The story of Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire financier and sex offender who died in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019, is a topic of great interest for many reasons. Epstein was friends with lots of members of the political elite, including Prince Andrew, Bill Gates, and two of the last five presidents of the United States (Clinton and Trump).
Epstein got a sweetheart non-prosecution deal in 2008 and operated in elite spaces after that. No one really knows exactly how he made his money, and the exact circumstances of his death remain a matter of great controversy.
But at the same time, the subject of Epstein has a tendency to make people very stupid. There are many, many conspiracy theories involving Epstein that have no evidence whatsoever behind them, starting with the widely held belief that Hillary Clinton personally murdered him.
Earlier this year, for several weeks, social media — and even some regular media — was abuzz with the news that a new “Epstein client list” was about to be released, and that it had some A-list names on it who had not previously been mentioned in connection with the case. This led to a separate series of theories that various things in the news earlier this year, from the “UFOs” to the Chinese spy balloon, were “distractions” from the release of that new Epstein list. Among those pushing this were 1990s MTV star Tom Green, and NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
It turns out, though, that none of those things were a distraction, because there was no new Epstein list.
Julie K. Brown of The Miami Herald is the reporter whose interest in the case is said to have led to Epstein’s eventual prosecution, and author of the definitive book on the case, Perversion of Justice; my policy when it comes to all things Epstein is to trust her, and not randos on the Internet. She said this last month:
“If you truly care about Epstein’s victims, then stop spreading lies because that is how Epstein got away with his crimes in the first place,” Brown added.
The lack of a new list led some Epstein obsessives to do the next best thing: Just make up a fake “Epstein list”:
The source of this list of “Epstein Island Visitors” is… nothing, because it’s not a real list. Someone just posted a list of celebrities, slapped “Epstein’s Island Visitors” on top of it, and put it on the Internet. It’s not clear who first put it up, but it’s been all over Twitter for at least a month. The list was recently shared by Lara Logan, a formerly serious journalist for 60 Minutes who’s now more associated with laughable election conspiracies, and was once deemed too much of a nut even for Newsmax.
The “list” has more in common with QAnon fever dreams than anything in the public record. It includes a who’s-who of Hollywood types (Lady Gaga! Rihanna! Jay-Z!), as well as the current president of the United States, prime minister of Canada, and King of England. Because it also includes basketball players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, as well as Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, it’s been speculated that this originated as a list of celebrities who have had Covid, and at some point during the Internet game of telephone, the headline was changed to “Epstein’s Island Visitors.”
The bogus list does not include Donald Trump, who was named as someone who flew on Epstein’s jet in authentic court documents in 2021, but it does include some names of people really named in Epstein cases, such as Chris Tucker, Kevin Spacey, and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
Bernie Sanders — a man very much not known for associating with billionaires — is on the list. Also included for some reason is Ralph Ellison, the famed author, who couldn’t have visited Little St. James because he died in 1994, four years before Epstein bought the island.
But the name most associated with this list, for some reason, is Rob Reiner. The actor (All in the Family) and director (of When Harry Met Sally, A Few Good Men, and The Princess Bride), for some reason, has become the “face” of the fake Epstein list.
Reiner, in recent months, has occasionally trended on Twitter because of his inclusion on the list. Reiner is very active on Twitter and often posts anti-Trump commentary, and every time he does the replies are full of people posting that very list, while also calling for Reiner’s arrest and/or execution.
Rob Reiner, just to be clear, has never been named in any investigation of Jeffrey Epstein. He’s not on the flight logs. There is absolutely nothing tying him to Epstein in any way, aside from a fake list on the Internet.
It would be really great if there were someone Reiner could sue for clearly defaming him. Another famous person, Jim Carrey, also included on the fake list, did threaten to sue a YouTuber named Vincent Briatore, who claimed he had Epstein ties.
Everyone could stand to be a little more discerning when it comes to what they post on the Internet, especially if they’re accusing someone, implicitly or not-so-implicitly, of participating in sex crimes. Rob Reiner, and some of the other names on that “list,” really deserve an apology, if not the rewards from a major lawsuit.