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Trump Claim's North Korean Threat Is Over; North Korea's Secret Missile Bases; Facebook Targets George Soros With Propaganda Campaign; Reporters Sentenced to Prison in Myanmar. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired November 20, 2018 - 13:00 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 "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
The North Korean threat is over, that's what President Trump tweeted after this photo op. But new images showed just the opposite. A top expert
Plus, George Soros is a favorite target for conspiracy theories and anti- Semite. So, why did Facebook get on that bandwagon?
And from the Middle East to Southeast Asia, journalists are under threat. We hear from our man in Myanmar where two reporters are sentence on trumped
Also, the larger than life story of the mother of Black Hollywood.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
There's no doubt that President Trump considers his brand of personal diplomacy the way to neutralize even the most vexing of global challenges,
like, let's say, North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
But now comes the open source satellite imagery that reveals the extent of the country's secret missile bases more than a dozen of them. These images
were taken in March but analyzed and just released by a major American think tank. There are no secret to U.S. intelligence but they're being
made public underscores the difficulty of even getting to the starting blocks of denuclearization.
Kim Jong-un's right-hand man, Kim Myong-chol, who had come to the White House in June was meant to talk again with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
earlier this month, but the meeting was abruptly canceled since the president told America there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea
after meeting. Kim Jong-un this summer.
We're going to get a status report from North Korea expert Victor Cha who authored the recent report, he has served on the National Security Council
under President George W. Bush and he was on the short list to be President Trump's ambassador just South Korea. His newly updated book is, "Nuclear
North Korea - A Debate on Engagement Strategies."
Welcome, Victor Cha, to our studio.
VICTOR CHA, KOREA CHAIR, CSIS: Thank you. Great to be here.
AMANPOUR: So, this was quite a sort of, you know, big report that came out and sort of knocked everybody sideways in terms of what they thought was
possibly under way between the United States and North Korea.
So, just tell us, when President Trump says the nuclear threat or the threat from North Korea is over, is it? Has your report and findings
CHA: I don't think it's over. You know, you try to interpret what the president is saying and I think what he's trying to say is it's better than
where we were exactly a year ago today when there was a lot of talk about war on the Korean peninsula. So, in that sense, it's better.
But what I think the report that we did showed was that even though North Korea is putting forward certain things that they want us to inspect, there
are many other things that are operational that would remain real threats if a deal came through in their second summit between Kim and Trump that
did not include these sorts of things.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let's just sort of get the whole context. President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, met in a one off ever
historic summit between the leaders of those two countries. That was in June, it was in Singapore, we were all there.
They pledged, or at least we were told, that the North Koreans have pledged denuclearization. So, the very first question is what is the first step
that they would have to take to make the world and the U.S. sure that they were going to do that and have they taken that first step?
CHA: So, the first step would be a comprehensive declaration, an inventory of everything related to their WMD programs and their ballistic missile
programs. That would be the first step because you can't denuclearize that which you don't know or that which they don't admit. So, that's the first
step. And thus far, they have not taken that step.
AMANPOUR: Is there any -- do you hear -- I mean, you're really plugged in. Do you hear that the administration thinks it will? I mean, is the
trajectory positive or is it negative? We said certain big high-level talks have been called off.
CHA: Sure. I mean, I think the administration is hopeful that because of this high-level, you know, leader of the leader interaction, we've never
seen, as you said, in 25, 30 years of negotiations, even negotiations I've participated in 10 years ago, we never have that sort of interaction.
So, there's a hope that if they speak leader to leader, they can get Kim to commit to this declaration. Instead, what the North Koreans are doing is
providing piecemeal confidence building measures, saying, "You can look at this nuclear test site or you can look at this satellite launch site," but
not really getting at the heart of the program, which has to start with a declaration.
AMANPOUR: OK. But still, as you say, what they're doing is better than what they used to do, which was test ballistic missiles test, nuclear
devices, which they haven't been doing since before the Seoul Olympics, the South Korea Olympics.
So, now, let's get to President Trump and his claims and what you've discovered. What exactly new is it that you've put on the table with this
satellite imagery? What have you discovered that we didn't know before?
CHA: So, I think -- so, for the general public, what we've discovered are there are three belts of operational missile bases, a raid on the northern
side of the peninsula that can fire at anything from scud missiles to medium range ballistic missiles that have never been a topic of discussion
in any of our negotiations with North Korea. In part, because it's always been focused on the nuclear program.
But now, their ballistic missile program has developed tremendously over the last 10 years, particularly in the last year. And so, our point is
simply to say, "Look, these bases are there, they are operational, they are not potential or developmental bases, these are operational bases --
AMANPOUR: Still today?
CHA: -- still today." They have been working on it. The imagery that we had was from March, it was before the Singapore summit but they were still
working on these bases. I'm sure if we saw images today, we had another pass of the commercial satellite, if we saw images today they still be
working on, because these are untouched by any discussion right now.
AMANPOUR: And I are you sure, because as, you know, people have said, well, the administration has said, "Hang on a second, this stuff that
Victor Cha and the think tank are putting out, this was two months before the summit or more," and this is what the president had said in a tweet,
this story, of course, it was picked up by the "New York Times" concerning North Korea developing missile bases is inaccurate. "We fully knew about
the sites being discussed, nothing new, nothing happened out of the normal." And again, he goes on, "Just more fake news. I'll be the first
to let you know if things go bad."
