American Scandal

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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.

The Breakup of Big Oil | Judgment | 5

The Breakup of Big Oil | Judgment | 5

Tue, 08 Sep 2020 09:00

John D. Rockefeller is on the run. His company is under assault from state and federal lawsuits, and now, Rockefeller is moving from house to house, doing whatever he can to avoid a courtroom. But soon enough, his fate will be decided for him. Because the U.S. Supreme Court is about to issue a landmark decision.

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It's February 1906. John D. Rockefeller stands at a window staring out at the Hudson River, the water churns, and reflects the pink glow of the fading sunset. A pair of birds fly past the window, chirping, but Rockefeller's size. He owns this hilltop mansion outside New York City, and more than 400 surrounding acres. He should be happy, and yet, right now, he's tired and beaten down. Rockefeller turns from the window. He catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror, even though he's only in his 60s he looks much older. But tonight he can't afford to act like he's old. Not with a big decision he may soon have to make. It's been nearly six months since Ida Tarrable finished her investigative series on Standard Oil. He will claim that Rockefeller built his company on fraud and intimidation. Rockefeller refused to acknowledge these absurd accusations, and imagined they quickly fade from people's memory. But instead, several states launched antitrust lawsuits against Standard. They began issuing subpoenas to Rockefeller to force him to appear in court. So far, he's been hiding from the process servers. The men tasked with delivering the subpoenas have found it hard to find him. He's been traveling in secret from a state to a state, ducking them at every turn. No matter how far he runs, they catch up. Just yesterday someone discovered he was hiding here at Pocantico, his estate. Since then, he's been under constant assault from process servers trying to make their way past his security force. Rockefeller stares at himself in the mirror and tightens his fists. No matter what happens, he must avoid testifying in court. He won't provide information that could help break up his company, even if that means staying on the run, or even fleeing his mansion tonight. Rockefeller hears a pair of footsteps creaking up the stairs. He turns and finds ahead of his private security force. Mr. Rockefeller, sir, we caught one trying to sneak in through the garden. Another. Yes, sir. They are a determined bunch, but we made sure to bruise them up. Got to send a message to all the others. All the others. I thought you said if I needed to, I could get out tonight. Sir, it will not be a problem. Well, it sounds like we have a significant problem. We have a boat ready to take you down the Hudson. I've been lining the entire perimeter. You are safe, I promise. We're just waiting for the right moment. Rockefeller looks out the window. The sun has set, and now the river is pitch black. If he flees, he'll have to travel 80 miles in the dark all the way to his estate in New Jersey. So, I have to run away once again. Like some fugitive. Sir, they're going to keep coming. So unless you'd like to stop, no, no, there's no need to finish that though. The security guard lowers his head and steps aside to another window. A moment later, Rockefeller sees a torch flare by the riverbank. The security guard jumps up. That's the signal. It's time, sir. Are we staying? We're going. Rockefeller pauses. And he grabs his heavy coat and hat and strides down the hall. We're going. Together, Rockefeller and the guard exit through a reader door. Rockefeller feels a rush of cold air. He gulps it into his lungs already out of breath. Then they begin stepping down the steep hillside and soon the sound of the river grows louder. Rockefeller's hope soar. But deep down, he knows that he's going to have to do this again and again. And the threat is growing even larger. Now the president Roosevelt has his sights trained on Rockefeller and standard oil. Rockefeller keeps walking down the hillside. When suddenly, he trips on the loose stone and lurches forward. Security guard lunges, catching him. His breath goes ragged as the guard holds him tight. And for a moment, Rockefeller closes his eyes and listens to the river. Ida Tarball waged a war on standard oil. And so John D Rockefeller knows he has to do what he's always done. Fight back and keep fighting until he wins. Because even though he's on the run tonight, this isn't how his story is going to end. Running in the dead of night like some criminal. Rockefeller is going to beat these charges. And he does he'll prove once again just how foolish it is to tangle with standard oil. American scandals sponsored by Sachi Art. I'm lucky. Not only is my wife beautiful, funny and smart, she also has great taste that matches mine, which has made decorating our home together a delight. But how do we go about finding the art for our home? When we agree on that too, Sachi Art. They have artworks from thousands of emerging artists around the globe in all styles. So you're guaranteed to find