Jeffrey Epstein is dead.
But for those who hear the national conversation in the form of memes on Facebook Inc'sFB Instagram or Twitter Inc TWTR, the question of how he died lives on.
One of my favorite things about brisk autumn Tuesday mornings is that Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself— Adam Trahan (@AdamTrahan) November 5, 2019
That's the line of a meme that has continued since just after the accused sex criminal was found dead in a New York jail cell Aug. 10, and got a boost this week after a forensic pathologist hired by Epstein’s brother said evidence in the case “points to homicide.”
Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner, said Epstein's injuries looked like strangulation, not suicide.
New York's chief medical examiner, Barbara Sampson, who ruled the death a suicide, strongly disagreed, saying the injuries could be consistent with either suicides or homicides.
Either way, according to the internet for the last several weeks, Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself.
As Miles Klee wrote in Mel Magazine last week: "Memes are Keeping the Jeffrey Epstein Story Alive."
Associations With Clinton, Trump At Forefront
Epstein’s death was already ripe for conspiracy speculation due to the circumstances: a highly connected person accused of horrible crimes against girls and young women who was known to associate with a long list of prominent people.
That connection raises suggestions that others, perhaps some of those very prominent people, may have been involved. It seems — if not likely — certainly possible that stories about the powerful went to Epstein’s grave with him.
When someone who could tell you some bad things about important people meets their end there will always be questions. Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t get a chance to answer questions about the Kennedy assassination.
Even before Baden's latest claim, the case was a cause celebre for internet speculation. The day Epstein's death was reported, the New York Times said conspiracy theories forming less than 24 hours after his demise showed how "our information system is poisoned."
The Wall Street Journal reported the same day about speculation online that former President Bill Clinton or President Donald Trump, both of whom had at least met Epstein, were involved.
Trump even retweeted an assertion that Epstein "had information on Clinton." The mayor of New York had suspicions.
The meme made it to cable television news this week when a guest who trains military dogs and was being interviewed on Fox News about the dogs ended the segment by stating "Epstein didn't kill himself."
I just fell down! pic.twitter.com/sfNLssmu1l— Karli Bonne’ (@kbq225) November 3, 2019
A Conspiracy For Both The Left And Right
The conspiracy theories took another step forward Tuesday after Project Veritas released a leaked video of ABC News anchor Amy Robach expressing frustration that her Epstein report didn’t run years ago.
Here’s ABC’s response to a Project Veritas video of Amy Robach expressing frustration that her Jeffrey Epstein piece didn’t run.— Jeremy Barr (@jeremymbarr) November 5, 2019
Robach: “I was caught in a private moment of frustration. ... In the years since no one ever told me or the team to stop reporting on Jeffrey Epstein” pic.twitter.com/airx3Tjy4o
In the Mel Magazine piece, Klees said part of the reason for the meme's currency is that nearly everyone in America dislikes or distrusts one of the key figures who may have been acquainted with Epstein: either they hate and distrust Bill Clinton or they hate and distrust Trump.
"Among the many oddities of this lurid saga is that spectators on both the political left and right are invested in the conspiracy theory of a murder and subsequent cover-up," Klees wrote.
But Klees also said that behind the refusal of the memes to disappear is a healthy thirst for the truth from a skeptical public that has too many times seen the powerful escape justice.
"As long as a few dogged trolls are churning out content to disrupt the assurance that the whole matter is behind us," Klees wrote, "there remains a dim hope that someone else will have to see their day in court."
The Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City, where Jeffrey Epstein died. Public domain photo via Wikimedia.
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