Writer Carl Hiaasen's Satirical Take On Florida Life
The from whyy in Philadelphia this is fresh air I'm Dave Davies in for Terry, gross on Today Show, Miami Herald columnist and author Carl Hiaasen. His new novel is a hilarious mystery set in Palm Beach featuring wealthy widows, d- The president and first lady and some gigantic Burmese pythons. It's called squeeze me. We'll talk about hyacinth satirical takes on Florida life about the told the covid nineteen pandemic taking after the state open bars and beaches, and we'll talk about politics and battled over voting in the state that are setting the stage for a dramatic election in November. Haya says Floridians expect problems and just hope things are worse in another state so they don't get the attention. Also John Powers reviews the new documentary about a US supported coup, which overthrew an elected government in Iran in one, thousand, nine, hundred, fifty, three. If, you want to know what's going on in Florida. The land of hanging Chads exotic wildlife and baseball's biggest COVID nineteen outbreak. A good place to start is with Carl Hiaasen, a floor of the native longtime columnist for the Miami, Herald and the author of fifteen novels. His latest is a hilarious crime story set in Palm Beach involving wealthy widows, the president and First Lady, a scrappy wildlife relocation specialist and some very large Burmese pythons which probably have something to do with the title of the Book Squeeze Me. We last spoke to Carl Hiaasen about his novel bad monkey involving a show business primate whose career was on the skids we decided with Florida facing a viral pandemic and another potentially contested presidential election. It was time to talk again, Carl Hiaasen joins me via an Internet connection from his office in Vero. Beach Florida Carl Hiaasen. Welcome back to fresh air I'm glad to be here. This story said in Palm Beach Florida which a lot of people kind of just it's a name they here maybe confuse it with you know Palm Springs described Palm Beach and this place why it's a good setting for the story. Well it's IT'S A it's an island It's a barrier island right off of the city of West Palm Beach and it's very exclusive and it it's Laura goes back to the to the Kennedy compound and beyond you know when when JFK was president and Joe Kennedy had a place there and then way beyond that generations of wealth have have have. fled to Palm Beach in the wintertime from the northeast, it's sort of a traditional enclave for money mainly and it's It's very beautiful and it's very silly at the same time, which is you know what attracts you know the I of novelist I mean it it's it is a gorgeous place, but the the social scene is. It's challenging if you're writing satire. you know this story begins with the disappearance of a woman, a wealthy widow, who's a bit of a swinger and she's last seen at a high end charity fundraiser on the grounds of a place called the Lipid House with the fundraisers to raise money for. Was It eerily Bowel Syndrome? Yes. It's IBS thing it was called the you know the the white Ibis Ball. Synonymous sort of with the with the disease or disorder. I'm sorry. I forgot what they call it. Anyway they have charity functions on a nightly basis in palm. Beach. So I had to. Sort of come up with some ideas for maybe some causes that had not been And had not been fully publicized so I but it's it's hard to make up something wilder than what I mean I. It's literally a nightly thing during the season these big events and they raise lots of money for good causes. But all kinds of stuff goes on there and you know local islands scandal and romance and intrigue. So it seemed like a good way to start the book All sorts of stuff goes on at these high end fundraisers. Well Yeah. You know it's just the Society World I. Mean You have you know this is. This is this is this like the Hamptons with extra sunblock really and and there are more plastic surgeons per square mile in the Palm Beach I. Suppose in the Hamptons. But other than that you know it's just it's a scene. So as a writer you're attracted I don't get invited don't get me wrong. They're not. They're not crazy enough to invite me to a lot. Of these vans but the ones I've attended have been colorful inspirational enough that I sort of filed what I was watching away and thought this would be a fun way to open a book. One of the things that's interesting is that the president and first lady are characters in this story because this president like the current occupant of the White House has a big place. in Palm Beach his his called Casa Belco a rather than Laga, tell us a little bit about the president's connection with Palm Beach in your story and these ladies who are so enamored of him. Well in the novel, the President vacations here frequently and he has He has a fan base in Palm Beach that includes his group of ladies who are incredibly loyal address. Patriotically and flamboyantly whenever he comes to town and they always try to be at the club when he's there and they, they've also throw an an annual ball or gala for him and they They live for just seeing him on property. He's like one of the Beatles to them and he and he and he always is kind enough when he's standing in line at the pastry table to wave to wave to them as they sit at the table and their their wealthy, they're older, the some of them are divorced some of them widowed some of them both divorced and widowed, and they have a lot of free time and the book opens with one of them disappearing at this at this big fundraiser, and of course, it is. So it isn't just anybody who who vanishes. It's somebody who's particularly loyal. To the