Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (2014) s10e14 Episode Script


Welcome to "Last Week Tonight"!
I'm John Oliver.
Thank you so much for joining us.
It has been a busy week.
Sidney Powell pled guilty in the 2020
election interference case in Georgia,
Joe Biden flew to Israel to offer his
support amid the ongoing hostage crisis
and in Gaza,
conditions are horrendous,
following brutal airstrikes,
and a blockade of food, fuel, and water
which some commentators
seem way too comfortable with.
Just listen to this exchange
between a retired senior military
official and an anchor on CNN.
I think what they need to do
is encircle it,
they need to continue
to apply the pressure of the brigade
of this blockade
that they've established.
The people are gonna suffer,
but they're gonna come up on the net
and they're gonna say
"Look, get us out of here".
But does that mean
starve the Palestinian people?
Because they will be so hungry,
and will be so desperate for water,
and medicine,
that then they will give up Hamas?
It sounds callous,
but I mean, this is a war.
It is a war, but what you're describing
is a war crime,
and one thing
does not justify the other.
Also, just spare a thought
for that anchor there,
who probably
didn't get up that morning
thinking he'd have to gently explain
you can't starve people
to a former U.S. military official.
But we're going to focus
on Washington this week,
where Republicans still haven't
managed to elect a new speaker.
Jim Jordan went through 3 votes,
enjoyably, losing more each time.
And was photographed
coming out of a closed-door meeting
with a handwritten note reading
"What is the real reason?"
Which looks less
like a bid to be speaker
and more like an early draft
of a suicide note.
This is a humiliating situation
for Republicans,
although one member did his best
to spin the chaos as a positive.
Our Democratic colleagues
will not work with us
on a single thing to secure the border,
You're the ones who can't
get behind a candidate here.
We are laying this all out
in public view,
and the American people can see it,
it is the sausage getting made,
it's the worst system
except for all the others.
You think this looks good?
It definitely does not look good.
And do not claim that you're laying
this mess out in public
to be transparent
about how the sausage is made.
It's getting laid out because you're
incapable of making a sausage at all.
When people go to the grocery store,
they expect Oscar Meyer wieners,
not Oscar Meyer "a pig anus
and other assorted animal parts".
Republicans aren't alone in dealing
with some public embarrassment.
Democratic New Jersey
Senator Bob Menendez
is facing federal charges
for allegedly accepting bribes
to help, among others,
the Egyptian government,
in forms including gold bars
and stacks of cash.
And the story
just keeps developing.
Bob Menendez
is facing new charges,
accusing the New Jersey Democrat of
plotting with his wife and an associate
to make the senator
an agent of Egypt
while he was chairman
of the Foreign Relations Committee.
The new indictment
showing Menendez and his wife
hosting one Egyptian
official in his Senate office
and dining with another
at a Washington, D.C. steakhouse.
At that dinner,
Nadine Menendez allegedly asking
"What else can the love of my life
do for you?"
I do not like that at all.
That sounds less
like a request for bribes
and more like a couple
in an open relationship,
coming on a little too strong to you
at a bar.
"What else can the love of my life do
for you this evening?"
Absolutely nothing!
Leave me alone.
And the weird details
don't stop there.
Federal prosecutors
say Senator Menendez
lifted a block on U.S. military
aid to Egypt, texting his wife
"Tell Will I am going to sign off
this sale to Egypt today,
10,000 Rounds Tank Ammunition".
That sounds fine.
Just some normal couple stuff there.
Texting about thousands
of rounds of tank ammunition.
According to the indictment, that text
got forwarded to Egyptian officials,
one of whom replied simply
with a thumbs-up emoji.
And come on!
You're confirming the receipt
of tank ammunition with a thumbs up?
Have some panache!
Where's the "dollar, handshake" or the
"money bag, bomb, champagne, shh",
or the flying money and the truck,
making the other guy go,
"What's the truck for?"
Only to get the response,
"They don't have tanks,
that was the biggest truck,"
getting the reply,
"Okay, got it. Cool."
And then, and only then,
is the thumbs-up emoji appropriate.
Menendez, along with everyone
else charged in this case,
has denied wrongdoing,
and said this week,
"Nothing has changed in this indictment
except the new charge".
