It would be easy to treat this frenzied reaction to Epstein’s death as a sad case study in how conspiratorial thinking has bled into mainstream discourse. But finger-wagging feels inadequate at this moment.

As I’ve written before, every grotesque beat of Epstein’s story—including, now, his untimely death—illustrates how America’s culture of elite impunity, failure, and corruption has allowed conspiracy theorists to thrive.

For some, the initial account of Epstein’s death did leave serious questions unanswered; suspicions of foul play—or at least mind-boggling incompetence—seemed natural. Indeed, by this afternoon, the attorney general, facing bipartisan pressure from lawmakers, announced that both the FBI and the inspector general would be investigating the death. No matter what facts emerge in the coming weeks or months, some observers will forever remain unconvinced.