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10.23.2021 – The New Yorker: Why the F.B.I. Loves Mob Podcasts

Per The New Yorker…

“The growing glut of Mob content, with its mix of graphic violence, relationship drama, and aspirational wealth, has carved out a natural niche for itself in our reality-TV and true-crime landscape. Gravano’s podcast, launched last year, boasts more than four hundred thousand subscribers; Franzese’s ‘Sit Downs’ sometimes garner more than a million views each—roughly equal to the number of opening-weekend streams received by the ‘Many Saints of Newark’ (which, according to Franzese, made Italian Americans ‘look like degenerates’). But the genre has drawn, alongside the usual true-crime obsessives, a more surprising set of devotees: F.B.I. agents, looking for a deeper understanding of some of the biggest cases of their careers.

“‘I spend hours and hours listening to these wise guys,’ the retired special agent Bill Fleisher told me, the other day. Fleisher, who lives in New Jersey, spent most of the nineteen-seventies working on organized-crime squads in New York, Boston, and Detroit. ‘I could talk to them, I could polygraph them, I knew how they operated—but I could never get in their heads,’ he said. ‘That’s why I like these podcasts. I’m beginning, like a shrink, to understand their thinking.’

“Most of the mobsters sharing their stories today have coöperated with authorities in the past and now have legal immunity that allows them to speak openly about their crimes (those to which they have confessed, anyway). In the process of telling those stories, they often reveal answers to questions that have stumped law enforcement for years. ‘Instead of us going into prison and interviewing Sammy the Bull—how convenient, he starts his own podcast,’ James R. Fitzgerald, a former F.B.I. profiler and another dedicated listener, said, from his house in Maryland. ‘If you watch and listen to enough of them, you can pick up on the trajectory of where they’re going, and maybe even solve some of those old crimes.’

To read the full article in The New Yorker, click here.

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