In this episode of the Inspireland podcast we speak to investigative journalist T Christian Miller. Miller recently wrote the brilliant essay Firestone and the Warlord which I came across 2 weeks ago and immediately became engrossed in. It’s a long read at over 20k words but such is the strength of Miller’s prose, and the attention to detail in the reporting, that you need to keep on reading.
The story covers the uneasy relationship between the Liberian warlord of the title, Charles Taylor, and US based tyre company, Firestone. Taylor would go on to become the first head of state since those from Nazi Germany to be convicted of crimes against humanity. Miller says Taylor:
…brought charisma, knowledge, and his own special brand of despotism to Monrovia in 1989.
If you only vaguely remember the name Charles Taylor you might be more likely to remember the names of some of his generals:
General peanut Butter was one, there was General Mosquito. There was general Butt Naked who would go into battle completely naked.
T made for a great interviewee and is unapologetically old school in his journalism. His reporting isn’t driven by page views or internet impressions but by following what he calls his ‘guiding stars‘ as a reporter, namely asking himself these 3 questions..
Do I think this is a wrong that can be fixed?
Is there somebody who can be held accountable?
Is there something that can be done about?
As is the way with Inspireland inteviews we cover a lot more ground besides the Warlord story including:
- Miller’s childhood and teens as the perpetual outsider
- Miller’s route into journalism
- Miller’s time as a war correspondent, including a 24hr kidnapping
- The need for transparency in modern journalism
Watch T’s one night stay with the FARC here:
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You can read the full article by T Christian Miller here. You can also check out T's latest book about wasted billions and corporate greed in Iraq. Blood Money.
You can view the PBS Frontline documentary Firestone and the Warlord here. Watch the VICE short on Miller's brief kidnap experience at the hand of the Columbian FARC here.