tv Patrick Radden Keefe Rogues - True Stories of Grifters Killers Rebels... CSPAN October 14, 2022 9:09pm-10:14pm EDT
>> good evening everybody, what an! audience! if you have not -- good evening everybody, what an audience! photography and >> good evening and when an audience by the way please silence your cell phone and photography and video recording are prohibited and it will be a book signing directly above us following the talk. welcome to the free library of philadelphia producer and editor here and tonight is my pleasurek to introduce patrick referred to as a master of narrative nonfiction the author of new york times best teller empire of pain the secret history of the sackler dynasty the family responsible
for making the painkillers that led to the opioid crisis. winning the 2021 gifford price with the national book critics circle nomination. keith is an award-winning staff writer at the new yorker and an author of three other books. including say nothing, the snake had and chatter. he has a guggenheim fellowship and a national magazine award and he wrote and hosted the podcast went to change the number one podcast 2020 by the guardian. tonight is the growth writing
about disreputable figures with illegal arms traffickers and swiss moneylenders rosa collection of his articles about corruption, fraud empower. the stories were written over one dozen years and reflect my abiding preoccupation crime and corruption, secrets and lies the bonds of family and the power of denial. it is highly entertaining but what shines through most likely is a fascination with what makes us human even when we are at our most imperfect. when conversation with helen from the "washington post" and
the finalist for the 2001 pulitzer prize. [applause] host: welcome. what a great turnout. this is w pretty wonderful. so they asked me to introduce patrick and i was reminded of mikael baryshnikov said command paraphrasing have been invited to say something how the writers feel about patrick is no secret. we hate him he is enormously
gifted empire of pain was the ten best ask for "washington post" and we all agreed and now here he is with another splendid book i cannot recommend this enough in their only 60 copies of stairs you get one. it is a collection over 12 years it is your dirty dozen. i'm asking you do this and he is a master of the right around when the subjects will speech them and you have to to write around them. i am horrible at this. every time he tells me a new
story idea i feel like i will have a many heart attack another litigious asphalt working you do a celebrity profile? that is hishi wife talking. [laughter] he is intrigued by all the bad guys and absolutely the master of the perfect landing you meet them and wait for them. for serving theed elusive billionaire who landed the iron mining deal for $160 million to potentially mayans psyllium. cap africa is a continent to takings from whether diamonds are rubber. the world bank estimates 40 percent of the private wealth left the continent when
you disembark from the plane the corruption hits you almost as quickly as the heat. that is extraordinary. this is quite the story so how did it start quick. >> it took while the first of all thank you for doing this and also to all of you for coming out for the first time to the free library it's great here. i'm here in the fall is slightly more painful experience exacerbated by the weird thing and then they just keep giving me beer. [laughter] thank you for coming out. the main story took about a
year. and then starting in the diamond trade but went to new guinea and west africa and huge inr deposits one of the poorest countries in the world and there was a lot of corruption and then he gets a right to the deposit but then sold half of the deposit to a big brazilian mining giant at two.$5 billion. there was a new president in guinea who had campaigned on the anticorruption basis he
felt weird this incredibly poor country with all of these amazing natural resources and there is a h great quote and said how can we be so rich and yet so poor? in that part of the reason was these wealthyam unscrupulous foreigners who exploited the's resources. so i was able to get an interview with the new president. but he was this elusive guy like a villain and a bond movie that and, good-looking guy who has a private jet going from place to place works out every day casual with a firm handshake and
never gives interviews and i had to chase them all around corporate offices in london and then to a he just left for paris. and when i got to paris is that he just gone on his private jet to israel so i had to call and get approval and i said ii will fly to israel but i want a guarantee i won't get to tel aviv and then say he just flew to africa. they said we can give you the guarantee so there was more haggling so eventually i met him in the south of france where he was staying on his mega yacht. >> at the into the lobby i brush past blue linen shirt that was buttoned halfway to his naval. thank you for making the trip he said and sees my hand with
a formidable grip and the summary takes a lot of stock in a handshake. >> in many countries. and it was revealing and then with pr people and lawyers in the room and it is almost not worth the interview because they are so constrained or they will let you go. but the juices worth the squeeze. [laughter] host: that's a wonderful story so let's talk about amy bishop. happy is the wrong word. [laughter]
