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Trump's National Security Review; Interview with Simon Schama. Aired 11-11:30p ET
Aired December 18, 2017 - 23:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AMANPOUR: Tonight, President Trump rolls out his long-awaited National Security review from North Korea to Jerusalem; from fake news to climate
change, 2017 is a year to be reckoned with. My conversation with the renowned author, broadcaster and historian Simon Schama, plus it is the
sale of the century reshaping the media landscape so what now for Rupert Murdoch after that $52 billion Disney deal? We get a unique perspective
from the author and biographer of Murdoch's World.
Good evening everyone and welcome to the program, I'm Christiane Amanpour in London with the world view. The past is never dead, it is not even
past, the words of William Faulkner's; they're a favorite of my next guest the historian, Simon Schama and with his latest book he seems to want to
prove them true. It's called, Belonging: The Story of the Jews. Whether President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
against the will of the rest of the world or the rise of far-right parties in Europe, or the anti-Semitic alt right in the United States.
There are few people I'd rather have in the studio with me to put all of this into context than Simon Schama who joins me now. Welcome to the
SIMON SCHAMA: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Welcome I mean it is a big pallet and a huge number of challenges but you're there able to tell us and walk through. So first on
Jerusalem because this is something of great interest around the world and in the United States and tonight the U.N., the security council has voted
to try to get Trump to reconsider but of course the U.S. has used its veto. You just came back from Israel, how did his declaration go down there?
SCHAMA: Well actually in Jerusalem, weirdly it was -- there was rage, but it was very quiet rage and in the -- I was there on Friday and the
expectation were there would be serious violence after Friday prayers. The Israelis made a very wise decision to open the Haram esh-Sharif, the Temple
Mount to everybody; Jerusalemites and people beyond so they avoided a kind of an inferno and intifada, but what happened was really extraordinary
because in effect, what Trump actually said, whoever inserted it into the text, was that recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital did not in fact
preclude, also recognizing. It is the capital of future Palestine, but he managed in his doltish obtuse ways brought everybody's nose out of joint.
So it was by sidelining the Palestinians, he did what he does as the CEO of the country, he phones people up and he tells them what's going to happen
and says live with it, buster.
AMANPOUR: Except for now you have the Palestinians, let's see if they follow through on this threat, but they're saying the head of the
Palestinian authority, that there's no room anymore for the United States in any peace negotiations and the U.S. has just ruined its reputation as
the indispensible honest broker. But the thing is, what about a peace process, President Trump keeps saying that he's going to unveil one, it's
going to be the deal of the century.
SCHAMA: Yes, ferry dust. I mean basically he believes in all those things that Jared Kushner has magically produced; the total reinvention of
(Gothenburg) (inaudible) possibly. It's ridiculous, the only way ferry dust works actually is with something called diplomacy and his Secretary of
State who seems to be in a quandary about actually whether he's free to speak his mind has been busy eviscerating the diplomatic surface.
Ultimately it's fine to do sort of magic dances round an incandescent globe with the people in Saudi Arabia; it's a matter for Israel and the
Palestinians. They've shared the country; they have to share the country there is no way out of that.
AMANPOUR: Let's get to your book and it has had absolutely fantastic reviews, it called the Story of The Jews Volume Two: Belonging as I said.
The New York Times said what emerges is a riveting picture gorgeously rendered of the stubborn, argumentative miracle of Jewish survival against
the odds. That is a very optimistic view of the history because it's usually a terribly sad one filled with the most unspeakable horrors and
crimes. But you just went against the grain.
SCHAMA: Well there are kind of there are down moments for example when during the greatest case, a far-right politician and journalist said let's
see how many ways we exterminate Jews. This is 1899...
AMANPOUR: In France of course.
SCHAMA:.should they be burnt in glass furnace, should we turn them into dog food? Can we replace rabbits as vision spectrum experiments, no we can't
because the Jews smell so bad, so we have horrifying things going on but I wanted this project, is as far as it's possible and I believe it is
possible to be a project about vitality to be the urge to have life.
So, we've all shown them, 16 centuries shown them there are composers, pay writes, Hassid itself is a kind of experience of being drenched in
spiritual sunlight, really. So this is actually as heartening in a way as disheartening.
