Muckraking polemicist Matt Taibbi said that when it comes to the last two presidents, there’s no question who did a better job of holding America’s tycoons accountable.
The former Rolling Stone writer, who joined Glenn Greenwald and company at The Intercept earlier this year, said in an interview Tuesday with Democracy Now! that George W. Bush boasts a much stronger track record of going after corporate America than President Barack Obama.
Taibbi’s latest book, “The Divide,” explores how the America’s yawning wealth gap has created injustice throughout the country’s judicial system.
AMY GOODMAN: Who was tougher on corporate America, President Obama or President Bush?
MATT TAIBBI: Oh, Bush, hands down. And this is an important point to make, because if you go back to the early 2000s, think about all these high-profile cases: Adelphia, Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen. All of these companies were swept up by the Bush Justice Department. And what’s interesting about this is that you can see a progression. If you go back to the savings and loan crisis in the late ’80s, which was an enormous fraud problem, but it paled in comparison to the subprime mortgage crisis, we put about 800 people in jail during—in the aftermath of that crisis. You fast-forward 10 or 15 years to the accounting scandals, like Enron and Adelphia and Tyco, we went after the heads of some of those companies. It wasn’t as vigorous as the S&L prosecutions, but we at least did it. At least George Bush recognized the symbolic importance of showing ordinary Americans that justice is blind, right?
Fast-forward again to the next big crisis, and how many people have we got—have we actually put in jail? Zero. And this was a crisis that was much huger in scope than the S&L crisis or the accounting crisis. I mean, it wiped out 40 percent of the world’s wealth, and nobody went to jail, so that we’re now in a place where we don’t even recognize the importance of keeping up appearances when it comes to making things look equal.
Taibbi’s comments about Bush and Obama came at the 49-minute mark.