Exclusive - Matt Taibbi Extended Interview Pt. 1

  • Aired:  04/07/14
  •  | Views: 54,670

Author Matt Taibbi discusses wanting to spark a conversation about socially accepted white-collar crime with his book "The Divide." (6:50)

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT A BEST SELLINGAUTHOR HIS NEW BOOK IS

CALLED THE DIVIDE.

AMERICAN INJUSTICE IN THE AGE OFTHE WEALTH GAP.

PLEASE WELCOME BACK TO THEPROGRAM MATT TAIBBI.

YOUNG MAN, COME AND SIT.

ENJOY.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]THANKS FOR BEING HERE.

>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

>> Jon: NOW YOU'VE -- THISBOOK IS EXCELLENT.

IT'S FASCINATING TO ME.

>> IF YOU SAY SO.

>> Jon: HAVE YOU READ IT?

YOU SHOULD READ IT.

IT'S QUITE GOOD.

IT'S GOT A BEAUTIFUL PICTURE ONIT.

YOU SHOULD READ IT.

WE TALK ABOUT THE WEALTH GAP.

THERE'S -- PEOPLE LOOK AT ITFROM A TAXATION POINT OR INCOME

DISTRIBUTION POINT.

YOU ARE LOOKING AT IT FROM ALEGAL SYSTEM ELEMENT WHICH IS A

SURPRISING DIRECTION TO TAKE ONIT.

WHY THAT TAKE?

>> WELL, LOOK.

PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THE INCOMEINEQUALITY GAP ALL THE TIME BUT

FOR THE MOST PART WHENPOLITICIANS TALK ABOUT IT IT'S

JUST A STATISTIC.

BUT WHAT I FOUND IS THERE'S APROFOUND DIFFERENCE IN THE WAY

THAT WE PROSECUTE CRIME FOR THEWEALTHY AND IN PARTICULARLY

PEOPLE WHO ARE IN THESE TOO BIGTO FAIL EVIL BANKS WE'RE

ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT ANDEVERYBODY ELSE.

THERE'S AN ENORMOUS DELTA AND WENEVER TALK ABOUT IT.

THIS IS WHAT I WANTED TO DO INTHIS BOOK IS JUST TALK ABOUTTHIS.

THIS GREW OUT OF MY EXPERIENCECOVERING FINANCIAL CRIME FOR

YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS.

WHEN I STARTED I DIDN'T KNOWANYTHING.

I COULDN'T EVEN BALANCE MY OWNCHECKBOOK.

>> Jon: NOT A CRIME.

>> NOT A CRIME, NO.

>> Jon: FROM WHAT IUNDERSTAND.

>> AND IT TOOK ME A WHILE TOUNDERSTAND.

I TRIED READ ALL THE BOOKS,THE WEALTH OF NATIONS, ECONOMICS

TEXTBOOKS.

I WASN'T UNTIL I READ LIKE ALITTLE THING THAT WAS LIKE THE

GREAT CON MEN IN HISTORY AND ITDAWNED ON ME THIS IS JUST

STEALING. THIS THATIS ALL THIS IS. IT'S JUSTSTEALING.

>> Jon: BUT THERE'S A CERTAINAMOUNT OF STEALING THAT APPEARS

TO BE BUILT INTO THE SYSTEM ASAN ACCEPTABLE VIG --

>> RIGHT.

>> Jon: -- FOR THE GOOD THATTHEY DO, THE WEALTH THAT THEY

SPREAD.

>> BUT THERE'S NO -- AGAIN,THAT'S THE ILLUSION.

THERE'S NO GREATER GOOD.

THIS IS JUST TAKING STUFF FROMPEOPLE.

THE SUBPRIME MORTGAGE CRISIS ALLIT WAS WAS BANKS ROBBING OLD

LADIES.

IT WAS THE SAME THING, YOU KNOW,YOU MIGHT HEAR ABOUT PEOPLE WHO

CALL UP THE ELDERLY AND TRY TOSELL THEM PHONY SUBSCRIPTIONS

OVER THE TELEPHONE.