this is a very sad story, she was a neurobiologist at the university of alabama and she shot people t and was denied tenure and three of them fatally. there are people in the community were walking time bombs and so hard to identify. the morning after she was arrested the chief of police called the sheriff in huntsville. you are in the room when she goes off it is frightening. it's extraordinary. i want to talk about the screenwriting and the effect on your writing it is very terrifying in the movie. and then three pages later you
say the woman you have in custody she shot her cat and killed her brother back in 96. women murders are very rare. but that is the detective story that you chose to follow. >>fo so this all goes to my editor at the new yorker he brought this story to me about the shooting in 2010 in alabama i said i have no desire to write that story. i don't care why they did it, motivation, i will pass. no no no here's what is interesting. in 2010 she shot the colleagues but what emerged after in 1986 when she was 21 years old, she shot and killed her brother with a shotgun. her teenage brother and there
is one witness who was her mother and then the mother said i saw the whole thing it was an accident. what my editor said to me the story is in amy bishop mass shooter in 2010 but the mother who only has two kids and she witnesses one kill the other and a split second decision when the cops come what you tell them and what she says is it was an accident. maybe it was. maybe it wasn't what you can see the motivation the mother might have because she doesn't want to lose both of them. my editor said that's a story because any of us were appearance would have to think about what we would do in a situation. not good people are bad people that something you would have to consider.
so people who knew the family are from the town but not just the family that the cops you lived in thefa community others compassion for the family. and then to say do you have kids? host: and the chief of police in a cinematic way we move away from huntsville very quickly she was 21 and her brother was 19 so what happened quite a while ago and she's gone on to make his life for her. >> after this happened she pulled the trigger of the
shotgun. and to witness the death of the sibling she never got any therapy. they did not move from the house. her bedroom was right across the bedroom where her brother lived in she'd eat breakfast every morning at the same table so clearly there should've been a mention in the eighties to make sure this person is okay we learned much later she wasn't. >> we just spending a year on this alone? >> there is always overlap because a lot of the reporting that i do there's always documents you try to get.
initially i didn't have amy bishop or her parents. then slowly the parents initially wouldn't talk to me. they hadn't givenbo interviews to anybody but i kept going back to the town talking to people who knew them. as one of the luxuries of writing for the new yorker i can keep coming back and in the initial person says i will talk but they keep getting phone calls from people they know i just talked to the reporter and eventually they came around. and we were fact checking when i got it is a very distinctive thing that says you are receiving a telephone call from an inmate. so i interviewed her over a couple of phone calls. host: i don't know if she is a
fictional character but you know and don't know so what was that like after one year? >> sometimes i get questions and they say what would you ask them if you can sit down in a room with them? so this is true with the sackler family people that are so deep in denial so to come along and ask tough questions is not that fruitful for me to think of such ninja journalism to ask a question to totally disarm them and i would have gotten away with it to. [laughter] but that is not what happened they have a lie that they have told themselves in which they are not the bad guy and asked the world they live so if you
ask questions that are chipping away at that than the usually double down whatever they been telling themselves all these years. >> it's funny have had this with a very similar scenario of a guy who done some pretty terrible things and they feel great compassion for parents in those situations because it is like the perfect bind. you are connected to your child and how you make sense of that. a lot of times the answer is denial. it is hard because i feel great compassion for these people is not to protect them
but get the best version of the truth that i can. so in the case of the bishops i visited them twice and there were all these things they would say that did not make sense the second time i saw them was after i talked to amy she told me how there was a suicide attempt • decades earlier and they said there was no suicide attempt. i said that's strange they said no she was carving pumpkins and testing the knife to see how sharp it would be on her wrist. [laughter] it is excruciating to be in
that situation because clearly this is a reality they had constructed together to live with but my job is to say no. that doesn't make the. host: when you read the story you understand the family dynamic even with the denial i feel it's a mystery that you solved. so there are some lighter stories. [laughter] >> i really didn't want to bring them up tonight but you provoke mark burnett who is probably responsible in some ways that we had donald trump as a president the mastermind of the celebrity apprentice.
