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Fighting racial bias in America; Is Big Pharma to blame for the opioid epidemic? Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 29, 2018 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, can the global giant Starbucks' one-day shutdown for racial awareness training crack the unconscious bias

code. I'm joined by William Jawando, who worked on these issues for President Obama, plus the writer and activist Michaela Angela Davis.

Also ahead, America's opioid addiction crisis, I speak to the journalist Barry Meier, who says that pharma executives knew the prescription opioids

for being widely abused.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

As America continues to grapple with racism, today ABC has cancelled its highly-rated sitcom "Roseanne" after the star, Roseanne Barr, posted a

tweet that the network calls abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, a.k.a. racist.

This, as a rare and massive effort got underway today in the United States to root out ingrained, sometimes unconscious prejudice across the entire

Starbucks workforce.

The global coffee empire closed more than 8,000 of its cafes around the US for several hours, so that some 175,000 employees could take anti-bias


Starbucks ordered the nationwide training day after what even its founder of calls an unbelievable incident that took place in Philadelphia last

month, when a store manager called police to arrest two black men who were waiting there to meet a friend.

It kicked off angry protests. And now, the Starbucks founder, Howard Schultz, acknowledges that he has his work cut out for him.


HOWARD SCHULTZ, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, STARBUCKS: We need to have the conversation. We need to start. We realize that four hours of

training is not going to solve racial inequity in America or anyone coming into our stores that may have a problem, but we have to start the



AMANPOUR: Indeed, that conversation must start. And to be fair, Starbucks is not alone. In recent weeks, blacks were targeted by police for supposed

infractions ranging from #DiningWhileBlack to #SleepingWhileBlack.

We'll explain in a deeper discussion with the writer and cultural critic Michaela Angela Davis, who joins me from New York, and also William

Jawando. He's an attorney and he worked in the Obama White House on the initiative called "My Brother's keeper" designed to help young black men

climb up the ladder of life and he, of course, joins me from Washington.

Well, welcome to both of you. And, I guess, let me start by something that has just broken as we came on air, and that is ABC cancelling what has been

a very highly rated, if controversial, sitcom called "Roseanne" after Roseanne Barr made that tweet.

And I'm going to read for our viewers exactly what she said. And it was about an Obama - a very close Obama official, Valerie Jarrett. She tweeted

"Muslim Brotherhood and planet of the apes had a baby = VJ."

I mean, honestly, it is unbelievable that that kind of tweet can even be posted by somebody on a network television show no matter her political

views or her cultural experience.

But, Michaela, first to you. What do you make of that and did ABC go far enough?

MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, WRITER AND CULTURAL CRITIC: First, it actually hurt. This is the first I've actually heard someone read it out,

Christiane, so I'm experiencing it in real time.

And I do think that this is a significant step because there have been so many injustices and indecencies and things said about someone as brilliant

as Valerie Jarrett.

Like, let's be clear who this is that she made this tweet about, but also we as a nation have been trying to navigate tweets coming out from the Oval

office about women, and so it has become popularized.

But if the head of the country can also insult everyone ad nauseum with no accountability, with no repercussions, what's to stop Roseanne.

So, this is a significant and symbolic step, but we are in a cauldron of this from the very, very top.

[14:05:06] AMANPOUR: So, William Jawando, let me ask you because you, obviously, I assume, knew Valerie Jarrett well. You worked in the same

Obama White House together. And she was about as about as top as they get for officials in the White House.

WILLIAM JAWANDO, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Yes, yes. And she was actually my direct boss, so I worked for Valarie in the Office of Public Engagement.

And Michaela is exactly right. This is what happens when you have a culture that has been permeated by Donald Trump where anything goes and

there's no repercussion for it.

And good for ABC for taking quick action. But this really comes from the American story, which is that of subjugation of black people, particularly

if you're a woman of color. Historically, here, you were able to do anything, say anything, treat black women anyway. And if you're a man of

color, similar. You're chattel and you're scary and you're something to be feared.

It's a part of our ingrained culture, but Donald Trump has really given it a public voice and where everyone feels they can do it and I think it is

good that ABC took this step because the only way - you can do all the trainings you want in the world, and I know we'll talk about that, but if

there isn't real accountability from institutions like ABC and others that won't allow this to be propagated, that's the only way you're going to see

real change in the public square.

AMANPOUR: Yes. So, it, obviously, leads on to the Starbucks training. We have to say that Rosanne herself apologized and that tweet was taken down

pretty quickly. Nonetheless, it had to be thought up, it had to be typed out and it had to be posted. So, take the apology as you may.