AMANPOUR: It comes at a particular time because let's face it, we're sitting here in Europe and even though the sort of reminisce of it in the
United States where there is a rise, a shameful raise of anti Semitism. But not just that, the far right getting into very important seats of
Just today, the new Austrian government was sworn in, Israel itself said it was not going to change it's behavior with this government, it's the first
time, the far right is actually in government to Europe -
SCHAMA: The freedom party was funded by refinances and there's no - this is to me of course horrifying. I don't believe in perpetual collective
guilt and it's extraordinary that the German democratic experiment as the Japanese one has been a spectacular success in merging from the horrible
burning senders of the last war.
AMANPOUR: But even if he is rising there.
SCHAMA: What is happening from Charlottesville across Poland to Hungary is a horrible mutation. It's a kind of hard ultra conservatism, a kind of
tribal nationalism. Communities of unapologetic belief in the purity of the tribe which naturally morphs into a hatred of cosmopolitans. Now,
Nigel Farage and people like that talk about - Theresa May was not right person, she's a decent person -
AMAPOUR: The prime minister.
SCHAMA: Says a citizen of everywhere is a citizen of nowhere. That is a steak through the heart of the enlightenment. My own family, your family,
we would be citizens of nowhere; we'd just be flotsam on the ocean of the world. No actually being a citizen of the world I an essential thing.
We're all in this decaying corroded planet together.
AMANPOUR: So when you look at this and you describe it so passionately, do you see a way to knit that back? I mean, it wasn't long ago when
internationalism, globalism, whatever you want to call it did the idea of being citizens of the world was actually considered very powerful and
progressive and it's been ripped to thunder over the last two years in the United States as well.
SCHAMA: Yes, I would hope it would take in fact a tsunami to hit Mar-a- Lago to persuade Donald Trump that he's absolutely wrong about there being no relationship between ecological disaster and climate change and buybacks
because wherever you look in the world, actually in tropical African, in the Middle East.
When I was in Israel, Christiane, very interestingly, this is an example of unlikely togetherness, I went with a good friend of mine who runs an
organization called eco peace with offices in Ramallah, in Iman and in Talavera. Nobody pretends to be everybody's brothers and sisters or to
argue out the endless narrative of blame and victimization.
They have a problem. the Jordan barely exist, the Dead Sea is losing a meter a year. The water in Gaza is basically pure, untreated sewage; you
just get on with the job. Magnify that globally, if we don't, that's why the disheartening say the rest of the world say OK walk out the Paris
climate change, it doesn't matter -
AMANPOUR: Well actually President Trump has just downgraded climate changes as a national security danger -
SCHAMA: What I must say, climate change is the engine of violence in the world. So the recognition that we're all on spaceship Earth together will
pragmatically create to kind of -
AMANPOUR: But I wonder if people actually really understand this beyond what you just said, it is a root of violence and terrorism when people have
no work or nothing to do and are able to sit there, the devil finds work for whatever idle hand. And also a migration -
AMANPOUR: Which is not going to stop.
SCHAMA: No, it's absolutely not. No wall, no barrier, no custom zone is going to stop this huge morphment of displace, destitute and poverish
AMANPOUR: And what do you make again to get back to the theme of your book and the theme of what's going on. You mention Charlottesville, I think
everybody was just stunned by the anti-Semitism that went on in that terrible event. Protestors shouting Jews will not replace us. How does
that happen in the United States of America today?
SCHAMA: How does that happen in all over the world I mean some of the most toxic fantasies of anti-Semitism and the protocols of the elders have
signed that old forgery of a Jewish conspiracy. We thought had actually we're dead an buried with the anti-segma war. What he got wrong was what
the internet was like.
We thought the internet was bound to be an instrument not certainly of global togetherness, but this abuser of tedious fantasy. Instead, it is an
absolute prime nesting place for unhinged non-truth based conspiracy. It is the engine of what you and I were talking about, the joy of hatred, the
glee of hatred. You get your jollies from hating particular groups and the Jews are the oldest targets since they were regarded in the Middle Ages and
on into the modern period was our right of having needed the blood of Christian children to bait Passover monsters.