Though that new charge
is a pretty gigantic one.
And it's not a great sign
that Politico ran the actual headline
"Is it legal for a senator
to work as a foreign agent?
The answer won't surprise you."
And if you're noticing
that Menendez's wife, Nadine,
is featuring a lot in this story,
it's because she's been charged, too.
According to the indictment,
some of the items of value that
Menendez received were for her benefit.
It mentions that, at one point,
she totaled her car
something that happened, incidentally,
when she hit and killed a man in 2018,
which I don't even have time to get
into right now, Google that yourselves.
And the indictment
alleges that this businessman
helped her pay
for this new $60,000 Mercedes
in exchange
for favors from Menendez.
And when the new car turned up,
Nadine did seem very happy.
Prosecutors say that after
Nadine Menendez got the new car,
she texted the senator, quote,
"Congratulations mon amour de la vie,
we are the proud owners
of a 2019 Mercedes",
along with a heart emoji.
Say what you want
about Nadine Menendez,
and that pedestrian
that she ran over certainly can't,
but she loves that car.
And, by the way,
not a great look for Mercedes there.
Are the Menedezes
the worst political figures
that Mercedes, as a brand,
has ever been associated with?
No, that would probably be
this guy.
Although, it's not like Mercedes
is the car of choice for Nazis anymore.
These days,
that's really more of a Tesla thing.
Menendezes have gotten themselves
into an impressive amount of shit
for a couple that apparently
only met five years ago,
and in some pretty strange
The couple told The New York Times
they met in December 2018
at an IHOP in Union City,
New Jersey.
She told The New York Times she
thought Menendez was "very intelligent"
and "very, very hot".
If someone told me they found
this man to be "very, very hot",
I think my only logical response
would be,
"You mean like, to the touch?
Is he okay?"
'Cause he looks like a Keebler elf
became a tax accountant.
He looks like what would happen
if you combined
the old man and the little boy
from "Up" into a single person.
And let's not skip over
their meeting place,
an IHOP in Union City,
New Jersey.
That is not a meet-cute.
That's a meet-clinically-depressed.
An IHOP in New Jersey is not where
you expect a senator to meet his wife.
It's where you expect a customer
to meet their own personal rock bottom.
And I would say that meeting
at a Union City IHOP
is the most Jersey thing
about this couple, but it just isn't.
Not only does Nadine have
multiple pictures with cast members
of "The Real Housewives
of New Jersey" and "Mob Wives",
but the photo of her that screams
"New Jersey" the most is this one.
Because look at those jeans.
They are in Italy in this photo!
Home of Prada,
Gucci, and Armani,
yet she looks like she's on the
Disney Channel red carpet in 2005.
This is a chaotic relationship.
They got engaged on a trip to India,
and there's video of the proposal,
where you will see Menendez
serenading Nadine with a number
from "The Greatest Showman"
before popping the question.
It doesn't look great now to hear
the world's oldest theater kid
sing about how towers of gold
will never be enough for him,
given the multiple gold bars
that were found in his actual house.
I don't care
how much you like a song,
if it sounds like a confession,
maybe don't sing it in public.
It's one of the many reasons that the
"Sweeney Todd" revival on Broadway
stars Josh Groban
and not O.J. Simpson.
Regardless of how good
Juice would be in the role,
the knife crimes
happening on stage
wouldn't be the knife crimes
that I would be thinking about.
Menendez has stepped down
as chair of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee,
but is facing increasing calls
from within his own party
to step down as senator altogether,
a move that apparently
70% of New Jerseyans support.
Which is striking.
'Cause it's hard to think of someone
that New Jerseyans
hate more than Menendez.
Not impossible. Just hard.
The point here is, Bob Menendez
is clearly in a lot of trouble.
And while I don't know where
his case is going legally,
if you were to ask me if he should
resign from Congress,
I and the people of New Jersey
would give you a very strong
thumbs-up emoji.
And now, this!
And now:
Some Things
That Turn Stuart Varney On.
Give me some example, or demonstrate
how augmented reality works.
What I'm gonna see,
how I'm gonna use it. Turn me on.
