Everyone Seemingly Loves Them Some “Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself”

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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64 Responses

  1. Murali says:

    2 Points:

    1. Truthiness was overused. From the inside, a proposition which is Truthy looks/feels just like a proposition which is supported by the evidence. It is an unfortunate fact that many propositions which are irrational for us to believe, nevertheless look intuitively plausible. Cognitive biases wouldn’t be so pervasive if people could readily tell that they believe certain things only because of their cognitive biases.

    2. And here is yet another misuse of the term epistemological closure. Closure, in the epistemic context refers to the principle that if P entails Q and you are justified in believing that P, you are also justified in believing that Q. I’ve already made my peace with Julian Sanchez’s misuse of the term. Sanchez uses it to refer to the phenomenon where conservatives only get their news from conservative sources and liberals from liberal sources thus exacerbating confirmation bias. I’m not going to tolerate someone else misusing the term when there is already an adequate term for the phenomenon he is looking at: psychological closure.Report

  2. Chip Daniels says:

    When awful things happen to teenage daughters of nobodies, its worth a shrug of the shoulders;

    When something awful happens to a rich white male, it becomes an enduring injustice.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Here’s some Jeet Heer for you to embrace:

      Try running with that instead of suggesting that people are upset about Epstein’s murder because of the injustice of it happening to a rich white guy.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Gotta respect the commitment to the narrative, but no. The idea here isn’t that Epstein has suffered some great injustice; it’s that he was killed to keep him from squealing on a bunch of other rich and powerful people, thus allowing them to escape justice for the crimes they committed against teenage daughters of nobodies.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        As I’ve said before, these folks who are pounding this
        “didn’t kill himself” drum, are they also seeking out the girls and gathering their testimony, or interviewing the pilots and chauffeurs and maids to verify the facts and stories?


        The laziness of conspiracy theories is the tipoff that it isn’t sincere.

        See, the way conspiracy theory works is you start with “Hillary is evil” or “International Jewry” or “Satanic Pedophile Ring” or whatever you want, and then all you need to do is express an arched brow, a knowing wink and oblique comment, and your work is done.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Which is weird how you’re interpreting “Epstein was murdered to keep him from squealing on rich/powerful people” as, let me copy and paste this, “When something awful happens to a rich white male, it becomes an enduring injustice.”

          I mean, that is a magnificent misstatement of what’s going on.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

            You talk about a “weird incuriousity”;

            What is “weird” about it?

            You’re aware of how for years, hundreds of women went missing along the US/Mexian border of Juarez/ El Paso?



            Or maybe the case of dozens of Native women missing in Montana?

            Didn’t hear about that one either?

            Maybe its because there were very few stories about them, almost no investigations, just a giant “incuriousity”.

            But yeah man, this Epstein thing; Keeps me up at night, I just can’t shake it.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Comment in moderationReport

            • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Imagine, if you will, one of the people found responsible for kidnapping these women was found to be providing them to rich and powerful people. Then, when the guy who did this was caught, he committed suicide before he could spill any beans in prison under circumstances that had multiple irregularities surrounding them.

              And let’s say that there was a reporter caught on camera saying “hey, we had the story, but editorial killed it”… and then the person who supposedly leaked the footage of the reporter saying this was fired even though, by this point, they were working at another company entirely.

              Would you expect that to have any legs at all?

              Jeet Heer, of all people, makes a similar point:


              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                A journalist is complaining because there are no journalists on the case?

                Like, isn’t Jeet Heer capable of doing journalism? Like oh, maybe interviewing Acosta and getting him on the record?

                See, what people are doing is making an accusation of murder, but not doing any actual work to substantiate it.

                For example of your posts on this topic are just written variations of the arched brow and knowing wink. “Isn’t it curious”, etc.

                And the actual crime here is not even the point- the molestations, the death of Epstein- these just seem like convenient pretexts to grind an ax against whoever is convenient.

                To wit:
                Isn’t it interesting how Trump was listed on the flight logs, and Trump’s Labor secretary let Epstein go, and it was Trump’s personal attorney who oversaw the New York city government where he died, and Trump’s Attorney General who covered it up?

                Or alternatively, the same sort of linkages could be made about the Royal family; Or the Clintons; Or the Trilateral Comission; or (((Geroge Soros))); or anybody, really.

                Because the game here is suggestions and innuendo, not facts.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Jeet is a somewhat opinionated journalist for magazines that include “the Nation”.

                You know how when someone posts a link from Fox News and you want to point out that, hey, Fox News posted that?

                Well, The Nation has people who are far enough to the Left that they see how someone might compare The Nation to Fox News.

                And a journalist from the lefty publication is wondering why this story is being left to the Tabloid gutter hounds.

                Because the game here is suggestions and innuendo, not facts.

