Disney has long been considered the kids' brand -- the company of cartoons, family-friendly films and theme park extravaganzas.
But one thing the House of Mouse has yet to offer is comment on a much-less savory issue involving children -- a scandal in its subsidiary news division surrounding a spiked story on the now-deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Project Veritas, whose controversial founder, James O'Keefe, has described himself as a “guerrilla journalist,” published footage Tuesday that included Amy Robach, an anchor for Disney-owned ABC News, claiming on a hot mic that higher-ups at her network killed a story that would have exposed Epstein back in 2015.
Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor told Fox News, “Walt Disney built the most famously family-friendly company in history,” which made ABC killing the Epstein story that much worse.
“To think that a division of that company wouldn't go out of its way to defend children from a monster is appalling,” Gainor told Fox News. “Even more, journalism is supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. ABC protected the comfortable from his victims.”
Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cornell Law professor and media critic Williams Jacobson told Fox News that Disney “needs a full investigation about ABC News' actions in spiking a story about a politically well-connected pedophile.”
Robach called her hot-mic episode a “private moment of frustration,” and ABC News defended the decision to spike the story, saying it wasn’t up to network standards. Robach had spoken with a woman who claimed Epstein paid her for sex when she was underage and pimped her out to a member of the royal family,
NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck told Fox News that the optics for ABC and Disney couldn't be any worse.
“Not only did they quash what would have been a huge story and thus threw basic journalistic ethics out the window, the alleged crimes were as heinous as one could get, aside from murder,” Houck said. “Disney has a mess on their hands.”
Project Veritas, which has framed itself as a conservative whistleblower watchdog group, previously released what it claimed to be hidden camera footage of network news producers, federal politicians and members of private political organizations making statements while unaware they were being recorded.
ABC News downplayed the significance of the Project Veritas video. “At the time, not all of our reporting met our standards to air, but we have never stopped investigating the story. Ever since, we’ve had a team on this investigation and substantial resources dedicated to it," an ABC News spokesperson told Fox News. "That work has led to a two-hour documentary and six-part podcast that will air in the new year.”