Return to Transcripts main page
Nancy Pelosi, Beating Attacks Right and Left. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired September 10, 2018 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the new hour-long edition of "Amanpour" and here
is what's coming up.
My exclusive interview with Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful woman ever elected in America, now beating back attacks from the right and the left.
She tells me she is staying as long as Trump is president. Also, ahead, Oscar nominated actor Ethan Hawke on directing a new country music biopic
and losing himself in a performance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ETHAN HAWKE, ACTOR: It was the first day I ever acted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And, introducing four new colleagues to the show. How this diverse, talented group of story tellers will help us to navigate our
rapidly changing world.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christian Amanpour. Now, as a sense of crisis engulfs the White House, Democrats are feeling this might be
their chance to retake the House of Representatives in the upcoming midterm elections, which means that Republicans and President Trump could soon face
their worst nightmare.
Nancy Pelosi with subpoena power. When she was speaker of the House, Pelosi was third in line to the presidency, the most powerful woman in
American history. And she was one of the most effective speakers ever, passing landmark legislation on health care and Wall Street reform among so
many other issues, and that through a deeply divided Congress.
The right has spent hundreds of millions of dollars painting her as a radical and rogue liberal. Now, after decades at the top, even young
activists are urging her to pass on the mantle from her own party. I sat down with minority leader Nancy Pelosi in her office on Capitol Hill. She
tells me that she's not going anywhere just as she appears on the front cover of "TIME" magazine for the very first time. I started by asking her
the million-dollar question.
Leader Pelosi, welcome to the program. It is an amazing time for me to be in Washington and to be talking to you. First and foremost, let me ask you
about what everybody is asking, who could and how could anyone dare to write such a broadside against the president they serve from inside the
administration, maybe even inside the White House? How did you react to that?
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CA: I would heard from many Republicans who say the party of Lincoln cannot survive as the party of Trump. His behavior, his
dysfunction, his jeopardizing our national security in terms of how we are viewed in the world and how we have abandoned our allies. His abandoning
of not only national security but fiscal security in terms of running up the national debt, and the tone on how he acts.
We hear this from Republicans all over and I guess in the White House somebody -- I can't know, we don't know who, whether it maybe we will soon
-- just decided that for the good of the country people had to be -- have comfort to know that there was a check on him in the White House.
AMANPOUR: But what does it really mean? Because the debate about this op- ed in "The New York Times" going public from within -- from inside has sparked a whole lot of criticism, in fact, even from people who oppose the
president. They say he's subverting the constitution, he or she, the writer is subverting the constitution, that there are constitutional
processes if you have this kind of problem with the person you serve. You can go to Congress. You can set in motion all sorts of procedures. What -
- where do you come down on that?
PELOSI: I don't think that any individual in the White House writing an anonymous op-ed is subverting the constitution. I think the president may
be because of the system of checks and balances, which is the brilliance of our constitution, is not respected by the president. It's hard to think
that he respects the first branch of government, Article 1, the legislative branch. But I don't even think he respects the executive branch that much
in terms of his behavior.
So, taking the place where the president said, "This is treason and they're subverting the constitution," no, it isn't so. There's a question of the
suitability of this person to be president, the people elected him. We have a responsibility to work with him, to get results for the American
people. To the extent that the people who were with him are menaced by him is something that we, well, hopefully, in the November elections will have
a further check on him because the Republicans in Congress have had nothing to say about this.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's what I was going to ask. You just talked about the co-equal branch of government, the Congress is a co-equal branch of
government. And I just wonder whether what your commentary is on, for instance, the current speaker, the outgoing speaker, Paul Ryan, who is not
going to seek re-election and the Republican establishment, they are accused of caring more about their own base and their own personal
elections than about the presidency or, indeed, the country and the party.
PELOSI: Well, I would make a distinction between the Republicans and Congress because they have been completely delinquent in their duties in
terms of oversight of this administration in so many ways. They have tolerated and participated in corruption, cronyism and incompetence. We
said in '06, drain the swamp, culture of corruption, cronyism and incompetent. And president hijacked the title, betrayed the mission and
there -- it's even worse now because of so much corruption and conflicts of interest within the executive branch.
So I would make a distinction between the Republicans in Congress because they have just -- they've been enablers of all of this. And the
established Republicans who I think see and hope for a different outcome in all of this because they do believe, as I said earlier, the party of
Lincoln cannot survive as the party of Trump.
AMANPOUR: So you say they hope for a different outcome. I wonder if that includes losing the House of Representatives. In other words, do you
believe that the Democrats will take back the House the midterm elections?
PELOSI: Oh, I do, yes. Well, if the election were held today, that's the only -- we have nine Tuesdays to go until the election and if the election
were held today we would win overwhelmingly and women would lead the way.
We have so many excellent women candidates across the country. Women marched and then they ran and now they're running and now they're going to
be members of Congress. We're very excited about that. And that will lead the way to our victory. But I do think that there are Republicans out
there who -- I'm not saying they support us but I'm saying they're not going to fight us.
AMANPOUR: When you if it was held today, it is said that the Democrats need to win 23 Republican House seats in order to flip the House back to
your control. Do you think that is a certainty if the election were held today?
PELOSI: Oh, absolutely. I think it would be a bigger victory. But, again, these are all very close races. People ask me is this a tsunami or
is it wave? And I said, in neither case, it's many drops of water and it's all very close. So, it won't be a big margin, it will be small margins in
many races that will produce the victory.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to get into the details of these races because there seems to be a sort of insurgency happening even within the Democratic party
right now, we've seen in all these special elections and primaries and elsewhere.