                How much better would this be if we had reporters looking into the facts rather than merely noticing how many suggestions and innuendoes there are?Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    Personally, I see it as a criticism of The Media. The Media’s staggering incuriosity about Epstein and associated is really, really weird and, given that Epstein’s life and death were already in “really weird” territory, smells funny in the exact same way that his life and death did.

    Unfortunately, it results in “citizens pounce!” articles about how the citizenry are making memes about Epstein and his demise rather than talking about Epstein and his demise.

    Which is barely better than not talking about Epstein at all. (But it’s one of the only options open to the average citizen so “barely better” should have an emphasis on the “better” rather than the “barely”. Sometimes widows only have a couple of mites to throw into the receptacle. Which makes the “nothing” that The Media is tossing in there all the more shameful on their parts.)Report

    • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

      Ironically it was also the media that kept after it and broke the story loud enough for people to care eventuallyReport

      • Saul Degraw in reply to greginak says:

        JB will find a way to blame this on the “elites” no matter what. He basically sympathizes with the right-wing concept of “elite” and acts accordingly.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Ctrl-F elite

          Nope. Don’t see anybody using this word other than you. Really, it would be a weird word to use to describe the news media, who are pretty uniformly incompetent. Not on the Epstein thing in particular, which I haven’t really been following. Just in general.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          For the sake of argument, let’s grant that this is true. (It’s not, given my assumptions of what you mean by “sympathizes”, but let’s assume that it’s true for the sake of argument.)

          So what?

          What does that entail that you think is so wrong that it goes without saying?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        I have footage of reporters saying that their own coverage of Epstein was squashed by editorial, Greg.

        There’s also a weird incuriosity about stuff like this:

        You’d think that there’d be some careers to be made here.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Jaybird says:

          This whole thing with MIT strikes me as a huge nothingburger. Did he direct them to use his money to research ways to hide underage sex slaves more effectively? If not, what could possibly be wrong with this? Isn’t it better that his money be used for science than for building a better sex dungeon? Should MIT have publicized taking his money, so that Epstein could use it to buy good publicity?

          I can’t see how the outcry over this is motivated by anything other than purity norms.Report

        • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

          Umm yeah. As i remember it was some reporters at the paper in Miami who kept after the story for years and published some big exposes on it. It got attention because Trump had hired the former prosecutor as a cabinet secretary. That percolated for months and eventually the cops went after epstein.

          “The media” is one of those simplistic terms people throw out. Some of the media kept after Epstein and put a lot of attention on his case. Some of the media overlooked or squashed stories about him.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

            Oh, so you’re upset that my language was imprecise when it comes to the phenomenon that you also recognize exists?

            Good enough for me.

            I regret how my imprecise language distracted from the more important core issue.Report

            • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

              Great, so we agree that the “media” got Epstein.

              “The media” doesn’t really mean much at all. There are problems with different parts of the media. The MSM, including fox, have major blind spots with how they have dealt with sex crimes. Local papers or magazines often do a lot of great journalism that actually lives up to the highest ideals of the profession.Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    Smart essay. It will convince no one except those like me who think Epstein killed himself.

    I keep on coming back to what Ken White said when the news of them suicide was first made public in the summer. There is something very gullible about this continued meme. It is just a masquerade of “cynical knowing sophistication.” \The American prison system is horrible. Epstein did not have anything to give authorities this time (it was seized in the raids) and his time. Plus he committed crimes that generally cause one a lot of pain. The conspiracist still wants to believe in the the stuff they learned about America in grade school.Report

    • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Amusing as I find the memes Ken White’s take is the right one. Occam’s razor is a lot more persuasive though when you’ve actually set foot in a few correctional facilities. I never went into anything with the notoriety of MCC in my brief CDL days but I’ve seen a few dungeons and interacted with the staff. Now that I think about it Hanlon’s razor is probably the appropriate one (I know, I know too many razors for a discussion about a suicide).Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Epstein realize that he was going down hard. Since he wasn’t going to get out of prison this time and he was already a senior citizen, he took the logical way out of his predicament. He committed suicide. That being said, his suicide did prevent the criminal and civil cases against him from going forward and therefore made any potentially embarrassing revelations about who prostituted young girls to less likely to come forward. We can make a lot of very well educated guess based on the accusations of the victims and the elaborate behaviors of the accused but we lack dominate proof.Report

  5. Chip Daniels says:

    A story of shadowy elites preying upon helpless girls:

    Except…they aren’t shadowy at all. They have names and identities.
    And the scandal is that it isn’t a scandal, not really.

    Because unlike the death of Epstein there isn’t a convenient way to leverage this into an attack on some already-hated figure or outgroup.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Now imagine if there was someone who was responsible for procuring these victims for these agents and this someone died in prison and we never learned the names of the agents.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

        And for you, this would be more of an injustice?

