On December 18, 2010, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric posted a video on her blog, Couric & Co., calling on Congress to pass tougher legislation to combat underage sex trafficking. However, what she failed to reveal to online viewers was that only two weeks earlier she attended a party at the Manhattan townhouse of Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender accused of trafficking underage girls. (h/t BigJournalism.com)
Couric and other media figures, including ABC Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos, were apparently at the event to speak with Britain's Prince Andrew about the upcoming royal wedding. As the New York Post reported on December 6: "Andrew regaled a bevy of media heavyweights at billionaire Jeffrey Epstein's Upper East Side townhouse the other night when he told of the royal family's joy over Prince William's upcoming wedding to Kate Middleton – and the glamorous guests asked for invitations."
The Post article only briefly touched upon Epstein's conviction: "Epstein, who recently finished a jail term for soliciting prostitutes, and Prince Andrew have been close friends for years." Conchita Sarnoff of The Daily Beast detailed the charges against Epstein in a July 2010 article: "Victims alleged that Epstein molested underage girls from South America, Europe, and the former Soviet republics, including three 12-year-old girls brought over from France as a birthday gift....victims also alleged trips out of state and abroad on Epstein’s private jets, which would be evidence of sex trafficking – a much more serious federal crime than the state charges Epstein was convicted of."
Sarnoff noted how Epstein, a New York hedge fund manager with extensive political connections, was given an extremely light sentence: "During Epstein’s term of 'house arrest,' he made several trips each month to his New York home and his private Caribbean island. In the earlier stage of his sentence for soliciting prostitution with a minor – 13 months in the Palm Beach Stockade – he was allowed out to his office each day."
In a recent interview with Britain's The Daily Mail one of Epstein's victims, Virginia Roberts, now 27, revealed how he groomed her as a prostitute beginning at age 15. Of Epstein, she said: "Jeffrey is a monster."
In her 'Katie Couric's Notebook' December 18 commentary, Couric noted that "Every year, an estimated 100,000 minors are forced into prostitution in this country" and explained that "The Senate recently passed a bill that would provide more shelter beds and counseling for victims, plus more money for law enforcement to go after pimps and traffickers. The bill is now pending in the House, but may not make it to a vote before recess." Upset by the potential delay of the legislation, Couric declared: "I'm sure Congress is eager to get home for the holidays, but this is one bill that simply can't wait. These children don't get a holiday from the horrors they endure... but the New Year could bring new hope that somebody out there cares."
For journalists to show up at a party thrown by someone like Epstein in the pursuit of the latest royal news certainly shows their willingness to put good judgement aside in order to get a scoop. But for Couric to then speak out specifically against sex trafficking of underage girls just two weeks later without condemning Epstein or acknowledging her poor judgement for attending a party at his house is stunning.
— Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.