president. So there's a higher level of interest taken in this disappearance and there would be if it was just an ordinary citizen that that banish this is this is one of his group this and I don't WanNA use the term groupies but but it's it's one of his loyal female fans. It turns out that the wealthy widow whose disappeared at this high end fundraiser met an end which involves a snake, a huge Burmese Python and away pythons are kind of it's kind of a central character in this story, and that comes from something that's really going on in Florida. Tell us about pythons and their effect on the state. Well, we've had a- all you have to do is Google Florida and pythons, and you'll get once the yesterday a story ran. This is true story a woman down in south Florida opened washing machine, and there was a big ass python curled up her washing machine and. They've proliferated they. They've started out in the in the in the pet trade and people they get the particular species get huge and they let them they just let him go and. Hurricane Andrew A bunch of Sort of the reptile farms on the edge of the everglades and they were destroyed during Hurricane Andrew and all the babies got loose and ever since then the everglades and points onward have been these snakes have taken over the it's actually quite a series story they've devastated a huge part of the food chain in the late eat everything including ears, alligators and any snake that can eat it. Adult alligators were paying attention to. So those are real everything in the book about the pythons is absolutely true and they are moving northward as as the climate gets warmer, they're moving northward out of the everglades. In so in my view, it's only a matter of time before they show up in. Palm Beach and I sort of wrote this book for for people who couldn't be there when it happened. We don't know them actually eating a society matron dewey. Not yet no. But here's they did find one that had a seventy four pound whitetail deer in it, and so my thought was that it's not a big jump up to you know a an heiress a petite heiress and then being somewhat elderly not particularly quick afoot. You know if I've I've held been part of a group that held a python that was sixteen feet and I'll tell you it's formidable. Case. The Society Matron Kiki Pugh fitzsimmons disappears and I don't think he's giving away too much this. All happens pretty early in the book to say that this huge python is discovered by the gardening staff which noticed this massive bulge in the Middle Concluding Oh my heavens that's keep you in the Middle I know it sounds it actually sounds sick when you describe it like that I thought it would a little funnier but but the point is nature you know I mean in all the novels I've written nature is always sort of its own character and I always root for. Always I just growing up in Florida. I always ended up rooting for Mother Nature and the pythons now part of that and and they really are kind of unstoppable and and so I just thought well, what if this happens and what if it happens one of these events? especially. When you have the kind of security levels that you have with when when the president is in town and all that stuff. So they just opened a lot of sort of the subplot possibilities as well, and you know one one point in the novel the First Lady is in her motorcade going down the street and West Palm Beach and a break to all brake to a stop which they never tried to do in those motor case because there's a big. A Big Dead Python, the road and and that is actually happened and I mean. This is how prolific these things are but those scenes that you sort of. figure out a way to use. You know maintaining appearances is important in Palm Beach and the groundskeeper of this place hosted the the Lipid House. The last thing that they need is to have the world learn that a guest somehow ended up. Being digested by a python a bad for business. This must be avoided at all costs so they summon. Relocation specialist who kind of becomes a central character. In this book Angie Armstrong tell us a little about her. I like I like her tremendously when I started writing squeeze me the character of the Wrangler and we had these businesses in south. Florida. Because there's so much interaction with wildlife still that you call up this somebody, could you got a raccoon your porch you got a snake you got. A Bob Cat in your backyard whatever it is they come and they're trained to humanely capture and remove these animals. But. Most of the businesses are run by is you know they're the guys with gaily decorated pickup trucks that you can call critter removal experts but I so that was the character when I started but then I thought got it'd be so much more fun and interesting if it was a woman and I and so then I went back and started over with with. Angie and I liked her tremendously she's not very big issue. No, she's not what you would imagine someone that could could remove a you know a ten foot alligator from your swimming pool, but she can and and so I just I the more she was around I liked her as I was writing the novel and and she has passed and a history and she. Out As A. You know a as a veterinarian and worked with their dad and then went to become a state wildlife officer and gone some trouble with when she Punished a poacher that she caught in, punish them in somewhat of an unusual way and so she ended up in this job just driving this pickup truck answering calls, and so she gets a call that there's a python. You know it's another python call. So she drives out the Palm Beach and figures finds out it isn't really just another python calm and she has a. Real