Accuracy in Media

Mainstream media stepped up efforts to link President Donald Trump to Jeffrey Epstein, the New York-based financier arrested two weeks ago for sex trafficking with underage girls and conspiracy, pulling a tape from the archives of a news show that did a segment on Trump in the early 1990s.

The point is to undermine Trump’s statements that he is “not a fan” of Epstein and that he helped victims and their attorneys make the case against Epstein after his first arrest for sex crimes.

The footage – which Trump invited Faith Daniels to use on her show “A Closer Look” – appeared on TV in 1992 as part of a profile of Trump and how he was emerging from financial and marital difficulties. It shows the president partying at Mar-a-Lago with Epstein, former basketball star and congressman Tom McMillan and cheerleaders from the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins.

Trump said he hasn’t spoken to Epstein in 15 years, which would mean 12 years after the party, and he never went to Epstein’s so-called Orgy Island, where much of the abuse took place. But Salon’s Matthew Rozsa attempted to make this a smoking gun event in efforts to link Trump to Epstein.

“Although President Donald Trump recently claimed that he ‘was not a fan’ of Jeffrey Epstein, video footage newly resurfaced by NBC News reveals he partied with the billionaire financier and registered sex offender in November of 1992,” Rozsa wrote.

NBC News took a more dramatic tack in its story “Tape shows Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein discussing women at 1992 party,” by Jack Bohrer.

“The footage shows two wealthy men laughing and pointing as they appear to discuss young women dancing at a party,” Bohrer’s piece began. “Today, one of the men is president of the United States. The other is in federal lockup awaiting a bail decision as he fights sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.”

Later, Bohrer writes, “The president says that he hasn’t spoken to Epstein since his guilty plea, and that his relationship with him was no different than that of anyone else in their elite circle. ‘I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him,’ Trump said last week. ‘I was not a fan.’ But on the tape, Trump gives Epstein plenty of personal attention.”

Mother Jones headlined its story “New Video of Trump and Epstein Partying and Leering at Women Emerges” – subhead: “‘She’s hot,’ Trump is seen telling Epstein at one point in the 1992 clip.”

“It was only last week that President Donald Trump, before unleashing a racist tirade against four Democratic congresswomen of color on Sunday, was engulfed in the scandal stemming from disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest for alleged sexual abuse of underage girls, charges that prompted two new headaches for the president,” Mother Jones wrote.

The headaches were “the future of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta [who since has resigned] amid renewed scrutiny over his role in allowing Epstein to escape a federal investigation for similar sex trafficking charges more than a decade ago. The second saw Trump attempting to brush off his once-friendly relationship with Epstein, a man he once praised as ‘terrific.’”

The Washington Post joined the fray with “Behind the scenes the night Trump partied at Mar-a-Lago with Jeffrey Epstein and NFL cheerleaders,” by Rosalind Helderman and Beth Reinhard.

Helderman and Reinhard pointed out that “Trump has said repeatedly he is ‘not a fan’ of Epstein’s and that the two had a falling out about 15 years ago. … In the video from the 1992 party, the two men appear chummy, chuckling as Trump appears to point out women on the dance floor. At one point, Trump can be seen whispering in Epstein’s ear, causing the financier to double over in laughter.”

Later, they wrote: “Trump’s interactions with women at the Mar-a-Lago party – welcome or not – provide visual evidence of the kind of behavior he would later brag about on a 2005 ‘Access Hollywood’ recording that surfaced at the end of the presidential campaign: that he could grab and kiss women because he was a celebrity.”

None of the women complained about Trump’s behavior.

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