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What Has to Change in Our Societies?; The Influence of Robert Murdoch; Jonathan Mahler, Staff Writer, New York Times and Jim Rutenberg, Media Columnist, New York Times, were Interviewed About Rupert Murdoch. "To Kill a Mockingbird," an Adaptation by Aaron Sorkin; Aaron Sorkin, Playwright, "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Jeff Daniels, Actor, "To Kill a Mockingbird," were Interviewed About "To Kill a Mockingbird". Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 4, 2019 - 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Thank you to my very good friend Rupert Murdoch. There's only one Rupert that we know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
A deep dive into Rupert Murdoch's empire influence. A "New York Times" investigation lays bare the media mogul's reach.
Plus, adapting America's best-loved novels for Broadway. My conversation with Aaron Sorkin and Jeff Daniels about their take on "To Kill a
Mockingbird" and why it remains so relevant today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIALL FERGUSON: Because the public is thoroughly fed up, whether they were pro or anti-Brexit, they're fed up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: How Brexit went so wrong. Historian Niall Ferguson speaks to our Hari Sreenivasan about Britain's bitter divorce from the E.U.
Welcome to the program, everybody. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
It could be hard to get a handle on our chaotic, divisive political times. Why has this all happened? What has to fundamentally changed in our
For months two "New York Times" reporters have been trying to answer those questions by looking at the influence of a singularly important media
mogul, he is Rupert Murdoch. Over the past nearly seven decades after inheriting a single regional newspaper in his native Australia, Murdoch has
built a global empire in news corporation, from Kennedy to Trump, from Australia to England, he is an unmatched political force.
And in the united states, his "Fox News" has developed a symbiotic relationship with the White House. Relentlessly defending the president
and even staffing key government positions from communications to economic roles.
In the U.K. where the Brexit bedlam rolls on, Murdoch's "Sun" tabloid vilified the European Union for years with fake stories, for instance,
claiming Brussels was going to ban excessively curved bananas. Years before Brexit made an inquiry into the power of tabloid press, prime
minister David Cameron admitted the reality of British politics during a ruckus parliamentary debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, THEN-BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And I think on all sides of the House there's a bit of a need for a hand on heart. We all did too much
cozying up to Rupert Murdoch, I think we would agree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, it's an extraordinary tale of accumulating ultimate power. The Jim Rutenberg And Jonathan Mahler covered three continents and
conducted more than 150 interviews to expose and they're joining me now here in New York. Welcome to the program, gentlemen
JONATHAN MAHLER, STAFF WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you for having us.
JIM RUTENBERG, MEDIA COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Thanks for your time.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about this incredible story. And it is a story that's been reported and dissected and investigated for many years, but
you've gone an extra mile. Why now? What about our times now that made you tell this story?
MAHLER: Well, I think it was we sort of felt that what was happening, some of this global phenomenon with this right-wing populous wave kind of
rising, which we saw with Trump, which we saw with Brexit and the reality that Murdoch was sort of in the middle of it made us feel like, you know,
it's time to take a fresh look.
RUTENBERG: And there's really not any single media company that's in the middle of this uprising the way Murdoch's is. They are so in the thick of
the populous movement in the U.K., they're so part of the populous, nationalist movement here in the United States, and, of course, they have
unrivaled power in Australia.
AMANPOUR: Let's just start taking it from his perspective for a moment. He says he's a pragmatist. I'm going to ask you to delve into what you
think are his motivating needs to be involved, as you say, across these continents.
But I just want to go back to one of the U.K. parliamentary hearings in one of the scandals when one of his newspapers was accused of illegally hacking
into people's telephones and their cells and basically getting information that way. And he talks about his asks, if you like, or not from various
politicians. Here's what went down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBET JAY, COUNSEL TO LEVESON INQUIRY: No express favors were offered to you by Mrs. Thatcher, is that right?
RUPERT MURDOCH, THEN-CHAIRMAN AND CEO, NEWS CORPORATION: And none asked. I think if I'd asked for anything, Mr. (INAUDIBLE) certainly would have
JAY: But you wouldn't have be so undeft and cack-handed to have ask directly would you, Mr. Murdoch?
MURDOCH: I hope not. I've never asked the prime minister for anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK. It's a really interesting question that the interrogator asked, "You wouldn't have been so cack-handed to have asked directly?" And
again, Murdoch's always claimed he's never asked the prime minister for anything. But there's been a symbiotic relationship in the front door of
Downey Street, out the backdoor, in the White House and the rest of it.
MAHLER: Right. I mean, and the beauty of being Rupert Murdoch is that you don't really have to ask for anything. His agenda is clear because of his
business interests and his agenda really is to continuously grow his empire and his politics are clear, you know, which are conservative, which are
pushing towards deregulation and pushing towards lower taxes.
So, you know, for him, you know, everything is sort of clear and everything is communicated, you know, indirectly.
RUTENBERG: And the politicians who kind of have his favor through his newspapers or be it the opinion side of "Fox News" or in Australia tend to
do what he needs done to grow his business, to wipe away those regulations which also go with his free market and deregulatory ideology.
AMANPOUR: And, you know, unless somebody says or lest his side says, "Hey, look, we supported Tony Blair, the reform-minded labor prime minister."
So, thread that needle, he also supported a labor government coming to power in the U.K. back in 1997.