>> Jon: CORRECT.

>> SUBPRIME MORTGAGE THING WASTHE SAME THING.

IT WAS PHONY MORTGAGES.

AND THEY WERE SELLING IT TOPENSION FUNDS.

AND THEY WERE RIPPING PEOPLEOFF.

>> Jon: SO THIS GETS US TO THEGREAT PREMISE OF THE BOOK

IF THE OLD LADY IF YOURGRANDMOTHER

WENT INTO A BANK AND RIPPED THEMOFF AND SAID GIVE ME YOUR MONEY

AND THEY GAVE IT TO HER AND SHEWALKED OUT.

CHANCES ARE THAT WOULD CARRY ACRIMINAL PENALTY.

>> ABSOLUTELY, YES.

>> Jon: BUT FOR SOME REASON,THE WHITE COLLAR RIPOFF HAS BEEN

DECRIMINALIZED TO SOME EXTENTEXCEPT FOR FINES.

>> RIGHT.

>> Jon: NOT ON THE INDIVIDUALBASIS BUT ON THE LARGER

CORPORATE LEVEL.

>> THIS IS WHAT I WAS TRYING TOGET TO IN THE BOOK.

THERE'S THIS REALLY KIND OFSCARY PSYCHOLOGICAL MOMENT THAT

WE CROSSED IN AMERICA WHERE WENO LONGER THINK OF

A CERTAIN KIND OF OFFENDER ASAPPROPRIATE FOR JAIL.

I HAD THIS REALLY EYE OPENING --[LAUGHTER]

>> Jon: THAT'S SUCH A GREATPHRASE.

THIS MAN IS NOT APPROPRIATE FORJAIL!

>> I'VE HEARD THAT SAID TO MEHONESTLY.

I WAS TALKING TO A FEDERALPROSECUTOR, YOU KNOW, A FEW

YEARS AGO.

I SAID THIS GUY -- THESE PEOPLESTOLE A BILLION DOLLARS.

I WAS TALKING ABOUT THIS BANK.

HOW ARE THESE GUYS NOT IN JAIL.

HOW DOES THAT MAKE ANY SENSE.

AND HE SAYS TO ME HAVE YOU BEENTO A JAIL?

JAILS ARE DANGEROUS.

PEOPLE GET STABBED IN JAIL.

>> Jon: YES.

>> I'M NOT DISAGREEING WITH YOUBUT THERE'S TWO AND A HALF

MILLION OTHER PEOPLE WHO AREALSO IN THAT SAME PLACE AND THEY

DID A LOT LESS THAN STEAL ACOUPLE OF BILLION DOLLARS.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

IT'S A PSYCHOLOGICAL THING WHEREI THINK MEMBERS OF A CERTAIN

CLASS THEY JUST DO NOT SEEPEOPLE WHO RUN BANKS AND WHO

HAVE TIES AND WHO YOU KNOWDRIVE MASERATIS.

>> Jon: THESE ARE NOT BADPEOPLE.

THESE ARE GOOD PEOPLE WHO AREJUST TAKING ADVANTAGE OF RULES

THAT MAYBE THEY ALSO WROTE BUTSTILL --

>> EXACTLY.

>> Jon: AND IT'S NOT SOMETHINGTHAT IS CRIMINAL. BUT EVEN WHEN

IT CLEARS INTO AN AREA THAT ISSO MORE CLEARLY CRIMINAL.

I THINK THE HSBC CASE IS THEGREAT EXAMPLE OF THIS.

THEY ADMITTED TO LAUNDERINGMONEY FOR NARCO TERRORISTS.

>> RIGHT, RIGHT $850 MILLION.

>> Jon: THEY SAID YES.

>> YOU GOT US.

>> Jon: WE DID DO THAT.

>> WE DID DO THAT.

>> Jon: AND THEIR PENALTY WASWHAT?

>> THEY GOT A COMPLETE AND TOTALWALK.

IT WAS A DEFERRED PROSECUTIONAGREEMENT.

