Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.
Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.
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Tue, 27 Dec 2022 08:01
Ida Tarbell begins to investigate Standard Oil. As she digs deeper, she receives help from some unexpected sources.
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Hey, prime members, you can listen to American Scandal add-free on Amazon Music, download the app today. It's late autumn, 1901, in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Franklin Tarball stands on a wooden platform in a railroad station. His gray beard juts out from a thick woolen scarf as Tarball cranes his neck, trying to spot the incoming train. The tracks extend for miles, eventually disappearing in the horizon. Tarball cracks his knuckles in the tails. Then he finds a seat and waits for the train that will bring home his daughter, Eida. Franklin is anxious to see his daughter. These days she lives in New York City. She's making a name for herself as a journalist and as an editor of a magazine called McCluers. But recently she wrote home with a message that raised Franklin's concerns. She said she was coming back to Titusville, and that she had some important news. Franklin Tarball dips his head, waiting anxiously for the train to arrive. He hopes his daughter is alright, that she's healthy and happy. Maybe he thinks she's coming home to share some exciting news, something to celebrate. In the distance, a train whistle cuts through the cold air. Franklin Tarball looks up and sees plumes of thick black smoke. Few moments later the train arrives at the station and comes to a screeching halt. Franklin searches the platform as the passengers disembark. Then he sees his daughter, Eida, and she steps down from a train car. She's wearing a wide hat with a sloping brim. Franklin nearly tears up. It feels like just yesterday she was a girl. And now Eida's a grown woman with her own life. The two catch each other's eyes. Then they race forward and embrace in a tight hug. Franklin pulls back and takes a long look at Eida. Oh my, look at you. You look well. The big city must suit you. Maybe it does. But most days I don't see much of New York. Not more than I can see from my riding desk. Well then it seems that riding suits you. Alright, shall we? Franklin takes Eida's bag. Then the two leave the train station together and begin walking back toward the house. As they head back along the dirt path Franklin steals a nervous glance at Eida. You mentioned you have some news? Yes, big news. Exciting news. I started working on a new assignment from a clueless. I think you'll be very interested in it. Oh, magazine piece. I thought something had happened. Well, of course. Alright, tell me. What's this piece about? It's an investigation of standard oil. Franklin stops on his tracks. He stares at his daughter and tries to fight down a rising panic. I had to reach his and grabs his hand. Father, are you alright? No. I'd listen to me. You cannot write that story. Why not? I don't understand. You know why not. You've seen what standard oil did to this town. Rocketfeller has no principles. God, he's an evil man. If he gets wind that you're investigating him, he'll come after you. Do not take this risk. Don't be ridiculous. It's a magazine article. No one will probably even read it. That's my biggest fear. Not John D. Rockefeller. And besides, I have support from all my colleagues. Aida, Rockefeller has all the money and power in the world. He can ruin you. He can ruin the magazine if you want. Please. Listen to me. I'm proud of you. But do not make the same mistake I did. Do not take on standard. You will not win that fight. Franklin looks pleading way to his daughter, breathing hard. But she doesn't flinch. I understand. But you need to understand something, too. This story is far bigger than me or you. It's bigger than Titusville. The American people have a right to know the truth. They need to see how one company took control of the entire oil supply. Franklin looks at his daughter and feels a bittersweet mixture of fear and pride. I don't suppose it would have mattered what I said. He would have kept on working on the story anyway, wouldn't you? Aida nods. And before she can say another word, Franklin wraps her in a hug. He holds on to her tight. And he doesn't want to let go. Because once he does, he knows he won't be able to protect her, not from what she's facing. So Franklin doesn't try to stop her. He straightens up, wipes his nose, then he steps back and takes another look at Aida. And then when he realizes he doesn't want to stop her, maybe she will win the fight. Maybe she's the one who someday will take down John D. Rockefeller. Hi, I'm David Brown, the host of Wunderys podcaster. And the host of Wunderys podcast business wars. In our latest series, a