Bill Gates is currently doing a media tour to talk about his $US1 ($1) billion clean energy partnership with large corporations. But after countless softball interviews on various TV networks, Gates clearly wasn’t prepared to be asked about any sensitive topics when he sat down for an interview with PBS on Tuesday night. Gates was asked about his meetings with the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and the Microsoft billionaire looked extremely uncomfortable, to say the least.
The New York Times was the first news outlet to reveal in 2019 Gates had met with Jeffrey Epstein in 2011, just a few years after he was first convicted of soliciting prostitution from underage girls in 2008. But we’ve since learned from the Daily Beast that Gates allegedly met with Epstein “dozens of times” between 2011 and 2014.
PBS Newshour host Judy Woodruff actually spent a full 10 minutes discussing other issues with Gates before asking the fourth wealthiest person in the world about his relationship to Epstein. And Gates obviously wasn’t expecting to be asked about the convicted pedophile, who allegedly killed himself in a New York jail in 2019, though many believe he was murdered by powerful people who wanted to keep him quiet.
“I also want to ask you about something else in the public arena, it was reported at that time, that you had a number of meetings with Jeffrey Epstein — who, when you met him ten years ago, he was convicted of soliciting prostitution from minors,” Woodruff said as a preamble to her question to Gates on Tuesday night’s show.
“What did you know about him when you were meeting with him — as you’ve said yourself — in the hopes of raising money?” Woodruff asked.
“You know, I had… dinners with him… I regret doing that…” Gates stammered as he was clearly caught off-guard.
“He had relationships with, ahhh, people he said, you know, would give to global health, which is an interest I have,” Gates continued.
“You know, not nearly enough philanthropy goes in that direction. Uh, you know, those meetings were a mistake. They didn’t result in what he purported, and I cut him off,” Gates said. “You know that goes back a long time ago now. I just… so there’s nothing new on that.”
How long ago were these meetings, which Gates says was “a long time ago now”? As the Daily Beast has reported, Gates met with Epstein as recently as 2014, something Gates has not verbally denied. In 2013, Gates even travelled on Epstein’s private plane, which was nicknamed the Lolita Express — something Gates has never commented on. Melinda Gates reportedly sought her divorce from Bill at least partially over Bill’s relationship with the known pedophile.
“It was reported that you continued to meet with him over several years, and that — in other words — a number of meetings,” Woodruff followed up as Gates starts to make faces.
The billionaire shakes his head and his eyes dart to his right very briefly, where you can imagine Gates looking at an assistant and wondering why this question got sprung on him. Gates appears to be shaking his head in response to Woodruff saying that Gates met with Epstein over a number of years, but he never verbalizes this disagreement.
“What did you do when you found out about his background?” Woodruff continued.
“Well, you know, I’ve said I regretted having those dinners, uh, and there’s nothing… there’s absolutely nothing new on that,” Gates said, looking increasingly irritated.
“Is there a lesson for you… for anyone else looking at this?” Woodruff asked.
“Well, he’s dead, so, uh, in general you always have to be careful,” Gates said coldly before seeming to realise how weird that sounds.
“And, you know, I’m very proud of what we’ve done in philanthropy. Very proud of the work of the [Bill and Melinda Gates] Foundation, you know. That’s what I get up every day and focus on,” Gates said.
Any written transcript of the exchange from last night really doesn’t do the interview justice. You have to watch the video to see Gates squirm so uncomfortably.
There are still many, many questions that haven’t been answered about Jeffrey Epstein’s relationship to Bill Gates, something we may never see resolved. Even the most basic question of how many times Gates met with Epstein hasn’t been nailed down yet.
Woodruff’s interview style should be a lesson to other reporters out there from media outlets that Gates considers friendly, such as CNBC, which hardly ever asks the billionaire a penetrating question. You can still do the softball stuff at the beginning of the interview and let Gates say what he wants to say. But by the end, you should definitely ask what needs to be asked.
Gates clearly wants to put the Epstein saga behind him so that he can collect accolades for being a “good” billionaire who’s giving away money to worthy causes. Reporters should never let the issue go until Gates fills in some of the gaps, such as, again, the most basic question of how many times Gates actually met with Epstein. Then we can move on to the question of what the hell Gates was doing on the Lolita Express.