Taking money from a dirty source is one thing; hiding it from the university because they've blacklisted that person in particular is about as unforgivable a crime as you'll find in academia
TBH, I've never heard of a blacklisted donor at MIT, so I'm a little surprised (pleasantly, as an alum).
It doesn't seem like any of the journalists even asked. That sounds like a very interesting story in and of itself.
I assume this is so they can hit you up for money right after you sell a bunch of stock? Clever.
In part, I wonder if it has any connection to Gregory Benford's description of Minsky's interaction with Epstein: https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/339725/
Apparently "disqualified" status was a flag in their CRM essentially just meant "don't bother trying to cold call this person", usually set after three failed attempts to fund-raise from them. It in no way signaled any kind of prohibition on fundraising, and only available to development staff in any case. The whole tangent was essentially spurious and signified nothing except that his donations weren't coming in through fundraising cold calls.
But the real shocker is:
Media Lab's acceptance of donations from Epstein was known and approved by senior staff in MIT administration, the president even sent a thank you letter. The Media Lab had been directed by the administration to keep Epstein's donation's anonymous to avoid him using MIT for publicity or to enhance his own reputation.
So this whole idea that Ito was demonstrating mens rea by concealing his actions from the administration appears to be completely false. I find it shocking that MIT took a week to clarify this point.
I'd say I told you so-- but I didn't know, it just sounded a little suspect to me. Your alternative understanding also sounded reasonable enough...
Certainly possible, but it would be interesting to understand the timeline and reasons. The "keep this donation anonymous" would take on an entirely different meaning if it was prior to the prohibition, for example.
Accepting millions from him in 2002 would be unremarkable.
It all highlights the difficult job facing people tasked with taking money from donors in this way. They won't always have 20/20 hindsight. They may learn about sketchiness after they already took the money. They may be so blinded by what they see as generosity and good will that they may be less able to see character flaws. I am not saying any of this happened here, but I would not like to be in a position to make these decisions.
Your hypothetical example is pretty thoroughly unrelated to the case here.
There are red lines beyond which a person should be considered socially radioactive and ostracized.
In my example of Weinstein, it remains a worthy cause to help people with AIDS, to prevent new infections, fund research, etc. But now maybe people hesitate to donate because of how they dealt with Weinstein.
In the case of media lab, obviously there are people making their career there who have nothing to do with this Epstein controversy. Now they may experience a sense that they are also tainted.
When such an organization turns a blind eye to this problem, they risk harm towards their stated goals and they do a disservice to employees, other donors, those who believe in them, etc.
> It all highlights the difficult job facing people tasked with taking money from donors in this way. They won't always have 20/20 hindsight.
It does not highlight that and no hindsight was needed. What was needed was to not go out of your way to conceal taking money you know you should not.
You converted situation into completely different situation.
Yes we can point at the misdeeds of Ito and others and they are awful. But there is a nonzero amount of people here that could fall into similar traps if they were in a position to accept millions from shady characters, which most of us aren't. If Ito, as bad as his acts were, had full realization of consequences (as he now does in hindsight), do you think he would have done this? I don't know the guy, but I am guessing not.
That is not to exculpate him or trivialize or distract. He screwed up majorly.
None of it is exculpatory, mind you.
Obviously Epstein was not, and MIT didn't want to take the risk, correctly.
In others, if you don't know, why does one assumes it was innocent situation that highlight how unclear everything is and required hindsight? It is real question btw, not rhetorical one. The older I am, the more I see how many of much lesser ethical conflict situations have not just red flags all over them, but clear breaches going on long before something blows. And how people like to not act on it all, because it benefits them.
It is possible that innocent people are being framed in that or this situation. But the issues with rich psychopaths building impenetrable circles of enablers around them are not that situation. People willing to go there are given advantages and build further circles of people willing to support them around them too.
This is the same standard the US legal system uses, for one. "Innocent until proven guilty."
In the case of my comment I thought that it is easy to point out misdeeds but we cannot be overconfident in our own ability to prevent them under exceptional circumstances. If you were given money by a Weinstein or an Epstein, we all hope we could have the good sense to do the right thing. But how much is that actually the case? None of us are actually in that situation; few of us have been tested in this way. We could also be conned by these types. It is instructive to take a step back and understand that part. Perhaps this would help us be more vigilant should the situation actually arise.
The final point I would make. It breaks down a bit for supervillains like an Epstein. But for lesser transgressions, such as those I have seen in my own life, I can say that I used to spend a lot more time questioning people's motives, and indeed labelling people as psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists at a distance. Eventually I came to a realization that mentally maintaining these labels and reacting to them was a big stress on me and source of anxiety. It may sound radical, I would argue that thinking better of people by default will lead you to better mental health. But I have not figured out how this policy may apply to an Epstein, Ito, Weinstein, Hitler, etc. Thankfully I think such supervillains are a minority.
Just... don't deal with bad people if you can avoid it. Maybe your institute's endowment will have to remain at 16 billion dollars instead of increasing to 16.02. If MIT (and the MIT media lab) don't have FU money then who does?
so why would a smart person like Gates voluntarily pay someone else's hush money? why are we holding Gates (sponsoring his behaviour) to a lower standard than Ito (passing on hush money) if my hypothesis is correct?
The official version in the media makes no sense to me: why would Gates finance Epsteins prestige through this so-called prestige-for-cash scheme? Why would Ito accept the money if the only way Epstein can enjoy the prestige is if everyone finds out about Ito? You can't publically associate while not publically associating with each other...
For example people have been noting many unusual things: for example that Ito used to run a nightclub, I am not saying he was doing anything nefarious there, but if Epstein is looking for a hushable department heads to place his "expired" victims, one can easily imagine him compiling lists of department heads with their backgrounds, and Epsteins reading of a department head without college degree who once ran a nightclub may explain this as Epsteins preferred choice.
There's a longer writeup analyzing the Ito related news articles and especially Anand's communication with Ito and Hoffman that made me think this:
also some of my other shorter comments here:
but the most important observation is in my opinion the inconsistency of Ito being perfectly aware he can't be publicly seen accepting Epstein's money, while at the same time supposedly allowing Epstein to publically brag about his funding MIT Media Lab. Ito would never agree to simple prestige-for-cash since it would deterministically lynch him. No, it's MIT who doesn't want to be outed as doubling for a Cloak of Charity to host a couple of broken souls for cash.
1) interacting directly is dangerous: the victim could set up a hidden camera, record conversations, document financial transactions, have witnesses present, or have her bank testify on the origin of the hush money transactions. Financial transactions may be used by the victim as financial acknowledgement of their involvement in a past crime. They want to keep the victim silent without creating an ever increasing trail of evidence.
2) by having the hush money pass through societal institutions, they can continuously undermine the victim's faith in society, to make sure she stays silent.
Also consider the timing of the MIT Media Lab scandal: after Epstein's death, and escalating as the new academic year comes closer and closer.
Upon Epstein's death the victim, department head are worried about what will happen to the flow of hush money. And (ex-?)clients that all payed through Epstein are now forced against their will to find a new intermediary, or interact with Ito directly, or ignore and risk the victim speaking out?