Skip to main content

tv   Patrick Radden Keefe Rogues - True Stories of Grifters Killers Rebels...  CSPAN  October 14, 2022 3:49pm-4:54pm EDT

3:49 pm
these families looking for a different way to learn . >> kerry mcdonald is the author usof this book unschooled, raising curious childrenoutside the classroom . thank you for joining us on book tv. >> great to be with you, thanks. >> weekends are an intellectual piece, every saturday american is three tv documents america's stories and on sunday book tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding comes from these television companies and more including charter to medications. empowering opportunity in communities big and small charter is connecting us . >> charter along with these
3:50 pm
television companies supports c-span2 as a public service. >> listening to programs on c-span through c-span radio got easier . tell your smart speaker display the stanley radio and listen to washington journal daily at seven eastern important congressional hearings and other public affairs events through the day and weekdays at 5 pm and 9 pm. catch washington today for a fast-paced report onthe stories of the day . listen to c-span anytime, just your smart speaker way c-span radio. c-span:powered by cable . >> good evening and what an audience by the way. and let me tell you in case you haven't been out in public recently to please silence your cell phones and i like to remind you photography and video are prohibited during tonight's ed event there will be a book signing above us in the lobby following this talk. welcome to the free library
3:51 pm
in philadelphia.i'm a producer and editor your author of the office and it's my o pleasure to reduce patrick keith, referred to by rolling stone as a master of narrative nonfiction, patrick radden keefe is author of empire of pain, the secret sackler dynasty, a chronicle of the family responsible for marketing painkillers thatled to the opium crisis . it won the gifford prize and was a national book critic circlenominee . much better. keefe is a staff writer at the new yorker and threeother books including the book critics circle award winner say nothing , a true story of murder and memory and northern ireland and snake had an epic tale of the chinatown underworld and american dream and chatter:
3:52 pm
dispatches from the secret world of political eavesdropping. his other honors include a book fellowship and award for feature writing. he wrote and hosted a podcast wind of changeselected as the number one podcast of 20/20 . he joins us tonight with his latest book robes: true stories of directors, rebels and crooks. writing about such disreputable figures such as wine counterfeiters, illegal arms traffickers and swiss money laundering. rogue is a collection of 12 key new yorker articles about you guessed it, corruption fraud and power. these stories he writes in the books prologue were written over a dozen years and they reflect some of my abiding preoccupations. crime and corruption, secrets and lies, the permeable membrane separating illicit
3:53 pm
and illicit world the bonds of family , power of thumbnail. it's highly entertaining of course but what shines through most rightly is keefe's fascination with what makes us human even when we are at our most imperfect. tonight's author will be in conversation with karen heller a features writer for the washington post, formerly a metro and features columnist your requirement and finalist for the 2001 pulitzer prize in compensation so without further of you do ladies and gentlemen me in welcoming patrick keys to the library. >> welcome. >> this is a great turnout. this is pretty wonderful. anyway.
3:54 pm
so they asked me to introduce patrick tonight. and ai was reminded of what mikael morrison called said of fred astaire when he went to interview him. i've been invited to say something about how writers feel about patrick. it's no secret, we hate him. he is just and normatively gifted. last year empire of pain was one of our 10 best books in the washington post. we all agreed and now here he is with just another splendid , splendid book. i cannot recommend this enough. and only 60 copies upstairs i think. you'd better get one. it's a collection of over 12 years i think, is 15 years of the new yorker but a 12 year trend eight, it's your dirty dozen of roads and whatever and i'm just fascinated.