So that actually goes on and on and on and you think about another thing Game of Thrones is that - it's a book about the attractiveness of ancient
violence. It can take horrible new political lies I think.
AMANPOUR: And when you look around and try to identify whatever for this year or in the future what are the biggest dangers? You tweeted shortly
after President Trump took office and it loosely extrapolating from Hannah Arendt and your origins of totalitarianism. The indifference about the
distinction between truth and lies is the precondition of fascism, when truth parishes so does freedom.
AMANPOUR: That's happening isn't it?
SCHAMA: Yes, I think it is. I mean every weeks an example of the censorship of truth. Today orders were given to the Center for Disease
AMANPOUR: CDC, exactly, yes.
SCHAMA: .the CDC. Actually they're often allowed to used to words Science Space Evidence.
AMANPOUR: Can I just run through some of the words apparently they're not allowed to use vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, (transgender), fetus,
evidence based and science based.
SCHAMA: Yes, the science - the phrase was - the suggestion was instead of science based evidence. Recommendations of science inconformity with
community standard, no science is science, facts are facts. Who's community is going to.
AMANPOUR: And the CDC..
SCHAMA: Last we should forget is the Centers for Disease Control. That would be a (inaudible).
AMANPOUR: (Inaudible). So, then what happens, how do we try to level the playing field again so that people actually believe in facts and science
SCHAMA: You and I and people in our business have not figured out - I mean perhaps you're starting it on this program, Christiane. But we're talking
to each other, we're talking to people who are completely convinced, doesn't need to be talking about facts so it's massive. We need to find a
language so there actually is - it is in the same combat boxing ring as the coursing of this calls for Donald Trump as President.
AMANPOUR: But how and I mean because I think the Press and many scientists, women I mean you've seen all these huge marches people standing
up for facts and evidence. They have done all this year and there has been a real pushback. Do you really want to get in the ring with those
SCHAMA: You can't get in the ring with it, no I'm not saying we have to take on a cartoon strip you know the counter belligerents really in the
same tone, but I think we absolutely have to get off our high horses a bit. Again, as we were saying about the kind of projected way in which climate
change and ecological crisis is going to recreate some sort of global community.
The same thing is true in purely American terms. Also true here in Britain, do you want to have proper health or do you not? And therefore do
you really want - what is it 30 million more people to be uninsured at the start of this tax reform or not? Do you actually want your Social Security
certificate or not?
AMANPOUR: So this has been a big victory for Donald Trump. In a year of a lot of setbacks this tax reform and the ability to get it through is being
put in the win side for him. Let's say all of that happens, at what point do the people begin to feel what's actually happened. Is it actually - I
guess what I'm asking is it going to help his voters, the people who voted for him?
SCHAMA: Well, we will see in this time next year, in the midterm elections. One would say looking - a very interesting poll taken after the
Alabama election was the actual - actually Roy Moore's set to (hoboism) past time.
It had actually nothing to do with the way they associated. They're actually they're all sorts of other things. The other things actually
determined Republicans staying at home or.
SCHAMA: .they're actually very sick and thought writing in or even voting for Doug Jones. So, we don't and if you take that together with the
Virginia vote. which went in state assembly heavily Democrat. It could be actually (hurt) not just, not the democrats but truth and decency pushes
AMANPOUR: I want to end on Jerusalem again and the old joke that you tell about peace in our time Israel.
SCHAMA: Yes. Well, eventually, Palestinian and the Israeli have enough all of this and they go and see God. And, they say, God, you know tell us,
will there ever be peace? And God said, of course there will be peace, just not in my lifetime.
AMANPOUR: Simon Schama, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
SCHAMA: A pleasure as always.
AMANPOUR: Let's turn now to Disney's (lumen) acquisition to a bulk of Rupert Murdochs, 21st Century Fox. If approved by regulators, the multi-
billion merger marks the end of an era for Murdoch, whose median empire has made him a powerful political king maker. Does the merger mean a victory
for old or new media? And, who benefits the most, we the consumers or the owners?
My next guest is unique key position to discuss all of this, the author of Murdock's World, the Last of the Old Media Empires. David Folkenflik is
also, Media Correspondent and PR and he joins me now from New York.
David, welcome to the program.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, NPR MIDIA CORRESPONDENT: Thanks so much for having me.
