During my journalism career, I’ve interviewed everyone from Bruce Springsteen (back when he could walk down the street unrecognized) to a Ku Klux Klan leader (who was arrested on kidnapping and weapons charges soon after we met). But none of my interviews have been more fascinating than the ones I’ve conducted with prominent bizav users at Business Jet Traveler, AIN’s sister publication.
Here, in no particular order, are my picks for five of the most memorable moments.
1. Michael Harrah: Thirty-five years after Harrah started his business with just a carpenter’s toolkit and a dream, he was one of the largest commercial real estate developers in the U.S., with a net worth of $400 million and a fleet of aircraft. But when I asked whether he ever flew commercially–say, for international trips–he said, “The farthest I’ve ever flown is Hawaii.” “You’ve never been abroad at all?” I asked. “No,” said the 55-year-old Harrah. “I’m a homegrown boy and I like it here…Also, I’m a workaholic and…it’s very hard for me to spend time away.” He wasn’t kidding. When I asked what would be a good time to phone him with follow-up questions, he said, “Call me anytime. We start work at 4 in the morning and go home at 9 at night.”
2. James Carville: I noted that he’d said Republicans “lie like a rug” and are “a pack of crooks” and asked how he could reconcile such views with his marriage to a Republican, the political consultant Mary Matalin. First he said that the lines I’d quoted were partly about “selling books.” Then he suggested that while Republicans have done “really stupid things,” not every member of the party was equally guilty. Finally, he smiled and said, “Plus, I love my wife so I excuse things that I otherwise wouldn’t.”