3:55 pm
how you pursue this. he's a master of the right around which for those of you don't know is when the subject will not agree to them you have to write around them and i don't want to brag but i'm simply horrible at this. so i am particularly in law. i want to read a quote by somebody who said this about patrick. every time he tells me a new story idea i feel like i'm owing to have a mini heart attack. oh geez, another litigious acyl or murderous criminal, can you do a celebrity profile or something ? that's his wife talking. patrick is intrigued by all the bad guys. he is absolutely a master of the perfect landing. he gets these quotes that are just so gorgeous i would be leading with them and you wait for them. he has written about pursuing
3:56 pm
the elusive israeli billionaire benny steinman who landed an iron mining deal in the republic of guinea for $160 million this is what he wrote the west world has always thought of africa as a continent to take things from whether it was diamonds, robert were slaves. the world bank estimates 40 percent of the private wealth in africa is held outside the continent. when you disembark from a plane the corruption it's you almost as quickly as the heat . that's an extra ordinary quote. he pursued benny so let's talk about that. this is quite a did this story start. >> it took a while. i should say first of all thank you for doing this and for that wonderful introduction thank you to all of you for coming out it's great to be here but i i love philadelphia. i ran a marathon here in the fall so o that was a slightly painful experience,
3:57 pm
exacerbated by the weird thing that philly marathon supporters do which is they keep offering you beer as you're doing it and i just felt like i wasdying and all these people are thrusting beer at me . but it's great to be back here and thank you for coming out . so that story was took about a year. and it started with i heard that there was this guy benny steinman who i'venever heard of it at the time was the wealthiest man in israel . he had started in the diamond trade but you went to guinea in west africa and was after this huge iron or deposit and getting guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world and there was a lot of a corruption there and he came in and for a very small amount of money he got the rights to this deposit and th
3:58 pm
flipped it . so for the price of some rice basically he was able to get the rights to the deposit and then he turned around and sold half of the deposit to a big brazilian mininggiant for $2.5 billion . and there was a new president in guinea who had campaigned aon anticorruption and when he came in he felt like where this incredibly poor country, we have a disease at all these amazing natural resources, there's this prequel he said to me, he said how can we be so rich and yet so poor, it doesn't compute and thought part of the reason was you had these wealthy unscrupulous foreigners came in and exploited these resources in a way that would benefit the people . though this new president of theirs, i was able to get an interview with him . and i went over to guinea and got him twice because first i want to dollars and interviewed him there . but benny steinmetz was this elusive guy. he's like almost like a
3:59 pm
villain in a bond movie or something. he's just this kind of tan good-looking guy who doesn't really live in any one place. he has a private jet and he's always jetting from place to place. he works out every day. he's extremely casual. he has this firm handshake, he never gives interviews and i had tochase them all around . his corporate office is in london so i went to london because i thought i might meet with him there and when i got there he's they said too late, he left for paris so i went to paris and when i got to paris they said he got on a privatejet to israel . i had to call and get approval from the editor but i said okay, i'll fly to israel but i want to guarantee i'm going to meet him there. i don't want to go to tel aviv and year that he's flown
4:00 pm
to africa and theysaid we can't give you a guarantee . there was a lot more handling and eventually i met in the south of france where he was staying on his mega yacht and interviewed him for four hours this is what you wrote. as i entered the lobby i brushed past a linley tab man wearing a shirt button halfway to his navel. it was steinmetz. thank you for making the trip he said when i entered. these my hand with the grip of someonewho puts a lot of stock in the grip of a handshake . so it was a year? >> and many countries. that was one of those interviews where it was really revealing in the end. as is often the case writing about billionaires i find if you do get the interview they have pr people. they got lawyers in the room and it's almost not worth the interview. >> ..
