DANIEL VAUGHAN: Walt Disney squashed the Epstein story. They should answer for that.

November 8, 2019

It’s not every day that you get a chance to watch a conspiracy take place in open sight. But that’s what we have in ABC’s decision to convince CBS News to fire an employee.

The employee allegedly leaked a video of ABC News journalist Amy Robach complaining in a hot mic moment that the network squashed her story on Jeffrey Epstein, the now-dead multimillionaire pedophile connected to some of the most powerful men and women around the world.

The story, first broken by HuffPost journalist Yashar Ali, shows CBS and ABC working in concert to punish a whistleblower who revealed that Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t just a known quantity among national law enforcement groups, but also among journalists.

Robach’s statement came in August of this year, according to NPR. But in the video, Robach says that she “had the story” three years ago, with dirt on former President Bill Clinton included.

That means ABC News had Jeffrey Epstein in their sights in the middle of the 2016 presidential election season — which clearly involved the Clintons — and purposely chose not to air it.

Robach claims in the video she had everything: testimony, verifying witnesses, and pictures. But, she says, she got pushed back by her network bosses because they didn’t want to lose interview access to the British Royal Family, since Prince Andrew has been implicated in the Epstein debacle.

Compare how the network handled this — deciding not to air an account of that magnitude — to these same networks’ decisions after they “happened across” an infamous Access Hollywood tape of Donald Trump, which showed the now-president making many lewd comments about women. Or compare their coverage of this to their coverage of Kavanaugh, when anyone with a passing memory of someone sounding like their name rhymed with Brett got airtime on the major networks.

But this isn’t about the mind-numbing hypocrisy of major news networks — it’s about their abuse of power.

It’s abundantly clear at this point that American news outlets are not working on behalf of the American people — when you’re squashing stories on monsters like Jeffrey Epstein, you are what Donald Trump calls you: an enemy of the people.

It took a local newspaper, the Miami Herald, to bring Epstein and his empire down — and we’re still not at the bottom of it. You’ll notice, only the Miami Herald and a few other outlets are tracking the story. All the national outlets are so intensely following the Trump impeachment that they aren’t even talking about Epstein.

The Trump impeachment proceedings are all about one thing: public trust. Impeachment is ultimately about whether a president’s actions have so thoroughly breached the public’s trust that removing them is all but necessary to save Americans’ faith in their government.

We need to have the same debate over the American news media complex, especially on a national level.

The Walt Disney Company owns ABC News. So let’s be clear about what is happening here: the Walt Disney Company, which controls a massive segment of the children’s programming in America, was willing to protect Jeffrey Epstein — the most prolific pedophile of our time.

And not only that, but they’ve advocated for the termination of an employee who leaked video of a journalist admitting to that fact.

No one denies the validity of the video or a single word uttered in it. It’s true. That’s what happened. Everyone has admitted to this conspiracy — making it a fact.

The news media often bills itself as the “fourth estate,” referencing the standard term that refers to the first three estates as the executive, legislative, and judicial segments of society. But if the news media wants the power of that term and the legacy of it, then we should also hold them to the same standards.

If one thing is abundantly clear by this stage of the Trump era, it’s that the national news media has breached the public trust in such a flagrant way that they should answer for the power they’ve accumulated for themselves.

The answer is straightforward: strengthen antitrust laws, and proceed to bust the Walt Disney Company up in a billion pieces. This idea is not an economic argument — it’s a conservative argument for bringing the fourth estate into line by destroying the power it has in the marketplace.

Most of these news organizations wouldn’t survive outside their parent companies. Bust them up, and let market forces take care of the rest. These people and organizations don’t deserve support or government monopoly protection. They’ve breached the public trust in such a severe way that it demands action.

And when I refer to an action, I don’t mean the spineless uselessness you hear from conservative integralists like Sohrab Ahmari, who thinks congressional hearings are somehow important features of our society.

Antitrust legislation targets the two things at play: power and public trust. Break their stranglehold on information and you force them to compete in a marketplace with less power and influence.

Protecting Jeffrey Epstein isn’t what any American institution — from the first through the fourth estates — should be doing. It’s time the media answers for their sins on that front. Public trust in these institutions is at stake, and restoring that should be a primary concern.

We actually do need a healthy, properly functioning news media to help hold government accountable. But if they can’t hold powerful pedophiles accountable, why trust anything else they do?

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Daniel Vaughan

Daniel Vaughan is a columnist for the Conservative Institute and lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. He has degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and Regent University School of Law. His work can be found on the Conservative Institute's website, or you can receive his columns and free weekly newsletter at The Beltway Outsiders. Connect with him on Twitter at @dvaughanCI.