Two of the leading thinkers of our time-bestselling authors Michael Lewis and Malcolm Gladwell-join us for a conversation about Michael Lewis’s new podcast, Against the Rules. Everywhere you look, you find anger that is, at bottom, a complaint about fairness. Against the Rules explores the corrosion of fairness in America and around the world, and what it has done to our society, mostly without our noticing. From basketball courts to courts of law, it’s become commonplace to attack and weaken the authority of the people whose job it is to ensure fairness and make the call. Michael Lewis asks what happens when fairness can’t be enforced and what does the decline of the referee means for all of us? Are some people inherently more fair-minded than others? What happens when Americans stop believing in the authority and independence of their referees? Can it ever be regained?
Against The Rules: Michael Lewis In Conversation With Malcolm Gladwell
And I wanted to start with obvious questions that you're gonna get it every time you do any kind of media. They could ask you this question so I thought I'd start with it. This transition from writer to podcast her how was it?
What you persuaded me. This was a lot easier than it was. You really did. Which is a lot. It was a total lie. So the short answer is It was a lot harder than I imagined it to be. But a lot more fun than I imagined it to be. And it was different and it was the I came to the conclusion that. Some stories are better told in this medium than in a book form for me. Anyway you have this great gift to be I've said this too many times you have this great gift of taking ideas and giving them the qualities of actions that you don't actually even need a character that all you need is your ideas to play with on the page and the people become almost incidental.
And that's a couple of books on I. I'm not sure I meant it. No. But it's it and it's you create the feeling of narrative even without the conventional ingredients of a narrative. I can't do that when I write what is essentially essayish material. If it reads like an essay if I don't have a main character if I don't have some drama that I'm playing out and this this idea was naturally kind of essayish that was a series of its 17 pieces around a theme and as a book I don't think it would have cohere.
But so one of the cool things I found was this the voice pulls that your voice is able to pull an audience through a story even if there's not exactly a story even if it's even if it's not as the materials not as unified as you would like it to be. If it was on the page I found it's it's just it's interesting I'm in the office and you can hear the characters voices. You know when you put something in quotation marks no matter what you do around it making getting that sound off the page you can't completely reproduce it. And we have characters who just come to life their voices just bring them up to do any work at all. And so that was interesting to me you think.
But to go back to I want you to dwell a little bit on that idea that there are certain ideas certain stories you that you can only tell this way.
In a podcast What did you…
So maybe you should I just first this explain what the podcast is because it just got out yesterday. The first episode so it's called Against the rules and it's about referees in American life and it it's the general argument is that the human referee is on the run or under assault wherever you wherever you turn except in the cases where the refs been bought by one side and then he might be very comfortably ensconced in a rig system but the the there wasn't for me there wasn't one story I wanted to tell there a whole bunch of stories I wanted to tell. And they would've felt in and they're in a book like either like a separate story or a digression a long digression I think. And I wanted to play with the argument and I wanted to play with the subject matter but I didn't have one person or I didn't. You know normally what I have is either either I have I have I have a main character who can teach the audience and I you know I had. Seven or eight characters here and that was I mean it would have been hard to structure as a conventional narrative. So it was interesting to be able to do it this way. The other big difference is book writing is really an individual sport. I mean it is just it's just you. And this is definitely it. I don't know how you found it but for me it was completely a team sport. It was and it was fabulous. I mean the editor that people who were the Nick Battelle who made the music the producers that you know they were all intimately involved. To the extent that in a couple of cases the producers went and did a couple of the interviews and that was having to having to both make work with other people as it was I think healthy for me but also having to because I don't often have to do it. But having to satisfy them in the course of doing that was interesting. Normally I'm just satisfying me and they were hard to satisfy you know they were hard to please. And that was it. That was just it was interesting have that friction in my life.
Did you feel like pleasing them entailed compromises.
No. No. Look entailed me learning what the hell I was doing. I mean I really. They were right and I was wrong.
Well those kinds of things we were wrong about?
Well did my argument make sense to them. Yes it did. That's a simple one but it was. Much of it was just structural it was kind of like.