4:01 pm
amy bishop, she was a neurobiologist at the university of alabama she was denied tenure, she shot people, three fatally. there's an amazing local people in our community walking time bombs, hard to identify. the morning after she was arrested, suburban boston chief of police called the sheriff's, they set this up, he says you
4:02 pm
are in the room when she just goes off and it's frightening. i want to talk about screen writing, it terrifying like you're in a movie and then i'd never have this but there's this moment boston chief of police says the woman you have in custody, i thought you'd want to know she shot and killed her brother in 1986 and murderers were very rare and that's the detective story she chose to follow. >> this credit goes to my editor, he brought this story to me about the mass shooting in 2010 in alabama and said i have no desire, i don't care about a
4:03 pm
mask shooter or why they did it or their motivation. past. he said no, here's what's interesting. in 2010 she shot these colleagues but it emerged aftert that in 1986 when she was 21 shot and killed her brother with a shotgun and there's one woman, their mother and when the cops came the mother said i saw the whole thing, it was an accident. when my editor said to me was the story isn't amy bishop the mass shooter in 2010, the story is a mother and 86 who has two kids and witnesses one because the other and there's a split second decision when cops come, would you tell them? she said it's an accident and maybe it was or wasn't a you can
4:04 pm
see the motivation the mother s might have because she doesn't want to lose both of them. my editor said that's the story and the reason the story any of us who are parents would have to think about what we would do not, it doesn't mean we are good or bad people but something you have to consider and it was funny throughout the time i was working on it, people who knew the family or work from the town increasingly looked in the 80s, they covered up this thing that happened after the family out of compassion for the family. people get saying you have kids? and that was a prerequisite for understanding what the calculus was. >> the chief of police again in
4:05 pm
this cinematic way move away from huntsville quickly and the story she was 21 i should've clarified she was 21, it happened quite a while ago and she went o on to make this life for you show -- >> so she pulled the trigger of the shotgun, imagine you witnessed the death of a sibling, she never got any therapy. they didn't move from the house and continued everyone at the table at the kitchen where she shot him so clearly should have been intervention in the 80s to make sure the person was okay and we learned later was that
4:06 pm
she really wasn't. >> and when you spent a year on this, he spent a year on this story alone or no? >> there's always overlap because a lot of the reporting i do is stop and start, there's always documents you are trying to get more people don't talk to you and in that case i initially didn't have amy bishop or her parents and slowly what happened was perished parents initially wouldn't talk to me and hadn't given in her interviews to anybody but kept going back talking to more and more people who knew them one of the luxuries of writing for the new yorker, i can spend a long time and keep coming back and what happens is the person who says i'm not going to talk to getting phone calls saying i talked to that reporter guy and eventually they came around and i think the fact checking, this
4:07 pm
may be i don't know how familiar or unfamiliar this is but it's a distinctive thing we get a phone call and says you are receiving a telephone call from an inmate at the penitentiary so i interviewed her. >> she's not someone to know get you don't know what was that like after the year? >> sometimes there are questions about the family and people say what would you ask them if you could down in a room with them in the funny thing is a lot of the time you do with people in different ways, you deal with people who are deep and denial and for somebody to come like me to come along with it won't be
4:08 pm
that truthful they disarmed them and then they say i would have gotten away with it -- [laughter] but that's not what happened. they are not the bad guy and that's the world where they lived so when you come and ask questions chipping away at that usually they double down on whatever it is they've been telling themselves all these years mimic and what about the parents? >> it's funny, i had this a few times, i finished a few weeks ago a similar scenario in the article about a guy who has done terrible things and i interviewed the parents feel compassionate repairs in the situation because it's like a
4:09 pm
perfect bind, connected to your child and your child does all things and how you make sense of the and a lot of the times the answer is denial so it's hard because i feel compassionate for these people but also my job as a journalist is not to protect the, my job is to get out the truth the best version of the truth i can. in the case of the bishop, im visited them twice and there were all these things they would say. the second time i talked to them was amy and she told me how she had a suicide attempt and this is decades earlier and they said
4:10 pm
no, she was testing the knife to see how sharp it would be on her wrist. it is excruciating in that situation because clearly this is a reality they've constructed together they can live with but my job is to say no, that doesn't make sense. >> when we destroy, you understand the family dynamic even in their denial. it's a mystery in terms of family. anyway, there are some lighter
4:11 pm
stories. >> shades of darkness. >> i didn't want to really bring him up but i'm going to. you profiled mark burnett is probably responsible in some ways pretty well but donald trump is the president because he was the mastermind of the print up and get so many wonderful details about him in many people wanted to talk to you and missus extraordinary to make. this is built around a series of fitness challenges, trump determined to be fired but frequently unprepared for the sessions. i know it's a shock but
4:12 pm
sometimes he distinguished rehimself only to get fired on a whim by trump. when they were obliged to reverse engineer the episode scouring hundreds of hours of footage to emphasize a few moments when the candidate might have slipped up and attempt to find some member accident, that was amazing to me and here's another thing, he portrayed trump not as an easy hustler who huddles with local monsters but impeccable business instincts and a paralleled well, kind always climbing out of helicopters. most of us knew there's a fake, he just had gone through many but the most important person in the world and here's the quote. it was like making the court jester king.
