Transcript

330:

My Reputation
Transcript

Originally aired 04.13.2007

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Full audio: http://tal.fm/330

Prologue.

Ira Glass

So Robyn was the only woman working on this men's magazine, which, OK, is weird to start with. This magazine, you should picture Maxim or FHM, but not as classy. They would get a medium famous TV star, like Alyssa Milano, out into the desert and convince her to take off her top for a photo shoot, that kind of thing.

So, Robyn's working there, and she's 23, just out of college. And she had started as the intern. She would write little music reviews. And then her bosses asked her to do a much more substantial story than she'd ever done, about a Japanese pop star name Seiko.

Robyn Forest

They came to me, and this was a possible cover. I'm sure my jaw just dropped. And she's coming in tomorrow, she is the Japanese Madonna. You need to go to the photo shoot, she's going to get completely naked. This is the first time that this woman has ever done anything scandalous. And you get to be the one to break this story, of her coming to America.

Ira Glass

And how'd that go?

Robyn Forest

Um, not well. I hadn't had a lot of experience with high-level celebrities. And she had eight people come to the interview with us. She also had figured out a way of doing this interview style that's very mirroring, where she would repeat back to me what I had asked.

Ira Glass

Like what? Give me an example.

Robyn Forest

So, "What kind of clothes do you like to wear when you're performing?" "What kinds of clothes would you like to wear?" And I'd be like, "Well, I'm not sure because I'm not performing. But, if I were, I'd probably want to wear chaps, a small cowboy hat." I didn't know how to react, you know? When I was asking her about her romantic life, she would do that same style.

And I think it really worked. It did unsettle me. I'd say, "Are you involved with anyone? What do you love about men?" And she'd be like, "What do you love about men?"

And I left the interview pretty close to being in tears. So I went home, with a very brief interview, where essentially I had more of myself on tape than I had of her. And I called back to office, and I said, there's just nothing here. On every level, there's nothing here. And they said, well, make it work. It's a 2,000 word piece now. It's a feature. It's our main feature on the feature wall. Go home, and take your notes, and write what you can with it.

Ira Glass

So she didn't know what to do. And then she started thinking, OK, how would all the guys in the office write this story? The magazine she worked for, they did that men's magazine thing where the writer basically just drools over the girl in the story, and how hot that girl is. And Robyn thought, OK, fill enough paragraphs with that and the fact that she had no decent quotes from Seiko wouldn't even matter.

Robyn Forest

And I decided, my name sort of sounds like a boy anyway. I'm just going to write it as if I'm a man who thinks she's the most attractive woman that's ever walked the earth, which is what I did.

Ira Glass

OK. And so we have the article here. Can I just ask you to read-- here's the article.

Robyn Forest

OK.

Ira Glass

Can I ask you to just read the first paragraph or two?

Robyn Forest

"The prospect of seeing a beautiful woman's bare skin keeps me sane as I sit in traffic, en route to the photo session for Seiko, the reigning Japanese pop queen. Hot flashes of the Asian teen queen under an erotic spell of the camera blazes me a path through LA, bumper to bumper, and I arrive eager, mentally aroused, and a half an hour late. The nude has been shot.

Proof of the event is handed to me in Polaroid form. There I get my first glimpse of Seiko, as she posed a mere 30 minutes prior wearing only a good girl smile and a fan splayed over her privates. And immediately, I'm consumed with the need to see in person what looks so tempting on film."

Ira Glass

[LAUGHTER]

Robyn Forest

Yep. Yep, yep, yep.

Ira Glass

Did the men who you work with, did they like this?

Robyn Forest

They thought it was like, wow, look at her. How cool that our little girl's, you know--

Ira Glass

Our little 's growing up.

Robyn Forest

Our little girl's growing up to be a misogynist. Were thrilled.

Ira Glass

So after a while, the magazine hits the newsstands. And when Robyn gets to work the next day, her phone is already ringing. It's Seiko's publicist.

Robyn Forest

I thought she was calling me because I had written an article that she found offensive. But I found out it was really she was upset because this woman had gotten naked on the set of our photo shoot, and she was going to have to try to control this so it basically doesn't cause this huge scandal in Japan.

Ira Glass

Oh, because she's supposed to be a wholesome girl. That's her image, wholesome girl.

Robyn Forest

Yes. So this is the first time she's ever really shown skin or anything like that. So I'm waiting in the office, prepared to deal with camera crews that want to talk about her nudity. And I remember I came up-- there might be have even been more than one TV crew waiting in the reception area. And when I came out, and I was a woman, they were completely freaked out.

Ira Glass

Now, the reason why they freaked out-- as best as Robyn was able to piece together later-- the reason why was that when Seiko came to the United States to try to establish herself, not just as a Japanese pop star, but as an American pop star, this rumor started circulating in Japan that Seiko was leaving her husband behind, for some American. And so the press, the Japanese press, were trying to figure out, is there an American? Who was this American?

Robyn Forest

So when they got this article, they were like, well, this person certainly seems obsessed with her, and very sexually hot for her. Maybe Mr. Robyn Forest is her current lover. So when Mr. Robyn Forest came out and Mr. Robyn Forest is a college-aged girl, they were really freaked out.

Ira Glass

Now Seiko has left her husband for this college-age girl, who's obsessed with her.

Robyn Forest

Who looks just like an LA surfer girl. And that just sent them into a tizzy.

Ira Glass

Like the story has gotten so much better than they ever dreamed.

Robyn Forest

Right, right, right.

Ira Glass

So Robyn sits down for this first interview, and she has no idea about any of this at the time, right? She thinks that they are only there to talk about the nudity. And she tries to do right by Seiko. She says what a nice girl Seiko is, how she hopes Seiko's album does great in the United States. And that was that.

Robyn Forest

So that first interview, I remember I just thought, well, I really set the record straight there. You know? And I thought that would be the end of the TV crews coming.

So then, the second day, about three or four came. So I did another interview with one of them. I thought, well, maybe this will make them leave. And in that interview, that was the first time anyone said, "Are you attracted to her?" And I'm on camera. I was like, oh wait, you think that I-- I was like, "Oh no, no, no, no. I'm not a lesbian."

Ira Glass

And did you say you didn't find her sexy? Because you have a whole article here saying you did.

Robyn Forest

I said, you know, I can recognize that she's attractive as a woman. But no. I'm not attracted to her. And then they would just try to slip in a quick question like, "Did you touch her breast?" And I would be like, "Um, no." And then they'd just move on, really clever. And then they'd be like, "What are your hobbies, Robyn?"

