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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke February 23, 2023

Did these Medal of Freedom recipients fly on Jeffrey Epstein’s plane? Not according to flight logs

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  • Among the eight Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients featured in this video, only one person appeared in Jeffrey Epstein’s flight logs: Bill Gates. 

A montage showing former President Barack Obama awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to high-profile Americans is circulating social media with a description that undercuts the recipients’ merit: "Every single one was on Epstein’s flight logs."

Among the people pictured in the video who received the prestigious medals honoring notable civilians: Actors Robert DeNiro, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep; philanthropist Bill Gates; talk show hosts Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey; singer Barbra Streisand; and television and film director Steven Spielberg. 

An Instagram post sharing the video was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

We’ve already fact-checked the claim that Hanks appeared on the flight logs of financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of running a sex-trafficking ring before he died in jail in 2019. That’s false. 

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The flight logs have become public through civil lawsuits filed by women who said Epstein sexually abused them, and through the criminal case against Ghislaine Maxwell, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiring with Epstein to sexually abuse minors. 

News organizations have published the logs online, so you can look for yourself. Insider also created a searchable database of the flight logs, though a subscription is required. 

Gates is the only name that appears in the logs. As other news organizations have reported, the logs show that Gates flew on Epstein’s plane once in May 2013. (Gates told The New York Times through a spokesperson that he hadn’t been aware that it was Epstein’s plane; Gates also told the PBS NewsHour he regretted having had personal dinners and meetings with Epstein, purportedly to raise money for global health initiatives.) 

We rate claims that every single person in this video receiving Medals of Freedom from Obama also appears in Epstein’s flight logs False.

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Did these Medal of Freedom recipients fly on Jeffrey Epstein’s plane? Not according to flight logs

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