art that fits your style, space and budget. Their view your room feature lets you visualize the art on your walls. And my advisor, Satin, was instrumental in finding our newest piece. Get 15% off your first order with promo code podcast. Just go to and enter code podcast at checkout. Find art you love today. Officially one hour until your favorite show premieres, time to get some snacks delivered through Instacart. Okay, let's get some popcorn, seltzer, chocolate covered almonds and wait, did they release the whole season? Better cart some ice cream for the two part finale. When your day should be ending, but a new season is starting, the world is your cart. Visit or download the app and get free delivery on your first order. Offer valid for a limited time, minimum order $10 additional term supply. Some wondering, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American Scan. In the early 1900s, journalist Ida Tarble exposed the dark secrets of Standard Oil. America's most powerful and profitable company. Each installment of her monthly series delivered new revelations from Standard's backroom deals with the railroads to its network of corporate spies. When the series finally concluded, the American public's rage at Standard Oil reached a fever pitch and the company's founder John D. Rockefeller was one of the most hated men in America. After Tarble began her series, Rockefeller found his company under assault from state and federal lawsuits. The lawsuit's accused Standard of anti competitive practices and they sought to break up the monopoly once and for all. Yet Rockefeller pushed his company to fight back. Standard Oil's defense went all the way to the Supreme Court where a landmark ruling would decide the company's fate and forever change the course of American industry. This is episode 5. Judgment. It's July 1907 in Western Massachusetts. John D. Rockefeller sits on the porch that wraps around his daughter's mansion. The home is secluded and built up against a bank of tall trees. Still Rockefeller can't shake a terrible feeling of anxiety. As he gays his out at the tree line, he imagines a process server breaking through the woods and sprinting past his security force. Rockefeller shakes his head and throws his head on the ground. He's sick of hiding. He's been living like a fugitive for the better part of two years. That's why he's staying at his daughter's home. He's trying to escape from yet another subpoena to appear in court. This one was issued by a judge in Chicago. Meanwhile, Teddy Roosevelt's Justice Department has also taken action. They've now filed an anti trust lawsuit and Roosevelt has made it clear that he intends to break up Rockefeller's company. Rockefeller hears the creek of a screen door. He turns and sees his daughter coming toward him. She has her mother's dark hair and high cheekbones and she makes Rockefeller think of his wife, SETI. Right now SETI is sick and lying in bed back in Ohio. Rockefeller quietly curses. He should be home with his wife. But he made his decision. He's not going to take the witness stand even if that means running from state to state. No matter what, he will not hand over information that could help the government destroy Standard Oil. Rockefeller's daughter reaches his side and hands him a nonvlob. He thanks her and tears it open. But as he begins to read the letter inside, he stops. His daughter is standing over his shoulder. He turns to her and has her to return inside the house. He tells her that when it comes to business matters, he needs his privacy. His daughter hesitates but she doesn't leave. Instead, she tells Rockefeller that she's worried about him. He can't keep this life up forever. She says she wants to help that she can lend a hand with the business affairs and put an end to all this trouble. Rockefeller smiles and tells his daughter that he's always found his own way. This time will be no different. She hesitates again. She lingers, watching Rockefeller with a look of pity. But he continues to smile and again asks for his privacy. He says he needs to focus his attention on this letter. His daughter nods and returns inside. Once she's out of sight, Rockefeller continues to read the letter. It's from John Archbold, who's currently running Standard Oil. Rockefeller feels a sudden panic rising inside him. Any news from Archbold could be bad news if the last two years run any indication. Rockefeller has tried to look steady and confident, but the constant stream of troubles has worn him down. He blames his wife illness on all the agonizing public scrutiny. Even his son, Jr., has suffered a nervous breakdown. Yet as Rockefeller reads, slowly a grin forms on his face. Archbold says that standards lawyers have a plan, an ingenious one. They could save Rockefeller and the entire company. No longer would Rockefeller have to live his life as a fugitive, docking subpoena after subpoena. Rockefeller scratches his head as he reeds the letter. The lawyers are suggesting a clever maneuver. They want Rockefeller to testify in the Chicago lawsuit. They believe that by testifying against himself, Rockefeller would then gain immunity in a bigger federal lawsuit. And if he plays the fool on the witness stand, he'll