scandal upends the art world. The auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's put their legacies at risk and nearly destroyed themselves in the process. Listen to business wars on Amazon music or wherever you get your podcasts. Whitney Houston's voice was in a class all its own. Her talent defined a generation. But privately, she struggled to be the woman she wanted to be. A few series Whitney Houston, Destiny of Adiva. We'll tell you how her public success hit a deeply private pain. Listen to even the rich on Amazon music or wherever you get your podcasts. From Wunderys, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American Scandal. In 1901, Ida Torbal began researching her landmark series on Standard Oil. At the time, the public knew almost nothing about Standard Oil, a company that reigns supreme over America's petroleum supply. Rival oil companies had complained loudly about Standard's cutthroat tactics. But for the most part, John D. Rockefeller was able to create his monopoly without public scrutiny. There was only a small group of people who understood the true scale of the company's profits and its power, the company's own executives. Ida Torbal knew she was taking on an ambitious investigation. But as she struggled to uncover the truth about Standard Oil, she received help from unexpected sources, including members of Rockefeller's inner circle. Soon, Torbal's series would launch in the pages of McCluer's magazine and Rockefeller would see the dark secrets of his past brought to light. This is episode four, The Hunt. It's early winter 1901. In Lower Manhattan, the cold rain beats against the arched windows of the Astor Library. Ida Torbal rushes in from the street. She takes off her wet coat and lets down her hair. She rubs her hands together and tries to warm them up from the frigid air outside. As she looks around this ornate lobby, she notices a librarian with a neatly trim beard, a man who's staring at her, scowling. He dips his glasses and clears his throat. Then he tells Torbal that if she's looking for somewhere warm, they're sheltered down the street. This isn't a refuge for wayward women. Torbal has been to a lot of courthouses and a lot of research libraries. Usually, she ignores the disapproving comments she gets from men. But she's cold and exhausted and today she's had enough. She marches up to the front desk and informs the librarian she has important business. She has an appointment with his supervisor, Adelaide Hass. The man blinks, then rises and says he'll go fetch her. As Torbal waits, she gazes across the leather bound books in the library shelves. She wonders what secrets they might hold. Months ago, Torbal dove headfirst into her investigation of standard oil. She's combed through decades of material and yet she still hasn't been able to find one crucial document. That's why she's here today in this library. Adelaide Hass is one of the most respected research librarians in the country. Torbal hopes she can work a miracle and help find this one elusive document. Torbal hears a pair of footsteps approaching. She turns and finds a woman walking toward her, wearing a dark green dress with a high collar. The woman reaches out a hand and introduces herself as Adelaide Hass. She asks how she can help. Torbal glances at the mail librarian sitting behind the front desk. Then she lowers her voice and explains what she's here for. The original charter of the South Improvement Company. Torbal explains that this was a controversial deal that standard oil struck with the railroads. Standard would get rebates to ship its products and this would drive its competitors out of business. But Torbal explains, without proof of this agreement, her entire investigation could fall apart. And she fears that standard or the railroads have destroyed all copies of their charter. Hass is quiet for a moment as she stares into the distance. And she looks back at Torbal and Grins. Hass says it's very hard to completely erase a piece of public information, especially a document at the heart of so much controversy. Torbal nods, her eyes lighting up. She agrees there has been a lot of controversy. In fact, the New York State legislature was investigating standard oil. Hass taps her foot thinking. Then she turns back to Torbal and says she has an idea. She might be able to track down this charter and prove that standard oil colluded with the railroads. Before Torbal can ask another question, Hass takes off walking toward the archives and Torbal follows quickly after. Soon the two went their way through the dimly lit stacks. They're surrounded on all sides by thick leather books. Torbal feels her heart in her throat. She's hoping this could be it. She's hoping this could be the break she's been waiting for. Hass turns a corner and then steps onto a wooden ladder attached to the shelves. Halfway