4:13 pm
[laughter] that's what gets to me. we walked to the officers and saw furniture and crumbling empire at every turn. our job was to make it seem otherwise. so let's talk about this. how did you come to this story? >> it's funny, this was my editor's idea again. there are people at the new yorker who come up with their own ideas and people names i shall not mention ever come of their own ideas, everything is handed to them by editors and for me it's usually roughly two of mine to one of theirs or three of my 21 of theirs and this is another editor idea what he just said the thing that is fascinating is most people agree like however people feel about time, most agree the apprentice was this significant moment putting him on the national stage and amplifying his brand
4:14 pm
or whatever word and the other thing interesting is when he came into office, he still thought about the optics of reality tv so some of you may recall when he announced his candidacy, there's a moment where they come down the gold escalator at trump tower and that actual sequence the way it was shot and everything, that happened in the apprentice i can outtake from the apprentice and it turns out all supporters there that day wereer actuallyn extras, day players hired to come and cheer in the same way you would for a reality tv show and he would say the videographer they shoot me like they shot me on the apprentice so my editor was interested, the idea that this guy we will come to know and love or hate, he
4:15 pm
emerged from the forge ofre reality tv. the person who did this is totally unlikely absolute hustler, this guy from east london, mark burnett, a british paratrooper, he is going to be a mercenary in south america but his mom had a vision and said she didn't want him to do anything involved with comes so on his way he walked out of lax, data transfer, illegal immigrant who came to california without a green card and got a job as a nanny, male nanny for a wealthy family in socal and he was like the paratrooper term manny and
4:16 pm
managed to get his way, he had a show called -- the challenge and his breakthrough was there was this crazy swedish early pioneer, swedish like little known outside sweden this swedish show called expedition robinson that involved a bunch of swedish people dumped on an island and they had to fend for themselves in front of the cameras and he saw it and licensed this show and said i want to give it a new title -- survivor. from there he did the apprentice and he and trump had this strange relationship where he recognized, i think the term i used, a feral charisma.
4:17 pm
[laughter] they just had this amazing dynamic and burnett ends up in this situation where he didn't t want -- part of the reason he wouldn't talk to me is he didn't want to be associated with trump because he was so scared he didn't want to disassociate himself either. >> and he was born again? >> yes, his third wife, is the kind of person who says his wife i literally married an angel. [laughter] so yes, he's born again and anyway, a fun tie into hollywood but there waswa this deeper thee of the piece, everything became entertainment so burnett said there's no such thing, politics is just entertainment by other means.
4:18 pm
>> i don't know if it was the white house response -- >> at the enemies. >> yes, what did he say? >> this is during the campaign and he said he basically called out burnett, if trump is elected, it will be this guy's fault and said if they build the wall, we will throw you over it. >> being an illegal alien. >> but burnett kind of one, he went on to run mgm, mgm tv whici he is doing today and he's sort of laughing all the way to the bank. >> and isn't it great -- [laughter] magic. anyway, burnett has a late ageless, in the words of one, a photoshopped twinkle. what i love in the words of one ex-wife. that's just malicious.
4:19 pm
>> are two of them and i spoke to them both. [laughter] >> maybe the other one doesn't agree but anyway. let's talk about this thomas jefferson, the first story in the collection and in some ways -- it rich people messing up which i kinda like and also features a coke brother, one of the lesser coke brothers, bill and -- >> he's not a political coke. >> he's the consumption coke and you have him living in a 35000 square-foot anglo caribbean style house in the beach which you visited and he had to excavate.
