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Assad's Advance on Aleppo; Taking On the Late-Night TV Boys' Club; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired February 10, 2016 - 14:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: two outsiders triumph in the latest U.S. presidential qualifying contest.

But what would Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump do as Syria slips into the kind of humanitarian and moral disaster last seen in Srebrenica?

Tonight an opposition leader calls for an end to Russia's pro-Assad bombing campaign and his advance on Aleppo.

Also ahead: how does a comedian take on serious issues like the Syria refugee crisis or U.S. politics with a strong dose of humanity as well as

humor, of course?

My interview with Samantha Bee, challenging the late-night boys' club?


SAMANTHA BEE, COMEDIAN: All we ever really wanted to do was make a show that came directly from here. So it's not like we sit around and high-five

each other and go, ooh, look at what feminists we are. We're just creating a show that we would want to watch.



AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.

This most unusual of American presidential elections has been treated, in large part, as entertainment tinged with a heavy dose of incredulity.

Could outsiders like Bernie Sanders and especially Donald Trump actually win the world's most powerful job?

And if so, how would they deal with the world's worst humanitarian catastrophe right now: Syria?

As the second city, Aleppo, looks set to fall to Assad's forces, placing millions at risk, critics now liken the West's failure in Syria to the

Srebrenica-style failure in Bosnia.

The United States is coming under intense criticism. Indeed, the outgoing French foreign minister today accused the Obama administration of, quote,

"not having a very strong commitment" to taking a decisive lead in ending the war.

While Russia does have a strong commitment to aiding Assad's advance through its relentless bombing campaign.


BRETT MCGURK, U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY: The Russians claim that they're cutting off weapons supply corridors but they're actually cutting off

humanitarian corridors. So at the very least, they need to put their money where their mouth is and open up the humanitarian corridors immediately to

all of these besieged areas that the U.N. has identified.


AMANPOUR: And what does Russia's move on the battleground mean for future peace talks, which the U.N. is trying to restart?

Now Khaled Khoja is from the Syrian opposition delegation and he's president of the Syrian National Council -- or Coalition. He joined me a

short time ago from Istanbul.


AMANPOUR: Khaled Khoja, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: Mr. Khoja, all eyes are now once again on Syria, now Aleppo. It's probably going to fall, according to all analysts. Reuters has a

story; some diplomat is talking to Reuters on anonymous basis but saying it'll be easy to get a cease-fire soon because the opposition will all be

dead. That is according to an unnamed Western official.

Has Russia been helping Assad's forces?

Because certainly Assad thinks that he has, that the Russians have been.

KHOJA: For sure, for sure, for sure Russian has helped Assad. Before there is an intervention, Assad was about to fall down. But the Russian

intervention came for the benefit of Bashar al-Assad and they did not fight daish at all and both of Russians and --


KHOJA: -- the Iranians could collaborate with each other in order to save Bashar al-Assad from falling down. And this is what is happening now in


AMANPOUR: What do you think is the fate of Aleppo?

Our own correspondent has been in there; he is listening to regime soldiers talking about how much more optimistic they are.

What do you think is going to happen to the people there?

Because there are fears that the government will be able to capture parts of rebel-held, opposition-held Aleppo.

KHOJA: If Iranians and the Russians were with the PYD forces, surrounded Aleppo, we will face another catastrophe, which is happened in Madaya. We

face a humanitarian crisis. But for sure the FSA, the Free Syrian Army, the moderate opposition will fight against those -- the Russians and

Iranians in order to save Aleppo from being falled into the hands of the regime.

AMANPOUR: What, though, are you asking for?

Because there is meant to be more talks, happening this time in Munich, joint security conference coming up end of this week.

Are you going to go to that conference?

And will the official opposition negotiating team sit down to talks again in the end of February, as the U.N. wants them to be reconvened?

KHOJA: First of all, we went to Geneva to make this political process succeed but, unfortunately, since the Russians and the regime continued

besieging the cities in Syria and using the starvation and the hunger as a weapon against the Syrian civilians and since the Russians escalating their

war against the Syrian civilians, the political process, unfortunately, could not continue.

What we needed from our allies, from our supporters, to have a comprehensive approach, which can save the Syrian people from starvation,

from dying from hunger.

We need from our supporter not only to provide us humanitarian support, we need concrete steps on the ground to make -- to progress, lifting the siege

and releasing the detainees and help creating stability instead of this chaotic situation in Syria.

AMANPOUR: I want to play for you a little bit of an interview I did with a former Russia MP allied with President Putin about the Russian strategy for

the negotiations in Syria.


