We’ve covered the problem of mass incarceration on this show before — but what about the flipside: the impunity of corporate executives with cozy relationships to government regulators? Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Jesse Eisinger (@EisingerJ) wanted to know why no bankers or executives went to prison after the 2008 financial crisis. In a bygone era, the Justice Department prosecuted Wall Street executives more vigorously for its high crimes and misdemeanors. Eisinger’s new book, The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives, charts the decline in enforcement of white collar crime, telling the story of a passionate U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York — none other than former FBI Director James Comey — and his attempts to jam the revolving doors of power between the DOJ and private law firms. Somehow, we’ve reached a point where bad actors cannot receive the due penalty for their errors without threatening the rest of society. We’ve built a world where “too big to fail” also translates into “too big for jail.” Eisinger finds a source of this cowardice in a perfectionist culture and risk-aversion among top law students, where it's increasingly rare for the Justice Department to bring a case to a jury if there is a chance of losing. To learn more, tune into the show of ideas, not attitude — this Sunday, from 8–9am PACIFIC, and call in with your questions for Bob and Jesse: (424) BOB-SHOW.
- Jesse Eisinger is a senior reporter and editor at ProPublica. In April 2011, he and a colleague won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for a series of stories on questionable Wall Street practices that helped make the financial crisis the worst since the Great Depression.