Ronan Farrow on new documents that show that the M.I.T. Media lab was aware of Epstein’s status as a convicted sex offender, and that Epstein directed contributions to the lab far exceeding the amounts to which M.I.T. has publicly admitted.
“How MIT Concealed Its Relationship with Jeffrey Epstein”
Should they all be fired?
dejerik6th District (NE Massachusetts, North Shore)4 months ago
money and greed and capitalism really are the source of so much of our issues. Even good people need money to get shit done and end up doing bad things with bad people to make that happen, but then I guess they're not the good people since they are doing bad things....
Here's an archive link of the page. I think this is relevant to the sub due to the ties of elite institutions across the board to Epstein, including institutions of higher learning that teach our children.
Mother Theresa was happy to take millions of dollars from a murdering psychopath. And when he was toppled, the country approached Theresa for it back. \*crickets\*
Bitch was evil. And now an evil saint, I understand.
Is the MIT Media Lab actually a big scam to suck in money and be kind of self-perpetuating? Ie, do they actually do any research or anything or is it just fun projects for people with money to fund and get "MIT" onto their name, and for people in the programs to have a not very rigorous education and "MIT" onto their name too?
That lab has always had a controversial reputation in academia. Some think that what they do is advanced research, some view it as flashy charlatanism.
In the late 1980s I was working at a research lab in the US, and the boss there (who had been the director of
DARPA when they developed the internet) kept warning us to "not become like the MIT Media Lab".
This is much worse than I thought from yesterday's initial news. It's not just the donation, but the cover-ups, having faculty resign in protest under Ito and giving Epstein either real or illusory control of research. He and his chief director absolutely should have resigned.
Update: On Saturday, less than a day after the
publication of this story, Joi Ito, the director of the M.I.T.
Media Lab, resigned from his position. “After giving the
matter a great deal of thought over the past several days
and weeks, I think that it is best that I resign as director
of the media lab and as a professor and employee of the
Institute, effective immediately,” Ito wrote in an internal
e-mail. In a message to the M.I.T. community, L. Rafael
Reif, the president of M.I.T., wrote, “Because the
accusations in the story are extremely serious, they
demand an immediate, thorough and independent
investigation,” and announced that M.I.T.’s general
counsel would engage an outside law firm to oversee that
The M.I.T. Media Lab, which has been embroiled in a scandal over accepting donations from the financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, had a deeper fund-raising relationship with Epstein than it has previously acknowledged, and it attempted to conceal the extent of its contacts with him. Dozens of pages of e-mails and other documents obtained by The New Yorker reveal that, although Epstein was listed as “disqualified” in M.I.T.’s official donor database, the Media Lab continued to accept gifts from him, consulted him about the use of the funds, and, by marking his contributions as anonymous, avoided disclosing their full extent, both publicly and within the university. Perhaps most notably, Epstein appeared to serve as an intermediary between the lab and other wealthy donors, soliciting millions of dollars in donations from individuals and organizations, including the technologist and philanthropist Bill Gates and the investor Leon Black. According to the records obtained by The New Yorker and accounts from current and former faculty and staff of the media lab, Epstein was credited with securing at least $7.5 million in donations for the lab, including two million dollars from Gates and $5.5 million from Black, gifts the e-mails describe as “directed” by Epstein or made at his behest. The effort to conceal the lab’s contact with Epstein was so widely known that some staff in the office of the lab’s director, Joi Ito, referred to Epstein as Voldemort or “he who must not be named.”
The financial entanglement revealed in the documents goes well beyond what has been described in public statements by M.I.T. and by Ito. The University has said that it received eight hundred thousand dollars from Epstein’s foundations, in the course of twenty years, and has apologized for accepting that amount. In a statement last month, M.I.T.’s president, L. Rafael Reif, wrote, “with hindsight, we recognize with shame and distress that we allowed MIT to contribute to the elevation of his reputation, which in turn served to distract from his horrifying acts. No apology can undo that.” Reif pledged to donate the funds to a charity to help victims of sexual abuse. On Wednesday, Ito disclosed that he had separately received $1.2 million from Epstein for investment funds under his control, in addition to five hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars that he acknowledged Epstein had donated to the lab. A spokesperson for M.I.T. said that the university “is looking at the facts surrounding Jeffrey Epstein’s gifts to the institute.”
The documents and sources suggest that there was more to the story. They show that the lab was aware of Epstein’s history—in 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges of solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution—and of his disqualified status as a donor. They also show that Ito and other lab employees took numerous steps to keep Epstein’s name from being associated with the donations he made or solicited. On Ito’s calendar, which typically listed the full names of participants in meetings, Epstein was identified only by his initials. Epstein’s direct contributions to the lab were recorded as anonymous. In September, 2014, Ito wrote to Epstein soliciting a cash infusion to fund a certain researcher, asking, “Could you re-up/top-off with another $100K so we can extend his contract another year?” Epstein replied, “yes.” Forwarding the response to a member of his staff, Ito wrote, “Make sure this gets accounted for as anonymous.” Peter Cohen, the M.I.T. Media Lab’s Director of Development and Strategy at the time, reiterated, “Jeffrey money, needs to be anonymous. Thanks.”