SERGEI MARKOV, FORMER MP, PRESIDENT PUTIN'S UNITED RUSSIA PARTY: I think few months as Saudi needs to see the Syrian army taking to more and more

territory and their allies in Syria will have to sit down on the table with some Assad envoys.


AMANPOUR: So from that, Mr. Khoja, you see that the Russians have a very clear military strategy, to force the opposition, to negotiate with a more

strong Assad regime. And the Americans don't seem to have leverage right now with the Russians.

One of the Americans who I spoke to, who was, you know, very, very key to the anti-ISIS fight, is just saying they hope that the Americans can put

some pressure on Russia.

What do you think?

How is Russia going to stop these aerial bombardments?

KHOJA: Well, Russia is very clear they are using the same strategy they used in Grozny. They want to get rid of all of the Syrian people who are

opposing Bashar al-Assad. This is very clear.

So what we need from our allies, from Americans, from our E.U. allies, to provide us much more support in order to get rid of this chaotic situation,

to get rid of Bashar al-Assad, the root cause of this crisis, the root cause of ISIL.

Russians did not attack ISIL; they attacked the civilians, more over than 17,000 air raids they committed since the Russian occupation. They

committed over the Syrian cities and they killed much more than 2,000 civilians. They are targeting the FSA. They are targeting the moderate

opposition and they are targeting the civilians. This is very obvious, very clear.

AMANPOUR: Do you see that the United States has any strategy or any ability or have they told you any which way that they are going to try to

get Russia to abide by a cease-fire, make Assad abide by a cease-fire?

Because President Assad's chief adviser just told Reuters this week that there would be no let-up in the bombing, in the Assad advance.

KHOJA: Unfortunately, the current --


KHOJA: -- approach, it is not working. This approach has to be changed. We have to come up with a comprehensive approach.

The political process, the peace process should be start in parallel with the -- and the transitional process should be start in parallel with cease-

fire; otherwise cease-fire will not work. The Syrian people have to be convinced that there will be a transitional process and there will be a

process without Bashar al-Assad. That time the Syrian people will support any kind of political process, any kind of settlement.

AMANPOUR: Khaled Khoja, thank you very much indeed for joining us.


AMANPOUR: After a break, the women tackling the tough topics like Syria with her fierce, funny and feminist new show. "Full Frontal," hosted by

late night's new Queen Bee, the one and only Samantha Bee, brings us her unique voice and her quick wit. That's next.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

As we said, the U.S. presidential race should be serious business. But this election cycle is comedy gold, especially, of course, for America's

now famous late-night comedians.

Jon Stewart may be off the air but his star correspondent, Samantha Bee, is now front and center with her own new late-night show, "Full Frontal,"

marking her as the only woman in late night.

I spoke with her earlier in the newsroom downstairs and started by playing her debut program's hilarious opening clip.


BEE: Anybody have any questions?

Oh, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it hard breaking into the boys' club?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's it like being woman in late night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can I watch your show as a man?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's it like to be a female woman?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have problems with your ovaries falling out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you have to do differently to make the show a reality?

As a woman.



AMANPOUR: And with that, I welcome Samantha Bee to the program. Welcome.


BEE: Thank you so much.

AMANPOUR: You know, I just have to ask you, what is it like being the first woman late-night host?


BEE: I kind of found that I love it. Yes. I'm having a very good time so far. We are one episode in and I'm having the time of my life.

AMANPOUR: And does it make a difference that there was this amazing "Vanity Fair" cover that came out months ago that said the whole panoply of

the late-night shows, all of them were guys?

We have the picture.


AMANPOUR: All sharing a cocktail --

BEE: -- together --

AMANPOUR: -- lovely party, right?

BEE: Exclusive.


AMANPOUR: Look at that. And then you very cleverly crashed that party with a picture of yourself saying the following: "'Vanity Fair' Better."

BEE: That's right.

AMANPOUR: I mean, did it --


AMANPOUR: -- stick in your craw?

BEE: It didn't stick in my craw but it was so -- I mean, my reaction to the photo was so instantaneous and I weirdly happened to have a photo of

myself --


BEE: -- on my phone.

You know, when you work in comedy, you make mock-ups of yourselves. You don't even know why but you know you might need them later.

AMANPOUR: And that was a statement as well.

BEE: Well, actually, my -- one of the executive producers, Miles Khan (ph), and I had been talking back and forth about having myself carved into

the side Stone Mountain in Georgia. And so I thought, wouldn't it be fun if I was a centaur?

