math and magic220

Ken Auletta, one of the most accomplished and decorated reporters of his time, was once called “the James Bond of the media world” by BusinessWeek. And in his decades of reporting, he’s sat down across from some of the industry’s biggest names, including Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch and Barry Diller.

In the latest edition of Math & Magic, the marketing-focused podcast hosted by iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman, the Brooklyn-born Auletta, who grew up with dreams of being a baseball player but ended up twice working for Robert F. Kennedy, takes a crack at what these titans have in common.

“I don’t know if there’s a secret sauce, but there are certain commonalities, and one of them is a conviction that ‘I’m gonna do it my way,’” he explains. “So it’s a kind of self-confidence that people have: ‘I know the answer to this, and I’m gonna do it, and damn the torpedoes.’”

Auletta discusses how working in politics led him to a long career in journalism, why he thinks the press can be a motivator for good, and how he’s managed to land so many high-profile interviews.