also be able to protect Standard. Rockefeller laughs to himself. The plan is unbelievable. But it seems foolproof. He can always count on Archbold to outsmart their enemies. Rockefeller sets down the letter and leans back in his chair. Then he makes the decision. He will head to Chicago to testify. And then with any luck, he'll finally be left alone. It's July 6, 1907. John D. Rockefeller is walking to a courthouse in downtown Chicago. Today he's surrounded by some of his closest allies. His brother William walks beside him, as does a small army of Standard Oil attorneys. The men walk slowly without saying a word. They spent days preparing for this moment. And if all goes according to plan, Rockefeller will emerge stronger and safe from the federal investigation. He may also save his company. As the group rounds a corner, a member of Rockefeller security team comes sprinting towards them. He's out of breath and has a worried look on his face. Rockefeller demands to know what's wrong. The man points toward the courthouse to block away. Rockefeller looks up immediately, he can see it, a mob of people have gathered. Apparently they're waiting for him to arrive. Rockefeller's mouth goes dry. And right away, more than a dozen members of his security force fan out around him in a circle, each armed with a heavy clud. The group moves forward. Rockefeller at the center. He already dreaded this day of testimony, but now it's about to get far worse. As they approach the large federal courthouse, Rockefeller feels stunned. There are hundreds of spectators waiting out front. He hears someone in the crowd give a shout. They've spotted him. His stomach clenches in fear, as the mass of people surges forward. But his security team shouts and swings their clubs trying to push back the crowd. Rockefeller feels himself being pressed and jostled as they slowly work their way toward the courthouse entrance. Finally, he reaches the front door. The security team spreads out and makes a path to Rockefeller. Rockefeller stares down the marble hallway. He looks back at the Rockefist crowd, which is pushing up against his security force still. And then he returns his gaze to the lobby of the courthouse and steps forward. It's time for his greatest performance yet. As Rockefeller enters the courtroom, he can hear police officers fighting to close the door against the crowd. The door slams shut and a heavy bolt slides across it. Rockefeller makes his way through the courtroom. The airs wet and hot despite the electric fans churning overhead. Rockefeller straightens his suit as he looks around. The front rows are packed with journalists. They murmur as he walks by and scribble quickly in their notebooks. Sitting behind them are several older men. They glare at Rockefeller. He assumes their former competitors, vanquish rivals who hold him responsible for their failures. Rockefeller snorts as he considers the incredible theater of all this. Well, if they want to performance, that's what he'll give them. Well, he's not looking forward to this testimony. But he knows it's the only way he can gain protection from any federal charges. Rockefeller takes a deep breath to steady himself, then he nods to his lawyers and walks to the witness stand. Rockefeller takes a seat and a bailiff approaches with a Bible. Rockefeller smiles and gets the show started. He takes the Bible and kisses its cover before placing his hand on the book for his swearing in. When he looks up at the judge, a man named Landis, the judge frowns and begins questioning Rockefeller. Mr. Rockefeller, let's start from the beginning. What is the business of standard oils affiliate here, standard oil of Illinois? I believe you're honor. Rockefeller purposely trails off. He looks around the room as if he's forgotten where he is. He makes sure to keep a child like look on his face. Landis raises his voice. Mr. Rockefeller, what is the business of standard oil of Illinois? I believe you're honor that they operate an oil refinery. Landis glares. And what do you know of standard of Illinois's relationship to the railroads? Well, you're honor. I don't want to speculate, but if memory serves, I want to get this right. Do take your time, Mr. Rockefeller. Rockefeller purses his lips and stares into the distance. Yes, if memory serves, I believe standard of Illinois uses railroads to ship their oil. Mr. Rockefeller, did standard of Illinois ever receive rebates from the railroads? Your honor, I used to know such things, but now for the life of me, I can't remember. Rockefeller looks out of the court gallery and sees journalist laughing. Even some of his old competitors seem amused. This is new for Rockefeller. He's not used to being laughed at, and it's embarrassing. He's never felt so undignified, playing a daughtering old fool. And yet as the exchanges look with his lawyers, he can tell that his performance is coming off flawlessly. Rockefeller awaits the next question from Judge Landis, knowing he'll avoid giving a single useful answer. Because that's the point. His time on the stand won't do a thing to help the government's case against standard. Not only that, his testimony will earn him immunity from the federal lawsuit. Teddy Roosevelt may be a