Brian Stelter's Hot Take on ABC/Epstein Story Is Everything Wrong With Journalism and Media 'Firefighters' Today

screencap from Reliable Sources

Usually in the aftermath of bombshell undercover stories from James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas about liberal bias in mainstream media newsrooms, one of the first Twitter feeds I look at to find out their take is CNN’s self-styled media firefighter Brian Stelter.


Stelter, as most of you reading this already know, is always quick on the draw to call out any perceived slight or slant in Fox News reporting, but is much less interested (read: not interested at all) when it’s MSNBC or ABC News or his own network who happen to be in the hot seat.

Such was the case on Tuesday after the Project Veritas story broke about how ABC News reporter Amy Robach accidentally admitted on a hot mic in August that the network opted not to run a blockbuster story on sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein three years ago.

Many eyes turned to Stelter to see what he would have to say about it. But they would have to wait. And wait. And wait. Until late Tuesday night, when Stelter dropped his newsletter.

Here’s what he wrote:

Vox’s Jane Coaston reports: In a video obtained by a right-wing, pro-Trump activist group, ABC’s Amy Robach “complains to a producer off-air that she had convinced one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, to speak on the record about her allegations” against Jeffrey Epstein “and others reportedly involved in Epstein’s web of sex trafficking — including former President Bill Clinton, attorney Alan Dershowitz and Prince Andrew. But, she continues, ABC refused to run the story in order to keep access to the British royal family.”

After describing the Vox story and a similar story from NPR from a few months ago, Stelter pointed to the right wing reaction to the story, noting they used it as more evidence of liberal bias. The “most troubling” part to Stelter had nothing at all to do with ABC killing the story:


Nonetheless, Tuesday’s video clip caused widespread outrage, particularly on the right, with many commenters using it to stoke hatred of the media writ large. Personally, the most troubling part to me is Epstein’s usage of high-profile, high-priced lawyers to intimidate news outlets…

Pardon my French, but are you f***ing kidding me? Turn this into a story about Fox News killing a negative story on a Republican, especially Trump, and Stelter would not be able to log on to his Twitter account fast enough. We’d be talking about how this destroyed Fox News’ credibility for days on end. But it’s not about Fox News. It’s about ABC News. So, yeah, big yawn from Stelter and Co.

To Stelter, it’s all about conservative reactions and Epstein’s lawyers and their tactics, not the fact that a major news media outlet shelved a big story because it could have negatively impacted their ability to report on British royals. Left unstated was what was likely the bigger issue: the story having the potential to damage Bill and Hillary Clinton’s legacies the same year she was running for president against that evil orange man.

Not only that, but take note of how Stelter characterized O’Keefe’s group versus Vox in his newsletter. Project Veritas is “right-wing, pro-Trump”, but Vox – which was founded by diehard liberals – is simply Vox:


Twitter reax to Stelter’s letter were swift:


And last but not least, from Red State’s senior editor Joe Cunningham:

‘Nuff said.

— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 16+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –


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