you don't get burnett but so many wonderful details about him and as many people wanted on the apprentice wanted to talk to you. want to read this because it is extraordinary. the apprentice is built around weekly series of business cap challenges the trump would decide which competitor should be fired he was frequently unprepared for the session when asked to performed well sometimes would only be fired by a whim the editors were obliged to reverse engineer the episode going through hundreds of hours of footage to show a few moments when the candidate slipped up and then to have it artificial version of history so that it would
make sense. that was amazing to me and the apprentice portrayed trump a monster with monsters but a tie and always seen coming out of helicopters most of us knew he was fake i don't know how many bankruptcies but it was like making the court jester the king. [laughter] we walked to the offices to see chipped furniture and crumbling empire in the job was to make it seem not so how did youto come to the story. >> this was my editor's idea people at the new yorker who
come up with all of their own ideas and people names who never come up with their own ideas. everything is handed to them by editors and for me roughly two of mine to one of theirs but this was another one where he just said what so fascinating is that most people agree however people feel about trump most agree the apprentice was a significant moment putting him on the national stage and to amplify his brand for lack of a better word but when he came into office he still thought about the optics of reality tv. some of you may recall he announced his candidacy coming
down at trump tower that actual sequence, that happened in the apprentice it was an outtake and it turned out all of theer supporters who were there that day were extra day players who were hired to cheer in the same way you would for a reality tv show and say he was a shimmy like a shop at the apprentice so it so interesting this guy we have all come to know and love or hate, he emerged from the forge of reality tv and the person who did this totally unlikely a hustler from east london mark burnett, british paratrooper going to be a
mercenary in south america that his mom had a vision and said she didn't want him doing anything involving guns so he just walked out of lax so he was an illegal immigrant in californiale without a green card and got a job as a nanny for a wealthy family and southern california and then managed to parlay his way he had a show eco- challenge and then the big breakthrough was crazy swedish outside of sweden. the show expedition robinson.
they were dumped on an island and fend for themselves with a bunch of cameras. but he said i want to give it a title and call it survivor. from their he did the apprentice. and then to have a strange relationship to recognize that the -year-old charisma. but then burnett ends up in a weird situation at that point he didn't want to be associated with trump but he also didn't want to disassociate himself either. his third wife roma downey and
i literally married an angel. [laughter] and then was born again. a fun dive into hollywood but for me it was deeper so politics is just entertainment. so he said during the campaign that he basically called out mark burnett and it will be his fault if they build a wall we will throw you over it. [laughter]r] that burnett went on to run
mgm tv which is doing today and hehe is laughing all the way to the bank. >> isn't it great when somebody quotes you to yourself? he is lean and lanky with a smiling face and peter pan in the words of one ex-wife had a photoshop twinkle from one ex-wife. [laughter] that is malicious. maybe the other one doesn't agree. >> it is rich people messing
up and it is one of the koch brothers, bill and he's not the political one but that anglo caribbeanyl style house and had to excavate. >> they were expanding because 35000 square feet was not enough. [laughter] and they were so much in the basement including wine and he likes to buy things so much art, guns and other things someone is out to cheat me i want the son of a pitch to pay for it.
but also relaxing a bit it is a fun detective story. and then has this incredible fbi agent and estimated he spent more than $1 million on this case, twice what he paid for the wine. so let's talk about counterfeit wine with the thomas jefferson model. >> it's funny at of anyone listens to this podcast but there is a character who is my friend michael a long time friend and the source and the guy who set the podcast in motion. so he e-mailed me and said i
have a new story for you. counterfeit wine. i said what does that even mean? when i looked into it it turns out over the last 20 or 30 years there has been a huge inflation and all the rich people with new money they want to have a world-class wine cellar and they want it fast so they will spend $5 million on wine over the course of a couple of years. it is crazy that they are building the sellers that have so much wine they could never drink all the wine in their lifetime. so what is the point of buying wine you will never consume? he showed me all of the guns
including general custer's rifle. why would you buy $60000 of wine and he said i will never shoot custer's rifle. [laughter] so it turns out as all that was happening, there were these crafty wine mobsters realized this is the perfect crime because you can introduce the fake bottles that look like antique or the price is different so the vintage is different of an 82 or the 83 and they would do this stuff but what they had going for them why is the collectors have a huge seller and they may never even get to the bottom line question.