up, she runs her fingers of the spines of several books. Finally, she plucks one out and returns to the ground. Hass hands the book to Torbal with a satisfied smile. Torbal's hands tremble as she flips through the pages. She stops when she lands on one page with bold letters at the top. She looks up at Hass in astonishment. It's the charter for the South Improvement Company. Torbal feels her heart swelling with gratitude and a sense of urgency. This is the document that started it all, the scheme that drove her father to become a vigilante 30 years ago. Finally, she has proof of standard oil's corruption. Now she needs to share it with the world and let everyone know the truth about standard oil. It's January 1902. Aida Tarbal stands on the front steps of a four-story brownstone in Midtown Manhattan. She stares up to the top of this mansion, which seems to reach toward the sky. Cold wind rushes through the hedges and Targal clutches her notebook. She takes deep breath, then steps forward and knocks on the large oak door. For Aida Tarbal, today is the culmination of months of work. She's poured over documents on standard oil's history. She's begun to connect the dots, understanding just how the company grew so big and crushed the competition so ruthlessly. After hours of research, Tarbal has become very familiar with the executives who run standard oil. But she's only been able to piece together their stories from court transcripts and charter documents. Today will be her first time meeting one of these men in person. Tarbal stands on the front steps of the mansion waiting. A minute passes and Tarbal begins to worry. Maybe the meeting is off, maybe her source has decided not to talk. But as her fears are about to get the best of her, a butler opens the door. Tarbal straightens her back and tells the butler she's here to see Henry Rogers. The butler nods. He welcomes her into the house and steps aside. As Tarbal marbles at the elegant foyer, she can't believe her luck. Henry Rogers is the director of the standard oil trust. And he recently contacted Tarbal through their mutual friend Mark Twain. Rogers says he caught wind of her investigation and he wanted to give standard oil side of the story. Tarbal knows he may try to spend the truth. But she also hopes to provide far more interesting details than she can get from dusty papers in an archive. The butler leads Tarbal off a wide stairway. He shows her into a library where a man is seated in a velvet chair. His back is turned to the door. The butler knocks and the man rises, turning to face them. He is a white drooping mustache and lively eyes that put Tarbal at ease. He approaches Tarbal and treats her. Miss Tarbal, Henry Rogers, so pleased to make your acquaintance. We have a lot to discuss, but before we begin, I have to ask her, you related to Franklin Tarbal. The man who ran Tarbal's barrel shop in Rouseville? This catches Tarbal off guard as she flashes back to memories of her life in Rouseville during the Civil War. Yes, Franklin is my father. I knew the man. I lived just across the way from your family. I must have seen you on the hillside when you were a young girl. Maybe perhaps you were picking flowers. Tarbal can't help but feel a warm glow as she remembers her childhood there. But then she snaps back and composes herself. This is an old trick. Rogers is trying to charm her. He's a businessman and he'll do whatever it takes to influence the story. But Tarbal also knows too can play at this game. Mr. Rogers, what a lovely memory. I am from so long ago. And yet you don't look a day of her 40. Well, you can stop that now. Nothing's farther from the truth. Unfortunately, I'm a journalist and every fiber in my body keeps me from telling a lie. Mr. Rogers, may I? Tarbal gestures to a chair and Rogers welcomes her to take a seat. As she does and she smooths her long skirt, she notices that Rogers is blushing. That's good. Now she has the upper hand. I know you're a busy man, so can I tell you about the story I'm researching? I hear you've been working on it for some time. What you haven't spoken yet with anyone at Standard, do I have that right? You do. Yes, it's a... It's been tedious so far. I've had to sift through page after page of old documents. Yes, that does sound tedious. Charters and articles of incorporation. There's no humanity in those scraps of paper. You understand exactly right. And let me be completely transparent. My goal is to present my readers with a fair portrait of Standard. The truth is what I'm after. Rogers crosses his legs and smiles as he twirls his finger through his mustache. The truth is the most important pursuit in the world. I couldn't agree more. You know, when I was a girl back in Roundsville, I wanted to be a scientist. That profession was off limits to me as a woman, but I found a real calling as a