tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg July 11, 2017 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: after a nearly nine-month battle, the u.s.-back led forces have taken the iraqi city of mosul from isis. it is a victory in the larger campaign against the islamic state, but it comes with a heavy price. the united nations warns of a looming humanitarian crisis in the badly damaged city. u.s. and iraqi officials say while the loss of mosul is a significant blow to isis, it is far from a total defeat. in a statement released yesterday, senator john mccain said it is better to think of today as the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end.
joining me is nick paton walsh, senior international correspondent for cnn. i am pleased to have him on the program. describe what the scene is like today. nick: we are at the river level in the old city of mosul, which marks the back end of the isis territory. it was once the second-largest place they could call their own territory in terms of population in the country. at river level today, there were still intense clashes. a small pocket of isis fighters ducking into rubble. it is like the surface of the moon, the old city of mosul the , old city is absolutely destroyed inch by inch by the fighting. the bombardments, often supplied by american coalition forces, the airstrike definitely caused , some isis fighters to surrender. we saw them walking to the iraqi special forces. intense fighting. it was apparently still going on monday iraqi prime minister, after 48 hours of making people wait, finally gave his
declaration of victory mosul. those smaller pockets not distracting people from the broader fact that there is perhaps a chapter in iraq's history that is quietly being closed. there are pockets of isis that have to be confronted, but they can no longer claim a major population center like mosul being a place they can actively contest. charlie: tell me what it has done to mosul. nick: there's barely a street that has escaped unscathed. certainly the old city, you drive through streets that have been cleared by bulldozers, are -- remarkably quickly by the iraqi army, but they are lined with cars that have been torn up like paper, flipped and pancaked, by the repeated explosions. it is hard to imagine anything like it. it is like a supernatural power.
you move out to the other parts of mosul, there has been intense coalition firepower to push isis back into that city part. eight months of grueling defense. even a couple miles of less away from where the fighting was people are out on the streets, , selling kebabs, and people selling paint, traffic clogging the streets. people desperate to get back to normality after nearly a year's worth of fighting around mosul. then the broader question of how do they rebuild? charlie: how were they able to do it? the iraqis had help from american air support, and what else? nick: to some degree, just the sheer tenacity of will. civilians were initially encouraged to stay in their homes, so they didn't see a massive refugee exodus. that slowed the initial offensive in the east.
they were scared of getting civilians killed as they advanced. then we saw and we saw iraqi -- we saw iraqi special forces, quite high casualty rates. that slowed things. now to the east, this success has basically been a lot of coordination, helping the iraqis shape their final offense. in the final stage, they managed to get the federal police in play, the iraqi army to the north of the old city, and iraqi u.s. trained special forces plowing through the middle. that seems to be where the success has come from. coalition air power and artillery taking out those elements of isis that have done in and providing consistent resistance, giving the extra edge of accuracy and firepower to special forces, who are often caught in the chaos of the rubble. charlie: how long will it take them to eliminate the last remaining pockets of resistance? nick: could be a matter of
hours, it could be happening as we speak or it could stretch , into the day. we don't know how many are stuck in the rubble. they are desperate, because their future is in the hands of the iraqi federal police, and it is not bright. many stories of summary execution reported by human rights groups. they are stuck in the remainder of what they viewed as their broader project for an ideological caliphate. it is unlikely they will give themselves up easily. we did see some groups emerging who appeared to run out of ammunition or the will to fight back. this could be lengthy. what we saw today, dozens of houses, some already reduced to rubble. they may have civilians. some were used as human shields. we still don't know. it is now down to an incredibly small area. when the prime minister announced victory, he was talking in the broader sense. the truth, we're still seeing.
