cover story podcast

The Macho Theater of Spies for Hire

A billionaire and an ex-spy get together to do some “global-scale Batman shit.”

Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Photos Getty
Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Photos Getty

What do you get the billionaire who has everything? A role in a spy drama, according to Mary Beth Long, a former spy herself, who features prominently in episode three of Seed Money, our new narrative podcast. Long was assistant secretary of defense in the Bush administration and started her own private-intelligence and defense company. She is also a keen observer of a certain brand of man.

Mary Beth Long: You know, I have this theory about masters of the universe. You know —

Hanna Rosin: What’s your theory?

Mary Beth: They’ve conquered everything. They conquered tech. They’ve conquered women. They’ve lived in amazing houses. They’ve conquered the world. There’s one thing they don’t have, and that’s the “He-Man of the universe” masculinity thing.

In episode three, we chronicle what happens when one particular billionaire with a raging hero complex gets together with an ex-spy who convinces him that, with their combined money and brawn, they can execute some “global-scale Batman shit.” They launch with grand ambitions to execute plans like rescuing kidnapped schoolgirls and dismantling drug cartels, but pretty quickly, it all combusts in personal warfare.

Cover Story: Seed Money

In the new season of Cover Story, a billionaire hiding out in Whitefish, Montana, is getting away with some “evil shit,” according to … his ex–best friend.

Cover Story is a production of New York Magazine. This season, Seed Money, is hosted by Hanna Rosin. The story originates with Ken Silverstein, who also reported it. Our senior producers are Marianne McCune and Whitney Jones. Also produced by Noor Bouzidi, Kathleen Horan, and Liza Yeager. Sound design and engineering as well as additional editorial help by Sharif Youssef. Cover Story’s theme music is by Santigold. Series music by Devin Clara Fanslow. Fact-checking by Britina Cheng and Ted Hart. Special thanks to legal minds Elissa Cohen, Jillian Robbins, and Samantha Mason. Also thanks to Nichole Hill, Rider Alsop, and Gaby Grossman. Follow the show on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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The Macho Theater of Spies for Hire