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NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison Talks About NATO; New Congressional Hearings Kick Off The Critical Next Phase Of The Impeachment Inquiry; Psychologist Jonathan Haidt On The Topic Of The Times: How Social Media Fuels Anxieties And Polarization. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired December 4, 2019 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think NATO is stronger than it's ever been.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice over): President Trump turns from bashing NATO to celebrating it. Can this London meeting keep the 70-year-old Alliance on
track? I ask America's NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): Never before in the history of the Republic have we been forced to consider the conduct of a President who appears to
have solicited personal political favors from a foreign government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice over): New congressional hearings kickoff the critical next phase of the Impeachment Inquiry. I ask author, Michael Lewis about
the fifth risk and not leaving national security to the experts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN HAIDT, AMERICAN SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Anything we say can be taken, distorted and made to shame us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice over): Psychologist Jonathan Haidt on the topic of the times, how social media fuels anxieties and polarization.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. President Trump put his own interests above the
country's, that's according to the House Intelligence Committees conclusion on its Impeachment Inquiry.
And now, all eyes turn to the Judiciary Committee, which is tasked with drawing up Articles of Impeachment. While the process shifts into a new
gear, President Trump is on a diplomatic mission to London.
Today, the official meeting of NATO leaders took place, the President is touting his America First foreign policy while also discussing key issues
like trade, Turkey and Syria.
But after this tape caught allies attending a reception at Buckingham Palace joking about Trump's long press conferences, he lashed out at his
nemesis, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, calling him two-face and a laggard with NATO payments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He's not paying two percent and he should be paying two percent. Canada, they have money, and they should be paying two percent. So I
called him out on that, and I'm sure he wasn't happy about it, but that's the way it is.
Look, I'm representing the U.S. and he should be paying more than he is paying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So can this leaders' meeting keep the 70-year-old NATO Alliance on track despite these tensions? Here with me meet to discuss all this and
more is Kay Bailey Hutchison.
She's the former Republican Senator from Texas, and she is the current U.S. Ambassador to NATO. Welcome to the program.
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So there's quite a lot to dig down into. It's actually kind of exciting. I mean, you've got this very important foreign and national
security policy meeting going on here.
But you've also got the shadow of the new, you know, the new moves in the Impeachment Inquiry. Because you were a senator there during the Clinton
impeachment, I just want you to tell me how it feels to be here with the President abroad, doing the mission of diplomacy and NATO Alliance while
this is hanging over yours/his head.
HUTCHINSON: You know, it really was not a factor in this meeting, and it really hasn't been at NATO because we have been working so hard to get to
this meeting to do the deliverables that we were working on, the adaptation of NATO, the burden sharing, which is a great story that the President has
focused on it and actually asked Europeans to stand up two years ago, and they are.
And we have now, I think, built a stronger NATO, a stronger Alliance unity and when you saw the meeting today, which I was there, and you heard all of
these heads of state saying, our strength is unity and that was the common theme. And they want transatlantic unity. They want America in - that was
part of the reason that NATO was founded in 1949, as you well know, America to stay in to get in earlier to avoid conflict. And that's what we talked
AMANPOUR: So did the leaders bring President Trump to this place? Or did Trump bring them to this place? Because I talked to the Secretary General
Jens Stoltenberg, just as he was opening the conference, and he told me this about the money. Let's just play what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: European allies and Canada are really stepping up by the end of 2024, which is this pledge period,
European allies and Canada will add $400 billion more for defense. That's unprecedented. That's making NATO stronger.
And of course, I expect that President Trump will recognize this progress because it is really making a difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, you have to admire the diplomatic skill of Jen Stoltenberg, right? I mean, he has consistently tried to bring President
Trump on board and got some deliverables that Trump himself wanted.
HUTCHINSON: That's exactly right. And, Jens Stoltenberg has actually worked with the President. The President really likes him and believes
that he is doing a great job.
But you know, I have served with four Presidents. And every President has said Europe needs to stand up more. This is not something new that
President Trump came up with.
But I will say that because President Trump has been so forceful that Europeans have stepped up. As Jens just said, we do have now looking at
$130 billion just in this three-year period that Europeans have stepped up along with Canada, and then by 2024, $400 billion more. And what that is,
is the strength of the Alliance.
