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Grayson Perry Discusses the Role of Masculinity in Dealing with Today's Male Roles As Well As His New Book, "The Descent of Man"; Dean Baquet Discusses the Role of the Media in Reporting National Events. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 19, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Evolution. We might have something to learn from the transvestite artist, Grayson Perry. His latest

book is, "The Descent of Man."

Plus, covering the presidency in the Trump era. Part two of my conversation with the editor of "The New York Times," Dean Baquet.

Good evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Cristiane Amanpour in London with the global perspective. In the age of Me Too, women across

the globe are rising up against the toxic aspects of masculinity and most importantly, they are talking, but there's another half of the planet that

isn't talking; the other victims of masculinity, men themselves. Men, who it turns out, are also paying a terrible price for their silence. It's

something that's argued by the renowned British contemporary artist and social commentator, Grayson Perry. Fresh off debuting his latest

exhibition, Making Meaning, in the Windsor Gallery in Florida. He joined me in our studio for the discussion we rarely have.

Grayson Perry, welcome to the program. So you have a big new show that you're sending to America, or is it already there, "Making Meaning?"

GRAYSON PERRY, BRITISH CONTEMPORARY ARTIST: Yes, it's in a place called Windsor near Vero Beach in Florida, which is kind of a very wealth, kind of

a gated community. It's quite an unusual environment to have an exhibition in I suppose.

AMANPOUR: What are you trying to tell the Florida audience, the U.S. audience? What do you hope that the new exhibition will say to them

because it's very multimedia?

PERRY: Yes, it's got tapestries, prints, color (ph) sculpture, and my of more familiar surroundings. I think, coming away, I think making meaning;

you know that's my job as an artist is to make meaning. And I think the one thing they might find, is how British it is, because you know, the main

piece in it is a big tapestry for comfort blanket which I made a few years ago about British identity. And, a lot of the works have a lot of text in

them. And I think, you know, language is the thing they often say with the British and the Americans, we're separated by a common language.

AMANPOUR: Let us move on because you say, very Britishness about your exhibit and that really does lead directly into your book, "Descent of

Man." And the very British, maybe, sort of pent up masculinity and male hood that we see where they have difficulties expressing emotions, and all

that. Do you think it's a particularly British thing --


AMANPOUR: -- or no it's not.

PERRY: Not at all. I think it's purely a gender thing. I think men are, are not brought up to be so aware of their feelings and they don't have

practice in kind of recognizing the degrees of things and so often they recognize it until it's extreme, until they're extremely angry or extremely

sad. And so it bursts like a balloon all of a sudden whereas, you know, maturity and women are much more, you know, able to say when they are

slightly irritated or slightly sad and do something about it then before it becomes a problem.

AMANPOUR: Well at this point we have to remind our viewers that you are famously a heterosexual transvestite --


AMANPOUR: --who often wears your alter ego, Claire's, physical attributes, dress, your hair, makeup, et cetera. With all this Me Too

that's going on, this is probably hackneyed thing to ask you, but do you feel empathy for what the women are going through now or at any time given

that persona that you've inhabited for so long.

PERRY: I mean I may put on a dress, but to say that I understand what it's like to be a woman would be kind of, I think, offensive.

AMANPOUR: All right, sympathy then?

PERRY: I mean, of course, you know, I think it's amazing that its taken this long. You know now they kind of, you know, the house of card

literally is collapsing.

AMANPOUR: Literally.

PERRY: But only in certain cultures, of course. In large parts of the globe, you know, sexism is more than institutionalized, it's legalized. So

I think we're only at the beginning of this discussion. I think men have got to understand there's an upside, you know, and I think emotion is

probably the case of it. And these things are going to take; you know it's going to take more than one generation to change. I mean we've got to

start. We've got to start. It's great this discussion is getting all the thinkers (ph), but it's going to take generations to change because

emotional and social change happens at a different pace to intellectual and political change.

And so, we've got to start encouraging men and boys to understand the benefits of being more venerable, of having better relationships. It's

going to make them happier. It means they're going to find the meaning of life in different places other than competition and consumerism. They're

going to find it in friends and family and community. And, you know, these are things which are more positive.