They were trying to throw me off. So that third interview, I was starting to get annoyed. And as the interviews got more and more-- I probably did about 20-- they would just get right to the point. "Did you sleep with her? What parts of her body did you see naked? Did you touch her breast? Are you still talking to her?" And then they just didn't even try to be polite.

And I was getting hate mail from fans.

Ira Glass

From her fans?

Robyn Forest

Yeah. And people really just were never convinced that I wasn't the person that was having an affair with her.

Ira Glass

Mainly, she just wished that her bosses had killed the story like she asked, back when the original interview went so badly.

Robyn Forest

I was like, "I told you guys that we shouldn't try to make this into a story. And now look. I'm a lesbian in Japan."

Ira Glass

And all of this had consequences in America, too. See, before all this, among the very few articles Robyn had ever written, she'd done another story that had made publicists angry with her.

Robyn Forest

People that are the handlers of celebrities, when they found out about all of this-- the publicists in LA definitely let each other know when things are going wrong. And there was, to some degree, I feel like, a bit of a black ball going on. My reputation was that of being a wild card. Maybe not to trusted with bigger celebrities. So I recognized that this is probably the end for me. It was pretty much done.

Ira Glass

So wait, so your entire career in journalism, you basically wrote two stories. You ruined your own reputation.

Robyn Forest

Yes. I did. And that was it.

Ira Glass

That was it. You don't get to choose what makes your reputation. One dumb mistake can do it.

Well from WBEZ Chicago, it's This American Life distributed by Public Radio International. I'm Ira Glass. Today on our show, My Reputation. Stories of people finding themselves at the mercy of what other people think of them. And very much not agreeing with what other people think of them.

Act one of our show, Not Everybody Loves Raymond. It that act, we have the story of a politician who goes through the kind of scandal that destroys a person's reputation. But he's the unusual politician in that he is willing to talk about it all, with a reporter, in a way you never hear. Act two, The Hole Truth. A man asks his closest friends, on tape, what they really think of him. And he is surprised at what they say. And not in a good way. Stay with us.

Act One. Not Everybody Loves Raymond.

Ira Glass

Act one, Not Everybody Love Raymond. This story begins right after a political stampede in New Hampshire. Last year, Democrats won majorities in the State Senate, in the House, they toppled both incumbent Republicans in congress to take the state's two house seats in Washington. They already had a Democratic governor, but now they also took local boards and city councils.

The day after the election, Republicans called it a tsunami. Keep in mind, this is New Hampshire, which is usually dominated by Republicans. A kind of Libertarian "Live free or die" sort of Republican. The last time Democrats had the House and the Senate and the governor's mansion in New Hampshire? 1874. The last time they had all that, and the two representatives in DC was in the 1850s.

In a sense, the politics of New Hampshire is, in a way, small town politics. State Representative is a part-time job. It only pays $100 a year. Political news happens on a half dozen public cable access shows that not many people watch. But it's also sort of big politics, because New Hampshire, of course, has the first presidential primary in the country. And New Hampshire politicians and political operatives hang out for months with the presidential hopefuls.

OK. So that is the setting for this story Sarah Koenig, tells what happened.

Sarah Koenig

The day after election day was suddenly a very, very good time to be a Democrat in New Hampshire. And a good time to be Ray Buckley, too. Buckley was one of the main strategists behind the landslide. Here's how he began his weekly political talk show on cable access TV the next morning.

[MUSIC - "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS" BY QUEEN]

The takeover caused statewide euphoria among Democrats, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone happier about it than Buckley. He'd been waiting for this day nearly his entire life.

Raymond Buckley

Is New Hampshire going to become a permanent democratic state? That makes every phone call, every envelope that I've stuffed, every sign that I've put up, every single bit of that over the last 40 years, absolutely worth it. Because I feel this is what this has all been for.

Sarah Koenig

Buckley is a tall, blond, round-faced guy who doesn't like the outdoors and has the figure to prove it. He's either called an operative or a hack, depending on your point of view. Whatever he does, he's good at it. And by now he should be. He says he's been obsessed by politics since third grade. By the time he was 14, he made his mother volunteer to run his town's Democratic committee, a job he was actually already doing, but was too young to have officially. Because he was 14.

And since then, he's been deep in political campaigns all the time. Either running himself-- he was a state rep for 18 years-- or getting other people elected. He knows the stats on hundreds of Democrats around the state. I found this out at a fundraiser when I casually asked him the name of the woman we'd just been talking to.

Sarah Koenig

Her first name is Ellie, that woman?

Raymond Buckley

Ellie Carpenito.

Sarah Koenig

Ellie Carpenito.

Raymond Buckley

Yep. From Salem. 15 Scully Square, 03079.

Sarah Koenig

And how do you know that?

Raymond Buckley

I remember most people's address and phone numbers and emails. That's--

Sarah Koenig

You do?

Raymond Buckley

Some of these people I've been mailing-- I've either hand addressed or put labels for 20, 30 years on an envelope. You know?

Man

What's her address?

Raymond Buckley

Maggie Lozano? 417 Walnut Street, Manchester, New Hampshire.

Sarah Koenig

He's probably been to a lot of their houses, too. New Hampshire is tiny, about a million people. So everybody knows everybody for years back. Especially, it seems, in the political world. And for Buckley, this decades-long attention to who's who paid off in November's victories.

A few years ago, the Senate Democrats asked him to run their Political Action Committee. He said yes, but only if they'd sign on to what a lot of people thought was a pipe dream. To not only keep the eight seats they had, but to take a majority of the Senate. He studied 20 years' worth of financial records. He invented a new fundraising strategy. And he forced safe candidates, the incumbents, to help the new candidates.

It worked. They took the Senate and helped Democrats all the way down the ticket. Now Buckley wanted to be chairman of the party. He wanted to be the guy to make sure New Hampshire stayed democratic for good.

It's an elected position and it only took two weeks for Buckley to get more than a 140 of the 196 committee members to promise they'd vote for him, including all the state's most influential Democrats.

But three months before the vote, Buckley was accused of one of the worst things a person can be accused of. Something so ugly and dark that almost no one accused of it ever really shakes it, guilty or not. It threatened to ruin not just his career, but his life.

We've all seen this story from a distance. The politician accused, the public outcry, embattled press conferences, TV crews tailing a haunted official on his way to a waiting car. And that's all we get. We rarely get to hear what happens offstage. For Ray Buckley, the hardest thing was getting his mind around what the accusation meant. That his dream job, the job he'd already locked up, had suddenly vanished.