        This would elevate it from ordinary to extraordinary?Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

        About that…

        “Recently a federal judge in Miami agreed with Wild [another female accuser]: yes, prosecutors broke the law and violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act by not telling the women about the deal. However, because Epstein had killed himself by then, Judge Kenneth Marra wouldn’t unseal records in the case, calling it a moot point.

        The reason she wanted the records unsealed?

        “Wild and her attorneys argued in the 4th District Court of Appeal today that, just because Epstein is dead, doesn’t mean his co-conspirators can’t be held accountable. Wild and other survivors will not be able to sue the co-conspirators if they do not know who they are.”

        To reiterate… I think Epstein likely killed himself; but it isn’t his death that interests me, its the unwillingness to unravel the ball of yarn. Epstein is meaningless the studied indifference is the story.


        • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

          We’ve all seen pictures of Epstein with Powerful Men (including pictures of Epstein with Trump!).

          This seems like such low-hanging fruit!

          WHAT THE HELLReport

          • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

            That’s just it… there are links to Trump, Clinton, MBS and the Saudi Royal Family, Mossad/CIA, the British Royal Family, Hollywood, and others of our most esteemed professions… Sex, Lies, Money and Power… its not even hidden. Its just too connected to touch. But then, that’s the story. The story that is continuously spiked; the lawsuit that is continuously dropped.Report

            • Aaron David in reply to Marchmaine says:

              This is why I think he was allowed to kill himself. He was in a possition to get legal-systemed very hard and quite publicly and do massive damage to the system as a consequence. And then all of the precautions and preventitive measures to removing this ability, that of killing oneself, are removed.

              And probably quietly pointed out to to him.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Aaron David says:

                Something along those lines would be my Occam’s Razor… whom/what did he care about such that his fortune was distributed in such a way that it benefited that person/thing.

                In order for that to happen, he knew that he had to make an appropriate exit.

                As I’ve said before… where is his estate going? Most likely to various Trusts with protected ownership… so we’ll never know… unless the disbursal is contested in legal proceedings.

                Its not even a “conspiracy” its right there in the open:

                “The will that disgraced financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein signed just two days before his jailhouse suicide puts more than $577m in assets into a trust fund that could make it more difficult for his dozens of accusers to collect damages.

                Estate lawyers and other experts say prying open the trust and dividing up the financier’s riches is not going to be easy and could take years.”Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Marchmaine says:

                I would say that is the carrot. The stick is what would happen to him once he reached prison. That is an environment not too friendly to pedophiles. Not to mention the fall from being a major, major player to a prisoner in his sixties.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Aaron David says:

                I think it was more like a mess up and Epstein killed himself because it was the rational thing to do. He was in his sixties and not going to get out of this. Why face the last five to twenty years of your life in jail when you were used to living the high life.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to LeeEsq says:

                People do everyday. Face it, that is. The get sentanced in their sixties, do their time, get out early or not. But it is normal. Ish. And so is killing oneself.

                We don’t know if he ever expressed suicidal thoughts in the past (do we?) But we do know he was taken off suicide watch. As someone thought that he was OK. Ish. And then the guards all disappear. And something is up with the tapes. And he just so happens to get his will and testament done two days beforehand. To take care of business, so to speak.

                Sorry, but the whole thing stinks.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine says:

              We’ve seen this before with Cosby, Weinstein and others where it is an open secret but no one cares enough to pursue it because the victim is unimportant and the perpetrator is a Somebody.

              Notice the swift punishment for the reporter who noted Kobe’s rape allegations.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                But this *isn’t* like Cosby or Weinstein because people do care… not necessarily about the victim but because of the broad range of Co-conspirators. In that sense, I think your observation is trivially true, but fundamentally wrong.

                Which is to say, if this were just a matter of Epstein’s sole transgressions a’la Cosby/Weinstein, we’d be in the same category… but he’s been credibly accused of “trafficing” and doing so for Very Important People. It’s the “service” and the “customers” and the “co-conspirators” that make it different.

                That’s the code for “Epstein didn’t Kill himself” vs. code for “Me Too”Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Marchmaine says:

                It’s all very well to be suspicious, and probably a good idea on general principles. But getting real, solid, reportable information about the sorts of things we suspect might have been going on (which are what, specifically?) is hard work with a low antecedent probability of successfully ferreting out the story. I have no idea if anyone has any promising leads and is working the story, or if others have tried and failed. And neither does anyone else.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                Do we have any evidence that stories might have been written but then were squashed by higher-ups?Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                I don’t know. Do you? If so, how?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                Does this count? If it counts, I learned about it from a whistleblower and someone tied to the whistleblower was punished for being suspected of releasing the story.

