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Hello, hello, loyal revisionist historians Malcolm Gladwell here, as some of you may know, we're in the middle of a celebration here at Pushkin. Our new season, which launches June 18th, will be our fifth our fifth anniversary.
I believe the traditional fifth anniversary gift is wood, which is depressing. By the way, five years is a long time. You'd think you could do better than wood. What's romantic about wood? What you're going to give your love when a cutting board, please. Which is why here revisionist history, we've done something much better for our fifth anniversary revisionist revisited our listener contest to pick the greatest episode of revisionist history ever. Last week we began our countdown with the bronze medal winner.
A Good Walk spoiled the episode that has earned me the enduring hatred of golfers everywhere. And this week, the silver medalist chosen by you ready free Brian Williams from Season three. Brian Williams is, of course, celebrated NBC anchorman who had a moment on The Late Show with David Letterman. Williams told a story about being on a helicopter that came under fire during the Iraq war. But in fact, it wasn't his helicopter. It was the helicopter behind him.
Big controversy. People called him a grandstanding liar. He was suspended from his job. And I thought, wait a minute. And the podcast episode is about my wait a minute, I won't spoil it for you if you missed it the first time around. But I feel I really should answer the obvious question here. Should night, which is, Malcolm, you did this big episode on Brian Williams. Did he ever reach out to say thanks? And the answer is, I really thought he would.
I mean, I get a little thank you's all the time from the subjects of episodes, notes, gifts. After I did my episode, McDonald's broke my heart in season two about how McDonald's ruined its fries when it stopped cooking the Mentallo and how beef tallow was maybe the greatest thing in the whole world. You know what? I got an email. A giant white tub of beef tallow, so giant I'm still cooking with it from the Coast Packing Company of Vernon, California.
And on the label it says Packed, especially for Malcolm Gladwell. With gratitude for your appreciation of natural healthy beef tallow, may all your deep frying, big, golden, brown, crispy and delicious McDonald's may have broken my heart, but the Coast Packing Company of Vernon, California, made it whole again. My point is we take Kraft here at revisionist history happily and willingly.
So in the weeks and months that followed the episode drop a free ban. Williams. I checked my inbox every day. If I saw a package, my heart would leap flowers, perhaps a box of chocolates and NBC tote bag. If the phone rang and I didn't recognize the number, I would think, is this Brian inviting me for lunch in the 30 Rock commissary? I'm still waiting. So just so you know, free Brian Williams, winner of the Silver Medal in the Revisionists Revisited contest, is an act of unrequited love.
Brian, if you're out there. All right, I have to go back and work on season five again coming June 18th. We have war stories, a lost vengo, a couple of new grand unified theories.
But before I leave you two more things, first, I want to encourage you to sign up for the revisionist history newsletter at Pushkin Dot FM so you can follow all things wonderful and revisionist. And second, you know, it just rolled out of Pushkin headquarters, another season of Against the Rules. That season, Michael Lewis roamed far and wide to bring us stories about the assault on referees in American life this season. He's looking at the rise of coaches.
I loved season one of Against the Rules this season.
Even better, the story out this week, episode two is about his high school baseball coach in New Orleans. I don't want to give anything more away except to say it is everything that is genius about Michael Lewis. So go check that out. Meanwhile, here is free. Brian Williams. On the evening of March 26, 2013, Brian Williams appeared on Late Night with David Letterman.
Very happy to have this man with us. He is the Emmy and Peabody Award winning anchor and managing editor of the NBC Nightly News. Ladies, gentlemen, here he is, our good friend, Brian Williams.
Mr. Williams. Brian Williams looks like a TV anchor. He has one of those rectangular, super handsome, made for television heads maybe two sizes larger than normal, like he inflates it with a bicycle pump before he goes on camera.
And he's charming, very charming.
Congratulations, 20 years at NBC News.
Thank you very much. It started as a young man tell me, William sits down next to Letterman and the two of them chit chat and tell jokes, there had been some big kerfuffle about the Today show involving Matt Lauer. And Letterman tries and fails to bait Williams into saying something juicy about it.
Our stuff. Now, if I'm on to something, blink twice. Then that have been asked the question that will destroy Brian Williams career, tell me and if I knew this, I forgot it and if I forgot it, I'm ashamed.