MAHLER: Yes. I mean, there are -- you know, there are certainly -- well, I mean, that is the most notable exception. But, you know, he is sort of
willing to sort of look at centrist politicians too. But, you know, if you look over the sweep of his career, you know, he's always really pushing
everything to the right, he's always lining up on the right, whether it's, you know, Reagan, whether it's Bush, you know, whether it's Theresa May,
whether it's Donald Trump, really it's -- the course of history has really been nudged to the right with the help of Rupert Murdoch.
RUTENBERG: And if you look at where the Murdoch papers and Tony Blair came together kind of most symbiotically, it was to push the Iraq war and the
campaign to get in the Iraq war. So, I think he would have gotten that as easily from a conservative politician as from labor.
AMANPOUR: That was several years into the Blair reign.
AMANPOUR: But let me say what you wrote, because it is fascinating, this - - how his papers, his TV, have had such a massive influence on the key issues of our day, whether it's race, whether it's immigration, whether
it's, as you mentioned taxes, but also the Iraq war and other such things. You say, "His various news outlets have inexorably pushed the flow of
history to the right across the Anglosphere, whether they were advocating for the U.S. and its allies to go war in Iraq in 2003, undermining global
efforts to combat climate change or vilifying people of color at home or abroad as dangerous threats to a right -- sorry, a White majority.
Flesh that out in color. We know about the Iraq war for sure. And I remember during 2002, any journalist who questioned the administration's
rational for what turned out to be a lie, a falsehood, about weapons of mass destruction, were tainted as traitors, as terrorist lovers and the
like. It was "Fox News" that heavily pushed the White House agenda there and obviously, the Blair support as well.
MAHLER: Yes. I mean, certainly the most recent manifestation of this, you know, what we're suggesting with the last clause is what's happening now on
"Fox News", which is this, you know, very strongly kind of nationalist, kind of ethnonationalist agenda which -- you know, which you can also see
at their outlet in Australia, Sky News Australia which where they have effectively re-created "Fox News" during prime time and are pushing the
same anti-immigrant sentiments, you know, that we see here in the United States.
RUTENBERG: And it's very -- the Australian example is very interesting. We had a link in our article to a moment where one of his hosts is talking
about this threat to culture that immigrants, especially, immigrants who are Muslim could kind of infect the culture or threaten the culture of
Australia, and that link now is blocked because it's inappropriate for YouTube.
MAHLER: You know, and one could see the same thing. Of course, even in the U.K., I mean, with kind of the move behind Brexit was as well kind of a
closed borders idea.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, look, I have to, you know, point out right now that the danger of this kind of activity because this Sky after dark
program that you're talking about, I mean, one could say, "Well, look what happened, it was an Australian who went to New Zealand and massacred 50
people in two mosques." I mean --
AMANPOUR: -- do you see the actual tangible fallout of this policy and this politics?
MAHLER: Yes. I mean, that's a very stark example. And I mean, one of the sort of striking things we write about towards the end of the piece is a
young woman who was an editorial employee at Sky News Australia quit in protest after that Christchurch massacre [13:10:00] and wrote a sort of
blog post about why she was quitting and she said, you know, "For two years I was aware I was working at this news outlet that was fermenting this sort
of radical ideology and sort of mainstreaming it. And now, I feel like -- you know, of course, I can't go on."
So, you know, while it's -- you maybe can't -- there is necessarily a direct link there, it's certainly fair to say this kind of anti-immigrant
environment, this anti-immigrant sentiment and this mainstreaming of it is truly a danger.
RUTENBERG: Right. And -- but there really are -- there -- you can -- they are not the originators of this. There's anti-immigrant sentiment growing
throughout the Western culture and -- but they are tapping into it and it rates. So, this is programming that they -- there's an audience for this.
It's -- there's always a ratings angle, there's always a profit angle too, and this is what rates. So, they are going there.
AMANPOUR: Well, look, I want to talk about the landscape both in the United States, obviously, Australia, and the United Kingdom that enables
this kind of over political broadcasting.
You're both media reporters and investigators. I wonder whether you can discuss how, you know, Ronald Reagan in the '80s, completely deregulating
the FCC, the issue of fairness doctrine and that affects TV in the U.S.
In the U.K., the TV is much more regulated but the newspapers aren't, they can be overtly political on their front pages as well as in their
editorials and, of course, the issue in Australia as well. I mean, the climate allows the Murdoch's to just swim in those currents. They're not
busting any rules.
MAHLER: Yes. I mean, that's right. And that has long been Rupert Murdoch's agenda, of course, to sort of get rid of those anti-monopoly
rules, to get rid of those rules that mandate kind of fairness and balance in reporting. And that was the big move that -- or moves really that
happened during the Reagan administration. It was the deregulation and also the removal of the fairness doctrine, which once mandated that -- you
know, treated the airwaves as this precious commodity and mandated that news reporting present both sides of every issue, you know, that now seems
with -- you know, with things like "Fox News", that now seems like kind of a quaint notion.
But in the U.K., this -- many of these rules do still exist and are more robust and are enforced. And in fact, Rupert has run into more trouble
there in recent years as a result.
