Examining the Media’s Epstein Coverage

Robert Brooks Contributor
Examining the Media’s Epstein Coverage
Read Time: approx. 3:01

This is the top story from our daily newsletter published on August 6, 2020. To have this and more delivered directly to your inbox scroll down and enter your email or click here to sign up. Cover courtesy of Navin75, CC BY-SA 2.0, Flickr: Little Epstein Island.

Examining the Media’s Epstein Coverage: Last Thursday a trove of documents were released by a Manhattan federal judge that “offered new revelations about Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse of teenage girls and his accusers’ perspectives on the circle of powerful people who surrounded the disgraced late financier,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The Associated Press notes that “The documents were from a now-settled defamation lawsuit filed by one of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre. Giuffre claimed in the suit and other litigation that British socialite, Ghislaine Maxwell recruited her in 2000 to be a sexual servant to Epstein. She said the couple subsequently pressured her into having sex with numerous rich or notable men, including Britain’s Prince Andrew, U.S. politicians, wealthy entrepreneurs, a famous scientist and fashion designer.” With that as a background, today we look at the media’s reaction to former President Bill Clinton’s name being included in the newly released documents.

On the Right: Joseph A. Wulfsohn published a piece for Fox News titled, “MSNBC ignores Epstein docs implicating Bill Clinton; CNN largely avoids.” In it Wulfsohn argues that “MSNBC and CNN offered little to no on-air coverage of the release of damning documents that tie former President Bill Clinton to the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.” Wulfsohn says “MSNBC completely avoided reporting on the Epstein documents [while] two of CNN’s early morning programs covered the news but mentioned Clinton’s alleged ties to the known pedophile only once.” Further out on the fringe, Allum Bokhari of Breitbart echoes Wulfsohn’s remarks in a piece titled, “Lefitst Media Ignores Court Docs Alleging Bill Clinton Visited Epstein Island.” In his piece for Breitbart, Bokhari writes that “Just five left and left-leaning sources have covered the [Clinton] story, compared to twenty-five right, right-leaning, or “far right” news outlets that have done so.” Bokhari says that while the piece was covered by Newsweek, New York Daily News, Yahoo! News, and USA Today, “CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and many other leading left-wing outlets in the U.S. failed to cover the story.”

On the Left: Arwa Mahdawi hits back with an op-ed for The Guardian titled, “The outrage over Bill Clinton’s links to Epstein exposes the hypocrisy of the rightwing media.” Mahdawi says, “When Joe Biden was accused of sexual assault by a former staffer earlier this year the claim was immediately weaponised by the same people who were unmoved by analogous allegations against Trump. When the Ghislaine Maxwell court documents revealed last week that the Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre claims to have seen Bill Clinton on Epstein’s island (he denies ever being there), it was a similar story. The same people who have played down Trump’s ties to Epstein – whom the president once called “terrific” – were very worked up about the Clinton connection.” Mahdawi adds that “Contrary to the accusations of obfuscation, there has been rather a lot of coverage of Clinton’s Epstein connections in the mainstream media. In any case, it is rather rich of Fox News to complain about biased media coverage when last month it ‘accidentally’ cropped Trump out of a photo of Epstein and Maxwell.” In conclusion, Mahdawi says that “This is not a defence of Clinton. He does not have a stellar reputation when it comes to women and questions must continue to be asked about his involvement with Epstein. Sexual abuse is not a partisan issue and there is a special place in hell for anyone who treats it as such.”

Flag This: A spokesperson for Bill Clinton denied that the former president had ever been to Epstein’s private island. On Twitter, Angel Ureña tweeted “The story keeps changing, the facts don’t. President Clinton has never been to the island.” As for President Trump, in a new interview he suggested that Epstein might have been killed in jail instead of having committed suicide, and defended his well wishes to Epstein’s alleged accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell. According to London’s Sunday Times, Maxwell is currently sitting “in one of New York’s most inhospitable jails, the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. Earlier this month she was charged with four counts related to transporting minors for illegal sexual acts and two counts of perjury. She pleaded not guilty and offered to pay to stay at a luxury hotel in New York while she awaits trial, scheduled for July next year, but she was denied bail after prosecutors argued she was an extreme flight risk. Jeffrey Epstein’s history has been chronicled in a podcast from Wondery titled, “The Mysterious Mr. Epstein” and a series from Netflix titled, “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich.