The Ghislaine Maxwell Trial: A Limited Hangout.
Unpacking the Studio 54-esque nature of Ghislaine Maxwell's trial.
New York, New York (AA) - From start to finish, the Ghislaine Maxwell Trial was a limited hangout, and not more so than for the independent media.
Over a 28-day period, I accrued the following statistics on my Twitter page:
3.15 million impressions
395,000 profile visits
21,000 new followers
The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell has been a limited hangout before court proceedings ever even commenced. Various attributes of the trial process made it so:
The lack of witnesses for the prosecution (just 4 in total).
The lack of evidence submitted by the government, including just 40 photos submitted out of a tranche of 39,760. That is only the evidence that was officially brought into court. The presence of FBI evidence tape on items of Epstein’s was never explained by the FBI in court.
The lack of a call-in line for the general public to listen to court proceedings. -The prosecution’s request to have the entire flight manifests redacted. Their request was granted by Judge Nathan.
The over-redacted evidence submitted to the court.
The relatively short length of the prosecution’s case.
The Ghislaine Maxwell trial was the first trial I have covered in person. It was an experience that I did not preconceive, taking it day-by-day, and during tense moments during the trial, minute by minute. One hindrance throughout my time in New York was the fact that a mild flu was going around New York City around Christmas Time, one which myself and several other trial attendees contracted. Another factor that bogged down the process was having to go through security every single time one wanted to enter the SDNY courthouse, a process that took anywhere from 5 minutes to over an hour, depending on the day and time of entry.
I was surprised to hear that even some of the mainstream, hot-shot press were dissatisfied with the way trial proceedings went, with Julie K. Brown calling the experience the most unprofessional she has ever witnessed. I also learned that one of the members of court security, either a federal marshal or a court security officer, had point-blank told one of the victims, “In my mind you are not a victim”, which I found uncouth, unprofessional and abhorrent behavior from someone whose duties were merely administrative.
This along with the fact that I was disallowed from entering the courthouse on the last Monday of the trial, despite my entering the building earlier that morning. The reason I had to leave was because I had an interview to attend and when I returned, I was rudely informed by the court security officer to “Have a nice day sir” because I was not “official” media, being an independent reporter. Shortly after I attempted entering, a woman named Jarva was also disbarred from doing so, although she was told a different reason: COVID / capacity issues or some such nonsense.
The fact that even the lauded and privileged MSM class had trouble getting access to the Ghislaine Maxwell trial was telling, albeit a bit surprising. There seemed to be a divide between the independent media: podcasters, writers, and reporters, and their mainstream, more well-paid counterparts. I had done my best to build rapport with anyone else covering the trial, and despite the fact I invited several corporate journalists to join multiple roundtable online discussions, they all declined to join.
On the surface, the corporate reporters were polite. The journalist who broke the JurorGate story, Lucia Osborne-Crowley, even expressed her desire to go around the city to do some on-site reporting with me. Over Christmas, I got sick, which distracted me from the fact that Crowley never got back to me. Later that week when I saw her again, she told me quickly “I have to be rude and talk to my boss.” before I could even say hello.
How did she get in touch with juror Scotty David after the trial? Did one of David’s friends message her his Instagram as is rumored? Or did someone else connect the two? Vicky Ward, perhaps?
Speaking of Ward, my interview with the Vanity Fair writer and MSNBC/CNN darling made a bit of a splash on the internet when I confronted her about the fact that she knows Ghislaine personally, questioning whether such a relationship is a conflict of interest when it comes to reporting on her trial.
Moreover, I pressed her on Maria Farmer’s assertion that Vicky Ward had in fact betrayed her, tipping off Ghislaine Maxwell that Farmer had gone to the FBI to report her and Epstein for their criminal activities.
The response I got was a lip-locked woman who failed to answer any of my questions directly, stating several times, “I don’t even know what that means”, to a question that even a 7th grader should be able to understand.
The schism I noticed between the MSM and independents was largely an unspoken one until Seth Stevenson, of Slate, wrote a somewhat disjointed piece about the “conspiracists on the 5th floor” who talked about intelligence agency connections to the case. Stevenson, in typical neoliberal media form, complained about a supposed “problem” that he could have easily fixed himself by simply asking a question. Asking questions is, after all, what journalists do.
In this case, he could have easily asked one of the people on the 5th floor to expound on what they meant by CIA/Mossad connections to the Epstein/Maxwell network. Was he told by his boss to write this or did he do it on his own accord? Does he enjoy being snooty more than he enjoys doing actual journalism? Is he a useful idiot or a sinister calculated asset? These questions are interesting, but ultimately do not matter.
Ironically, one of the most well-researched individuals on the Maxwell/Epstein network was not a journalist (at least not yet), but rather a teacher named Nadia who had been fired for refusing to bend the knee to the medical mandates in New York City.
She had recognized me on the first day of the trial in the 9th floor overflow courtroom, asking about my online presence and informing me she had seen some of my work with researcher and author from ANC Report, Ryan Dawson.
Disregarding the experiences of the people who attended the trial, the cloak of government secrecy extended to the public as well. A call-in line was disallowed by the “Honorable” Judge Alison J. Nathan, much to the chagrin of not only me, but Matthew Russell Lee of InnerCityPress. Lee covers SDNY trials full-time and is a staple in the SDNY courtroom media experience. Despite Lee’s valiant efforts to bring the citizens of the United States some transparency in their tax-funder-supported federal courts, a call-in line was never instituted.
If there is one thing I did learn during my experience of attending and reporting on the Ghislaine Maxwell Trial that would benefit independent media, it is this: Learn the schedules of the people entering the courtroom every day.
