In May, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), as everyone knows, was accused of raping a maid. The story received huge worldwide coverage, reaching billions of people within days. Strauss-Kahn was greatly damaged. A week ago Edward Jay Epstein, whose work I’ve praised, published an article in The New York Review of Books with many new details that implied what happened was not as simple as the first reports suggested. Was DSK set up (a possibility not mentioned in the initial media reports)? New facts in Epstein’s article — which I called “great journalism” — made this a lot more plausible.
One such fact is that soon after the assault was reported to 911 (after a long delay), two men involved in the call performed what Epstein called a “victory dance”. A plausible explanation of the celebration (which Epstein doesn’t state, it’s obvious) is that they were celebrating because they had succeeded in entrapping DSK and would get a huge payoff from his enemies. Epstein’s article said the dance lasted three minutes. Critics of his article said the dance lasted eight seconds. Amy Davidson of The New Yorker had the poor taste to joke about it.”But maybe it’s all true, and the BlackBerry is not a red herring but the key, and another cell phone was passed in the soccer match box, with news of a character assassination, whereupon Sarkozy did his own dance of celebration,” she wrote. Yesterday The New York Review of Books issued a correction: The dance lasted thirteen seconds (a correction with which Epstein agrees). Davidson continued her dismissiveness. “The victim of some sort of insidious conspiracy.” The victory dance, she wrote, “doesn’t seem outlandish, given the sorts of things men do in New York, particularly when talking about sport.”
Missing from criticism of Epstein’s article, which does suggest conspiracy, was a plausible alternative explanation. Why were the men celebrating? They can’t remember. Both of them. In spite of all the attention. Which began within hours. Perhaps a sport event, they said, but no such event has been identified. Excitement usually improves memory. The men are clearly excited. Failure to come up with a plausible alternative explanation supports Epstein’s point that there is something very important about this we don’t know.
What makes this especially interesting, at least to me, is that you can judge for yourself. (This blog is all about that.) Epstein has posted on his website three items: (a) a recording of the 911 call that led to DSK’s arrest (“she doesn’t have any sustained injuries,” says the caller), (b) CCTV video showing the security area at the time of the phone call, and (c) CCTV video showing the victory dance, which includes one man picking up the other man and swinging him around.