RUTENBERG: Interestingly, you know, the media industry here in the U.S. when it started, there was a sense of when the modern media kind of
television, radio, that the civilization, the society said, "We -- this is a precious commodity, much harm can come of this, much good can come of
this. We should have some regulation around that." And that still exist on broadcast television.
Murdoch was very much part of the movement, a very important part of the movement, of knocking that down, which it appeals to us as journalists as -
- in free speech rights advocates. But, you know, this would come as a (ph) debate a new with social there are no rules but Rupert Murdoch very
much set the predicate for that, at least into kind of pushing the barriers away for his businesses.
AMANPOUR: And let's get to sort of the whys and wherefors of his -- the people he backs politically. You write about a meeting in 2015 where
Murdoch met with Trump and also Ivanka and Jared and said he wanted to run for president and that Murdoch was not initially a big fan. What happened
to turn that around? And now, we read, you know, that they're in daily contact, that, you know, we said "Fox News" sent a former, you know, top
official to be the communications chief at the White House. I mean, how did it go from not being a fan to being a very, very close ally? Who calls
MAHLER: It was really a pragmatic decision. It was a decision that he wanted to have access to a potential president. And -- you know, and I
think he also recognized that this populous wave was rising and it had sort of improbably swept Trump into the Republican nomination and was, of
course, driving Brexit as well. So, I think he recognized that.
But I think above all, he's a pragmatist, he's a businessman and he wanted to have someone in the White House whom he could pick up the phone and
RUTENBERG: But there's also a side to Rupert Murdoch that we hear about a lot, he loves the proximity to power personally. He loves it. It's a
thrill to be called by the president of the United States. He's always wanted it. He's wanted it since he landed in this country. He was hoping
for more from Reagan, in fact. So, there's also a person here who just lives for this.
[13:15:00] AMANPOUR: So, this has now brings us to, I don't know whether it's the end of the story but it may be the end of Rupert's story of being
in charge, at least, directly. His selling so much network to Disney and the legacy that is his two sons, one, Lachlan, who is much more
conservative in the mold of his father, one, James, who is much more liberal and wanted to change things around.
How much of Rupert's power has been diluted? And what will "Fox" and the empire look like going forward under the inheritance, so to speak?
MAHLER: Well, in terms of what remains of the empire, I mean, the -- a big chunk of it, I mean, really two-thirds of it just in terms dollar value is
now gone. He sold the big Hollywood studio, 21st Century Fox. But what is important to remember is that what remains are really his main tools of
influence or, you know, as we describe it in the story, a political weapon, frankly, it's "Fox News" and it's all of his newspapers around the world.
So, it is -- while he has vastly diminished the size of his empire, it's still going to be every bit as powerful and in some ways more powerful
because now it's been kind of unshackled from the studio, which was in some ways kind of a check on its most kind of radical politics.
RUTENBERG: And the question you hear in Australia where they really know Lachlan best is will he be like his father? Is he the same sort of
pragmatist or in fact, does Lachlan even more ideological? Does he -- would he stick with the papers even if the side that they're with is losing
and a more liberal politician is likely to become, say, prime minister? So, that remains to be seen. He may be.
What we do know is Lachlan's brother, James, had he inherited the empire, I do think it would have looked very different. It would be -- it would pull
back from some the politicking, I believe, it would pull back from some of the more influence pedaling. He envisioned the business in a very -- going
in a very different direction.
AMANPOUR: Really fascinating, really interesting to talk to you gentlemen. Jim Rutenberg, Jonathan Mahler, thank you very much so much indeed for that
RUTENBERG: Thanks for having us.
AMANPOUR: Now, few books have packed a political and culture punch like "To Kill a Mockingbird," recognized as America's most popular novel, the
book has sold more than 40 million copies since it was first published in 1960. And the movie version is ranked as one of the greatest ever by the
American film institute.
It's a coming-of-age story set in Alabama during the Jim Crow segregation era of the 1930s. It's told from the point of view from 6-year-old Scout
Finch, whose father, the lawyer, Atticus Finch, chooses to defend a Black man wrongly accused of raping a White woman.
Now, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is on Broadway in a new adaptation written by Aaron Sorkin, creator of "Hits in Every Medium," including "The Social
Network," "The West Wing" and "A Few Good Men.". The adaptation stars Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch. And the play is a major hit, smashing Broadway
So, why did Aaron Sorkin, at first, consider it a suiciding mission when he was asked to adapt the novel? I asked when he and Jeff Daniels joined me
here in New York.
Jeff Daniels, Aaron Sorkin, welcome to the program.
AARON SORKIN, PLAYWRIGHT, "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD": Good to be here.
AMANPOUR: I know everybody's asked you this question but I need to ask you this question. I mean, this is not an ordinary book, movie, play. This
must have been so daunting to take on something that is so engrained in American culture.
SORKIN: Yes, it was. Really, the key to being free to write a new play was when I stopped using the word adaptation. When -- after a while, my
first draft was an adaptation and it wasn't very good. After that, once I said, "You know what, you're going to take these circumstances, the
circumstances in the book and these characters, you're going to write it in your play rather than gently swaddle the book in bubble wrap and try to
transfer it to the stage."