-- we are still seeing pockets of resistance. charlie: we are just beginning to hear all of the stories of slaughter and torture, and the destruction of families. nick: and bear in mind that while the individual stories will take years, and we are seeing how life under isis gave many so much absolute horror and terror, this cloud through the city has brought its own gas stly stories of human suffering. there is the broader question of iraq somehow healed its sectarian divide. remember, the crisis has come about because the sunni minority was feeling disenfranchised. they ran the country under saddam hussein, but then he falls and the shia majority took over. the government and military were on separate sides of the front line, these ethnic groups, during the fight against isis. their suspicion of each other
has never been higher, but they have to bridge the divide to get reconstruction and social healing on track to some degree. that is the biggest task. the fight against isis has done nothing but increase the sectarian hatred in the country. i think the fear now is the speed of reconstruction and growth of trust has to occur at a rate that has not really been seen in the past 15 years of turmoil, since saddam hussein fell. that is a steep task, not steeper than the bloodshed and horror of kicking isis out militarily, but one that is possibly more vital if we are not to see in the future some kind of reincarnation of isis. remember, they were a reincarnation of al qaeda. what is next depends on how fast society charlie: i know it is can heal. charlie: i know it is very late. thank you for staying up for us.
i am pleased to have both of them on this program. i want to quote john mccain, who said, this is the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end. is he right? >> i think he's absolutely right. i don't know of anyone who believes we are able to put an end to islamic extremism or violence in iraq. we still have the problem of at least three towns under isis occupation. they have no idea whether they will stay behind. we have the problem of syria, and we also have a country where there are many other islamist elements, divisions between sunni and shiite, kurd and arab. this is an important tactical victory, but it doesn't bring stability to iraq. it doesn't eliminate the threat.
isis is only responsible for about 11% of the acts of terrorism in 2016. that puts isis into perspective. charlie: a mosul resident told the new york times that there's no such thing as the phrase after isis. isis is a mentality and that mentality will not end with guns alone. >> i think that's correct. you have a country with massive unemployment, critical problems, it is rated as one of the most corrupt governments in the world, and one went the highest levels of popular resentment.
you can go on and on. you have the problem of creating stability and security, and moving forward in development and defeating isis alone in one city, important as it is, doesn't shape the future. charlie: david, could this victory, however you measure it, could it have happened much earlier with different policies? >> if you go back to the beginning of the story, yes, if the u.s. had been able to maintain a presence in iraq, the rise of isis would have been retarded, maybe prevented altogether. there is a chain of mistakes that led to the isis break out in taking mosul. 2014, while i agree that we are far from the end of the story, there are so many question marks that surround the political future of both iraq and syria.
i also think it would be a mistake not to see the victory in mosul and corresponding successes in syria as important. what has struck me is that an iraqi military that had proved really incapable of holding and clearing territory, just has become a more efficient fighting force. the iraqi counterterrorism service has taken significant casualties. so have other elements of the iraqi internal security forces, not just the elite counterterrorism service. the iraqi military worked better with the kurds then i thought they would in my two visits last year. i thought they were headed for a real crackup.
that didn't happen. the same thing in syria. our local partners have fought better and with less ethnic friction then we feared in this campaign's beginning. it is not the end, it is not perfect, terrible problems ahead, but we should note the elements of success that are there. charlie: and those elements, as you mention in syria, are they in place so they can take raqqa soon? >> two weeks ago, i was to the west of raqqa in a city that has been cleared by the syrian and kurdish-led allies. those forces have entered raqqa city. the assessment of u.s. commanders on the scene is that this battle is going better and quicker than they had thought. i think they imagined that this would take certainly to the end of this year to complete the clearing of raqqa. a big city, it had 300,000 people before the war. they think it would go a good
deal quicker as every syrian who can get out is trying to. they are foreign fighters who won't leave, or are trying to. there are big fights ahead on the lower euphrates, which will be tough battles. huge political questions. but raqqa is going pretty quickly. charlie: have we found out more about the russian suggestion that they had killed al-baghdadi? >> i have asked u.s. commanders, and they say they have absolutely no confirmation. they have tried very hard to track this down. they have no electronic emission that would tell them one way or the other, whether he's dead or alive. all they can say is if he is still commanding isis forces, it is invisible to the u.s. charlie: tony, back to the question of the region and the u.s. role. what do you see for the future? >> i think some things are clear. no one believes we can halt the
air campaign until we finish at least the liberation of all the towns and cities. david pointed out, this is still action underway. we are talking, after all, literally thousands and thousands of u.s. and allied parties. it isn't that the iraqi forces improved all that much, but they have an absolute monopoly on air power. we radically changed our support and training effort, so we put fire support units, multiple rocket launchers, other weapons forward. we put special forces into the iraqi combat units to stiffen them and give them leadership and experience they needed. if you look at this year's defense budget, there is a very substantial amount of money programs to help iraq and the kurds and other elements in syria in the future what isn't
-- in the future. what is not clear yet is whether we're going to help iraq and syria actually recover and create the kind of political, economic social structure and patterns of governance that can bring social stability. this is something that is being studied, but talking to senior officials, the reaction has been, we are talking a lot, but we don't have clear plans yet. there does seem to be a deep division as to how much aid we are going to provide and whether we are going to be involved in anything approaching what called -- what has come to be called nationbuilding. charlie: david, i heard you said on television that part of that success in terms of the use of american military, whether it's on the ground or air strike, has
to do with the present decision to move authority not only to the secretary of defense, general mattis, but also commanders in the field. explain that to us. >> i can give you a very specific example of the way in which the trump administration's delegation of the military authority downward has had a good effect. in the spring of this year, kurdish commanders in syria who are leading the so-called syrian democratic forces, believed that they could surprise isis from the south in a city to the west of raqqa.