famous big game hunter, but he won't be taking down John D. Rockefeller anytime soon. It's August 3rd, 1907, and a month later. John D. Rockefeller stands on the greens of his private golf course in Cleveland. He nods to his golf partners and sets his ball on the tee. Storm clouds threaten in the distance. Rockefeller is pressing on with today's game. After years of hiding, he won't let anything drive him back inside. He's been enjoying a life free from subpoenas ever since he took the stand in Chicago and earned his immunity. Rockefeller is just about to take his swing when he sees a young boy racing toward the group. The boy is clutching an envelope in his hand. A moment later, the boy reaches Rockefeller and hands over the envelope. He says the Chicago judge has just issued a verdict. Rockefeller smiles in anticipation. He fishes a dime out of his pocket and hands it to the boy who quickly runs off. Then Rockefeller nods to his golf partners again and opens the envelope. But just as quickly, Rockefeller feels lightheaded. He reads the message again, hoping this time it'll say something different, but it doesn't. The letter says that standard oil has been found guilty of colluding with the railroads for illegal rebates. The company has been fined $29 million. Rockefeller knows this is by far the largest fine in American corporate history. Rockefeller works to control his breathing. He carefully folds the message and places it in his pocket. Then he turns to his partners and cheerfully asks if they're ready to continue. Rockefeller won't let them see the rage that's boiling inside. Instead, he steps up to his ball and channels his fury into a ferocious drive. Rockefeller then lets out a shout and turns back to his golfing partners. They're all staring at him. Their mouths hanging open. Finally, one of them asks about the verdict. Rockefeller calmly tells them about the guilty verdict and the amount of the fine. Men look stunned, but Rockefeller insists they keep going. Slowly, a dumbfounded partner makes his way to the team. Rockefeller watches the man with a blank expression, but inside he continues to simmer with anger. For Rockefeller, the verdict is outrageous, but it's not just the unthinkable fine. This verdict creates a legal precedent, one that supports Ida Tarbels absurd theory that Rockefeller builds standard oil with illegal practices. Rockefeller pounces golf club against the grass, thinks about what he'll do next. He knows that standard will appeal the ruling and refuse to pay the fine, but he also knows his company has received a huge blow. Even if standard oil recovers from the verdict in Chicago, he wonders if his empire is beginning to crumble. Peloton isn't just about bikes and treadmills. It's a team of instructors ready to motivate you 24.7. With Peloton, there are literally thousands of classes, ranging from strength training and yoga to running and boxing, which means Peloton is the perfect nonjudgmental space to experiment with new types of movement at a level in pace that feel good for you. Super busy, it doesn't matter if you have five minutes or an hour. 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We cover every angle, breaking down theories, diving deep into forensic evidence, and interviewing those close to the case. And with over 450 episodes, there's a little something for every true crime listener. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music, or every listen to podcasts. Or you can listen ad free by joining Wondery Plus in the Wondery app. In September 17, 1908, John Archbald sits at the head of a long table on the top floor of Standard Oil's headquarters. Today he's dining with other directors of Standard Oil. Archbald smiles as the servants come in carrying lunch on silver trays. One of the servants places Archbald's meal in front of him. The man removes the cloche and the smell of stuff fesent rises in a delicate waft. Archbald leans back, feeling pleased. It's a helpful time for Standard Oil. The continued legal troubles may be worrisome, but there are exciting developments across the industry. A man in Detroit, named Henry Ford, recently announced production of a motor carriage that burns gasoline. It's called the Model T. The first ones will come off the assembly line any week now. A new age of motorized transport is on its way and it promises record profits for Standard Oil. Now they just need to keep their enemies at bay. Archbald picks up his knife and begins carving the fesent when a junior executive bursts into the room. As soon as Archbald sees the man's face, he knows something is terribly wrong. Archbald barks at the executive, demanding an explanation for the interruption. The young man stammers, then says something unthinkable. He's just received a call from a Standard Oil office in Columbus, Ohio. Apparently, the newspaper Baron William Randolph Hurst took the stage at a political rally in Columbus. He then began to read a series of letters sent to members of the U.S. Congress. These letters offered the congressman lavish bribes in exchange for political favors, and all of these letters were written by John Archbald of Standard Oil. Archbald drops his knife. The young executive flinches stammering