But first, I want to mention what I've already mentioned in the introduction to you that for the first time you were on the cover of a
national -- an international news magazine. And I say for the first time because even when you shattered what they called the marble ceiling here in
the Capitol by becoming the first female speaker, somehow they didn't think that was worthy enough to put on the cover of "TIME" magazine. How do you
feel seeing this cover finally?
PELOSI: Well, the fact is that at the time I think it was kind of surprising because the next person to become speaker was right on the
cover, John Danner, and it was like, they did not understand the historic significance of a woman becoming the third most powerful person in the
country, the president, the vice president, speaker of the House, it's a constitutional office. And -- but they didn't.
And I don't think too much about it. But I do think that other women did and it's long overdue. I thought when we pass the Affordable Care Act,
expanding health care to so many more millions more people and the rest, that that might get their attention, but it didn't.
But anyway, it's here now and that's nice. But I think a lot of women are -- they're thinking why now? Why did it take so long? You have to ask
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you -- frankly, I want to read to you what "TIME" has written partly about your record, that you are one the most
consequential political figures of your generation. "It was her creativity, stamina and willpower that drove the defining Democratic
accomplishments of the past decade from universal access to health care coverage to saving the U.S. economy from collapse, from reforming Wall
Street to allowing gay people to openly serve in the military. Her Republican successes ineptitude has thrown her skills into sharp relief."
Now, I'm saying that not just to compliment you and to puff you up but to remind --
PELOSI: It's OK.
AMANPOUR: That's OK too. But to remind that you're not just a trailblazing woman that, in fact, for the Democratic party and for the
country you have achieved incredible things. And for that, it appears your thank you is being challenged not just from the Republicans, as they always
do use the boogeyman, but from within your own party. You are being challenged by younger generation who say it's time for new blood, it's time
for new leadership. You know, we don't necessarily want Nancy Pelosi as the speaker even if we win back control of the House.
PELOSI: Well, I do agree that it's time for new blood and we should move on. And if Hillary Clinton had won and this Affordable Care Act was
protected I feel very proprietary about that. I was happy to go my way. We didn't know who would come forward but that's up to the caucus. They
give me the honor of serving and it's up to them to choose who comes next. But to have no woman at the table and to have the Affordable Care Act at
risk, I say, as long as he's here, I'm here. So, 45. Not to be disrespectful but --
AMANPOUR: You're referencing Trump, 45?
PELOSI: Yes. And so, yes. But I've always been opposed -- I think there was one election for leadership that I was not opposed in. So, people like
to get started on what they think comes next and that's up to the caucus to decide. But I feel very comfortable about the support I have in the caucus
and that I will be the speaker of the House.
AMANPOUR: So you're definitely going to stand and you definitely think you're going to win?
PELOSI: Well, I think it's important for women to see as well because you can't run away from a fight. You're in the arena. So, when some people
come forward and say, "Well, we should have somebody new." OK. You're in the arena. When the Republicans have such a poverty of ideas that the only
thing they can put in their ads is I'm a San Francisco liberal who supports LGBTQ rights, I can take the heat. I don't like implying that's not a good
thing, our San Francisco values.
But I want women to know that this isn't easy. Power is never given away and it always has to be fought for. And this is, again, a constitutional
office and I feel very confident about the support of my colleagues as well as the fact we will win the election.
AMANPOUR: First and foremost, people are wondering whether this will be, I think you said early on, the beginning of the end, you know, if you win
back the House, does this put this president and this administration in the hot seat in terms of accountability? You, on the other hand, have never
really talked up the idea of impeachment.
AMANPOUR: You didn't want to do it for George Ww. Bush when people were saying, you know, the Iraq war, et cetera, and you don't particularly want
to do it now, if I'm reading you correctly.
PELOSI: Well, I don't think that impeachment should be engaged in for political reason but I don't think it should be avoided for a political
reason. In other words, if the facts are there, then it takes us to a place. But that is not our priority. Our priority, again, unifying.
Impeachment is a very divisive approach. Elections should determine who is in office.
If the president has broken the law, he is not above the law. But that remains to be seen. What we're about in our campaign is that we are for
the people, for lower health care cause, lowering prescription drug prices, we're for raising paychecks, increasing -- lowering health care costs,
increasing paychecks by building the infrastructure of America and for cleaning up government to make sure people understand that the people's
interests not the special interests are serviced here in the United States Capitol.
And we intend, also, to do what we've asked the Republicans to do, to give us a chance -- to -- members to vote on common sense, gun safety, gun
violence prevention, legislation and to protect our dreamers, just to name a few things that wouldn't be on -- you can't ask the Republicans to do
something and then not do it yourself when you have power.
AMANPOUR: There are many people who wonder whether Democratic led committees in the House will start a whole series of investigations and
accountability on this president, on this administration.
PELOSI: Well, in both cases, in terms of what we would affirmatively do in terms of legislation, we have established our -- for the people, lower
health care costs, bigger paychecks, cleaner government and -- we're asking -- I'm asking with no presumption, no measuring for drapes, you don't see
too many drapes around here anyway, but just to be ready. We have a responsibility to be ready.
So, a task the soon to be chairman, our ranked top Democrats on these committees to work with their committees to establish priorities for us to
consider as our consensus priorities to go forward. In the same vein with the oversight, this cannot be scatter shot. We're doing this in a very
serious, responsible way to say, "We want to seek the truth, the truth about intervention in our elections, which undermines the sacred right of
people to vote, under -- oversight of the air our children breathe." And so, that the list goes on. But it has to be prioritized and not scatter
shot but direct shot to get the job done. It's all about seeking the truth. Where that takes us with the president and his performance remains
to be seen.