sense of right wrong did did you spend time with people that do this business to prepare for this? Now I have a friend I have a friend who who wrangles animal. He's not a an all remove expert, but he does it for movies and stuff you know in for documentaries. But I see the guys around and I've grown up down here I've done. I mean, a couple of months you know I mean I've done some of it. Not Out as a profession, but just out of necessity there was. You know there was a possum under the barbecue the other a couple months ago. So I just grabbed them I mean, I mean, just you're just. When you're a kid you grew up in a place like Florida, you learn how to do that stuff but the Dow it's a whole little industry because the Mo. so many people that moved here from up north. You don't get a lot of people that naturally know how to pick up a possum. You know I, mean most people just pick up the phone how do you grab a possum? By by the tail. That's what I figured and their and their by definition links stab case just just in case by the by just been case by the tail but you know, I, mean I I was a kid I had ped- raccoons at all I, mean we're just wasn't. You know were sort of on the edge of the everglades where we lived and there wasn't there weren't. You know they weren't skate parks and shopping malls and stuff you just got on your bike and you went out into the woods and so was a different kind of childhood in and I think that it has all the books I ride even the kids books because. I wouldn't trade it for anything, but I certainly gives you a a range of experiences. A lot of a lot of normal kids probably don't have. There's a moment in the book where this well, by officer Angie is lamenting the way. Out of Control Development has taken away habitat and endangered so many species and I read that and I said that's Carl hiaasen talking yeah. No absolutely I it's it's it's something Ever, since I people ask me when I started feeling I mean I can remember being six six years old seven years old and having the same feelings to see the development coming and see. You know the the places that were kind of wild and remote and special to me and my friends to see them paved over I. Think it has A. It has an effect and it certainly certainly creates a you know I think I think satire of satire comes from sense of anger and injustice. you know it's supposed to be funny but there's also. It's the great thing is having a raiders who who know why it's funny who are Oh who get it that it isn't slapstick it's you know it's it's it's a form of commentary. It's also a form of any grieving for for the damage that's been done to this place. Florida has long been fascinating and weird and a politically divided state, and this is a broad question But how has nearly four years of the trump presidency affected the state? Well I. Mean it's hard to say if it's affected it worse than the rest of the country but because he spent so much time here I think his presence is felt and. Our governor. You know Rhonda Santa's is is a big trump guy and he's you know he's He's like a little mini trump and and and and extremely loyal and and. So a lot of what's been happening the last few months with the pandemic has been guided by him listening more to trump and listening to actual people with medical degrees and in they'll countries seen a product of that I was going to ask about that the pandemic has blazed a unique trail through Florida in some respects and. You're Governor Rhonda. Santa's who was a congressman until. Two thousand eighteen was very active supporter of president trump and congressman than one a very close governor's race in two, thousand eighteen. For people who don't follow this closely just give us a thumbnail of how he has handled the pandemic and its effects. Well. I mean he's he's You know he's smart dude you went to he went to Harvard and Yale and he he he's good. You know he likes the numbers. So the numbers were becoming out early on in the pandemic and no matter how bad they were. He was able to say look at this trend is going this way this trend just be patient we gotta and then in May back in May basically did a victory lap and said, look we flattened out we beat this thing guys in the media said it was and it just. Went on a rant about the media creating all this this hysteria about covert and then, and then of course, the went through the roof it the the there was he went up to the White House with the dog and pony show brought some bought some poster boards for the President and had a photo op and talked about how Florida Concord at all and then Florida. We just exploded with the stuff because he opened up we opened up too fast with state opened. Up, too fast and It was bars beaches even disneyworld right bars beaches it was a it was a cluster and and the result was that no sooner had that happened within weeks they were shutting down bars and they were become more restrictive on some of the beaches and they're still places where this was going on, and now they're now they've had go back and shut down the bars and they're even yanking liquor licenses of some of these places but. To hear him tell it. It's just been a natural trajectory of the of the disease you know which is Baloney It could have been prevented in the meantime we're now over eight hour we're GONNA. Coming up on nine thousand deaths. in in the state, of Florida, nine thousand deaths, and those are sell dimension when when Ronnie gets up to give his pep talk once a day that the deaths are seldom discussed and and we you know we seem to have sort of written off. the elderly. There's a sense of, Oh, well, they were going to die anyway but that's not true. some