The New York Times signs on: The first reports of Jeffrey Epstein's death appeared on Saturday, August 10.
Instantly, the nation was confronted with the idiocy of Donald J. Trump.
In the absence of any evidence, Donald J. Trump encouraged the rubes to believe that certain events had occurred. That was typical, destructive conduct by Trump.
That was a typical gong-show coming from Trump. That said, Walter Kirn had actually beaten him to it!
According to the leading authority on his life, Kirn is a 57-year-old Princeton grad. Beyond that, he's "an American novelist, literary critic, and essayist.
"He is the author of eight books, most notably Up in the Air, which was made into a film of the same name starring George Clooney."
Kirn is also a bit of go-to guy at the New York Times. Next Sunday (August 25), this double review by Kirn is scheduled to appear on the front page of the high-profile Book Review section.
Yesterday (August 18), this intriguing essay by Kirn appeared in the high-profile Sunday Review.
The essay is intriguing because of what it says about the Times, our liberal tribe's paper of record. In Kirn's essay, he rants and raves about Epstein's death. The Times ran the unintelligent and thus illustrative piece beneath this unusual headline:
Why I Dabble in Jeffrey Epstein Conspiracy TheoriesA person could imagine an intelligent essay appearing beneath a headline like that. That didn't happen in this case—but then, Kirn had beaten Trump to the punch in the matter of Epstein blather.
In yesterday's essay, Kirn says he does believe that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Beyond that, he describes himself as "a lifelong journalist who believes in waiting for the facts before reaching grand conclusions."
We're not sure why he describes himself that way. Way back on Friday, August 9, one day before we were told that Epstein had died, Kirn had managed to tweet this out, offering no source for his statement:
KIRN (8/9/19): So Jeffrey Epstein, among his many lucky breaks, “won” a 29 million dollar Powerball lottery. Nice. Someone has to, I guess. May as well be the billionaire providing you the politician/CEO with children to have have sex with. I mean, favors cut both ways.As we said, Kirn provided no source for this exciting factual claim. By the next day, the world had been told that Epstein was dead. Apparently in response to this report, Kirn thrill-tweeted this:
KIRN (8/10/19): My only problem with ‘conspiracy theories’ is that they don’t go far enough.The next day, Kirn retweeted his wife, Amanda Fortini. As retweeted by Kirn, Fortini had offered this:
FORTINI (8/11/19): Today is maybe a good day to remind people that the first officer who breached Paddock’s room after the Las Vegas shooting neglected to activate his body camera. We are always missing the key footage.The key word there is "always." In reality, we're always missing the key footage, except in the million and one cases where, alas, we aren't.
As Trump began to toy with the gullible, Kirn complained that conspiracy theories don't go far enough. In some cases, this will turn out to be true.
In other cases, though, it won't. Consider that Powerball haul by Epstein, the score you'd never heard about right to this very day.
Did Epstein win a Powerball lottery, as Kirn excitedly tweeted? If so, what might it all mean?
As noted, Kirn gave no source for the thrilling claim—so yesterday, we turned to the Google machine. The few links for "JEFFREY EPSTEIN POWERBALL" tended to go to sites like Free Republic and The Daily Stormer, but one link went to Bloomberg News, where we found Joe Nocera, back in July, chuckling and rolling his eyes in the manner shown below.
In a lengthy report, Nocera had tried to determine where Epstein got all his money. He wrote his piece in a Q-and-A format. Chuckling, he ended with this:
NOCERA (7/17/19): Did Epstein win the Powerball lottery while he was in prison?Nocera said the claim was bunk. Did Epstein suspiciously score all that lottery dough? Nocera says he did not.
It’s not a completely crazy question. In August 2008, shortly after Epstein began his 13-month prison sentence in Florida, an entity called the Zorro Trust submitted the winning ticket for an $85 million jackpot. The ticket had been bought at a convenience store in Altus, Oklahoma. (The trust took the money as a lump sum, which came to $29.3 million after taxes.)
As it happens, Epstein had an entity called the Zorro Trust; he used it to make donations to politicians in New Mexico, where he had a ranch called—yep—the Zorro Ranch...
A few years ago, a lawyer representing some alleged victims took the prospect of Epstein winning the lottery seriously enough that he brought it up during a deposition with Epstein’s former pilot. But the Oklahoma City newspaper, the Oklahoman, did a little more digging and discovered that the anonymous winner worked in a grocery store across the street from the convenience store where the winning ticket was sold. Apparently, she decided to use the same name for her trust as Epstein did for his.
Not everything’s a mystery. Sometimes, it’s just a coincidence.
That doesn't mean that Nocera is right, of course; he could always turn out to be wrong. It could even turn out that Nocera is part of a widespread plot to keep us from knowing the truth of these matters. It's possible that Ivanka Trump was holding a gun to Nocera's head as he typed that passage out!
Alternately, Joe Nocera could turn out to be in charge of the world! As Descartes showed us long ago, everything you've always thought about the world could turn out to be totally wrong, except for the undeniable fact that you're thinking about it.
Walter Kirn's essay in yesterday's Times is highly unintelligent. Perhaps for that reason, the essay carried high appeal for the people who select the articles for the Sunday Review.
This doesn't mean that we know the truth about what happened to Epstein. As Descartes tells us, it could be that Hillary Clinton navigated various drainage pipes to enter Epstein's cell and strangle him as he slept. Then too, he could be somewhere in Argentina, living with Hitler's great-grandkids, or even with Hitler himself!
If you can dream it, it could be true, as with that Powerball score. That doesn't mean that intelligent people are supposed to flip out and start typing confessions like this:
KIRN (8/18/19): I should say here, for the record, that I believe that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. I believe that Qaeda terrorists carried out the Sept. 11 attacks. And yet I count myself as the next thing to a conspiracy theorist on Mr. Epstein, who himself appears to have been mixed up in mind-bending perversions that even I have trouble fathoming, including one to seed the world with many thousands of his genetic progeny. It seems I’ve been mugged by unreality.In that second passage, "mental health" enters our story again, just as it ever was. This time, it's the mental health of Kirn himself, who says he's engaging in "wild speculation" to release the "intellectual pressure" he's been feeling of late.
On the internet, where this story is being arbitrated in lieu of our court system, which lost control of it, I’ve ventured a few distrusting comments recently about Mr. Epstein’s befuddling demise. Under the circumstances—someday I hope we’ll know what, exactly, they are—I feel that some wild speculation is warranted, if only to preserve one’s mental health by releasing built-up intellectual pressure.
Simply put, this isn't intelligent stuff. We don't say that as a way to prejudge what may turn out to be true in this case. We say that because it doesn't make sense to engage in wild speculation, in a high-profile public forum no less, every time a person like Kirn finds himself under stress.
Kirn was tweeting the idiocy even before Trump got started! But this isn't a story about Walter Kirn. It's a story about the Times.
The New York Times is aggressively marketed to our tribe as our nation's most intelligent newspaper. But how typical! When it found Kirn "dabbling in conspiracy theories," the Times decided to rush his thoughts into print, on one of its highest platforms.
"Man [sic] is the rational animal," Aristotle is said to have said. The tribal decline found all around us helps us see that, at least in this case, the gentleman got it quite wrong.
We'll examine that tribal decline all week. If you're willing to let yourself see, the examples are all around.
Tomorrow: "Jargony" chaos in Cali!