AMANPOUR: Even the people who criticize the president from within, for instance, this op-ed in "The New York Times" say that, "We are not the
left-wing opposition, no. We are not. We believe in much of his agenda. The tax reform stimulus, the deregulation, the strengthening of the
military." I mean, you know, the economy seems to be working for the president. He could translate that into votes.
PELOSI: But let me just say that I would characterize your description of his accomplishments differently. I would say the tax bill was not a
stimulus, it's a tax scam that add $2 trillion to the national debt while giving 83 percent of the benefits to the top 1 percent in our country,
giving a tax break to corporations to better tax break to form -- create jobs overseas than here. On the second point, in terms of the --
PELOSI: -- deregulation, we call that, we don't want any more regulation than we should have. But what they're doing is removing protections,
protections for clean air, clean air our children breathe, clean water, food, safety. You name any subject they have taken down, protections, that
were part of the Nixon administration. They're trying to undermine our leadership in California for protecting the environment that even President
So, it is -- they're going to an extreme place calling it deregulation, it's acting on behalf of their donors at the expense of their children and
their future. And so, I don't see there -- their tax bill was not picking up -- if it was such a big political issue, they would stop doing their ads
about me and do their ads about their tax bill but it's not working for them because people see that it is not helping out in terms of jobs, the
low end employment rate there is, this -- people don't want to be told all the indicators are great so, therefore, your life must be great. No,
people need bigger paychecks. They need bigger purchasing power. And they didn't -- they're not getting that from that bill.
So, I don't see -- when you talk about the economy, you have to talk about many more people participating in the prosperity of our country. And one
of the most crucial issues to people's own financial security is the health issue, it's a health issue and it's a finance issue. And that's why
lowering the price of prescription drugs, lowering the cost of health care is central to their well-being.
AMANPOUR: So, I guess that brings to us Brett Kavanaugh and the hearings and him being President Trump's nominee, second nominee, to the supreme
PELOSI: Elections have ramifications in the courts for decades even though a president may only be there for a few years.
AMANPOUR: And there are observers and pundits and legal scholars who believe that the Affordable Care Act could be history state by state and
eventually come to the supreme court again and get disapproved, unlike the last time. And also, that Roe vs. Wade, the rights of women, could be
state by state abolished.
Is that over fear or do you think that there is the political climate in this country do something as radical as dismiss universal health care and
dismiss women's rights under Roe vs. Wade?
PELOSI: No, I think that dismissing Roe V Wade, a woman's right to choose, not even about -- it's about contraception as well. People don't realize
that. And I'm, you know, Italian-American catholic, big family, five children in six years, joy in our lives, my husband and I, but that isn't
up the path for everyone and it it's up to politicians or judges in the court to determine how women and families make those decisions.
So, I'm very protective of a woman's right to choose. And I think it's very much at risk and it's impossible to exaggerate because the president,
one of the ways he got the nomination was to agree to a list of judges from those who are opposed to Roe V Wade and LGBTQ, it sorts of goes together,
that he would appoint judges and he has said, the president said, "It's a done deed. Roe v. Wade is gone."
And so, everyone who can -- who cares about that should be concerned about Nominee Kavanaugh because he's even, I don't know, ambiguous about
contraception. And, of course, access to quality health care is at risk because Republicans are taking to court the benefit of a preexisting
condition. This is huge. And 125 million, 130 million families have a preexisting condition, baby born with a heart defect or a child with
asthma, any -- name anything, cancer, anything as a preexisting condition. And under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies had to give
affordable insurance to the families.
This administration and the Republican attorneys general across the country are taking it to court. The Federal Government has said, "We're not
protecting that." Imagine to take away access because of a preexisting condition that affects 130 million families.
AMANPOUR: That's why I ask whether you think they would dare to do it.
PELOSI: Not only theirs to do it but it's who they are. It's who they are. They do not believe in a public role in terms of access to affordable
health care. They don't believe in Medicare, it should to wither on the vine. They slash $1.4 trillion from Medicaid in the president's budget, he
said to cover his tax cuts for the rich.
So, it's a philosophical ideological difference here.
AMANPOUR: So, do you -- I mean, at the hearings, very contumaciously Senator Cory Booker of the Democrats essentially broke senate procedures
for the judiciary committee and released some confidential e-mails, which raised questions about Judge Kavanaugh's acceptance of settled law and
Do you think it was important to break those rules in this case or do you think that opens a whole other can of worms?
PELOSI: I'm not absolutely sure that Senator Booker broke the law. I think the night before they said it was OK to go forward with items, but
that's neither hearing or there (ph). The point is, that the Republicans are departing from any sense of decency and responsible to the American
people by saying, "We do not want to see all of these documents that will tell us something." If there's nothing to hide, release the documents.
Why are they so protective of hiding those documents? That is the violation of the regular order that we should be paying attention to.
But I do not -- I think that in these hearings, the nominee, Kavanaugh, has not come off well at all. I mean, he responds but he doesn't answer. And
he is -- I think, I have no assurance that he has any faith to establish law, stare decisis. And I think the -- both the Affordable Care Act and
the woman's -- Roe V Wade are there.
