Updated Sep 7, 2019

MIT Media Lab director resigns over financial ties to Jeffrey Epstein

Felix Salmon, author of Edge

Joi Ito and Reid Hoffman. Photo: Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25

Dozens of rich and influential men surrounded Jeffrey Epstein. They knew that what they were doing was wrong. That's why they were so secretive about it.

Driving the news: In the aftermath of a blockbuster report from The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow — which details that MIT Media Lab's director Joi Ito flew to Epstein's private island twice and accepted more than $8 million of donations from him — Ito resigned on Saturday from MIT Media Lab, left his board seat with the New York Times Company, and resigned from the MacArthur Foundation.

  • Leon Black remains the chairman and CEO of private equity giant Apollo; he's also the chairman of the board of the Museum of Modern Art. Black donated $5.5 million to the Media Lab at Epstein's behest, on top of a $10 million donation that he made directly to Epstein's own foundation in 2015.
  • Bill Gates donated $2 million to the Media Lab in October 2014; Ito claimed at the time that the gift was "directed by Jeffrey Epstein". Gates asked that his name be kept out of any public discussion of the donation.
  • Reid Hoffman, the venture capitalist and founder of LinkedIn, hosted a dinner with Epstein in attendance featuring the likes of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. He also funds the Media Lab's Disobedience Award. (Epstein received an orb, which looks exactly like the Disobedience Award, for his service to the Lab.) When author and Disobedience Award juror Anand Giridharadas raised questions about the award's ties to Epstein, Hoffman was the man who slapped him down.
  • Outside the Media Lab there are many other names. The UK's Prince Andrew was close to Epstein both before and after Epstein's conviction, as was lawyer Alan Dershowitz. There are multiple connections between Epstein and Harvard, including a "special connection" with Lawrence Summers. Naturally there are ties to Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, too.

Epstein's enablers flew on his jets and visited his island and did multi-million-dollar deals with him even after he was convicted and jailed on a charge of soliciting underage girls for prostitution. Now they are starting to be held to account for their complicity.

None of these men are giving straight answers to questions about their involvement with Epstein. Black and Gates, in particular, are not explaining why they gave millions of dollars to the Media Lab in secret, with Epstein claiming full credit for those donations.

The bottom line: Epstein abused children, ruining dozens or even hundreds of lives while consorting merrily with his plutocratic friends. Those friends might have looked the other way at the time, but now — finally — they're beginning to be held accountable.

Go deeper: What we know about life and death of Jeffrey Epstein

Go deeper

Amid racial unrest, a test at the polls

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Eight states plus D.C. are holding primary elections today following a week of intense protests across the country over the brutal police killing of George Floyd.

Why it matters: It's the first major test for voting since the national outcry. Concerns over civil unrest and the police — as well as the coronavirus and expanded absentee voting — could reduce the number of voters showing up in person but heighten tensions for those who do.

Axios-Ipsos poll: America’s big racial divide on police, virus

Data: Ipsos/Axios survey; Note: ±3.2% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A new Axios-Ipsos poll finds that America has a massive racial gulf on each of our twin calamities — trust in police, and fear of the coronavirus.

  • 77% of whites say they trust local police, compared with just 36% of African Americans — one of many measures of a throbbing racial divide in Week 11 of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, taken the week George Floyd was killed by a white policeman in Minneapolis.
Updated 45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: Four police officers were struck by gunfire while standing near a line in St Louis on Monday after a peaceful demonstration, Police Chief John Hayden said early Tuesday. They were all taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He said a small group of people had thrown rocks and fireworks at police officers.