AMANPOUR: So look, I sort of asked all these questions leading into you. Is this a radical reshaping of the media landscape? And, if so, who's
FOLKENFLIK: Well, what I would say is it's a radical recognition of shifts that are happening in the media landscape and a radical consolidation of
the studio power in conventional traditional Hollywood. That is that Disney, which has been such a force, the largest conventional studio for
television and the movies, is adding the luster and the (back) (archive) and the knowledge and the know how of 21st Century Fox that movie studios,
the T.V. studios that produce things like the Simpsons still going after all these decades. Produces one of NBC's top hits, This is Us, and
produces one ABC's top hits, Modern Family.
All of this is in recognition that winter is coming for conventional Hollywood. They're looking at Netflix. They're looking at Amazon. Apple
is likely to be a new entrant and so for the content generators who you think of Netflix spending $8 billion next year projected on content alone,
(in decent), the only way we will be able to compete is having our own streaming digit on demand services, if we have a sort of ownership of all
this other stuff. So, I think that's a large part of what is driving this.
AMANPOUR: Were you surprised when you saw Rupert Murdoch, you know, do this. It was quite swift. Apparently, just a two month, you know, between
a conversation and signing the deal. You know, everyone is writing about this (King Lear) moment.
FOLKENFLIK: Sure. I think it is a moment where he's thinking about succession, he's thinking about legacy and he's also thinking, do I want to
be fighting defensive maneuvers? (Are) we going to sell at a moment where our assets are perhaps at the most valuable their going to be? I also
think that this is a surprise. Murdock is someone who created an empire based a small newspaper, an afternoon newspaper on a forgotten city on the
southern tier of Australia and out of it, built a global empire with major holdings in North America, Latin America, Europe, China, India.
You know this is an extremely, a profitable, an extremely influential company. And, for him to retreat like this, for him to say, I'm going to
come home to things that I care about most. Sport has been the vehicle through which I have been able to achieve a lot of success but (news) is
the thing I care about most.
He's been running Fox News for the past year and a half since he bought out Roger Ailes in July of 2016 and enjoying it tremendously and he always
loved those newspapers in the sister company, News Corp. So, you're seeing him kind of go home to things he cares about most along with the Fox
Broadcasting Network and the associated television stations.
AMANPOUR: Let's talk about influence. I said that he was a very powerful, probably bar none, political king maker. You know that there's a play on
in the West End right now called Ink. About him buying the Sun's newspaper and turning it from a little (broad sheet) into a mega influencer. They
say, brexit couldn't have happened without the influence of the Sun. And obviously, his Fox News is very, very supportive of President Trump.
Does he give up that influence or does it continue without him? I know they're keeping Fox News but, is it strange to give up at this time of sort
of (on parallels) political prominence?
FOLKENFLIK: It's an extra ordinary retreat for a very proud man. He wanted to acquire, he wants control, this (nesor) not things he
relinquishes, usually, readily. At least in the ways we have seen over the years. At the same time, if you are seeing the properties he is holding
onto, most of them are the ones that allowed him that influence.
You know the newspaper in Australia and the U.K., in particular, gave him the influence, the place at the table national politics in those two
countries. And then, he was able to use those and buy Fox Studio, to buy major newspapers in this country and then to build the empire starting in
1996, that is Fox News. Those properties are the ones that get him the seat at the table and also get him ears.
What he has in the U.K. and his native Australia was essentially a bat phone, because they always were concerned about if they fell on the wrong
side of Rupert Murdoch, would he use his multiple publications, his mega megaphone, if you will, to rain down punishment on them. And this was
real. There's that famous newspaper headline in "The Sun" of saying it was a sun what one.
AMANPOUR: There you go.
FOLKENFLIK: And John Major lost that election. And even if it wasn't true, it felt true. Politicians believed it, so Tony Blair, Gordon Brown,
David Cameron, Theresa May, all of them one way or another often flew thousands of miles and some cases 10,000 miles to not only visit him but do
what the Murdoch aides called, kissing the ring.
FOLKENFLIK: Pay a respect to him in a way that indicated they recognized him as the more enduring power.
