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All the Indispensable Men

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I linked yesterday to an annotated list of Jeffrey Epstein’s black book, and as some commenters have noted some individual entries merit more attention. For example:


You learn things answering phones, and in the spring of 2005, answering Charlie Rose’s phone at his PBS show, you would learn that his friend Jeffrey Epstein had some recommendations to make for whom Rose ought to hire as his next assistant. Written call logs from 2005 and 2006 show Epstein and his own assistant calling dozens of times, making plans for lunch and tea in Manhattan or to try to meet up in Paris. Epstein also called with a total of five women’s names and phone numbers. One woman was described as “world’s most perfect assistant she used to work for Harvey Weinstein he’s lucky if he can get her.” Another entry reads, “Jeffrey Epstein wants to talk to you before you call these two girls.” A fourth woman shows up on the manifests of Epstein’s jet, including on Bill Clinton’s trip across Africa, and wound up working at the Clinton Foundation. Two former staffers remember another Epstein referral, a young woman not mentioned in the logs, who interned at the show. In all, Rose hired three (“Jeffrey Epstein from time to time recommended various candidates for open positions at the Charlie Rose Show,” Rose’s representative said in a statement, but said the ex-host only learned about Epstein’s alleged abuse years later, when he pleaded guilty in Florida). When I called one of these women recently, she was stunned to learn she was one of many women Epstein recommended for the job. “I was being offered up for abuse,” said the woman, who was 22 at the time she worked for Rose. It helped her understand not only how her boss Rose — whom in 2017 she would accuse, along with 34 other adult women, of sexual harassment — had treated her, but also how the rest of the staff had seen her. And it helped her understand a grim version of networking among powerful men. —Irin Carmon

As I have observed elsewhere:

The entry on Ken Starr, the “Zelig of right-wing sexual hypocrisy,” is also instructive:

Obviously, lawyers do not share guilt for their clients’ crimes. But it’s striking that Kenneth Starr chose to join Jeffrey Epstein’s defense team in 2007, after his moral fulminations against Bill Clinton’s sexual perfidy. His obsessive pursuit of President Clinton made him a folk hero on the right, representing the defense of traditional sexual virtue and the notion that it was under assault by Bill Clinton and the liberal elite. His special-prosecutor exploits propelled him to the presidency of the conservative Baptist Baylor University. During his tenure, the football program engaged in a horrific pattern of sexual abuse that led to the dismissal of the football coach and the removal of Starr after an investigation found “actions by University administrators that directly discouraged some complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes.”

It is perhaps coincidental, but Starr has tracked the broader conversion of the religious right from sexual shaming to sexual shamelessness. In an era when Donald Trump has exposed the hollowness of so many values conservatives allegedly hold dear, it is fitting that this Zelig of right-wing sexual hypocrisy has made yet another cameo. —Jonathan Chait

And of course:

There it was, yet another tape. This time, the now-president was filmed, in footage dredged up by NBC, in 1992 at Mar-a-Lago, hosting a party attended by a bevy of Buffalo Bills cheerleaders — and Epstein, from whom Trump has tried to distance himself since the arrest. He knew him only like anyone else in Palm Beach knew him, he said recently, although there were several entries for Trump in the black book, including a “direct emergency contact,” and 17 years ago Trump had boasted to this magazine that he’d known him forever and that he was a “terrific guy.”

It’s not just the denial in the face of evidence that, yes, he really did hang out with the guy that makes this set of film so classically Trumpian. The tape distills Trump to a certain essence: In this frame, he dances, snapping his fingers and spinning, surrounded by women — but profoundly alone, backing off and avoiding eye contact the second a woman moves in to dance with him. In another frame, he smiles with self-satisfaction as a crowd of women chants his name. Surrounded by a group of cheerleaders about to pose for a picture, he reaches around the waist of one and pulls her sharply in to him, then briskly cups her behind in a businesslike, joyless fashion while she reaches for her hair to maintain smiling composure. It’s as if he thinks it’s his vaguely grim duty, as an American man playing the campiest possible version of swinging billionaire bachelor, to grab the closest available body part.

And most telling is his sideline locker-room talk with Epstein, whom the camera catches entering the party, greeted warmly by Trump. Like teenagers, they stand at the edges of the dance floor, pointing out the women they like, laughing at private jokes about them, rating them as hot. Here, there is joy. You see in this moment two outer-borough boys who have successfully crashed the Manhattan Establishment, who have boorishly, clumsily used money to get everything they want — but whose desires have never moved beyond an adolescent vision of the world, of women, of men, of the good life, of who merits consideration and who can be used.

In middle age, Trump had enough self-control to understand that his worst instincts were best received by men who were an awful lot like him. Now, as an old man — the oldest teenager ever — Trump has lost even that filter. He’s turned the whole country into his bunga-bunga party, made a Mar-a-Lago of the world stage, and divided us into Epsteins and cheerleaders — either co-conspirators who love the license his immaturity grants or else disposable collateral damage. —Noreen Malone

And, needless to say, more bad actors from our overcompensated and underachieving elites where these came from.

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