Raymond Buckley

And that was part of the horror during the ordeal. To suddenly be benched, at a time that is going to be a watershed time for our party, was just-- it's not just the public humiliation, it's not just all of the other stuff of having all these enormous legal bills. It was, I'd just spent 40 years working towards this, and it's gone.

Sarah Koenig

The whole thing started with another politician. A guy named Steve Vaillancourt. Vaillancourt is a Republican state representative from Manchester. An eccentric, and a viper when provoked. And he's often provoked.

I once wrote a profile of him for the Concord Monitor newspaper, in which a colleague affectionately compared him to nuclear waste. He sometimes harmed the very causes he fought for, legalized gambling, legalized marijuana, abolishing the death penalty. He's in perpetual motion and he's also obsessive. He once wrote a book of 5,000 trivia questions about the OJ Simpson trial.

To give you some sense of his frantic style, he's got his own public access TV show called More Politically Alert. And the unedited rawness of it is kind of remarkable.

Here he's talking about the committee he has just been assigned to in the Legislature, Environment and Agriculture. What he wanted was the Finance Committee, and he doesn't disguise that.

Steve Vaillancourt

We have the introduction of Steve Taylor, the Department of Agriculture chairman came in. We make almost a billion dollars a year out of agriculture in this state, and about half of that comes from flowers and garden supplies and things like that. It's going to be a fun year on the Agriculture Committee, not that I deserve to be on Finance, although Ben Baroody, and Tom Fahey, junior leader column, said that I was much better suited for finance than him.

And most other people say I'm intelligent. All the media this week has been saying, you're one of the most intelligent people around. Well I've never claimed to be intelligent, or unintelligent, I've just claimed to be what I am, a meat eater. [LAUGHTER] Oh my god.

Sarah Koenig

It's all like this. A dazzling stream of consciousness that's like an unfiltered glimpse into his brain, and it's also completely entertaining. Vaillancourt is theatrical, but he's also smart, so his colleagues don't tune him out completely. And it was on his show, in early January, that he dropped this little bomb about the chairman's race.

Steve Vaillancourt

That front runner, Ray Buckley, will not win as the Democratic party chairman in balloting later in January. You heard it here first, a shoe will drop.

Sarah Koenig

Later in the show, he cues a swirly background, and repeats this forecast about Buckley, in the looser Vaillancourt style.

Steve Vaillancourt

Whoa, whoa, whoa. I'm getting dizzy. Watch out, or Ray Buckley will say I'm drooling. Hey Ray-bo, how you doing? You are not going to be Chairman of the Democratic party, we predict.

Sarah Koenig

Vaillancourt knew a shoe would drop in the chairman's race, because he had already dropped it. He had written a letter to governor John Lynch. "Raymond Buckley," he wrote, "has a long history with kiddie pornography. I know for a fact that Mr. Buckley used to smuggle kiddie porn from Amsterdam and Denmark into the United States inside Newsweek and other magazines. You could not enter his room without stepping over kiddie porn, strewn on the floor," the letter said.

Someone leaked the letter to the TV news and, once it got out, it was huge.

Female News Anchor

Sources tell News 9, a fellow politician and former friend of Buckley's--

Male News Anchor 1

Well, Jen and Tom, this is the letter. It's dated December 26, it's a one-pager, written by state representative Steve Vaillancourt.

Male News Anchor 2

It accuses Buckley of being attracted to boys aged four through nine. It talks about a computer purchased by the Manchester City Democrats in 1998, and allegedly used by Buckley to surf the Internet for child porn.

Male News Anchor 3

Buckley emphatically denies the allegations, but he has not responded to repeated attempts for interviews. The investigation--

Sarah Koenig

Vaillancourt ended the letter by saying "I can only assume that even a cursory investigation will convince you that Mr. Buckley is not the person Democrats, or New Hampshire, want in a leadership position." The man he sent the letter to, Governor Lynch, has made it a priority to get tougher prison sentences for child predators. And Vaillancourt almost dared him to ignore the letter.

And he hit the most sensitive political issue in the state. New Hampshire's status as the first place to hold presidential primaries every four years. Last summer, Nevada moved its caucus ahead of New Hampshire's primary, and New Hampshire officials have been freaking out ever since. A scandal at the top of the party could give presidential candidates pause. Would they really want to pose for pictures with an accused pervert? And might give other states ammunition for arguing that New Hampshire shouldn't be first anymore.

So Governor Lynch responded as Vaillancourt must have known he would.

John Lynch

There were serious allegations made by a state representative, which is why we immediately forwarded the letter to the Department of Justice, and they are managing the situation now.

Sarah Koenig

And this was the other thing Lynch said.

John Lynch

Well, you know, I didn't and I don't believe that while this matter is pending he should be running for state party chair.

Sarah Koenig

Vaillancourt began pushing his case in public. He held an interminable press conference. In the first two and a half minutes, he somehow managed to weave together Julius Caesar, Berlin, Germany, the San Diego Chargers and Catherine the Great. But he also had moments of clarity.

Steve Vaillancourt

I don't need to be here. So if you ask me, is this going to ruin your career, Representative Vaillancourt, and I've been asked that often. Ruin my career? Ruin a $100 a year job? Ruin my reputation? I say what I feel because I believe somebody has to step forward and tell the truth. I'm not going to come off looking like a good guy no matter what happens, somebody that turns in a friend. But if you believe me, then you've got to believe that at least a dozen, maybe two dozen, maybe more, have known about this for a long time. If you believe me. And as I say, don't believe me if you don't want to, but I do not lie.

I do exaggerate, occasionally I do comedy. But I never lie. I do tend to exaggerate. And most of the things I've said I don't have proof about, but I think I have enough information so that if you don't want to believe me, you better think twice about not believing me.

Raymond Buckley

I'm looking, reading a letter that my first response is, boy, to have written this sort of a letter, he's got to really hate you.

Sarah Koenig

Before it made the TV news, before it made the paper, Ray Buckley had gotten a knock at his office door, and two friends had sat him down in a conference room and showed him the letter.

Raymond Buckley

And then I just, I was kind of thinking of him and saying, I don't think he's thought this through. I don't think he realizes what he just did. And so we went through the letter, step by step, and it was like, there's no truth to any of this. There's nobody that's going to corroborate any of this. How could anyone take this letter seriously?