they have a huge hydroelectric dam, a strategic gateway to raqqa. they needed to get across a large expanse of water. they had 500 fighters who had probably never seen an aircraft, let alone flown in one. within three days of the proposal of the syrian kurdish commander, let's do this, to the actual commencement of the operation, it took place. i am told there was not a single white house meeting to discuss it. it was relegated to general townsend, the commander in baghdad who organized this. he got the zodiac boats to take heavy equipment across the lake. then they ended up on the ground. it was a bloody battle.
they had over 100 killed, 300 wounded. that's a lot of people to get killed. they took out the isis force that had been entrenched there for almost three years. the obama administration, i can't imagine they're not being an extensive interagency process, white house meetings, back-and-forth. that's the way the obama administration did things. in this case, it went right to the commanders and it happened quickly. this is a significant tactical success in the raqqa campaign. charlie: what is going to change because whatever the president and the president of russia agreed on in respect to syria? you are smiling, i think. >> i don't think they knew. we heard about de-escalation zones. it's not quite clear what that means. there is a serious question as
to the extent to which iran and the assad forces are trying to establish some kind of corridor that would connect with the shiite elements in iraq and then onto iran. and part of that corridor, it would potentially go to the de-escalation zone. it says nothing about governance in syria, nothing about stability or what happens to people. it's one of the areas of rhetoric where at the end of it, you know almost less hearing the words than you did before the announcement. charlie: david? with tony, there is uncertainty about what this means. the watchword for this whole campaign is -- the u.s. has decided the limits of what it can do, the leverage, the ability to shape the future. there is a kind of ad hoc improvised quality. that is the case with the u.s.-russian cooperation. three weeks ago, when the syrian fighter jet was shot down, there were some initial minutes or a couple of hours of real uncertainty over whether this
would escalate in a very dangerous way. the u.s. and russian commanders, through their decommission, arrangements were able to keep that in check and, over the following week, were able to establish an arc south of raqqa and establish areas in which the two forces and their allies would operate. charlie: there's also north korea. everybody says the same thing. there is no good solution, no easy solution. there may be no military solution. when they say that, for the obvious reason that the north koreans could rain down on south korea, and perhaps on japan as well, and create all kinds of problems for the u.s., and we don't know how north koreans may
be irrational, is there a solution other than negotiations? >> i don't think anybody can predict when you get into contest and escalation which side will stop sooner and make concessions. but i think people exaggerate north korean capabilities. not so much that there isn't a really serious threat to seoul, but this is a really incredibly poor country. people really don't pay attention to the economy to the , vulnerabilities, the limits that make it so vulnerable to any kind of precision strike or attack. certainly, striking at a nuclear reactor, you can't talk about that without it immediately sending a warning signal.
but things like the missile centers, missile production facilities, could you risk a precision strike? could you set deadlines or redlines? the question will be how much resolve deal have, and how many risks will you take? it is not that there are not military options there's just no , way to know which side will stop escalating and how much damage will be done once youdamu start. charlie: who was it that said the other guy just blinked? >> the problem is, what happens if you blink? charlie: david, north korea? >> i think the problem with the precision strike, the nuclear -- the surgical decapitation of the nuclear program, is that it's impossible to be confident that south korea, the city of seoul, wouldn't pay a terrible price.