AMANPOUR: And swaddle the movie as well because that's also in --
AMANPOUR: -- so many people's minds. You know, everybody has seen Gregory Peck take it on. What happened? How did you get to play this? I know you
both worked together before, "The Newsroom," "Steve Jobs" the film. What was the process of asking you or did you know about it and did you want to
JEFF DANIELS, ACTOR, "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD": I didn't hear about it until Aaron turned to me at some function two years ago and said, "We have the
rights to Harper Lee's book. And would you like to play Atticus?" And you can't believe it and then you get to work. It really was just like, "OK,
that's next OK." And there is no -- you just go, "Let me know when there's a script, which will be a year from now, and you go."
AMANPOUR: And to the point you're so committed, that you're not doing what big names often do, and that is just a few weeks or a few months, you were
committed for a year, no breaks, no holidays, no off days.
[13:20:00] DANIELS: No. Oh, I get Mondays off. But yes, eight shows a week and in it for a year. And it's -- look, it's -- I've done this a lot.
I've done this for over 40 years. And these don't happen. This is "Hamilton." this is "Angels in America," this is "Death of a Salesman" when
it was Lee J. Cobb or Miller and here is the first production. That is what we had the potential to be.
And it's Atticus Finch, it's the Schubert Theater, it's Aaron, it's Bart Sheer (ph), Scott Rhoden. The team was there. Where are you going to go?
So, to come in for 18 weeks and then gun out of here, no. It was one year and let's see if we can do a year.
The "Old Boys" used to do it. Fonda, Henry Fonda did Mr. Roberts for over a year. Countless of other guys used to do that kind of thing. So, let's
bring that back. So, I'm going to see how I do. I also will be interesting to see how the performance marinades.
AMANPOUR: Well, that is interesting because it already marinated in your telling, Aaron, in your rewriting not an homage but, as you say, a new
play, right. You're not, you know, not steeped in nostalgia, although this is something like yikes. I mean, sure the real, real "Mockingbird" fans
were ready to pounce if you got one scene out of step or one line wrong.
SORKIN: Yes. I'm sure that they were. But as I said, once I was able to sort of free myself from the fear of ruining anyone's childhood, once I was
able to go ahead and write the play I wanted, I think that we were actually able to leverage the audience's expectations into a new level for the play.
And what I mean by that is not only does the play stand on its own for anyone who hasn't read "To Kill a Mockingbird" or seen "To Kill a
Mockingbird" but for those who have, the very first moment of the play, when the front curtain flies out, and it's actually not a curtain at all,
it's a wall, and we're looking at not at all what we expected to be looking at. We thought we were going to be looking at a front porch or it be (ph)
rural street or maybe a courtroom, but instead, we're looking at what appears to be an abandoned warehouse, broken glass and peeling paint,
someplace that hasn't been visited in 60 years.
And the first thing that we hear is one of these beloved characters Scout, the first line of the play is something doesn't seem right. They're
questioning what's in the book. And the audience is being asked to do the same thing. To go back to those conversations we had in English class in
eighth or ninth grade and realize we didn't talk about everything that we should talk about and that this is giving a new take.
So, like I said, it's written for people who haven't seen "Mockingbird" and it was written for people who have. And for those who have, a minute are
two into the play, they understand that they're watching something new.
AMANPOUR: And they really are because a minute or two into the play, if I'm not mistaken, you bring on the trial scene.
SORKIN: That's right.
AMANPOUR: And that is not what happened in the book, it happens in chapter 16 or way, you know, towards the middle of the book. Why, both of you, do
you think that was the right way to put this on stage? Why not, you know, unfold it in the same way and build up the home scene and what was going on
DANIELS: There's no added value to just doing an A to Z of the book. I mean, put us in 24 folding chairs and we'll read you the book or take
Horton's foot screenplay and put it on the stage. That's not what we were supposed to do and we would have gotten slapped for that. So, what's the
added value of doing a play of "Mockingbird" now. And that's what we're chasing.
AMANPOUR: And for you -- also, I would pause it that a trial scene is really exciting and it actually adds to the drama and you kept going back
and forth, trial and then back story and trial and then back inside and around and I felt that kept it really, really exciting, even though you
know the story, you are still waiting to see the verdict and the (INAUDIBLE), I thought that was really, really effective.
In the book, Atticus is not really the main protagonist, it's really Scout and to an extent, Jim, her brother and Dill, the friend. But in this play,
you are much more of a protagonist and you have turned Atticus from, you know, a good, decent man sort of with all of the answers into somebody
who's actually questioning what's happening. So, Atticus has changed a little bit, right?
SORKIN: Yes. I mean, I think you just did an excellent job describing that change. In the book, you know, and movie, he may be the lead
character but he's not the protagonist in that -- a protagonist has to change. A protagonist has to be put through something and changed by the
end, and in the book that's Scout. A protagonist also has to have a flaw. Scout's flaw is that she's young. And what changes is that she losses some
of her innocence along the way.
In the play, Scout and Jim and Dill, they remain protagonists but Atticus is the central protagonist. He had to change. He to have a flaw. And
what he changes from to and what that flaw is seems to be landing with the audience.
AMANPOUR: Well, and the flaw is? How would you describe the flaw?
DANIELS: Of Atticus?
DANIELS: An over belief in goodness in everyone. That eventually right will overcome wrong. That evil will be vanquished. Atticus, he's got to
start here and go to there. And when we started him, he's a small-town lawyer who stays out of controversy. I handle land disputes, service
agreements, foreclosures and can write wills.
