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The Big Fail: What Covid revealed about a fractured America

Kevin Bardosh sits down with Bethany McLean, veteran journalist (Enron scandal and 2008 financial crisis) and contributing editor of Vanity Fair Magazine, to discuss her latest book, The Big Fail: What the Pandemic Revealed about Who America Protects and Who it Leaves Behind. The book, published in 2023 and co-authored with Joe Nocera, explores what went wrong in America during Covid and who, ultimately, is responsible. We discuss, among other things, what motivated her to write the book, the impact of the pandemic on the financial sector, and the legacy of Covid policies on the culture wars.

Check out our conversation.

Listen to the full podcast on your favourite podcast app. 

About Bethany McLean


Bethany McLean is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, a contributor at Business Insider, and a contributor at CNBC. She’s the co-host, along with University of Chicago economist Luigi Zingales, of the podcast Capitalisn’t. Her newest book, which she co-authored with Joe Nocera, is “The Big Fail: What the Pandemic Revealed About Who America Helps and Who it Leaves Behind.” Previously, she was an editor-at-large at Fortune Magazine. She is the co-author with Peter Elkind of the “Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron.” A documentary based on the book was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006. In 2010, she co-authored “All the Devils are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis” with Joe Nocera. In 2015, Columbia Global Reports published her mini book “Shaky Ground: The Strange Saga of the US Mortgage Giants,” and in the fall of 2018, CGR published “Saudi America: The Truth About Fracking and How It’s Changing the World.” McLean graduated from Williams College in 1992 with a double major in math and English, and from 1992 to 1995 she worked as an investment banking analyst at Goldman Sachs. .

Follow Bethany McLean on X (formerly Twitter) @bethanymac12

About Kevin Bardosh

Kevin Bardosh is the Director of Collateral Global, a UK-based charity dedicated to researching the global impacts of Covid-19 policy responses and helping the world better balance societal trade-offs during future health emergencies. He has worked in more than 20 countries on infectious disease control programs (including Ebola and Zika), authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications and edited two books. He is currently an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health, University of Washington USA and an Honorary Lecturer at the Edinburgh Medical School, University of Edinburgh UK.

Follow Kevin Bardosh on X (formerly Twitter) @KevinBardosh

Follow Collateral Global on Twitter @collateralglbl

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