Epstein’s apparent role in directing outside contributions was also elided. In October, 2014, the Media Lab received a two-million-dollar donation from Bill Gates; Ito wrote in an internal e-mail, “This is a $2M gift from Bill Gates directed by Jeffrey Epstein.” Cohen replied, “For gift recording purposes, we will not be mentioning Jeffrey’s name as the impetus for this gift.” A mandatory record of the gift filed within the university stated only that “Gates is making this gift at the recommendation of a friend of his who wishes to remain anonymous.” Knowledge of Epstein’s alleged role was usually kept within a tight circle. In response to the university filing, Cohen wrote to colleagues, “I did not realize that this would be sent to dozens of people,” adding that Epstein “is not named but questions could be asked” and that “I feel uncomfortable that this was distributed so widely.” He wrote that future filings related to Epstein should be submitted only “if there is a way to do it quietly.” An agent for Gates wrote to the leadership of the Media Lab, stating that Gates also wished to keep his name out of any public discussion of the donation.
A spokesperson for Gates said that “any claim that Epstein directed any programmatic or personal grantmaking for Bill Gates is completely false.” A source close to Gates said that the entrepreneur has a long-standing relationship with the lab, and that anonymous donations from him or his foundation are not atypical. Gates has previously denied receiving financial advisory services from Epstein; in August, CNBC reported that he met with Epstein in New York in 2013, to discuss “ways to increase philanthropic spending.”
Joi Ito and Peter Cohen did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Ito, in his public statements, has downplayed his closeness with Epstein, stating that “Regrettably, over the years, the Lab has received money through some of the foundations that he controlled,” and acknowledging only that he “knew about” gifts and personally gave permission. But the e-mails show that Ito consulted closely with Epstein and actively sought the various donations. At one point, Cohen reached out to Ito for advice about a donor, writing, “you or Jeffrey would know best.”
Epstein, who socialized with a range of high-profile and influential people, had for years been followed by claims that he sexually abused underage girls. Police investigated the reports several times. In 2008, after a Florida grand jury charged Epstein with soliciting prostitution, he received a controversial plea deal, which shielded him from federal prosecution and allowed him to serve less than thirteen months, and much of it on a “work release,” permitting him to spend much of his time out of jail. Alexander Acosta, the prosecutor responsible for that plea deal, went on to become President Trump’s Secretary of Labor, but resigned from that post in July, amid widespread criticism related to the Epstein case. That same month, Esptein was arrested in New York, on federal sex-trafficking charges. He died from suicide, in a jail cell in Manhattan, last month.
Current and former faculty and staff of the media lab described a pattern of concealing Epstein’s involvement with the institution. Signe Swenson, a former development associate and alumni coordinator at the lab, told me that she resigned in 2016 in part because of her discomfort about the lab’s work with Epstein. She said that the lab’s leadership made it explicit, even in her earliest conversations with them, that Epstein’s donations had to be kept secret. In early 2014, while Swenson was working in M.I.T.’s central fund-raising office, as a development associate, she had breakfast with Cohen, the Director of Development and Strategy. They discussed her application for a fund-raising role at the Media Lab. According to Swenson, Cohen explained to her that the lab was currently working with Epstein and that it was seeking to do more with the financier. “He said Joi has been working with Jeffrey Epstein and Epstein’s connecting us to other people,” Swenson recalled. She assumed that Cohen raised the matter “to test whether I would be confidential and sort of feel out whether I would be O.K. with the situation.”
Swenson had seen that Epstein was listed in the university’s central donor database as disqualified. “I knew he was a pedophile and pointed that out,” she said. She recalled telling Cohen that working with Epstein “doesn’t seem like a great idea.” But she respected the lab’s work and ultimately accepted a job with them.
Last night, The New Yorker published an article that contains deeply disturbing allegations about the engagement between individuals at the Media Lab and Jeffrey Epstein.
Because the accusations in the story are extremely serious, they demand an immediate, thorough and independent investigation. This morning, I asked MIT’s General Counsel to engage a prominent law firm to design and conduct this process. I expect the firm to conduct this review as swiftly as possible, and to report back to me and to the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation, MIT’s governing board.
This afternoon, Joi Ito submitted his resignation as Director of the Media Lab and as a professor and employee of the Institute.
As I described in my previous letter, the acceptance of the Epstein gifts involved a mistake of judgment. We are actively assessing how best to improve our policies, processes and procedures to fully reflect MIT’s values and prevent such mistakes in the future. Our internal review process continues, and what we learn from it will inform the path ahead.