NOT ONE PERSON DID ONE DAY INJAIL.

NO ONE INDIVIDUAL HADTO PAY ANY FINES.

THERE WAS A COMPANY FINE OF $1.9BILLION

WHICH WAS AT THE TIME A RECORD.

AND THAT VERY SAME DAY WHEN THEYMADE THAT ANNOUNCEMENT, AND

THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WAS VERYPROUD OF THAT DEAL.

IT WASN'T LIKE, WE DIDN'T GETANY JAIL TIME IT WAS LIKE WE GOT

$1.9 BILLION. AREN'TWE AWESOME? I WENT DOWN TO THE

COURTS THAT DAY AND ASKEDAROUND. I SAID WHAT IS THE

DUMBEST DRUG CASE YOU HAD TODAY.AND THEY FOUND A GUY FOR ME

WHO HAD BEEN CAUGHT WALKING INTHE STREET WITH A JOINT IN HIS

POCKET WHO GOT 47 DAYS IN RIKERSAND THAT IS WORSE THAN ANYTHING

THAT HAPPENED TO ANYBODY AT HSBCAND THEY ARE AT THE TOP OF THE

ILLEGAL DRUGS PYRAMID AND THISGUY IS AT THE BOTTOM AND HE IS

DOING A MUCH MORE SEVERESENTENCE.

THAT JUST CAN'T BE RIGHT.

THERE'S NO WAY TO LOOK AT THATAND HAVE THAT BE RIGHT.

>> Jon: NO AND WHAT I THOUGHTWAS VERY INTERESTING ABOUT THE

BOOK IS YOU TIE IT -- THIS ISSYSTEMIC FROM THE TOP.

FROM THE HEAD LEGAL AUTHORITY INTHIS COUNTRY ERIC HOLDER AT THE

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,THIS IS NOT A BUG IN THE

SYSTEM, IT'S A FEATURE OFSYSTEM.

>> RIGHT.

THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT IT IS.

ERIC HOLDER WAY BACK IN THECLINTON YEARS WHEN HE WAS JUST A

REGULAR JUSTICE DEPARTMENTOFFICIAL HE WROTE THIS MEMO THAT

HAS COME TO BE KNOWN AS "THEHOLDER MEMO."

HE OUTLINED THIS POLICYWHICH IS CALLED THE

COLLATERAL CONSEQUENCES POLICY.

WHAT THAT BASICALLY MEANS IS IFYOU ARE DEALING WITH A BIG

COMPANY THAT EMPLOYS A LOT OFPEOPLE AND IF YOU PROSECUTE

IT BAD THINGS MIGHT HAPPENTO INNOCENT PEOPLE. YOU

CAN SEEK OTHER REMEDIES, YOU CANDO FINES, DEFERRED

PROSECUTION AGREEMENTS. YOUDON'T HAVE TO WRECK THE

WHOLE THING IF YOU AREGOING TO DO THAT.

>> Jon: SURE.

>> THAT'S SENSIBLE RIGHT? IMEAN, YOU DON'T WANT TO

JUST DESTROY A COMPANY BECAUSE AFEW BAD APPLES AT THE COMPANY,

YOU KNOW, MAY HAVE SHREDDED --

>> Jon: MIGHT HAVE LAUNDEREDNARCO TERRORIST MONEY. EXACTLY.

>> IN THE CASE OF ENRON THEYMIGHT HAVE SHREDDED TWO TONS OF

DOCUMENTS BUT HEY --

>> Jon: IT HAPPENS.

>> IT HAPPENS, EXACTLY.

>> Jon: IT SAYS, IT'S AMESSAGE TO THAT KID WITH THE

JOINT IN HIS THE POCKET, ITSAYS TO HIM, GO BIG OR GO HOME.

>> RIGHT.

>> Jon: STICK AROUND FOR ALITTLE BIT.

THE DIVIDE IS ON THE BOOKSHELVESNOW.

WE'LL HAVE MORE WITH WITH MATTTAIBBI,

ON THE INTERNETS I THINK.YES, WE'LL DO IT.

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