Here are a few of the outtakes from our extensive conversation with best-selling author on “Decoded” television personality Brad Meltzer.
What you say the JFK conspiracy is still the most credible theory? People won’t tend to look at you the wrong way if you disbelieve the official story.
I just think it’s the one that has the questions that can’t be answered, and the reason that’s the case is that the one man who pulled the trigger, Lee Harvey Oswald, was shot by Jack Ruby. On that day, we lost all our answers. We lost our ability to question the man who did it. And that’s why it’s the best.
There’s a parallel with John Wilkes Booth; before there was a fair trial, before we could hear everything, they shot him 12 days later in a barn, and as a result, I had John Wilkes Booth’s family contact me years ago and say, through their lawyer, that everyone says he died 12 days later in a barn: ‘We want to tell you he didn’t die in a barn that day. He faked his death, another person was killed, and do you want to hear our story?’
That’s a really cool day at work for me. At “Decoded,” I got to hear and share those stories.
How about the theory that, similarly, Hitler survived his supposed death in that bunker, and survived for decades. Have you looked into that one?
No, but of course I’m obsessed with all things Hitler. Again, what I always say is, one of the hardest things about any conspiracy theory is the inability for people to keep their mouths shot.
You’ve been so close to presidents, to government archives, to secret files and meetings—have you ever felt threatened because of the information that you’ve put out there?
We get our share of threats, because that’s what happens when you do a show like this and write the books I write. But no; if anything, I get the best mail of all-time. People bring me the holy grail at my book events.
What was your impression of the national government archives?
The National Archives, to me, is like my Playboy Mansion. We just launched the very first sleepover in the National Archives a few months ago. I took my kids, and we had a hundred kids and families sleeping in the rotunda, where they keep the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It was one of the greatest events we did as we launched “I Am Abraham Lincoln” and “I Am Amelia Earnhardt.” For me, what the Archives is is us. It’s always us.
You developed one of my favorite shows from the past 10 years, “Jack and Bobby.” Looking back at the postmortem, why do you think this didn’t make it into a second season?
The real reason was because the head of the WB got fired that year. It wasn’t anything more than that. The president of the network that acquired that show was let go at the end of the season, and the new president said, ‘the hardest decision I had to make was whether to cancel “Jack & Bobby.’” I think we just got caught in the reality of the television business. But that didn’t stop people from saying, we were ahead of our time, and we weren’t ready, and we were on the wrong network. But we had offers from CBS, ABC and Fox. We chose the WB because my agent said to me, ‘if your show gets bad ratings on CBS or Fox, you’re going to be done in three episodes.’ If you go with the WB, even if everything bottoms out, you’re going to get a full season, 22 episodes, to tell your story. So I don’t regret that for a second. We got 22 episodes to tell an amazing story for the world.