But more -- as equally as important at all that this nominee is there to protect this president. He has very clearly said that a president
shouldn't be challenged even though he was vile in his challenge to President Clinton. You may want to read his memos on that subject. And
now, it's like the president should be above the law, we shouldn't bother him with this, he's a very busy man. And I think that undermines that rule
of law that no one is above the law and any system of checks and balances. If the court is going to say the president should not answer for his
AMANPOUR: So, from where I sit and I'm sure from where many people sit, it's very hard to know how this country can come back together and heal.
There's so much partisanship, so much tribalism --
PELOSI: No, it can.
AMANPOUR: -- so much poison. Well, you're optimistic that it can. Why do you think your party, as we've seen in these elections right now, is moving
further and further to the left, further and further to the populist end of Democratic agenda?
PELOSI: But I don't even accept that characterization, with all due respect. In a couple of racists, districts like mine, yes, progressives
are winning. And progressive will always win in a district like mine --
AMANPOUR: But in New York, Massachusetts. Yes.
PELOSI: District like mine, New York, a district like mine. But across the country, I think you see something different. I think you see -- and
respectful of those results who was elected, the job title -- I tell the candidates, "Your job title and your job description are one of the same,
reprehensive. And the candidates who are running at other districts will be representative of their district." As far as the Democratic party
always having this, shall we say, creative tension, we've always had that. We've always had that and that's part of the dynamism. We're not a rubber
AMANPOUR: Does it worry you that the idea of centrism, at least in these big elections and they're under the microscope, whether it's in Florida for
governor. The Democratic candidate who touted herself as somebody who could work across the aisles didn't win, and it was definitely two much
more -- you know, two people on the polls of their party who won, both Democrat and Republican.
PELOSI: I don't think that it's on the polls. I don't -- I can't speak to the Republicans. That may be. I don't where -- I don't think we've seen
the polls of the Republican party. But in terms of the Democrat, the one thing that brings us together in the Congress and in the country as
Democrats is our commitment to American's working families and finding solutions to, again, lower the health care cost, increase their paychecks
and have then have faith in government. And that isn't a Democratic message, that's in an across the board message and that's where we have
AMANPOUR: So, you're not worried about sort of a tea party insurgency in your party?
PELOSI: Not at all, not at all. I come here as a San Francisco liberal. They spent hundred million dollars describing in session, but I --
AMANPOUR: Yes. But you've proven your -- across aisle (ph) credentials.
PELOSI: Well, yes. When you come, you find -- try to find common ground. And when you can't, as I've said, you stand your ground but you -- there
are some places you won't find common ground. You'll never come agreement on a woman's rights to choose, right? You either support it or you don't.
But there are many other areas where you can find common ground and we should try to find it.
But let me just say on that score, you have to bring a level of humility to the table because you have to listen, to hear other people's point of view.
And when I send representatives to the budget table and the rest, I say, "Be agnostic as to where the solution springs from. You know the values
and principles of our party in terms of America's working families. But if a solution comes forth that grows the economy, to create good paying jobs
and reduce the national debt, we don't care if it's right, left, center or wherever it comes from, we're there to go forward with that."
And so, I think that there's reason to be very hopeful.
AMANPOUR: Everybody is talking about this wave being the unprecedented female wave --
AMANPOUR: -- the last similar but still smaller was in 1929, and that came after the famous Anita Hill hearing --
PELOSI: That's right.
AMANPOUR: -- on Capitol Hill, which we all remember. How do you translate what's happening right now, the record number of women, particularly in
your party who are running and to what do you attribute it if not to President Trump and the moment we live in?
PELOSI: I believe that this is sort of a very transformative time because women have seen how policy affects their lives. Women marched, it wasn't
anything organized by us, it was organic, it was spontaneous. We turned out and it flushed wonderful numbers all over the world to say, "We want to
have a voice in our future."
Martin Luther King said, "The ballot, legislation, your life." That people saw the connection. And in the second march, people saw the connection
between -- and said about their issues, their values, their ethics and the vote, connecting it to the vote, and you have to run, you know, you have to
get in the arena. It's tough. People -- who is a bigger target than I am. But it's worth it, you have to get in there and fight. And women have seen
Some we recruited, encouraged to say, "Here's a way you can do this,": others self-recruited. So, it is about women, whether they're young women
coming out of college, coming out of the military, women like me coming out of the kitchen to the Congress, from housewife to House Speaker, anything
is possible for them. But nothing is more wholesome for America, for our system of government and politics than increased participation of women in
our leadership and participation in our government.
And I honestly believe, if we decrease the role of money and politics and increase the level of civility in politics, we'll even have many more women
who will go forward and enter the arena, win the fight, make a difference. And it will all happen in the Congress where we will observe the 100th
anniversary of women having the right to vote.
When that happened, they said women is given the right to vote, but they weren't given. They fought, they marched, they left home, they were
starved, they starved, they did everything to get the right to vote with such courage. And that, we have to honor that sacrifice as we continue to
expand opportunities for women. When women succeed, America succeeds.
AMANPOUR: And on that note, Leader Pelosi, thank you so much for joining.
PELOSI: Thanks. My pleasure.
AMANPOUR: And tune in later for my interview with another powerful Woman in Washington, President Trump's counselor, Kellyanne Conway.
Now, though, to a different stage and a different drama, literally, with my next guest, the four-time Oscar nominated actor and screenwriter Ethan
Hawke. He spent his life eschewing the mainstream for more indie and cult classics. From the sweeping romances like "Before Sunrise", which sees
love bloom in a single night, to unique projects like "Boyhood", where filming took place over the course of 12 years. Now sitting behind the
camera as director of the country star biopic "Blaze", Ethan Hawke joined me here in the studio to discuss this new phase of his career and why he
wished he'd been a little more nervous, a little more anxious about all of this in his youth.
