Speed Reads


Jeffrey Epstein's media intimidation tactics reportedly included a severed cat's head, hand-delivered bullet

How did Jeffrey Epstein manage to keep his alleged and confirmed sexual abuse of young women out of the press for so long? NPR's David Folkenflik took a look, and what he found ranged from the banal to the creepy and downright sinister. There were prominent lawyers threatening lawsuits, there was largesse — a New York Times reporter exited the paper after disclosing he had solicited a $30,000 donation from Epstein, a source and subject of his profiles, for a favorite nonprofit — but also, Folkenflik found, there were some more mafia-like tactics. Epstein died by suicide in jail this month.

When he was editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter assigned Vicky Ward to write a profile of Epstein in 2002; in the winter of 2003, Epstein was waiting alone for Carter in Vanity Fair's office, where he pleaded with and prodded Carter to leave out any mention of Epstein's interest in very young women, according to John Connolly, then a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. "He was torturing Graydon," Connolly told NPR. Soon after the unflattering profile was published — without on-the-record accounts of abuse of an underage girl — Carter found a bullet outside his door. He and Connolly considered it a warning from Epstein.

In 2006, when Connolly started digging around for an article on Epstein's relationships with young women in Florida, Carter found a severed cat's head at his front door, Connolly and other Vanity Fair alumni tell Folkenflik. "It was done to intimidate," Connolly said. "No question about it." Carter was freaked out. Connolly dropped the story.

In the second part of his report, Folkenflik delved into an on-camera interview Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre gave to ABC News, which didn't run after getting a warning phone call from Epstein lawyer and friend Alan Dershowitz. Listen below. Peter Weber