Why are people talking about Epstein like it’s a sex scandal?

It’s looking more and more likely that Jeffrey Epstein was neither a billionaire nor a money manager, but was instead running a blackmail factory for some intelligence agency.

Epstein appears to have been inviting powerful people over to his various mansions and private islands, providing them with underage girls to do what they want with, and then blackmailing them.

From The Week:

“Back in 2015, a woman named Virginia Roberts alleged that U.S. authorities had footage of her having underage sex with powerful friends of billionaire Epstein, who was charged by federal prosecutors on Monday with sex trafficking, including trafficking minors. Roberts said Epstein “debriefed her” after she had sex with these “associates” so that he would possess “intimate and potentially embarrassing information” that could be used for blackmail. Epstein’s allies dismissed Roberts as “a liar and a fantasist.”

But after Epstein was arrested on Saturday, a law enforcement search of his Upper East Side apartment reportedly revealed compact discs in a locked safe labeled “Young [Name] + [Name],” which, as The Intercept‘s Ryan Grim points out, could buttress Roberts’ allegations.”

The media has thrown around claims that Epstein is a billionaire and successful hedge fund manager, but there’s not a lot of evidence to back it up. His supposed peers, hedge fund managers, have been suspicious about him for years. From NY Mag Intelligencer:

“Intelligencer spoke to several prominent hedge-fund managers to get a read on what their practiced eyes are detecting in all the new information that is coming to light about Epstein in the wake of his indictment by federal prosecutors in New York. Most saw signs of something unsavory at the heart of his business model.

To begin with, there is much skepticism among the hedgies Intelligencer spoke with that Epstein made the money he has — and he appears to have a lot, given a lavish portfolio of homes and private aircraft — as a traditional money manager. A fund manager who knows well how that kind of fortune is acquired notes, “It’s hard to make a billion dollars quietly.” Epstein never made a peep in the financial world.

Epstein was also missing another key element of a typical thriving hedge fund: investors. Kass couldn’t find any beyond Epstein’s one well-publicized client, retail magnate Les Wexner — nor could other players in the hedge-fund world who undertook similar snooping. “I don’t know anyone who’s ever invested in him; he’s never talked about by any of the allocators,” says one billionaire hedge-fund manager, referring to firms that distribute large pools money among various funds.””

So where did he get that money? What was he accomplishing with all this blackmail? Disgraced former Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta just resigned over the bizarrely lenient deal he cut with Epstein in 2007 when Acosta was the US Attorney for southern Florida. When asked ““Is the Epstein case going to cause a problem [for confirmation hearings]?” while being interviewed by the Trump administration for the Secretary of Labor position Acosta said “He’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had “been told” to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. “I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone,”” Acosta dodged the question when asked more recently about that exchange.

So can we all stop talking about this story like it’s a lurid scandal that might be embarrassing for a few famous people and start talking about it as some intelligence agency, foreign or domestic, implementing a blackmail honeypot on a massive scale among the shadier elements of the American elite?