So, address that, nothing new, we knew it.
CHA: Well, he may have known it but it was never a part of the Singapore declaration, it was never a part of any previous talks or negotiations that
they've had up until this point as far as we know. The focus has largely been on the nuclear weapons program.
But the delivery systems are also important. And we're not saying that the administration is at fault at all. All we're saying is that if President
Trump comes back and just -- and says, "I've got the plutonium reactor and I've got a couple of test sites," we're showing that there's a lot more
it's of this threat than simply those three things.
AMANPOUR: So, just put in can context, again, A, why haven't you had another pass at this? Is it because the satellite hasn't gone over? And
B, what is the significance now of these ballistic missile sites? Can they reached the -- what is the significance of them?
CHA: So, on the first point, I mean, it really depends on the imagery. You can -- you have to get it on a clear day, no cloud cover. So, we
really don't have a lot of control over that. But if we do have more images, we'll do more analysis of it.
In terms of what these weapons can -- I mean, what these sites can do, they can fire -- most important they can fire mobile missiles, which means
they're very difficult to defend against because you cannot target them, you can't preempt them in advance. And they can range anywhere from the
22.5 million in the metropolitan area of Seoul to U.S. forces in Korea and Japan all the way to Tokyo, perhaps even farther. So, this this is not an
AMANPOUR: OK. So, the interesting thing is that that is what caused the amazing public rhetoric from President Trump, when American intelligence
people, like yourself and the intelligence agencies, realize that it was no longer just nuclear devices but delivery mechanisms like these
intercontinental ballistic missiles, this was a year or more ago, that's when everybody got really freaked out and really white.
However, have the North Koreans demonstrated that they have perfected that missile delivery system? Do you know from what you know in the public
sphere or with intelligence that they can deliver a nuclear warhead onto the United States?
CHA: So, the -- I think the general assessment from the expert community is that they tested two missiles last year, they clearly have the range to
reach the continental United States. There was also an assessment prior to that, they have an ability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead and made it
with the ballistic missile.
Now, of course, they haven't actually tested something at range, they haven't fired something at California. But they test them straight --
basically straight up into the air and then they land about 750 kilometers from where they take off and you just -- you can just flatten out that
missile path and you can see how far they can reach.
So, yes. I think most people -- this was something that most people thought would not happen for another five years and they did it within two.
So, it's real.
AMANPOUR: Ok. So, now I want to go to the postal diplomacy of President Trump and he's had it major league with the North Koreans. Let us just
play a soundbite which was not too long ago, during the midterm campaign, that he's telling a rally how -- about his relationship with Kim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I was really being tough and so was he. We got back and forth and then we fell in love. OK. No really. He wrote me
beautiful letters and they're great letters. We fell in love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What's wrong with that statement?
CHA: Well -- I mean, so it's something I never would have expected the president of the United States to say. Look, I mean, you have to give the
president credit. I mean, there is no other president that was willing to take a chance like this. Bill Clinton was at the very end of his
administration considering it.
But to start out a negotiation after a year when we looked like we were headed for war, I mean, we really look like we're headed for war. To start
out a negotiation with this high-level interaction, to really make that personal connection, you've got to give him credit for that, that's a very
But now, he's really vesting in it, you know, President Trump doesn't like to fail. So, that's the danger, North Koreans may take advantage of that
because they know he wants this to succeed.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, now, what is the next to U.S. play then? We understand that there's meant to be a second summit but there's no clarity on when, if
or what. Preparatory talk seemed to be stalled. What, as an expert, do you want to see happen to prepare a secure situation develop?
CHA: So, I think we're starting to see that in the sense that the second summit has now been put off sometime next year. And in the meantime, you
have a working level people like Steve Begin (ph) and then the secretary himself trying to do meetings to set up that summit.
I mean, I think, you know, the Singapore summit, as you said, Christiane, basically laid out a broad path, broad principles. And now, this is where
the rubber really hits the road. Now, they really have to sort of grind out, "Look, you're going to give up these sites, we're going to lift these
sanctions." And this is where it gets really difficult.
AMANPOUR: Because the North Koreans, Kim Jong-un wants sanctions lifted and he wants a peace treaty. Just a personal question, you know,
obviously, you were on the short list to be President Trump's ambassador to South Korea, they're very vested in it as well. They are now saying that,
you know, North Korea's destroyed 10 God posts around the border, that's probably pretty good news, not nuclear related.
But is it because you were sort of against the president's then bellicose rhetoric that you were taken off that short list?
CHA: Well, I was against it and I wasn't the only one who was against it, there are lots of other people in Washington who are pretty tough for North
Korea, that thought the answer was not some sort of military strike.
You know, the White House, the president gets to choose his own people, right. And so, they chose me in the beginning but they change their mind.
It's their decision. I'm happy with where I am.
AMANPOUR: And presumably, happy with the trajectory because it's no longer this militaristic trajectory.
CHA: Oh, absolutely. This is a much better path to be on than where we were a year ago.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, with all the challenges, that's at least some good news. Victor Cha, thank you very much indeed.
CHA: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Thanks. So, North Korea is not the only area of American foreign policy where politics and reality don't always line up.
After a much ballyhooed claim of a migrant invasion of the Southern U.S. border, it seems U.S. troops who are rushed to contain it will likely
return to base in a few weeks, that's according to Politico.