I was able to muster up enough energy to get to the courthouse on the last day of jury deliberations before Christmas break and ask Isabelle Maxwell what it was like to learn her father had helped to steal the atomic bomb intelligence from the United States via the PROMIS software, by marketing the software program through the front company Degem.
I got no response, but I only had to wait a few days to receive a gift from the Maxwell sibling with whom I had the most interactions with, Isabelle, and that gift was New York Pizza.
Pizza bought by Isabelle Maxwell for the media. I had two slices, Yoshi had one, and I gave one slice each to two different homeless guys.
Whether it was giving pizza to the media during the final week of deliberations or showing up arm-in-arm, the Maxwell siblings did their best to cozy up to the press. I am not ashamed to admit that I probably made this task difficult for them with the questions I asked trying to find the truth.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of the trial was meeting other reporters, writers, and journalists who were also in New York to cover the trial. I enjoyed discussing coverage with people working both independently and in the mainstream, however, I found that the independent media was much more open to collaborating together on a professional basis.
One corporate media writer with whom I did end up having a positive professional interaction with was a woman named Amanda Darrach, from the Columbia Journalism Review. She wrote an article entitled, “I Want To Go To The Ghislaine Maxwell Trial”, where she mentions an interaction I had one morning with Vanity Fair writer, Vicky Ward. Ward was the same journalist with whom I had an confronted earlier in the trial, inquiring about the nature of her relationship with Ghislaine Maxwell and whether or not that was a conflict of interest given she was covering the trial.
Darrach did a good job of discussing the difficulties the media had covering the trial, independent and corporate, even if she still gave more coverage of the mainstreamers. I was surprised to find that legacy media writers like Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald were dissatisfied with the SDNY court administration’s trial process, citing an experience she had approaching the head court administrator to ask a question which resulted in him calling security on her and almost having her thrown out of the Thurgood Marshall courthouse.
My own experience of the trial taught me that the SDNY courthouse did little to make the Ghislaine Maxwell trial easy for the media to access. One morning, I arrived quite early to the SDNY courthouse in Manhattan and bumped into a young lady named Jaggyish who I had met earlier in the trial process.
It was the day of closing arguments and up to that point, the coldest morning of the trial. She graciously gifted me her spot in line, affording me the opportunity to enter into the 3rd floor courtroom itself to observe Ghislaine Maxwell in-person.
However, despite standing in line and chatting with some mainstreamers, I was denied access to the courtroom for not being “real media”. One female reporter from ABC even told me that the business card I had was a “fake”. The second rejection I got was on the last week of the trial. I had arrived early in the morning as I did to attend the court proceedings for the day and had to leave around noon in order to be interviewed by Kristan T. Harris of The Rundown Live. Link here.
See Kristan T. Harris interview myself along with Joe Nierman of Good Lawgic on the last day of Week 3 of the trial below:
After returning later in the afternoon, I encountered a court security officer with who I had no prior interactions. He rudely informed me that I was not a real journalist and to “have a good day”. Minutes later, a woman named Jarva who I had seen inside the courthouse several times before also was denied entry, however, the court security officer told her it had to do with COVID and attendance capacity. Matthew Russell Lee later stated on a roundtable discussion hosted by Shaun Attwood that he was “furious” when he had heard what happened.
I had a couple interactions with a couple of Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers, both in and outside of the courtroom. I asked Bobbi Sternheim how she was doing one day and she politely responded as she usually did, being the most media-friendly of Maxwell’s well-paid lawyers.
Jeff Pagliuca I confronted about his use of Carolyn’s last name during the trial, something which was supposed to be redacted in court proceedings pseudonymously. Carolyn Andriano would later reveal her identity in a post-verdict interview. Pagliuca, for his part, did not respond to my questions.
Christian Everdell was the youngest of Maxwell’s lawyers and fortunately for him I did not have any questions about a questionable in-court work ethic as I did for Pagliuca.
Laura Menninger was the lawyer for the Mossad Princess who had probably the most court time, giving both the opening statement and closing argument for the defense. She was someone who usually entered the courtroom in a group with Pagliuca, whereas Sternheim and Everdell arrived alone, with the youngest lawyer being the first member of Maxwell’s legal team to enter the Thurgood Marshall courthouse every day.
The Maxwell siblings were the other group of regular entrants into the courthouse during Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial. For the entirety of the trial but for the last week, Isabelle Maxwell and her brother, Kevin Maxwell, were the only of Ghislaine Maxwell’s siblings that showed up at the courthouse. I think with the exception of one day, the Thursday of the 2nd week when an unnamed attorney got sick and Kevin did not enter, both of them entered court every single day.
Isabelle’s twin sister, Christine, and her brother, Ian, showed up for the last week of the trial when the jury began to deliberate. Unfortunately, between Saturday morning and Monday night I contracted a mild flu, and was unable to function on the first full day of deliberations. Consequently, I never interacted or saw either Ian Maxwell or his sister, Christine.
From the viewpoint of people who understand that Ghislaine Maxwell is guilty, the verdict result was likely one that was bittersweet. The scope of the entire trial was limited in nature, from the undercharged and now under-convicted defendant to the limited access, Studio 54-esque accessibility that the SDNY courthouse administration gave to the public. In that sense, the result of the verdict was a pleasant surprise for not only myself, but several people I discussed it with as well. Perhaps the best compliment I received for my coverage of the Ghislaine Maxwell trial was from the host of The Roberta Glass True Crime Report.
"People copied you. I remember walking outside with Nadia and everyone was on their phones at lunch doing their video reports. I think you invented that way of covering a trial.”
Thankfully, Roberta was telling me this on the phone and she could not see me blushing. However, as far as getting justice for victims of the Epstein/Maxwell sex trafficking network, the entirety of the Ghislaine Maxwell Trial, arrest, arraignment, proceedings and verdict, does not cut it.
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