We can't be a deterrent to Russia, to terrorists and even to a looming China, if we don't have the capabilities that are necessary. That means
the guns, the ships, the airplanes, the space and hybrid -- and cyber equipment. So we had to have a boost in the money. And that's why he's
focused so much on it, and it has worked. I mean, it's working.
AMANPOUR: It's also something that, you know, he is known as a transactional guy. He is a businessman and his foreign policy and his
dealings with others are transactional. So this fits right into his bailiwick.
But you heard Jens Stoltenberg said, Europe and Canada, but the President keeps criticizing Canada and saying it's not shaping up enough and I want
to play you this piece of tape that obviously got the President angry. I want to get your take on it. The Buckingham Palace joking session, shall
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER OF GREAT BRITAIN: Is that why you were late?
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: [INAUDIBLE]
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: He was late because he takes a four -- forty-minute press conference off the top every time. Oh, yes,
yes, forty minutes. He announced --
I just watched, I watched his team's jaws just drop to the floor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So there you have the Prime Ministers of Great Britain, Canada, the Dutch Prime Minister, Princess and the Princess Royal and the French
President kind of joking, mocking, you know, President Trump's propensity to hold forth to the press for many, many, many long hours and minutes.
How do you -- how do you read what they said about him? And I mean, is it serious? Are people fed up with him? Is it just a joke?
HUTCHINSON: Oh, you know, I think people now understand a little better that he is loquacious and you can't say that he isn't ready to talk to the
press. I mean, he is available. And he had --
AMANPOUR: In certain situations. Not one-on-ones with us. But anyway, carry on. I get your point.
HUTCHINSON: And I'm telling you, 45 minutes I sat in Jens Stoltenberg press conference, 45 minutes. He finally said to the press, do you have
any more questions? And they didn't. They had asked all the questions.
So, you know, he is loquacious. He is vibrant, he has been all this week been so open. So do people talk about him? Sure. I mean, he has a
distinct personality. And people talk about it, but they respect what he has done.
I -- the other ambassadors have said to me, you know, he is making NATO stronger. He is. And he has recognized that today, which I liked that he
did come out and say, okay, I've been tough and you going in the right direction. And he recognized that and he appreciated it. So I think it
was -- I think it was a good closure of this meeting.
AMANPOUR: Definitely better than the last two, let's not, you know, mince words. In the last year, he threatened to walk out. The year before, he
wouldn't affirm Article 5, in other words, defense of one is a defense of all or an attack on one is attack on all.
But he did in these long press briefings with President Macron for instance, Canada got a hold over the calls by President Macron who took him
to task on a number of things, including the idea of joking about ISIS fighters and the analysis of whether ISIS has actually been defeated on the
I just want to play you this little soundbite of President Macron and President Trump going sort of toe-to-toe on the ISIS issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have not spoken to the President about that. Would you like some nice ISIS fighters? I can give them to you. You can take everyone you
MACRON: Let's be serious. It is foolish to have foreign fighters coming from Europe, but this is a tiny minority of the problem we have in the
MACRON: And the whole destabilization of the region makes the situation more difficult to fix the situation against ISIS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So look, that's the French President, in real time fact checking the American President and taking issue with his description of what's
happened. This is not just a sort of play on words, has ISIS been defeated or not? And if not, what do we all need to do together? By the way, it's
not just foreign fighters, it is the bulk of ISIS fighters that are still on the ground, Mr. President, and they are resurgent, Mr. President is what
the French leader is saying.
HUTCHINSON: Well, what the President was trying to say back to the French leader is, look, we have asked you to take back the foreign fighters that
are French citizens. We've asked all of our allies to do that.
And Germany and others and our allies have said no. I mean, I understand that, from a personal standpoint, they don't want ISIS fighters back in
But what the President was saying was, you kind of left us with trying to protect all these ISIS fighters so that they wouldn't come back into Europe
or into America. And so let's face this problem realistically, which means we've got to have a way to deal with those people.
They're in makeshift prisons in Syria right now. And so I think the President was putting it really back on President Macron, and also because
it is Americans who are fighting side by side in Afghanistan against counterterrorism.
