If Old-School Reporters Covered the Epstein Story

If Old-School Reporters Covered the Epstein Story August 20, 2019

The New York City medical examiner issued this ruling about the death of billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein:  “Cause: Hanging. Manner: Suicide.” The various questions surrounding his death were not answered–including the broken hyoid bone, which is usually  considered forensic evidence for strangulation instead of hanging–leading to plans, particularly on the part of Epstein’s lawyers, for new investigations.

For the most part, though, the news media has been accepting the official accounts at face value, labeling concerns that Epstein might have been murdered–perhaps at the behest of one of the powerful individuals he might have implicated in his sex crimes–as “conspiracy theories.”

Peggy Noonan has written a funny and provocative column contrasting old school journalism, with its aggressive digging for facts, with today’s relatively supine and politically correct journalism.  She channels the voice of Mike McAlary (1957-1998), one of those hard-bitten blue collar reporters with a whiskey bottle in the drawer of his desk, who contrasts with the New Class culturally elite journalists of today.

Read it all, but here is a sample of how the old-school reporter would approach the Epstein story:

I’m thinking but this is the story with everything. Wealth, power, darkness. Princes and presidents. People with secrets. Rumors of spying. Even an English aristo moll on the lam.

He’s the most famous prisoner in America! They put him in a jail, where he supposedly tries to kill himself. So they move him to a special cell, heavily guarded 24/7. Don’t worry, he’s safe, he’s gonna face the music!

Then dawn on a Saturday in high August. Everyone important is away. It’s an entire city run by the second string—novices, kids and pension-bumpers at the police desk, the news desk, the hospital. It breaks like sudden thunder: Epstein is dead, he committed suicide in his cell!

And then, like, silence. Thunder’s followed by fog.

Government dummies up, no one knows nothin’. Finally on Monday the attorney general has a news conference. He’s very upset! What incompetence! That jail don’t work right!

But incompetence proves nothing, right? If Epstein killed himself, he chose the time he knew the guards were asleep. If Epstein was murdered, his killer chose the time he knew the guards were asleep. Incompetence is completely believable but insufficient.

The papers are doing their stories about those strange Americans with their quirky ways burning up the internet with their quaint conspiracies. But who would not wonder about foul play? With all the people who’d want him dead?

This whole thing is a big stinkin’, fumin’ hunk of foul-up. And there’s still time to get this story. I miss the tough, crazy beat reporters of yore. Like me. I got cancer and was on chemo when I got a tip about a police-brutality story. I tore the IV out of my arm and ran to the sound of the crap! . . . .

Work every source and angle, every prison guard and cop you know—you’re supposed to know them! Pete Hamill would have known the estranged sister of the night nurse at the ER. He’d wait at her house, she’d tell him the EMTs came in laughing about “Who do you think killed the guy who suicided?” Or maybe she’d say they were nervous and just plopped him down and scrammed. But he’d have gotten the color, the feel. And it would suggest something. . . .

It’s like every great media organization is tied up in this complicated, soul-crushing, virtue-signalling fearfulness, this vast miasma of progressive political theory and ideology and correctness and “please report to HR”—and it has nothing to do with the mission. The mission is to get the story!

Reporters and editors, they’re not the fabulous old drunks and girl reporter miscreants, they’re like—like normal people! Reporters aren’t supposed to be normal! And they’re very tidy because they’re extremely important! You get the impression they became reporters to affect the discourse. “I’m going into journalism to press for cultural and political justice.” These—these deconstructionist intellectuals! These twinkies with soft hands from Phillips Exeter Andover whatever. These mere political operatives. These people with grievances, who’ve never had anything to grieve because their lives were the red satin lining of a music box.

If I was in charge I’d say, “Thank you for your boundless efforts to secure the greater progress for the polity. But I was wondering if, in your spare moments, you could be troubled to help us cover the biggest scandal of your blanking lifetimes?”


Photo by C.A.D.Schjelderup [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)] via Wikimedia Commons

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