Jeffrey Epstein has once again made headlines, thanks to a forensic pathology report that contradicts the official account of his death by suicide in prison this August while awaiting trial for sex trafficking. Dr. Michael Baden, hired by the disgraced but well-connected financier’s brother, says that some of Epstein’s injuries “occur much more commonly in homicidal strangulation,” according to the New York Times.
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, as the list of powerful elites with links to Epstein includes names from either side — on one, you have the Clintons, and the other, Donald Trump. So while Baden is a Fox News contributor you might reasonably suspect of a certain agenda, his analysis is also catnip to those who want the president further ensnared in this murky web.
But before he breathed fresh life into the assassination angle, several long weeks passed with little more to say about Epstein’s demise. We’re almost three months out from the key event — an eternity in internet time, and long enough, with most news stories, for the details to fade, the import to be forgotten. Not so in this case. The horseshoe appeal of the idea that Epstein was silenced by his clients, combined with simmering resentment of the rich, along with the outrage of seeing nobody else in that echelon bearing legal responsibility for what had to be a large, complicated network of power and secrecy, has left many unwilling to move on. It’s too bitter a pill to swallow, and people want answers instead. The full unravelment of a depraved empire. Which means, of course, that they’ve been creating memes. Lots and lots of Epstein memes.
Meme trends are a lot like the 21st-century news cycles they parallel: burning brightly for a very short while before a kind of enforced, rapid-onset amnesia buries them in the subconscious so the next thing can swamp our brains. The continuity of the Epstein jokes indicates a refusal to let that happen this time — that we’ve yet to achieve any satisfying resolution and won’t move on until we do.