Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute held a special evening with one of America’s premiere journalists as  ProPublica President and Founding General Manager Richard Tofel interviewed bestselling author Matt Taibbi on his groundbreaking new book, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. 

During the talk, Matt Taibbi discussed the inequity of American crime and punishment, explored the reasons why, as he shows in The Divide, America has, over the last two decades, been falling deeper and deeper into a statistical mystery: Poverty has gone up; crime has gone down; and yet the prison population has doubled. And on the other end of the spectrum, financial fraud by the rich has wiped out 40 percent of the world’s wealth. Yet the rich have become massively richer. And virtually no one has gone to jail.

“The Divide” is Taibbi’s term for the seam in American life where two troubling trends — growing wealth inequality and mass incarceration — come together. His book is the first examination of these two alarming trends side-by-side and an exploration of what Taibbi reveals is a dramatic shift in the nature of American citizenship: our basic rights as citizens are now determined by our wealth or poverty focuses on the lives of real people.

Taibbi discussed the punishing logic of these trends and what he argues is one of the greatest challenges we face in contemporary American life: surviving a system that devours the lives of the poor, turns a blind eye to the destructive crimes of the wealthy, and implicates us all.

Rita E. Hauser, President of The Hauser Foundation, introduced the night’s talk.



Matt Taibbi  

Matt Taibbi has been a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and is the author of five previous books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Great Derangement and Griftopia. In February 2014 he joined First Look Media, and will start his own publication, as yet unnamed, focusing on financial and political corruption. First Look, established in 2013, is financed by the eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. At First Look, Mr. Taibbi joins a staff that includes national security reporters Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill and the journalist Peter Maass, among others.

Ricard Tofel  

Richard Tofel was the founding general manager of ProPublica from 2007-2012, and became president on January 1, 2013. He has responsibility for all of ProPublica’s non-journalism operations, including communications, legal, development, finance and budgeting, and human resources. He was formerly the assistant publisher of The Wall Street Journal and, earlier, an assistant managing editor of the paper, vice president, corporate communications for Dow Jones & Company, and an assistant general counsel of Dow Jones. More recently, he served as vice president, general counsel and secretary of the Rockefeller Foundation, and earlier as president and chief operating officer of the International Freedom Center, a museum and cultural center that was planned for the World Trade Center site. He is the author of “Why American Newspapers Gave Away the Future” (Now and Then Reader, 2012), “Eight Weeks in Washington, 1861: Abraham Lincoln and the Hazards of Transition” (St. Martin’s, 2011), “Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism” (St. Martin’s, 2009); “Sounding the Trumpet: The Making of John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address” (Ivan R. Dee, 2005), “Vanishing Point: The Disappearance of Judge Crater, and the New York He Left Behind” (Ivan R. Dee, 2004) and “A Legend in the Making: The New York Yankees in 1939” (Ivan R. Dee, 2002).


Matt Taibbi, “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap” | Posted on March 27th, 2014 | Book Discussions, Public Programs