Sarah Koenig

His friends assured him the governor was taking it seriously, and that he'd rescinded his support for Buckley's candidacy. Since he's the most important Democrat in the state, their top elected official, this was a big deal. As was the fact that he publicly called for Buckley to withdraw. But Buckley thought, well, it's such nonsense, it'll blow over.

Raymond Buckley

I was thinking, well it's just going to take a couple days, it's going to be over with by the end of the week and it probably might not even ever make the papers.

Well, I went out of the meeting and, at this point, it's now after 5:00. I went home.

Sarah Koenig

Are you alone?

Raymond Buckley

Yeah. I sorted socks. At that point, I didn't want to upset my family, so I didn't want to call them. I couldn't talk to any of my immediate friends, in case they were going to be called in for questioning. So I had nobody to talk to. So I remembered that I really hadn't organized my sock drawer for a while, and I brought them all in, and dumped them on the couch and I sat there, watching TV and matched socks.

Sarah Koenig

It sounds calming, but Buckley says his mind was racing. He's the oldest of nine children and he's close with his parents and step-parents. And he was horrified at the idea that they would all be drawn into this somehow. And what was going to happen to his career? And how would he pay for the lawyer? And how should he act right this minute? He started to get a little paranoid.

Raymond Buckley

You know, are the police going to show up at my door tonight? So, don't move anything. I watched one too many TV shows, I guess. I'm thinking they're going to say, oh, if you moved that book, and so there's no dust there. I didn't dare touch anything in my house. I literally didn't even throw out my trash for the first couple weeks. I put it in my basement, so I could say, nothing has left this house. Here's my trash.

I didn't clean out my car. Because I was afraid that someone would see me taking something out of my car and throwing it away. And I would be accused of throwing something out. So my car through the whole ordeal, just became increasingly filled with random stuff. There were Christmas gifts that I just hadn't taken out of the car yet.

Your fear and-- the first night, I look over at the pictures of my 10 nieces and six nephews. It was like, are they going to think that odd that I have my nieces and nephews on my living room wall? Do other uncles have their nieces and nephews? I don't know. Does that imply something ugly?

Sarah Koenig

He couldn't sleep. And for the first time in his life, he lost his appetite. Over the next two months he'd lose 40 pounds. He'd lie awake at 4:00 in the morning and obsess, so he tried sleeping pills, which didn't really help. Of course, he had to tell his parents that soon all their friends were going to see their son accused of kiddie porn in the news. He says this isn't something anyone wishes on their parents. It's like they're being punished, too.

His family was still recovering from the death of his 11-year-old niece, who died of cystic fibrosis. He says at least when something like that happens, family friends know how to react.

Raymond Buckley

People, they would offer my parents and my siblings or whatever, love and support. People knew how to show that sort of support to a family that's grieving.

Sarah Koenig

It's like it's hard, but you know what to say.

Raymond Buckley

Exactly. Exactly. This is not something that you naturally know whether to bring it up, not to bring it up. It is a whole different conversation of like, oh, isn't this horrible, this is happening to Raymond. And knowing, deep down, that a person is like, oh, this is really-- it just goes down a road that you don't go when you're showing your sympathy towards a grieving family.

Sarah Koenig

Once the news hit, Buckley figured out pretty quickly that the investigation would take weeks, not days, and he finally did what the governor wanted. He pulled out of the chairman's race. And all this time, of course, he had stuff to do. He was head of the Manchester City Democrats, vice chair the New Hampshire Democratic Party, chairman of the Eastern Region of the DNC, a member of its executive committee. He was vice president the state Chairs Association, and a board member of the National Stonewall Democrats. And he still had a day job, as executive director of the Senate Democratic Caucus. He had to go to work.

And all day long he's talking to people who are reading these headlines. But for Buckley one advantage of doing politics in such a small place, is that everybody knew him. And they also knew Vaillancourt, and they knew the history between them. And most people reacted to the charges with skepticism.

Even the state's most notoriously conservative newspaper, the Union Leader, said, quote, "This is nothing more than a suspect allegation, and it should be treated as such." The fact that Vaillancourt admitted having no proof made headlines. No political leaders at the state level, Republican or Democrat, stood by Vaillancourt, who told me that many people in the gay community did come to him privately, saying they believed him, even if not many public figures did.

Steve Vaillancourt

I was vilified, but I expected to be vilified. People that I had talked to, friends of mine in advance, said, don't do this, it's going to be down to your detriment. I decided that to get my conscience clear once and for all, I would put it out there no matter what it cost me.

Sarah Koenig

Meanwhile, Buckley's friends and allies, it was almost as if they started a campaign to keep Buckley from curling up into a fetal position and never leaving his house. This is Donna Soucy, who works for the Senate Democrats.

Donna Soucy

Most importantly in the beginning, I was the one who made him just go to public events, and just reach out.

Sarah Koenig

Kathy Sullivan was chairwoman of the state party at the time.

Kathy Sullivan

A couple of us said to Raymond, you are going to the inauguration. It's important for you to be out there.

Sarah Koenig

Judy Reardon, former Chief of Staff for a previous governor.

Judy Reardon

You know, be out there. Don't not go to things. He went to the governor's Inaugural Ball the next day after it had broken publicly. And he said, again, they're not going to want me there. And we said, no, you are going to the Inaugural Ball because you have to show people that you're not hiding, you have nothing to be ashamed of, that this is all crap.

Sarah Koenig

All his friends operated from this notion, that it was all crap. And they were confident about that because this was just the latest skirmish between Vaillancourt and Buckley.

For the last 10 years or so, Vaillancourt has had it out for Ray Buckley for reasons that only Vaillancourt knows. I've asked and asked, and no one seems to have the answer. Or at least admits they do. There are theories. Unrequited love, chief among them. They're both gay, but both men swear there's never been a romantic or sexual moment between them. And it's convincing when they say that. They make that face you might make when you imagine your parents in bed.

Their friends second the denials. Katherine Rogers has known them both for decades. And she makes that same face.

Sarah Koenig

Was he in love with Raymond Buckley. Like, why--?

Katherine Rogers

Oh god, no. And I've seen it in print, you know, maybe there was some relationship. No. There was never anything with the two of them.

Sarah Koenig

But Buckley rented a room in Vaillancourt's house for 16 years, and they were close friends. They hung out all the time, and travelled together. They both talk about taking care of each other when one was sick or depressed. Vaillancourt used to be painfully shy, and Kathy Rogers remembers trying to lure him out of his room with M&Ms, ET style.

