The director of M.I.T.’s prestigious Media Lab stepped down on Saturday after an outcry over his financial ties with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, whose contributions to the proudly contrarian lab roiled and divided its members.
Dozens of pages of e-mails and other documents obtained by The New Yorker reveal that, although Epstein was listed as “disqualified” in M.I.T.’s official donor database, the Media Lab continued to accept gifts from him, consulted him about the use of the funds, and, by marking his contributions as anonymous, avoided disclosing their full extent, both publicly and within the university. Perhaps most notably, Epstein appeared to serve as an intermediary between the lab and other wealthy donors, soliciting millions of dollars in donations from individuals and organizations, including the technologist and philanthropist Bill Gates and the investor Leon Black.
You can guess how the Fox Newsers are covering this. The most recent comment (as of this writing) on this story is very predictable:
Hillary next. Lock her up.
I can't resist directing your attention to another exchange in that thread. A non-rightwinger wandered into Fox-land and offered the following perfectly true observation:
Fox ignores the fact that Trump was an associate of this predator.
Because only CNN makes things up. Maybe peddle your fake stuff over there?
Of course, the relationship between Trump and Epstein is well-known and firmly established. Virginia Roberts/Giuffre was working for Trump at Mar-A-Lago when Ghislaine Maxwell (another Trump friend) recruited her for Epstein's harem. Virginia's father was, and may still be, a Trump employee. (From what little I've been able to gather, Dad seems like a piece of work.)
I can't understand why Virginia -- or her spooked-up lawyers -- carefully kept the names "Trump" and "Mar-A-Lago" out of her original Complaint. I also can't understand why nobody in the media ever thinks to ask Virginia about that.
If you really believe that Ghislaine Maxwell could recruit Trump employees at Mar-A-Lago without Trump's knowledge, you must be the sort of person who watches Fox religiously.
Let's get back to the M.I.T. controversy.
Should Ito have resigned? I don't think so. There's an old Latin saying: Pecunia non olet. Money doesn't stink. Epstein not only had a lot to donate, he was the gate through which millions flowed from other donors. If institutions like M.I.T. were allowed to take money only from the morally pure, those institutions would vanish, and so would civilization itself.
Look, nobody can call me an Epstein apologist. I was trying to draw attention to the Epstein case well before most people even heard of the guy. But I'd rather see Epstein's cash transferred to M.I.T.'s bank account than continue to fester in Epstein's bank account. If Al Capone dropped a few grand into the hands of the local Salvation Army (and for all I know, he may have done just that), should the Salvation Army have handed the money back? Hell, no!
(That's a trope encountered in any number of old movies: Tainted money finding its way into the charity box.)
As much as I detest what Epstein did, let's not presume that everyone who ever talked to the guy now has cooties. Such presumptions can be -- have been, will be -- weaponized by pro-Trump propagandists.
I've seen quite a few moral panics over the years, and lemme tell ya: They never turn out well. In paranoid times, this "guilt by association" shit gets real ugly real fast.
Will the coming Big Smear against Clinton make use of video evidence? Take a look at the video embedded above. Now imagine how convincing this tech would be when combined with "testimony" from one of Epstein's girls.
When Clinton gets hit by that one-two punch, any denial will be dismissed out of hand. Many in the so-called "liberal" media will write long articles based on this premise: "Monica. Therefore, pedophilia." Because that's what passes for logic these days. At least, that's the sort of twisted logic we may expect whenever the name "Clinton" is mentioned.
But it won't stop there. The coming Clinton smear will be used to tarnish the entire Democratic party. That's how Trump will achieve re-election. Biden has a silly little secret of his own, and it's bound to come out. When it does, people will titter for a week or two -- and when the tittering starts to die down, the rumors of pedophilia will start up. There need not be any evidence, of course. In a time of moral panic, who needs evidence?
The fake Obama photo at the other end of that link is very well done, in my opinion. That pro-level 'shop job offers us a brief preview of the Big Smear which will soon destroy the Democratic party. I'm predicting a massive Trump victory in November, 2020.
We already have seen any number of stories which assert that Bill Clinton took a jet called "The Lolita Express" to Epstein's island. We keep on hearing this claim, even though the flight logs for Epstein's jets do not show Clinton ever going to that island. All of the flights went to conferences and meetings which were covered by the news. The trips all took place before Epstein' secret was exposed. Neither of Epstein's two jets was called "The Lolita Express" until well after Epstein's conviction.
But none of that matters. Facts don't count anymore. When it comes to the Clintons, it's okay to tell any lie you please.
I follow Vicky Ward's Twitter feed pretty regularly. Although I admire greatly her past work, I'm quite sure that when the Big Smear hits, she'll fall for it wholeheartedly. So will most other progs. Salon will be even more of an emetic than it is right now. I don't even want to think about what Virginia Heffernan will write...
Speaking of guilt by association: When I was a boy, I met Susan Atkins. This was some months before the great unpleasantness of 1969. (At least, I'm pretty sure it was Susan Atkins.)
She was nice. And believe it or not, talking to her for a happy hour-or-so did not turn me into a homicidal maniac. Yet most conspiracy buffs would jump to that very conclusion, which is why
I never mentioned that happy hour-or-so to any of the conspiracy buffs I used to know. Conspiracy buffs are huge believers in the "cooties" theory of social relations.
Throughout the 1990s, I foolishly hung out with a whole buncha conspiracy buffs. Worst mistake of my life. Those are the associations which now make me feel guilty.
Agree with the fallacy of the "cooties" theory of social relations. very nicely phrased, Joseph. And I agree about the big smear, soon to arrive. I expect the timing is being planned to yield the greatest benefit to Trump and the debauched GOP as a whole.
The shifting narrative is alarming.
My view of Ito differs somewhat. If it were only Epstein, well, money is money; and no one else who took Epstein’s money has resigned, as far as I know. No should they, as you argue.
But Ito was, or is, a real operator,, err, busy entrepreneur. Perhaps too much so, even for the corporatized university of our day. It’s possible that the multiple bright spotlights suddenly shining on him brought out a hitherto unseen bashfulness in him.
Keep up the good work.
posted by Anonymous : 12:14 AM
Money doesn't smell, bur thieves smell gold, to quote Plautus.
Facts never counted... but, now conservatives have become wholly devoted to subjectivism. Whatever needs to be true at this very second to ensure conservatives retain the power of government to enforce their agenda of intolerance and oppression is true. Donald Trump *murdered* Ayn Rand...
From the NYT story: "Mr. Ito ... acknowledged last week that he had received $1.7 million from Mr. Epstein, including $1.2 million for his own outside investment funds."
What does that ambiguous phrase mean? Was it $2.9 million, or effectively $500,000 for MIT and $1.2 million for himself?
Of course he should have resigned, but before he was exposed. He's probably in legal jeopardy: Professor Scumbag Emeritus, how do you plead?
posted by Aylmer : 12:37 PM
You are right. I had not been keeping up on the story. As outlined in the Columbia Journalism Review, it really is a story of corruption spreading widely. Part of my snarky description of Ito was intended to convey that he was so busy with the money side that one must wonder what he is really up to, and whose interests he was serving, at any given time.