We're there with our allies fighting on that front. France is not in Afghanistan, but we are and we're fighting toe-to-toe right now. So I
think the President is saying we're doing our part in ISIS. Is ISIS dead? No, they're not. And we're going to continue to make sure that we wipe out
ISIS, and we do still have -- we have troops in Syria, some; we have some in Iraq and we and we have a large number, as you know, in Afghanistan.
So I don't think that we were on the losing end of that, because I think, really, we've done our part and more, and we're asking others to help.
AMANPOUR: I mean, the French President said this is not just about money, it's also about boots on the ground, and he rightly pointed out. And the
President agreed that they have soldiers down in Africa and elsewhere, fighting terrorism down there.
So you know, it's half a dozen one, six of another. But here's the point. The French President -- this is really critical given what happened between
Turkey, the United States and the Syrian allies.
The French President says, look, here we are a NATO Alliance. The reason I called it brain dead is because we do not have the same description and
definition of terrorism.
These are our allies, the YPG, the Syrian Kurds who have done the bulk of the fighting against ISIS, and yet, we have allowed Turkey for its own
domestic reasons to come in and attack them -- our allies. That's a crisis. Right?
And how do you feel about your President, one major NATO leader giving a green light to another major NATO leader without telling any of the other
HUTCHINSON: Well, I wouldn't say they gave a green light. We said from the very beginning that we wanted this to be a safe zone that we certainly
did not want them to attack the YPG -- the Kurds.
We have been fighting side by side with the Kurds. There is no doubt we consider the Kurds allies. They have been great ISIS fighters with us.
But we said to Turkey, who has been attacked by terrorist groups --
AMANPOUR: But not these -- I mean, you don't consider YPG terrorists.
HUTCHINSON: We do not. We do not. And no one in the Alliance will agree to any language that would say that. But what we did want was for there to
be a safe zone, and we gave our parameters around Turkey.
Then when it didn't turn out that way, in those early times, the Vice President and the Secretary of State went to Turkey and got a ceasefire and
that was a very important step to make sure that Turkey was keeping its word and that then settled things and we are still talking to Turkey about
making sure that there is a safe area for the Kurds.
And, of course, what we really want, Christiane, is to go to Geneva so that there can be a government in Syria that acknowledges that they have a
minority population that needs to have human rights and be protected.
And all of us, the whole NATO alliance believes that Geneva is where we need to be and Russia has been propping up the Assad regime, and that's
been a big factor and a big problem.
AMANPOUR: And it looks like Assad has won, thanks to Russia because I want to remind you of something you said to me the last time we spoke. You
basically said that Russia was looking for a weak spot in NATO to divide the Alliance, which you said, I think it's so important that we show the
strength, we show unity, that Russia will not consider doing any more probing to look for weak spots in NATO.
Russia is now looking for the weak spots that would divide this alliance. Do you still think that's true? And given that Turkey, a NATO ally is so
close to Russia. Do you think Turkey while it's an Alliance member, is it actually a partner? In other words, do face problems from both Turkey and
HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, I do think Russia is looking for weaknesses and the Alliance and we are very concerned that Turkey is buying
the S-400, which is a missile defense system that could shoot down our F- 35s and the F-35s that so many NATO countries have. I mean, we are interoperable.
And this is a still ongoing discussion that we are having with Turkey because we're not going to be able to allow them to buy the F-35s, which
they had already agreed to purchase because they are a strong ally with us. And they have done their part in everything that that we've done.
Turkey has a framework nation in Afghanistan. They've been in -- they are in Iraq. They are an ally of ours. So we're still talking to them about
that relationship with Russia. We don't -- we're not telling them that they can't have a relationship, but we are saying you can't have the S-400
and also have the F-35.
So this is attention. I will say its attention right now. But it's not a breakup of our alliance. And I think that you saw today that Prime
Minister/President was defensive about what they were doing. They consider YPG a terrorist organization. We do not. We consider that they are
fighters with us, side by side.
We have said to them, we don't think it is right to have a Russian missile defense system in our alliance. They know how we feel about it. We're
still talking, but we just have to keep trying to keep Turkey in NATO. It's very important that they stay with us. They are effective allies, and
we don't want them to go fulltime into a Russian Alliance.