But Buckley encouraged him to run for the House, and he did. Back then, Vaillancourt was a Democrat. And once he was elected, he was quickly promoted to leadership positions because he was talented. But so was Buckley.

Peter Burling

He'd become the Democratic Whip, and Vaillancourt was furious.

Sarah Koenig

This is Peter Burling. He was House Democratic Leader back then, and he says Vaillancourt behaved so badly after that, attacking Buckley, attacking him, that he had to demote him.

Peter Burling

You know, on some level, as I look at these episodes over the last 14 years, I cannot help feeling a profound sense of sadness for Mr. Vaillancourt. It is clear that there is a whole level of competitive anxiety, shall we say, that Ray Buckley's success brings out in Mr. Vaillancourt.

Sarah Koenig

After that demotion, Vaillancourt started to break with the party. Around that same time, he kicked Buckley out of his house, and they went to court over claims of unpaid rent. It wasn't long before Vaillancourt became a Republican.

And all this stuff was very public. Not only because of the smallness of the place, because of public access TV in Manchester. Politics in that city, in particular, as Peter Burling said to me, is of the whack and slash variety. This plays out in about half a dozen political TV shows, which can get mean.

And Buckley is no innocent here. He can be refined and diplomatic, attending small private gatherings with Barack Obama or John Edwards, but he also gets nasty. That's his job as a party operative. He's like James Carville. On his show, In the Know, he's called other politicians half-witted and freakish, suggested they were mildly retarded, or plastered. And just a few months before Vaillancourt sent his letter to the governor, Buckley went after him.

Raymond Buckley

Do you want this guy representing you? Do you want your family's reputation stained by having this guy, who absolutely gets unhinged, has no ability to really control his behavior, his mouth, and his antics?

Sarah Koenig

So when Vaillancourt made his accusation, Buckley's friends dismissed the whole thing as an act of revenge. But the cops didn't see it that way. They searched for Buckley's old computer. They questioned more than a dozen people, many of whom Vaillancourt said would corroborate his claims.

And Vaillancourt kept on. He wanted to take a lie detector test, on TV if necessary. He made up a set of polygraph questions, complete with his answers. One of which was, "Did you and Mr. Buckley ever have a sexual relationship. Answer: No." And handed it around. He offered to be hypnotized, to take phenobarbital.

When I asked him about the various theories people have for why he'd written his letter, Vaillancourt said his reason was simply to tell the truth. There was no jealousy, no vendetta.

Steve Vaillancourt

Wipe that out of your mind. There are three people I really hate in the world. Ray Buckley is not one of them. In fact, I admire Ray Buckley for being a good vegetarian, and for doing a lot of good things. So that is just hogwash. Peter Burling is one of the people I hate most in the world, and he's the one that developed that hogwash.

Sarah Koenig

Because what he'll say is you have professional jealousy.

Steve Vaillancourt

I've just explained to you, I have no professional jealousy. I have no desire to move up in the political ranks. I have a desire to promote my philosophy of government, get out of my back, out of my bed and out of my wallet.

Sarah Koenig

Weeks passed. And then a second set of charges came out against Buckley. This time, an unnamed former party staffer, calling himself a concerned Democrat, said Buckley was quote "Vulgar, disgraceful and indecent in the workplace." The person said his daily behavior included quote, "Sexually harassing male staffers, and blacklisting staffers that were not receptive to his sexual remarks or advances."

Buckley was floored. He prides himself on getting young people interested in politics, the way he was. And he's got many proteges as proof. But Buckley can be really raunchy. He's quick to make a dick joke. And so it's easy to see how he could offend someone.

The Senate Democrats hired a lawyer to investigate, and Buckley was cleared of any wrongdoing. But still, it had made the papers, and the piling on was just exhausting.

Raymond Buckley

Part of you is like, I don't want to talk about this anymore. I just want to get my life back. Then you realize that, wow, every time you've ever read of something even remotely similar to this happening to someone, you thought you understood what they were going through. And, oh boy, you do not. And you do not.

Sarah Koenig

What was the most surprising part, just talk about that. What was the thing you hadn't anticipated or couldn't have imagined?

Raymond Buckley

The feeling that you're not in control of your life. That was probably the most difficult thing through the whole ordeal is that I wasn't in charge of my life. And as someone who, starting as a very small child, seemed to think that they were, at least, in control of me. That I was at the mercy of how people thought of me. I was at the mercy-- although, my entire life, obviously, was based on other people voting for me for either a party office or for an elective office and so my entire life has been at the mercy of other people and what they thought of me. But this was at a different level.

Sarah Koenig

Buckley became unsure. Not just about whether to throw out his trash, but unsure in the most basic way.

Raymond Buckley

You just run through everything. It's like, was this a good choice for your life? What was this all about? Why did I move in that house? Why did I befriend that person that I knew was a different kind of person from day one? You know, why did my ego lead me to believe that I was going to fix this broken person?

Kelly Ayotte

Good afternoon. My name is Kelly Ayotte, the Attorney General for the state. I have with me the police chief from the City of Manchester, John Jaskolka.

Sarah Koenig

And then, after more than two months, the Attorney General called a press conference.

Kelly Ayotte

We are here today to report that our investigation revealed absolutely no evidence that Raymond Buckley possessed child pornography. Therefore, we will not be bringing any criminal charges against Mr. Raymond Buckley.

Sarah Koenig

And with those two sentences, it was over. The AG went on to say that no one they interviewed could corroborate anything Vaillancourt had said. No one had come forward with any evidence whatsoever. And that Vaillancourt himself couldn't describe seeing anything that constituted child pornography under New Hampshire statute. And that he had admitted to police that he had exaggerated in his letter to the governor.

And then someone asked whether Vaillancourt had essentially made all this up. It is clear that if she could have, the Attorney General would have said yes.

Kelly Ayotte

I can tell you that we seriously considered bringing charges against Mr. Vaillancourt. However, the statute requires that we prove that someone knowingly made a false report to law enforcement. And so, therefore, that would be a difficult hurdle for us to initially overcome.

Sarah Koenig

Vaillancourt was there in the crowd. Wearing a parka that belonged to Buckley's father, by the way, and videotaping the whole thing. He even asked a couple of questions. And the AG and the cops are answering, using his name in the third person like they don't recognize him, which maybe they don't. In any case, he stages a press conference immediately afterwards.