And he was, "You know, they have laser eyes."

And then he mocked it up in 2 seconds and sent it to me months earlier than this tweet went out.

So I actually did have it on my phone. And just I filed it away for, you know, what you'll need.

AMANPOUR: What has the reaction been?

You've got -- you've had your first show; it debuted on Monday. It got a lot of great reviews. "The New York Times" called it "Samantha Bee's

fierce, fiery feminism."

BEE: That's nice.

AMANPOUR: Anchoring "Full Frontal."

BEE: I don't dispute that. I appreciate that.

AMANPOUR: So you're doing that on purpose?

BEE: Well, you know, it's not even --


BEE: I mean, we are making a show from our gut, that's all. I mean, all we ever wanted to do was create a show -- I mean, Jo Miller's here right

now. She's the show runner of the show. And all we ever really wanted to do was make a show that came directly from here.

So it's not like we sit around and high-five each other and go, ooh, look at what feminists we are. We're just creating a show that we would want to


AMANPOUR: And does it have a particular resonance?

I mean, I don't know whether it started on a particular day in the middle of the presidential cycle but, look, it really is. And right now these

very issues are front and center, full frontal, on the campaign trail.

BEE: We are dropping into events at the best possible time. I mean, it was so painful for us to watch the process going past us when our show was

not on the air. Believe me, we were sitting back and thinking, oh, please, just kind of clawing.

So when we launched the show, we just thought, well, let's just kick the door in and see what happens.

AMANPOUR: And what are going to make of, if anything, the fact that Hillary, the only woman with the first viable choice of being the first

female president, is now sort of stuck in this feminism conundrum between older women, younger women?

BEE: A hundred percent something that we're going to address on the show. I mean, maybe sooner rather than later. It's certainly being talked about

right now.

AMANPOUR: And obviously what's going on is really electrifying the rest of the world. We broadcast all over the world on this program and many, many

people are just -- cannot get enough of this election cycle.

BEE: I cannot get enough of it.

AMANPOUR: Well, you did --

BEE: I mean --

AMANPOUR: -- you did something pretty funny. You have a segment, where you called it, I think, foreign correspondent looking at the U.S. election.


BEE: Foreign exchange.

AMANPOUR: Foreign exchange, well, there you go. We're going to play a little bit and talk about it.

BEE: Oh, great.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): As we follow this Jeb and get closer to him, he paradoxically seems to recede ever further into the distance.

At dusk one day, we find a Jeb campaign headquarters. But it seems hastily abandoned. In the corner of one empty room, a bag of garbage.


AMANPOUR: What is it that you want the world to know?


BEE: You know, that was something that -- (INAUDIBLE). We have built such an incredible team of people and so -- and we want to blow out things in a

way that we never had the chance to before when the show was kind of filtered through Jon Stewart's point of view when I was with "The Daily


So our point of view -- we want to have fun, we want to see things in a different way, we want to use as many tools as are at our disposal to just

elucidate things a different way.


AMANPOUR: Your final show -- and you were the correspondent on the Jon Stewart show and it was pretty amazing. You always went out and did

unbelievable things, including talking truth to power.

I mean, you had all these big people or whoever, you really went at it.

Were you sad -- you were sad in your farewell, obviously.

Were you sorry not to have been tapped to replace Jon Stewart?

BEE: I promise you I could not be happier doing my own thing. You know, I always felt like, if I just had a chance to really create my own voice and

create my own thing, that people would go along on that journey with me.

And, plus, one day a week, you couldn't ask for better. I would really much rather have to squeeze 1,000 pounds of great content into 21 minutes

than to have to blow it out over many, many days. It's a gift. We've just been given the gift of --

AMANPOUR: Well, it's great to hear and certainly for a lot of women, it's great to see a strong, powerful woman having a big voice in these late-

night slots because they're obviously very influential. I mean, your late- night sort of comedy shows have become de facto reality.

And to that end, I know that you've been Jordan. And the Syria war has been such a difficult conundrum for Americans to try to deal with. But you

went to a refugee camp.


What's the point?

I mean, what's funny about that?

BEE: Well, we had heard -- I mean, you know --


BEE: -- as we learn about the process of resettling Syrian refugees, we had heard that they take a cultural orientation class when they're about to

be resettled in the United States. And that was sort of -- we found that really interesting and then we looked into that more deeply.

And then we -- you know, as the story evolved and we thought, well, why don't we go to Jordan?

We did realize that really it's, I think, Americans who need the cultural orientation about Syrians.