AMANPOUR: So I guess I have to ask you this question because we're moving on to this other subject and that is the Impeachment Inquiry which focus on
Russia and Ukraine.
I mean, do you then think that it's appropriate for the President, the President of the United States to be kind of undermining Ukrainian defense
at least while he was holding up the defense assistance, when you have just said that Russia is still a real threat, and we know it's a real threat to
HUTCHINSON: But Russia is a threat to Ukraine. They are -- what they did taking over Crimea illegally - that is a sovereign part of Ukraine, and
most certainly in the Donbas right now, Russia is -- I mean, many deaths of Ukrainians in that part of Ukraine, and there is no question that America
supports Ukraine, its sovereignty, its sovereign boundaries.
The Normandy Group is meeting in Paris next week with Germany and France and --
AMANPOUR: That's to try to get a peace resolution.
HUTCHINSON: And Ukraine -- to try to get a peace resolution and we are very supportive of that. The President, we, America are supportive of the
Normandy conference. We will do everything on the outskirts of that that we are asked to do to move that along.
We are 100 percent for Ukraine, and so is NATO.
AMANPOUR: It's a very strong statement. Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison. Thank you very much indeed.
HUTCHINSON: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
HUTCHINSON: Good to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Now, President Trump returns to Washington today as the House Judiciary Committee hears its first testimony from four constitutional
In her opening statement. The Democratic witness, Pamela Karlan said the following:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAMELA KARLAN, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC INTEREST LAW, STANFORD LAW SCHOOL: Based on the evidentiary record before you, what has happened in the case
today is something that I do not think we have ever seen before: A President who has doubled down on violating his oath to faithfully execute
the laws and to protect and defend the Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But the Republican witness, Jonathan Turley rejects that premise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC INTEREST LAW, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL LAW: What we leave in the wake of this scandal will
shape our democracy for generations to come. I'm concerned about lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of
I believe this impeachment not only fails to satisfy the standard of past impeachments, it would create a dangerous precedent for future
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Among other things, Trump has been criticized for sidelining the foreign policy professionals and leaving key national security issues in
the hands of his cronies.
Joining me to discuss this is the bestselling author, Michael Lewis, who wrote the definitive book on the financial crisis, "The Big Short," and his
latest book, "The Fifth Risk," now an updated paperback edition predicted a crisis of governance under President Trump that seems to be unfolding in
real time right now.
And Michael Lewis is joining me to discuss this from New York. Welcome back to our program.
MICHAEL LEWIS, AUTHOR: Well, thank you for having me back. Usually, people don't.
AMANPOUR: Well, I hope I'm not mistaken for having you back. Let's see what you're going to say.
You wrote the book on what we seem to see unfolding right now. I mean, you wrote this a year ago about, you know, in a sense, you know, sort of the
novices, the amateurs, being in charge of some of the most important aspects of governance and particularly foreign and national security
policy. Just what are you thinking right now?
LEWIS: Well, about the impeachment, I have a couple of thoughts. But the first is, from where I sit, the whole thing has got the shape of a very bad
story, because you already feel like you know the ending. He is going to be impeached, and the Senate is not going to remove him from office.
And the question is, are any minds in America going to be changed? And the thing that I just found so shocking is how impervious the American mind
right now is to, like new information.
You're getting really interested in the impeachment hearings, but the kind of people who you would hope would be interested in the impeachment
hearings are paying no attention to it whatsoever.
So, for me, the second thing about these hearings that it was actually kind of in a funny way reassuring, was when finally they dragged the poor civil
servants from the State Department. You know, they had to subpoena them to testify and they testified. The world just saw what it was like to have
someone who knew something about the subject talking about it.
And, you know, Fiona Hill got a standing ovation when she was finished. And I think what, you know, people -- and then people milling and then good
and go back and forget about all of that.
But my story, the story that I've told in the book is about those people. It's like about what are those people that Trump dismisses as the Deep
State actually doing? And what's going on inside their minds when they're doing it?
AMANPOUR: Well, well, I mean, as you say, you know, the book was originally published a year ago. Now, we've got the paperback out. But
you basically said, you know, part of the description of the book reads, "The Fifth Risk unspools the consequences if the people given control over
our government have no idea how it works."