Steve Vaillancourt

I guess it's always good to quote those Dixie Chicks. "Not ready to make nice, I'm not ready to back down." Absolutely everything I wrote in the letter to Governor Lynch is correct. I have to say, I am so saddened in a sense today, because this investigation takes me back to when Mark Fuhrman found one glove behind Kato Kaelin's house and Detective Vannatter was running around Los Angeles, 30 miles with a vial of blood. Not since then has an investigation been so botched as this one.

Sarah Koenig

Vaillancourt said he was sure there was a cover-up, which he still believes. He said people had known about Buckley for years, and he couldn't understand why the cops gave up so easily. Then someone asked whether he was worried about what would happen to him now, about whether his reputation was ruined.

Steve Vaillancourt

I have only been happier three times in my life. Two other times. Once, my senior year in college, I was extremely happy. Good times. When I fell in love I was extremely happy. And now. I think it's like a giant cloud has been lifted from my soul. And I feel very happy and at peace with myself, more than I have ever done.

Sarah Koenig

His only regret, he said, was that he hadn't come forward sooner. But it was like if your sister's doing heroin, he said, you should turn her in, but you just can't. She's your sister.

Buckley had been exonerated in the strongest way possible. And within days, he was back on top, doing what New Hampshire politicians do, attending events with presidential candidates. In this case, another scandal survivor, Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton

And Raymond Buckley, an early congratulations. You have-- and I have a bit of an idea what it's been like-- you have gone through this with grace and courage. Congratulations.

Raymond Buckley

Hey, Rob. It's Ray Buckley, how are you?

Rob

How are you?

Raymond Buckley

Good, good. Hey, obviously, I'm calling through the list for the state chair's race and calling to re-solicit your support, and hoping that you'd consider casting your ballot for me on the 24th?

Sarah Koenig

Ray's calling his former supporters. This one jokes, "You mean I can't abstain?"

Rob

You mean I can't abstain?

Raymond Buckley

No. [LAUGHING]

Rob

Yes, of course you have--

Raymond Buckley

I still have to ask, Rob.

Sarah Koenig

Buckley was back in the race. The governor endorsed him again. I met with Buckley at the headquarters of the Manchester Democrats, eight days before the election. Buckley was working his way down a list of 196 names in tiny print.

Raymond Buckley

Let me make another call. I'm in the zone here. Hi, Jerry. It's Ray Buckley, how are you?

Jerry

I'm fine, Ray, how are you?

Raymond Buckley

I'm terrific now. [LAUGHING]

Sarah Koenig

It was going well. But while I was sitting there in his office, Buckley's cellphone started going nuts, buzzing every minute or two. He'd glance at it, and then keep talking. Until a call came from the current chair of the party, Kathy Sullivan. He spoke to her for a second, and then asked me to leave the room. And while I was standing outside his closed door, a local reporter called me and tipped me off about what was happening.

Paul Hodes, the newly elected congressman, one of the state's top Democrats, had just issued a press release saying he was withdrawing his support for Buckley's candidacy because he'd seen a video of Buckley posted on YouTube. Hodes also said he thought the proper authorities should look into the matter. Suddenly, Buckley's candidacy was in jeopardy all over again.

The YouTube thing had been posted the day before. Vaillancourt didn't post it himself, but he gave another Manchester Republican some old home movies for it. It showed Buckley in his 20s and 30s behaving not badly exactly, but embarrassingly. Doing things maybe a gay frat boy would do, and saying things you might say if you were on vacation with your friends, or playing a board game late at night. Which he was.

Raymond Buckley

Would you like me to [BLEEP] you hard?

Steve Vaillancourt

About this trip to the Hague.

Raymond Buckley

Hitler should have bombed it.

Sarah Koenig

This is from Vaillancourt's old home movies. And what's striking is how intimate they are. Even though the content is awful. He and Buckley were such close friends when he shot these movies.

Steve Vaillancourt

Put little clips on them and pull you down the [BLEEP] street right by your little nipples.

Sarah Koenig

In another part of the video, a narrator points out that Buckley has a MySpace page that's just a few clicks away from gay teenagers. When I came back into the room, Buckley was trying to call his staff members back to work. He needed to send out an urgent email to party members to try to neutralize Hodes' statement. It was a Friday night, and there was a blizzard.

Raymond Buckley

Yeah. Hey, can you help me try to track down Michael so he can get back here? I can't hear you, Donna. His car probably isn't going to drive very well in this snow, but I need to send out an email. I'm at the city Dems office.

Sarah Koenig

I had asked Buckley about the YouTube clip the day before, when it was posted, and he laughed it off, saying the worst thing about it was that he realized how much he'd aged. The newspapers didn't seem interested either, and they didn't bother writing about it. Now Hodes had just made it a story, by saying he's withdrawing his support for Buckley because of it. And Buckley had to fight back.

Raymond Buckley

I dropped out once, I'm not doing it again.

Sarah Koenig

Two staffers came in and went straight to their desks, as if they already knew what to do. Buckley sat down at a laptop. At this moment, he's fighting for his career. For his life's work, really. And what that entails, couldn't be more annoyingly small. He's trying to log on to YouTube and extract a six-minute video from cyberspace.

Raymond Buckley

Don't touch. Because this is-- how do you even type on this thing?

Michael

2006.

Raymond Buckley

No, it's my birthday. I was not born in 2006, Michael.

Michael

I was kidding, sir.

Raymond Buckley

Oh.

Sarah Koenig

No one's saying much. They all seem utterly focused and purposeful, like a special ops team. Reporters are calling and Buckley is not picking up. And friends, a couple of whom are lawyers, are calling to give advice. It occurs to me that Buckley's probably had to do this dozens of times for other candidates. Politics is all about tearing down reputations and building them back up. So of course he knows what to do for his own crisis.

They find out they can't shut down the video, but they can complain about it online. So their next strategy is to get their friends to become YouTube members, so they can flag the video as offensive.

Raymond Buckley

You know, Chris is at home. Obviously, Donna's at home. Call Judy. Just have them start calling people.

Sarah Koenig

After about 40 minutes, they give up on Youtube, and concentrate instead on the email they're writing to committee members. Michael is on the phone with an adviser, and they decide on what the message should be. That at the time these movies were filmed, Buckley was young and immature. Michael suggests they fib about his age, and say the video was shot when Buckley was in his 20s. Buckley doesn't take his advice. He sidesteps how old he was and instead concentrates on the bigger question, who should they blame for the attack?

Party chairwoman Kathy Sullivan is on the phone, and she proposes blaming the Republican party as a whole. But Buckley isn't so sure.