AMANPOUR: Ethan Hawke, welcome to the program. So you've decided -- and you've got this film "Blaze" out, which is your directorial debut, right?
ETHAN HAWKE, DIRECTOR, "BLAZE": Well, I have directed before. I would venture to say it might be my best effort.
HAWKE: So we could call it my debut to save myself some harassment later. But no, I've done it before. I'm just really proud of this one.
AMANPOUR: So tell me why you chose this. It's a biopic and it --
HAWKE: Kind of.
AMANPOUR: Kind of. And it's -- it's -- it's focusing on a musician who hasn't sought or wanted traditional sort of mainstream fame.
HAWKE: Right. Well he certainly didn't get it. I think part of my idea was I love music movies. I love them. But almost every one you ever see
is about a musician who is wildly famous and it inevitably becomes about the trials of fame. Right? That's what the subject of it is. And every
musician I've ever met, most of them are met with absolute indifference.
Like most of the actors I've met, like most of the directors I've met. And if -- I thought Blaze Foley's story is beautiful and probably a better lens
to better insight into a meaningful, artistic life than telling the story of Ray Charles or Johnny Cash or Chet Baker or all the other famous
AMANPOUR: So on that note, we're going to play a clip and then --
AMANPOUR: -- I want to talk to you about what he says there but also about what you've alluded to, the meaning of success, the search for success and
HAWKE: Right. Right.
AMANPOUR: -- what it means to different people. Let's just listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALIA SHAWKAT, "SYBIL", BLAZE: So you're going to be a big country star like Roger Miller? No?
BEN DICKEY, "BLAZE FOLEY", BLAZE: I don't want to be a star. I wants to be a legend.
SHAWKAT: Well what's the -- what's the difference (inaudible)?
FOLEY: Well, stars burn out because they shine for themselves. Look at me shine. Look at me glow. I'm amazing. Legend last forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So he basically said a legend lasts forever. It is actually quite a profound take on the notion of success because it doesn't follow
the normal sort of beginning, middle and the end. What made you want to explore that notion of -- I mean, some have said, could it be a little self
referential? In other words, you yourself have not gone the blockbuster Hollywood route. Right?
AMANPOUR: Deliberately. You've returned to indie and arthouse.
HAWKE: There's a great quote Tolstoy quote, that he said that his brother was the true talent of the family, he just lacked the necessary bad
personality defects that one needs to be successful. But now, I -- I don't necessarily buy into that. I think a lot of people in the arts can have an
allergy towards the necessary falseness it takes to be out here selling yourself. Right?
AMANPOUR: Do you have that allergy?
HAWKE: Look, I'm on TV right now, right? So I'm aware of the allergy. And you -- some people, you could call that a struggle for authenticity or
you could call it self-sabotage. You know, sometimes it's OK to sell your art. Right? I mean -- and so it's -- it's a razor's edge an intelligent
person tries to walk.
AMANPOUR: It's very sweet, the relationship between -- between Blaze and his --
HAWKE: And Sybil (ph), yes.
AMANPOUR: -- girlfriend, exactly. It's remarkable. Obviously it ends really tragically with the shooting. But it's -- it's --
HAWKE: Well that's -- that's --
AMANPOUR: -- it has so much heart.
HAWKE: Well that's -- it's --- it aspires to have soul and blood and sweat and sex and death and all those things that make life feel alive. And for
me, him -- Blaze was shot dead in the street in 1989. That's a sad tragedy. But the reason to make the movie is he fell in love in a
treehouse. And the lot of the music erupted out of that love affair and in living with the woods -- in the woods with the squirrels and chopping
carrots and kissing and washing your clothes in a river. Right? You know, that --
AMANPOUR: Just wished it would never end, actually. It was a perfect parable for our time, the antidote to our time.
HAWKE: Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: I'd be interested (ph) because again, you -- you've touched on the subject of success and what it means to various people. You've called
success kind of a sort of a formaldehyde. I mean, (inaudible) school in my biology lessons, formaldehyde is something that preserved --
HAWKE: Yes, it keeps your stagnant.
AMANPOUR: Yes. So it keeps you stagnant.
HAWKE: The second you're successful at something, you don't want to change, right? But to be alive, you've got to change. But as soon as
people start handing you money and telling you you're important and telling you you're fabulous for being this thing, well you better not grow because
maybe you screw it up.
But I often - you often seen people in their - whenever they experience success - look, I was - I've been watching this since I was a little kid,
right, and I wanted to stay alive. A lot of the people who started acting when I did, you know, they lose their way.
And a lot of it is because if you get too much attention or told you're special and you believe it, and for a second you forget that everyone's
special, right, which is very easy to do when you're 23 or 24 or 25, right, but it can throw the whole trajectory of your life off because you've got
to grow and you've got to change and -
AMANPOUR: And take risks and do different things. Can I just play a clip from Dead Poets Society? Let's just play this.
ROBIN WILLIAMS: Say the first thing that pops into your head even if it's total gibberish.
HAWKE: A sweaty-toothed madman.
WILLIAMS: Good God boy, there's a poet in you after all. There, close your eyes, close your eyes, close them. Now describe what you see.
HAWKE: I closed my eyes -
HAWKE: - and this image float beside me.
WILLIAMS: A sweaty-toothed madman.
HAWKE: A sweaty-toothed madman with a stare that pounds my brain.