4:20 pm
>> expanding when i visited. 35000 square feet wasn't enough. >> because he had so much craft in the basement including wind. he likes to buy things and he said i bought so much art, so many guns, so many other things that if someone is out to cheat me, i want him to pay for it, he told me his collar rising. also he said, i love these, i'm quoting you back. also he said relaxing a bit and breaking into a smile, it's a fun detective story. in two years he hired an incredible fbi agent who says working with the fbi but with edlots of money, he estimated ce spent more than $1 million on the case, twice what he paid for thee wine talk about counterfeit wine. how does this start? >> i have a friend it's funny, i
4:21 pm
don't with anybody in the room seen the podcast is a character the podcast for my friend michael is a longtime friend of mine and lori he was the guy podcast are in motion so my friend michael e-mailed me and i think probably 2006 or 70 said i have nothing for you, counterfeit wine room and is what is counterfeit wine, what does that even mean? and when i looked into it turned out the last 20 or 30 years there has been a huge inflation in the price of rare wine and also rich people generally new rich people who acquired money
4:22 pm
faster than world-class wine cellar and theyla want it fast o they will spend two or three or 5 million online over the course of a couple of years the whole thing crazy. they are billing dollars that have so much wine they could never drink all the wine in their lifetime and i said why by the wine him? would show me antique guns including the rifle when asked by you would buy 60000 bottles of wine when he's 60 and there's no way drink it all in his life, he said i'm never going to shoot custer's rifle. [laughter] so it turns out as that was happening, there were these really crafty wine officers who realized it's a perfect crime because you can introduce fake bottles which looked like, they
4:23 pm
either look like antique wine or price of the wine will vary vintage to the judge so 82 is expensive and 83 isn't and sometimes you can look 83 mccourt 82. they had going was the collectors have huge sellers and may never even get to the ball in question because they by more quickly than drinking and and if and when they do open the wine, most of them can't tell the difference, right? [laughter] totally emperor's new clothes and i'm sure you've experienced where somebody's birthday, he spends more on a bottle of wine at dinner and ask yourself, is this any better than the cheaper bottled, the house one? >> an old wine is not even drinkable, you have a marvelous quote of the rent department joke, more 1945 consumed on the
4:24 pm
15th anniversary of a vintage in 1995 than ever produced to begin with. [laughter] >> and that same woman said she thinks the vast majority of fake wine is happily consumed. there was a guy -- [laughter] my favorite story came from a guy who's like a wine director for a series of super fancy restaurants and he told me this amazing story how one night they had bankers from new york in town celebrating some big deal they had done and to celebrate they ordered a bottle of 1982 picture, very fancy french wine and 82 was a great year so this has been sold for like $6000 a bottle. they order a bottlen and fantastic, they like so much toy
4:25 pm
the second bottle comes out and make a show and tasted and this one tastes off, weird, don't know the issue but something is wrong so they apologetically sae got to return this, we are sorry and the wine director, he was very apologetic and said we will erbring another one but there wl be hell to pay because there's something wrong with the second bottle so when the diner has left, the third bottle to bring out his great and the guys love it, it's fantastic and they drink it and leave. so "afterwards" they bring the three bottles into the kitchen and they look at them and try to figure out what the problem was with the second bottle. it was genuine. [laughter] >> there you go.
4:26 pm
you ever get so overwhelmed by a story you editor or wife who had a beautiful quote about you -- no, it's too much, the great white whale, i'm never going to get, it's going to be in? >> sometimes. i think i have gotten better over the years what's the best way of putting this?ig i'm big on storytelling, having a clear narrative that runs through something in the article for the sources collected and here where each one of these will take maybe 45 minutes to read and i love that about them, you can really get into it but you are going to be done in a sitting, it's not something that makes you feel bad about yourself because you can't
4:27 pm
finish it but it'sca also true with books from my book that i did on the troubles, there big, wicked subjects and sometimes my frustration as a reader, not a writer is if i'm reading a book, i can tell the material is rich and important but if you like not enough thought has been given how to tell a story, where do you start? it's almost as if the writer takes your interest for granted and if you have to fight for it all the time and involves the organization and i think your time call routing on the story getting lost in the woods, i had material it was great but couldn't the past. honestly i think when the writer feels that way, the reader will, too. what i have gotten better at --
4:28 pm
i do it simply, it starts in the back of an envelope, if i had to tell you this story in five minutes, where does it start, who are the characters, one of the big turns and twists and where does the end? i try to lay that out so now i do that from the beginning so i guess i'm saying i never get lost in thei woods anymore because some are dark and dense i couldn't go there because i can tell. place where i get discouraged is when there's a story i just can't gather enough of the kind of good material i want so i won't tell you what it is but if there are any journalists in here who will steal it from me but there's an idea my editor brought me a year ago amazing
