A New York Times reporter who was assigned to cover the now-deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein refused to do so due to his close personal relationship with the alleged pedophile, NPR reported Friday.
In August of last year, veteran New York Times financial correspondent Landon Thomas Jr. was asked to investigate a tip that Epstein was advising Tesla founder Elon Musk. Thomas refused, telling his editors that he would not jeopardize Epstein as a source by reporting on him directly.
Thomas, who had relied on Epstein as a source since the early 2000s, also admitted they had become such close friends that Epstein donated $30,000 to a Harlem cultural center at his request.
“Soliciting a donation to a personal charity is a clear violation of the policy that governs Times journalists’ relationships with their sources,” Times chief spokesperson Eileen Murphy told NPR. “As soon as editors became aware of it, they took action.”
Thomas left the Times in January but it remains unclear whether the departure was related to his relationship with Epstein.
The NPR article also detailed the tactics that Epstein and his legal team, led by Alan Dershowitz, used to kill negative stories in the press.
A former editor at Vanity Fair said that the magazine’s former editor-in-chief, Graydon Carter, believed that Epstein was responsible for a series of threats made against him in 2003 after he assigned a reporter to explore how Epstein earned his fortune. A severed cat head was delivered to Carter’s home in Connecticut and a bullet was mailed to his Manhattan apartment.
Epstein died of an apparent suicide in federal custody in New York on August 10. He was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
Like Thomas, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Katie Couric, and Woody Allen also kept in touch with Epstein after his 2008 prosecution for soliciting prostitutes, many of whom were teenage girls he lured to his home with the promise of cash for massages. All three attended a dinner at Epstein’s house in December 2010.