AMANPOUR: And you get paid in vegetables?
DANIELS: And I get paid in vegetables sometimes when they don't have cash. So, that's who he is. And he sits on his porch, knows that the KKK is
around but he doesn't get involved with that. He just does. He got to raise his two kids by himself, that's what he's doing. The judge comes
over and said, "I got a criminal case. The lawyer we have is incompetent. You're really needed because the guy is a hundred percent innocent. And if
you don't it the guy will go to prison for 18 years. Get off your porch, Atticus." And he does.
AMANPOUR: And I just think -- I mean, it's obviously so moving because it is still relevant today, that this is written about what's happening in I
think 1930s Alabama and it's happening today. And I was stunned by what Calpurnia sort of said to you, the housekeeper nanny who --
DANIELS: She has a voice in the play.
AMANPOUR: She has a voice. She didn't in the book. She barely did in the film. But to what you're saying, you know, Atticus thinks that, you know,
there's basically goodness in everybody. She says, "Jim, your son was just sticking up for you," and you said, "I believe in being respectful. And
Calpurnia shoots back, "No matter who you're disrespecting by doing it." And I thought that was -- what did you have to introduce for today's
audience and today's reality that didn't exist in the book?
SORKIN: Yes. I mean, that's a moment like a number of others that gets an audible response from the audience.
SORKIN: And there's nothing -- there wasn't a new event that I had to introduce in the play. Like I said, we took the circumstances from the
book and just looked at them a little bit differently. Calpurnia, as you pointed out, she's one of two -- only two significant African-American
characters in the novel and the movie, the other being Tom Robinson, the accused. And in this story about racial tension in the small town in the
south, neither of the two African-American characters have much to say on the subject.
AMANPOUR: Was that sort of -- do you question why Harper Lee didn't or was that just because of the times in which she wrote the book?
SORKIN: I chalk it up to the times and I don't --
DANIELS: She went pretty far for early '60s.
SORKIN: She did. And I would hate to give anyone the impression that I'm trying to correct what I perceive are mistakes that Harper Lee made. I'm
not. It's just that it's 60 years later now and to squander 60 years of hindsight would be a mistake. Tom and Cal have much more of a voice in the
play not because I'm saying, "Well, it's only fair. We're (INAUDIBLE) now and the Black character should have something to say." It's that I want to
hear what the -- it's going to -- it can only add to the drama if these are two other voices coming at Atticus.
And as you pointed out, in the book, Atticus is a guy who has the answers. He's kind of carved out of marble. He's unflappable. In the play, he
wrestles with questions. And one of those is -- you know, his mantra is goodness could be found in everyone. People around him, many of whom are
marginalized people, disagree with him.
AMANPOUR: So, the, you know, conflicting issues of justice. You have an amazing closing argument speech. And in the end, basically you say to the
jury, "We have to heal this wound, we have to start with justice in this room."
Just before during the trial, the town drunk, who is not really drunk, has said to Dill, who's very upset about everything, he says something like --
oh, yes, he says, "When he gets up, he'll get used to the cruelty." Obviously, the cruelty of what we all saw happening to Tom Robinson.
Justice or cruelty? I mean, what should we learn about that for today?
SORKIN: Link Deas says to Dill, and he is referring specifically to the cross-examination he just saw Tom Robinson get put through where he's
called a boy and all terrible suggestions coming from the state prosecutor. And Link Deas says, "You get used to cruelty." At first, it seems like
And you mentioned I think at the top of the segment that the story is still relevant. And I would suggest to you that it's more relevant than it's
ever been. That there is -- that we're starting to get used to cruelty because it's an everyday thing now.
That whether it's what we're doing at the southern border separating kids from their parents, whether it's the way we talk about Muslims, whether
it's the way we talk about inner-city kids, it's an everyday thing. And we tend to tune cruelty out because it's just too much for us. We don't want
to take it home with us.
AMANPOUR: I found that very profound actually, that, because as you say. Jeff, again, in the closing, it's right after Tom Robinson makes a mistake.
You have trained him and trained him and trained him not to say I felt sorry for her.
When people said why, when he was under cross-examination by the defense, he said, "Why did you go and help this girl? Why did you accept to help
her all the time for no money, nothing, why, why, why?"
And instead of just saying I wanted to help her, I thought she could give a hand which is she could do with with a hand, he said, "I felt sorry for
her." And that was a real turning point in how you felt the jury was going to look at it. Explain that because I thought that was really, really well
DANIELS: It's a wake-up call. Black America can't feel sorry for white America because then white America would be below black America. And white
America has to have someone beneath them.
That's what I've -- I mean certainly, this segment, the KKK and those who believe that white America is the dominant race, the -- they got to have
somebody beneath them.
So when you feel sorry for them, when you show sympathy for them, you're looking down on them and white America will not stand for that, especially
people like Bob Ewell and that -- those jury guys. I mean there's - we've got a jury that's sitting over there in those chairs and I see nothing but
white guys standing with their arms crossed. You don't see them but I see them every time I do it.
AMANPOUR: Bob Ewell, of course, is the father, KKK-ish, of the girl who falsely accuses Tom of molesting her.
SORKIN: And this is -- I mean you put your finger on what may be the most significant change from the book from the movie, which is when Tom says "I
felt sorry for her", in the book and in the movie, it was a mistake.