AMANPOUR: The book opens with a really dramatic and rather tragic tale.


You talk about a little boy on a bicycle peddling desperately uphill. Take it away.

PERRY: Well I look to go mountain biking and I was in the forest in the mountain, I was coming up and I could see this little boy. He was only

maybe six or seven and he was on his new mountain bike coming up quite a steep hill. It was quite hard work. And he was getting into a real tempo

with it and the gears were crashing and in the end he comes stalled to a halt. And I sort of stopped and said, "(George), do you want me to help

you?" And he was like, like this, really in a (turbo) --

AMANPOUR: And he was six.

PERRY: Yes, and he was screaming for his father, "Dad. Dad. Dad. Dad." And I thought, "Well where is his father?" Because he was on his own in

the middle of the forest. So I thought well, I don't know. Anyway, I pedaled. He didn't want any help so I thought, "Well, OK. His dad's

probably not far away anyway."

So I got to the top of the hill about two or three hundred meters further up and there was his dad waiting for him like this.


PERRY: Yes, and I thought well that's a face I seen in a lot of touchlines. You know, that's "Come on, man up and deal with and don't ask

for help. And you'll sort it out," and "I'm not going to help you."

AMANPOUR: And did the boy finally make it up there?

PERRY: I don't know.

AMANPOUR: You didn't see it.


AMANPOUR: Well did you say anything to the dad?

PERRY: I did. I said, "Well I hope your son can afford good therapy when he gets old enough because he's going to need it."

AMANPOUR: You, yourself, had a really life-changing experience with violence committed against you as a child.

PERRY: I had a very violent step father who would terrify me. And, you know, he - he - he would hit on my mother and he would throw us around.

And so I was always scared of him really throughout my childhood. And so that kind of meant that I am, I mean I'm not saying that I wasn't a very

angry young man myself, I was never violent to anyone. But, it's something that's very close to my heart, you know, this thing. And when you go, and

when I was making my TV series, I went into police stations. I talked to sort of young offenders and people and I saw that it was when you take away

the other ways where a man can have status, he resorts to something very primal which is sort of defending territory and competition with other men.

And I feel a bit sorry for men in the masculinity has become sort of redundant phenomena. You know, I call it a (inaudible). You know, it's an

architectural term that means something that used to be functional has become decorative.

AMANPOUR: But you're not saying that masculinity has got to be overturned, you're just saying it's got to be shifted around a bit.

PERRY: Yes, it's got to be changed but I think most of the things that people think of as typically masculine need to be examined. I mean, we've

got to take out the bits that don't work and there are a lot of bits of masculinity that don't work.

AMANPOUR: Well you have some, you know, Grayson Perry's Men's Rights. You wouldn't mind just reading it and getting --

PERRY: Yes, the right to be venerable. And that is absolutely the most important one because to be venerable means that you have better

relationships. You let yourself be impacted upon by other people and that's a way of growing. The right to be weak, you know, this is something

men really struggle with, you know, that the fact they ask for help. The right to be wrong, I mean particularly around well-educated middle-class

men. You know their weapon is, "I am right." And they're mansplaining and they're kind of showing how much they know about whatever it is and

sometimes you want to go, "You park it." You know?

The right to be intuitive. You know, the fact that they, I think that often men, they don't - they're not because they're not aware of their

feelings so much that they don't trust their intuition about things and they think they want, and they get very hung up on kind of, they need facts

and backup and often they don't say, "But I feel this."

The right to be uncertain. Again, this is sort of, related to that idea, that you know you might not be this rock that is always right and always

dependable. You might be a bit undependable sometimes. The right not to know. You know, that's something that I learned as a father. Your child's

saying, "Why is this, what is this?" You kind of, "I don't know." And it's quite a nice thing to do sometimes.

And the right to be flexible, you know, the fact that we al change as we go through life and, and what's the most powerful, kind of weapon on social

media? It's calling people a hypocrite. You know? Maybe they've just changed their minds. You know? Why can't we be flexible, you know, and

change our minds. (Inaudible), I got it wrong. The whole - the whole social conversation would change if people would start, you know, respect

that. And the right to not to be ashamed of any of these. I mean shame is a really interesting one. You know, I think one of the big, kind of

cultural divides in the world is between cultures that have guilt and cultures that have shame. You know, and shame is a public thing. It's how

you look to the worst, they're much more communal cultures.


