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Court documents that include names of people associated with accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein are being unsealed, but late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has not been implicated. The suggestion that Kimmel would be among the names came from football player Aaron Rodgers, who had no evidence to support the claim.
Dozens of court documents were unsealed this week as part of a defamation lawsuit filed by Virginia Giuffre, an alleged victim of accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. The documents include the names of people who were associated with Epstein, the late financier accused of running a sex-trafficking ring for himself and his powerful friends.
Most of the names that have come out so far had already been publicized, though. Still, the anticipation that previously unknown associates would be revealed has caused a stir online, and Aaron Rodgers, an NFL quarterback who has a history of spreading misinformation, added to the confusion. As a guest on Pat McAfee’s ESPN show, Rodgers suggested without any evidence that late-night show host Jimmy Kimmel may be implicated in the list of names from the unsealed documents.
“There’s a lot of people, including Jimmy Kimmel, who are really hoping that doesn’t come out,” Rodgers said on the Jan. 2 episode of the show, in an apparent joke.
“All right, obviously, a clip from this particular program was run on Jimmy Kimmel’s show whenever Aaron brought up the list and then Jimmy mocked him for it and Aaron has not forgotten about that,” McAfee explained on the show.
None of the documents that have been unsealed so far include Kimmel’s name.
Kimmel also responded to Rodgers in a post on X, saying in part, “for the record, I’ve not met, flown with, visited, or had any contact whatsoever with Epstein, nor will you find my name on any ‘list’ other than the clearly-phony nonsense that soft-brained wackos like yourself can’t seem to distinguish from reality.”
Kimmel also threatened Rodgers with legal action, concluding his post, “Your reckless words put my family in danger. Keep it up and we will debate the facts further in court.”
McAfee apologized the following day, saying, “Some things obviously people get very pissed off about, especially when they’re that serious allegations. So we apologize for being a part of it. I can’t wait to hear what Aaron has to say about it. Hopefully those two will just be able to settle this, you know, not court-wise, but be able to chitchat and move along.”
But social media posts had already taken off with the claim, and an image showing Kimmel’s name that was purported to be from the new cache of unsealed documents spread widely on X and Instagram. The text in the image, which purports to be dialogue from a deposition tying Kimmel to Epstein, isn’t included in any of the roughly 60 documents that have been unsealed so far.
One of the earliest versions of the image appeared on a meme-sharing site called iFunny from an account that posted several images related to the Epstein case. The account offered no explanation of where the image had originated.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.
Caruso, David. “Dozens more Jeffrey Epstein documents are now public. Here’s what we know so far.” Associated Press. 5 Jan 2024.
The Pat McAfee Show (@ThePatMcAfeeShow). “Aaron Rodgers Weighs In On The ‘Super Bowl Logo Color Conspiracy.’” YouTube. 2 Jan 2024.
Kimmel, jimmy (@jimmykimmel). “Dear Aasshole: for the record, I’ve not met, flown with, visited, or had any contact whatsoever with Epstein, nor will you find my name on any ‘list’ other than the clearly-phony nonsense that soft-brained wackos like yourself can’t seem to distinguish from reality. Your reckless words put my family in danger. Keep it up and we will debate the facts further in court. @AaronRodgers12.” X. 2 Jan 2024.
Morgan, Emmanuel. “Pat McAfee Apologizes Over Role in Aaron Rodgers-Jimmy Kimmel Feud.” New York Times. Updated 5 Jan 2024.
Brown, Julie, Brittany Wallman, and Ben Wilder. “New Epstein records cache offers names of VIP pals, victim’s efforts to get him arrested.” Miami Herald. 5 Jan 2024.