, a member of the British royal family.
"She [Roberts] had pictures, she had everything. She was in hiding for 12 years. We convinced her to come out. We convinced her to talk to us. It was unbelievable what we had, Clinton, we had everything," Robach said.
"The palace found out that we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us a million different ways," she added.
Robach responded to news of the leaked video by calling it a "private moment of frustration."
"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," she said in a statement.
ABC also released a statement saying, "At the time, not all of our reporting met our standards to air, but we have never stopped investigating the story."
Despite multiple mainstream media outlets publishing stories on the leaked video, Fox News was the only cable news network to cover it, according to the Washington Examiner.
Epstein, a disgraced financier and alleged pedophile, was facing criminal charges of sex trafficking. He was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell in August.