Podcasts are increasingly becoming source material for films and TV shows, and the latest is Bag Man, which is now being developed as a movie by Ben Stiller and Focus Features. The Bag Man podcast comes from Rachel Maddow and MSNBC and focuses on the “true story of one of the most brazen political bribery scandals in American history.” Stiller will produce the movie adaptation and co-write the script.
Richard Nixon’s Vice President, Spiro Agnew, wasn’t involved with Watergate – but he did have a scandal of his own. In 1973, Agnew was investigated by the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland on suspicion of criminal conspiracy, bribery, extortion, and tax fraud, and it was learned that Agnew was taking kickbacks from contractors even as he served as VP. The investigation uncovered widespread evidence of political corruption and Agnew ultimately resigned in as Vice President in October 1973 and was replaced by Gerald Ford.
Of course, not many people talk about the Agnew scandal these days because it was completely overshadowed by Nixon’s own scandal – a scandal that would lead to Nixon’s own resignation less than a year later. But the Agnew scandal received new attention recently thanks to Rachel Maddow and her podcast Bag Man. And now, Bag Man is becoming a movie. Here’s the podcast’s synopsis:
Is it possible for an American Vice President to carry out a criminal enterprise inside the White House and have nobody remember? To have one of the most brazen political bribery scandals in American history play out before the country while nobody’s paying attention? In her first original podcast, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow goes back 45 years to dig into a story that got overshadowed in its day. There’s intrigue. Corruption. Envelopes of cash delivered to the White House. It’s a story that’s not well known, but it probably should be. Especially today.
The Bag Man movie adaptation is being written by Adam Perlman, Ben Stiller, and Mike Yarvitz. Yarvitz executive produced the podcast and co-wrote the Bag Man book adaptation – Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House – with Maddow. The podcast launched during the Trump Administration and served as a reflection of current events, what with Trump’s brazen unlawfulness. Like Trump and his goons, Agnew and company tried to shrug off the scandal as a liberal plot. As the book jacket adds: “The self-described “counterpuncher” vice president did everything he could to bury their investigation: dismissing it as a ‘witch hunt,’ riling up his partisan base, making the press the enemy, and, with a crumbling circle of loyalists, scheming to obstruct justice in order to survive.”
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