But let me ask you then about what we were going to focus on most here, and we are, the Starbucks training for several hours, over 8,000 of their

stores across the United States. Is that enough accountability, both of you, I want to ask you, because the manager in question who called the

police to arrest two black guys who were waiting for their friend in a Starbucks store, which is meant to be the third safe place in everybody's

life, he was fired.

And you heard what Howard Schultz said. He couldn't believe it when he heard the story. And this is the opening of a conversation.

So, Michaela, does this go far enough?

DAVIS: Well, I think it is start. And again, I think this is significant start. It could be a symbolic start again, whether this is just damage

control or whether it's a true commitment.

And what is so surprising is how surprised people are when black folks are talking about what they have to navigate since they've arrived on these

shores. And what it does is it shines a light, Christiane, on how little American history people are aware of, how there's been an intentional

ignorance around anti-blackness specifically because there's lots of othering whether you're immigrant, Muslim, woman, but anti-blackness is an

actual strategy that is woven into the foundation of this country.

So, whether you're a student at Yale holding her computer sleeping, whether you are a sister at the Waffle House, so with everything from the Waffle

House to Yale, you are endangered as a black body in that space, and that is part of the strategy.

This isn't just random bad people. This is a very bad structure that all of us are trying to navigate, some of us more than others, but it's

complex. There's history around it. There is context. There is conscious bias. There is unconscious bias. And there is a participation because it

was designed that way. I think that it takes more than just a day, but it's a step.

AMANPOUR: It's a step. And it's a very public step from a very public company that holds itself to very upstanding and progressive and morally

correct values.

Just to point out, the black woman who you said who was violently arrested at the Waffle House, that's what we call - well, what social media called

#DiningWhileBlack and the black student you're talking about is #SleepingWhileBlack. These created movements of backlash on social media.

But, William, I'm struck by what Michaela just said that this is a strategy in America, this sort of bias and this sort of anti-blackness, and yet the

training is called to correct unconscious bias.

So, can you tell us, is it unconscious? Is it deliberate? Is it strategic?

JAWANDO: No. And again, Michaela is exactly right. Every person, black person, in America has a #DiningWhileBlack, #SleepingWhileBlack story.

I came upon the CNN elevator just 20 minutes ago and a woman grabbed her purse and moved to the other side.

AMANPOUR: Oh, no. I can't bear.

[14:10:00] JAWANDO: Everything, so these are daily things that happen that every black person in America deals with on a daily basis. We wake up and

consciously decide how we're going to approach the day and take our blackness with us.

And we know we're going to encounter racism - conscious, unconscious - and so that's part of our daily routine. And so, you have to understand that

it has been baked into the cake here.

And the unconscious bias training is a good step. It's a good step. But there has to be accountability, there has to be real conversation about

white privilege and racism. And just because you have the unconscious bias, it doesn't mean you're a bad person, right? OK?

So, just step back because, I think, to have these conversations, too often people run away from them because they think, oh, you know, you're saying

I'm a racist. No, you can have this and still be a good person. Let's deal with the majority of people who are in that category, so that we can

move forward on it.

AMANPOUR: And, William, you speak from experience. Sorry, Michaela. I'll get to you in 2 seconds. You were arrested, I mean, as a law student


JAWANDO: Yes, yes. I was. One in two African-American men by the time they turn 25 have been arrested in this country. And we know one in three,

the more commonly stat, spent some time in jail.

And so, and that's not even counting all the almost-arrests, right? The getting police called and then it gets diffused by some officer who maybe

says, OK, I'm not going to arrest you on this and those happen a lot too.

Whether it's the young girl at the pool party in Texas getting - a 100 pound girl getting flipped over on the ground 18 months ago in Texas, that

officer was fired. So, these are constant things that happen and we have to address them in a systemic way and hold people accountable, I think, if

we're ever going to move past.

AMANPOUR: So, Michaela, how do you address fellow black Americans, activists, philosophers, those who are actually basically saying that this

is just a masquerade, this Starbucks four hours, one afternoon, what does that really mean?

I mean, I know you said it's a good start and we have to have the conversation, but how do you address the many criticisms of what looks to

be what they say just surface?

DAVIS: I acknowledge them because we're all coming at this with different levels, degrees of pain and history. And, Will, I'm sorry that happened to

you. It happens to so many of our brothers and our fathers and our sons and we have to go about our day.

I do - I think that we would be really well served if this meeting could have happened on the first floor at the National Museum for African-

American History and Culture in DC or to watch "13th the Film" because you must see how it is part of the American construct that this is not - again,

if you know your history, you don't feel quite as helpless. You're not a bad person. You're operating in a really bad system, but bad people

exploit that, right?

So, we're looking at people like Roseanne or Trump that exploit this terrible part of our history that we are now just beginning to reckon with.

