Epstein puff pieces put focus on PR and pay-to-play publishing

An agency paid a Forbes contributor to put his byline on a story lauding the convicted sex offender’s business acumen. HuffPost and National Review got hoodwinked, too, the NYT found.

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The ethical issues of pay-to-publish schemes

How does a man who is convicted, albeit quietly, of sexual assault manage to get his praises sung by reputable outlets such as Forbes?

That was the question many asked after The New York Times started reporting on the rehabilitation effort Jeffrey Epstein ran in New York after getting out of jail for sexual offenses in 2009. Articles in Forbes, The National Review and HuffPost all promoted Epstein as a titan of business and seemingly didn’t fact-check his background at all.

Who was writing these pieces? Why didn’t gatekeepers at these publications catch the dissembling?

The answer reveals the complex web behind many digital publications in today’s media landscape, as well as the threat posed to the PR profession by unscrupulous practices.

Selling out for $600

According to The New York Times, the articles came from a PR firm, and the writer who was credited was offered a lump sum to put his name on the byline.

It wrote:

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