the last time the u.s. looked seriously at this in the clinton administration, the defense secretary, after initially secretary, after looking at it decided it would have been , too risky, and too many civilian lives would be lost. the estimates of lives lost ranged into the hundreds of thousands. charlie: thank you both so much for joining me this evening. we will be right back. stay with us. ♪ jeff: on july 4, 1939, louqqqqq
gehrig delivered one of the most memorable speeches in human history. he declared himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth despite having recently been diagnosed with als, the disease that would take his life less than two years later. richard sandomir writes about the life of the iron horse and the movie that would shape his legacy. his latest movie is "the pride of the yankees: lou gehrig, gary cooper, and the making of a classic." i'm pleased to welcome richard to this table. good to see you. the book moves.
it is a nice examination of how it came together. what's interesting is a lot of people didn't really know about the speech until the movie came out. richard: i think people were struck by two things, that he would declare himself the luckiest man on earth. and, minimize what he had happened by saying it was a bad break. they were 62,000 people watching the speech but people did not know exactly what was wrong with lou. als was a mystery and you didn't know how long he had to live, whether he would come back to play. jeff: the movie really crystallizes it. it brought that speech, his attitude toward his disease to the mass audience. the years since, we have lost most of what it said. the movie version with cooper delivering the intact speech is the only one we have.
jeff: how much different was the speech that cooper delivered in the movie? richard: the luckiest man line moved from the second line in the gehrig speech to the last line for dramatic emphasis in the movie. the movie version is shorter and thanks fewer people but it has the same attitude. jeff: did you start thinking about this book because of the movie or because of lou gehrig or was it a combination of both? richard: i think i became fascinated about a dozen years ago with the gehrig speech. and i started wondering, why can't i see the whole thing? i started getting more obsessed with the movie and the speech there. the interest in the movie led me wynthe samuel goldman -- gold archives in beverly hills where everything is laid out. everything is there. jeff: let's talk about samuel
goldwyn's involvement. the book starts with the description of gehrig's life and death but quickly, hollywood pounces. how quickly did all of that come together? richard: a deal was made between -- he died in early june of 1941. a deal was made between his wife eleanor gehrig and samuel , goldwyn. the studios were not overwhelmed with the idea of doing a gehrig film, but they didn't get a good bit until goldman sat down in his storeroom and said, watch this newsreel. down in thedwyn sat storeroom and said, watch this newsreel. he watched the newsreel and stayed through the entire thing until gehrig delivered a speech. samuel goldwyn is crying.
he says, play it again. he ordered his number two guy to reach out and make a deal. jeff: eleanor is a huge part of lou gehrig's life in defining his legacy, and putting herself in that category. richard: she wrote a book about 30 years later which became another movie in the 1970's. for this movie, she played the role of the legacy keeper. she would write letters to goldwyn saying, look at this script, it is wrong. you can have him wearing a suit in a yankees office. you can't have lou hit four home runs in a world series game, so they had him hit two home runs in a world series game.
-- for a little boy with polio in the hospital. didn't happen but it wasn't , four. jeff: she was intently trying to define his legacy. richard: she really wanted cooper to deliver the speech exactly as her husband did. the problem with that is that there really was no script, no text. gehrig went up there without anything. here is a guy who didn't deliver speeches. this is between double-headers. his body is starting to wither. people were afraid he was going to fall. he goes up there without anything in hand. when eleanor says to goldwyn, i want you to do this, she said, here was a copy of the speech from memory. it appears that was never written down. when the newspapers covered it they weren't prepared for the , speech. there was no transcript. there were so many things in there that were different from eleanor's official version. jeff: goldwyn really dragged out
the announcement of who would play lou gehrig. a lot of people thought it would begin recoup her. in the end, gary cooper was perfect for the role. richard: eleanor wanted cooper. cooper was in his last picture of his contract with goldwyn, with whom he had a tempestuous relationship at times. o'hara likerlet search. he had cosmopolitan magazine, sporting news, the gallup organization, a radio trade magazine, all out there. you would hear names like eddie albert, cary grant, even babe ruth. the two players who succeeded and preceded lou gehrig at first base were mentioned. eddie albert, the guy who is the star of green acres. i don't think anybody expected anybody else but cooper. jeff: babe ruth is a big part of lou gehrig's baseball career but