And the American moral future relies on us having the stamina, having the awareness to continue to interrogate this, like black folks have,

particularly we've just celebrated 50 years of a brilliant, consistent civil rights movement, right?

And we've had a movement for black lives for five years. We've had a women's movement. We have the Parkland movement. We've had people all

over storming senators' offices. We have to have the stamina to deal with hundreds of years of a plan for black bodies to be either contained,

controlled or killed if they're not in service.

AMANPOUR: William, I know you want to jump in, but what do you think this training looks like? What do they have to tell Starbucks employees? About

40 percent of which, by the way, are people of color.

JAWANDO: Right, right. Well, one of the things we know is that unconscious bias and bias against black bodies is present in black people.

If you look at studies of police officers who pull their guns quicker on a black faces in training, the white and black officers do it around the same

rate and much quicker. And so, that's good that it's being applied to everybody because that has been so ingrained in our culture that it has

brainwashed many black Americans to think blacks are more violent or less smart and all the things that we know are perpetuated today.

But the training was done by some great people. Sherrilyn Ifill and Heather McGhee and some really smart people that put it together.

And as Angela said, it's a good start, but really what has to happen is that it has to be embedded in the culture of every workplace, every entity

and it needs to be part of the - when you hire somebody, you need to talk about, it needs to be talked about in the culture of how your policies -

the fact that Starbucks has moved to a policy where you can come in and use the bathroom, sit there if you want, those are things that are bias within

themselves that they're rolling back and so we need to really look at it.

[14:15:06] AMANPOUR: Yes, but not many. Not many establishments will let anybody in to use their bathroom willy-nilly. So, that's pretty good. And

to congregate there. So, they have made that stride.

But on a bigger level, we see in the recent primaries, for instance, in Georgia, unbelievably, Stacey Abrams, a black woman has won that race over

there and is the first black woman candidate for governorship in America.

Do you think that is the kind of game changing future, Michaela, for instance, that will have just as much effect as training?

DAVIS: Yes. Now you just made me smile. The Stacey Abrams historic candidacy is - we need both of these, right, because it gets so hard every

day to take on this barrage of news, but all kinds of new candidates are entering.

The first Latina gay woman in Texas who was a sheriff. She's also on the ticket. And we've also had some people that have come on the movement for

Black Lives running for office.

So, there's an influx of new political energy that can, again, not just the stamina, but some strategy around how to create new policy, how to

dismantle - how to be in constructive conversation because I think it's really important to note because people are so afraid to be called racist -

they're more afraid to be called racist than to stop racist activity, right?

So, if we're saying that, if you're in a structure that is designed for you to operate this way, it takes some of that personal weird onus off.

So, the primaries are really going to be detailing and we need that encouragement to keep going.

AMANPOUR: We will have to continue this conversation another day, but I really want to thank you both on this day for being - putting this across

so forcefully. Michaela Angela Davis, William Jawando, thank you for joining us tonight.

Now, a mostly silent demon has been ravaging and stalking the United States for more than two decades - opioids, heroine and its prescription drug


How bad is it? Listen to this. So bad that opioids are now found in muscles. Not these muscles, not in us, but in shellfish that live off the

coast of Seattle.

Washington State officials said this month that it comes from the urine of all the people who take opioids and from people who just flush the pills

directly down to the toilet.

In a moment, I'll speak with a journalist who is breaking a major news story on what the pharmaceutical companies knew about people abusing their

drugs and when they knew it.

But, first, let us recall the human toll. Let's listen to what the top prosecutor of Kentucky told me in January. That is a place which is at the

center of this crisis.


ANDY BESHEAR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF KENTUCKY: Everyone in Kentucky has now lost someone that they care about. I lost a neighbor that lived eight

houses down from me and you see it on our streets every day.

It was about seven months ago at 3 o'clock in the afternoon that another individual - and I had to pull an overdosing man from a car. It's that bad



AMANPOUR: It's so awful. And journalist Barry Meier is a former "New York Times" reporter. He's the author of "Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and

the Origin of America's Opioid Epidemic" and he's joining me now from New York.

Barry, welcome to the program. Look, first, start by telling us what is the news that you're breaking today, what's new in your story?

BARRY MEIER, AUTHOR, "PAIN KILLER": Sure thing, Christiane. I mean, basically, what we have in the paper today and what we have in the new

addition of "Painkiller" are the findings of federal prosecutors who spent four years investigating Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin.

OxyContin is sort of the symbolic drug of the opioid epidemic. And what these prosecutors discovered during their investigation was that there was

adequate evidence to show that top executives of this company knew that the drug was being abused. They got dozens of reports from their sales

representatives, of local police officials, about drug store robberies et cetera, et cetera.