LEWIS: And so it goes back, I think, just as a refresher, it goes back when Trump took over the government, he had by law to have this transition
team in place of hundreds of people to go in and receive the government from the Obama administration in those meetings that there was going to be
an exchange of information that would explain how this government worked in all the departments of government.
And he fired the entire team in the days after the election, so he never bothered to go get -- you know, he never found out how the Center for
Disease Control worked or how the Department of Energy worked or how the State Department worked.
So the ignorance is the -- is the first principle here. So it isn't -- it looks maybe from the outside, it looks like a sinister conspiracy to
dismantle the government. I think he actually just doesn't know anything.
And it has relegated all to the category of not important to me even though he is supposed to be running it. And the problem with that is that when
you do that, when you take what is this critical mission, all of these many missions inside the Federal government and you say I'm going to pay no real
attention to it, what floods in is incompetence and narrow self-interest and in many cases, just nobody there in the seats to do the jobs.
And just to finish this line of discussion, it's been really interesting for me to see the way he can say the Deep State is after me et cetera et
cetera and people, at least the people on inside seem to sort of buy into that and when you look -- when you back away from the American government
and compare it to any other democracy, it's the least Deep State of any democracy. It is a very shallow state.
LEWIS: Because unlike the other democracies, there are not -- there is not this permanent civil service that actually runs things, that when the
President comes in, he is meant to appoint 4,000 people to run the government. It's his state.
And the civil servants by nature are kind of there to do his bidding. And they were, you know, I ran all over the government interviewing people and
the main response they had to the Trump administration was, tell us what to do, you know, give us some direction. Explain what it is you're trying to
do other than tweet, and so that's the basic problem.
AMANPOUR: But you know what? I just want to read you or play a little bit of a sound bite by one of the Intelligence officials, the former
Intelligence Officer, Susan Gordon, who spoke up this week. As you probably know, she was ousted recently in favor of a political loyalist.
But she talked about briefing President Trump. And it's really interesting what she says given that she was basically ousted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN GORDON, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I found him actually kind of a fun brief. Because he was interactive, he
would challenge you.
And again, because the role of Intelligence is to be provided with some clarity and insight, you can't wish that the recipient were different from
where they were. Your challenge is to present it in a way that it can be heard. So I think that was something and I think everyone who has been in
the Oval Office with this President would say that that was true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What's your take on what she said?
LEWIS: So this is the spirit in which these people who find their way into government service operate. I'm going to tell you a quick little story
because I have gone and written a vast chunk to the back of this book.
And unlike previous books I've written, actually it's kind of -- I've never -- I haven't lost interest in the subject by writing about it because the
story just keeps going on and getting richer and thicker.
But when -- in the government shutdown earlier this year when Trump -- because the Congress would not put money for the wall along the Mexican
border in the budget bill, he just refused to sign them.
So for 35 days, a large chunk of the Federal workforce was just sent home and told they were inessential and I just basically picked out of a jar
somewhere -- a jar filled with names of inessential workers, a worker -- just to see what these people were like. Like, what did it feel like to be
an inessential worker in the in the government and how inessential were they?
And the guy I end up going to see, and it really is kind of randomly selected, has spent 35 years in the United States Coast Guard as the lone
oceanographer in the Coast Guard.
He comes into the government, kind of as a young graduate, just a postgraduate student, not knowing quite what his mission is going to be and
he discovers the mission and the mission is find Americans who are lost at sea. That's what his job is. Find Americans -- and an unbelievable number
of Americans who are lost at sea every day apparently, we're really good at it.
Like the Coast Guard pulls 13 -- 10 Americans out of the water on average every day and three die.
So what this guy has spent his career doing is just focusing on the problem. And this was what all of these people are like and the problem
is, how do we better find people?
And he realizes, the problem is -- with the Coast Guard and finding people -- is that we don't know how objects drift on the ocean. That we don't
know what's the difference between a man and a life preserver for someone on an overturned sailboat or someone on a life raft?
And he spends his entire career creating new knowledge and the knowledge how these different objects drift. And as a result of his work, Americans
are saved at a rate they've never been saved before. I mean, right after his work is sort of perfected and released, a guy goes over a cruise ship
off the coast of Miami, is assumed to be just dead.