This was President Trump's main midterm campaign issue and featured fake news conspiracy theories linking the migrants to liberal megadonor, George
Soros. Soros is a familiar target for conspiracy theories and anti- Semites. So, it was a real shock when a bombshell "New York Times" report into Facebook revealed that the beleaguered social media giant employed a
firm to discredit its critics in part by linking them to George Soros.
In a scathing letter to Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg's, the president of Soros is Open Society Foundation wrote and I
quote, "Your methods threaten the very values underpinning our democracy." He is Patrick Gaspard, former US ambassador to South Africa and he's
joining me now from Brussels.
So, former ambassador. Ambassador Gaspard, thank you very much for joining me.
I mean, it's pretty. It -- I'm having a little hard time hearing you. Do we have the sound?
PATRICK GASPARD, PRESIDENT, OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS: Is --
AMANPOUR: Now I here you.
GASPARD: -- it better or my --
AMANPOUR: Now I hear you. Now I hear you. So, let me ask you, Ambassador, I mean, this is a pretty tough intervention.
GASPARD: Well, thank you for having me on on this important subject, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Yes. A tough intervention. I mean, that language, and there was more, that you used to address Sheryl Sandberg who is, essentially, the
face and the PR face, the policy face of Facebook, means that something very bad is going on as far as you're concerned.
GASPARD: Absolutely, Christiane. And I think that a tough intervention was absolutely called for in this regard for two reasons. One, George
Soros not only had nothing to do with the funding of groups that were using their First Amendment rights to ask legitimate questions about Facebook.
But we have seen a pattern that's been used and abused by the right-wing in the U.S. and around the globe to distort the good work of George Soros and
our foundation, to make a caricature of our work on human rights and to use it to distort democratic outcomes.
But it was important to have a really strong response here because Facebook is one of the most powerful entities that exists on the earth today. You
earlier were interviewing a gentleman who talked about Myanmar. me Myanmar is a place where the military use Facebook over the course of five years to
spread a virulent campaign of hate against the Rohingya population that led to a genocide and the mass evacuation of over 700,000 Rohingya from that
We saw in the Ukraine, the Russian government, use, again, distortions on Facebook to manipulate outcomes in the Ukraine as well. We've seen it in
the U.S. elections, of course, where Russian interference, again, on Facebook distorted outcomes in democratic practice.
So, we had to raise objections, not just for George Soros, not just for the Open Society Foundation and for Civil Society, but because of the threat
that exists as a consequence of social media platforms that are underregulated in the U.S. and elsewhere.
AMANPOUR: OK. There's obviously a major growing movement from yourself, from George Soros, from even Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, and others to call
for government regulation in terms of privacy and other such things on all these social media giants, Facebook included.
But I want to just get back to the issue at hand just on this particular issue. Now, Facebook apparently hired the Republican opposition research
firm called, "Definers," and that was the firm that targeted George Soros with what you all call a propaganda campaign.
Now, I just read a quote where you said that Facebook by doing this kind of thing is undermining our very democracy, that which underpins our
democracy. And again, this is incredibly important because Facebook has always claimed to be the force for good, to be the networker, to be the --
you know, the sort of the democracy Energizer Bunny, if you like. And you said that, you know, what it's doing is promoting these distortions which
are beyond the pale.
So, you had a conversation with Sheryl Sandberg. How did it go? Did she reassure you that it is time they understand that it's beyond the pale?
GASPARD: You know, I appreciate that Sheryl Sandberg responded immediately to my letter. I appreciate that Mark Zuckerberg in his press conference
expressed some admiration for George Soros. But you can't, in one instance, express some contrition and then he immediately move to a space
of contest with your critics.
Sheryl Sandberg told me that they were firing that group and they did so but without any admission of wrongdoing. She also took up my question
about whether or not Facebook would support an independent investigation and review of this black ops false flag operation that they funded, she
said they would -- that they would take that into consideration, and I appreciate that.
But I also appreciate the fact that the new incoming majority in the House of Representatives is asking some very tough questions, some procedures
have already been filed with the Federal Trade Commission and the issue of monopolistic control of the Internet is surfacing in a way in our political
discussions that I think bring some much needed interrogation to the issue.
AMANPOUR: Well, boy oh boy, you are laying down the gauntlet there. I mean, you are talking about, you know, congressional oversight and
accountability potentially happening. The question here is, you said that they have fired "Definers," but they told you and they said publicly, both
Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg, that they had no idea "Definers" had even been hired. Does that sound credible to you?
GASPARD: Well, you know, I understand that it's a large company but I find it hard to believe that one would go after someone like George Soros who,
as you said, is a figure of some note, figure who recently received a pipe bomb in his mailbox as a consequence of these kinds of virulent hate filled
campaigns. It's difficult to imagine that a firm would make a decision to go after George Soros and our foundation without some clearance at the
highest levels of the organization.
The first four words of Facebook's mission declaration is give people the power. There was a sense, at some point, that Facebook and other social
internet platforms would be a decentralizing power in our democracies that would lift up citizen voice. But instead, we're seeing a centralization in
a way that threatens freedom, that threatens expression and threatens, at the end of the day, our ability to have the kind of citizen solidarity and
cooperation that's necessary for a vital and healthy democracy.
So, we are going to continue to ask these questions, Christiane, and hold Facebook and social media writ large accountable, not just for this, but
for the instances that I've already cited like the atrocities that occurred in Myanmar where criticism was raised, warnings were lifted up but action
was not taken.