of the folks that the this is ravaging the nursing homes and care facilities they weren't sick. They were just there their only crime was being old. And every one of those eight thousand plus who've died there's there's families that have have been devastated and because of this and so there will be a I mean there is being a political cost to this sort of You know this rosy glass glass half full attitude our opening the schools and and guess what's going to happen. I mean. Guess, what's going to happen with the Kobe testings in the public schools? it's just You know and it's it's sad because there will be the cost of this is not just an you know teachers leaving because they're scared and kids who desperately need to get back to school not being able to the the cost. There's actual cost of human lives that isn't funny and it is it isn't anything but callous and cold blooded to say this is going to be the cost of keeping a few TIKI bars open. Yeah. We'll. Just we'll just take the hit. We'll bury a few people and keep the Tiki bars open you. You mentioned that he is in some ways a lot like president trump is very close to president trump and I read that in the early weeks of the pandemic that he tended to rely on a very narrow group of people on me I guess his wife and she staff still does. So I was just GonNa ask if that had changed since obviously how Things have gotten more. We have a we have a, we have a surgeon general in the student. Nobody's heard from We've got no, it's it's it's been strictly political. In fact, they they. They said when they ordered all schools to reopen the. County's could. School district could make the decision to keep classrooms closed. If they're county if their area of the state was having a spike, all they needed to do was get the health department, their local health department to approve it, and then the Santa's went to the health departments said, don't approve it. So what he said publicly, and then what was done was to base that we muzzle the health department. Every place is different. Every part of Florida's a little different there counties in Florida, where it might be safe physically reopened schools, and of course, in south Florida there they're delaying they're. Doing Online, but they're still have to open some of the buildings and everybody wants the kids to go back to school. Everybody wants to schools to reopen but you don't want your kid to get sick or to bring a disease home that that that kills one of his siblings or his grandfather or his grandmother or an aunt or their parents. I mean, that's just common sense you don't want. But at this point, the local health departments can't give advice to the local school districts about whether it's safe or not. The governor's people won't let them. So that's where we are. And there's not a medical voice to be heard on this anywhere in Florida. At the San is's it's just a bunch of political hacks around. Carl hyacinths latest book is squeeze me. He will be back to talk more after this break I'm Davies. This is fresh air. Support for this podcast and the following message come from the Glenn Limits New Caribbean reserve expression a new single with a bold tropical twist that is selectively finished and barrels that previously held Caribbean rum offering a sweet and smooth taste learn more at the glenlivet dot com, the Glenlivet Caribbean Reserves Single Malt, Scotch whisky enjoy our quality responsibly forty percent alcohol by volume eighty proof twenty, twenty imported by the Glenlivet distilling company in New York. We're speaking with Carl Hiaasen and native of Florida who's written about the state's politics culture, wildlife and development for decades. He's a columnist for the Miami Herald and the author of fifteen novels his latest is squeezed me. We know it's been twenty years since the Bush Gore presidential election came down to the Florida recount. But the state has kind of remained a place of closely contested elections meal last two presidential races. The less three governors. Races were margins of about one percent What should we expect in November? Oh everything's good. I go smoothly wonderfully here. What do you think? Exact here's what we do every every four years in Florida collectively as Floridians we all pray that doesn't come down to Florida. We this year are bed. On Georgia Georgia looks like it's going to screw this up even worse than Florida did and We're looking for another scapegoat. We do not want to be the butt of Colbert's jokes every night but the odds are of going smoothly here are very, very slim, which was interesting because. The president who says you know male voting is fraudulent but no evidence whatsoever that that's true. It's suddenly somebody sat down and said, you're not going to win Florida without the mail in vote because your demographic wants to mail it in. So then he comes out. Okay it's safe for Florida's the one state that's done it right and we all fell out of our chairs laughing Florida is is the one it's perfectly safe in Florida. Because he realizes that he's GONNA lose. There's without the mail in vote in floor somebody finally did the math for him and and so apparently, all the other forty nine states mailing voting is bad but Florida's great. So you know it's can't. It can't possibly go with you know. Because I. All pandemic people are scared to go to the polls. This is going to be true everywhere. So they're just even finding poll workers to go is going to be difficult because people are afraid of getting covid nineteen. Can't possibly go well here and our only hope is that it goes worse somewhere else. So we don't have all the attention on the day