Exclusive - David Nasaw Extended Interview Pt. 1

  • Aired:  11/26/12
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In this exclusive, unedited interview, historian David Nasaw dispels misconceptions surrounding Joseph P. Kennedy's ethically ambiguous life. (6:14)

WFERN WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT AN AUTHOR, HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED THE PAT REE ARK, THE TIMES OF

JOSEPH P KENNEDY.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM DAVID NASSAW.

HELLO, SIR.

HOW ARE YOU?

>> DOING WELL,.

>> SIR THIS BOOK, THIS SOMETHING RIGHT HERE.

THE PATRIARCH.

I'M GOING TO START RIGHT IN WITH JOSEPH KENNEDY.

SO THE BIGGEST PERHAPS I GUESS MISCONCEPTION THAT I HAVE IS JOSEPH KENNEDY'S A BOOTLEGGER.

JOSEPH KENNEDY IS ONE OF THE DUKES OF HAZARD.

HE MADE HIS MONEY SLINGING LIQUOR DURING PROHIBITION, ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES.

THE BOOK VERY METICULOUSLY SAYS --

>> I WOULD HAVE BEEN DELIGHTED HAD HE BEEN A BOOTLEGGER BECAUSE I COULD HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT MOMOJI

AND CANNES BUT HE WASN'T.

HE WASN'T.

WELL, I CAN'T SAY THAT YOU CAN NEVER PROVE A NEGATIVE BUT THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE.

I MEAN THE PEOPLE WHO TRIED TO MAKE HIM OUT AS A BOOTLEGGER RELIED ON THE EVIDENCE GIVEN THEM BY TINA

SINATRA WHO HEARD THIRD HAND FROM HER FATHER THAT HE HAD DONE THIS DEAL.

AL CAPONE'S PIANO TUNER WHO-- .

>> Jon: YOU HOW DO YOU TRUST AL CAPONE'S PIANO TUNER, REALLY, HAVE YOU EVER HEARD

AL CAPONE'S PIANO, YOU CALL THAT A C FLAT, PLEASE, YOU'RE INSULTING.

BUT WHAT YOU DID SHOW THAT WHETHER OR NOT HE WAS A BOOTLEGGER THIS MAN DID LIVE

ON THE EDGE OF WHAT WE WOULD CONSIDER TODAY THE ETHICAL BOUNDARIES OF FINANCE AND BUSINESS.

>> I THINK ONE COULD SAY THAT.

>> YES, ONE COULD SAY THAT.

>> YOU DID IN MANY PAGES.

BUT NOT ONE TOO MANY.

WHAT I THOUGHT WAS IMPORTANT ABOUT HIM WAS THAT WHEN HE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO REFORM THE SAME STOCK MARKET

THAT HE HAD MADE MILLIONS AND MILLIONS AND MILLIONS ON BY SHORT-SELLING, BY POOLING,

BY THIS AND THAT AND THIS AND THAT, EVERY INSIDER TRICK, ROOSEVELT SAID I WANT YOU TO BE SECRETARY, I WANT

YOU TO BE THE COMMISSIONER OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE COMMISSION, HE SAID FINE.

HE WAS THERE FOR 15 MONTHS.

WHEN HE LEFT HE HAD CLEANED UP SO MUCH THAT HE COULD NO LONGER TRADE STOCKS.

>> YES.

>> HE WENT INTO REAL ESTATE.

>> Jon: HE PUT HIMSELF OUT OF BUSINESS.

>> HE PUT HIMSELF OUT OF BUSINESS.

EVERYTHING THAT HE HAD DONE TO MAKE MONEY WAS NOW OUTLAWED.

>> Jon: IT REMINDED ME OF THOSE SHOWS I USED TO GET, ROBERT WAGNER IS A THIEF AND

NOW THE FBI WILL USE HIM TO LEARN THE TRICKS OF THE THIEVING.

ROOSEVELT REALLY SAID TO KENNEDY YOU KNOW HOW TO DO THIS, DOW THIS.

IT DID INTERESTING TO ME THAT THE MAN WHO CREATED WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY IS THE MOST BELOVED LIBERAL DYNASTY

THAT HAS EVER BEEN CREATED IN THIS COUNTRY WAS HIMSELF AN AVATAR OF ALL THAT THAT

ESTABLISHMENT SEEKS TO ABOLISH.