writer. Science. Mr. Tarbal, you do seem driven toward the more noble pursuits. I should say Standard Oil does its fair share of scientific work, which makes me wonder, are you still interested in science? Of course I am. Well then, would you be willing to come to Standard Headquarters? I'd like to continue this discussion there. You can meet some other senior executives, and you can see a real juggernaut of science and industry right up close. That way, you can tell a story about us that's true and right. Tarbal's heart begins to beat fast. She's shocked, amazed at the sudden turn of events. Mr. Rogers, I'd love that. I'll speak to as many of your people as are willing. I'm sure this will give me a much more complete picture of Standard. Ida Tarbal rises in Strait and Serskirt. Rogers walks her to the door, and a moment later the Butler leads her out of the mansion, and back out into the cold, January air. Tarbal stands on the front steps of Henry Rogers' brownstone, her mind spinning with a sense of possibility. This conversation was a massive success. Soon she'll be inside the belly of the octopus, whose tentacles have crushed the rest of the oil industry, and should be that much closer to exposing the lies and corruption of Standard Oil. It's several months later in New York City. Today, the offices of McClure's magazine are filled with frantic activity. Riders and editors pace the room. They argue about headlines and quotes, commas, and captions. Yet Ida Tarbal sits motionless at her desk. She's trying to remain calm. Within hours, the magazine's November issue is supposed to hit the printers. And it has a major story, the first installment of Tarbal's series on Standard Oil. But right now they're down to the wire. As S. McClure, the magazine's founder, is reading Tarbal's story once again. He says it's the most important story the magazine has ever published, and he wants every word to be perfect. Tarbal is nervous. She can feel her hands growing moist, her forehead damp. What if McClure decides to kill the story? What if he gives in to everyone else's fears that John D. Rockefeller will go after them? Tarbal has no doubt about it. Rockefeller will have many reasons to be angry. She's interviewed all the men in the oil regions who fought, standard, and lost. She met with Henry Rogers, and the executive simply handed over information about the company's practices. And finally, her story doesn't mince words. Rockefeller comes away looking greedy and cruel, and the company he built comes off just as badly. Tarbal rises and begins pacing around her desk. She looks at the clock. They're running out of time. If they don't send over the manuscript now, the story could die before it even had a chance. She wipes a sweat from her forehead. But just then, S. S. McClure emerges from his office. He waves Tarbal's manuscript above his head and shouts for the entire office to gather around. The whole room goes quiet. And McClure tells Tarbal and her colleagues that the story is brilliant. She's taken the complex question of monopolies, a question essential to the future of the country, and brought it to readers clearly and vividly and above all, accurately. The McClure staff erupts in cheers and congratulations. Tarbal smiles and nearly stumbles over in happy exhaustion. Then she thinks of John D. Rockefeller, the man whose corruption she's about to expose. The question is, once her story hits the newsstands, how will he fight back? The story is a story that's not only about the future, but about the future of the country. The story is about the future of the country. It's the spring of 1903 in Cleveland, Ohio. John D. Rockefeller is walking through his private gardens alongside one of his lifelong friends. This stroll was supposed to be pleasant a time to get some sunshine. But Rockefeller can't help but notice a troubled look on his friend's face. Rockefeller waits for the man to speak. His friend hesitates, takes deep breath, then he looks Rockefeller in the eyes and pleads with him to speak out against eye to Tarbal. Every month, McClure's runs another damning story about standard oil. Rockefeller has to do something. Otherwise, Tarbal is going to ruin standards reputation and Rockefeller's good name. Rockefeller looks down and shakes his head. He feels pity for his friend who just doesn't understand business. It's then Rockefeller notices a small earthworm wriggling onto freshly clipped grass. Rockefeller points to the worm, telling his friend that if he steps on that worm, he'll call attention to it. But if he ignores it, the worm will disappear back into the earth. Eye to Tarbal is no different, Rockefeller says. She'll make her fuss. Soon she'll be forgotten. Rockefeller's friend begins to speak and tries to challenge this argument. The Rockefeller silences him and tells him to watch the worm. It riggles on the grass for