We're much more individualistic here than in America, so we have guilt. You know it's all about us and I think it might be good for us to look

outwards in our emotional connections more.

AMANPOUR: How do you hope that these, the rights of men, let me have the paper back. How will that make life better for your girl and other girls?

PERRY: I think, you know, what we're seeing now in the whole Me Too phenomenon, all of the harassment scandals that are coming out is that the

things that men probably, I think a lot of them weren't aware of how terrible they were behaving. And they're being called out on it. I

they're a bit shocked that these unconscious processes and feelings that they have the right to do these things. They're getting a bit - they're

being made to think about it. And so, you know, the pendulum is going to swing where everybody is a little bit terrified of kind of like, "Should I

do this? Should I even say hello to this woman?" OK, it will get to the point where when men can learn to have a relationship, to look the person

in the eye and have an equal relationship with someone, and feel confident that they have took the emotional temperature of the situation, then, you

know, when they are as good with their feelings as women are. You know this is worldly generalizing.

AMANPOUR: It - it is, but it's on the right path. I just want to ask you because you've been asked before. You write two very interesting little

biographical facts that show that even yourself with your highly intuitive feminine side given your alter ego, as a young boy had some very, very male

dominated feelings. The cereal in the flowery bowl?

PERRY: Oh yes, yes, when I was young, it was curious. I could only have been about, I don't six or eight years old and I wouldn't eat breakfast

cereal out of a flowery porcelain bowl because like I somehow intuitively knew that that was a female pattern and so I had to have the stripy bowl,

you know? And I think that that kind of unconscious decision making, you know, in grace (ph) red letter form, it happens in men's lives all the

time. They're terrified of, sort of, it's a very policed role internally and by other men. Other men are always checking out other men to make sure

they're living up to the role. And every man inside him, has a kind of demonic (ph) man who is, they're constantly checking on. Am I doing it

right? Am I, you know, am I living up to the role?

AMANPOUR: What changed you?

PERRY: I think it's a combination of things. Being a transvestite makes you question masculinity from the off. Having some fantastically strong

funny girlfriends and my wife over the years, psychotherapy. You know psychotherapy, you know my wife might say that there's two sorts of people,

you know, people in therapy and people that need it. I don't know, but it certainly helped me.

AMANPOUR: Grayson Perry, thank you very much for sharing your insights. Adding to the global angst many would say is the Trump presidency itself.

And in the wake of handing out fake news awards, this Presidency has brought the importance of American journalism into focus like it hasn't

experienced in decades. Few institutions are as central to this moment as "The New York Times" and its executive editor, Dean Baquet.

Now in part two of our conversation, in New York, I spoke to him about covering the unusual President Trump and some controversy on his own turf.


AMANPOUR: Dean Baquet, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: The big stories of the year. What do you think? Where are we heading in 2018? Is it more Russia? Is it North Korea? What do you see as

the big story?

BAQUET: Well, one big story is the midterm elections. I mean we're - we're going to get to see in races all over the country what people think of

Donald Trump and what he did and what he's done. It's another test for the press and its ability to sort of capture the country. There's governor's

races. This is a remark - debates over, over how districts are apportioned. This is a remarkable political year for the country, that's

first. And it will be huge.

Russia will continue to be a huge investigation. I mean it - it is a remarkable thing that has been claimed and with much evidence which is that

the Russian Government meddled in an American election. Well, we're about to have another big American election and we still don't fully know what

happened in this one. So I think the Russia investigation and its impact with Donald Trump is important and is a huge story. I think Donald Trump's

continuing governance is a big story, right?


I mean the first year was a bigger story than anybody anticipated and it will be a big story again this year.

AMANPOUR: But you don't think that, you know, the anti-Trump brigade are baying for blood. They want him to be impeached. They think he will be

impeached. They think its crime that he's not impeached. But you don't really think that that's going to happen or do you?

