This week, leaked footage from the United States showed a TV anchor for the ABC network in an “off-mic” moment, complaining bitterly that her story about accused serial paedophile Jeffrey Epstein (now deceased) was quashed by her editors following pressure from “the palace”. The network worried it would lose access to Wills and Kate, she said.
Epstein was a wealthy financier with powerful connections that spanned Bills Clinton to Gates, via Donald Trump, and, of course, Prince Andrew.
Epstein also sat at the top of what has been revealed as a fully paid-up paedophile ring. One of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Guiffre, claims when she was a minor she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew three times.
Andrew has forcefully denied the allegations, but admitted he still hung out with Epstein following his jailing in 2008 for sex crimes involving an underage girl.
What is a little paedophilia conviction between friends?
Andrew has since said he regrets seeing Epstein after his conviction. I am sure he regrets the negative publicity from it, as does the palace, according to the leaked news anchor’s complaint.
But there’s even more to it: Epstein was in jail, facing many more counts of procuring girls and underage prostitutes for sex, when he died.
His death was ruled a suicide but doubts have been raised. Last week an experienced forensic pathologist hired by Epstein’s brother found the deceased man’s neck fractures were more consistent with homicidal strangulation than suicidal hanging.
Epstein’s trial would have aired details of every powerful man and woman who ever spent time in his mansions in the company of the underage girls he trafficked into his luxurious homes.
President Trump is another of Epstein’s former pals who says he saw and knew nothing of his crimes, and Trump, of course, is the big daddy of the true conspiracy, except that he doesn’t try particularly hard to hide the conspiring.
It started in 2016 when he openly solicited for Russia’s help in hacking the emails of presidential rival Hillary Clinton, and has culminated in Democrats’ efforts to impeach him over an alleged “quid pro quo” dealing with Ukraine.
This week another damning piece of evidence against Trump emerged when the US ambassador to the European Union and a key Trump ally, Gordon Sondland, revised earlier testimony vindicating the President. Sondland now says he told a Ukrainian official that they would likely have to give Trump what he wanted (a criminal investigation into the Ukraine business dealings of political rival Joe Biden’s son) to unlock the foreign aid the US was withholding.
Every day it gets harder to escape the conclusion that the President of the United States attempted to conspire, using blackmail, to get a foreign power to investigate a political rival.
Which brings us finally to Harvey Weinstein (a great supporter of the Democratic Party) who faces trial in January for sexual assault and rape charges.
A new book by Ronan Farrow, who wrote investigations of Weinstein for the New Yorker, details how the director conspired with newspaper editors, television executives and film industry powerbrokers to quash the stories, and silence the women speaking out against him.
At one point Farrow was being followed by private investigators from Black Cube, a firm staffed by former Mossad agents, who trailed him to ascertain his sources. Weinstein used the firm on the recommendation of former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak.
When Farrow told his editor, David Remnick, that he thought he was being followed, Remnick reckoned he was out of his mind. “I thought you were getting a little too tired,” Remnick told Farrow for a New Yorker podcast.
Nope, he wasn’t just tired. The truth was uncovered when one of the contracted PIs realised what was going on, and blew the whistle because he didn’t want to participate in something he considered so wrong.
Think we are immune from all this in Australia? How would you know?
We have a government that raids the homes and workplaces of journalists over stories that are firmly in the public interest. We have some of the most stringent defamation laws of all the world’s democracies, and if you spend enough time in a newsroom, you quickly realise they are wielded pretty much exclusively by society’s richest and most powerful.
We have no federal anti-corruption body, and a government that wants to place legal restrictions on the basic freedom of where you spend your money.
This week there was a steady drip of leaked stories about the alleged misuse of the Medevac law. There was the one about asylum seekers who came to Australia and then allegedly refused medical treatment, and another about an alleged sex offender who had “used” the laws to get onto Australian soil.
Funny how these stories appear in the media right at the moment the government is lobbying the Senate cross-bench to support the abolition of the Medevac law.
Call me a conspiracy theorist, but the timing was convenient.
Jacqueline Maley is a senior journalist, columnist and former Canberra press gallery sketch writer for The Sydney Morning Herald. In 2017 she won the Peter Ruehl Award for Outstanding Columnist at the Kennedy Awards