NEWS AND ISSUES, POLITICS

Movie vs. Reality: American Hustle and the ABSCAM Scandal

January 22, 2014

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Unscripted with Chuch Todd airs on Saturdays at 9 am ET on P.O.T.U.S. 

You may not have known this (or maybe you did), but American Hustle is based on real events from the 1970s and 1980s when the FBI staged a sting operation in which they offered bribes to politicians.

“This whole business about politicians taking money in brown envelopes or in bags, it’s almost a kind of mythic element of Americana. With ABSCAM we saw it on video tape actually happening,” New Jersey’s Bergen Record columnist Mike Kelly said. “The FBI set up a sting operation in which they trotted out several phony Arab Sheikhs to various politicians. These ‘Arab Sheikhs’ were looking to get involved in business in Atlantic City but they needed help from politicians and they were willing to spread some money around.”

Despite the video evidence of a crime, Kelly goes on to talk about one real controversy with the ABSCAM sting operation-most notably that there was no evidence that politicians were on the take before the FBI offered them bribes.

Listen to Kelly and host Chuck Todd set the scene and explain why the American political climate at the time was so relevant to the situation.