after the election. Well, it's not exactly encouraging. You know one of the things that has happened since the last election was there was a state constitutional amendment. Restoring voting rights to convicted felon to have completed their sentences passed by an overwhelming majority of Floridians and ignored and and sabotage. As best everyday the Republicans could possibly do it at this isn't the first time a popular amendment has been subverted, and that's what they're trying to do here. What will the specific issue here was fines and court costs that ex offenders may? Oh, right. You have to have those paid before you can register and so far that's held up in the courts, right? It has held up in the courts, but that doesn't mean that I mean I. I think the Santa's is going to keep pressing it. I think you know this is part of the vote suppression thing and and it goes going on in the whole country, and so they'll. They'll spend a ton of money taking it from one court to another but so far the. Legality of the amendment and of leading people vote even if they haven't paid their fines yet because you've been in prison. So. You're not going to walk out and be able to write a check. For Your court costs. I. Mean That's just not realistic and it's not fair but they're gonNA attack whatever they can. They're gonNA do everything they can to keep as many. As they can away from the polls. That's a given I. don't know what how it's going to shake down between now and November weather. so far they've been. You know they've been the Republicans have been unsuccessful in corporate. They're not gonNA give up. Apart from the pandemic and politics. What else are you paying attention to in your column in the Herald Now? Well there's the I wish there were more to pay attention to than that It's just it's because of these resurgence of the virus you know there was a time when you could go back I mean I used to write fairmount about the environment and about environmental issues but that hasn't been the focus of legislation and hasn't been the. Truth of the general public has been more focused on their own safety as they should be in the safety of their children so. You're right about education. You're right about the job sort of coping with. Pandemic and then politics all meshed into that. But other than that there's there's not a lot you can. You can write about there's some sometimes they'll be some you know some of the travel restrictions or some, but it's all tied into those things because those are the that's the headlines Right. Now you've got this election, my heavens, you have to leave the developers alone. Yeah I mean it's killing me but here's the other side of the coin is a lot of that stuff is slowed down to because of. Because of the economy, you know. So you one of the things in Florida that we've written about and the heralds done some great stuff on the unemployment, the backup in unemployment payments because of the this incompetent administrators of this W- of this website where you signing up there just thousands and thousands thousand Floridians who Who had their their unemployment checks delayed including the ones from the federal government because it comes through the state they were delayed on still some still haven't gotten him yet months after the started people lost their jobs because the system the website kept crashing wouldn't let them on the stories I mean it's unbelievable how many people couldn't pay their grocery bill or the? The rent for sure anything because they couldn't get their first unemployment check that's been a huge scandal here, and the Santa's has complain and complain about the company that got the contract do that the years ago got the contract to run the on employment the program here, and yet the same company was just awarded a one hundred and thirty five, million dollar contract for another job in his administration. So to maintain Medicaid data, right? Yeah. Yeah. So I mean that that stuff that stuff is out there I think. There's going to be huge stories and lots of calms to write about how much of this, the the the the aid money the. You know the the money that was given out to fight the pandemic just stolen. We had that classic Florida Story of the Guy that. got a bunch of money from the government claiming all these unemployed people claiming his company in any went out and bought a Lamborghini first thing he did and it turns out he didn't have as many employees as he told, and yet he got the check that he went out and bought a some purple Lamborghini or something that's a classic Florida story, of course. He probably moved here just to do that. Florida is a state that kind of known for extremes as you've said, and and it's there have been some kind of notable details that have come out like like the guy who dressed up in A. Hooded Black, robe carrying aside who walked around beaches, and then the read recently that the sheriff of central North Central. County issued an order banning his deputies and visitors to the sheriff's office from wearing masks. Yes, he did. star billy something that otherwise Marion County. Yeah. That's he He was. He said you cannot wear masks in the Sheriff Department? You can't wear them on. A normal course duty anyone who comes to the of Department for instance, if you wanted to come to file a police report, let's say your car was stolen there. Let's say. You know you have any reason to come in you have to take your mask off before walkie into the sheriff's department he he's like he's like if you elected the tiger king sheriff of that's what this dude would be. Let me reintroduce you again we're gonNA take a break here we're speaking