Something happened 10 years ago in Iraq. Tell people what that occurred. I brought a photo which arrived in my email two mornings ago of where I was tonight, a decade ago. This very day. This very day.
My name is Malcolm Gladwell. You're listening to Revisionist History, my podcast about things forgotten and misunderstood. This episode is part two of my exploration of memory and our naive ideas about what memory is worth. If you haven't heard the previous episode, you should listen to it first. It's the story of an early morning raid on a Nazi hideout in Munich, a raid that involved a world class harmonica player and a dashingly handsome undercover spy. The lesson of that story is that only a fool will accept the evidence of his own memory as gospel.
The lesson of this story is we're all full.
This was me 10 years ago and a young command sergeant major, I was in Iraq. Now, a couple of caveats here as war correspondents go, I am the herb schmendrick of war correspondents. I am I'm not terribly good at it. It is not what I do full time. I am mostly New York based. I do go cover these two wars we've been fighting. And when I do, I like to go out on patrol. I like to get out in it.
Right. We were in some helicopters. We were going to drop some bridge portions across the Euphrates so the Third Infantry could cross on them. Two of our four helicopters were hit by ground fire, including the one I was in. No. RPG and AK 47.
What? As you may remember, the helicopter Brian Williams was riding was not, in fact, hit by ground fire. Williams was miles away in another aircraft entirely when the attack happened. One of the most respected network news anchors went on late night TV to tell a story about his near-death experience. And it turned out not to be true.
What happens the minute everybody realizes you've been hit? We figure out how to land safely, and we did. We landed very quickly and hard and we put down and we were stuck four birds in the middle of the desert and we were north out ahead of the other Americans. Oh, my gosh. And as a as a guy as a journalist, what do you think this is a great position to be in or.
Holy crap, I got to get out of here. I more toward the. Holy crap. Yeah. This is what we know for certain about the case of Brian Williams and the helicopter, our colleague Brian Williams is back in Kuwait City tonight after a close call in the skies over Iraq. Tell us about what you got yourself into. Well, in the end, Tom, it did give us a glimpse just after the U.S. invasion of Iraq began in the spring of 2003.
Williams filed a report for NBC News from the field.
He described how he'd been embedded with a convoy of four Chinook helicopters flying out of Kuwait City. They were carrying bridge components so that the US Army troops could cross the Euphrates. This is Williams reporting, March 26, 2003.
On the ground, we learned the Chinook ahead of us was almost blown out of the sky. That hole was made by a rocket propelled grenade or RPG.
As Williams describes it, all four helicopters ended up on the desert floor. There was a massive sandstorm. They were trapped there for three harrowing days. The main invading force was still miles away. What we didn't know was we were north of the invasion. We were the northernmost Americans in Iraq.
Williams's account is included in a book published by NBC shortly after.
Four years later, he tells it again in a blog post written after the death of a retired general who was in the helicopter with him. Only this time, Williams uses a vague sentence.
There was small arms fire in a later blog post in 2008. He's more explicit. All four of our low flying Chinooks took fire. We were forced down and stayed down.
Then Letterman 2013 Brian Williams fateful appearance, so we got hit, we sat down, everyone was OK. Our captain took a Purple Heart injury to his ear in the cockpit, but we were alone. They started distributing weapons. We heard a noise and it was Bradley fighting vehicles and Abrams tanks coming. They happened to spot us. This was the invasion, the US invasion.
They saw us suddenly. A story that Williams has been telling in bits and pieces gets told in the spotlight of late night TV. And who sees it? Lance Reynolds, the flight engineer on the helicopter that got hit. Reynolds responds on NBC's Facebook page. Sorry, dude. I don't remember you being on my aircraft. I do remember you walking up about an hour after we had landed to ask me what happened. One by one, the members of the flight crews involved come forward to say the same thing and then the skin.
Tell me, do you know where Brian Williams was at the moment, that your helicopter was hit by the RPG?
That's Brian Stelter of CNN, interviewing Don Helus, the pilot of the lead helicopter.
Well, we had a lot going on, but I am pretty sure he was not in our flight at all.
Then Stelter talks to the pilot of the helicopter that Williams was on. His name is Alan Kelly.
Is it right to say that Brian Williams was aboard your helicopter and not aboard the helicopter that was shot in Iraq that day?