also the movie. he was a big draw for the movie. the real-life babe ruth who was then, what, 47? richard: babe had been a little forgotten by then. he retired and nobody wanted him to manage. he was playing a lot of golf and eating a lot. he lost about 50 pounds to play the role. if someone was looking for real baseball in the movie, they got babe ruth. babe ruth could still swing like babe ruth. he couldn't hit like babe ruth anymore, he had to herself you times before he got a home run. but he was babe ruth. he invented the movies before, he had done some silent movies. he knew how to play babe ruth pretty damn well. eleanor did not want him in the movie. eleanor felt that, much like her husband playing in the shadow of babe ruth all those years, for about a decade, she didn't want babe taking any attention away from gary cooper. she probably knew that wasn't
going to happen, that if goldwyn knew anything about baseball, babe ruth was a big deal. he was essentially the third star of the movie right below gary cooper and teresa wright. jeff: gary cooper didn't necessarily know much about baseball either. richard: no, he owned a small piece of a minor league team with a bunch of hollywood stars. in fact, they owned a team called the hollywood stars. he needed six weeks of tutoring by a former national league batting star. one thing he did was, he said, ok, you are a righty, gehrig was a lefty. he said, you know how to chop a tree, don't you? he gave him an ax and had him swing at a tree take this. cooper, not having any skills as a baseball layer didn't have to , unlearn bad habits. there were people who say he was terrible as lou gehrig.
if you watch him, it's not that bad considering he needed to learn in six weeks. in 1942, there wasn't the great requirement that actors be as athletic as they are right now. and actor with gary cooper's skills as a baseball player would not be in a movie like this right now. jeff: they did do a pretty good job, through editing and training of him, to put them there as a baseball player. richard: they made sure the ball did not make contact with the bat too often. there was one scene that he's in an arcade with a tuxedo, hitting the ball, and he's making regular contact. in may have taken many takes for that to happen, but his swing was nothing like gehrig's. he was a tall, lanky guy. shorter, more muscular guy, and for some reason, his nickname was "escape pants.
"biscuit pants." if you look at cooper's swing, it is not that bad. the legend is that he did so poorly in trying to be a lefty that he did everything right handed and they flipped the film. the evidence says that is not true. maybe the hardest thing to do is go from throwing righty to throwing lefty. they flipped his righty throwing to lefty. it was only a very small scene. jeff: no one has done an examination of how this movie was made and how it came together. even though, as you note in the beginning, it was sort of the first sports classic and it set the stage for so many other sports movies still to this day. were you surprised that nobody had taken a deep dive into it until now? richard: surprised, maybe. deliriously happy, sure. when you become fascinated with something and you realize, there are books on "casablanca," "the wizard of oz," things like that, then you are happy that it has been done. a movie like "raging bull"
deserves a book. that is in my mind, the best sports movie ever. it's about boxing but it's not about boxing. it's about relationships. de niro's performance is just stunning. jeff: the difference in terms of off the field at unity and personality between babe ruth and lou gehrig, which you talk about here in the book, is remarkable in every single way. can you shed a little more light on what you learned about how different these two men were? richard: i often, when i've written the name babe ruth, bdignagian.erm bro there is no one like him. he did anything he wanted to do. there were no governors on his behavior. drinking, eating, carousing. for a good portion of his
career, he was sort of uncontrollable and that's what made team owners say, if you can't control yourself, how can you control other players? jeff: players move into management positions but babe ruth never did. richard: he never did. he was not trusted. he could have,, he wanted to show how knowledgeable he was. gehrig was a mama's boy. he was excessively doted on by his mother who is probably wondering when the hammer would come down on young lou. he was so reserved that, when "the new yorker" did a profile of him in 1929, he was a great player by then. he had won the mvp. the writer basically said that
lou gehrig doesn't even deserve to have fans because he was so dull. they only had one quote of him in there. the writer was much more enamored of his mother, who was a much more larger-than-life person. if you ask eleanor gehrig about her future mother-in-law, she had only negative things to say. it's a toxic relationship as told by eleanor. we don't have much testimony from other parties. when she sat down with paul, the first writer of the script, and he had already been the daily news sports editor and columnist, they sat down for a couple weeks in san francisco and she poured out her life to him, her life on her own, her life with lou, and how difficult it was. at one point, eleanor and her mother-in-law were arguing over who was responsible for his als. that is toxic stuff.