                Which, if it counts, is an example of higher-ups squashing a story and then publicly punishing someone who was tied to the story leaking.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                What it shows is that a reporter thought she had a publishable story and her bosses didn’t. Reporters always think they have publishable stories. They are often wrong. I have no idea who is in the right in this pissing match, and neither do you.
                That is, however, somewhat related to my main point, that getting a publishable-quality story on something like this is genuinely hard. If you disagree, you have as much right to make phone calls as any reporter does, and as much power to compel answers as they do. And you don’t have to answer to any suits who might say what you find isn’t good enough to publish. I look forward to your results.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                So long as we agree that we see someone with a story that got squashed by higher-ups, I’m good.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                You left out the “publishable,” which makes all the difference.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                Hey, those goal posts didn’t used to be there!Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yeah, they were. If the story wasn’t publishable, then the suits were right to “squash” it. That’s their job. “Squashing” is worth noting only if the story was wrongly squashed.
                Then again, this may just be the all-too-typical Jaybird Backtrack to Banality (TM). Say something that sounds like something, then backtrack to nothing.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                It wasn’t a backtrack to banality. My original statement was “Do we have any evidence that stories might have been written but then were squashed by higher-ups?”

                (I copied and pasted that.)

                Your response was to ask for evidence that that happened.

                It was only after we established that it had that you added a new word and moved the goalposts.

                And you’re making the case that the story that we have evidence was squashed was squashed for *GOOD* reasons and not political ones.

                And while I’d be happy to argue over who should hold the burden of proof on whether it was for good reasons or political ones… we’re no longer arguing over whether or not we have evidence that stories were squashed, aren’t we?Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                So you aren’t backtracking from something to nothing, you’re backtracking from nothing to nothing.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                I’m maintaining the same position.

                It’s the person who demanded evidence of such a thing happening and then adding stipulations after evidence is given that is moving.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                So you’re not “backtracking” from nothing to nothing; it was nothing all the way down. OK, I can accept that.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                “So long as we agree that we see someone with a story that got squashed by higher-ups, I’m good.”Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to CJColucci says:

                The 2008 plea agreement which sparked all this is also an example of spiking the story.

                Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that Acosta (member of Trump’s cabinet) was the US Attorney who negotiated the deal (with Alan Dershowitz representing Epstein, by the way), I’m not 100% sure it would have had terminal velocity to clear the usual hurdles. “Getting President Trump via Secretary Acosta” was a weird black swan I’m sure no-one involved in 2008 could have anticipated.

                I’d be mollified (satisfied, TBD) if there was a high-profile DOJ/FBI task force reviewing all the (visual) evidence to identify the victims and the “guests.” And as I said above, my lesson from the Church scandals is this: expose them all… we’ll deal with the institutional crisis in the full light of the corruption… there’s no other path forward.

                But, when I google for such a task force? Crickets. A few stale stories about AG Barr being appalled at the lax oversight at the prisons. Oh, they fired the Warden… and the guards. That’s it.

                And scroll up to the latest round of “Spiking” – what about a lawsuit to disclose the co-conspirators… dismissed because – wait for it – since Epstein is dead the case is moot.

                This is literally: Everyone Knows… we damn sure know Prince Andrew is guilty… as for Clinton, Trump, Dershowitz, Spacey, etc. etc. I think we know too. Who else?

                And when the Ox is goring both (All) sides of the (Global) Duopoly, what do we do with the Ox? Make it go away.Report

  6. Kazzy says:

    Do we know how much contact Epstein had with the outside world while in prison? He may have only “benefitted” from his suicide by avoiding the experience of his inevitable jailing. Lots of folks on the outside may have benefitted from his inability to testify and name them. So the incentive to murder him and cover it up by making it look like a suicide attempt seems obvious. But maybe the truth lies in the middle… could someone have gotten to Epstein and made it more “beneficial” to him to kill himself, perhaps by threatening friends/family/loved ones on the outside or promising to take care of them if he did? That greatly shifts the calculus for him. This may have still involved some coordination with prison officials, maybe just the few on the ground or maybe higher ups, and would remain a deeply concerning sequence of events. But seems to me there are possible explanations between “He was murdered and it’s all a cover up!” and “He killed himself all on his own!”Report

  7. CJColucci says:

    Everything we now know or think we know about Epstein’s death we learned the usual way, through mainstream media reporting of an ongoing investigation, which wrapped up about as quickly as one could reasonably expect. And the conclusion was the boring one that was always the most likely one. It took a little while, though not all that long, because work takes work. Unlike the arched eyebrow, knowing wink, and off-the-shelf cynicism, which any clown on the internet can gin up whenever it fits some pre-existing agenda. It’s a lot easier than finding out stuff.Report