AMANPOUR: And we're going to bring that up, obviously, with the with the president and CEO of Reuters in a second.
But I just want to go back to Sheryl Sandberg who said in a Facebook post, "I have great respect for George Soros and the anti-Semitic conspiracy
theories against him are abhorred. But George Soros started bringing up the power of this social media giant a long time ago, including about a
year ago at Davos when he said the following. So, let's just play this now and then we're going to talk about Soros.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE SOROS, CHAIRMAN, SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT LLC: They claim that they are merely distributing information. But the fact that they are near
monopoly distributors make them into public utilities and should subject them to more stringent regulations aimed at preserving competition,
innovation and fair and open universal access.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, we talked a little bit about that, he does want them and he wants a level playing field. But let's just ask you to now, sort of, how
is it that somebody like George Soros can be used to -- and attacked with all these anti-Semitic tropes, with the notion even the president of the
United States alluded to potentially he was, you know, funding this migrant caravan all the way from Central America to Southern Border, which actually
hasn't even materialized, others have said that he was paying for the women who confronted Senator Flake in the elevator, you know, during the during
the Kavanaugh hearings?
I mean, how does that even develop in a country like the United States?
GASPARD: That's a great question, Christiane. And I would tell you that there was a time when I would have laughed at those kinds of accusations
but that was a moment before George Soros received a pipe bomb by someone who clearly was incentivized by that kind of weaponized distortion and
George Soros is a philanthropist who since 1984 has used the resources that he earned in the free and open markets to first contribute to
democratization in former Soviet Union and to then take up the plight of South Africans during the height of apartheid and then as a consequence of
lessons learned through that philanthropy made a decision that he was going to cede the Open Society Foundations to help build robust institutions of
democracy throughout the world and to stand up vibrant civil society.
So, he's been doing that work for over two decades now. And the criticism that you heard him lift up about Facebook in those remarks is in keeping
with that philanthropy. There are authoritarians like the prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, who have used George Soros as a convenient
scapegoat when they feel threatened by their civil societies who are asking important questions about corruption and transparency and the integrity of
elections and academic freedom.
I'm here in Europe for right now, Christiane, in Brussels, I just came from the European Union, which not that long ago moved articles against Viktor
Orban and Hungary for the repression of rights.
So, it's only natural that the Victor Orbans of this world and regrettably now, apparently, the president of the United States would be use old the
tropes of puppet mastery, anti-Semitic tropes against someone like George to distract and deflect against some of the most repressive acts that we've
seen in the 21st century.
AMANPOUR: And again, I just want you to come back full circle because it all depends on how the CEO of this massive giant that has billions of
users, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, can actually get control of his own company because they keep saying they don't know that this is happening and
they will investigate it.
AMANPOUR: So, I would like to play for you a soundbite from Zuckerberg which was all the way back about the Russians stuff and let's see what you
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: What we see are a lot of folks trying to sow division, right. So, that was a major tactic that we saw Russia trying
to use in the 2016 election. Actually, most of what they did was not directly, as far as we can tell, from the data that we've seen. It was not
directly about the election but was more about just dividing people.
What I can commit to is that we're going to make it as hard as possible for these adversaries to do that and I think that we're going to do a much
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you know, that was a long time ago. I think we're going to do a much better job. I've got very little time left, but how
much faith do you have in that pledge?
GASPARD: You know, we need -- we don't -- we need more than words now. We need action. We've heard from Facebook time and time again that they're
going to do a better job and then we end up in these kinds of circumstances. So, we need independent review of what just occurred in
Facebook, we need Congress and the U.S. to play the kind of regulatory role that the E.U. is playing much more assertively in Europe and we need
Facebook users to have the opportunity to manage and own their own data and to have a degree of privacy that is not afforded to them today.
AMANPOUR: Facebook --
GASPARD: Can be an important democratizing tool, we've seen that and we need them to live up to their potential and their promise.
AMANPOUR: And it affects everybody. Ambassador Gaspard, thank you so much indeed for joining us from Brussels.
So, as you just heard, Facebook has come under serious scrutiny for allowing its platforms to be used to incite ethnic violence in Myanmar in
Southeast Asia. The government there has waged a brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims and kept the press mostly away.
A few brave reporters have managed to dig out the truth and for that, they've been caught, tried and sentenced to prison on jumped up charges.
For this look into press freedom and safety, we begin with our Matt Rivers who got rare from mission to visit Myanmar. Here's his report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tettar Angel (ph) is now three months old but she's only met her father once so far. Because her dad is Wa Lone, one
of two Reuters journalists from Myanmar sentenced to seven years in prison.
PAN EI MON, WIFE OF JAILED JOURNALIST WA LONE (through translator): I want my daughter to know how her father loves her, she says.
RIVERS: Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo held since December were convicted of possessing state secrets in a trial widely regarded as a sham.
AMAL CLOONEY, LAWYER FOR JAILED JOURNALISTS: They have no evidence. I mean, if you actually read the judgment and you'll see what a fuss the
whole trial was and they had no intention to harm the state. They were not spies, they are acting as journalists.
RIVERS: Activists say they were targeted for investigating illegal killings in Rakhine State implicating the military. It's an area where the
U.N. says the Bernese Army and others committed genocide against the Rohingya people, a Muslim ethnic minority. Seven members were later
convicted and sentenced to 10 years.