WILLIAMS: Oh, that's excellent. Now give him action. Make him do something.
HAWKE: His hands reach out and choke me.
WILLIAMS: That's excellent, wonderful, wonderful.
HAWKE: And all the time he's mumbling.
WILLIAMS: What's he mumbling?
HAWKE: Mumbling truth, truth like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold.
WILLIAMS: Forget them, forget them. Stay with the blanket. Tell me about that blanket.
HAWKE: You push it, stretch it. It will never be enough. You kick at it, beat it. It will never cover any of us. From the moment we enter crying
to the moment we leave dying, it will just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream.
AMANPOUR: All these years later, what does it mean to you. I mean, it was your breakthrough, obviously.
HAWKE: It was. It was the first day I ever acted. I mean, I'd acted before, but I hadn't lost myself in a performance, and it's an amazing
feeling. You know, people love to make acting about, "oh, isn't she special? Isn't he beautiful? Isn't he wonderful?" And, you know, you see
them on an award show or something and it seems like it becomes a celebration of self.
But acting at its best, at its most true, I mean, the flame that most of who do it are chasing is losing yourself, right? Being in service of a
story other than your own story and feeling connection and realizing that your life is not so unique, that you share with the most intimate feelings
with other people, and that's profound.
And I had it with Robin, and it's not a joke. You know, you ask me formaldehyde or something, these things become little, cute expressions
people say on TV and stuff, but it's life and death a lot of times, you know?
It's like - you know, Robin's not alive - I mean, it's very.
AMANPOUR: And I can see you getting emotional and I can see your eyes, and, you know, we're all shocked that he's not alive anymore. The world's
shocked that our friend Anthony Bourdain is not alive anymore.
AMANPOUR: We're all shocked by these larger than life, massive creative geniuses who somehow for whatever reason can't finish the whole road or at
least take their own lives.
HAWKE: Because life is hard, you know, and it's supposed to be hard. And everybody wants it not to be hard or they want it to be easy, or the want
it to be about making money or something that you can graph, right? They don't want to be inner journey is shared, communal inner journey, which is
kind of mysterious how that could be true. It could be both personal and collective, but certainly mysterious.
But the truth about - from my experience - about life is so much more mysterious than anybody wants it to be, and that's very hard to let go of.
And when we see people who have everything we want be so sad, it's very confusing.
AMANPOUR: It is actually very, very confusing, and I think you just hit the nail on the head there because to us it looks like they have everything
that they want or that we expect them to want.
HAWKE: Yes, and you know what? That's why I actually know that we're talking about it. That's why the arts are valuable to me. The arts are -
kind of represent our mental health as a culture and how the freedom of expression and the - it's very strange how in our current environment how
little I see the arts respected.
AMANPOUR: You've indicated that you still get a sense of anxiety from the so-called freelance nature of this business, a certain amount of stage
fright. I'm really interested about that. Why?
HAWKE: Well, I don't - the answer I guess is that I don't think most people are nervous enough. This is one life and there's a lot to be
nervous about. There's a lot to put thought into, and there's something to be said for confidence. Confidence is a wonderful thing, and it's very
fragile for most of us. And you need to preserve it and take care of it and all that stuff, but you could make a case to be made that anxiety can
sharpen our sword.
I remember when I was 21 I did my first - I was (ph) making my Broadway debut. This is a true story, all right? I remember walking on stage, it
was completely dark, the lights were out there, sold out house on Broadway. Now time is funny, I'm not nervous at all. Yes, I was completely
confidant. Well I should have been nervous, and it's taken me 30 years that there's a lot to be nervous about. And there's nothing to fear.
AMANPOUR: Ethan Hawke, thank you very much.
What I love about hosting this program is exactly what you've just seen to night so far, the opportunity to pivot from talking with Nancy Pelosi about
political leadership to digging into film making with Ethan Hawke. I'm always challenged by the range of stories that I'm able to share with you.
So I'm particularly pleased that beginning today we can expand our reach even further into politics and the arts, but also into technology, culture,
faith, and the staggering social changes that are shaking our world. I am thrilled to welcome four new contributors to the show brilliant reporters,
diverse voices, and some of America's greatest story tellers.
So let me start with a celebrated journalist and biographer Walter Isaacson, he is a history professor at Tulane University and he's also most
recently of Leonardo da Vinci. Alicia Menendez is contributing editor at "Bustle", and she's host of the podcast "Latina to Latina".
Hari Sreenivasan anchors the PBS News Hour weekend and he's also host of public television series "SciTech Now". And Michel Martin the Emmy Award
winning journalist and weekend host of NPRs "All Things Considered". So welcome to all of you. I say contributors but really we're a team.
And we are so excited to be expanding this version of this program at this particularly curtail time. I just wondered and let me start with you
Michel what does this mean to you? What makes you hopefully exited about joining this program?
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST NPR ALL THINGS CONSIDERED: Well personally you stole my thunder, because I think on behalf of all of us we're very excited to be
working together and to be working with you.
For me it's the time. It's the chance to have an uninterrupted conversation. It think people are hungry for it. It think there ready for
it. I think we see that the success of podcasts that people are eager to have a conversation that isn't over in four minutes. Where you can
actually dig into some nuance maybe. And maybe get into a place that people don't have time to talk about other wise. So, I think -- I can't
AMANPOUR: Alicia you now you were right about the podcast, and you do host a podcast as I said. You know it is a time when people seem to be just,
you know, really thirsty, I mean really sort of drinking up to sort of slate their thirst on trying, trying, trying to make sense of what I think
anyway is a massively complicated practically up ended world right now.
