Convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell doesn’t have many public allies these days. But one person has emerged as the media’s favorite defender of hers: an ex-convict and former part-time blogger who some critics say is full of it.
Voracious consumers of tabloid news are well aware of Laura Goldman by now. Over the past few months, she’s accumulated an impressive amount of citations across global media as a “friend of Ghislaine Maxwell,” starting long before Epstein’s former girlfriend was arrested last week in New Hampshire.
But after Maxwell was taken into custody, Goldman’s media presence ratcheted up in frequency and was given a heightened sense of legitimacy. She has appeared on CBS’ Inside Edition, Australian Network 10’s The Project, and Good Morning Britain. Some of her comments were even re-broadcast on the Today show. Her remarks about her “friend” in legal trouble have been aggregated by countless digital outlets online—including The Daily Beast—and have received prime placement in The Guardian and Page Six.
But some critics say that Goldman’s information may be too good to be true.
One veteran British correspondent, who has covered the Epstein case for more than a decade, described Goldman as a “charlatan.”
“Most of us will not go near her. She’s a complete fantasist,” the award-winning reporter told The Daily Beast. “Do people really think Ghislaine is on the phone to Laura Goldman every few days, for this Goldman woman to then go out and tell the press? We’ve seen the steps Ghislaine took to keep under the radar. It’s complete bullshit.”
When emailed for comment on a detailed list of criticisms of her claims, Goldman sent a link to a Tumblr blog of unknown origin that appears to attack one of her more frequent online critics. "I haven’t vetted it," she noted.
Seemingly as proof of her contact with law enforcement about Maxwell, Goldman also forwarded an email she sent to a detective with the NYPD and FBI’s joint human-trafficking task force that included Christine Maxwell’s personal email address, and purported to show a video of Ghislaine’s sister talking about her family earlier that year. (Goldman did not share the video.) “There were several exchanges with the FBI. I sent the most innocuous,” she wrote in the email.
Over the past several months, Goldman has approached numerous reporters working on stories about Epstein and Maxwell, claiming to be close with Ghislaine’s sisters and, as proof, has occasionally offered up correspondence between herself and members of the family.
According to three journalists who spoke to her, Goldman even intimated that she knew Maxwell’s location prior to the arrest. The former HuffPost blogger suggested to two reporters that she had visited Maxwell in the U.K., though she was not specific on when, and told another that Maxwell was definitely not in Israel. In one instance, sources said, she asked if she could be paid for the information, and told a prominent reporter that she wouldn’t give away the information for free when she could sell it to The Daily Mail for $20,000.
“Any claims that I would betray Ghislaine's location to a media outlet for any amount of money are patently ludicrous and absurd,” Goldman said in an email to The Daily Beast.
Ultimately, many journalists The Daily Beast spoke to said they balked at using Goldman as a source. Fact-checkers working at CNN and on former ABC reporter Tara Palmeri’s upcoming podcast about Epstein have raised concerns about her background, noting that her criminal history coupled with Maxwell’s silence has made it difficult to trust her intel.
And many people who’ve spoken with Goldman—including a former friend of Maxwell’s—noted that much of her information, beyond the suggestion she knew Ghislaine’s location, was already publicly available.
“I wound up with the impression that she wasn’t the real thing,” said reporter Christopher Mason, who was pals with Maxwell in the 1990s and is currently working on an Epstein-related project.
But not every outlet has hesitated to use her as a source.
In recent months, Goldman has earned top billing among TV news and tabloids by providing colorful quotes and tidbits. For example, she shared juicy details about Ghislaine Maxwell’s recent phone calls, claiming the socialite has “said her goodbyes” to friends, and has repeatedly argued that Maxwell herself was a victim of Epstein’s manipulation.
Goldman has been extensively quoted on Maxwell’s relationship with Prince Andrew, who has long been caught up in scandal over Epstein’s sex-trafficking ring, suggesting at one point that the alleged madam may be willing to “give up” the royal as part of a deal.
Goldman has also teased tantalizing bits of intel that seem especially unverifiable. She has claimed to have inside knowledge of Maxwell’s finances and that the alleged madam doesn’t actually have much money (following her arrest, prosecutors said they found at least 15 different bank accounts associated with Maxwell, with funds exceeding $20 million). In a podcast chat with her longtime friend Anthony Scaramucci, Goldman asserted that Maxwell may be a spy and that Epstein may have been her asset.
And in another recent interview, Goldman suggested that she had behind-the-scenes knowledge of one of the most disastrous moments of the recent Epstein saga: Goldman told the Mirror that Maxwell warned Prince Andrew not to do interviews. And after Andrew’s disastrous interview on Newsnight, Goldman claimed he told Maxwell the interview would “work out.”
Adding to doubts about the veracity of her information is the fact that Goldman has appeared to waffle on some of her public claims.
During an interview this week on Good Morning Britain, Goldman claimed she never reached out to the FBI about Maxwell’s whereabouts. But after host Piers Morgan criticized her for not bringing information about her friend to federal authorities, Goldman claimed she actually did talk to the FBI, but didn’t say anything because she did not have a lawyer present.
“Originally just said you didn’t make any contact,” Morgan said. “Now you’re saying you did, but once they found out you were good friends with Ghislaine Maxwell, they didn’t pursue it? Come on. Do I look like a total idiot?”
A former stockbroker and self-described journalist, who along with blogging for HuffPost has written for a local Philadelphia blog, Goldman has a checkered and bizarre past that—for some observers—only serves to cast more doubt on her claims.
