Jeffrey Epstein’s dead but five important questions still remain unanswered
After the disgraced financier killed himself in prison this weekend, a number of questions remain not just about the circumstances surrounding his death, but about how he was able to get away with what he did while he was alive
The news of Jeffrey Epstein’s death this weekend sparked an array of outrage, confusion and a number of wild conspiracy theories. More than that, it left a number of questions unanswered, some of which may never be resolved.
His death and the circumstances prior also forced us to look at the ways public opinion – especially in today’s world of social media – can radically change the way a story is told.
1. How Was This Allowed to Happen?
The biggest question, of course, is how this was able to occur at all. Epstein had previously attempted suicide in his cell and was meant to be under constant surveillance to prevent another attempt. After his death was reported, the authorities responsible for his care were slow to provide any explanation for how this was allowed to happen.
The mixed messages and slow stream of information from both the jail and the governmental body meant to oversee it, combined with already popular internet conspiracy theories, all contributed to the explosion of discussion and mass confusion around his death. If the government and the jail had reacted more swiftly and had a more cohesive message, it is likely that there would have been less of a public outcry after the fact.
2. Could the Spread of Misinformation Have Been Prevented?
As soon as news of his death broke, the internet exploded with conspiracy theories accusing everyone from the Clintons to the Royal Family of having Epstein killed so he could not implicate them in his crimes. In the age of the internet, it is nearly impossible to prevent rumors and innuendo especially in an unusual environment like this.
However, what can be planned is how those involved react to the situation. Given that President Trump himself has commented on some of the innuendo, there is a need for very strong commentary on what actually happened.
3. Do People in Power Get More Chances to Cheat the System?
Prior to his death, Epstein’s legal history was an inflammatory topic that potentially incriminated a number of powerful people. The fact that he was arrested more than ten years ago and given such a light sentence by Alexander Acosta, once Donald Trump’s Secretary of Labor, fuels the idea that the rich and powerful are afforded many more privileges than the average person.
This, combined with new revelations that Epstein’s illicit activities were something of an open secret among the rich and powerful in New York City, further fuels the popular notion that those with power and influence live by a separate set or rules than the rest of the world. If the government wants to quell the public outcry, they must work hard to communicate with the public that they take this as seriously as any other crime.
4. How Will Epstein’s Many Victims Get Closure?
Epstein’s many victims were outraged and saddened by the news of his death, as it means they will never get to see their abuser have his day in court. Although the public consensus is almost universal in its contempt for Epstein and sympathy for the victims, this only goes so far for those whose lives were irreversibly effected by his actions.
Though the question of if the victims will ever get closure may be an unanswerable one, there is much that those leading the investigation can do to help them get some sort of justice. The prosecutors in this case should continue to investigate the others who allowed Epstein to abuse his power and privilege for so long, and ring this case to some sort of acceptable conclusion.
5. Can the Public Ultimately Trust People in Power?
Although Epstein’s case has come to a tragic end, it leaves us to wonder about how we treat those with power and influence. The general public is meant to trust those in power to make decisions that can ultimately effect the global population, and this case has shown us that powerful people will often put their own self-interest ahead of the wellbeing of others.
There is a widespread public perception that those in power protect each other. This is something that is often backed up by truth, as these facts of Epstein’s life demonstrated. The relative disarray surrounding the Trump administration has led to a weakening of the public’s trust in the government, and college admissions aka “Varsity Blues” case have led to the belief that powerful people will always do whatever it takes to get ahead, leaving the everyday person in the dust.
Clearly, we will never get answers to some of the above – Epstein’s death has left some mysteries that won’t be resolved. It has also done some damage to the public perception that the rich and powerful live by a separate set of rules and often escape consequences.
If those involved in his prosecution want to shift public opinion, they should continue to pursue the case and bring those who may have been involved to justice, as well as reacting to the explosion of theories with concise and truthful messaging. Only then is there the possibility that trust can be build back up.