Did ABC and CBS engage in an unlawful restraint of trade by colluding to fire a “whistleblower”? After somebody smuggled footage of a candid video of Amy Robach bitterly complaining about ABC spiking a story on Jeffery Epstein, it appears the network went on a frantic search to find and punish the whistleblower.
Based on the public information about the story, it also appears that ABC and CBS may have colluded to punish the whistleblower. If true, not only is this a violation of journalistic principles, but the companies also should face scrutiny as to whether they may have violated federal law.
According to the video recently released by Project Veritas, ABC may have a secret video of an interview with one of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex slaves. Epstein, who died in jail under suspicious circumstances in August, in is the notorious architect of a shocking operation to press children into prostitution for the gratification of degenerate rich people. Many believe that Epstein received protection by blackmailing clients.
ABC and CBS are supposed to be competitors. But when ABC thought it identified the “whistleblower” who took the footage of Robach’s shocking confession, network officials realized that its competitor, CBS, employed the person suspected of leaking the video. (It turns out ABC was incorrect about the person’s identity, but that is immaterial to this story.)
ABC couldn’t fire somebody who didn’t work for the network. Instead, executives made some sort of arrangement with CBS. When CBS agreed to fire the employee, that may have been an overt act to further a restraint of trade in the supposedly competitive news business, limiting consumer access to future stories.
News is a business. The two networks are not supposed to enter into an agreement to throttle back what gets reported.
In the age of Trump, numerous authors have written about the obvious message coordination that takes place among the legacy media. It’s a staple of Tucker Carlson’s show to do a montage of the herd of supposedly independent journalists reading from the same prefabbed script. Phrases like “collusion,” “emoluments,” “constitutional crisis,” all emanate from media at the same time in the same context, to message the same talking points.
Here’s one video showing a coordinated messaging campaign using the phrase “oath of office,” over and over again as the split-screen between the media and Democrats show different faces and voices reading from the same script. Here’s another video that shows two years of media clips mouthing the same prediction about the “walls closing in” on Donald Trump. If you had the time, you could produce hundreds of these comical yet creepy videos of message coordination between the legacy media and Democrats over the past three years.
Beyond Political Bias
But the ABC/CBS conspiracy to suppress the Epstein story by firing a suspected whistleblower is something different altogether. This isn’t about like-minded or politically corrupt “journalists” abandoning their independence for the sake of getting Trump. The Epstein story has real victims, often children, who were exploited as sex slaves for the benefit of rich and powerful people. While Epstein may no longer pose a threat to those children, left unidentified are predators who paid for access to the victims.
The market, including the black market, abhors a vacuum and new Epsteins undoubtedly have risen to meet the demand. It appears ABC and CBS collaborated to punish somebody they believed exposed ABC’s suppression of a story that might have identified some of these predators still among us. That’s strong evidence of an agreement to restrain the “trade” that both companies ply—the news.
This moves the needle of media corruption way beyond political bias. Our news media has a role in disseminating information for the sake of public safety and a free market normally would reward an organization that scooped its competitors. Because of the apparent ABC/CBS conspiracy, however, the public may be less aware of the threat posed by these predators. Authorities have a duty to investigate whether ABC/CBS conspired to keep from the public information that parents and authorities could have used to protect children from these predators.
The media have actively pursued exemptions to the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts. The Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 allowed two or more outlets to form a joint operating agreement under circumstances of economic distress at all but one outlet in a particular community. Since then, media outlets have sought to expand the exemption in the hope that the business could be more profitable if the government legalizes anti-competitive agreements among media outlets.
Under Department of Justice policies, however, media are “required to retain separate editorial and reporting staffs and to determine their editorial policies independently.” Is that happening? It doesn’t seem so when a phone call from ABC can result in a termination of a CBS employee for suspicion of committing the unforgivable act of reporting news!
If true, CBS should have responded to ABC’s request to fire the “whistleblower” with raucous laughter and the abrupt sound of the phone disconnecting. CBS should be running commercials championing the scoop of its competitor ABC’s corruption. It’s not. And that should concern Americans.
The Sherman Act outlaws “every contract, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade.” The Federal Trade Commission notes “certain acts are considered so harmful to competition that they are almost always illegal. These include plain arrangements among competing individuals or businesses to fix prices, divide markets, or rig bids. These acts are ‘per se’ violations of the Sherman Act; in other words, no defense or justification is allowed.” Thus an agreement between two news organizations to kill a story, arguably, is a restraint in trade.
One sign of anti-competitive behavior is the overall decline in the quality of mainstream media news. The political corruption of the mainstream media has led to several glaring errors that get repeated and spread even after correction. A majority of Democrats, for example, still believe that the Russians changed votes for Trump in the election.
The First Amendment means nothing without a free and competitive media through which the various outlets act as checks upon each other. The media should be digging into the Epstein story to root out threats to our children. It’s alarming that the ghost of Epstein can inspire competitive news organizations to collude to suppress such an important story.