That's correct. He was aboard my aircraft that day in March. What was your aircraft doing?
And was it ever within sight of the Chinook that was shot at as far as the Chinook from big winner that was shot down?
We were not within visual range of them.
So what sort of distance was there between your helicopter with Brian Williams aboard and the helicopter that did take fire? So initially we were probably a half hour behind them.
Soon, every pundit under the sun is wagging a disdainful finger.
Here's Don Imus. Tell me what you think.
I don't remember whether or not you're in a plane that gets hit. I can you not remember remember getting punched in the face in the fourth grade?
Rosie O'Donnell, I think you would know if you were in a helicopter that was actually hit by a missile. So I don't think he didn't remember that. I think he fabricated that story.
Jon Stewart, we got a case here of infotainment confusion syndrome. It occurs when the celebrity cortex gets its wires crossed with the medulla anchor Dahla, even Whoopi Goldberg.
When he first told the story, he told the story as it happened. And every time he told it again, it got more exciting. He was more this was more of that. And by the time he was finished, he was on the helicopter. I'm sorry. You know, it's it's stolen valor, you can get a if you impersonate a soldier, say you were in combat, you can actually get arrested and charged and put in jail for doing just what he did.
He's reprehensible. He's disgusting and like is the lying coward.
He's been telling the story for 12 years in.
This goes on for months. NBC suspends him six months without pay, culminating with a public penance on the Today show. Matt Lauer in the interview said, What have these past five months been like for you?
It has been torture for now. Maybe you don't care about Brian Williams. A lot has happened since his scandal. He currently has a nightly show on MSNBC at 11:00 Eastern. He's going to be fine in the grand scheme of things.
What does it matter? Well, it matters because of what the case exposes about our understanding of memory, Brian Williams remembered a traumatic event one way. Then a couple of years later, he started remembering that same event a different way. And the assumption of virtually everyone who weighed in on the case was this. If someone changes their original story, then they must be lying, that the change must be deliberate and self aggrandizing. Everyone assumes memory is a kind of time stamped video of what happened in your life and that if you contradict the evidence of the video, you're up to no good.
I'm sorry, but that's insane. Free Brian Williams. These days, it seems like people are putting CBD in everything is a whole lot of noise. There's one company from Vermont that's worth the hype, sunshine.
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That's the U.N. That's who I l dotcom Malcolm for 30 percent off your first order. Sunsilk dot com slash Malcolm. I'm going to ask you a series of questions about the morning of September 11th, 2001. I'm talking with my friend Dee Dee Gordon. I've known her forever. How did you first learn about the attack on the towers?
Um, I had just taken my dogs out for a walk, and I had bought the New York Post. The New York Times.
And I remember Paris Hilton was on the cover of The New York Post, I think, and I went and I, you know, took my walk around the block and I came up to my apartment and I was like sitting at my counter reading the newspapers. And I saw all these people standing out on Hudson Street staring up in the middle of the street.
And so I poked my head out the window. I couldn't really see what was going on. And then I turned on the television and, you know, saw what was happening.
What did you do next? I went up and, you know, I either called you or I went up to your apartment. I can't remember. It was one of the it was one of two things either. I think I called you. I think I called you because you're upstairs.
Did Gordon and I used to live in the same building in the West Village above a bodega.
Whenever she came up to see me, she would sing the theme song from the sitcom Three's Company Come and Knock on her door where you called me before you went out on the street or after you in on the street.
I called you before. Oh, did I. And did I picked up. You did. And I was like, you need to look out your window and you didn't turn on the news.
Did you see me that morning or did you leave before I came down.
Now we saw each other and you were like, well I got to go fly someplace today.
And I remember I said to you, I go, what? In the airports are closed? And you're like, Oh, well, I guess I'll leave tomorrow morning. And I said, Oh, like, you're going to get on a plane. Like, I thought you were crazy.
And you said, Gordon, this is the safest time to fly. Do you remember that? No, I don't see you now, so first of all, your memory for this stuff is kind of phenomenal. How certain are you about all of those memories you just told me?
How certain am I? Yeah, I'm pretty certain. Now, let me ask you the same questions I was just asking. Did how did you first learn about what happened on 9/11? Where were you? What were you doing? How did you feel when you first became aware of the attack? Who was the first person you talked to about the attack? What were you doing immediately before you became aware of it? I'm going to guess that many of you can answer every one of those questions, maybe not with the same specificity as Didi, because she has an amazing memory.