BAQUET: I - I actually don't know. I think there's so much - I mean it would be foolish to say I think he's going to be impeached or not

impeached. I don't think we know about Russia. I don't. I think we know a lot. I mean we've reported it. We broke the story of Don, Jr. meeting.

We know a lot more in the last year than we did a year ago, but I don't know completely where it goes. I mean there's certainly some evidence

that's already emerged of collusion, it's such a bizarre word, of , of the Russians wanting to help the people around Trump and of their willingness

to accept it. That's important. I don't think we know how high it went, how active the help was. And I think until we know the answers to those

questions, at least I don't, Bob Mueller may already know, I think until we know the answers to those questions, I don't think we know where this goes.

AMANPOUR: Your own columnist, David Brooks, wrote the anti-Trump brigade is at risk of sort of going over the top and just losing the plot that

they're so focused on him and his personality and every twist and turn of this unusual Presidency, that they may be missing the forest for the trees

or the trees for the forest, that while everybody is focusing on every last sort of tweet, really serious America-changing stuff is happening and

perhaps they're not focused enough on that. Do you think there is a danger of just being overly aggressive and overly sort of ideological about him?

BAQUET: I always remind people David works for the opinion side of the house which I don't run. I don't - I think there is a danger of, there's

always a danger when people become so driven by ideology and when people sort of go off in their corners. There are multiple dangers. One danger

is you're not capable of understanding the debates over policy. One danger is you can't listen and learn from the other side. I know that the

instinct of the left is because I get it in my emails all the time is to think that everybody who voted for Donald Trump is evil. I can't accept

that. I can't accept that journalistically, I'm not talking about as American. I can't - that's too an answer. I need to understand. That

doesn't mean going out and having, you know, false interviews with people. I mean we've done some of that, some good, some bad. But I think we've got

to understand that phenomena. That to me is journalistic inquiry.

AMANPOUR: And the book "Fire and Fury" that Michael Wolff has just written which has created a firestorm of protests from the White House obviously

and captivated the world, mostly because he says that everybody, he uses the word 100% of the people around President Trump thinks he's unfit for

the job. But your reporters meet him on practically a daily basis, and as you said have a lot of access too. Again, David Brooks said that most of

the people who go into the White House and to the Oval Office, meet a perfectly genial man who runs a fairly good meeting, who's pretty clear in

his thinking. And, do you think that was a cartoon characteristic of him? What do your reporters say about the man?

BAQUET: I think what my reporters say about the man, about Donald Trump, is that there is, there are some very unusual characteristics in him as a

leader. He does lead by whimsy. He often does not have a larger plan or a larger philosophy. And it's hard to know what his biggest issues are. And

the governing style of the Trump Administration has been erratic. I think that's what they would say. And I have an example of evidence of that. I

think the example evidence of an Administration that's gone one way one day and I think the tweets, I think, I have not heard anybody say there's a

plan to the tweets against the North Koreans. I think if you add all that up, I'm not going to put a value judgment on it, it makes for a great

story, I'll say that.

AMANPOUR: And do you think, because let's face it, "The New York Times" and all the so-called mainstream media has been flagellating itself every

since, you know, November 2016, when he won. Saying that they got the story wrong, they didn't understand the American people. They didn't

understand the forgotten, those who felt left behind.

BAQUET: Probably not quite flagellating. I think what I'll -

AMANPOUR: It's flagellating, believe me.

BAQUET: No, and I'm not (inaudible). I'll - I'll say what I think we -- look, I think something happened in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

A lot of people didn't get it wrong.


There was some terrific reporting by Alec MacGillis in "ProPublica" and elsewhere and in "The New York Times" and in the "Washington Post" and on

CNN. I don't think we got the totality of the anger and anxiety in the country that helped lead to the election of Donald Trump. I don't think we

- I don't think we got that.

AMANPOUR: Layoffs at the "Times." You announced last year that a whole raft of copy editing jobs would be eliminated if the company reinvents

itself also trying to make it in this digital world, but there are layoffs.