What was that, Neuralink?
I want to hear more news on that
because that really turns me on.
What really turns me on
is Google and Nvidia.
The idea of a 700-mile yard sale
really turns me on.
What do you think of the pink, Stu?
Are you a fan?
- It turns me on.
- Yeah, hey, girl!
Space turns me on
for whatever reason.
Here's another space story,
and it's for you.
There you have, look at that!
This turns me on, actually.
The rehabilitation of people
with spinal cord and skeletal injuries,
that's what really turns me on.
What I'm interested in
is China stocks.
Specifically, Baidu
with a stock buyback plan.
- That always turns me on.
- Does it? Do we need to know that?
Moving on. Our main story tonight
concerns business.
A word that somehow
describes the front part of a mullet,
the second-nicest seats
on an airplane,
and the single saddest room
in any hotel.
We're going to talk
about the businesses that make other
business' business their business:
management consultants.
There are three big firms,
and tonight,
we're going to focus on the oldest
and largest one: McKinsey & Company.
It's been around for nearly a century,
advising both big companies
and government agencies
on how to fix their most complex
and urgent problems.
McKinsey was founded in 1926
by James O. McKinsey.
He was a professor
at the University of Chicago
and an expert
in management accounting.
By the 1950s,
the firm was assisting the White House
with staffing organization,
which, according to the company,
would lead to the creation
of the chief of staff role.
In 1970, McKinsey helped
create the bar code.
Yes, that bar code.
That's actually true!
McKinsey did help invent the bar code.
And I know
that's a little disappointing.
Maybe you thought it was invented
by a grocer in the '60s
who dreamt of a way
for computers to taste fruit.
Maybe you thought the beeps
were just how the program says "Yum".
But I'm afraid that you're imagining
a better world than the one we live in.
But it's not
just bar code innovation,
firms like McKinsey
sell themselves as can-do experts
who can come in,
provide an outside perspective,
and fix whatever ails a company,
whether it's re-engineering
an organizational chart,
working on digital strategies,
or deciding whether
to sell off part of their business,
you name it,
they'll advise you on what to do.
And McKinsey's worked
with everyone,
from companies like Coca-Cola,
Best Buy, and AT&T,
to government agencies like the
Department of Defense and ICE.
McKinsey is massive, and ubiquitous,
it has offices in at least 65 countries,
and an annual revenue
estimated at $15 billion.
But McKinsey doesn't see itself
as a bunch of PowerPoint-slinging,
power-suit-wearing micromanagers.
As you can tell
from their recruitment videos,
they see themselves as operating
as a force for good in the world.
Our purpose is to create positive,
enduring change in the world.
The work you do with McKinsey
will matter.
What we are doing
on a day-to-day basis
is impacting the lives of thousands
of people, sometimes more.
What's really great about McKinsey
is it provides you
with an opportunity to work
on really hard problems
that are also really interesting,
and also really actually matter.
McKinsey consultants are encouraged
to see themselves as world-changers.
As a humble McKinsey partner
once put it
"There are only three great
institutions left in the world:
the Marines, the Catholic
Church, and McKinsey".
Which is a hell of a group
to put yourself in.
"There's just three cool guys
left in the world now:
Henry Kissinger,
Kevin Spacey, and me".
The truth is, McKinsey's reputation has
taken a bit of a knock in recent years.
It's found itself under scrutiny
for everything
from exacerbating income inequality,
to helping market dangerous products,
to enabling authoritarian regimes.
And former employees
have pointed out that for all its talk
of making the world a better place,
it's worked for some
of the planet's biggest polluters,
while getting hundreds
of millions dollars in return.
In fact, one of those
disillusioned employees
paints a pretty damning portrait
of what the company is at its core.
They serve a lot of clients
with really harmful effects.
They know exactly
what the repercussions are going to be
and then they say
"We're going to do it anyway".
And that tells you all you need
to know about the firm.
That's an inherently alarming thing
to hear about a business, isn't it?
You want companies to mitigate harm,
not actively seek it out.
It's why LEGO has a choking hazard
warning on its packaging,
instead of one that says
"Now with blue raspberry flavor!"
If it's that influential, ubiquitous,
and is behind so much harm,
let's take a look at McKinsey.