CNN visited the village of Andin which the two journalists reported on. Now, only the remains of the Rohingya side of town are left. All the
houses burned down.
But innocent or not, Wa Lone sits in prison and his wife, Pan Ei Mon sits at home.
PAN EI MON (through translator): I feel like this is the moment I'm struggling.
RIVERS: Pan Ei Mon is stoic. She says she's proud of his defiance and his calls for press freedom but her daughter's been sick lately and talking
about the hospital trip, she cracks.
PAN EI MON (through translator): Others are with their husbands but for me, I'm alone.
RIVERS: She didn't tell her husband Angel was sick putting up the charade can be exhausting, something Chit Su Win would know, her husband Kyaw Soe
Oo is the other journalist in prison.
CHIT SU WIN, WIFE OF JAILED JOURNALIST, KYAW SOO OO (through translator): I really want to tell him about my feelings but I can't, she says. I just
try to smile all the time.
RIVERS: It's just her daughter now. She's three loves mango. Her dad used to cut it up for her and she saw him in court during the trial. She
tinker with his handcuffs.
CHIT SU WIN (through translator): She used to use her fingers as a key to try and unlock the handcuffs.
RIVERS: Myanmar civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has defended the pair's conviction, the U.N. and rights groups have called for their release. Both
have launched an appeal on their families keep hope and focus on what's good.
Motin Waysan (ph) is a happy kid, she gave me some toys food and Baby Angel, Wa Lone's daughter, is a joy even if she doesn't sleep enough. Her
mom hopes that one day soon after a nap like this one her dad will be there when she wakes up.
Matt Rivers, CNN, Yangon, Myanmar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's really heartbreaking. Let's talk more about the Reuters journalist and the rising threat to the press in general. After all, this
is the year that one of our own, Jamal Khashoggi, met the most brutal end, murdered and dismembered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Now, the President Trump today release a statement pledging to stick with his strong alliance with Saudi Arabia and on whether Crown Prince Mohammed
bin Salman knew about Khashoggi's murder, the president said, "Well, maybe he did and maybe he didn't."
Stephen Adler, president and editor in chief of Reuters, joins me now from New York. Welcome to the program.
STEPHEN ADLER, PRESIDENT AND EDITOR IN CHIEF, REUTERS: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So just heartbreaking imagery, that little child using a finger to unlock like a key the handcuffs of the father there. What more do you
know about the fate of your journalist? After all, Vice President Pence was recently -- he recently read the Riot act to Aung San Suu Kyi, the de
ADLER: Well, just today the high court accepted our appeal -- accepted to hear our appeal. So at least we hope to be able to go forward on that.
What we really want to happen is for there to be a pardon, which in really the hands of Aung San Suu Kyi because a pardon can happen immediately and
we just want to get these wonderful journalists out. They've been in prison almost a year. They're entirely innocent. The -- every single
observer of that trial recognized that it was a complete sham and total set up. These were people who were just reporting, just doing their jobs. And
we want to see them out.
ADLER: And I wonder what Aung San Suu Kyi said to Vice President Pence and what she said to you about this. I mean, they really have sort of
epitomized the ongoing problems and dangers that journalists face. And I mean, I can't even imagine what it must have been for them in a Facebook
era where we heard that anti-Rohingya statement has been ginned up on these platforms by these groups on Facebook.
ADLER: Yes, we did a report that found 1,000 instances of hate speech against Rohingya Muslims on Facebook in Myanmar. And at the time, I
believe Facebook had four Burmese speakers monitoring, I think the 7 million people who use Facebook. Essentially, in Myanmar, Facebook is the
internet, so that's been the real challenge for us.
But also, we're really focusing on free press. Aung san Suu Kyi has talked about democratization of the country, has talked about the importance of
the free press. When she first came to power, she said that she wanted to get prisoners of conscience released as quickly as possible. And we view
our journalists in that category. They were reporting on a massacre of ten Muslims in Rakhine state. They had photographs both of the people about to
be massacred and then photographs of them in a mass grave having been both hacked to death and shot to death.
And that was why they were arrested. They were arrested to try to prevent us from running that story and we went ahead and ran the story. And they
ended up -- the government ended up recognizing that it was true, and in fact, arresting the people responsible as your report showed. So our view
is, it's in the interest of Aung San Suu Kyi and the interests of Myanmar to release them. It'll show that they care about democracy, that they care
about due process, that they want to be part of the global community.
It will help head up the relationships with the rest of the world. So we think a pardon would be beneficial to Aung San Suu Kyi, beneficial to the
people there and, of course, would get our people out of prison; they've been languishing in a prison for almost a year.
AMANPOUR: Yes, most right-minded people would agree with you, but there are a lot of people who just don't like the press right now and we talk a
bit about that. But do you believe -- or rather do you know what Aung San Suu Kyi pledged to do? She was confronted by Mike Pence, you have directly
asked her for this pardon. What did she say?
ADLER: Well, I don't really want to go into the private matter (ph) conversations.
ADLER: We are still hopeful that there will be a pardon and we do think that would be in the interests of her country. And I do want to point out
that our journalists are Burmese and they're patriots, they care about their country.
