Why You Might Not Want to Believe Michael Baden on Jeffrey Epstein's Death - 2019-10-31
The August death of Jeffrey Epstein in a New York City jail has been subject to all manner of conspiracy-minded speculation. The October 30 opinion of Michael Baden, the forensic pathologist hired by Epstein's brother, that the manner of death "points to homicide rather than suicide," contradicting the conclusion of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, will almost certainly stoke further speculation that Epstein, awaiting trial on federal child-pornography charges, met with foul play.
Whether that speculation is warranted interested me far less than the 85-year-old man giving this dissenting opinion. Michael Baden has spent decades as the go-to freelance medical examiner on the media and lecture circuit. He testified at the trials of O.J. Simpson and Phil Spector (who had hired Baden's second wife, Linda Kenney Baden, as his defense attorney). He has conducted private autopsies in the deaths of Michael Brown, Aaron Hernandez, Shannan Gilbert, and John Belushi. He's been so frequent a guest on Fox News shows — including Fox and Friends, where he gave his Epstein opinion — that he was identified as "Death Correspondent" on the long-running late-night show RedEye.
Hold Dr. Baden's credentials up to the light, though, and a more checkered history emerges from his demi-celebrity status. I first sensed the disconnect between Baden's fame (which he loved to discuss) and his accomplishments (which paled in comparison to his fame-chasing) when he gave a guest lecture at John Jay College's forensic-science program while I was in graduate school there in the early 2000s. Self-aggrandizement, however irritating, is not necessarily an indication of professional unreliability. The circumstances of his dismissal as chief medical examiner for the New York City office in 1979, and again from running the Suffolk County office in 1982, are bigger — and more worrying — red flags.