And if this is the first time
that you are hearing McKinsey's name,
don't be embarrassed, because
for a company with so much reach,
it's gone out of its way to try
and keep a low profile.
It doesn't publicize its client list,
even its offices can be hard to spot.
We stopped
by McKinsey's headquarters
at three World Trade Center
in lower Manhattan.
It's such a powerful company, and yet
you'd never know they were here.
There's not a McKinsey sign anywhere.
Why is that?
They don't want anyone
to know anything about them.
They want everything done
in secret.
And if that includes where they work,
then so be it.
That's not innately suspicious at all,
is it?
You've sealed yourselves
inside an expensive,
glass-fronted nameless lair that is
completely invisible to anyone,
unless, that is, they simply type
"McKinsey" into Google Maps
or happened to hear that journalist
say "three World Trade Center"
while she literally
showed you their address.
Kudos! That was a dick move
and I genuinely appreciate it.
But discretion
is only part of McKinsey's brand.
They've also cultivated a reputation
for hiring the best and brightest,
fresh out of elite colleges
and MBA programs.
And young, high-achieving types
often use a stint at McKinsey
as a springboard to bigger things,
former employees include
Pete Buttigieg, Senator Tom Cotton,
Facebook's Sheryl Sandburg,
and Google's CEO Sundar Pichai.
McKinsey picks its consultants
through a rigorous interview process,
asking candidates challenging
and slightly unconventional questions.
One of the interview questions
I was asked in my final rounds was:
"How many pigs are in China?"
which sounds like a very silly question,
but it's a really good question
to test how you think
because the answer doesn't matter,
it's how can you structure a problem.
Can you take
a very nebulous situation
and put structure around it
in a way that makes sense
and then logically deduce things
in order to get to an answer
that's meaningful.
Sure, that is one way
to describe it.
Another way might be to say
that they're just trying to see
how good you are at bullshitting your
way to a plausible-sounding answer.
Because if a business really needs
to know how many pigs are in China,
there are ways to find that out.
Like call
Chinese pork magnate Qin Yinglin,
or just Google
"how many pigs in China?"
Or if you're on your phone,
just Google "howkany oigsnchina",
because that's still enough
for it to go on.
What do I have to do, draw it a map?
I'm in a hurry.
My thumbs are fat
and I've got places to be.
But once they are hired, McKinsey
consultants work insanely long hours,
while being schooled in
"the McKinsey way" of doing things,
something that the firm itself
can be pretty insufferable about.
A partner once said
"We don't learn from clients.
Their standards aren't high enough.
We learn from other McKinsey partners."
A sentence so smug
that, even if you just read it,
you'd have automatically
heard my accent in your head.
'Cause that not just smug,
that is British Empire smug.
That level of swagger
might make some sense
if McKinsey's advice
was consistently novel and brilliant.
But it's had some big misses,
famously, in the early 1980s,
its client AT&T asked McKinsey
to estimate how many cell phones
would be in use in the world
by the turn of the century,
and McKinsey
concluded that the total market
would only be
about 900,000 phones, total,
which persuaded AT&
to pull out of the market for a while.
And to be fair, McKinsey were
only off by about 739 million,
or 82,000%.
But even when they are troubleshooting
existing problems,
their bespoke solutions
can be blindingly obvious.
Just watch as one McKinseyite
brags in a promotional video
about the firm's ability
to come up with unique solutions.
We were serving an energy client.
And their problem was that
they have offshore drilling rigs,
and they had stacks and stacks
of paper invoices
that they would fly out to these rigs
in the middle of the Gulf Coast
in hurricane weather to have
to get somebody to sign off
and then helicopter
back to headquarters.
We brought in a team
that had partners who were
experts in the energy sector,
we had partners who were experts
in procurement as a function,
and they were able to get together
with our digital team and say
"Actually, we don't know if signatures
are really required for this".
Yeah, no shit!
I'm not sure it speaks that well of you
that you needed the digital team
and experts in the energy sector
and "procurement as a function",
whatever the fuck that means,
to get to the conclusion,
why not send an email
instead of a fucking helicopter?
And that's not a one-off.
