Adam Davidson Profile picture
Jun 4 19 tweets 5 min read
I wrote something provocative about how I know stuff about Jeffrey Epstein and can't publish it.

I'll do my best to explain and reveal here. It provides, I think, a good lesson in why it is hard to publish stories about bad things done by the rich and powerful:

1/
First: Just about everything I know has been published somewhere. It's in books or articles or interviews with victims or revealed in depositions.

And, I think, our podcast, Broken, adamd.cc/broken went further than many in revealing scumbaggery.

2/
But, yes, there are things I believe, with good evidence, to be true that I feel I cannot publish.

These fall into a few categories:

Category 1: Protecting the victims.
We spoke to dozens of Epstein's victims and dozens of their lawyers.

3/
Many are, simply, terrified and don't want to talk at all.

Others are willing to talk off the record and will confirm things others said, but beg us not to reveal their names/info.

Others are represented by lawyers who want to win settlements and don't let them all.

4/
We chose to respect any victim's decision.

We had to rely on the very few victims who were willing to talk publicly. This is why @VRSVirginia is so brave. Pretty much every thing she told us was confirmed by others, off the record. But she is rare in being public.

5/
@VRSVirginia The biggest issue is the victims we never spoke with.

Epstein reportedly raped up to 3 girls a day for years. Most came once or just a few times. Their names are not known by anyone.

That's thousands of victims who are invisible.

6/
@VRSVirginia The next circle of sources are the enablers. Over the decades of abuse, Epstein had hundreds of staffers--pilots, house staff, chefs, assistants--the vast majority will never speak or will offer weak denials or will only speak through lawyers.

7/
@VRSVirginia We covered one of those enablers, Adam Perry Lang, quite well, I thought: he was Epstein's chef for years and has become a Hollywood celeb chef, best friend of Jimmy Kimmel.

A few of these enablers would confirm details off the record.

8/
@VRSVirginia Then there is a huge group of people--those who witnessed Epstein and fancy functions. They saw him with teenagers at scientific conferences or sitting on his knee at dinner parties.

There are countless people like this.

A few did talk to us--totally off the record.

9/
@VRSVirginia lastly, there are the people who (allegedly!) either had sex with children or were around when others were doing so.

They are all rich and powerful and simply deny and refer to their lawyers often with clear insistence that they will sue.

10/
The result of all of this is that for most of the claims, there is one witness willing to go on record. That witness, more often than not, is @VRSVirginia

I have full confidence in her recollections. We spent ~two years checking every thing she said and never found a lie.

11/
But courts and the public are not kind to single-source he-said/she-said cases.

Virginia has already faced down and won against some very powerful people.

But this is an absurd amount of weight to put on one person's shoulders.

12/
So, I am not protecting the men who (I feel fairly confident) raped children or watched as others did so. Fuck those guys.

I am honoring their victims' requests.

Like all of you, I have hoped it would all come out by now. I'm shocked it hasn't.

13/
But here is what I feel confident in saying:

If someone spent any amount of time with Jeffrey Epstein, at a minimum they saw him physically touching girls in provocative ways and rather gleefully showing off his ability to do so.

14/
More than likely, they were offered sex with whatever their preference was (Epstein did employ, abuse, and traffic women who weren't underage). And many did have sex with girls or women.

15/
So, ALL the people who spent real time with Epstein were--at best!--witnesses to the almost certain rape of children.

And had a high likelihood that they engaged in illegal sex acts.

Courts can presume innocence.

We all should presume guilt.

16/
Donald Trump, Bills Clinton, Gates, and Richardson. Ehud Barak. George Mitchell. George Church, Ito--and a lot of others at MIT and Harvard.

There is an enormous likelihood that -- at the very best -- they spent a lot of time with a man they knew to be raping children.

17/
They saw him with those children. They saw naked photos on his walls and many saw naked children around his pool.

They knew. Yes, of course, many participated. But ALL knew.

I am not able to say the names of people I think participated without betraying victims.

18/
But these men should not be invited into polite society.