4:29 pm
and an incredible piece but nobody wants to talk within the criminal justice system. the bad guys don't want to talk, their lawyers don't want to talk and prosecutors don't want to talk, the cops don't want to talk so my hands are tied, there's no way in for me so that happens. >> but you did l chabot before -- just briefly, this is amazing in the book opens with it. this is like a murderous machine of a drug lord i'm sure your wife was thrilled with this. [laughter] tell your readers what happened, who want to take questions and what happened after that. >> i will with the caveat that i told this story on the late show
4:30 pm
last night. >> he was only on seth meyers and he's here today. >> you're going to hear me tell it again. i wrote this piece, i had written an earlier one that covers the new york magazine in 2012 and when he was caught in 2014, i read this piece called chabot and went to mexico and had a lot of access and talked to this mexican forces and deafo involved and a bunch of people who worked for him and the cartel but i didn't talk to chabot guzman which sometimes it's the way it is, it's right around. the piece came out and a few days later i got a voicemail in the office from a guy who said
4:31 pm
he was a lawyer for the family and it made me a little nervous. [laughter] i hadn't thought himt reading te piece or anybody in his circle reading it, a bunch of the mexican newspapers picked up on it, he didn't strike me as a new york city expert driver and when i mentioned this last night he said he is but he only reads the cartoons. [laughter] so i was nervous and made a few phone calls and called a guy and said is this really an attorney for the family? he checks and came back and said he really is, a real cartel lawyer but one who is like 60% cartel and 40% lawyer. [laughter] so i was getting more and more nervous. [laughter] i didn't tell my wife about this
4:32 pm
at all and finally when i called the guy, the thing i thought he would bring up is in the piece i had said i told the world that when he was on the run one of his big issues was he needed to get viagra and that was like a old logistical thing because he was moving safe house to safe house and make sure he had plenty of viagra. there is a mexican source of mine who said you know this is the most macho country in the world, right? and you know guzman is most macho man in the country and you are the one who told everybody -- [laughter] so i was all ready to have a viagra conversation with the guy. [laughter] he had this starchy formal way of talking and he said when he established that i was the guy who read wrote the article they said we have read your article and i said okay, thank you and they referred to him as else in your and said else in your is
4:33 pm
ready to write his memoirs. [laughter] i gained out in my mind all the ways this was going to go and i was ready and i was ready for the viagra think that it i hadn't seen this coming so i was like that's a book i would love to read. [laughter] and he said but sir, is it a book you would like to write? [laughter] so that was this crazy situation and i was offered the opportunity to write his memoirs. [laughter] as you will have gathered -- he -- >> i didn't write it but i am alive to tell you. >> we are going to take some questions and if you are willing to talk about the marvelous book in previous book say nothing -- don't be shy, any questions?
4:34 pm
>> my question, at the end it seemed you were still under the light from the sackler's and concerned about safety and family and they were staking out your home and lawyering up against you, how does that result?d >> good question. they kept up the pressure right up until the eve of the book coming out. there is a day before publication are doing an interview for the today show because they were getting interrupted because the producer was getting texts and e-mails from their legal and pr people in the book came out and then it went totally dark, seven and hadn't said a saying thing, have
4:35 pm
sued me and part of the story are trying to tell in the book, i think with the sackler's, it's like honestly like harvey weinstein or jeffrey epstein or powerful people who get away with terrible f things for a log time and when it finally comes out as a natural reaction a lot of us have how can they get away with it for so long? bland i think it's because they surround themselves with people who are respectable service providers, lawyers, privateta investigators, consultants for mckinsey, you name it and those people i think protect them and insulate them and attack the messenger when somebody -- there was a strange sense for me on one hand it was unpleasant
4:36 pm
getting two years of legal threats. i could tell you some stories but there is the opposite talk about at the end of the or somebody was staking out my house, they've never confirmed it was them but it is the only project i was working on at the ltime and it was unpleasant but important to tell the story because the truth is they've been doing that for 20 years and i think part of the reason they got away with it as long as it did. >> someone becca. >> how do you get people to talk to you? do you pay them? >> that's a great question, i'm not allowed to pay people, it's interesting because if you were a sociologist, you can pay people for interviews and it's ethically permissible and
4:37 pm