BAQUET: There were, they're buyouts which is different, but for all practical purposes. The editing room is the same size as it was before.

We offered buyouts to about 110 people and we hired another 100 or 110. When I started in newspapers in an afternoon newspaper, there were

reporters, back fielders, and copy editors. I need videographers. I need, I have a big, big podcasting operation now doing the jobs that didn't exist

before. I've got to change the population of the newsroom to accommodate a different world.

AMANPOUR: The - the ongoing, you know, struggle of James Risen, the reporter who broke the story of warrantless wiretapping by the

Administration. And he has written a scathing indictment of the newspaper.

BAQUET: About his era at the newspaper.

AMANPOUR: About his era at the newspaper when you were not the executive editor. You know, everything from - from how he couldn't get his stories

put on the correct page, how some friendly editors would say well give it to me for this day and we'll make sure it gets on. He has a real beef

against "The Times." He's right isn't he?

BAQUET: Yes. I mean, I'm not saying that I wasn't there because I want to punt on it. I've talked to Jim. He did work for me when I was running the

Washington bureau. I think Jim, I think Jim started as a - I'm going to say yes, he does have a beef and - and - and he's right about a lot of it.

I think Jim started as an intelligence reporter in a different era for intelligence reporting. I think September 11 transformed the way, the way

newspapers do business. The CIA was a back-quarter (ph) beat, believe it or not. It's hard to imagine that now before September 11. I think

newspapers didn't quite understand their power or the importance of challenging the government on intelligence stories.

And I think that if you look at - what's compelling to me about Jim and his story is the arc of his story. If I had been his editor, I called him

afterwards to tell him it that it was - it was - it was an important story. If I was the editor, I would have pushed the nut graph in there. He needed

a nut graph to say, my story tells the story of the development of the press covering intelligence over a generation. By the end of it, I think

Jim would say, because Jim was involved in some of the cover-much coverage working with me. We published all kinds of stuff. I think his story is an

important story. I think it's worth reading.

AMANPOUR: Do you think that - I mean he basically - what angered me most was that while they were burying my skeptical stories, the editors were not

only giving banner headlines to stories that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, they were also demanding that I help match stories from other

publications about Iraq's purported WMD programs, which we know they didn't have.

BAQUET: It's been widely acknowledged that news organizations like "The New York Times" beat the drum too much in the months leading to the war in

Iraq and I think Jim documents what that looked like from where he sat. I think it's an important story. He's an important reporter. He's a very

important historic reporter who has done some remarkable journalism for "The New York Times" including the story that he writes most about the NSA

wiretapping story.

AMANPOUR: Well, let's discuss a little bit how it was that sort of Fox News-driven, right-wing sphere of cheerleaders for the Bush Administration

and for the war that led the President to take one of the worst decisions in modern history, and that was to invade Iraq. And I say that because of

the backlash that we're still suffering. Talk a little bit about the danger of this polarization of media and and how media is, well in this

case, how this media supported the President in this regard. And why President Trump should wish that he doesn't get that kind of blind support.

BAQUET: I think that history is filled with examples. But I actually think that one of the great examples is JFK with the Bay of Pigs where JFK

convinced the press, and particularly "The New York Times" not to report on it, and went ahead with it and it was a disaster, and alter acknowledged to

reporters that he wished he has listened. He wished that he would have allowed it to be reported because it would have sparked a debate. If we

had been more aggressive in the buildup to the Iraq war, if we had been more forceful


In our, in our mission. I think the result would have been, there probably would have been a fuller debate in America. Any President should want

that. Any President, whether it involves North Korea or Iraq or Afghanistan should want that debate, should want that full debate and I

believe should want exposure. First off, if - if - if an action is warranted, or if I believe you can justifiy it to the American people, you

have more support. Secondly, one of our roles is to poke holes, and one of or roles is to call out powerful institutions when they make mistakes. If I

were a President, easy for me to say, I'd want somebody in that backstop. There's got to be an independent backstop and that's our role.

AMANPOUR: Dean Baquet, thank you very much indeed.

BAQUET: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

AMANPOUR: And that's it for our program tonight. And remember you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at, and follow

me on Facebook and twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.