But you can tell me where you were when you heard the news. I was in bed, did he called me. I went down to Hudson Street and stood in the crowd watching the Twin Towers burn. Then I went down to a little coffee shop around the corner from my house and sat there with a cup of tea in silence. 911 is what's called a flashbulb event, a big dramatic incident that series itself into our memories and as a whole subspecialty in psychology devoted to the study of flashbulb memories.
You ask someone where they were right after something dramatic or historic happened. Then you come back to them months or years later and ask them again and measure how accurate their memories are. There have been countless studies like this over the years. One was done after the death of Princess Di, another after the resignation of Margaret Thatcher, the Challenger explosion, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the election of Barack Obama, the O.J. Simpson verdict. Not surprisingly, there was one done after 9/11 as well.
So 9/11 happened and I got together with a former student of mine at NYU, Liz Phelps, the 9/11 project was headed by Bill Hurst from the New School and Liz Phelps at New York University.
I went to see Hearst and he told me that he and Phelps had come up with the idea over dinner on September 12th in a restaurant close enough to the towers that you could smell the smoke. Her says that he and Phelps realized they could do the mother of all flashbulb studies, so the next day they reached out to colleagues around the country, Boston, New Haven, New York, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Palo Alto and Santa Cruz. A total of 3000 246 subjects asked the same questions I just asked you.
Where were you? Who were you with? How did you feel?
The participants were asked the same questions a year later and two years later and finally on the 10th anniversary of the attack in 2011. So what did the researchers find? Well, first, that everyone knows where they were when they heard the towers fell, just like me. Indeed, it's burned into memory. But are those memories accurate? No, they're not, especially in the first year after a flashbulb event, all kinds of discrepancies creep in. One of the respondents first said she was in the kitchen making breakfast when she heard about the attack.
A year later, she swore she was in the laundry room folding her clothes. Another said in 2001 that she saw the attack while watching the Today show. A year later, she was convinced that a girl in her dorm had rushed into her room and told her. So when we look at these kinds of inaccuracies and inconsistencies that creep into how large is the variability among the subjects, those to say, do we have some who get everything wrong in retrospect?
And somehow right now, I would say that the variability is fairly small. Some people get everything right, some people get more wrong. But it's not a huge variability.
Hurst finds on average a 60 percent decline in memory consistency, meaning 60 percent of the answers changed over time.
You would think that everything about 9/11 would be seared into our minds, one of the most dramatic days of our generation, but everything is not. Second thing even more crucial, are we aware that our memories of 9/11 are flawed? No, we're not. Our confidence in the accuracy of our memories of that day is sky high. They're super high.
And why walk the midst of a dumb question? But walk me through. Why are they so high?
Her says 9/11 is like a death in the family. We feel we have a responsibility to remember if you had only vague memories of where you were when you found out your mother died.
Well, I would think like what kind of person are you? How could you not remember that? Are New Yorkers confidence levels higher and everybody's confidence levels so high? So it's hard to differentiate?
Yeah, we're all absolutely sure about what happened to us on 9/11. My friend Didi can talk about that morning just as if it were yesterday. And I will swear on a stack of Bibles that she called me on the phone and then I ran downstairs and then eventually ended up sitting numb and alone in a coffee shop. And yet it is almost certainly the case that we are wrong on at least half of those details. It did not happen that way.
Her says that the participants in flashbulb studies refused to accept this fact. They will not admit that their memories are wrong. Take the flashbulb study done after the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986, the psychologist in charge sat down with people months later and showed them how differently they describe things. Right after the disaster, he showed them what they actually wrote, he says, is that their handwriting? And they say, yes, but I don't know why I wrote that, because it's wrong.
You know, I agree. It's my handwriting. I agree. I must have written that. But I don't know why I lied because I clearly remember I was in the dorm even though this piece of paper says I was in the cafeteria. So this is overwhelming confidence that people have. Now, why are we so adamant on the subject of memory? Because we're memory fundamentalists, we think our memory is a camera recording our life in real time with a video timestamped and stored for later retrieval.