They should not be celebrated on TV shows as experts on Covid or international relations or whatever.

19/end

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More from @adamdavidson

Jun 5
Elite institutions--like some universities, museums, other nonprofits--sell a product to disgraced men: reputation recovery.

They call it "the Halo effect."

In Jeffrey Epstein's case it was more awful. It was a central piece in his grooming apparatus.

1/
Most people who met Epstein found him creepy, weird, unpleasant.

He had little actual interest in science and art (though he does seem to have had a genuine love for classical music).

But being surrounded by elites was central to his victim recruitment.

2/
It was also key to his ability to crush his victims' willingness to go against him.

How can you go against this rich man who was so tight with the biggest scholars, political figures, etc.

Epstein's awfulness was no secret.

3/
Read 10 tweets
Jun 4
When journalists consider publishing negative stories, there is a big process that, often, involves lawyers.

The factors considered are:

- How much proof.
- How likely is a lawsuit.
- How likely is the lawsuit to prevail.

The first is the reporters job to collect.

1/
But the likelihood of a lawsuit and the likelihood of that lawsuit to succeed is, essentially, up to the person the story is about.

If that person is rich and litigious, both likelihoods rise dramatically.

And, so, the level of proof demanded rises dramatically.

2/
This is something people like Donald Trump and Alan Dershowitz know well, which is presumably why they are constantly threatening lawsuits.

3/
Read 6 tweets
Jun 3
I spent two years working on the Jeffrey Epstein podcast, Broken. I became close with many of his victims and learned a lot of stuff that--for annoying legal reasons--we can't publish.

That experience has fundamentally reshaped how I see the world.

1/
TL;DR: I knew that rich and powerful men can get away with a lot. I didn't realize just how much they can get away with and just how much the entire system--courts, journalism, prosecutors--works inadvertently and deliberately, to reinforce their impunity.

2/
I still want to believe that truth and basic moral decency are potent in our society.

But I do find that an increasingly hard to justify position.

I think we all know that, say, Bills Gates and Clinton probably were up to no good.

3/
Read 11 tweets
May 28
When a politician or lobbyist says patent bullshit, a few suggested Qs for journalists:

- When did you come to this conclusion?
- What data or other information helped you form this view?
- What have you done to make this idea a reality?
- Are you applying this idea in...

1/
... your own life (like hardening all but one door to your office)?
- How can we hold you accountable for this view? What outcome do you want to see and by when?
- I'd like to schedule a follow-up to see how you have worked on this crucial issue.

2/
- Who on your staff is in charge of ensuring this crucial idea becomes policy?
- What coalition are you building to make sure this idea is implemented?
- Will you primarily use legislative tools--new bills--or will you advocate for administrative changes?

3/
Read 4 tweets
May 28
You did stop me with this comment. Because, of course, I agree with it.

The Sunni/Shi'a split in Iraq is fascinating. Heavily influenced by outside forces, including Ottoman Turks, 19th C Persia, British occupation and shadow-monarchy, modern Saudi and Iran.

1/
Very few reporters (or, for that matter, Iraqis) knew the history. I knew a bit but nowhere near enough.

Those who knew any saw it as: Ali, Mohamed's son-in-law had a fight with other followers yadda yadda yadda Saddam Hussein.

2/
There was general awareness that the very idea of a thing called "Iraq" was a relatively recent invention of the British.

I also found the best lens to understand modern Iraq was economics: the opportunities given or denied by the state and, later, the Americans.

3/
Read 6 tweets
May 22
Dear Academia,

I understand that citing others' work is crucial to you.

But writing clearly, powerfully, for a broad audience is, also, crucial.

It is very hard to write compellingly while also constantly citing research.

1/
Good writers obsess about creating a narrative impact, compelling scenes, characters, etc.

Constantly citing where each distinct idea comes from makes it impossible to build a fluid narrative that readers can get lost in.

2/
I'm not arguing writers should never cite. Of course, not.

I'm just saying there is a real trade-off between citing and narrative.

Journalists will almost always be on the side of narrative. Academics on the side of citing.
Read 4 tweets

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