a moment, but then soon it disappears into the soil. Rockefeller shoots his friend a satisfied grin. He gestures with his hands pointing to the wide, beautiful lawn. See all this, Rockefeller says. These gardens are standard oil. They're a magnificent creation. No one who visits here would remember a worm that crawled through them. A few months later, the offices of McClure's magazine are quiet and dark. All the desks are empty except for one in the corner where eye to Tarbal sits by the light of an electric lamp. Right now, Tarbal is waiting to meet a new source for a story. The man wrote her a letter and said he's an independent oil refiner who could help expose standard oil. But he insisted they meet at night. He was terrified of what might happen if Standard discovered he was providing her with information. Tarbal checks the clock. It's after midnight and the oil refiner is hours late. But Tarbal is tired. Her series on Standard Oil has been a huge success. Each installment is drawing more readers and more attention. And that's given Tarbal the fuel to keep pushing forward, even late into the night. A few minutes later, Tarbal hears heavy footsteps in the stairwell. There's a knock on the office door. Tarbal takes a deep breath and opens it. A tall man looms in the shadows of the landing. He has a gray beard and holds a thick leather suitcase. He looks old, worn down. He doesn't seem like a threat so Tarbal invites him in. The refiner takes a seat and right away he says he has some evidence to share with Tarbal. He comes from one of his friends who worked for Standard Oil and whose job was to burn company records. One day the friend was throwing documents into the fire when he found something suspicious. The dim light cash shadows across his anguished face. Tarbal gives him a nod and asks him to explain what was on those papers. The man reaches down and lifts the suitcase into his lap. He opens it and turns it towards Tarbal. It's filled to the brim. Tarbal begins scanning the papers. At the refiner continues with his story. He says that for years his oil refining business was full of frustrations. He'd start to make progress in a new market and suddenly standard would rush in and undercut his prices. Half of the time his shipments didn't even arrive at their destinations. It didn't make sense until he read these papers. Tarbal continues reading through the documents and then suddenly her eyes go wide. In front of her is a letter from Standard Headquarters. It's directed to a railroad shipping agent and urges him to cancel a shipment. But that shipment wasn't a standard oil shipment. It was the delivery order by the man sitting in front of her. Tarbal grabs more documents, her eyes racing across them. She finds bookkeeping records from Standard Oil's competitors, memos detailing the inner workings of other companies, plans to undercut these competitors to steal their business. Taken together these papers prove something astounding. Standard Oil has been running a spy network for years. Not only that, but Standard is using espionage to crush its competitors. Tarbal looks up her jaw hanging open. This is the biggest, most shocking revelation yet. The refiner gives a sad smile and rises. He tells Tarbal he has to get going and makes his way to the door. Tarbal calls out after him. He stops and turns around. And Tarbal tells him that she now understands why he was so nervous to come forward. But he was brave to do so. And because he did, he's going to help countless other people like him, business owners who suffered terribly and never understood why. The refiner nods and tips his hat. He gives her another sad smile and tells Tarbal he hopes she's right. It's August 1903 in New York City. Aida Tarbal follows his secretary down a hallway inside the Standard Oil headquarters. Right now, Tarbal is on her way to meet with Henry Rogers, the director of the Standard Oil Trust. For nearly two years, Tarbal has had a cordial relationship with Rogers. But Tarbal imagines that's about to change now that her latest story has hit the new stands. It details everything she learned that night when she met the refiner. Tarbal is sure that Rogers will be furious. The secretary shows Tarbal into Rogers' office then instantly disappears. Before Tarbal can say a word, Rogers rises from his desk and shakes the latest issue of McCluer's in Tarbal's direction. He demands to know where she found this material about espionage and corruption. Tarbal calmly reminds Rogers that she doesn't reveal her sources. She also reminds him that he's always denied any corporate espionage. She asks, has that changed? Rogers slams the magazine down on his desk. He tells Tarbal that he's always helped her, that she owes him the courtesy of not running such a story. She's made him and his company look like criminals. But Tarbal shakes her head and