But they plug in this fellow's algorithms and they follow how a body drifts in the ocean and they pluck him out of the ocean. And no one has any idea
why that happened.
Now, this person, his names is Arthur Allen has spent 35 years doing this, doing it alone. No one had bothered to get his replacement trained up in
the Trump administration. He was due to retire right after the shutdown, and the shutdown kind of pushed him out the door. They said he was
So you have this -- it's like a pocket of expertise or a pocket of information and the pocket erodes, so the sort of the possibility of
progress that is being entirely neglected by the administration and who pays the price for this? Not Trump. I mean, the bill is going to be
delivered 20 years from now or 10 years from now, when we can't do things that we otherwise might have done.
LEWIS: And that's the message that amazes me is not being delivered to the American people by some Democratic candidate.
But I think it's a complicated message delivering it. You can't do it in three minutes on cable TV.
AMANPOUR: Yes, well, we've got, you know, 20 minutes on PBS. So we're doing very well you and I.
LEWIS: I know.
AMANPOUR: We have some depth. So let me ask you this, because people are going to say that this incredible story that you've just recounted is truly
incredible. And this nonessential so-called personnel should have been essential and should have been replaced, but we know that it wasn't Trump
that named him nonessential. That category has been nonessential for a long time.
But in today's, you know, next move in the Impeachment Inquiry, the Ranking Member, the Republican, Collins from Georgia essentially laid out the
Republican response in terms of who likes Trump and who doesn't. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): ... what's very interesting is that the Chairman talked a lot about the founders from the quotes, and again, this
is why we have the hearing about the founders being concerned about foreign influence.
But what he also didn't quote was the founders being really, really concerned about political impeachment. Because you just don't like the
guy. He didn't like him since November of 2016.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, he is right. People on the other side just like him. A lot of people do because they elected him, but people don't like him who
are bringing this bringing this process. How does one untangle personal views from, you know, legal jeopardy and high crimes and misdemeanors and
the impeachment process?
LEWIS: You invited a foreign country to meddle in our democratic process, and it very much matters whether you like him or not.
I mean, I think the thing is, what's happened is that the emotions have gotten so amped up, that one side can point to the other and say the only
reason you're saying this is you're in this emotional state, you hate him.
But the mere fact that you dislike him is not a reason not to impeach him. And as I dial it all back, my view of that, of this whole process is it
doesn't much matter whether he is impeached or not.
I mean, I just don't think it's that -- it's going to move the needle at all. It's going to be -- and I also think that like the way the Trump show
works, is that a month from now, will be our two months from now, we will be talking about something with equal passion, and it's entirely forgotten
whether he was impeached or not.
So -- it's -- I do think like almost everything around Donald Trump is a red herring to distract us from the big things that are we should be paying
AMANPOUR: Yes. So one --
LEWIS: The biggest thing we should be -- the biggest thing we should be paying attention to is that he is not paying any attention to the Federal
government and the Federal government is the society.
I mean, without it -- if it is allowed to do to be degraded in the way it's been degraded for a long time, it will lead to catastrophe.
I mean, the government is the chief manager of a lot of catastrophic risk.
AMANPOUR: So not only have you delved into this in the book, but you've also delved in your recent podcast to the notion of referees of society.
You know, the things that keeps society running on a fair and level playing field.
In your podcast, "Against The Rules," you have basically said -- basically, it takes a searing look at what's happened to fairness, asking what's how
into a world where everyone loves to hate the referee? Expand on that a little bit what the examples you look at, but crucially, can Congress still
be a referee? Was Congress ever considered a referee?
LEWIS: So the theme that runs through the podcast is that anybody who is set up as a -- and is actually functioning as a fair attempt, someone
attempting to be a fair-minded an independent judge is under new kinds of assault.
And I give you the specific case that we actually led with because it's so clear and it may bore you because it has to do with American sports, but in
professional basketball, you can -- the National Basketball Association keeps stats on its referees. They can show you that the referees today are
many times more accurate than they were 30 years ago and there are some obvious reasons for it.
They are trained in ways they were never trained before. They're giving feedback about their mistakes in real time. They have new technology --
replay technology -- and so on and so forth that enables them to actually change their calls when they suspect they might have made a mistake.