the early scripts written by gallico were indicative and showed how toxic the relationship was. that kind of softened because,gd by about halfway through the movie, the portrayal has gotten a little comic, a little more accepting of eleanor. there's a scene where gary cooper brings teresa wright home for eleanor to meet his mother and there's a close-up of elsa janssen's eyes. she sees the ring on teresa wright's hand and there's almost a look of panic and hatred at once. that dissipates so that not only does she accept eleanor, she accept the baseball he is playing. she said you are going to be an , engineer like your uncle otto. that was over. jeff: in the movie, she wishes
for them to be an engineer and not a baseball player. was that true in real life? richard: like many immigrant mothers, she wanted him to have she was thrilled that he was at columbia. i haven't read much to say that she objected to him being a baseball player. she wanted him to have an education. she had his best interests at heart. but i don't think there's much to say about her hating him as a baseball player. a lot of parents in that age thought maybe you could make money as a ballplayer. i don't that she had enough knowledge of baseball to know whether he was good or not. jeff: gary cooper was much lankier than gehrig. we talk about the talent level. but they also look different. how was it that, if you didn't come in with this sort of institutional baseball knowledge or skill, or the sort of body
and makeup that lou gehrig had, was he able to make himself the -- lou gehrig so completely? richard: one of cooper's skills was playing men of quiet dignity. he played a lot of other roles, but he was almost always. cooper, and gary cooper projected dignity. that's what was needed to play gehrig. he was concerned that, how you play someone that died so recently, whose memory is so clear in people's mind? you can do tricks with that. you have to be faithful. he knew who he was. he knew he was a really good actor and, in that it was really a love story, that was easy for him. he was a terrific actor, maybe underrated as an actor, maybe parodied. you look at the relationship
onscreen. teresa wright was about 10 years younger but she was a terrific actress. she was nominated for the academy awards for her first three movies. they had terrific onscreen chemistry. at one point, galico wrote to eleanor and said, i think lou gehrig has become gary cooper. we talked about this, for a 1942 movie, his acting is much more nuanced, i think, than what you might expect. we talked about this, for that quiet dignity, that is all this is. richard: exactly. their chemistry is such that, when you see them together, i think you really believe they loved each other. there is a scene wherelou is about to deliver the speech and
she is watching him unbeknownst , to him, trying to tie his bow tie. he's lost his dexterity from the als. immediately, she says, i'm going to cheer him up. she dresses up as a vendor with a mustache and a little bullhorn. the genuine joy on his face is almost electric. each of them say, we have the rest of our lives together. that line brings them up short because they know they don't have much time together. they would only have two years. very quickly you realize that , teresa wright was not only a really good young actress, she could project this maturity and sweetness at the same time. it probably wasn't the hardest role she's ever had but she was very terrific. i think she was underrated for her skills in helping to carry that movie. there was a sense that she would do anything for her man. jeff: i want to talk about your career as well, which i've
followed for a long time. you have made some shifts. you made a big shift. why make that change, and how has it been? richard: i enjoyed writing about sports, media, and business for about 25 years. you get tired of things. when the opportunity came up to change to the obituaries desk, i thought, this kind of dovetails nicely with what i was doing with the book. it's a much quicker deep dive into archives, whether "the times" articles or oral histories, or whatever. i always point to one open it as a reason i'm enjoying it so much. how could you not enjoy the obituary of a guy who not only invented the telestrator but also chaired a study group about the impact of detonating a nuclear bomb on the moon?