It was -- I mean he didn't realize that this is something that would terribly insult this white jury but it was a mistake. It's an ooh moment
and Atticus has to explain it.
In the play, we see a new scene we've never seen before where Atticus specifically warns him, don't say that for the reasons -- all of the
reasons that Jeff just said. And so it's no longer a mistake.
It's a moment in the trial where Tom's had enough of this whole thing and he just kind of with his last breath, he grabs at this chance for self-
determination, for decency, for dignity.
AMANPOUR: And that is again a very specific feeling that you put across, dignity and decency. In the end, did dignity and decency win out?
I mean Tom, you tried to get him an appeal, you assured him it was going to be fine on appeal, and then he gets shot in the back as he's allegedly is
trying to escape prison. What is the moral to take away from this today?
DANIELS: That you have to fight for it. That it's not a given, especially today. That if you want decency in civilization and respect and compassion
in human decency, apparently we have to fight for that now.
SORKIN: I agree absolutely. I would say listen, if a theme of -- [13:35:00] the moral of Don Quixote is if you want to be a knight, act like
a knight, the vested cousin to this, there's higher ground. And to get there, you don't need money or a Ph.D., you just need to want it. You need
to want to try to do the right thing.
AMANPOUR: You're taking it to the library of Congress. You've been asked, I believe, by the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, or at least she would
attend. What is it that you want the kids who will come to learn from this, to get from it?
DANIELS: We've -- it should be very similar to the student matinees. We've done several 1,400 nothing but students matinees. It's a whole
What they react to and the way they react to it, they're into it. Even junior high age. Late in the play, they're, boom, they're right where
they're supposed to be in their reaction.
So it's great to be able to take something like a story like "Mockingbird" and throw it in front of kids and whether they think about what it says or
whether there are actors, directors, you know, 12, 13-year-old kids who are going to end up, "I remember seeing "To Kill a Mockingbird" in a staged
reading in Washington and it made me want to be a writer or a director or a novelist or whatever, an actor. So there's that.
But I love the fact that we can do what we do, this play. And it plays to adults but it plays to those kids too. They're right with it right until
the end, right to the last page.
AMANPOUR: Did Atticus remind you of anybody you knew in your own life or anybody you've come across?
DANIELS: A couple of people. My dad was a lot like Atticus in that he was the guy people that went to in town to help fix a problem. And he just
lived that way. There's the right way and then there are all of the other ways.
The other guy was a guy named Frank Johnson, who was a federal judge in Alabama, that could have been what Atticus became. Just the way he handled
himself. He had written a couple of books about him. one I think he'd written or his opinions.
And he was just the guy that was in Alabama, a federal judge putting the KKK guys in jail, taking on George Wallace, dealing with Rosa Parks from
the bench. He was that guy. He put the KKK guys in jail and then they torch his mother's house a week later. He was that guy.
SORKIN: And maybe that in addition to, you asked what we hope the students take away, whether it's the students we're going to see in D.C. at Speaker
Pelosi's invitation or Jeff mentioned our Wednesday matinees. Any New York City public school student can see the play for $10.
So our Wednesday Matinees are filled with public school students, who many of whom are probably seeing a play for the first time. So as Jeff said, we
would love it if they go see a second play. We think we had something to do with that.
SORKIN: But in addition to that, maybe some of them can look at Atticus as a role model. And see that when you divide the world into winners and
losers, that kind of thing and when you tweet out 240-word clap-backs, that that's not how you're ground.
AMANPOUR: That's a good place to end about this play.
AMANPOUR: Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, thank you very much for joining me.
DANIELS: Thank you.
SORKIN: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: What a profound and ever-important work that is and what a great message to tell everybody that there is a right way and then there's every
Our next guest, Niall Ferguson, is a best-selling author, historian, and senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution. In the last 20 years, he's
presented documentaries and written numerous historical tones that chart the rise and fall of western empires.
He sits down with our Hari Sreenivasan now to talk about hate crimes rising in America as well as the ongoing China trade talks. But they start their
conversation discussing Brexit and why, having voted to remain in 2016, Ferguson now supports leaving the European Union.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNNI CONTRIBUTOR: From Nigel Farage to Boris Johnson to Liam Fox, it was supposed to be the easiest thing in the world to have a
divorce with 27 partners. What went wrong?
NIALL FERGUSON, SENIOR FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION: Well, I did say it wouldn't be easy. In fact, I wrote just before the referendum in 2016 that
it would be like a divorce. And having just gone through one I said with some bitter experience, it will take a lot longer and cost a lot more than
And sure enough so as proved, I was opposed to Brexit. I said this would be a very messy divorce. [13:40:00] When the referendum went against my
side, I said OK, that's what you want, best of luck. But, you know, it has gone pretty much as badly as I feared.
SREENIVASAN: So you switched your position on it, why?
FERGUSON: Well, my feeling was that the result of the referendum was a compelling one and I'm not the kind of person who is a bad loser. My
feeling was they won and they should then deliver.
And there was no point complaining about it. I didn't want to be classified as a moaner. So my view was all right, that's what you decided
to do. I understand why.
And I remember saying this in late 2016, I get why you're disillusioned with the European Union. I get why, in particular, the migration crisis
that the Germans largely caused has led to this shift. I get why you're frustrated with the way in which European regulations impact the U.K.
economy, although I don't think that is as big a problem as you realize.