says she has only won allegiance to the truth. Rogers faces now red with rage. He barks at her, droplets spit flying from his mouth, and he tells Tarbal to leave and never contact him again. Tarbal nods calmly, then leaves the office and makes her way back outside. She enhails deeply, smelling the mix of saltwater and sot from New York's harbor. She's sorry to lose Rogers as a source, but she knows her investigation will continue. America is gripped by her stories, and so right now she's the one with leverage. The only question now is, how can she finally get in the same room as John D. Rockefeller? It's October 1903. A crowd has gathered outside a gothic stone church in Cleveland, Ohio, whispering to one another. Their eyes fixed on the church's entryway. Ida Tarbal pushes her way through the onlookers. She glances to her right, or a short man trails beside her. His name is John Sadal, and he's Tarbal's research assistant from McClure's magazine. Sadal bounces on his feet as he walks. He's a bundle of energy, and normally Tarbal loves that quality. He's been invaluable as her eyes and ears in Cleveland. But right now she's worried that he's going to attract attention. And attention is the last thing she needs. For nearly two years, Tarbal has been investigating John D. Rockefeller, impolishing article after article about standard oil, and it seems like all of America is reading her stories. Even President Teddy Roosevelt sent her a congratulatory note and urged her to keep going with her series. But that's made her an enemy of John D. Rockefeller. The rumor is Rockefeller has instructed his armed security force not to let Tarbal anywhere near him. Yet, Ida Tarbal knows that at some point she has to meet Rockefeller in person. That's why she's here this morning. This is Rockefeller's church. The same church he's been attending since he was a boy. Now, Ida Tarbal wants to get up close and face the man she's been investigating. Tarbal and Sadal push through the crowd and Tarbal shoot him a glance. Are you sure there's not some other way we can see Rockefeller? What else have you tried? Telling you there's no other way. There has to be. I mean, as I really come to this, we're going to ambush the man in church every Sunday at church. That's the only time he shows his face in public. Otherwise, he's locked up in this mansion the entire time. Besides, we're not ambushing him. We're just here to observe. Well, yeah, okay. But look over there, though. We have to make sure they don't observe us. Tarbal nods her head toward a large man in a heavy coat. He looks like he could be one of Rockefeller's undercover security agents. They're known to carry weapons. And Tarbal can't imagine what they do if they saw her. Hmm. And you think he's hot to get down? The large man begins turning toward Tarbal and Sadal and right away, Tarbal grabs her assistant and yanks him toward the ground. The two crouch and squat among the dirty shoes and torn socks of all the onlookers. Sadal's eyes go wide. You think he saw us? I don't know. And I don't want to find out. So let's just keep going. Tarbal lowers the brim of her hat and Sadal lowers his. Together, the two continue inching toward the church. Soon, they reach the entrance. They step into a large room with stained glass windows and take their seats off to the side. Tarbal leans over and whispers to her assistant. Can't get my mind around Rockefeller as a Christian. It doesn't fit with everything we've uncovered. Probably comes here every Sunday and thinks he's warded off the devil for another week. Man is a hypocrite. I'm quite sure that he's... Sadal stops. And Elbows Tarbal and the ribs. He's right there. Tarbal turns and stifles a gasp. It's him. John D. Rockefeller. There's no doubt about it. But while Tarbal expected she might feel rage or indignation, right now she's feeling something else entirely. She's sick to her stomach. The figure standing in the doorway looks like the oldest man she's ever seen. His mouth is a thin slit and he's completely hairless. Rockefeller doesn't even have eyebrows. Tarbal had heard about Rockefeller's condition, but it's another thing to see it in person. She's struck by the terrible thought that he looks like a walking corpse. Tarbal watches as he moves to a seat overlooking the entire room. Despite his appearance, Rockefeller somehow still exudes an incredible power. Every head turns to follow him. Rockefeller begins to address the room, speaking about Christian values. Tarbal shakes her head. She still can't help but wonder how a man can go to church every Sunday and bludgeon his opponents the rest of the week. Tarbal wants to understand the man to get inside his head, but more than anything, she wants to take down standard oil and punish Rockefeller for his mistakes. As Tarbal watches Rockefeller's speech, she takes mental note of every