again as he relays the rest of the news. It only did Hurst read the letters, but he promised that they would be on the front page of each of his newspapers tomorrow. Archbald looks blankly at the young man, then turns to face the other directors at the table. Every one of them is staring at him. Archbald feels as if he swallowed his own tongue. Finally, one of the older directors breaks the silence. His voice quivers with fury as he asks Archbald what in God's name was he thinking. Archbald quickly regains his composure, though, and straightens his back. He says the men in this room knew fully well that Standard had politicians on the payroll. This is how the company has managed to kill off anti trust bills. A senior director interrupts him, impounds his fist on the table. He says of course they know about the bribes, what he wants to know is how Archbald's letters manage to get into the hands of a yellow journalist like William Randolph Hurst. Archbald quickly shouts the man down. He reminds the director that they run the most powerful company on Earth. Mistakes happen, but he should show a little faith. They must stick together and they can't concede an inch, not to journalists, not to competitors, and certainly not to Teddy Roosevelt and his trust busters. Archbald looks around the room. The man looks shaken, but for now he is still in charge and they're still under his command. Archbald makes a show dismissing the junior executive and then picks up his knife and fork and takes a ravenous bite of his fessant. As Archbald chooses he scowls and stares at each of the men around the table. He knows he has to act strong and unbeatable, but privately Archbald is terrified. The old man is right. This is a public relations disaster. It comes at a time when they're in the trenches fighting the government's antitrust lawsuit. Thanks to Ida Tarval the world already knows too much about standards unsavory practices. These bribery letters are just one more weapon in the enemy's arsenal. But Archbald also knows he has to follow his own commands. They must stay strong and keep the faith and they cannot give an inch. Not of standard oil is going to dominate this dawning era of gasoline. It's November 1909. Ida Tarval walks down a wooded drive in Redding, Connecticut. A crisp wind rustles the branches overhead, sending the last few golden leaves spiraling down to the ground. Tarval smiles, until lovely day to be visiting her neighbor. She rounds a bend and a home comes into view, a mansion that's far bigger than her little country home. The house belongs to her friend Samuel Clemens, right or known to his readers as Mark Twain. As Tarval approaches the front door, she wonders what Clemens will have to say about standard oil. A federal circuit court ruled unanimously against standard in the antitrust case. The court explicitly cited the very misdeeds that Tarval documented in her stories. The judge then gave John Archbalt and John D. Rockefeller only 30 days to break up the company. Of course, standard immediately appealed to the Supreme Court. A Tarval believes her reporting has pushed standard that much closer to extinction. Tarval knocks on the door. Clemens has always been a staunch defender of standard oil. It's a position she's never understood from a man who otherwise believes in reform. She doubts she'll ever be able to change his position, but she's always eager to try. The door opens and Clemens himself greets her. His eyes twinkle beneath his bushy eyebrows and his hair is an unruly shock of white. Clemens invites Tarval into his parlor where a small table is already set for tea. The two writers sit down and Clemens grins. He says he's delighted to have tea with the woman who single handedly destroyed the world's greatest company. Tarval stirs some sugar into her cup and looks up with a smile. She says that she only pealed away standard's armor. She's happy to leave the finishing blow to the Supreme Court. One shakes his head as he takes a sip of tea and says that in his opinion the courts are overreacting. Why break up such an inventive company? Clemens says that the standard oil chiefs aren't as vicious as Tarval made them out to be. They pay good wages. Tarval counters and says yes it's true that standard treats men fairly, but only those who become employees. That's the injustice that inspired her series. The fact that men must choose between being a standard employee or being cast out of the industry. Clemens raises a eyebrow. He looks tarval right in the eyes. Then he says the thing he disagreed with most in her series was her character study of John D. Rockefeller. Clemens reminds Tarval that he's a good friend of Henry Rogers who ran the standard oil trust. And when he visited Rogers he frequently saw Rockefeller. And Rockefeller Clemens says isn't half bad. Clemens takes another sip of tea and continues saying that right now there's no point debating standards fate. Considering the speed of the Supreme Court, God's judgment would probably come before the justice's make up their mind. Tarval nods, but deep down she hopes that Clemens is wrong. She knows that the Supreme Court must break up standard and they must do it before it's too late. Before standard grows