ALICIA MENENDEZ, EDITOR BUSTLE: Right, and I think people look at the news and they wonder what does it mean? What does it mean for me? What does it
mean for my children? And how can the person sitting in front of me give me a window into the world that we are entering?
Michel says this great thing that I think about a lot, which is that very often when someone interviews the guest, they interview the job. And I
think one of the luxuries that we all have is we'll actually get to interview people, to see them in their totality and to bring that to the
AMANPOUR: It's interesting because you both have hit on the luxury of time. And we are all in a media where whether it's radio, or television,
or not so much podcast but its all quick, quick, quick sound bytes. Get the - get the interview done in three minutes rather than 15 to 18, 30
however long it takes.
Walter you used to be my boss. You were head of CNN in a different era. And you presided over that kind of rapid fire mandate. What do you see as
the challenge and the opportunity around this table?
WALTER ISAACSON, HISTORY PROFESSOR TULANE UNIVERSITY: As you began the show with it, at this particular time is so important it seems to me, to
pause for a second and go a little bit deeper to figure out the background, to be able to drill down a bit with somebody and not make them talk only in
sound bytes. And there's so many places now a day's where people are chasing the latest tweet trying to get a talking point comment.
If we can get people discussing real ideas I think we will satisfy, as Michel said, a real hunger that's happing in this nation. For wait a
minute, we're exhausted by the shallowness and the discord we have. Let's have something more serious.
AMANPOUR: I think discord, you hit the nail on the head, because I think the discord is something that is coming at us at warp speed all the time.
And there just seems to be corners of organized opposition to just about anything where ever you look. You are a specialist in tech and technology.
And we're seeing tech really under the microscope right now.
For good and often bad reasons.
AMANPOUR: What do you want to bring to this conversation?
HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS ANCHOR: I think that there's been a lack of understanding on how this technology that we're taking for granted is
really affecting us on a day to day basis. More, not just on the personal level on your privacy or security but really on when you think about this
on a global scale, when Facebook becomes the only way that a bulk of an entire country like say the Philippines gets their internet. They have an
enormous amount of power.
So when they're - it might be something we say oh, it's a disinformation campaign, it doesn't really effect a lot of people in one particular state
or one particular city in the United States, when you start to look at this globally you're like wow, this - these are big forces here and it's not
just a group of journalists fact checking that are going to be able to stop it.
So how do we make sure that as we embrace these new technologies, as they help our lives, that there's also a level of responsibility and
accountability that goes with that.
AMANPOUR: And, you know, not to put a - too fine a point on it, but I think we've gathered a really important, diverse group of all of us. And
we - we all represent different ages, different experiences, different ethnicities, you know, different specialties and expertise.
And I don't think we see quite enough of that on the air right now, again in a very divisive sort of me and them, left and right, black and white
kind of - gay and straight kind of environment, but this seems to be so much division that I think this is really healthy, this table.
And it's not the kind of table we see at your average dinner party, frankly.
ISAACSON: You know, in our diversity is our strength as a country, and we've sort of forgotten that in the past few years. And I think that's
what causes creativity to happen is when people from diverse backgrounds come together.
It's also the ability to have civil discourse with a diverse group of people. And so I congratulate you on putting together this show,
MARTIN: Can - can I jump in on what Walter's saying here? I do think that both and (ph) is important, the fact that we're standing up for civil
discourse, the fact that we're standing up for classic principles, we all represent different backgrounds, our faces are all - look different but we
all share some common ideals.
And one is that the truth does matter, the facts do matter and civil discourse does matter. It's not one of these old fashioned, corny ideals -
ideas, it's a value that endures, and I think that people - I think most people agree with that, and I think this is going to be an opportunity for
us to show that it still matters.
AMANPOUR: Which leads me perfectly - you're very good at this, into us giving little exerts of what - some of what you're going to be showing -
showing us over the next few weeks.
So Michel, let me start with you, because some of the interviews that we've been seeing in the next few weeks, you've spoken to R.J. Young, he's
someone who's written a book called "Let It Bang: A Young Black Man's Reluctant Odyssey Into Guns".
I mean that is pretty provocative, I want to play a clip and then we'll ask you what led you to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: African American women in particular and African Americans more broadly are showing a greater interest in firearms. Why is that? Why, in
your experience, is that?
R.J. YOUNG, AUTHOR: Fear, fear. Black women, black men are more afraid say than they were three years ago. Not because of who the president is,
but because they are being accosted more often with hate speech, with rhetoric that puts them in a state of fear.
And when we are afraid, we usually take steps to make sure that we no longer feel afraid. And for many black folks that means I need a gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
That is really dramatic, fear and I need a gun, I mean especially since we are - it's so counterintuitive because we're in this sort of post Parkland,
we're in the no guns or at least the attempt to roll back guns, and here's somebody telling you well - well maybe not.
MARTIN: Well this is one of the things that I loved about this story first of all, and I told a couple of people that I was interviewing this - this
young man, they didn't believe me. They thought it was a made up story, that (ph) this - well, you know, what do you mean?
Was it like a gangbanger from the east side (ph)? No, it's - this is a young man who fell in love with a girl with a very different background,
he's African American obviously, she was white, and her family is very interested in guns.
And it was just something - it was just part of their lives, so he decided because he loved this girl, I mean classic story, that he was going to be
interested in what her family was interested in as a way to get closer to her.
And this is his story.
AMANPOUR: It's really fascinating. Walter, we've spoken several times, I mean you are the author of brilliant and best selling books on amazing
individuals in - in the global landscape.