AMANPOUR: I know, I can see you trying to protect them and trying to lobby with this interview and you want to be careful about what you do. But
everybody has their eyes on them. You're a member of the board or the committee to project journalists, as am I. Tonight in New York, where you
are, you will attend the annual gala and there will be all these statistics about the dangers to journalists just this year, those who have been
killed, those who have been imprisoned, those who disappear and there will be people who accept their awards.
I guess one of the questions to ask is what -- how difficult is it for somebody like yourself who feels journalists all over the world, to keep
them safe when the president of the United States is constantly berating them, where we have crises with White House correspondents and the oval
office. Where do you see this all going?
ADLER: It has gotten increasingly dangerous, those are the facts. I can see it every day, almost every day I wake up, there's some crisis somewhere
that our journalists are facing. Authoritarian regimes around the world are using the term fake news and false news. More laws are being passed,
criminalizing fake news and false news, more people are in prison than ever before on charges of fake news and false news, and that ripples around the
You hear heads of state talking and they're using that language and CPJ likes to use the word impunity. Impunity essentially means people getting
away with murdering journalists, and that's tremendously dangerous. If the western world, if the United States, if people who have traditionally
favored press freedom aren't standing up for it, that's incredibly dangerous because it opens the door for other countries to do way worse
things than ever going to be done in this country.
AMANPOUR: Well, way worse things than what we saw in Saudi Arabia. I want to put up this graphic which the CPJ compiled of the number of journalists
killed, 909 in the previous ten years, 2008 to 2018. So here we have this terrible situation of Jamal Khashoggi. It plays into the heart of what
should western relations be with a nation that's done this and certainly the public prosecutor in Saudi Arabia admits that he was murdered, that it
was premeditated, that he was dismembered.
We have Libya, we have, as you mentioned Myanmar, Syria, all these people talking about fake news. We have in Europe, the Czech Republic just to say
journalists should be liquidated if they spread, quote, "manure." Slovakia, the filthy anti-Slovak (ph) prostitutes, idiotic hyenas. In
Serbia, treachery, spies and foreign pay (ph). Albania, ignorant, poison, charlatans (ph) and public enemies. In Turkey, we are branded as
terrorists. I mean, this is the language now used as a matter of course around the world.
ADLER: Yes, and I think journalists have faced a crisis and we have to generate trust. I think we need public support. That's the really
important thing. I think the public needs to recognize we're proxies for the public, we're trying to help everybody understand what's going on in
their own countries and in their own lives and that the press is on their side. The press is trying to tell them the truth, tell them what's going
And I think the erosion of public support has been perhaps, the most dangerous thing, because if the general public isn't supporting us, it's
very hard to get governments around the world to treat us better. So I think a lot of work has to be done on that, and I've become increasingly
concerned and interested in the whole notion of media literacy.
I think all around the world, schools need to be teaching people the difference between factual information and manipulated information. And
the more we can kind of, get a generation that really understands what real news is and how important it is for democracies, we need that support right
now, because we're not getting it from a lot of governments.
[13:35:00] AMANPOUR: And inside the United States as well, I mean, when you talk about media literacy, we are astounded by a recent story that
shows liberal activists trying to target and tease the sort of conspiracy theorists, writing the most extreme stuff and then catching on (ph) with
people who actually believe it, like it and share it. I wish I could get you to comment on that, but we're out of time. I'm sure you've read it as
well, and if it's happening in the United States, it's seriously shocking. Steve Adler...
ADLER: Thank you for your support. OK, thank you.
AMANPOUR: Yes, thank you very much for yours as well.
So, storytelling of course is fundamental to who we are as a civilization, whether it's showing the truth in Myanmar or acting out the sagas that hold
a mirror up to our humanity. After 40 years on stage and screen, the actress and singer Jenifer Lewis has proven that she isn't afraid to make
Fame for playing roles in hit movies that portray African-American life, her career has now reached new heights thanks to her role in the sitcom
Blackish. And for Lewis, it was the perfect time to put her life down on paper in her memoir, The Mother of Black Hollywood, and that is just out in
paperback which gave our Michel Martin just the right opportunity to talk to her. And as you'll see, Lewis doesn't hold back.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN REPORTER: Jenifer Lewis, thank you so much for being with us.
JENIFER LEWIS, ACTRESS AND WRITER: My pleasure.
MARTIN: I don't know if I should call you Mama Odie or Lana Hawkins from Strong Medicine, but I think a lot of people know you now from your role as
Ruby Johnson on the hit show Blackish. So let's see a little bit of your work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY JOHNSON: Okay. Everybody lies, Bill Clinton, Zach Efron, and don't get me started on Oprah. Lose weight eating bread, my ass. Even
Archbishop Desmond Tutu lied. I was sitting on an airplane with him one time, went to the bathroom, came back, my peanuts were gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: So how much of your character is the writers and how much is it Jenifer with a little watered down?
LEWIS: They let me play. That's why they hired me, they know that I'm spontaneous on set. And Ruby, I have so much fun with. But I always honor
the writers. The writers are the stars of Blackish. When I get those scripts, I laugh out loud in my own house, and I don't laugh at nobody but
LEWIS: But the scripts - I'm telling you, but they're so important.
MARTIN: Well, tell me what you like about Ruby as a character.
LEWIS: Well, Ruby is opinionated. She's -
MARTIN: No, you think?
LEWIS: But she's a whole woman also. She - you know, she's religious - you know, a hypocrite, but she's religious. She's a got mess. The only
thing that Ruby and Jenifer Lewis have in coming is we both love children. But Ruby is her own and - well, I guess I should admit that Jenifer Lewis
has a little sass. A little.