too big to break apart. It's May 15th, 1911 and more than a year later. Today Rockefeller stands in the sun on his own private golf course in his Pocantico estate. The sight him is the priest from the local Catholic parish. The priest is thin and wears a black shirt and clerical collar even on his days off. Rockefeller smiles. The priest may be a man of God, but he's not getting a divine help with a six iron. Rockefeller watches as the priest squints and hits a short putt. The ball circles the hole and rims out, settling a few inches from the cup. The priest grimaces. Rockefeller can't help but keep grinning. All afternoon this priest has been going on about standard oil sins. So it's nice to see the man suffer a bit here. The priest taps his ball into the hole, then follows Rockefeller to the next teeth. As they walk he continues the sermon he's been delivering for much of the game. How about this endless wait for the Supreme Court decision? Don't you feel that God is punishing you? If you're not in hell you're at least in purgatory. Father I'm a Baptist. I don't believe in purgatory. Repent your sins Miss Rockefeller. It's admirable you've given so much money to charity but that won't influence God's judgment. Up until now Rockefeller has tolerated this speech. But the subject of his philanthropy touches a nerve. Ever since Ida Tarrable began publishing her series Charities have been under pressure to refuse Rockefeller's money. They think his good will is an attempt to clear his reputation. This makes Rockefeller furious. Oh with respect father, how dare you question my motives. I've given to charity since I was a boy. Your motives are not. Good acts don't cancel out sins. Father I have sins like any man. But in business my record is spotless. My entire career has been an example of the Lord's work. I brought order to an unruly industry and industry full of gamblers and drunks. The priest starts a respond but Rockefeller cuts him off. And think of the poor, the poor. How many of them light their homes with my carousine? How many are kept from freezing by my heating oil? Rockefeller is about to continue. When he glances over the priest's shoulder and sees one of his secretaries walking toward him. The secretary reaches Rockefeller with a solemn look on his face. He hands over a piece of paper then steps back. Rockefeller narrows his eyes and unfolds the note, reading. Rockefeller blanches, his stomach lurches, his breath feels short. All his ears building standard, all of his tireless effort, only to have a single, short sentence to clear the end of it all. The priest looks at Rockefeller. What does the note say? Rockefeller turns to the man, trying to hold back his motion. The Supreme Court has ruled against standard. It seems my trust will be broken up. You see, God's justice always wins out in the end. Rockefeller taps his golf club against the grass as the full weight of the decision hits him. But then he looks up at the priest a slight smile tugging his lips. God's justice, huh? Well, then. God must find me a truly worthy and devoted servant. Why else would he choose me to become the wealthiest man on his good green earth? The priest stares at Rockefeller, dumbfounded. I don't understand. Father, I am the largest shareholder of standard oil stock. Now that the company is forced to be split apart, Wall Street will be absolutely ravenous to acquire our assets. Our stock prices will skyrocket. The priest's mouth falls open. Father, if I may ask, do you have some money? No, no, I don't. Well, if you can get your hands on some. I'd recommend buying stock and standard oil. Put the entire congregation behind the effort. Money won't feel so sinful when your church needs a new roof. With that, Rockefeller makes a gesture toward the tea and reminds the priest that it's his turn. The priest nods his head as he stares into the distance, and then he does as he's told. As Rockefeller watches the priest pull into his backswing, he calculates his new net worth in his head. He's always been good at sums. And this one is astronomical. Remember the days before streaming services? When you would come home from high school, and it was only a few hours until that TV show that everyone was watching was going to come on? Your friends were on their way over for the watch party and the smell of popcorn filled the room. Well, in 1999, that show was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the new podcast from Wondery, the rewatcher Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we're taking it back to 1999. Get out your knee high boots and pace that poster of Angel on the wall. It's time to enter the Buffyverse. Join morbid cohosts, Ash and Alaina as they slay their way through Buffy's drama, action, and romance episode by episode. Enter the Buffyverse with Alaina and Ash. Listen to the rewatcher Buffy the Vampire Slayer on October 3rd. Or you can listen one week early and add free right now by subscribing to Wondery Plus and Apple Podcasts or the Wondery app. It's May 15th, 1911 in New York City. Ida Tarbill sits at her desk in the newsroom of American magazine. Tarbill founded this publication alongside colleagues from Accluors, and while normally the offices are calm and