wrinkle on his face, of his sharp pointed nose. She'll use these details like ammunition in her writing. Unlike Rockefeller, she doesn't have armed security forces standing beside her. But she knows she has something much more powerful, her mind, and her fountain pen. It's January 1904 in Cleveland, Ohio. Ida Tarbal walks down Euclid Avenue and keeps her head low. Her hair is pinned up beneath a boulder hat, and she's wearing a man's long, frocked coat. She feels strange stressing into skies as a man, but she's about to interview an important source, one who demanded she wear it to skies. The interview is with Frank Rockefeller, the brother of John D Rockefeller. Frank said he didn't want his servants or his own family to know you were speaking with Tarbal. He said he was taking a great risk, and he wanted to show her documents that would incriminate his brother. Tarbal straightens her hat and then enters an office building. She checks her watch. It's 15 minutes past noon. Frank Rockefeller chose this time because his clerks would be at lunch, and they wouldn't be seen. Tarbal reaches Frank's suite and knocks on the door. Frank Rockefeller stands in the doorway, his cheeks flushed. He smells like stale alcohol. Frank quickly waves Tarbal inside. As she enters, she removes her hat, releasing a dark tinge of hair. Frank laughs at the sight and slams the door. Well, good disguise. Did anyone see you? No, Mr. Rockefeller, I took every precaution. Good, good, sit there. We have much to discuss and not much time. Frank slouches into a plush leather armchair, and Tarbal sits down on a wooden bench. She opens a notebook and takes out a pen. Well, let's get right to it then. Tell me about these documents, the papers about your brother. My brother, my name is no brother to me. He is a vile, evil individual. He ruined me. And the American public should know, write that down. He ruined me. Tarbal jostons a note, but she also makes a mental note. She'll need to carefully guide this conversation and not let it get out of control. I'm sure your story would make for an important article. But so would these documents. You know, I've read every one of your articles. Some two or three times. Well, thank you. I'm flattered. I've tried to speak with John, but he refuses. I'm only trying to tell the truth. Well, here's all the truth you need to know. The man is delusional. He believes God has appointed him to administer the wealth of the world. So he believes he has the power to destroy men left and right. That's why you need to tell my story. Well, I'd be happy to, Mr. Rockefeller. But please, I must ask that you share the documents you promised. Frank points to a large box sitting on his desk. There they are. Take them on your way out. They prove everything I'm telling you. The important thing to know is that John stole my stock in the company. He steals from anyone he can. The man is a monster. He deserves to die. Frank then puts his head in his hands. Tarbal doesn't know what to say. She knew Rockefeller was cold-hearted, but she never imagined such hatred from his own brother. She starts to speak for Frank suddenly springs from his chair. Yeah, yeah, leave now. I cannot be seen with you. If I am, he'll do even more to take me down. Just take the documents and go. Tarbal nods, then stands quickly and puts her hair back up under the hat. She lifts the heavy box of documents, and a moment later makes her way out of the building. As she walks down the street clutching the box, she suddenly feels overwhelmed with a wave of pity and exhaustion. Two brothers should never hate each other with such ferocity. She has a duty to tell the truth, and so she'll read the documents and report the facts. But she won't relish telling this part of the story. The story of brothers who turned against each other. It's a terrible shame, but Ida Tarbal knows that she has to keep going. She must do whatever she can to finally take down standard oil. It's July 1905 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Sunday morning service at the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church has just ended, and John D. Rockefeller stands in the church's center aisle greeting his fellow parishioners. It's hot inside the building, and Rockefeller presses a linen handkerchief to his forehead. His damp suit hangs heavily on his thin frame. But Rockefeller is in no hurry to leave. He relishes this moment. He's known many of these families since he was a poor, 14-year-old boy. Church is the only place he can feel comfortable in public, ever since Ida Tarbal began publishing or venomous articles and rallying the public against him. Yes, it's been a long year for Rockefeller. He knows that he's quickly becoming a villain in the public's imagination. Americans now see him as inhumane, corrupt, driven by an insatiable desire to crush his opponents