My few interactions with Jeffrey Epstein came at the request of Joi Ito, for the purposes of fundraising for the MIT Media Lab. Prior to these interactions, I was told by Joi that Epstein had cleared the MIT vetting process, which was the basis for my participation. My last interaction with Epstein was in 2015. Still, by agreeing to participate in any fundraising activity where Epstein was present, I helped to repair his reputation and perpetuate injustice. For this, I am deeply regretful.
In an e-mail to the Globe sent after the meeting, Negroponte said he told Ito that “he should” take Epstein’s contribution, and “I would say that again based on what we knew at the time. . . . “Epstein is an extreme case. But then do you take Koch money? Do you take Huawei money? And on and on?” Negroponte said.
I had known of Joi’s contact with Epstein since about the beginning. He had reached out to me to discuss it. We are friends (Joi and I), and he knew I would be upset by his working with a pedophile.
Joi believed that he did not. He believed Epstein was terrified after the prosecution in 2011. He believed he had come to recognize that he would lose everything. He believed that whatever else he was, he was brilliant enough to understand the devastation to him of losing everything. He believed that he was a criminal who had stopped his crime. And nothing in his experience with Epstein contradicted this belief.
エプスタインはもう虐待者ではないと Joi は信じていた。エプスタインは2011年に起訴された後、恐怖に襲われている、と伊藤穣一は信じていた。エプスタインはすべてを失うことになるのを認識するに至ったと伊藤穣一は信じていた。いずれにせよ、エプスタインはすべてを失うという絶望を理解する十分な知性があると、伊藤穣一は信じていた。エプスタインはもう犯罪を犯さない犯罪者だと、伊藤穣一は信じていた。伊藤穣一はエプスタインに会って、その信念に矛盾することを何も感じなかった。
IF you are going to take type 3 money, then you should only take it anonymously. . . . Good for them, for here, too, transparency would be evil.
Sure, it wasn’t blood money, and sure, because anonymous, the gift wasn’t used to burnish Epstein’s reputation.
I know that Farrow’s article is crafted to draw the following sentence into doubt: Everything Joi did in accepting Epstein’s money he did with MIT’s approval. I trust the MIT review will confirm it (yes, I remain exactly that naive). So why is he resigning, rather than others in the administration?
And if Ito must go because Epstein’s wealth was accepted anonymously, who else should go because of blood money accepted openly? Will the planet have an equal advocate who demands justice for the Koch money? Or the victims of opioid abuse for the Sackler money?
So put the parts together: The MediaLab accepted an anonymous contribution from Epstein through the help and direction of Joi. The Lab did not (as “Professor Anonymous” wrote to me, his outrage apparently blinding him to irony) “help reputation-launder a convicted sex offender.” It would have, had it not be anonymous; but that’s the point about it being anonymous.
Peter Cohen, a former director of development and strategy, said in a statement that when he joined the Media Lab in 2014, it already had established procedures for handling Epstein’s contributions. Cohen said he understood that those policies were “authorized by and implemented with the full knowledge of MIT central administration.”
Second, it is now clear that senior members of the administration were aware of gifts the Media Lab received between 2013 and 2017 from Jeffrey Epstein’s foundations. Goodwin Procter has found that in 2013, when members of my senior team learned that the Media Lab had received the first of the Epstein gifts, they reached out to speak with Joi Ito. He asked for permission to retain this initial gift, and members of my senior team allowed it. They knew in general terms about Epstein’s history – that he had been convicted and had served a sentence and that Joi believed that he had stopped his criminal behavior. They accepted Joi’s assessment of the situation. Of course they did not know what we all know about Epstein now.
Joi sought the gifts for general research purposes, such as supporting lab scientists and buying equipment. Because the members of my team involved believed it was important that Epstein not use gifts to MIT for publicity or to enhance his own reputation, they asked Joi to agree to make clear to Epstein that he could not put his name on them publicly. These guidelines were provided to and apparently followed by the Media Lab.
Information shared with us last night also indicates that Epstein gifts were discussed at at least one of MIT’s regular senior team meetings, and I was present.
I am aware that we could and should have asked more questions about Jeffrey Epstein and about his interactions with Joi. We did not see through the limited facts we had, and we did not take time to understand the gravity of Epstein’s offenses or the harm to his young victims. I take responsibility for those errors.
Dozens of pages of e-mails and other documents obtained by The New Yorker reveal that, although Epstein was listed as “disqualified” in M.I.T.’s official donor database, the Media Lab continued to accept gifts from him, consulted him about the use of the funds, and, by marking his contributions as anonymous, avoided disclosing their full extent, both publicly and within the university.
But near the end, one of Mr. Ito’s staunchest supporters, Nicholas Negroponte, a founder of the media lab, said he had told Mr. Ito to take the money and would do it again. That prompted Mr. Ito to send an email to Mr. Negroponte in the middle of the night, complaining that he was undercutting his ability to make amends.
At a meeting on Wednesday night with media lab personnel, Mr. Ito said he had “screwed up” by accepting the money, but that he had done so after a review by the university and consultation with his advisers.
We greatly admire the courage behind Joi’s public apology for his connections to Epstein, and his commitment to financial restitution. ... to his character: thoughtful, humble, principled, and generous.
At MIT, we pride ourselves on our ability to rise above complex challenges and, with openness and rationality, improve ourselves and the world around us.
Other organizations have also stood behind Mr. Ito. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, where he has been on the board since 2011, said in a statement that it believed his apology “is sincere.” The MacArthur Foundation said Mr. Ito “has addressed his associations in a manner that warrants no action by the foundation at this time.” The New York Times Company, where Mr. Ito has been a board member since 2012, declined to comment for this article.