with author and Miami Herald Columnist Carl Hiaasen. His latest novel is called Squeeze Me. Since we recorded our interview Sheriff Billy Woods has modified his ban on face masks a bit visitors to the Marion County Florida sheriff's department are now permitted to wear masks if they so choose however deputies and other staff in the sheriff's Office are still forbidden to wear masks while on duty. We'll hear more of my conversation with Carl Hiaasen after a break this is fresh air black voters play a crucial role for any Democrat who seeks to win the White House but some big devise amongst that block and some serious ambivalence could determine who is elected president November. Listening now on the coast, which podcast from NPR. This is fresh air and we're speaking with Carl Hiaasen his latest novel is called Squeeze me. This latest book is dedicated to your brother Rob who was one of five journalists killed two years ago in a mass shooting at the Annapolis Maryland Capital Gazette where he was an editor and a columnist. He was your only brother a six years younger than you right Just tell us a little bit about grown up with him Well Rob we call him big rob because he was he was the baby of the family, but he was he was six foot five and just you know the Gentle giant as they say and he was very gifted writer tremendous journalist. He worked for many years at Palm Beach, post the Baltimore Sun, and then became an editor and columnist in You didn't want to leave Maryland. He loved Maryland and he went to the the paper in Annapolis and. was He was in the newsroom that day and The day this guy walked in with a gun and just started shooting and it was. You know something that's still hard talk about because you know it was his wife's birthday and the you know the kids are all close by grown but the I don't WanNa make it sound. There's so many families tragically so many families that are part of this. Community of of survivors of you know the victims of mass shootings that when something like this happens whether it's in a workplace when it's in a factory whether it's an at park land wherever it is. It's hard to know when you're watching the news or appreciate is the ripple effect of these tragedies on families it just goes on and on and on for every for every victim there's so many people that are. Affected by the shooting and we've become part of that community and and been able to appreciate. What everyone else goes through nothing's going to. Bring Rob back obviously. But all I ever wanted was for people to know that he he was a gifted in funny guy a great writer tremendous. Tremendous talent and and and I just you know there isn't a day that goes by that. We don't think about them and and try not to think about what happened that day you know. Right you know it. It's I. Know You've written a lot about mass shootings in I. Think you went to high school not far from the Parkland high school yeah. Both are Robin I, and my sister's all went to high school at Plantation High, which is not far off from Park Land and Robin I had talked. After the par- know was a few months before the shooting in an apples and he and I, of course at talked about it and having kids. especially. In just how A you know how shocking overwhelming and I don't care how many of these stories you cover right about I mean. We. Had the Paul. Shooting. And in Orlando, there's just been so many of these horrible horrible things and and we talked on the phone and and whether you know there isn't much except to can't believe it happened. So close to where we Grew up in everything, and then of course, it happened to him. Yeah. I mean your grief now part of a national story and I just wondered. God, what must that be like and will you cover the next one differently or will you avoid covering the next one? Is. A columnist. You know I it's not like I have to go to the crime scene tank Elida I'm but you still have to try to put it in perspective and I have written about. you know alluded a wrote one took me a long time couple months to be able to write about it after rob died and then. And then in subsequent Collins when there's been these other tragedies of course I've I've a alluded to the fact that you know have some personal experience with the stuff but I don't know that you know they're going to. The thing is they just keep happening and they're going to continue to happen. And there's just. There's just too many nuts with guns too many and and I you know and I say that as a gun owner myself I mean I, it's just insane how easy it is to get a gun in this country to end and and whether it's an automatic weapon or shotgun or whatever it just it's just lunacy to how easy it is and how how easy it is for bad people to do it and then people who have mental issues and. We prayed these stories again and again about. how how like the Park Land Shooter House family you know everybody knew he was unstable and everybody was afraid this was going to happen and they call the FBI and said this kid's GonNa shoot somebody I, mean you have all that and you still can't stop it. So there's not an easy solution you can put into a column or into. Any common op ed piece because the the tragedies just keep coming I. I'm not sure that you added anything to the debate or or help the. help the feelings except to keep reminding people that not all countries are like this. Not everybody goes through this like we do in this country they just don't and it's it's it's normal. It becomes a routine here. It's not routine anywhere else. You know the The column that you wrote. After your brother's death I guess it was in September, which I think the shooting was in June. So