Raymond Buckley

Well, think about it. Because if it's clearly pinpointed, it's just the two of them operating on their own, as these two rogue, disgraced individuals. I guess I don't want to make this entirely about me against the Republican party.

Michael

You sure about that?

Sarah Koenig

That night the YouTube video had only been seen 365 times. Despite everything Buckley's people did, the thing stayed in the news for days. And by the end of the week, it had been seen 7,000 more times.

Woman

If all of you members of the state committee could please take your seats.

Sarah Koenig

Finally, the state party had its meeting, where they would elect the new chairman.

Woman

Oh, Martha's writing a check. Then we won't have her take her seat.

Sarah Koenig

This was the moment Buckley had been fighting for three months. The moment that would decide whether he'd get his dream job. Whether he'd really survived. There was a little skirmish when congressman Paul Hodes, the guy who had started the Youtube flap, gave his speech. But mostly it was pretty civil. Eventually Kathy Sullivan took the mic.

Kathy Sullivan

I have the results. Our new chairman, with a vote of 109, is Raymond Buckley.

[APPLAUSE]

Sarah Koenig

After all the cheering, reporters mobbed Buckley, who talked about how, as the new chairman, he wanted to improve civility in political life in New Hampshire.

Raymond Buckley

After the three months that I've just lived through, it's really my mission now. There's no way that you could've survived the few months that I did without coming out a changed person.

Sarah Koenig

Throughout this whole thing, people kept talking about the politics of personal destruction, and how shocked they were that these tactics had come to New Hampshire. But in a presidential primary year especially, it's hard to be optimistic that people will suddenly be nicer to each other.

The real change to come out of all this public, political drama, will probably end up being private and personal. Because even though his career might have survived, Buckley is changed. He told me he no longer trusts people the way he used to. He no longer wants to make new friends. He polices himself all the time, making sure he doesn't say anything that someone else might find offensive.

Raymond Buckley

The other day at lunch, a staff person used extreme language to reference a person. And I just quickly picked up what was left of my lunch and I said, "I have to leave the room, because you said that word. I have to leave."

Sarah Koenig

Whereas before you would have laughed or just--

Raymond Buckley

I wouldn't pay attention, I wouldn't be listening. Now I listen to everything that's going on around me, to make sure that nobody can misinterpret anything that anyone is saying near me that was inappropriate.

Sarah Koenig

Because the attorney general's report was so emphatic about clearing him, and because the report was such big news, his reputation's about as good as he could hope for. Some people even said he came out looking stronger for all this.

But Buckley thinks he's permanently changed. That he's not sure he'll ever really feel in control of his life again.

Ira Glass

Sarah Koenig is a producer of our show.

Coming up, what if you have a terrible reputation, and then you figure out that it is absolutely correct. That's in a minute, from Chicago Public Radio and Public Radio International when our program continues.

TRIBUTE TO SHREK]

Act Two. The Hole Truth.

Ira Glass

It's This American Life, I'm Ira Glass. Each week on our program, of course, we choose a theme, bring your a variety of different kinds of stories on that theme. Today's show "My Reputation." We've arrived at act two of our show, act two. The Hole Truth.

I think most of us would rather not think about our reputations tpp much, you know? What's the point? What's it going to do for you? But in this next story one man, one brave man, faces his reputation. He sets out to learn, once and for all, what people really think of him. This brave man's name is Gabe Delahaye.

A warning to listeners that a word shows up in this story. A word that we beep.

Gabriel Delahaye

I'm well aware that I have a certain reputation. My roommate, Andrew, who went to high school with me and knows me better than almost anyone, who is one of the most thoughtful and considerate people I know, puts it best.

Andrew

This is actually really hard to say to somebody's face, it turns out. I mean everyone-- I don't know. Sorry, I am actually trying to figure out the best way to do this. I don't know, everyone just thinks you're an ass[BLEEP].

Gabriel Delahaye

I mean, it's true that I make fun of people all the time. But with my friends, at least, it comes from a good place. Like that time that Danielle asked me at the bar if I'd seen that episode of 90210 and I shouted "No," before she could even tell me which one. And then I laughed in her face. And, OK, I'd just met her that night. So Lindsey turned to me and said that she wanted me to teach her how to be such an ass[BLEEP]. And I told her it couldn't be taught. But we were all just joking around, right?

That's how I saw it. And I assumed my friends saw it that way, too. I mean, Andrew calls me an ass[BLEEP] all the time. He warns people about me, right in front of me. But he wouldn't still be my friend if it wasn't kind of a joke. It's just this role that I've been assigned in our group of friends, a role I'm more than happy to play.

So I sat Andrew down, to make sure he felt the same way. That I'm a quote, unquote, ass[BLEEP]. But I'm not really an ass[BLEEP]. And, right away, he brings up the emails that led to this very conversation. I had written to ask him if he could be home at 8:00, to talk on tape.

Andrew

And at this point, I say, "All right, that sounds pretty good. Make sure to tell craft services I am ovo-lacto," which is maybe not the funniest joke but, you know. And you reply, I think out of nowhere, "Sure. How do you take your coffee? Like your women, right? So that's rarely." And then you write, "Zing." I thought the whole thing was a little unnecessary.

Gabriel Delahaye

But you don't, uh, drink a lot of coffee. Right?

Andrew

Yeah, that's true.

Gabriel Delahaye

Have you ever seen me be nice to people?

Andrew

Yeah. I can't think of any examples, but I'm sure you have. I'm sure you have. Like if you weren't paying attention or something. You've probably gotten up on the subway for somebody or something, right? Maybe not.

Gabriel Delahaye

Why are you still friends with me?

Andrew

I don't know. Inertia?

Gabriel Delahaye

Inertia. Did you hear him say that he was only friends with me out of inertia? And I'm the ass[BLEEP]?

So we're sitting there talking about this stuff, and our friend Travis, who lives in the neighborhood, showed up. And once the two of them could compare notes, something changed. For one, they didn't just think I was an ass[BLEEP] because of a well meaning joke taken too far. It was more than that. Like the time Travis wouldn't take off his stupid bicycle helmet.

Travis

I think I was carrying something else. Like, it was just easier to just put the helmet on my head, even though I wasn't on my bike. But for some reason, that prompted you to keeps hitting me on my head. Which, you know, it was kind of funny the first time but it actually kind of hurt. And I was, like, stop doing that. So I was telling someone else about it. Like, can you believe what a jerk this guy is? Like, why is he your friend? It's like, well.