journalism there's no scenario in which you can do that, it's a pretty red line rule. i will say in honesty, there are ways around that, it varies product to product but i wrote a book about chinatown new york city and chinese immigrants in the couldn't pay them for the time but they were working incredibly hard jobs so i would say can i buy you a meal? that's permissible, at least can i buy you lunch or dinner when you get off work? but i'm not allowed to pay people. i try to meet people where they are and persuade them that i am going to -- that i don't have an agenda, i just want to figure out the truth and the truth is often collocated as a right long articles, the embrace complexity, even the villains in
4:38 pm
my stories, i want to try to understand how they see the world so that is my pitch to people and sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't but the other thing about the right around, especially with powerful people, they use access as a kind of leverage and i think there's too much access to journalism in general so for me i have noticed sometimes there's a hedge fund manager or reality tv producer or banker or pharmaceutical executive and you say i'm going to write about yoa and they say too bad, i will give you an interview and they think you will go away but i say i will write about you anyway. i'll just have to do more work to find people who have known
4:39 pm
you over the years but i will do it and that's part of my picture people say the train is leaving the station, you can get on if you want, i would love it if you would but if you don't, the train will still leave the station, it's not where you have the agency. >> how early with a aware you are working? >> funny you should say. [laughter] i said i have stories. i hadn't even started writing so i wrote a piece in the new yorker in 2017 which kind of put the spotlight on the family maybe in a way that hadn't happened up until and and they didn't like that and initially i wasn't going to write a book and then i decided i would and 2019 my publisher put out an announcement like publishers lunch in the trade something like that, not written up in the new york times, you would need a subscription to publishing
4:40 pm
newsletter and we got a 17 page letter. on some level i was like let me start writing. [laughter] but that was the beginning of it and it never really let up this is somebody who knows a thing or two about all of this. >> it might be about the sackler's. are you as pretentious as your wife says you are? [laughter] for anyone who doesn't follow him on twitter, he is great. >> things. >> she called him incredibly pretentious. go ahead. [laughter] >> one of -- i want to publicly thank you for what "empire of pain" has done shining a light on a family responsible for more
4:41 pm
deaths in america than any other family i know of. the other person is -- well, two questions. in your new book which i got halfway through already. if there one story somebody said i can read one story, is there -- what story would you recommend and painkiller coming out on netflix, there's a total media walked down on it, what can you tell us about that? >> a little bit of context, he's an incredible activist him long before i ever heard the name sackler, he'd been on the story fighting for justice and accountability so thank you for coming.
4:42 pm
my wife gave an interview to a guy writing a profile of me in new york magazine and in this t interview she described me as incredibly pretentious and said the opening line about she said you really need to write about these people? crooks? so she really did say that. in terms of one story, i guess maybe the amy bishop stories. it's a dark one but it's one many of us could relate to in weird ways we might not anticipate and one that stays with me. i wrote it years ago and it does
4:43 pm
kind of linger with me. painkiller is a limited series that will be in netflix in the fall, i don't know that for sure, it's based on the book painkiller by barry meyer and a lesser extent not on my book but my article about the sackler family and i've been somewhat involved but not really all that closely involved with a shot it in six parts. richard sackler is played by matthew broderick and i think it should be interesting. peter berg, director has made a lot of movies, he directed all six episodes to keep an eye out on netflix and some of you have made may be seen dope sick, i think it's different enough from
4:44 pm
domestic it's worth watching. >> as far as the sackler's are concerned, are they still pushing these awful drugs? you mentioned they were in denial, how do you stay in denial when bodies are stacking up and people are suffering and in pain? how do you continue to stay in denial? i don't understand. >> is a great question, i've spent years trying to understand this. to answer the first part of your question -- purdue pharma the company ends up going to encrypt the. it seems a little weird you have a company that has made so much money and billions of dollars
4:45 pm
selling drugs in the reason there are lawsuits against the company or the impacts of oxycontin in the course of about a decade before the company declared encrypt the, quietly the family pulling money out of the company so they took more than $10 billion out of the company and eventually when they got 10 billion out of the company and suddenly lawsuitsne against the company they said too bad, no money left in the company so the company went encrypt. eventually purdue pharma got kind of wound down they are still selling oxycontin, they've given up their interest in the company,th there's a new company still selling oxycontin so they continue to sell it, the drug that helps create the opioid crisis but all of the profit
4:46 pm