There have repeatedly been grumbles
that McKinsey oversells its brilliance.
In the words of one Fortune story,
while "some of its work
can be highly sophisticated",
"much of the time the firm
merely reorganizes sales forces
or designs by-the-numbers
downsizing to reduce overhead".
And those are just obvious,
first-thought ideas.
McKinsey is a firm that projects
a huge amount of confidence
to sell a frequently unremarkable
product at sky-high prices,
making them truly
the Salt Bae of companies.
"You've had salt before, but have
you ever had it from a douche?"
And let's talk for a minute
about downsizing.
There is a long history
of companies bringing in
consulting firms like McKinsey,
and very soon after,
aggressively cutting costs.
This gets dressed up
with fancy terms
like "finding efficiencies"
and "organizational streamlining",
but what that often amounts
to is mass layoffs.
Layoffs are sometimes necessary,
but they're always painful,
and much more painful
than some mid-20s Ivy Leaguer
who fancies himself
a business genius might realize.
24 years ago,
McKinsey allowed a documentary crew
rare access to film a training session
for young consultants,
going through an exercise where they
role-played advising a real-life client.
Here they are, joking about
how they would break the news
that layoffs
were going to be necessary.
We've got a very simple strategy.
Hit the road, Jack.
And don't you come back no more,
no more, no more, no more.
Hit the road, Jack.
And don't you come back no more.
What'd you say?
Hit the road, Jack.
That's not
our communications strategy.
I'm not a violent person,
but if all those dickheads exploded,
I would absolutely spin around
singing "It's Raining Men".
But that is emblematic of a major role
that consultants like McKinsey play,
essentially, allowing executives to say
"I know job cuts are bad news,
but it's what McKinsey told us to do".
As one book on the company put it
"They are, without question,
the go-to consultants for managers
seeking justification
for savage cost cutting,
as well as a convenient scapegoat
on whom to blame it".
Though, there is one area
where McKinsey
has historically advised
the exact opposite of cost cutting,
and that is executive pay.
Starting in 1950, a consultant
of theirs named Arch Patton
started advising corporate leaders
that they were underpaid,
writing books like
"Men, Money, and Motivation:
Executive Compensation
as an Instrument of Leadership."
His advice was so wildly popular
that, for a time,
Patton personally accounted
for almost 10% of the firm's billings,
and later came to be seen
as a "major contributor
to skyrocketing executive pay".
In fact, when he was asked
in the '80s
about how he felt
about the effect of his work
"his reply was simple: 'guilty'"
And while it's hard
to gauge tone from that,
I'm just going to hope it was
a sober, reflective "guilty",
and not, as seems much more likely,
a naughty, mischievous "guilty!"
like you'd use to respond to
"Who spiked the punch?"
So, to recap: McKinsey's advice
can be expensive but obvious,
its predictions
can be deeply flawed,
and it's arguably helped supercharge
economic inequality in this country.
All of which is pretty striking,
coming from a company whose leader
you've already seen sum up
its fundamental mission like this!
Our purpose is to create positive,
enduring change in the world.
Yeah, but is it, though?
Because let's talk about that.
A quick look
at McKinsey's client list
shows a bunch of companies
going out of their way
to do the exact opposite
of "positive, enduring change".
It's not just those oil
and gas companies that I mentioned.
The firm also "began counseling
the tobacco industry in 1956",
well after we knew
smoking caused cancer.
You might be thinking
"C'mon, John, it was the '50s,
lots of people were okay
with smoking back then".
But McKinsey only stopped working
with tobacco companies in 2021.
Which is, and this is true, too late.
That would be like finding out
that Subway
dropped Jared's contract today.
He was still in commercials
from prison?
How could anyone think
that this was okay?
If you think that was damaging,
McKinsey's worked with Purdue Pharma.
They actually made nearly
$84 million in fees from Purdue,
for advice on how to, quote,
"turbocharge" sales of OxyContin.
Listen to the AG of Massachusetts
explain just how intimately
McKinsey was involved
in Purdue's sales process.
McKinsey consultants
actually rode along with,
went with Purdue sales reps to
doctors' offices here in Massachusetts
to critique them on how effective
they were at selling OxyContin.