It's not like memory is when you remember something, you're retrieving it and it remains absolutely stable. And then you put it in the footlights of your consciousness. It's it's more that it when you retrieve it, it's open up to the possibility of change. Every time we retrieve a memory, in other words, there's a chance it can get contaminated, we hear some new detail somewhere about the event and without realizing it, we just added in memory, researchers talk a lot about what they call time slice errors.
A couple of things happen in the same general time frame and we get the sequence all jumbled up. Dee says she and I talked in person that morning of 9/11, I have no recollection of it, but she does.
I'm almost positive we spoke inside the apartment. Yeah, yeah. And then I realized that I was getting on a plane the next day. Oh, yeah.
And you were like kind of cocky about it, too. You're like you kind of looked at me like, oh, Gordon, stop being so neurotic and you're like, don't you know, this is the safest time to get on an airplane is when something like this happens.
It could be I could be really quite condescending.
It turns out it's my favorite thing about you. I decided to do a little fact checking. I still have my date books from 2001. I'm pretty meticulous about keeping track of my travel and I did not have an airplane trip planned for September 12th. Now, maybe I'm mistaken, maybe he's right. But according to my records, I flew to Montreal on September 19th.
Eight days later. I think our conversation about flights must have been right before that trip, because why would I say it's the safest time to fly on the morning of 9/11? That's something you would only say after the airports had reopened with much tighter security. I think dealing a time slice there. At some point she mistakenly moved that memory to the morning of 9/11 because it seems plausible that we would have talked about planes that morning. Now, does that make Didi a liar?
Is she working? Some self promoting angle is one of the most honest people I've ever met. She simply did what human beings do when it comes to traumatic events. There is our memory and there is the truth. And the two are not the same. OK, so what if it's not 9/11, what if it's a couple of years later at the very beginning of the Iraq war? What if I'm in a convoy of helicopters deep in enemy territory, scared out of my wits and the helicopter ahead of me gets hit?
And I'm a reporter and I interview lots of people that day about what happened and retell the story so many times that their details become my details. And I start to think that it was my helicopter that got hit.
When I read your paper, the first person that came to mind is Brian Williams. Yes. Yes. Didn't he just committed an incredibly normal human? Yes, that was my view. And it was the view of most of the people in the memory field that I know of. You're of the mind that he genuinely believed the story as he told it. Yes. Now, do you see Brian Williams predicament, everyone thinks he's lying in order to paint himself as some heroic war correspondent, but he doesn't think he's lying.
He honestly believes he was in the lead helicopter with the same confidence we all have in our flashbulb memories. He remembers plain as day that I was catching a flight on September 12. People in flashbulbs studies look at their own handwriting from years earlier and say that can't be right. That's not how I remember it. And on Thursday, NBC News announced that Brian Williams, a twenty two year veteran of this network, would not be returning as the anchor of NBC Nightly News.
He steps down when Brian Williams does his penance on The Today show in mid 2013. He and Matt Lauer go around and around in circles.
I told the story correctly four years before I told it incorrectly. I was not trying to mislead people. That, to me, is a huge difference here.
But Matt Lauer is having none of it.
I worry, as you say this, Brian, that people who are going to have listen to your apology on air and in other areas, Facebook and Stars and Stripes, who heard you use words like conflated aircraft or made mistakes with my memory of certain things are now going to hear what you're saying now. And they're going to say he's still saying he didn't intend to mislead people and yet he didn't tell the truth and he had to know, is the guy who lived through those experiences that it wasn't the truth?
He had to know as the guy who lived through those experiences that it wasn't the truth? No, that's 100 percent wrong. What should Matt Lauer have said? He should have said, Brian, memory is fallible. You're a public figure, for goodness sake. The next time you go on national TV to tell a war story, go back and check to see if your story is accurate. But Lauer doesn't say that the Today Show interview was billed as tough minded, uncompromising journalism.
It was actually the opposite. An interrogation about memory conducted by someone who hasn't the slightest clue how memories work. And what is Brian Williams supposed to do?
He has no defense. All he can do is debase himself. I understand it. This came from clearly a bad place, a bad urge inside me. This was clearly ego driven, the desire to better my role in a story I was already in.
That's what I've been tearing apart and unpacking.
This comes from clearly a bad place.
Once again, wrong. It comes from the most human of places.