>> HE BELIEVED IN CAPITALISM.

BUT HE ALSO BELIEVED THAT UNRESTRAINED, UNRESTRICTED CAPITALISM WAS GOING TO LEAD

TO DISASTER.

HE LIVED THROUGH THE RUNNUP TO THE GREAT DEPRESSION.

HE KNEW THE STOCK MARKET WAS OUT OF CONTROL.

HE PULLED HIS MONEY OUT.

AND THEN HE BELIEVED THAT UNLESS SOMETHING WAS DONE TO REIGN IN PEOPLE LIKE HIM, TO

REIGN IN-- (LAUGHTER) I JUST WOULD HAVE LOVED TO HAVE BEEN IN THAT MEETING.

>> YOU DON'T GET T I'M A BAD GUY.

I'VE GOT TO STOP ME.

HIM IN FRONT OF A MIRROR.

>> HE DID STOP HIM AND HE DID STOP HIM BECAUSE HE NOW THAT IF THE COUNTRY

CONTINUED IN THAT WAY, IF THE DEPRESSION GOT WORSE THAN CAPITALISM WOULD BE THREATENED, DEMOCRACY WOULD

BE THREATENED.

HIS FORTUNE WOULD BE THREATENED.

>> Jon: ULTIMATELY IT WAS SELF-PRESERVATION.

ULTIMATELY HE UNDERSTOOD THAT THE REASON WHY THE BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION, THE COMMUNIST REVOLUTION, THOSE

THINGS HAD NOT TAKEN HOLD IN AMERICA IS THAT WE AMELIORATED THEM WITH CERTAIN MOVES THAT COULD

HELP WORKERS AND THINGS LIKE THAT.

AND I ALMOST THINK HE SAW IT AS A HEDGE BET AGAINST HIS OWN DEMISE.

>> I THINK SO AND I THINK HE WAS ALSO SQUARED TO DECHLT I DON'T THINK WE UNDERSTAND.

WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH HARD TIMES NOW.

BUT I DON'T THINK WE CAN FATHOM HOW DIFFICULT IT WAS AND HOW FRIGHTENING IT WAS

TO BE IN THIS COUNTRY IN THE GREAT DEPRESSION WHEN ITALY AND GERMANY AND THE SOVIET

UNION HAD ABANDONED CAPITALISM AND DEMOCRACY.

>> Jon: THE OTHER INCREDIBLE STORY IS IN SOME RESPECTS HOW KENNEDY TO PUT IT IN

STOCK PARLANCE TRIED TO SHORT THE ALLIES AND GO LONG WITH HITLER.

LIKE THERE IS A CERTAIN SENSE THAT HE WAS BETTING ON HITLER WINNING.

>> HE WAS CONVINCED THAT IF THE UNITED STATES GOT INTO THE WAR, IF WE EVEN GOT INTO

THE WAR BY SENDING RESOURCES, MONEY, SUPPLIES TO GREAT BRITAIN, THE DEPRESSION WAS

COMING BACK.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> AND MISTAKE NUMBER ONE.

MISTAKE NUMBER TWO, HE BELIEVED, MAYBE THIS IS WHY BUSINESSMEN SHOULDN'T BE IN POLITICS--

(LAUGHTER) (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Jon: IT'S OVER!

ROMNEY DIDN'T WIN IT, IT'S OKAY.

YOU CAN STOP.

>> BUT HE WAS CONVINCED THAT AS A BUSINESSMAN HE COULD NEGOTIATE ANYTHING.

AND IF HE COULD SIT DOWN ACROSS THE TABLE FROM ADOLF HITLER AND SAY ADOLF, WHAT

DOES GERMANY NEED, I'LL GET IT FOR YOU, JUST LET THE JEWS GO.

AND STOP THIS NONSENSE.

TAKE WHAT YOU'VE GOT AND LET'S GO HOME.

>> Jon: HE WANTED THE JEWS TO BE LET GO AND WAS GOING TO SET THEM NEWSPAPER AFRICA

SO HE WASN'T THAT FAR OFF.

YOU CAN STICK AROUND FOR A LITTLE BIT.

WE'LL TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE FAMILY.

PATRIARCH IS ON THE BOOK SHELVES NOW, A LITTLE BIT MORE FOR THE WEB, DAVID NASSAW.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

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