if and when they do open the wine, most can't tell the difference. [laughter] it is the emperor's new close i'm sure you've had the same experience he got for somebody's birthday spend a little bit more dinner than asking yourself is this any better than the house wine? host: a lot of old wine isn't even drinkable. more 1945 consumed on the 50th anniversary then ever produced to begin with. [laughter] >> and that same woman said she thinks of act with one —- vast majority of fake wine is happily consumed. [laughter] so it is a perfect crime so my favorite story and that piece
came from a guy who was a wine director for super fancy restaurants in vegas and told me how one night they had three bankers from new york who were in town and to celebrate ordered a bottle of 1982 french wine and it's a great year selling $6000 a bottle. it is fantastic it's great. so the second model comes out but this taste off, weird , they don't know the issue but something is wrong. so they apologetically say we have to return this. we are sorry.
the wine director says where sorry but then there is hell to pay after because there's something wrong with that secondy bottle so than the third bottle is great they love it and it is fantastic so afterwards they bring the three bottles in the kitchen and figure out the problem with the second bottle. it was genuine. [laughter] host: you ever get so overwhelmed this is like the great white whale. >> i've gotten better over the
years i'm big on storytelling or narrativeth that runs or something that's true for an article this will take 45 minutes to read. it doesn't just sit there make you feel bad about yourself. and then there are complicated subjects sometimes my frustration as a reader not a writer is that if we're reading a book i can tell the material is rich and important but not enough not has given
to how do you tell the story and organize? and then the writer takes the interest for granted and you have to fight for it all the time. and we cannot see the path to it. so when the writer feels that way. when i have gotten better at is to see that i do it simply it starts on the back of an envelope so if i had to tell you the story in five minutes, where does it start what are the turns and twists and where does it end? i try to lay that out. now i'm doing that from the
very beginning and ever get lost in the woods because some are so dark intense i would not go there where i get discouraged is reporting but i cannot gather enough of the kind of material that i want. i won't tell you what it is in case there is a devious journalist but there is the idea my editor brought me one year ago that is amazing and would be an incredible piece but nobody wants to talk it's in the criminal justice system with the bad guys do want to talk to lawyers don't want to talk to prosecutors and the cost want to talk. so my hands are tied. there is no way in. host: that you did l chappell
one —- el chapo it was the drug lord i'mug sure your wife was thrilled. [laughter] and tell the readers what happenedth after you did the piece of what happened after that? >> with the caveat that i told the story on the elite shot on —- the late show last night. [laughter] you will hear me tell it again.i so i had written an earlier piece as a cover story in 2012 and when he was caught in 2014, the first time i wrote
this piece called the hunt for a el chapo and had a lot of access and talk to the mexican forces and the dea working for him in the cartel. the piece came out and then one guy said he was a lawyer for the family and this made me a little nervous. i hadn't thought about him reading the piece or anyone in his circle i got a bench of the mexican newspapers picked up he did not strike me as a new yorker subscriber. [laughter] but when i mentioned this to seth myers is that he is but
he only reads the cartoons. [laughter] i was very nervous and made a few phone calls and he ran some checks and said yes he is a real cartel lawyer but 60 percent cartel and 40 percent lawyer. [laughter] so idi was getting more and more nervous. [laughter] i did not tell my wife about this at all. finally that he would bring up that when he was on the run the big issue was he needed to get viagra and that was a whole the just to go thing because he was moving from safe house to safe house making sure he had plenty of viagra. a mexican source said you know this is the most macho country
>> in question they kept up the pressure it was one or two days before publication and it kept getting interrupted because the producer was getting furious text messages and e-mails from legal and pr peopleey and then the book came out and they went dark and silent. that was last april. part of the story of is trying to tell in the book with the sackler's it like harvey weinstein or jeffrey epstein are the powerful people they get rid of on —- get away with terrible things for a long time and then it comes out there is a natural reaction to
say how dor they get away with it for so long? and the answer is a lot of the time they surround themselves with these people who are respectable service providers and consultants and they protect them and insulate them and attack the messenger. there is a h strange sense for me very unpleasant two years of legal threats there was an episode i talked about at the end of the book that they were staking out my house and never confirmed it was them that the only project i was working on at the time. that was unpleasant because the truth is they have been doing that for 20 years and
