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Mario Batali Talks Bankers and Hitler on Leonard Lopate

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BataliGate Day Six: chef Mario Batali was on The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC today promoting his new cookbook, Molto Batali, but his comments comparing bankers to Hitler and Stalin came up as well. Batali said last week, "The ways the bankers have kind of toppled the way money is distributed and taken most of it into their hands is as good as Stalin or Hitler and the evil guys? [T]heir evil has had a huge effect on the world."

When Batali was first confronted about the statements, he claimed to have been "deliberately misquoted me for a pr land grab." After a media firestorm and internet backlash, Batali apologized, tweeting, "It was never my intention to equate our banking industry with Hitler and Stalin, two of the most evil, brutal dictators in modern history."

Today on Lopate, however, when asked to clarify, Batali said, "If you were in the room there was no way you would have thought I was comparing the two groups." So: Batali has claimed to be "deliberately misquoted," then later apologized outright, and now he's just claiming that only the people who were in the room could possibly understand the meaning of his words.

Below, the full quote and the audio.

"I was at a panel of really smart people including Brian Williams and Seth Meyers and Jesse Eisenberg and Anita Hill and we were talking about who we should like for Time Man of the Year. The beginning of the discussion was did it have to be a man? No. Do they have to be alive? No. Could it be a group? Yes. Could there be bad guys involved? And the discussion was yes, there's bad guys.

And I said, well, I've noticed that you also had Hitler and Stalin on your Man of the Year as your person who most likely changed or shaped the news story of the year. I said at that point, I gotta say, some people at the top, somewhere, making decisions in the banking world — and I more clearly pointed to Europe because I think they're going to feel it quicker — might be nominated for the bad guy part of it.

Not that I have a problem with bankers, I know that Americans and bankers in general are predominately a hard working group of people. But there's been some bad decision making, both on the consumer side but also on the bankers' side. And I thought that in terms of what really changed the news this year, it's the way the industry has kind of morphed and how they're dealing with what it is. It got looped into the fact that I compared them with Hitler and Stalin. There was going to be a boycott of my restaurants. And at the end of the day, I'm accountable for what I say. I'm not saying I was sloughed off by somebody in the PR world; I said what I said. If you were in the room there was no way you would have thought I was comparing the two groups."

Below, the Batali clip — banker talk starts around 11:00.

Audio: Mario Batali on The Leonard Lopate Show

· Mario Batali's Family Meals [WNYC]
· All BataliGate Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Mario Batali Coverage on Eater [-E-]
Mario Batali. [Photo: Getty]

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