By Charlie Warzel/ New York Times/ August 13, 2019
Even on an internet bursting at the seams with conspiracy theories and hyperpartisanship, Saturday marked a new chapter in our post-truth, choose-your-own-reality crisis story.
It began Saturday morning, when news broke that the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein had apparently hanged himself in a Manhattan jail. Mr. Epstein’s death, coming just one day after court documents from one of his accusers were unsealed, prompted immediate suspicion from journalists, politicians and the usual online fringes.
Within minutes, Trump appointees, Fox Business hosts and Twitter pundits revived a decades-old conspiracy theory, linking the Clinton family to supposedly suspicious deaths. #ClintonBodyCount and #ClintonCrimeFamily trended on Twitter. Around the same time, an opposite hashtag — #TrumpBodyCount — emerged, focused on President Trump’s decades-old ties to Mr. Epstein. Each hashtag was accompanied by GIFs and memes picturing Mr. Epstein with the Clintons or with Mr. Trump to serve as a viral accusation of foul play.