And Matt Lauer, Matt Lauer, for heaven's sake, puts on the high ad several days after you told the story on Nightly News, you went on the air and you apologized. And I just said, you you use terms like I'm mistaken. I was mistaken in my recollections. Did you give thought at the time to going on the air and saying, I lied?
Matt Lauer, by the way, had an entire staff whose job it was to prepare him for interviews. This research on memory is not a secret. Bill Hearst is at the new school on 14th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Hearst co-author Liz Phelps is at NYU down the street from Rockefeller Center, where the Today Show is taped. Two of the world's leading experts on memory are four subway stops away on the body trains. On a nice day, Lauer could have walked it.
How hard is this not to put words in your mouth, but had you gone on the air that night and said, Folks, I lied and I'm sorry, do you think the outcome would have been different? Do you think forgiveness would have come sooner? Except he didn't lie. Lying in this instance would be Brian Williams pretending that he deliberately made up that story. So Matt Lauer is saying that he would rather Williams had lied and confessed that he lied rather than having told the truth, that he honestly thought he was telling the truth.
The Council of Cardinals could not make sense of the moral logic of that. And. There's an old adage, which I'm sure has been quoted, too, so many times, you're sick of price service, quality pick any two can have everything. Actually had an argument with some guy recently who gave me that line. And I said, why do I have to pick two? And he said, Because you can't do all three. Name me something that is inexpensive, easy to use and install and have high quality.
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There's nothing to lose that's simply safe. Dotcom slash Gladwell. By the way, it's worth noting that the whole Brian Williams saga is a case study in memory failure. CNN's Brian Stelter interviews Don Hallis, the pilot of the helicopter that got shot down.
He asked tell us when he first heard Brian Williams mischaracterizing what happened. And Hallis says, oh, a few weeks later when I got back to Kuwait, meaning in 2003.
This is this is crucial, Mr. Halis, because according to the timeline that we've been looking at for the past several days, it wasn't until about twenty seven that Brian Williams began to embellish this story about being actually nearby or even on the chopper that was struck by the RPG. So you're saying you heard it on television in two thousand three. Well, I'm saying I heard on the Internet that was an interview over an Internet video of the television segment. Yeah, yes.
Stelter is way too nice to say it, but Helus can't be right. His recollection is off by four years. And does he realize how badly he's misremembered the dates?
No, he's adamant. Then another man comes forward, the pilot of William's helicopter, and claims they did take small arms fire, goes on. CNN adds some gossipy details. Then a day later, the pilot takes it all back. Quote, The information I gave you was true based on my memories. But at this point, I'm questioning my memories, which might be the first self-aware thing said by anyone during this whole sorry affair.
In the Brian Williams case, everyone was allowed to have a bad memory except Brian Williams.
Sorry to harp on him, but I did think of this. If he was treated very unfairly, he was, I think absolutely I will. I'm waiting to see the formation of cognitive psychologists for Brian Williams as a lobby group.
I was I was thinking of doing it. I felt so sorry for him.
Thanks for doing this, Rose. Thank you for joining us for Ronin, and thank you, everybody, for coming. Yes, hello.
Not long ago, after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, I went to a talk in Manhattan at the 90 Second Street. Why it was a conversation between Rose McGowan, who was the first actress to go on the record with accusations against Weinstein and Ronan Farrow, who wrote the definitive, devastating account of the Weinstein case for The New Yorker magazine. It was a fascinating and sometimes strange evening. McGowan speaks in a kind of elliptical poetry. It's not always obvious what she means.
Farrow was a lawyer before he turned to journalism.
His rigorous I and a someone asked me if you were in Oz. Who would you be? Who would you be, Rose, a curtain? I would be the curtain.
You're not the man behind the curtain. You are the curtain.
I am the curtain. The curtains. Very pretty. A curtain gets used, kicked aside. Nobody really notices the curtain. They're appreciative that it's there, but it's pulled inside and it's done. But it absorbs everything from both sides from this side. Presentational. It looks so great, too, right. This is the curtain that you see from the back side. You see everything, too. But nobody noticed the curtain, the curtains, taking notes.
McGowan is someone who requires an interpreter, and there was one moment that really struck me when Farrow talked about what being an interpreter meant, he was trying to get people at NBC where he worked at the time, to take McGowan's accusations seriously.