It's true. They did ride-alongs!
I didn't think I could have
any sympathy for Purdue sales reps,
until I learned that they were trapped
in a car with a McKinsey consultant.
"Yeah, you mentioned
that you went to Harvard.
Can we please just be quiet
and go sell some poison?"
But it's not
just private companies.
Remember, McKinsey's frequently
hired by government agencies, too,
where their advice has not brought
universally positive change.
For instance, in 2014, New York City
brought McKinsey in to figure out
how to reduce violence at Rikers,
a project whose cost
ballooned to $27 million.
People asked questions about
whether that was a good use of money,
but the head of the city's corrections
back then
insisted that McKinsey
was worth every penny.
If we made any progress,
it was because of McKinsey's help
in areas that we needed help in.
That is some high praise there!
To claim that McKinsey was the sole
reason for any progress made at Rikers
would be a pretty impressive
if you didn't know anything
about the state of Rikers!
So, what imaginative strategies
did McKinsey try to implement?
I dunno, just fun things
like expanding the use of Tasers,
shotguns, and aggressive dogs.
It's some very outside-the-box thinking
for people trapped inside boxes.
But its big project was an
anti-violence program called Restart.
It claimed that violence had dropped
more than 50% in the Restart facilities
which sounds great!
Unfortunately, it turned out,
that number was bogus,
because jail officials
and McKinsey consultants
had reportedly jointly
rigged the Restart program,
by stacking the units with inmates
they believed to be unlikely
to get into fights or to attack staff
in the first place.
And while McKinsey, to this day,
defends that program
and denies skewing the results,
it is notable
that when ProPublica later crunched
the numbers for Rikers overall,
they found that jailhouse violence
there had risen nearly 50%
since McKinsey
began its assignments.
You've kind of got to hand it
to McKinsey there.
Not many firms could get paid
$27 million of taxpayer money
to leave Rikers
somehow even worse.
And it's not just jails,
McKinsey's government clients
also include regulators.
Which can get a little weird,
when you consider that McKinsey
also represents corporate clients.
For instance, remember
how it worked with Purdue Pharma?
While it was working for them,
it was also working with the FDA.
That sure seems
like a clear conflict of interest.
And it was one that even Mr. Positive
and Enduring Change here
found a little hard to explain
to Congress after the fact.
Okay. So, let me ask you,
did you disclose to the FDA
your, McKinsey's work
at the same time,
did you disclose to the FDA
that McKinsey was working at the same
time it was working for the FDA,
that it was working for Purdue?
Did you disclose that to the FDA?
We made clear in multiple instances
that the individuals involved
had experience in both
pharmaceuticals and opioids.
Reclaiming my time. Mr. Sternfels,
they didn't have experience.
They were the identical humans
working for both at the same time.
And there is a big difference
between having experience
working for both,
and actively working
for both at the same time.
The same difference between telling
your wife about your ex-girlfriend
and telling your wife
about your current girlfriend.
One is dramatically
worse than the other.
And Katie Porter was right there,
there were multiple instances
of McKinsey consultants
working for both Purdue
and the FDA at the same time.
At one point, four consultants
working on an FDA contract
to enhance drug safety
were simultaneously working for Purdue
on projects designed to persuade the
FDA of the safety of Purdue's products.
One project even had them
"writing 'scripts' for Purdue
to use in a meeting with the FDA
on the safety of pediatric OxyContin".
Pediatric Oxy! Oxy for kids!
Just like in that episode
of "Dora the Explorer"
when Backpack
is getting a bit too heavy
and Boots gives her a little something
to take the edge off.
McKinsey claims
there was no conflict there,
and that the nature of their work
for the FDA and Purdue was different.
Which is a little hard to take,
considering that they sold themselves
to Purdue at the time,
with the notion that they had
special insights into the FDA.
They told Purdue, in 2014,
that they "brought an
'unequaled capability
based on who we know
and what we know'",
including "the FDA, who we have
supported for over five years".
So, hold on, McKinsey,
which is it, then?
Was the work you did
for the FDA totally different
or did it help you bring
an unequaled capability to Purdue?
'Cause it can't be both.
