Perversion of justice by Julie K. Brown, journal.


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The first part of Julie K. Brown Perversion of justice: the story of Jeffrey Epstein reads like good old fashioned newspaper yarn. It even culminates with Brown’s pilgrimage to the Miami Herald press., to watch his 2018 blockbuster talk unfold on newsprint and in delivery trucks. Brown’s story, the product of months of hard work, precipitated Epstein’s arrest the following year on federal charges of child sex trafficking and earned him the prestigious George Polk Award. Her account of how she got the story will be adapted into a limited series by HBO. It’s a story filled with obscene public officials, slanderous editors, conspiratorial whispers, threatening phone calls made to potential sources, and even a menacing white van parked for hours outside the home of the loyal partner. of Brown’s report, photographer Emily Michot. In short, the stuff that Oscars (and top entertainment) like the 2015 Spotlight movie are made of.

But because all of this happened in the internet age, Perversion of justice also features countless minor slurs to undermine any cinematically satisfying shot of a newspaper bullet slapping on a sidewalk. Brown’s great story, also titled “Perversion of Justice,” was first published online, as all the scoops are these days. As she stood in the newsroom watching a digital screen listing the Heraldof the morning’s most read stories, she was sure her article – despite all the blood, sweat, tears, and weeks it took to write it – could never get past a nugget titled ” gas in store, then pulls a knife. ”She checked it once asleep Twitter account and noticed that suddenly she had thousands of followers. “Then the unbelievable happened,” Brown writes of the report that made her a household name, at least in journalism circles: “It broke the fart story. “

Julie K. Brown.
Photographic illustration by Slate. Photo of Eileen Soler.

Brown wasn’t the first reporter to cover Epstein or scrutinize the 2008 plea deal in which the billionaire got away with a simple slap on the wrist, despite plenty of evidence he drew dozens of. underage girls in his Palm Beach mansion to assault and sexually exploit them. But Brown resurrected history by poring over piles of court documents, meticulously tracing the countless ways that Epstein’s powerful friends and well-funded lawyers manipulated the justice system on his behalf. More importantly, she tracked down several victims – which was no easy task, as legal documents made them anonymous – and persuaded several women to be formally questioned, while winning over the detective and the police chief. suspicious of the Palm Beach police, who she quickly realized. , “appeared to be the only two people who were willing to risk their careers to go after Jeffrey Epstein.” Following his article, Alexander Acosta, a former Miami American lawyer and 2008 chief prosecutor, resigned his post as Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary. By the time Epstein died in a cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York in 2019 and that death was controversially declared a suicide, the story had become too important for a journalist, and although Brown clearly considers the circumstances as suspect, it does not. seem to go further.

Perversion of justice makes it clear that even as she doggedly investigated her career story, Brown, a single mother with two children, struggled to make ends meet with a journalist’s ever-shrinking salary. Even as she coaxed sources into officially speaking, the woman at the check-cashing store where Brown frequently went for payday loans knew her by first name and asked her about her children. . Brown had taken pay cuts and time off to keep her job, and it was a feat in 2016 that she was finally earning the same salary she was offered when the Herald hired her a decade earlier. As Michelle Goldberg pointed out in the New York Times, the Internet’s havoc on local journalism made it easier for predators like Epstein to get away; Brown stuck with it, but imagine all the reporters who didn’t or couldn’t.

The first and (quietly) most heroic parts of Perversion of justice can be a bit cumbersome, given that Epstein’s tactics to evade justice involved phalanxes of lawyers and the manipulation of dense procedural groves that can confuse the mind of a layman. I could only admire Brown for going through this stuff. His post-publication experiences are in some ways the most depressing typical of contemporary journalism, the daily chore of fending off hikers and rivals. A crazy former socialite who had self-published a book on Epstein began to appear when Brown made public appearances, loudly accusing him of plagiarism. She suspects The New York Times of having her so dazzling with VIP treatment when she visited the newspaper’s offices that she inadvertently slipped and handed them a lead related to Epstein. (Time the publisher involved claims otherwise.) Above all, she and the Herald were tormented by Alan Dershowitz, the octogenarian lawyer who both worked for Epstein and was accused of associating with the abuse of some of his victims. Among her many infuriating ploys, Dershowitz is said to claim that certain sealed court documents refuted Brown’s reporting, and then, when she and her editors asked her to justify this by showing them the material, accused them of trying to get her to break the law. law.

When Epstein was first arrested in 2008, Dershowitz sought to defend him by slandering his accusers. He sent state prosecutors printouts of a victim’s Myspace page, writing: “You will notice that she herself has chosen to be called ‘Pimp Juice’ and the site details, including photos, his apparent fascination with marijuana. “Epstein was looking for girls who met a certain physical type: white, petite, tattoo-less and no older than 17, with blonde or light brown hair. But he also targeted the vulnerable and marginalized, runaways and girls from struggling families, many of whom have no money or a permanent place to live and some drug addicts.In a nightmarish Catch-22, the same misfortunes that made them easy prey became excuses to dismiss their accounts of it. that Epstein did to them.

It’s clear that Brown – whose single mother was looked down upon in the Pennsylvania town where she grew up and who became an emancipated minor at age 16, taking factory jobs to pay rent – identifies with these victims. Class, as much as the dismal state of journalism, is the great undercurrent in Perversion of justice and give this scrappy book its heart. The most blatant breach of the plea agreement that triggered the Herald the investigation was a violation of the law on the rights of victims of crime, which stipulates that victims must be informed of an impending agreement and be given the opportunity to speak out when the accused is sentenced. Epstein’s victims were simply left out of this process, and more than one source pointed out to Brown that prosecutors sometimes seem to team up with the victim defense. In a sense, as members of the professional class, they were.

The assumption that Epstein’s victims were insignificant and disposable permeated everything he did. In a striking anecdote, Brown hears about Epstein’s long-standing friendship with Donald Trump, who once fondly remarked that Epstein was “a lot of fun to be with.” It is even said that he loves beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are younger. According to the story told to Brown, the two finally fell out when Epstein punched the daughter of a member of Mar-a-Lago. It was an unusual misstep for Epstein, hunting among the people that matter. As Brown continued Epstein’s story, The Times and The New Yorker ran stories about Harvey Weinstein, exposing sexual harassment and assault within a social stratum that can rightly be called “l ‘media elite’. Brown’s own editor was skeptical that his Epstein story had legs before the testimony of Hollywood actresses made headlines. But Brown – who like most local journalists fell somewhere between working class and middle class – always knew that Epstein’s victims, women not so different from her, were a pretty important story. They were just waiting for the right person to say it.

The cover of Perversion of Justice.

By Julie K. Brown. Books from rue Dey.

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