Episodes

  • Democratic congressional leaders and independent oil men are furious when they learn that Interior Secretary Albert Fall leased federal oil reserves with no open bidding or public debate.. Montana Senator Thomas Walsh reluctantly agrees to head an investigation, even as Fall brazenly sets out to collect his kickbacks and retire to his ranch in New Mexico. 

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  • Warren G. Harding is elected president in 1920, thanks in part to a backroom deal between Republican Party power brokers and influential oil men. To make good on that deal, Harding’s Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, quietly leases the federally owned Teapot Dome oil field in Wyoming and two others in California to oil magnates Harry Sinclair and Edward Doheny. But to hand out the leases, Fall wants something in return. 

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  • When investigative reporter Charles E. Shepard began covering televangelist Jim Bakker and his ministry, Praise the Lord, he knew it could be the biggest story his paper was following. Throughout the 1980s, he documented Bakker’s extraordinary wealth, financial crimes, and sexual assault of a former PTL secretary named Jessica Hahn. Shepard’s efforts helped win his paper a Pulitzer Prize for meritorious public service. Today, he joins Lindsay to talk about his book, Forgiven: The Rise and Fall of Jim Bakker and the PTL Ministry, and the discoveries that helped bring Bakker and his ministry down.

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  • These are stories you were never meant to hear. The invisible but vital work of the world’s intelligence services: secret operatives playing to very different rules. The Spy Who, hosted by Indira Varma and Raza Jaffrey, takes you deep inside that shadow world to meet spies who risked everything in the national interest – or, sometimes, their own.

     

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    Discover more to the story with Wondery's other top history podcasts including American History Tellers, Legacy and Even the Royals

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  • In 1987, the empire that Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker spent their lives building is falling apart. When Jessica Hahn comes forward and alleges Bakker sexually assaulted her, he’s forced to resign as PTL’s leader. Then, Bakker goes through one of the most publicized trials of the decade, exposing his lifestyle and business decisions to the intense scrutiny of evangelical leaders, the press and the federal government. 

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  • After the FCC concludes its investigation of the Bakkers for misusing donor funds, reporters in Charlotte start to uncover a series of complaints from former PTL staff members. Bakker and his underlings try to silence the whistleblowers, but they become increasingly worried when Charlotte Observer reporter Charles Shepard uncovers a damning allegation against Bakker. 

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  • After marrying and dropping out of bible college in the early 1960s, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker launch a traveling evangelical show with puppets, which catches the attention of televangelist Pat Robertson. Robertson offers them their first TV show on his new Christian Broadcasting Network. By the 1970s, the Bakkers strike out on their own, launching their own ministry and television network, Praise the Lord. But as the Bakkers use their followers’ donations to fund their lavish lifestyle, it raises alarm bells for PTL staff. 

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  • Drawing on more than 100 hours of interviews and boxes of unreleased documents, journalist Keith O’Brien unraveled the mystery behind the Love Canal disaster in his book, Paradise Falls: The True Story of an Environmental Catastrophe. Today, O’Brien takes Lindsay through what he discovered about an unlikely group of women who stood up against injustice to save their families. O’Brien’s reporting reveals new details about the Love Canal site and Hooker Chemical, and explores how the tragedy impacted modern day environmental policy.

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  • Protests in the Love Canal neighborhood reach a boiling point in 1980. After a study from the Environmental Protection Agency finds more people have been affected by high levels of chemical exposure, a riot breaks out in front of the Love Canal Homeowners Association. And as Lois Gibbs is forced to choose between standing up for her neighborhood or potentially facing criminal liability, grieving parent Luella Kenny confronts Armand Hammer, the CEO of Hooker Chemical’s parent company. 

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  • By 1979, officials in Washington, DC are taking notice of the situation in Love Canal. A young congressman from Tennessee, Al Gore, invites Lois Gibbs to testify at the capitol in support of radical updates to the nation’s laws on chemical waste. But local officials, like recently-appointed state health commissioner David Axelrod, continue to stand in the way. 