MARTIN: A little. A little, you think?
LEWIS: But I love playing her. I love it (ph).
MARTIN: She's unapologetically black.
LEWIS: Yes, she is, and so am I.
MARTIN: And I was wondering where that came from. Was that always the case for you?
LEWIS: That comes from getting up. That comes from feeling your feelings because Ruby's got a big heart just like me. Feel those feelings, be
scared, but get up. Get up and be unafraid. See, there's a difference. Be scared. Snatch that weed out. It's going to come back, but if you go
down to the root you can clear it out.
MARTIN: Tell me about the roots though. You're from Missouri -
LEWIS: The root is the pain.
MARTIN: But, no, no, no. Tell me where you're from. Like you're from -
LEWIS: Oh, where I'm from!
MARTIN: - like Missouri and yes.
LEWIS: Oh, that's painful, too.
LEWIS: No. I was born in a small town called Kinloch on the outskirts of St. Louis. The planes at Lambert Field used to damn near land on a house,
but Kinloch sits on the border of Ferguson, Missouri. And even as a child I was warned never to go to Ferguson alone.
But Ferguson had a movie theater and Kinloch did not. And I didn't care anything about racism. I had a dream, so I would sneak out of the house.
My mother would have killed me if she'd known I'd gone to Ferguson because there was so much racism there. And - but I would sneak up to the top of
the balcony, get my little popcorn and imagine myself on the silver screen. And now 68 movies later, hello.
MARTIN: Did you always know that Jenifer was going to be somebody.
MARTIN: How did you know? What made you know?
LEWIS: Well, I sang my first solo in church at 5-years-old and from the reaction of the congregation. I stood there with my thumb in my mouth
cross-eyed, but I thought to myself, "this is life," and I never looked back.
MARTIN: So how did you get from Kinloch to become the mother of Black Hollywood?
LEWIS: I knew there was something bigger than Kinloch. I knew I had to get out. Television gave me that out. I watched television. Betty Davis,
Joan Crawford, Pearl Bailey. I mean, I stayed in the Late Late Show it was called right before television went off, remember, at night?
Well, I went from that small town to, of course, in high school I discovered I was an alpha female. I became president of my class, captain
of the cheerleading squad. I started to nurture that gift of leadership during that time. And then I went onto Webster University, majored in
theater arts, got my B.A., and honey, went to New York the day after graduation, got my first Broadway show - Eubie Blakes Musical - Musical
Review - within 11 days of graduating from college.
MARTIN: I was just floored by that, and you -
LEWIS: I had no fear.
MARTIN: You had no fear.
LEWIS: No fear. I have bipolar disorder. Of course, back then they didn't know what it was. So I have this mania that fed the dream. See,
there was a positive side to it also. I was certainly depressed at night, but in the day I got up, I went to acting class, voice lessons, dance
classes - anything to improve myself as an artist to conquer the dream.
MARTIN: You know that thing, you just slipped in that bipolar disorder in there, and I just want to spend a little but of time on that because -
MARTIN: - in your memoir, you're really open about your challenge of having bipolar disorder, and I was so curious about that as an artist
because on the one hand you really own your extraness. I mean, you talk about that how could you (ph) always extra. But when it came time for you
to sort of say, "this is something that I need to struggle with, I need to face as its own sort of thing," I was just curious about that. Was there a
part of you that was afraid to think, "maybe that's my secret sauce,"?
[13:45:00] LEWIS: Here in New York in my 20s when I was this Broadway star, I knew something was wrong. I didn't know what. I figured everybody
had a man in every port. I had a sex addiction. I didn't know that. At some point, that mania will take control, and that kind of living is
dangerous. Everything is excessive, impulsive, dangerous once again. You speed in a car, you drink too much, you sleep too much. I'll tell you the
depression - I said this to a journalist the other day - I might have been under those covers in the dark, but I never closed the curtains. There was
always a light that came in because I wanted to be well. Oh yes, darling.
MARTIN: Was it a moment? Was it a person? What was it -
LEWIS: I wanted -
MARTIN: - that made you say, "this is time for me to stop this and face it,"?
LEWIS: I wanted on my face what I put on everybody else's. I would leave a room and everybody's laughing and smiling and I'd go home and that
darkness. Oh, that darkness. That dark, dark place. I wanted to be happy. And so, when I got to L.A. and that theater stuff didn't play in
front of a camera where you had to know who you were in order to create enough character, hello.
And I had been taught to hit the back row. That's why the voice is so wonderful. So when I got to L.A. with that camera, you got to tell the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth because people will see through you, but I didn't know who I was. Well, I finally had a nervous
breakdown from all the reckless behavior.
MARTIN: But it was years before that happened, though. I mean, you had been successful for quite some time.
LEWIS: I was successful before going to therapy because of the dream, because of the passion. Look, I'm not going to lie to you. I wanted to be
a star. I wanted attention from my mother. After that solo in church I wanted that every day because of the mania.
MARTIN: But some of the artists - you know, a number of celebrities and entertainers have come forward recently.
LEWIS: Oh, yes.
MARTIN: We don't need to call them out, but -
LEWIS: Yes, but no. I'm proud of all of them.
MARTIN: - but - but some of them feel that that mania is part of what makes them who they are.