I come from Canada. There's lots of Syrians in Canada, you know --


AMANPOUR: Well, actually, your prime minister has been remarkable.

BEE: -- generous and so it's -- it was unusual for me, having grown up there, to come here and have such a -- to have a bird's-eye view of just

the kind of lack of understanding.

So we went out there to -- we wanted to meet people in the most --

AMANPOUR: And you're going to start rolling those out as of next week.


BEE: I think we're going to show the first of --

AMANPOUR: I mean, obviously, I have to ask you, because the leading Republican candidate, Donald Trump, is being very unfriendly towards the

idea of refugees, Muslims in general.

BEE: Profoundly unfriendly.

AMANPOUR: So I wondered if you feel that there needs to be some pushback against that, plus -- I mean, as a related question, did you ever think

that the star of a reality show, "The Apprentice," would be the leading presidential candidate on the Republican side?

BEE: I don't know that I ever watched an episode of "The Apprentice," and I think there were reasons why I didn't, which now I completely comprehend.

It's almost impossible for me to imagine. And -- but it gives us some wonderful terrain, some wonderful grass to mow in the creation of our show.

AMANPOUR: I mean, it really does. You have entered this (INAUDIBLE) extraordinary time.

BEE: It's daunting. I wish the best for this nation, I promise you I do. I'm voting for the first time myself in this election. It's very important

to me to get it right. So.

AMANPOUR: You know, it's really interesting because your husband, Jason Jones, is also a comedian. He used to be or maybe still is a correspondent

on "The Daily Show"?

BEE: No, no, no. We've moved off "The Daily Show."

And we are -- we've created a --


BEE: -- he's an executive producer of this show --


AMANPOUR: Let me just play this little clip of you and him doing a skit together.

BEE: Oh, great.


JASON JONES, SHOW PRODUCER: This is the best day of their life.

BEE: It seriously is the best day, because after this -- whoo!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It means a lot for us, because we've been together for five years and we really wanted to be here on the first day.

BEE: Do you mind?

Please get your -- I'm taking the lead in this.


BEE: -- tonight or (INAUDIBLE)?

JONES: I am trying to work on a piece, OK?

BEE: I know, I realize you're trying to work on a piece but I am trying to also raise a family at the same time and we need milk and bananas.



AMANPOUR: Marital is a special bliss.

Well, on that note, Samantha Bee, congratulations.

By the way, "Full Frontal," where are you going with "Full Frontal"?

BEE: Well, we wanted to convey the audaciousness of the show.

AMANPOUR: And it certainly is.

BEE: I appreciate that.

AMANPOUR: Thanks so much for joining me.

BEE: Thank you so much for having me.


AMANPOUR: The very funny Samantha Bee, handing harsh realities with humor.

And after a break, wrestling with Syria's refugee crisis through, well, wrestling. Imagine a world getting to grips with refugee children. The

former Syrian wrestling champion pinning down a way to help traumatized youth in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. That's next.





AMANPOUR: And finally, earlier this week we told you a bit about a former Syrian wrestling champion, who is teaching children the sport in the

refugee camps in Jordan. Well, now we can bring you much more of the story.

Mohammed Al Karad once coached Syria's national team before fleeing the war. Now he coaches the refugee kids not just how to wrestle but also

about what they can learn about behavior and even ethics from the sport. Tonight we imagine his world in his own words.


MOHAMMED AL KARAD, WRESTLING CHAMPION (through translator): Since the beginning of the conflict, they started using athletes as militia men

against the Syrian people, especially champions. And one of the people they wanted to recruit to terrorize the people of my town was me.

So my only choice was to leave my country, Syria, and come to Jordan as a refugee.

Sometimes we get a child who is too aggressive during training. This, for example, could be because of what he saw in Syria. Or maybe one of his

relatives experienced an indignity or the child himself experienced animosity because of the situation in Syria.

All of this affects the child's psychology. He may be shy, so I have to integrate him with other youth, through positive reinforcements and tell

him everything is over. Here you are a king.

I will be going to Canada soon. Everybody person always hopes for a better life but I have built a relationship with these children. I look at every

child as if he is my child.

I have a 2-year-old son and what makes me love children and do well in my job is that I feel that each child I train is my child. It's hard for me

to leave them. I feel like I am leaving my family.


AMANPOUR: And that family of refugees in the camp will certainly miss him but what a gift he's given them.

That's it for our program tonight. And remember, you can now also listen to our podcast. See us on line at and follow me on Facebook

and Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from New York.