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  • Despite her initial reluctance, Lois Gibbs starts to find purpose in rallying Love Canal residents in their protests against government inaction. But concerns over who will get evacuated, and who will be forced to stay, threaten to divide residents. Meanwhile, the shocking death of a child in the neighborhood ignites new fears that the chemicals are even more dangerous than previously thought.

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  • In the spring of 1978, reporter Mike Brown begins publishing a series of articles in the Niagara Gazette about potentially harmful chemicals leaking into the soil and water in Love Canal, a neighborhood built around what had been a dumping ground for the Hooker Chemical company. The news is a jolt to local residents, like mother Lois Gibbs, who fear for their families’ health. When government officials fail to act, Gibbs helps form a group of unlikely activists set on cleaning up their neighborhood.

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  • Eric O’Neill was a 27-year-old FBI surveillance operative when he first heard the name Robert Hanssen. It was the assignment of a lifetime: go undercover to bring down a mole that had been feeding secrets to the Russian government for more than two decades. O’Neill takes Lindsay behind the scenes of the operation that changed his life and led to the capture of one of the most notorious spies in American history. His book of the account is called Gray Day: My Undercover Mission to Expose America's First Cyber Spy. 

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  • In 2001, Robert Hanssen’s spy career comes to a crashing halt after he’s arrested in the middle of a handoff to the Russians. It’s a massive win for the FBI, but not without its own fallout. FBI director Louis Freeh still needs to explain to the American public how Hanssen was able to go undetected for so long. Meanwhile, to avoid a death sentence, Hanssen agrees to cooperate with authorities and reveal the details of his decades-long spying career. 

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  • By the 1990s, Robert Hanssen has been spying on and off for more than a decade. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he decides to break off contact with his Russian handlers. But his urge to spy is too great, and soon he revives his alter ego “Ramon” — unaware that a former KGB agent has just given the FBI a huge break in their effort to finally track him down.  

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  • Realizing there’s a spy in their midst, the FBI and CIA reluctantly agree to join forces, and launch a joint investigation to ferret out the mole. But they unwittingly put Robert Hanssen in charge of a crucial aspect of the case, enabling him to throw them off the scent as he continues selling secrets to the KGB. 

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  • In 1976, at the height of the Cold War, Robert Hanssen joins the FBI to work in their counterintelligence division. Hanssen is valued for his technical skills, and put in charge of databases containing some of the country’s most valuable secrets. But he’s socially awkward, and constantly passed up for promotions and field work, leaving him resentful of his employers. Soon, he decides to turn to another source of income: selling information to his country’s greatest enemy, the Soviet Union. Over the course of several decades, he’ll become one of the most damaging spies in US history. 

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  • Pam Davis and Bill Kottmann worked as hospital executives in the Chicago area during Governor Rod Blagojevich’s time in office. The pair unwittingly ran into the corruption surrounding “Blago” when they tried to get a permit to build a new hospital. Instead of capitulating to extortion, Pam and Bill went to the FBI. Today, these whistleblowers join Lindsay to share what it was like to wear wires and gather evidence that helped lead to the arrests of Blagojevich and his co-conspirators.

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  • In 2008, with his administration mired in scandal, Governor Rod Blagojevich decides to press the only advantage he has left — his authority to name President-Elect Barack Obama's successor in the U.S. Senate. But as he and his advisers discuss how to leverage the seat to his advantage, they don't know that the FBI is listening in. And soon, based on what they hear, they'll have Governor Blagojevich in handcuffs.

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  • Tipped off to some shady dealings on several Illinois state boards, the FBI launches an investigation into Governor Rod Blagojevich's administration. At first, they set their sights on a well-connected businessman named Stuart Levine, who seems to using his board seats to run kickback schemes. But soon, their investigation leads them all the way to Blagojevich's campaign headquarters.

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