LEWIS: Of course it is. Before I was medicated for bipolar disorder, I was concerned that the medication would take my edge. Oh, honey, I looked
at my shrink. I said, "are you insane? I'm Jenifer Lewis. You're not going to put me on lithium and have me - what, are you insane?"
That's not what it was about. It was about finding or having the patience for you dosage. We're all different as leaves on a tree, grains of sand.
Come on. We're different. You've got to be patient if you want to be well. We -
MARTIN: So you're hearing from people who have really responded to the - yes.
LEWIS: Oh, Michel, yes. People come up to me all the time.
MARTIN: Is it mainly black folks who come up to you or is it -
LEWIS: No, are you kidding? Since Blackish, honey, I've crossed over. I mean, the little sweet white kids came running up to me at the gate at LAX
and they wanted an autograph. I thought it was so sweet, but no. You know, when I didn't want to be recognized I would walk down the street. If
I saw black people coming, because I'm in every black movie ever made, I would just lower my head so as not to get so much attention, but now -
MARTIN: Wait, wait, wait, wait. I'm trying to process you trying not to get - OK, but go ahead. Go ahead.
LEWIS: I'd try not to walk around like I'm famous. I really do. It's so much now.
LEWIS: I do. I hide a little bit. Come on, I got a little sweet part. (inaudible) and demure. Girl, please. Never been, but listen. I never
take it for granted. My soul explodes when people tell me they've read my book. I laid my burden down, and that's why I am so happy and free. I
stayed 17 years on that sofa, baby. I stayed in there because I had to be re-raised. I'm the baby of seven children. My mother (inaudible) me.
She was 26-years-old when she had me. When I'd come in her room, she'd be like, "go tell your sister." And I understand that she was cleaning white
people's floors, working three, four jobs trying to feed us as a single mother. Can you imagine having seven children at 26? What she was doing
for Christ sake, but -
LEWIS: - I tell you one thing, honey. She educated all of us.
MARTIN: I was going to say, seven kids -
LEWIS: My mother, honey, we all have masters and doctorates. My mother say, "you will be educate
LEWIS: My mother, honey, we all have masters and doctorates. My mother said, you will be educated, and we are. I have two siblings that taught in
the St. Louis school district for 30 years, they're retired now. One is a big shot at state forum and the other is a big shot at AT&T. My mother did
not play. She got off welfare and she got -- she went in and became a nurse's aide at St. Louis County (ph) Hospital for 25 years. My mother was
a wonderful woman. She was hard. She didn't play. Her name is the first three words in my book, Dorothy Mae Lewis, and I loved her, and I made
peace with her. I was molested by the pastor of my church, whom she was in love with. Oh, dear god.
MARTIN: You can hold two thoughts in your head at the same time, though. I mean, you can love her and forgive her and still recognize your pain
LEWIS: Oh, sweetie, I made peace with my mama. Oh, I made peace with my mama. Because I told her and she didn't know what to do with it.
MARTIN: I just wanted to mention that you've had a couple statements that have gone viral recently. You wore Kaepernick's jersey to the Emmy's and
then you recently had a YouTube video, a get out the vote video in advance of the midterms, it got a lot of attention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEWIS: I don't care who you are or where you work, get your ass out and vote. This ain't the election to sit home and lurk. Get your ass out and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: How do you decide what it is you're going to do?
LEWIS: I do things for my soul. I'm so aligned right now. Make no mistake, there's nothing perfect about any of us. And I got my
(inaudible), but I stay aligned. And when they shot into that synagogue and my girlfriend called me that morning, I'd had enough. I sobbed like a
I got up and I fed my soul on what to do, what to do with this sadness and this horror, this thing that the leader of the free world allows and
promotes, this violence, where the NRA has done nothing about gun control, and they shot white babies at Sandy Hook. Well if they don't care about
their own babies, what are they going to care about? So, see, we -- we -- and when I say we, I'm saying we, the people. I'm not just talking about
African-Americans. Who are we to say that one race is in this? We all bleed red. Come together is what I say.
MARTIN: It comes to you as an inspiration like your song, get out and vote.
LEWIS: Absolutely. I came home and sat right down at the piano and I said, that's enough. Everybody check your soul at the Super Bowl. That's
enough. Blacks, whites, Jews, we've got to refuse. If our ancestors took two knees in the cotton field, you can take one. All of you players can go
down at the same time. They can't fire you all. What's wrong with you? Stand up because you are the gladiators of our time. But will I go at it
alone? Will I go and sit on the wall when they build it? Will I march 50 million down there with me? I most certainly will.
MARTIN: So what's next for Jenifer Lewis?
[13:55:00] LEWIS: So what's next? Let me live in my joy. Let me do what I can for my family, my friends, my country. And everybody that lives in it.
I care. People ask why I give so much. Because I care. I care that my great-grandchildren have air to breathe. I've been to Alaska and seen the
melting of the glaciers with my own eyes. I went to Flint. I saw the dirty water with my own eyes. I went down to Parkland and talked to the
children. This is not just a book tour. I don't need any money. But I'm in the trenches while touring with this book.
MARTIN: Jenifer Lewis, thank you for talking with us.
LEWIS: Thank you, you're wonderful. I loved your questions. Thank you.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: That is what you call magnificent passion, a great way to end our show today. That is all from us for now. Thanks for watching, and
remember you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Goodbye from London.