organized, today chaos erupts as a shout rings through the corridor. Tarbill looks up as a figure appears suddenly at her desk. As John Sedol, her former research assistant from the Standard Oil series. Sedol has joined her at American magazine. It's now a full fledged editor. Still he's as youthful and buoyant as ever. Today he seems even more excited. In a ringing voice, Sedol announces that their correspondent in Washington DC just called the Supreme Court has issued its final ruling on a Standard Oil case. Sedol pauses dramatically. He waits as colleagues rush over to Tarbill's desk. Tarbill bites her lip against the rising suspense and finally, Sedol delivers the news. The court has ruled to break up the Standard Oil. The newsroom erupts into wild cheers. Tarbill shoots up from her chair almost in shock. She barely registers her colleagues handshakes and congratulations. Then slowly the news sinks in. She begins to smile. Standard Oil has finally been slain. Speechless, Tarbill sits back down as her colleagues continue to buzz around her. Sedol's face grows flushed and he begins to tell everyone the story of how he snuck Tarbill into John D. Rockefeller's church. Tarbill smiles instinctively as Sedol tells the story, but right now she's only half listening. All she can think of is her father's face. How happy and proud he would be. Sedol finishes his tail and he looks at Tarbill. His voice grows serious. He says that everyone in the country knows that Tarbill is to thank for this. Her reporting formed the basis of the government's case against Standard. Her efforts led to this moment, the breakup of the country's largest and most ruthless monopoly. Sedol grabs a glass of water and thrusts it in the air. He gives a toast to eye to Tarbill and the journalist cheer again. Sedol then jumps up and declares that they should all go out for some proper drinks. He'll thank them but says she has work to do. But she tells the editors to go ahead. She'll try to meet them a little later. Sedol gives her a knowing look. One that says he's well aware she'll stay in the office past midnight. The other writers protest, but Tarbill smiles and waves them off. A few minutes later the newsroom is empty. Tarbill looks at a blank sheet of paper sitting on her desk. The Supreme Court decision is a victory, but it's time to move on to her next story. A story she knows will take up her days and nights and weekends for years to come. She's planning a series of articles about labor relations in the United States. She hopes to expose the horrors of exploitation, but also to find examples of humane word places. She hopes her efforts will set American industry on a more positive course. Tarbill looks up at a map of the United States, which hangs above her desk. She imagines the steel mills in Pennsylvania, the coal mines in West Virginia, the paper mills in Wisconsin, all the places she'll visit in the coming years. She's a great deal of work ahead of her. Tarbill takes a deep breath, and she picks up her pen and begins to write. It's nearly seven years later. John D. Rockefeller is reclining on a lounge chair in his New York estate. He's eager to get outside to play his daily game of golf. But he can't yet, because first he has to get through another interview with his hired biographer, a man named William Inglis. Inglis sits behind a nearby desk, arranging his notes. For the most part, these interviews have been pleasant. Rockefeller returns to his older memories, and Inglis sits quietly, writing on a large pad of paper. It's an important task. This biography will be the official record of his life, now that Rockefeller is 78 years old. It will tell the story of his rise from poverty, how he worked hard, and found incredible success as a businessman, and how Rockefeller then turned to a life of charity and giving. This should be a time to celebrate his legacy. But one part of this exercise has left Rockefeller fuming. It's about to resume again. Rockefeller watches as Inglis takes out a large book from his bag. It's a compilation of IDA Tarbill's articles about standard oil, a collection of stories that were meant to destroy the company, and Rockefeller. Rockefeller never imagined he'd waste a single minute of his twilight years responding to Tarbill. But his son, Jr. insisted on it and said that Rockefeller had to clear the family's name. That's why they hired the biographer in the first place. So now, each morning, Rockefeller and Inglis had the same routine. The biographer reads passages from Tarbill's book and Rockefeller responds to the accusations line by line. Inglis opens the book and looks up at Rockefeller. Let's start with this passage. It's about your work buying out rival oil refineries in Cleveland. The year was 1872. I remember it well and fondly. I traveled the city and explained the advantages of selling to standard oil, and I made generous offers. These other refineries were happy to sell. You should have seen that look relief in their eyes. They made a large profit, and from then on, they didn't have to continue in such a difficult business. Tarbill has a slightly different recollection, all of the sure she does. She found every chance she could do insult me. Be it as