- Jeffrey Epstein met with at least three reporters, two of them for The New York Times, in the months leading up to his arrest on child-sex-trafficking charges.
- The interviews seemed to touch on Epstein’s relationship with Silicon Valley, suggesting that he was trying to rehabilitate his image and become known as a tech investor.
- Yesterday, The New York Times published a year-old interview that Epstein gave to the columnist James B. Stewart, but it has not published a separate interview that the Times reporter Nellie Bowles conducted at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion before his arrest.
- A reporter for The Information interviewed Epstein in June about “technology investing.” The site’s editor-in-chief said Epstein “rambled about people he knew in the industry” but that she wasn’t publishing the interview because it “wasn’t newsworthy.”
The newly deceased sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein spoke from beyond the grave yesterday, thanks to a report from the New York Times columnist James B. Stewart, who spilled his notebook from a year-old “background” interview Epstein had given at his Manhattan mansion.
Business Insider has learned that Stewart isn’t the only reporter that visited Epstein in recent months. The sex offender also granted interviews to another New York Times reporter, Nellie Bowles, and a reporter for tech site The Information in the weeks and months leading up to his most recent arrest on child-sex-trafficking charges in July. Neither The Times nor The Information has yet published the fruits of those interviews, and the editor-in-chief of The Information said she had no plans to do so.
Epstein’s meetings with reporters, one of which took place as recently as June, suggest that the disgraced financier was trying to rehabilitate his image – or at least foster relationships with news outlets – even as federal prosecutors were closing in.
All three interviews seem to have touched on Epstein’s relationship with Silicon Valley. Stewart wrote that he contacted Epstein to confirm a rumor that Epstein was advising Tesla founder Elon Musk, and both The Information and Bowles cover the tech sector. Stewart reached out directly to Epstein, but it’s unclear who brokered the other meetings. The tech focus suggests that someone in Silicon Valley may have been trying to help Epstein connect with reporters.
A journalist for The Information met with Epstein in June to discuss “technology investing,” Jessica Lessin, the site’s editor-in-chief, confirmed to Business Insider. That was just weeks before his July arrest and seven months after the Miami Herald’s brutal investigation laid bare the extent to which Epstein escaped accountability for his crimes against underage victims.
“One of our reporters met with Jeffrey Epstein, in June, to talk about technology investing,” Lessin said in a statement to Business Insider. “This was before his July arrest. She was introduced to him because he was believed to be an investor in venture capital funds, which we could not verify. The discussion wasn’t newsworthy; he rambled about people he knew in the industry. His death has not changed our judgment about the newsworthiness.”
“One of our reporters met with Jeffrey Epstein, in June, to talk about technology investing,” Lessin said in a statement to Business Insider. “The discussion wasn’t newsworthy; he rambled about people he knew in the industry. His death has not changed our judgment about the newsworthiness.”
Since Epstein’s arrest in July, his connections to figures in the tech, financial, philanthropic, political, and scientific worlds have become of intense interest to reporters, who have spent thousands of hours attempting to determine whom, precisely, Epstein knew and where, precisely, he invested his money.
Stewart, who believes that Epstein’s death released him from an obligation to consider the interview “on background” and thus anonymous, revealed that Epstein claimed to have ongoing relationships with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the disgraced director Woody Allen, the former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, and the journalist Michael Wolff.
Business Insider has also learned that Stewart’s Times colleague Bowles, who has made a name for herself skewering tech oligarchs and identifying Silicon Valley cultural trends, also recently met with Epstein in his Manhattan townhouse for an interview. It’s unclear if that interview was on or off the record, and it’s unclear precisely when it occurred. Bowles was listed as a contributing reporter on a July Times story featuring architectural and design details about the interior of Epstein’s $56 million townhome, but The Times does not appear to have published any other reporting from Bowles’ conversation with Epstein.
Bowles declined to comment for the record about the interview. A New York Times spokesperson said in a statement, “All information gathered during our reporter’s meeting with Jeffrey Epstein has been shared with our metro desk for their coverage.”
The Times and other outlets have covered Epstein’s efforts, in the wake of his 2008 plea deal, to rehabilitate his image as a sex offender by paying freelance writers and publicists to write positive stories about him on sites like HuffPost, National Review, and Forbes. He also leveraged a friendship with Peggy Siegal, a publicist for A-list celebrities, to introduce him to a social network that included George Stephanopoulos and Katie Couric.
Town & Country reported that Epstein also sought the public-relations advice of the New York publicist R. Couri Hay, though Hay never signed him as a client. Hay’s free advice, the magazine reported, was that Epstein should offer himself up as an exclusive interview to The Times. Hay declined to comment for the record; Siegal did not return a message seeking comment.
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