and make as much money as possible. The caricature makes Rockefeller snort with disgust. Yet, it's not just some imaginary version of himself that he now has to confront. Government leaders have begun to take action too. The Kansas legislature enacted laws to control standard oil practices, and that prompted the U.S. House of Representatives to launch an antitrust investigation into standard oil. Rockefeller isn't nearly as involved in the company as he once was, but he can't help but feel that each one of these is a personal attack. In the church, Rockefeller shakes more hands as he moves toward the front door. He smiles at the parishioners, remarking on the fine sermon the preacher just gave. Soon he steps into the bright light of the summer day. He breathes in the warm air and wipes his face again. But it's then he sees a throng of people staring. Several onlookers pointed him, hurling insults. Rockefeller can see the look of contempt on their faces and shakes his head. They're just filled with envy, he thinks. Envy is the only explanation for wanting to tear down successful men. Rockefeller calms himself as he surveys the crowd of onlookers. But then he sees a young man at the front of the crowd, who locks eyes with him, then turns his back in a flamboyant show of disgust. There's little of that can hurt Rockefeller's feelings, but this stings deeply. Of all the insults he's faced, all the ridicule, Rockefeller is most sensitive about Tarble's cruel remarked in her latest articles. The so-called journalist called him a living mummy. She even accused him of using this church as a way to look virtuous to make it seem like he's not greedy. The implication makes Rockefeller sick to his stomach. This eye to Tarble has no idea what true faith is, or just how dedicated he is to the church. Rockefeller steps forward, protected by his two bodyguards. The men push through the crowds and finally Rockefeller reaches his carriage. He hurries inside and sinks into the cushion seat with relief. The driver signals the horses with a whistle, and the mob of onlookers disappear from view. Rockefeller stares out the window as the carriage rolls down Euclid Avenue. He tells his friends and acquaintances that he wasn't stung by Tarble's stories, but if he's honest with himself, reading them is painful, especially the article about his brother, Frank. He's tried to guide and help Frank his entire life. He even gave him an undeserved position in standard of Ohio, but Tarble made it seem as if he antagonized his brother and stole Frank's stock. Rockefeller clenches his fist. Frank owed him that stock as collateral on the loan that he never paid back. Tarble doesn't know the first thing about business, thanks Rockefeller. That's why she had to resort to personal attacks. But she does know how to turn the public against him, and of course the politicians are responding to the public. Still Rockefeller is not worried. These governmental investigations of standard oil require attention and care. They're a nuisance, but he still sees no reason for the company to change course. Standard oil has escaped such investigations before, only to emerge stronger and more powerful. This time will be no different, Rockefeller thinks, because standard oil is still the biggest juggernaut in American business. Ida Tarble can keep publishing her articles until the end of days, but nothing will stop standard oil. Not a ruthless journalist, not a hungry politician, not an angry mom, because standard oil is here to stay. For Wondery, this is episode four of the Breakup of Big Oil from American Skam. In our next episode, Federal Prosecutors sees on Ida Tarble's reporting and launch an investigation into standard oil, and John D. Rockefeller finds himself in an all-out battle to protect his legacy. Hey, Prime Members, you can listen to American scandal Add Free on Amazon Music, download the Amazon Music Cap today, or you can listen Add Free with Wondery Plus and Apple Podcasts. Before you go, tell us about yourself by completing a short survey at Wondery.com slash survey. If you'd like to learn more about the Breakup of Big Oil, we recommend the book's Titan, The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernau, all in a day's work by Ida Tarble, and taking on the trust by Steve Weinberg. This episode contains reenactments and dramatized details, and while in most cases we can't know exactly what we're set, all our dramatizations are based on historical research. American Scandalist Hosting edited and executive produced by me, Lindsey Graham for Airship, audio editing by Molly Bach, sound design by Derek Barrett's Music by Lindsey Graham. This episode is written by Michael Canyon Meyer, edited by Christina Malsberger. Our senior producer is Gabe Riven, executive producer, our Stephanie Jen's Jenny Lauer Beckman and Marshall Louis for Wondery.