The last time we talked it was about "Leonardo" your latest book, obviously you've done Steve Jobs and a host of other people. Your - I'm going to
through to a - an exert of what you're doing soon, and it's with Damian Woetzel, he's the former dancer who now runs the Julliard School, the great
conservative art here - conservatory of art here in New York City.
And he has a fairly unusual way of inspiring young talent (ph), let's just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISAACSON: You said that categorizing yourself is a terrible mistake. Explain what you meant by that.
DAMIAN WOETZEL, PRESIDENT, JULLIARD SCHOOL: Everybody was asked to identify, as it were, their - their craft. You know, they were dancers,
there was actors and there was musicians.
And I just thought, wait, let's talk about this. Who's here as a dancing musician, here's the musician who's a dancer, who's an actor who's musical,
stop - you know, the idea of division is - is to me, limiting in a way that we can all have more, and as a dancer, obviously, we relate to music.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
But why do we take ownership of that and why don't we expand our vision of what that means.
ISSACSON: You know, every biography I've written, the creativity comes when people cross different disciplines, whether it's Leonardo da Vinci,
who was both an engineer and an artist or Einstein, who loved both math and Mozart, or Steve Jobs, who realized that design and beauty with the core of
engineering, and of course, Ben Franklin.
And so, I love people who cross different silos, and with a Damian Weotzel, here's somebody who studied Chinese, when he was growing up with his
brother, but also studied dance. Then he focuses in on becoming a great dancer of the Ballantyne (ph) and other repertoire as principal dancer of
But now, as a head of Juilliard, he's opening his aperture again, so that he can combine many things.
AMANPOUR: It's really interesting, that (ph), and talking about different disciplines and getting out of the echo chamber. Hari, you, obviously, are
focusing on a lot of things, but we're going to play a clip of your interview with Alex Ohanian. I mean, I know him as, you know, Reddit
founder, but I also know him as Mr. Serena Williams.
Let's play a little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXIS OHANIAN, REDDIT CO-FOUNDER: I remember reading about the enlightenment, and I think when I was - I think when I was studying it in
history, I was - I had just sort of assumed that, like, there was this enlightenment, and then, after that, like, everyone was like, "Cool,
rational thought, scientific method, like, great, word's fixed."
SREENIVASAN: It's sorted (ph).
OHANIAN: It's done - yes. And this is servicing, now, this reality that, like, no, actually, there - there are a lot of people for him, this - this,
like, just sort of mist, or who (ph) even today, just don't care -
OHANIAN: - and would rather see things that reinforce their world - like explicitly, would rather see things that reinforce their world view then -
then - then challenge it with data. I mean, flat - how are flat-earthers coming back? It's 2018. We actually can go into space now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: That's right. Yes, it's shocking that not only just a flat- earth theory, but so many of these conspiracy theories have such room to run, because we kind of live in our filter bubbles. We - our Facebook
feeds might be surrounded by people who think like us, maybe politically like us, from our geographies, right.
But there are these echo chambers that get to be reinforced, and it's also maybe a program like this that helps you start to look beyond that bubble
that you might live in and say, "Well, here's a different idea. Here's a different kind of person."
AMANPOUR: Alicia, you have - well, we've got a clip from one your interviews coming up. It's a young writer, Michael Arceneaux, a young
black man from a traditional religious family in Texas, and he writes about love and sex and family and face. And he - he said he's put his faith in
MENENDEZ: Who hasn't.
AMANPOUR: Who hasn't. Let's play the clip, and then found out why he hasn't (ph).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MENENDEZ: Did you hope that you would change?
MICHAEL ARCENEAUX, WRITER: Yes, my - I used to pray it away (ph). I think, thankfully, I didn't have any - my parents didn't pick up on it that
much. I mean, they picked up on it I believe, but they didn't want to send me to some kind of camp. Doubtful, we could afford nothing like that, but
nothing that crazy.
But no, when you grow up thinking that you either die or go to hell - and around this time, this is also when you're Pedro Zamora, he'd - you know,
he died of AIDS. I see films like Philadelphia, he dies of AIDS.
I see, in Living Color, the sketch with "Men on Film," it's men who are overly feminine, and they're just mocked. Those are my other point of
references to what it means to be gay, so it's like you die, you go to hell, and you're shamed. So yes, I actively prayed it away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MENENDEZ: I love Michael Arceneaux.
MEMENDEZ: I mean it was an incredible book. Michel gets a shout out for being so nice and so classy. But you know, what I loved about this story
and about his conversation is that, so often, when we hear coming out stories, they tend to happen on one side of polarity, either someone is
rejected by their family or as Michael says, their mom is twerking with them as they come out.
And for Michael, the truth was much more complicated. He has neither been fully accepted nor fully rejected by his parents. And so, to live in that
limbo is incredibly tricky, and Michael explores that in his book and in our conversation. I loved it.
AMANPOUR: Yes, it's - it's really interesting. It's great. And we just - with those nuggets and with our conversation, I hope we get a really good,
sort of, taste of what's coming up and why I'm excited about this. I'm glad you all are, and I think it's going to be really fun going forward.
And you - and it'll teach me and our - certainly our global audience and - and our American, so much, about - about so many of the things that we
don't often get time to talk about. So Michel and Hari, Alica and Walter, thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: So we hope you've enjoyed seeing a little bit our of range and our mandate, and that is it for this premier edition of our expanded
program. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at amanpour.com, and of course, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for watching, and goodbye from New York.