may, there's not much opinion. It's simply her reporting of the events that took place. No, it's always her view of the events that took place, not facts. Inglis shifts in a seat. Why not read the passage in as before? Let's correct Tarbill's mistakes. Here she writes, certain refineries objected to Rockefeller's offer. They did not want to sell. Mr. Rockefeller was regretful, but firm. It was useless to resist. They would certainly be crushed if they did not accept his offer. Rockefeller feels his chest constricting. Steering rage rises through his body. His whole life he's controlled his emotions. Even now, a small voice in his head shouts at him to act dignified and calm. Rockefeller can't help himself. He shoots up out of his chair and stomps over to Inglis's desk. That is absolutely false. Tarbill's not a journalist. She's a gossip writer. We'll be sure to address Tarbill's false accusation, sir, but what would you like me to write? Write that this is poisonous nonsense. I was offering the Cleveland refineries a lifeboat. You don't have to threaten men to get them to leave a sinking ship. Of course, sir, that makes perfect sense. I'll make it clear in our book. You must. You see, the period she's writing about is the beginning of Standard Oil. Everything I built rests on that time. If she casts a false suspicion on that, then the public will believe my entire career was built on fraud and coercion. This must be corrected. Rockefeller looms over Inglis as the man writes furiously. When Rockefeller studies his breath, none clenches his fists, turns and walks to the window. Outside his grounds crew is hard at work on the golf course. It's a beautiful day outside, and Rockefeller's golf partners are due to a ride soon. The Rockefeller isn't looking forward to his game anymore. He can't stop thinking about Ida Tarmall and all of her terrible accusations. It wasn't enough for her to ruin his company. She ruined Rockefeller's reputation, too. She stole something from him. Something that he can never buy back. The 1911 Supreme Court decision that broke up Standard Oil remains one of the most consequential rulings in the history of American Congress. What those consequences were perhaps different than the justices intended. Standard Oil was broken up into smaller parts, but these spin off companies were not forced to compete aggressively against each other. Instead, the companies carved off from Standard Oil remained incredibly powerful, and many still dominate the oil industry today. Standard of New Jersey became Exxon. Standard of California became Chevron. Another Standard to Filet became Conoco. But Standard's legacy is even far more reaching. The Standard Oil Trust created a blueprint for the modern economy. It effectively invented the modern holding company, a business structure that allows one company to own many others. Today holding companies represent some of the largest multinational enterprises in the global economy. Many Americans at the time hope that the Supreme Court decision would punish John D. Rockefeller. But when it came to Rockefeller's wealth, the ruling had the opposite effect. Rockefeller was allowed to retain stock in Standard subsidiaries. Rockefeller's wealth more than doubled, and by most calculations he became the world's first billionaire. In his retirement Rockefeller devoted himself to philanthropy, especially education, conservation and medical research. He died in 1937 and left behind a complex legacy of generosity and greed. Ida Tarball is considered a seminal figure in the creation of investigative journalism. Her reporting on Standard Oil is considered a classic and helped to usher in the reforms of the progressive era. After the Supreme Court ruled against Standard, Tarball continued to work as a journalist and lecturer. Her work on international trade and labor relations foreshadowed many issues that the United States still grapples with today. Tarball died in 1944 at age 86. Her body was returned to Titusville, Pennsylvania, and she was buried in the ground of the oil region and shaped her life's work. Next on American scandal, we speak with Chris Sagers, a professor of law at Cleveland State University and a senior fellow of the American antitrust institute. Sagers is an expert on big business and monopolies. We'll talk about the climate that allowed John D. Rockefeller to conquer an entire industry and also look at how an oil law is finding a new meaning in the digital age. From Wondery, this is Episode 5 of the Breakup of Big Oil for American Skin. A quick note about our reenactments. In most cases, we can't know exactly what was said, but all our dramatizations are based on historical research. If you'd like to learn more about the Breakup of Big Oil, we recommend the book Titan, the life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Churnow, and taking on the trust by Steve Weinberg. American scandal is hosted, edited and executed produced by me, Lindsey Graham, for airship, Onio editing by Molly Bach, Sound Design by Derek Barons. This episode is written by Michael Canyon Meyer, edited by Christina Malsberger, produced by Gabe Riven. American producers are Stephanie Jenns, Jenny Lara Beckman, and her nonlopest for Wondery.