Gabriel Delahaye

I was telling you to take the helmet off, though.

Travis

Yeah, but that's not a good way to tell someone to take the helmet off.

Gabriel Delahaye

He was right, that was kind of bad. It was like in elementary school when someone would grab your hand and start hitting you in the face with your own hand, and ask you why you were hitting yourself. Who does that? Apparently, I do.

And the more they talked, the more obvious it became that their feelings about my behavior went much deeper than just thinking I can be an ass[BLEEP]. They admitted that lots of times they'll email each other all day long without including me, because they figure I'll just make fun of them. And at that moment, in the middle of a question, I had one of those realizations in which you see something you thought you understood in a totally new light.

Gabriel Delahaye

I find that there have been countless situations where I'll call you, and you're out with everybody. And no one has called me. Now that could be because I'm an ass[BLEEP] and you guys don't want to hang out with me, I'm now realizing. Only now. But that's a very-- that's always been very hurtful to me.

It's hard to describe what this was like. The room actually seemed to shrink. Of course it wasn't that every single one of my friends forgot to invite me, repeatedly. Of course. And maybe it was the uncomfortable laughter, but they hardly noticed that my face was red, and I was drenched in sweat. I could imagine that an acquaintance, or somebody who had just met me, might feel this way about me. But these were two of my best friends and there were times when they would just rather avoid me altogether. Here's Travis.

Travis

It kind of seems like you intentionally try and be the kind of aggressive guy who makes people uncomfortable, or whatever.

Gabriel Delahaye

Andrew chimed in.

Andrew

Yeah. I feel like you end up setting the threshold for what people's comfort level with your relationship is. The amount of aggression, or back and forth. And if they don't like it, it's often just, like, that's it.

Gabriel Delahaye

I guess I just assumed we all have our flaws. Andrew is the kind of guy who argues everything, and I mean everything. Like the word grill, which is popular slang for face. Andrew has maintained for years that it is slang for a rib cage, despite a thousand rap songs to the contrary. Or if Andrew's tired, and you're hanging out with him, he just talks about being tired the whole time. And it's like, dude, I get it. You're tired. Go take a nap.

But that's my point. We're friends, so I accept all that about him. I don't warn people to avoid the word grill around Andrew. I don't tell them in advance that most of Travis' day-to-day conversation is a string of impenetrable one liner inside jokes that he would never bother explaining to someone who didn't understand them already. I accept these things about Andrew and Travis as part of the deal. Just like I expected them to accept that I can be an ass[BLEEP]. Which, actually, I guess they do. I just don't get to decide what that acceptance looks like.

Travis

We're friends. We're friends. But some of the time spent with you is not fun.

Andrew

That's really well put. It's not about like or dislike. It's about just how you treat people, I guess.

Gabriel Delahaye

When Travis left, it was pretty tense in our apartment. Andrew and I spent half an hour making small talk. Saying things like, "Dinner is a really great meal, you know? Like out of the three?" Just to ensure that our friendship hadn't suffered a mortal blow.

The next morning, I woke up with an emotional hangover. I had that anxiety where it feels like someone is sitting on your chest and I left early for work to avoid seeing Andrew again. I spent the whole day writing emails to people, asking them to remind me that I'm not an ass[BLEEP]. When I told them that I was confronting this reputation head on, the typical reaction was not reassure me, but just to tell me how brave I was for trying. "Oh," one of them wrote. "I don't think I could do what you're doing. That sounds really hard."

Over the next few weeks, I talked to friends and family to see if they felt the same way. And everyone, down to the last man, had something to say on the subject. My brother.

Gabriel's Brother

You know, it's embarrassing, of course. Sometimes you go a bit over the top.

Gabriel Delahaye

My ex-girlfriend Kate.

Kate

I think you, honestly, embrace it. I mean, do you like knowing that people say they don't like you?

Gabriel Delahaye

My friend Scott.

Scott

I didn't like you before I met you. And I had decided that I was not going to talk to you or give you the time of day. And I also tried to persuade other people to dislike you.

Gabriel Delahaye

Even my mom.

Gabriel's Mom

Well, it used to bother me. Because I thought, wow, all this energy I put into this kid and he makes fun of me. Then I got OK with it. I think that's kind of where I'm at, I'm mostly OK with it.

Gabriel Delahaye

It's easy to dismiss Andrew or Scott. But my mom? How do I dismiss my mom? By the time I talked to my friend Carey, who just decided, like, last Friday that she didn't hate me anymore, she asked me the next logical question.

Carey

So what are you going to do? Are you going to change?

Gabriel Delahaye

Well. Uh.

It was in that pause right there, when I avoided answering, that I realized what I had done. I believe I'm the first person in history to have staged an intervention on himself.

What started out as an attempt to force Andrew into admitting that I wasn't an ass[BLEEP] became a referendum on me as a person, with everyone agreeing that he was kind of right. And while I might not have thrown any furniture, or beaten my fist against the wall, crying out, "How could you all do this to me?" I did what a lot of people in interventions do. I looked my friends and family in the eye, apologized and then politely refused to go to rehab.

Because, unpleasant as I discovered I can be, I just know in my heart that I'm not changing. And in response to Carey's question, which is the most obvious question to ask, what am I going to do? Why don't I change? Why don't I stop the teasing and the fake punching and the helmet slapping? I don't know. Inertia?

Ira Glass

Gabriel Delahaye, is an ass[BLEEP] living in New York.

Our program was produced today by Sarah Koenig and myself, with Alex Blumberg, Jane Feltes, Lisa Pollak, Alissa Shipp, and Nancy Updike. Our senior producer is Julie Snyder. Production help for our show by Seth Lind and Tommy Andres. Music help from Jessica Hopper. Web help from Jorge Just and Xioa Jao Yung.

[ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS]

Our website, were you can get our free weekly podcast, see free clips from our television show, or listen to any of our old shows for that same price, free. www.thisamericanlife.org. We are also trying this experiment right now on vox.com, we have a place where you can talk about This American Life online with other people who listen to the show. vox.com.

This American Life is distributed by Public Radio International.

[FUNDING CREDITS]

WBEZ management oversight for our program by our boss, Torey Malatia, who really wishes we hadn't aired that story about him a couple weeks ago.

Robyn Forest

Yeah, no, I was like, "I told you guys that we shouldn't try to make this into a story. And now look. I'm a lesbian in Japan."

Ira Glass

I'm Ira Glass. Back next week, with more stories of This American Life.