it's part of the reason they got away with it for as long as they did. >> how do people talk to you? do you pay them? >> it's a great question. i am not allowed to pay people. because if you were a sociologist you campaign people for interviews and that is ethically permissible but in journalism you cannot do that at all. it's a rule. but i will say in the interest of honesty varies from project to project with chinatown and new york city and chinese immigrants i could not payob them for their time but they are working incredibly hard jobs so can i buy you a meal and that is permissible can i
buy you lunch or dinner but no, i cannot pay people. a try to meet people where they are and persuade them that i don't have an agenda i just try to figure out the truth and that is complicated. to write the articles even the villains in my story i want to understand how they see the world. that's my pitch and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't but to the point of the right around with powerful people they used access as a leverage and they think there
is way too much access journalism in general. but with a hedge fund manager or reality tvea producer or banker or pharmaceutical executive t. you say hey i will write about you but i will not give you an interview and they think you will go away and i say i will write about you anyway. i just have to do more work to find people who have known you over the yearsew but i will do it. 's that's part of my pitch the train is leavingat the station. you can get on if you want i would love it if you would but if you don't is still leaving the station you have agency to stop that. >> so how similar the sackler's aware? >> they i had not even started
writing. wrote a piece in the new yorker in 2017 much put the spotlight on the family in a way that have happened up to that point and they did not like that. i decided i wouldn't write a book and then i would then publisher it was not written up in "the new york times" but a subscription to a publishing newsletter and we get a 17 page single spaced legal letter on some level level i was like let me start writing.f [laughter] >> .
>> are you as pretentious as your wife says that you are? [laughter] follow him he is a great follow. [laughter] on twitter. >> she said incredibly pretentious. [laughter] >> empire of pain and to shine a light and families that are responsible for more deaths in america than any other family that i know of. the other question is, in your new book i got halfway through already there was one story is someone said i could read one story which wouldwo you
recommend? . . . . . . operation to me and many. thank you for coming. my wife, gave an interview to a guy who's writing a profile of me in the new york magazine. in this on the record interview she described me as incredibly pretentious. the opening line do you really to write about these with the just and murderous crooks?
yes she really did set out. in terms of one story, i guess maybe the amy bishop story. it is a dark one. i don't know, i think it is one that many of us could relate to and away. and it's one that stays with me. i wrote that a few years ago. painkiller is a limited series to be released in the fall. that based on the book teen killer by barry meyer than to a lesser extent on my book but on my article. and i have been somewhat
involved but really not all that closely involved. it turned out to be sixix parts. as played by matthew broderick. either burgers made movies like friday night lights for he directed all six episodes. so keep an eye out that's on netflix in the fall. it might be worth it. >> hi. are they still pushing drugs? they said they were in a world of denial. i understand when denial and the bodies are stacking up. people are suffering
and in pain. how do you continue to stay in denial and stack up the dollars? i do not understand that for a is a great question. this is the thing i spent years trying to understand. you enter the first part of your question, farm out their company ends up going into bankruptcy. it seems a little weird you would have a company they could go into bankruptcy. the reason they're allf of thee lawsuits against the company for the impacts of oxycontin. in the course of a decade before they declared bankruptcy quietly the family was pulling money out of the company. they took more than $10 billion of the company. when they gotten $10 billion shall the country get all his lawsuit to get the country that
are too bad, no money left in the company. the company has to declare bankruptcy. eventually i got around town. but they are still selling oxycontin they've given up their interest in the country unchecked company there's a new company thatt still excelling oxycontin, got this. continues to sell the cotton of the drug detail. the opioid process. but all the sale of oxycontin are going to go to remediating the opioid crisis. i know enough to make your head explode. on the denial thing is very weird. does the family wasn't addictive. and almost immediately it turns
out there's all kinds of people getting addicted. overdosing, dying, and their kids dying. were deceiving back to the company. when i look back at that we are talking 2022 right now. we are talking about 1999. i cannot imagine him a multimillion dollar company in a product that's out there in the world and getting informed oh, kids are dying. not putting the brakes on. e or at least saying what have h done wrong? but they didn't they kept doubling down and doubling down. it's hard for me too understand that. i think there are two things that came into play. what is the family in the company made this pivot which i would say a very american pivot. what they said was the drug is not the problem. the problem is the people abusing it.