And they wanted to actually bring criminal indictments against the three top officials of this company on serious charges, felonies that could have

sent them to prison, but they were effectively thwarted from doing so by senior Justice Department officials who've struck a deal with the company.

AMANPOUR: It's outrageous, obviously, but tell me how that settlement happened and why. I mean, I think if I'm not mistaken, that was under the

George W. Bush administration, the Justice Department of 2007, and a settlement was done in secret.

[14:20:07] MEIER: That's absolutely correct. I mean, what happened was the prosecutors who were operating in very Western Virginia, this was an

area that was overrun by opioid abuse and OxyContin abuse, in particular, had conducted this investigation from 2002 to 2006.

And they forwarded their findings to the Justice Department. And in those findings were - was the evidence that they planned to submit to a grand

jury to seek these indictments.

The mid-level officials at the Justice Department, the people that were involved in the criminal and consumer divisions that were leading this

investigation supported the indictments, but then there was an 11th hour meeting between a very high profile Purdue Pharma defense team that was

being advised by Rudy Giuliani and the top officials of the Justice Department balked and basically told the case prosecutors that they

wouldn't support the prosecution.

And the prosecutors who were faced by kind of this overwhelming financial and legal firepower that Purdue Pharma had had little choice but to settle

the case.

AMANPOUR: I mean, let's just pick up what you just said. Rudy Giuliani was one of those who advised the company. I mean, he seems to be popping

up everywhere these days.

But to the absolute substance of this, you talked to DEA officials. I mean, people even said that they really missed a chance. This settlement

robbed the country of a way to stave off this terrible crisis.

MEIER: It' actually sort of mind-blowing because when you look at the statistics about what happened afterwards, I mean, there was a prosecutor

who stood up in court that day and tried to make the best of things by saying that this should send a message out to drug industry officials that

they were going to be held liable and they were going to pay a cost.

But in the five years after that settlement, 100,000 Americans die of prescription drug overdoses, doctors who didn't know what prosecutors knew,

kept ramping up the number of prescriptions they were issuing. And lawmakers who were also ignorant of what the government had discovered,

essentially allowed drug industry lobbyists to roll over them.

AMANPOUR: And Purdue has now put out a statement - I mean, you'll be well aware of it, but I just want to read it out for the viewers, saying that

it's committed, it told us, to addressing this crisis. "Suggesting activities that last occurred more than 16 years ago for which the company

accepted responsibility helped contribute to today's complex and multifaceted opioid crisis is deeply flawed. The bulk of opioid

prescriptions are not and have never been for OxyContin."

I mean, that's what they say. And yet, they admitted in 2007 to training sales reps to tell doctors that OxyContin was less addictive and prone to

abuse than competing opioids.

MEIER: That's absolutely true. And that is a massive betrayal of trust, the public's trust, the trust of doctors, the trust of patients.

Today, we're dealing with this hydra-headed beast. We have, on the one hand, abuse of prescription painkillers, drugs like OxyContin, and on the

other hand there is abuse of illegal compounds like counterfeit versions of fentanyl or morphine and it's a complex problem that requires complex


But to get at that solution, to get at those solutions, we need to know the truth of what happened. We can't allow ourselves be blinded to the facts

and we certainly can't allow our own government to conceal evidence that they had that could actually point us to resolutions for the current


AMANPOUR: I mean, it does remind me to an extent of the tobacco denials so many years ago. Again, it took journalists - "60 Minutes", right, to break

that lie into the open, that they said that it wasn't addictive and all, but knew it was addictive.

And, I guess, I'm still trying to figure out, what did Purdue and all these pharma people know and when did they know it because, as you say, they were

hearing warnings from as far away as Australia and New Zealand and this thing was put on to the market in 1996.

So, how soon after did they know it was a problem?

MEIER: Well, maybe one example. They claim that they first became aware of the growing abuse of OxyContin in early 2000.

Between 1997 and 1999, they received 117 reports from their own salespeople after those sales reps had visited doctors in which the words street value,

snort and abuse appear.

[14:25:08] And they received tons of other reports from doctors. They saw stuff on the Internet that made it clear that people were abusing

OxyContin. So, when do they feel it was like mandatory to say something? Did they think, well, why don't we be cautious and kind of run up a flag?

Maybe if that had happened, they wouldn't have to settle the case. Maybe there would be less and less problems with OxyContin. I don't know at this


But the fact of the matter is that there was a mountain of evidence that prosecutors believe they could've easily won indictments against these

individuals for. And a trial of those officials would've brought information to light that would have helped doctors make decisions, would

have helped lawmakers make decisions, and I believe would have altered the trajectory of this epidemic.

AMANPOUR: Really, really tragic as you reported. Great reporting, Barry. And thanks for sharing that.

And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and


Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.