And I get why the British public on a whole doesn't want to be part of a Federal Europe. That had become increasingly become the goal. So I kind
of made my peace with it but my sense that it would not be well handled proved to be correct.
I think it was mishandled by Theresa May in a number of ways. I'll mention two. Invoking Article 50, triggering the process before anybody had really
figured out what kind of a Brexit it was going to be. Theresa May just went around saying Brexit means Brexit, which is not a particularly
The same mistake with the Collin election and throw away the majority that the Conservatives had won under David Cameron. So those two mistakes have
made it almost possible to deliver within the timeframe that began with Article 50.
SREENIVASAN: So what happens then? I mean one extension after another after another. If you carry out this divorce analogy, how many years does
FERGUSON: Well, you know, divorces go on a lot longer than two years in many cases. So it could be that it's extension, negotiation, extension,
negotiation. I could imagine a scenario like that.
I can imagine as a result, Brexit never happens or it happens in a very soft form that leaves people who were in favor of Brexit deeply
dissatisfied. But my sense is the more important dynamic is going on within British politics.
This is an issue that divides both the major parties, Conservative and Labour, but it divides the Conservatives much more profoundly. And the way
in which Theresa May has managed the Brexit process has if anything deepened the division.
My suspicion is that she will not be prime minister for much long, that there is going to be in relatively short time a leadership election for the
Conservatives. And I guess probably a general election more likely than another referendum although who knows?
FERGUSON: And that political process is leading in unforeseeable directions. I find it very hard to believe that any Conservative leader is
going to win the next general election because the public is thoroughly fed up. Whether they were pro or anti-Brexit, they're fed up of this
protracted and incomprehensible wrangle over minutiae, the backstop, single market, customs union, to Norway. Most people are just fed up with all of
FERGUSON: I think they will punish the Conservatives at the polls, which means ironically that the net result of Brexit could be Jeremy Corbyn, the
Labour leader, the most left-wing leader in generations, perhaps ever in the Labour Party's history becoming prime minister.
SREENIVASAN: Does that mean they'll just reverse it, have another referendum and they go against the will of the people the first time
FERGUSON: Well, here's where it gets even more bizarre. Because Corbyn himself as an old-guard leftist is in favor of Brexit. He is somebody who
is for Brexit for quite different reasons.
Conservative Brexiteers have this fantasy that it was going to be free trade Britain doing deals with the U.S. and the kind of Singapore of
Europe. If you're an old Labour socialist, what you really want to do is get out of Europe so you can do socialism and nationalize industries and do
the kind of interventions in the economy that European rules don't allow.
So if Corbyn becomes prime minister, he's going to be in an awkward position. My guess is that he will probably go for a soft Brexit that
leaves Britain in the European Customs Union. But that itself won't solve all of the problems, not at least the problem arising with the Northern
So he's going to be in almost as difficult a position as Theresa May. In that scenario, Brexit just becomes this endless divorce. Nobody can, in
fact, solve the conundrum of Britain's leaving the European Union. And maybe we will be talking about this issue 10 years from now and there will
still be no end in sight to [13:45:00] the divorce.
SREENIVASAN: During that process, it seems like there was a disconnect in the sense that there was one conversation happening about GDP and trade and
how important everything is and then there was another conversation certainly for the folks who wanted to leave, this is about immigration,
this is about sovereignty, this is about a changing landscape so to speak.
Those things are still not addressed, right, whether Britain is out or not. I Europe still has to tackle this very large challenge of what to do about
FERGUSON: I think that's right. Looking back on 2016, David Cameron and George Osborne wanted to frame the debate about the economic cost of
And I think ultimately, the projections of those costs will turn out to be roughly right, even if it's taking a bit longer to happen than was
originally said. But actually, I found when I was wandering around provincial Britain talking about this with the people before the
referendum, that they really weren't that bothered by the percentage of gross domestic product that it was going to cost.
The attitude I encountered was it's worth paying that to get out. Because if we stay in, then the problems that are brewing over there, in
particular, the migration crisis, which you remember spiked in 2015, '16 when 1.3 million people or thereabouts came in mostly to Germany, the
hardest question that got asked in 2016 in my experience was this.
You know those 1.3 million people that the Germans have let in, if they get German passports, can they come here? And it was not possible to say no
because given the way in which the European Union works with free movement.
If people become German citizens, or for that matter, citizens in other E.U. countries, they do have the right to move to the U.K. It had been the
experience of the previous decade that really quite a lot of people have come from the new member states. Poland, for example, or the Baltic States
because the British economy was actually better at generating jobs for migrants than any of the other European economies.
So if you get into the European Union and you want to get employed, it's perfectly rational to try to get to the U.K. This was the tension I think
at the heart of the British situation. The government of 2016 wanted to have a conversation about economic costs. Voters, particularly provincial
voters, out there in what you might call Middle England, wanted to have a conversation about immigration.
SREENIVASAN: What about shifting on this side of the pond, "The Washington Post", they went and looked at a bunch of different counties that had
hosted a 2016 Trump campaign rally and they saw a 226 percent increase in reported hate crimes over comparable counties that did not have such a
Obviously, that's not causation but is there something where -- obviously, the campaign is not strategically picking up people or counties I should
say that have increased numbers of hateful people. Is there a correlation between the messages that are being sent and received?