This isn't Schrodinger's contract,
you don't get to claim
it's both relevant and unrelated
depending on who the fuck
you're talking to.
And at this point, I could stop.
Tobacco, opioids, Rikers.
Those are some pretty unpleasant
stains on a company's record.
But here's the thing: all the examples
so far are just from the U.S.
Remember, McKinsey now
has offices all over the world.
And from them, they have cozied up
to some truly terrible clients.
They've worked
for a Russian defense contractor,
and are so deeply entrenched
in the government of Saudi Arabia
that Saudi Arabia's planning ministry
has been dubbed
"the Ministry of McKinsey".
And it will loudly
defend its work there,
saying that it feels it's making
the country a better place.
But that feat of mental gymnastics
got a little trickier after
Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated.
Just a few months later, McKinsey's
head at the time was on CNBC,
trying to defend
its work in the country,
and reassuring everyone
that it had a strict moral code.
The work that we do, and we think
very hard about the work we do,
needs to be work
that does make a positive difference.
And that's what I'm focused on,
making sure we get there.
Doing business with a murderer
is okay by you?
No, it's absolutely not.
When you find out that your client
is a murderer, you do what?
- You walk.
- You walk!
You walk, do you?
That sounds good!
Except here's the thing:
they didn't walk!
Their client killed
and dismembered a journalist.
McKinsey responded by participating
in a major Saudi investment conference
that same month,
even as other companies pulled out.
So, unless "you walk" is short for
"you walk to the front of the line
and pick up your lanyard
for another fun weekend at the
journalist-choppin' business jamboree",
you are full of shit!
But wait,
'cause it gets even worse!
'Cause it later emerged
that in one of McKinsey's reports,
it highlighted three people
who "drove negative conversation
on Twitter"
about Saudi government policies.
This is that slide, featuring names,
pictures, criticisms,
and follower counts.
And some of those people were,
and you're not gonna believe this,
targeted by the Saudi government.
One of their phones was hacked,
revealing communications with,
you guessed it, Jamal Khashoggi.
I have to tell you, McKinsey insists
there is no evidence
the slide deck was connected
to the death of Jamal Khashoggi
or exposed dissidents.
And that the deck wasn't prepared
for the Saudi government,
in fact, when this story
initially came to light,
they said the report's "intended
primary audience was internal",
and that they were
"horrified by the possibility,
however remote, that it could
have been misused in any way".
But come on!
It's Saudi Arabia.
Even if that report
didn't fall into their hands,
and please, what part of the way
Saudi Arabia operates
made you think that a McKinsey-curated
list of shit-talking dissidents
would be a good thing
to put together?
You're working in
one of the rootinest-tootinest,
journalist-shootinest regimes
in the Middle East,
and you figured it was completely
fine to draw up a list like this,
because the potential for misuse
was "remote?"
What are you talking about?
This is a government
led by Mohammed bin-Salman,
a man who once
"detained his own mother".
Did you think that if MBS were
to stumble across a list of his haters,
he'd just send them a big
"no hard feelings about all the
dissident stuff" Edible Arrangement?
The fuck is wrong with you?
And for what it's worth,
a former McKinsey consultant
has called that whole internal document
excuse "utter horseshit".
McKinsey will claim that all the
examples I've given you tonight
are isolated cases, not representative
of their work overall.
They'll say that they've revamped
their policies on client selection,
and that "if a client or proposed
project falls short of our standards,
we will not do the work".
Although they are still working
in Saudi Arabia,
so their standards seem, at best,
fucking flexible.
They also want me to tell you
that they do a lot of projects
like helping clients
deploy vaccines,
or supporting refugees and rebuilding
in Ukraine, which is very nice.
But think of it like this:
how many uplifting McKinsey projects
like "More Snuggles
at the Puppy Factory"
or "Make Grandma Live Forever"
would you need to hear about
to effectively counterbalance
"Turbocharge the Opioid Opidemic",
"Help Fuck Up Rikers Even More" and
"Make a Saudi Arabian Snitch List?"
It's not just McKinsey
with these issues.
Their main competitors
have had them, too.
BCG was also in deep
with the Saudis,
and Bain was banned from state
contracts in South Africa for a decade,
thanks to its role
in a massive corruption scandal.