from the sale of oxycontin, they go through media and the opioid crisis, enough to make your head explode. on d the denial thing, it weird because this is a family who started marketing the drug and 96 and the idea was it wasn't knew thatand nobody and almost immediately it turns out people are getting addicted overdosing and dying and kids are going and word is getting back to the company and for me when i look back, 2022 right now i'm talking 1999, i can't imagine having a multibillion-dollar company and product out there in the world getting informed, kids are dying and not putting brakes on or at least saying what have we done
4:47 pm
wrong? but they didn't and they kept doubling down and it's hard for me to understand that but there are two things that came into play. one is the family and company made this pivot which i would say but it's a very american pivot where what they said was the drug is not the problem, the problem is the people abusing it. they have poor character, bad values and addictive personalities can help themselves we've created this drugpl and they are screwing itp and people are dying, it's their fault and we can kind of chuckle now but that's the most american idea imaginable. guns don't kill people, people kill people. you can sell a dangerous people thing and put in the world and
4:48 pm
as long as somebody else makes some decision downstream, nothing on you. you don't have anything to answer for morally or legally so i think that was part of it and the other part surprising from the outside, i'm not a billionaire i would have thought if you were a billionaire you could get the best advisors and state-of-the-art advice all the time but i found when looking at the sackler's is it's kind of the opposite because you have people around you whose job depends on keeping you happy and i thinkbe this is something truw of donald trump and mark zuckerberg and any number of people were wealthy and powerful and they can seem disconnected from reality and the reason is they have people around them when they say they is night and two plus two is five, yes, you are right. don't listen to them, they've
4:49 pm
got their own narrative and your misunderstood. t part of what you see of them being in denial, the bishop parents, that two people in the house alone and they have this reality they've had to manufacture on their own but the sackler's have an army of people reaffirming every day, crazybo ideas what's happening in the world and their own responsibly so i don't fully understand that that's the closest i can come. >> one last question. >> excuse me if i don't get all the facts right. >> i don't remember them either. [laughter] there's a lot of tension in thet book obviously, conflict between protestants and catholics and you interview bobby shane and other people, i just wonder how
4:50 pm
you can keep your distance and not get sucked into each side so to speak. >> i think about this all the time in the book, i was just in northern ireland talking about that book and i thought it was a great expression about newcastle, they need to hear from me about the trouble but the thing is i think being an outsider helps. when i started work on the book without being an outsider would hurt because it's a clan society, small and everybody knows everybody and i was parachuting and, i have this obnoxiously irish name but my family on my father's side came over years ago so i don't have any real connection but what i found is it really helped to not be from their.
4:51 pm
there probably parts of philadelphia like this, if you go to northern ireland, the thing is interesting, somebody from northern ireland, as soon as they open their mouth and start talking, people can hear their accent and as soon as they hear that, they immediately start making judgments like okay, i know roughly where you are from geographically and what school you went to and what school you went to and what sports you like and things to support and make judgments. they may be right or not but there's this thing for everybody is trying to locate everybody else and i was like an alien, i just parachuted in from new york which i think was hopeful in terms of not getting sucked in and allowed me to be not objective but allowed me to tell the story as i saw it and not feel like i had to satisfy one
4:52 pm
constituency or another. what i wanted to do was write a book and make everybody mad equally which it did. the other is i could leave, i don't live there. it would have been very hard if you've read the book, i will give too much but there's a murdererer at the heart of the book in 1972 and at the end i name the person why he committed the marsh murder and they have never been indicated before and they are still alive.s it would be hard for me to write that if i lived there but because i could leave, i was able to such a strange thing. >> thank you so much. [applause] >> thank you all so much. ♪♪ >> middle and high school students, it's your time to time. participate in this year's
4:53 pm
c-span student camp documentary competition in light of the upcoming midterm election, picture yourself as a newly elected member of congress. we ask competitors, what is your top priority and why five to six minute video shows the importance of the issue from opposing and supporting perspectives. don't be afraid to take risks with the documentary. be bold. $100,000 in cash prizes is a $5000 grand prize. videos must be submitted by january 20, 2023. visit student cannot work for roles, tips, resources and a step-by-step guide. >> there are a lot of places to get political information but only at c-span do you get it straight from the source. no matter where you're from or where you stand on the issues, c-span is america's network. unfiltered, unbiased,


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on