I spent a year listening to a lot of powerful men call these women who were relating the worst experiences of a lifetime.
Crazy, call them unstable, call them unreliable narrators and a lot worse things that I won't repeat on this stage. You know, that was something that was lobbed at your story countless times. I sat in rooms and defended the fact that I got on the record testimony from you matter and what you say to people like NBC.
A few minutes later, the two of them start talking about what it takes for a story like McGowan's to break through all the skepticism and indifference.
I think when women come forward individually and they do a blog post or a social media post and tell their story, that's great. The question is, it's then incumbent on reporters to do right by that.
And the best way to do justice, I think, to any person coming forward with a difficult story is to interrogate it as thoroughly as possible and, you know, lend credence, of course, where it's you.
One of the battle cries of the fight against sexual predation has been believe the women, but notice that's not what Farrow is saying he did. He says the best way to do justice to any person coming forward with a difficult story is to interrogate it as thoroughly as possible and lend credence where it's due.
Farrow didn't believe Rose McGowan. Farrell listened to Rose McGowan. He took her seriously. That's what memory demands. What if Rose McGowan had said that she'd been assaulted by Weinstein in a hotel room in Paris and it turned out to have been in London and she said it had happened in March and it turned out to be July. Can you imagine her on the Today show twisting and turning as she tries to defend that lapse in memory to Matt Lauer? You said you were in Paris.
You were miles away in London. You had to know was the woman who lived through those experiences that it wasn't the truth? But remembering yourself in one place when you are actually in another does not mean that you're lying. It just means that uncovering the truth requires an understanding of what memory can and cannot do.
If we don't get the small cases right, the Brian Williams cases, we're going to be helpless.
The big cases looking back, it had to have been ego that made me think I had to be sharper, funnier, quicker than anybody else put myself closer to the action, having been at the action in the beginning.
Oh, please stop apologizing for a crime you didn't commit. Free Brian Williams. The senior producer is Mia Lobell with Jacob Smith and Camille Baptista. Our editor is Julia Barton Flon. Williams is our engineer, fact checking by Beth Johnson, original music by Louis Scarra. Special thanks to Andy Bowers and Jacob Weisberg. I'm Malcolm Gladwell. So what's interesting is so I'm sure you called me. And you're sure you called me, but there is a I'm almost 100 percent positive I called you and I am I am too.
But there is a chance that you didn't call me. There isn't a chance, because I know I called you, I know you called me too, but I know I know it's incredibly hard to deal with, but it's like there's a chance you do. I mean, there's a chance you knocked on my door.
You know, but I think you're thinking about did I really knock on his door because I respected your privacy as you respected mine and I would have never just one went up to knock on your door just in case that you had, like, a lady up there or something.
So in respect for that, I would have probably called you first, just not even if not even if, like, the Twin Towers are smoking on.
You know, I would have not walked upstairs to interrupt your your intimate moment with a lady friend, even if the Twin Towers were on fire. But please don't include that in your podcast.
Knock on door Come. Waiting for you may be waiting for you. This is all history. It's Michael Lewis here I'm back with Against the Rules. Oh. Last season, I talked about the attack on referees and the idea of fairness homerun this season is all about the rise of coaches in American life.
Now, what are you doing?
It wasn't that long ago that we only had coaches in sports. You need to stop being a lazy piece and work for your picture or I'm going to kick your ass.
Got it. Now coaches are everywhere.
Shut up. So I'll give you positivity. There are people who call themselves life coaches and other people who call themselves death coaches. There's a saying which is therapy is a positive and coaching is the path of laughter. You can hire a coach to improve your executive skills, your online dating performance and even your charisma. I am here to guide you in making sure you grow as a person.
But the rise of coaching is connected to unfairness. The richest, best performing people in the world have the most coaching.
That guy would never have gotten to Yale, but this guy who got all this coaching did get into Yale.
It just seems like anyone who can answer these questions has got to be coach who's coaching the Uber driver. Coaching just ends up making the rich richer. Yeah. Join me for season two of Against the Rules from Pushkin Industries. I might even get a little coaching myself. So, Michael, if you had something you wanted to be coached on, what would that be? I'm not telling, at least yet. Against the rules is back May 5th, subscribe wherever you get your podcast.