it it was a little while and I really commend this to to listeners. You can find it on the Internet and in it before you reveal that your brother had died in the Annapolis attack, you mentioned the other four journalists who died Gerald Fishman, John, McNamara becky Smith Windy winters, and then you note that your brother Rob was also killed and you right I mentioned him last because that's what he would have wanted he also would have wanted me to write more about his colleagues than about him. You WANNA share it another couple of points that you made in column. I It's hard a what tell you two things that come to my mind. If you what one is that as you said. It was his wife, his birthday that he was murdered on left her present on the dining room table before he made his last trip to the newsroom. The other thing you wrote is that he was not somebody who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, he was right where he wanted to be. He was putting out the daily newspaper and that's He not stumble into a crime scene he did not. he didn't come in. He wasn't coming in on his day off he was doing exactly what he loved doing, which is sitting in the newsroom with other reporters and editors putting out a daily newspaper for a community. That he loved the people of Annapolis, I mean he he thought he he he was devoted to those readers that community and that he wouldn't have been anywhere else on that day. So isn't it? The CNN bro Kin let the story about the shooting I have to say that there was no. I was praying he he was out to launch praying. He wasn't there that I had. He's stepped out or to go to the parks, throw football around with some of the other guys or something by I was praying now but. Feet down I knew that's that he was there because he was always there you know and that's what That's what you do. That's if that's your job and that's what you're passionate. That's what you do. So He wasn't a random victim he was and he was killed because he was there because he was a journalist at a newspaper that this guy had a grudge with none of the people he shot at anything to do with the story that he was upset about what had happened years earlier none of the people there had anything to do with either editing or putting that story in the paper, but he just decided shoot everybody anyway. So and you made the point that there's a lesson here about the way we regard and treat journalists these days. Yeah I mean, this was at a time when of course. Trump is not the first president to demonize gentlest I mean that. Not, in my lifetime, there's a guy named Nixon who did a lot of that too I mean the press is never beloved has never been beloved institution and you don't go into it as a as a profession because you want glory or adulation are you want people to look up to your love you you go in to to right the truth to put to put facts out that that's what democracy can function if if the public is not fully informed and and it's it, it nobody goes into it to make money by the way because it doesn't pay. Very much it's. It's so the the people that are doing it and doing the grunt work in there because they believe. They believe that it's an important part of this of this country and to have a free press and have a to. To get information into the hands of people who needed before they go to the polls and they go to vote before they. Take their kids to school before I all this stuff. It's just the bare essential of a democracy. So yeah, I mean. You know. It is it is bothersome you. We now have not just contempt for the press but you know and hatred these these conspiracy clowns See if they ever saw a news really work, it would be amusing to them. Right. I know expect time in newsrooms myself I know what you mean. Car Highs and I. I, wish you comfort and good things for your state. Thanks so much for speaking with us again now Dave, it was great talking to you and I appreciate you taking so much time. Carl. Hiaasen. Is a columnist for the Miami Herald. His latest novel is squeezed me. Coming up John Powers reviews a new documentary about the US supported coup, which overthrew an elected government in Iran in nineteen, fifty three this is fresh air. We're only months away from election day and week or even every few hours. There's a new twist that could affect who will win the White House to keep up with the latest tune into the NPR politics podcast every day to find out what happened and what it means for the election. Hi It's Terry. Gross inviting you to check out our new online archive collecting forty years of fresh air interviews and reviews. You can hear my interviews with people like David Bowie aretha Franklin Johnny Cash John Updike Tommy Morrison, searched for names. You're interested in make a playlist for yourself or friends at fresh air archive dot org that's fresh air archive dot org the new documentary coup fifty three tells the story of how in Nineteen fifty three, Great Britain and the United States overthrew the elected prime minister of Iran. Coup fifty-three will be available for online screening starting tomorrow with tickets purchased through one of three hundred local cinemas. The filmmakers are supporting through the effort you can find out how to watch at Ku fifty three dot com are critic at large John Powers highly recommend that you do. He says coup fifty three isn't just important. It's as gripping as a spy novel ever since the late nineteen seventies when the Iranian revolution overthrew the Shah and took fifty two US citizens. Hostage of two nations have been at loggerheads. Washing decade after decade of mobs, burning all the glory on the streets of Tehran, many Americans