one guy did that. one guy. jeff: this is all about that first paragraph. one of the most fascinating things in media is that it is between the commas. richard: that's the standard, gary cooper, actor died, so it so. i am not working on one about the guy that wrote the book "who moved my cheese?" the actor spencer johnson just died the other day. he was a specialist in writing parables about life in the business. and, he was a medical doctor. he didn't practice very long. he was trained to be a surgeon. he made a quick switch to writing. it's a fascinating life. every other day, i get another fascinating life to dive into. jeff: what is the criteria for selection? richard: it has to be someone of
reasonably high achievement, good or nefarious. you want to have someone who -- you want to tell the story of why that person came to renown or why this person matters. it can be a quirky thing like the guy who invented kitty litter, which is one of our classic obituaries in the 1990's. we don't mind doing obscure people. i did one about the guy who, at age 19, wrote "the anarchist cookbook" which was a compilation of army manuals and so forth of how to make bombs and weaponry and has been cited by terrorists. the guy after that became a renowned international educator and distanced himself from his past. decadenot know for a
after his death. jeff: so you don't know whether it is somebody who died two hours ago or two years ago. richard: as long as the person is worth doing. if it's a major person, we most likely have an advance. we have 1700 advanced obits in our directory. our editors have said, this person is interesting. we had one the other day about jean connolly, who won championships both as a major-league player and a basketball player. that was done five years ago and the reporter spoke to connolly. jeff: that was a good piece. richard: it was a very good these. it's an example of our editors saying, ok, we know about the kings and queens and presidents and rock stars, but below that level, this peculiar area. it is a rarity for someone to
win major league championships in two sports. jeff: i get the sense that, as morbid as the subject is, you've enjoyed -- richard: sometimes i tell the families that it's been a pleasure because you get to know someone in a quick period of time. there's a movie that just came out called "obit" about our staff. in it, one of my colleagues, a brilliant writer said, the obituaries are 1% about death, 99% about life. most families we speak to understand the achievements of their dear departed ones and they really want to talk about that person. sometimes you get into awkward things like, what was the first wife's name? sometimes you don't always know all the survivors and another survivor will call up and say, why did you leave me out?
for the most part, it is telling the story in trying to get it down to 800 or 1000 words, and getting a life down to that little can be a little difficult, but you want to tell the story well. you want it to be a story that people say, i wish i had known that person. jeff: i can only imagine those conversations with family members and -- richard: most of them are far better than you think, far more illuminating. again, they do feel like having the dearly departed one's obit in "the times" is a validation. i had one with a home run guru and i couldn't have had a more pleasant conversation with someone. i don't think i've ever had much emotion from people other than saying, we are glad you are doing this. very little crying.
i don't remember any crying. i've been doing this since december. usually, i approach them with the utmost respect. it's a little bit like being the funeral director. you approach them as nicely as possible. if they don't call back -- they are grieving. sometimes you find alternate ways to confirm things or understand more about a person's life. jeff: are you surprised what's happening with espn? richard: the speed with which it's happening, sure. i do not think they are in desperate trouble, i think they are smart enough to find alternate ways. three years ago, when i worked on a three series about espn with my colleagues, that was the beginning. we sort of looked at a future where they might have difficult times ahead. i think what you will see going forward is, as some of their big contracts with the leagues come
through in the 2020's. they may not renew all of them. they may not renew baseball. football is where they live. baseball, maybe not. jeff: it is not just espn it's , fox sports as well now. there are some seismic shifts. richard: i think a lot of them that people didn't expect or expect would happen this quickly. fox sports one is now having problems with their leader. jamie horowitz was promptly fired. the reasons weren't given but the 21st century fox is having issues over sexual harassment and things with roger ailes and bill o'reilly. ochs are nothe murd tolerating this behavior amongst their executives. do i miss some of that? sure. i covered a lot of that stuff over the years. you get a little pang once in a
while. but because part of my job was also being a tv sports critic, i now can watch baseball without a notebook, without a pen in hand, without wondering if an announcer is going to miss speak -- misspeak. i can text keith hernandez when he and gary cohn are talking about batman. jeff: it must be nice. richard: it is fun. during the super bowl i was talking to my bank about getting rid of bogus charges. during the winning drive, i am on my phone to the bank. it's a pleasure to have a more normal life. i loved what i did. i love what i do now. jeff: the book is called "the pride of the yankees: lou gehrig, gary cooper, and the making of a classic." thank you for being here. ♪ alisa: i'm alisa parenti from
washington. you are watching "bloomberg technology." president trump said he supports his oldest son in a statement read today by white house deputy press secretary sarah huckabee. the president called his son a high-quality person and said he applauds trump junior's transparency. trump junior also posted emails regarding his meeting with a russian attorney. senate republicans will unveil the latest version of the revised health care bill thursday with a vote planned for next week. that's according to mitch mcconnell, who said he would delay the upper chambers august recess for two weeks.