FERGUSON: Well, I haven't seen that study so it is hard to comment on it. I mean I think it's clear that a part of what we might call Trumpism is an
appeal to activist racist sentiments but I don't think it is the most important part of Trumpism.
And the reason I say that is that the decisive votes that gave Trump the presidency in the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin came
about when people who had voted for Barack Obama in two elections voted for Donald Trump.
Now, that seems to me to run counter to the narrative that Trump is mainly about white supremacy. There's no doubt that there are some marginal
groups of people who believe in white supremacy but what I'm struck by is the tendency of the media to exaggerate the importance of these people and
to make assumptions about the attitudes of Trump voters that fit the preconceptions of coastal elites about what really motivated the Trump
SREENIVASAN: How much of that is Trump's responsibility? In some ways, some of his silence on hateful acts that are happening, either whether
they're from their supporters or even if they're not. It seems like one of the positions of leadership regardless of where you are in the world is to
just call out what is good and what is bad And help signal that to your society.
FERGUSON: Well, I was not a fan of Donald Trump and I found much about his campaign abhorrent. Ours is a mixed-race family. My wife is African.
It's very uncomfortable indeed for me to see race revive as a subject of politics in the United States.
But I see it happening on both sides of the political divide. It's not just this -- some elements on the right want to make race an issue. Even
at the same time, I am made uncomfortable by the sustained efforts of the progressive left to [13:50:00] make everything about race.
I don't want my boys to think that the most important thing about their lives is that they are of mixed race. And my sense is that both the far-
left and the far-right are in a strange dialectal campaign to make everything in American politics about identity.
So one can condemn the president for his often distasteful rhetoric but he's not the only person who's using a racialized language. It's happening
as much on the left as far as I can see.
SREENIVASAN: Is the appetite that propelled Trump into power, the appetite perhaps for disruption, for really shaking things up, does that keep him in
the White House?
FERGUSON: Every political economy model that plugs in variables, particularly economic variables, has Trump being re-elected at this point.
And that must come as something of an unpleasant result for the kind of liberal professors who designed these models.
So at the moment, you have to ask the question, what could override this pretty fair economic win that he currently enjoys? And it's a fair win
that's getting fairer in the sense that the federal reserve has signaled a loose monetary policy.
So it seems likely that the economy is going to play his way. I think some of the issues that we've discussed are relevant. Younger voters, college-
educated voters, are quite partially alienated by the president's style. Women, particularly college-educated women seem likely to be a demographic
that he fairs badly with.
The key question when one looks ahead to 2020 is can the Democrats find a candidate capable of defeating the president even if the economy is going
his way, at a time when the Democratic Party seems to be moving to the left to the extent that the word socialism has returned to American politics, in
a way that I certainly would not have predicted when I first moved to this country? So that is really the question that the Democrats have to grapple
One last point I will make, if you ask voters around the country what is the most important issue, 40-plus percent say health care. And if you look
at the key swing states, the ones that really mattered for Trump in 2016, it's actually between 44 percent and 49 percent
The Republicans have a huge problem because they now own, health care is an issue, and Americans are deeply dissatisfied on that issue. If Trump ends
up having to compete with a relatively centrist Democratic candidate on that kind of terrain, then it may be that the combination of cultural
estrangement of educated American voters, of women voters, younger voters, plus this health care issue, to prevent him getting the election. So I
would put his probability of re-election at 60 percent right now.
SREENIVASAN: Finally, you were just in China. Americans have started to pay attention to what's happening with these trade negotiations.
What are the Chinese thinking? Is this likely to end soon? And do we both come out winners, losers?
FERGUSON: Win-win is the favorite expression in Beijing. And they still use it when you go to the China Development Forum as I did last week. And
their hope is that a trade deal is imminent between the United States and China.
And I think President Trump actually wants to do that kind of deal with Xi Jinping. The question is whether the negotiators on the American side and
her on the Chinese side can reach an agreement before the two presidents meet.
I think they're going to agree on some things but I don't think they can agree on everything unless somebody moves really quite a long way in the
coming days. So my sense is that there's going to be a partial but not a comprehensive agreement. And the negotiation on at least some of the
issues, data, and enterprises, perhaps intellectual property, will continue.
So we might have part one of the trade deal to be followed at some future date by part two. An interesting thing is though that even if there's a
comprehensive trade agreement, there is another conflict between the U.S. and China that isn't going to go away and that's what I call the tech war.
The tech war about 5g, about artificial intelligence, that war is not in fact being driven by President Trump. It's being driven much more by
Congress and that isn't about to stop.
Ultimately, we've moved from 2016 when we were talking about China in Trump's terms, about jobs lost from the manufacturing heartland to China to
a quite different debate now, which is about national security and China's potential technological leadership or at least China's taking American
Now, that's a very different debate. And I think that transition from trade war to tech war is the thing to watch.
SREENIVASAN: Niall Ferguson, thanks so much.
FERGUSON: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: An interesting [13:55:00] warning there from the Historian Niall Ferguson.
But that is it for now. Remember, you can listen to our podcast at any time. See us online at amanpour.com. And follow me on Instagram and
Thanks for watching. And goodbye from New York.