AMANPOUR: And David, that respect has taken a huge hit in the wake of the sexual abuse and harassment allegations at Fox. I mean frankly, it was the
first of the mega stories that were broken with Gretchen Carlson bravely speaking up against Roger Ailes.
And some are wondering whether Rupert himself is slightly loosing the plot a little, loosing his touch with the following soundbite in an interview to
Sky News he gave when they asked him about this harassment scandal. Just listen and we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUPERT MURDOCH, CHAIRMAN OF FOX NEWS CHANNEL: There's a problem with our TV executive. Sort of over the years, but as that (interest), soon as we
investigated it he was out of the place in hours. Well, three or four days. And there's been nothing else since then. Now, of course, but their
(mother) was (loudly) political because we're conservative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, he seemed of somewhat dismissive. There was the word nonsense in there somewhere.
FOLKENFLIK: Yes, I'd say almost nothing that came out of his mouth in that clip that you played is true other than the word conservative. Murdoch's
aides release a statement basically trying to deal with the fury that was building up within Fox among a number of current and former female staffers
there to his remarks, saying he wasn't saying it was nonsense that sexual harassment was serious.
He was saying it was nonsense that that was getting in the way of the Murdoch's attempt to take over the huge European broadcaster, Sky, in a $15
billion deal. But I can tell you that regulators there are taking that seriously a number -- along with a number of other factors.
What happened at Fox, what was revealed there was that Roger Ailes had built up a culture from it's founding in the mid to late '90s, in which he
was allowed essentially full leeway to cultivate talent, to make sexual advances to sometimes to essentially extract and extort sexual favors from
woman who worked for him and that were men at that network who also took advantage of that culture.
Bill O'Reilly, it was recently revealed, agreed to pay $32 million over four years to a former Fox News analyst for what was termed, I believe,
involuntary sexual conduct or contact.
AMANPOUR: There's been this campaign on Fox, just over the last 24 or so hours, calling the Mueller investigation a coup against America and some
people are very upset over, what they call sort of, the propaganda arm of the Trump Presidency.
We saw Fox News enable, amongst many others, but very, very stridently the Iraq War. What is your concern about the political force of Fox News in
the Trump Presidency right now?
FOLKENFLIK: I think there are a couple of elements that are a cause for a real concern and I want to say from the outset, there are real journalists
who care about doing real reporting who work at that network, but that's not really the point of the network.
What you see at the times of day where people most watch, what is most rewarded by the network is constant messaging that is in sync or supporting
in almost all phases the integrity and the standing of the Trump White House.
And in fact, that's really been called into question both by, I think, aggressive reporting but also by some of the investigations that are
ongoing, raising serious questions about the behavior of folks around the President and around his candidacy.
And I think that what you're hearing now is a calling into question the legitimacy of this investigation of the integrity of the FBI and of the
Special Prosecutors office and of creating the idea that everything is just open to debate.
That it's all controversy, it's all kind of cable news fodder for argumentation rather than the idea that these guys are trying to figure
out, these men and women in the Justice Department, are trying to figure out what happened and to yield to the public and accounting for that and to
see if there's anything that needs further action whether criminal or not.
AMANPOUR: All right.
FOLKENFLIK: And I think that the undercutting of that integrity and standing is a cause for real concern in the absence of strong evidence of
the allegations being made by Fox hosts and their guests.
AMANPOUR: David Folkenflik, thank you so much for joining us from New York. And, a final thought to end our program. Across many parts of the
world, Christmas, Hanukah, and other holiday celebrations are in full swing. The traditional angels are literally descending on the streets of
London. But, tonight, imagine decorations that aren't' decorations at all. As St. James Church in Piccadilly Circle is just down the road from our
studio, the clothes of Syrian refugees are hung from vaulted ceilings, the clothes salvaged from refugees on the Greek Island of Lesbos.
They forced us to see lest we forget that they were once warned by people, women, children, and men, who've endured the most imaginable horrors-
deprivation, loneliness, and rejection-as they made their painful journeys away from war and towards a little peace. These decorations give new
significance to a holiday season that can lose it's real meaning where compassion can sometimes be drowned out by consumerism. And that is it for
our program tonight. Remember, you can listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and twitter. Thanks for
watching and goodbye from London.