She was once criminally charged for harassing and stalking several people, including Thomas Lee, a wealthy businessman whom she accused of sexual harassment and rape (she later signed an affidavit saying Lee did not rape her, and was paid $200,000 by him).
Federal prosecutors said that after she was charged with interstate telephone harassment, she continued to stalk Lee and even threatened to kill him, his family, a judge, and a probation officer. She fled the country for several years after the feds alleged she attempted to extort millions from Lee and threaten his children (she was later extradited to the U.S. and sentenced to five years’ probation).
In court documents from the 1990s, Lee declared that Goldman was the “most unbelievable pathological liar on the face of the earth.”
In a Friday evening email, Goldman said she shouldn’t have made the threatening phone calls. However, she said, like many victims of workplace misconduct, her allegations were unfairly dismissed and her case should be re-examined.
“I find it quite astonishing that in this summer of nationwide protests against police brutality, prosecutors' overreach, and distress over a fake billionaire sex predator’s plea deal that the circumstances surrounding my case haven't been revisited,” she said. “I really wish the media would stop being stenographers for law enforcement and not use them as their primary source for stories.”
Goldman’s often friendly quotes about Ghislaine Maxwell have led some of Epstein’s victims to speak out against the media’s propensity to feature her.
Earlier this year, after Goldman’s colorful quotes painting Maxwell in a sympathetic light were published by the U.S. website of Rupert Murdoch-owned The Sun, a supporter of several Epstein victims penned an open letter to News Corp, titled, “Stop listening to Ghislaine Maxwell’s ‘spokesperson’ Laura Goldman.”
“We cannot allow a person such as Laura Goldman, who has a verifiable history of harassment, to continue to intentionally inflict emotional duress on Epstein and Maxwell’s countless victims,” the survivors pleaded in the March letter. “Anything said by Ms. Goldman, as can be seen by the information presented here, is not trustworthy.
“If your news organization does not properly vet your sources, it puts you and your reporters in the dangerous position of re-traumatizing Epstein and Maxwell’s victims,” concluded the letter, signed by “The Supporters of the Children, Now Adults, who Survived Jeffrey Epstein & Ghislaine Maxwell.”
The letter angered and embarrassed senior Murdoch executives on both sides of the Atlantic, according to people familiar with the matter, who told The Daily Beast that an edict was issued to stop using Goldman.
In a March 28 email reviewed by The Daily Beast, The Sun’s deputy online editor, Will Payne, told now-former senior U.S. reporter Chris Spargo that the situation was “a bit of a nightmare.”
“I saw the article on medium on Thursday,” Payne wrote. “I was already speaking to people about not using Laura Goldman as a source beforehand and I told [Assistant Digital Editor] Sarah [White] that we can’t use her ever again on Thursday.”
Spargo, who left the tabloid in May, told The Daily Beast that editors asked him to appease the victims and attempt to squash the letter. He recalled how editors assured him that because of the survivors’ passionate plea, the outlet would stop using Goldman as an on-record source in its Maxwell-related stories.
However, according to Spargo, despite assurances by his editors, The Sun continued to use Goldman in their reporting—not as an on-record source but instead as an unnamed source.
“It was just a few weeks after I was told to tell these survivors of sexual assault that we would no longer use this source for any stories that we used them again for multiple pieces, which again were sympathetic to Ghislaine Maxwell,” Spargo told The Daily Beast.
Ultimately, he added, “They just want the exclusive and the clicks—they don’t care if it’s true and they don’t present the other side.”
“The Sun has not used Laura Goldman as a source since March 2020 when question marks about her credibility were first raised to us,” a spokesperson for The Sun told The Daily Beast.
“For lack of a better phrase, she is ‘full of shit,’” attorney Spencer Kuvin, who has represented Epstein victims, declared to The Daily Beast in an email.
“Maxwell was a victim of no one other than her own demons. I would seriously question the credibility of this person,” the lawyer continued. “My guess is if anyone could ask Maxwell, she would likely say that she has no clue who this woman is. This is someone that is looking for screen time.”
Maxwell’s legal team did not respond to multiple requests for comment on her relationship with Goldman. The Daily Beast also reached out to Ghislaine’s sisters, Christine and Isabel Maxwell, to confirm the extent of their family’s relationship with Goldman and to inquire about her allegations, but did not receive a response.
But Goldman almost certainly does know the Maxwell family.
Ryan Grim, an esteemed journalist and current D.C. bureau chief at The Intercept, who has known Goldman for years, told The Daily Beast that, years ago, she showed him correspondence between herself and Maxwell—from long before her relationship with Epstein was a national news story.
In more recent days, as Maxwell awaits her fate behind bars in a Brooklyn detention center, Goldman appears to have at least temporarily moved on from talking about Maxwell. But she has not stopped making dubious, at times inaccurate, claims about other topics.
She has pivoted as of late to tweeting insider information about the bidding war to purchase the New York Mets. Goldman has claimed to be friends with hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen, a current franchise minority owner and frontrunner in the sweepstakes. But she’s had to offer clarifications and corrections on her reporting about the ins and outs of the bidding war, and was even forced to apologize after incorrectly reporting the value of Cohen’s offer.
“My sources may have made a mistake. I am sorry,” she wrote.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the subject of the blog that Goldman sent to The Daily Beast was not specifically an Epstein victim.
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