I'm not even saying the consulting
industry should be abolished.
Getting outside feedback
on best practices
can make a lot of sense
for an organization.
We certainly need to preserve
a career path for high-achieving,
type-A bullshitters who don't want
to commit to law school
and want to spend their prime years
flying business class to Dallas.
Companies can hire as many fresh-
faced dork sociopaths as they want
to take the heat for whatever
layoffs and/or atrocities
they were already launching
in the first place.
It's a free country, or not, depending
on where the McKinsey office is.
But if their work, as they claim,
really does impact the lives
of millions of people,
they shouldn't get to be invisible
and they should expect much more
accountability for their mistakes.
And until such time as that happens,
the very least they can do
is be a bit more transparent with
their recruiting videos going forward.
Hi there.
Here at McKinsey,
we're an elite group of strategists,
thinkers, analysts, innovators,
guys named Brayden,
and Delta Platinum SkyMiles
reward members.
Here to drive client success
in any business venture.
We're proud
to say McKinsey alums
include many of the most
powerful people on Earth.
And also, Pete Buttigieg.
We at McKinsey genuinely believe great
consultants can come from anywhere.
That's why our workforce
features an incredibly diverse
array of graduates from all over
the Ivy League, even Cornell.
If you're an ambitious
college senior or an MBA graduate
who needs to be told
you're special or you will die,
we'd like you to consider
a career at McKinsey.
The best part of my Harvard education
was the look on people's faces
when I said "I go to Harvard".
I'm passionate about belonging
to groups that impress people,
and so to be able to continue that
at McKinsey has been very fulfilling.
One of the interview questions
I was asked in my final round was
How much wood
would a woodchuck chuck,
if a woodchuck
could chuck wood?"
Sounds like a silly question,
but it's actually a smart way
to test your approach to problems,
and how many billable hours
you can talk for.
In my case, a lot.
Here at McKinsey, you'll have
the opportunity to change the world
by serving a surprisingly
wide array of clients.
But not just anyone.
For instance, we proudly
don't work for tobacco clients,
and haven't since the start
of this sentence.
We've got clients
that appeal to every interest.
Local interests, foreign interests,
and even conflicts of interest.
I worked for the FDA
and Purdue Pharma at the same time.
I can't believe
I was allowed to do that.
My mom did say
"Shouldn't that be illegal?"
and that made me really worried until
I remembered she's not a consultant.
Of course she wouldn't understand.
I was basically talking to an ape.
We hold our employees
and our clients
to a higher personal
and ethical standard.
Core McKinsey values
- Sorry. You have a phone call.
- Not now.
It's the Saudis.
I do have to take this.
I think it might be
about the thing.
You've got Brayden B.
You'll be using your big,
special, early 20s brain
unencumbered by practical experience
to develop bespoke, tailored solutions
to address companies' specific needs.
What we're recommending
is finding significant efficiencies
by laying off the people
at the bottom of the company
and paying more
to the people at the top.
- That's me!
- Yes!
- With the money signs?
- Yes!
It's me at the top!
We believe there are three
great institutions left in the world.
The Marines, the Catholic Church,
and McKinsey.
That's because the mark
of any good institution
is matching outfits,
evasion of responsibility
through institutional secrecy,
and the misplaced belief
that you're saving the world.
Because at the end of the day,
we're McKinsey.
We're McKinsey.
We're McKinsey.
And we're capable of anything.
- And culpable for nothing!
- I love that line.
- It's true, they can't touch us.
- It's true.
That's our show, thanks for watching.
We'll see you next week, good night!
These are traditional firing songs.
Of course, NSYNC, The Verve,
for any Gen X
people you might be firing.
You would have to take the diameter
of the woodchuck's mouth
times the height and length
to get its volume,
so you gotta average
bite capacity size,
and then you have to multiply that with
the total wood consumption in America,
which the woodchuck is native to.
Just off the top of my head,
that would be about 3.4 billion
volumes of wood pulp.
So, factoring forest devastation
and climate change,
I would say a woodchuck
could probably chuck
about two billion cubits of wood
per year.
Wait, I'm sorry.
He did another one?
God! Which newspaper?
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