they have poor character, bad values, addictive personalities. so we carry this a great drug and they are screwing it up. people are dying it's their fault. we can kind of chocolate thatat now but that's the most american idea possible. guns don't kill people, people kill people. you can sell a dangerous thing put out in the world's foot long as else's making decision somewhere down the stream's not going to argue don't have any to answer for moral weight. i think that was part of it. the other part of it for me that was surprising as i guess from the outside though i am not a billionaire, from the outside i would've thought if you were a billionaire you could get the best advisors but he would have e liked state-of-the-art advice all the time. what i found is looking it'su
actually kind of the opposite. you have all of these people around to job depends on keeping you happy. i think this is true of donald trump i think is true of mark zuckerberg, any number of people who are wealthy and powerful. sometimes they can seem disconnected from reality. the reason for that they have all these people around them day is night and two plus two is five in people you are right. all those people over there do not listen to them for the got the wrong narrative you are misunderstood. i think part of what you see and part of the reason they're still in denial the bishop parents amy bishop's parents that is to people in the house alone. they have reality. they have an army of people who are reaffirming every day their crazy ideas about what is happening in the world and their own responsibility. so i do not fully understand it
but that's as close as i can come. >> last question. >> they nothing if years or so excuse me if i don't get all of the facts right. >> i don't remember them either. [laughter] present off a lot of tension in the book. obscene the conflict between the protestants and the catholics. you interview bobby shane, i just wonder how you keep your distance and not get sucked into each side so to speak? yes, i think about this all the time. that book it's funny i was just in northern island talking about the book. there's a great english expression about bring colt to newcastle. do they really need to hear from me about the troubles? but the thing is i think being
an outsider really helps. when i started work on that book k i thought being an outsider ws going to hurt it's a pretty clannish society, small everybody knows everybody. and i was parachuting in her head it's obnoxiously irish name my family on my father's side came over years ago i do not have close connection per se.ll but what i found it was actually really, really helped to not be from there. if you go to northern island the thing is really interesting if somebody is from northern ireland pretty soon as they open their mouth and start talking people can hear their accent. as soon as they hear the accent they immediately start making judgments. so i know roughly where you're from geographically work on the school you went to, or religion you are, how you vote, makingrt all these judgments.
they may be right or they may not. there's a thing of actions everyone trying to locate everybody else. i was liken an alien i parachud in new york. which i think was helpful in terms of me not getting sucked in and allowed me too be not objective per se but allowed me too tell the story as i sought not feel but had to satisfy one constituency or another. in fact what i wanted to do to write a book which would pass everybody off equally, which itk did. on the other thing is i could leave. i do not limit west of belfast. it would been very hard for me you've read the book i will give too much away for those people who have and there's a murder at the heart of the book cap in 1972 at the end of the book i name the person i think you did the murder the person still alive they had never been implicated before. it would be hard for me too
write that if i lived in belfast. but because i could leave i was able too. it is a stream things were sometimes being an outsider can help. >> thank you so much. thank you all so much. [applause] back ♪ ♪ work in history to be saturdays on cspan2 exploring the people and events that tell the american story. 12:30 p.m. eastern on the presidency revealing the life of first lady martha washington for her surviving personal letters with author of the washington. catherine garrett research editor at the papers of george washington project at the university of virginia for 8:00 p.m. eastern font lectures in history, college professor richard gamble talks about america's churches and religion during world war i. he assures how american pastors,
ministers and rabbis spoke about the great war before u.s. entered the conflict. exploring the american sort watch american history tv saturdays on cspan2. find a full schedule on your program can watch online online anytime at c-span.org/history. being up-to-date and the latest in publishing it was a book tv podcast about books. with current nonfiction book releases also bestseller list as well as industry news and trends are insider interviews. you can find about books on c-span out our free mobile app or were ever you get your podcast. i'm the store manager. it is an honor to celebrate chris hedges new book