have wondered why people in such a far away country are so angry with the United States. For an answer, you couldn't do better than to start with coup fifty, three and exhilarating new historical documentary that unfold with the pace and complexity of a thriller. Co directed by Tugging Irani and renowned film editor, Walter Merch Cool. fifty-three tells the story of Operation Ajax in which Britain's M I six and the American CIA. The forcible removal of Iran's elected prime. Minister Mohammad Messiah. Dick. Although many of us, don't know much about this one, thousand, nine, hundred, eighty, three, coup, it shockwaves rattle our history to this day. Coup fifty-three structure. But like one of those John macari spy novels in which George Smiley goes around talking to people to tease out who did what and when. We follow the likable marooning over nearly a decade as he roots around for information, a quest that carries him from national security archives in DC and dusty basements in Paris too glitzy apartments inhabited by Moore monsters. Along the way he talks to C. I. A. Operatives Historians, espionage experts, TV cameramen victim Assad ix ouster beneficiaries of his ouster, and an array of ruling class Brits who are simply staggering in their complacency, racism and entitlement. Merges I is the back story of the coup which like so much in the modern Middle East is predicated on oil. Shortly. After the black gold was discovered in early twentieth century Iran, a British oil company now known as BP locked up a sweetheart deal for its exploitation. Here reporter and historian Stephen Kinzer explains what that meant. By a bit of testimony from Brit who worked for the company under the original agreement. Only, about sixteen percent of the oil revenue was supposed to be given to. Iran. But that sixteen percent was going to be calculated by the British and no Iranian would be allowed to look at the books. We now know also that the amount was calculated after the oil company paid its taxes. Now, the oil company was owned by the British government. So when it was paying taxes, it was essentially paying taxes to itself. We went any of files we weren't hanging over counts, which is fall I said, I had no them. British companies a countless. From London. So it was a lot of creative accounting, but in the end, it was clear that almost all the money from this tremendous resource going into Britain and almost none coming back to Iran. Naturally Iranians resented this deal and the British habit of treating them like animals. Mossadeq was an area died and charismatic Persian endured by the masses and when he came to power, he nationalized the oil industry expropriating the British oil companies assets. The outrage British decided to take masonic down. Though it was at first reluctant Harry, Truman got along with Masonic White Eisenhower's of cold warriors wrongly saw this nationalist conservative as a potential tool of Moscow, he had to go. How that happens is the heart of the film which paints fascinating detailed picture of how impractical terms you go about toppling popular foreign leader it all starts with spreading around money, and maybe you're arranging a couple of assassinations. The key figure in the operation was a mysterious. Am I six agent named Norman Derbyshire who talked to the media once for a TV series on the British Empire. Before, it could air the British government removed his interview from the program as sought to eliminate the transcript of his words. But in Koo fifty three's big discovery Amrani Earth's a photocopy of the original transcript and reenact the interview with refines. Brilliantly. Impersonating. Darbyshire. For years I thought the CIA was the prime mover, the coup, but I was wrong. With her out of guilt craftsman's pride, Derbyshire wanted the world to know the truth he explains how she and the British choreographed the fault of Masonic and blithely installed as prime minister the Ghastly General Fuss Lula's Zahedi, a notorious black marketeer who conspired with the Nazis. So Haiti serve at the whim of the then young Shah whom the Americans considered gutless spoiled. But now back to the hilt, even training his famously brutal secret police. Britain, and America has seemingly gotten what they wanted including their cut of Iranian oil. But. His coup fifty three reminds us history loves unintended consequences. Over the British ran the COO the Americans immediately replaced them as the dominant foreign power in Iran. As for the Shah, his harsh rain eventually spawned the Islamic Revolution leading to more than forty years of oppressive rule by Mullah's who see the US not Britain as its prime enemy. Perhaps needless to say, they also took over Iran's oil industry the reason for the coup in the first place. John powers reviewed the new documentary coup fifty three. On tomorrow's show. The hero Shema cover up writer Leslie Bloom tells the story of journalist, John Hersi who's reporting in nineteen forty six revealed the death destruction and radiation poisoning from the atomic bomb dropped on hero Shema that US military censors had kept under wraps her new book is called Fallout I. Hope you can join us. Fresh Air's executive producer is Danny Miller our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham with additional engineering support this week from Charlie Kyler, our interviews and reviews are produced an edited Amy Salad Phyllis. Myers San Brigger Transall Heidi Soman Theresa Madden they challenger Seth Kelly Joel Wolfram, and Kayla Lattimore. Our associate producer of digital media is Molly seavy Nesper Roberta shorrock directs the ship for Terry Gross I'm Dave Davies. Tech.