What We’re Following
This is how the conspiracy cookie about the American elite crumbles.
The sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged abuses read as if they were forged directly from the online conspiracy fever swamp. “From the creepily decorated mansion to the flights on ‘the Lolita Express’ to the stays on ‘Orgy Island’”—these nightmarish details have “some of America’s most outspoken conspiracists ... taking victory laps,” McKay Coppins writes. Underground child abuse has long been a popular theme of conspiracies, and allegations of pedophilia proliferate online among today’s tinfoil-hat crew. While typically the party out of power is more prone to conspiratorial thinking, that pattern seems to have been disrupted a bit in the Trump era.
The R. Kelly saga is far from over. The web of people close to him who had facilitated his alleged crimes is also unraveling.
This week, federal agents, acting on a 13-count indictment, arrested the singer in Chicago, while federal prosecutors in New York revealed another five-count indictment against him. The allegations in these cases refer to events spanning two decades, from January 1999 to February 2018. While Kelly’s lawyer tried to wave off the offenses described as mostly “decades old,” and while the horrifying details in the New York and Chicago cases won’t surprise those already aware of the R. Kelly story, these cases still clarify the machine of co-conspirators—including his bodyguards, managers, drivers, and personal assistants—that worked to connect Kelly with women and underage girls (the Chicago indictment, for instance, also names two of his associates).