LEWIS: Like there's many, many, many fewer refereeing errors happening and at the same time, the hostility and anger directed towards the referees by
the by the fans is out of control. It's multiples of what it was so that for the referee to get from his hotel room to the basketball arena, he now
needs an armed guard.
The kind of abuse that's heaped on them is just not like it used to be. So -- and I think that's a -- they're a microcosm. I think that that person
in that role, no matter even if they're getting better, is thought to be worse. And I think there are a whole bunch of reasons for this.
I mean, I don't think it is a simple story. But -- so you ask, can Congress be a referee? The question is really, will the American public as
a whole regard whatever Congress does as a fair minded process? And I can already tell you the answer is no. Of course, it won't.
The Congress is held in lower esteem than like serial killers. So how on earth can this body generate anything that's going to shift public opinion
when public opinion already dismisses everything it does?
AMANPOUR: So just FYI, I wasn't bored by the sports and I love the NBA and I love basketball, but let's just move on to our last question.
LEWIS: It was a risk.
AMANPOUR: It was a risk. It was a risk. But you took the right risk there by telling that story.
Listen, just to sum up, you know, this guy Frank Wuco, who was a former talk show host and a Naval Intelligence Officer. He once suggested using
nuclear weapons, a tactical nuclear weapon on al Qaeda in Afghanistan after 9/11 and is now at the State Department working on issues of arms control.
An extraordinary event last week where the Navy Secretary, Richard Spencer was ousted after a dispute that was over, you know, how to handle war
crimes allegations against a Navy SEAL.
As you know, President Trump intervened to protect that Navy SEAL and Spencer wrote a scathing op-ed, basically saying that President Trump has
very little understanding of how the American military works, but this is the key that he said, "Americans need to know that 99.9 percent of our
uniformed members always have, always are and always will make the right decision. Our allies need to know that we remain a force for good and to
please bear with us as we move through this moment in time."
LEWIS: You know, we really are like a family with the way the crazy uncle has shown up and taken over the Christmas dinner, and we're just going to
try -- we will try to wait this out and hope that this isn't us, and I think, you know, this is why we have elections for to decide whether this
AMANPOUR: Michael Lewis, thank you so much.
LEWIS: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So in a time of heightened political tension, our next guest has an idea of what's driving this polarized atmosphere around the world.
Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist and coauthor of the "Coddling of the American Mind," and he believes that social media has so transformed in
recent years, becoming an outrage machine spreading anger and toxicity.
Our Hari Sreenivasan sat down with him to discuss how it all happens and what he thinks the solutions are.
HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Jonathan Haidt, thanks for joining us.
HAIDT: Thank you, Hari.
SREENIVASAN: You recently wrote an article that looked at kind of the intersection of technology and psychology and how social networks and
social media are changing our both collective psychology and individual, so lay it out for us.
HAIDT: Sure. So I'm a social psychologist, and I study morality and how our politics is based in our ancient tribal us versus them circuits, and
I've been studying political polarization since about 2004 and watching it get worse.
In the last few years beginning before the 2016 election, it got so much worse, and weird stuff started happening on college campuses. And then
weird stuff started happening in other institutions and in other countries.
And I started thinking, what's going on? Why does it seem like things are going haywire, at the same time different areas of life in different
SREENIVASAN: So examples of the weird stuff?
HAIDT: Well, so on college campuses, beginning in 2015, we suddenly had students with these new ideas that we could not understand about fragility.
Students asking for trigger warnings, safe spaces. This idea that speech is violence, words are dangerous.
And at first, we thought it was something strange we were doing on campus. And my friend Greg Lukianoff and I wrote an article in "The Atlantic"
called "The Coddling of the American Mind," we thought it was something we were doing on campus.
Well, years later, we realized, no, we were wrong. Gen Z arrived in 2015, and so then we started thinking, well, how did kids born in 1996 and later,
how did they change?
But in more recent years, we've realized it's not even just Gen Z, it's all of us, all of our institutions are malfunctioning.
HAIDT: Not all, but many are going haywire in a way that suggests some common cause. And the recent "Atlantic" article is about that common
cause: The changes in social media that happened between 2009 and 2012 that most people don't understand.
SREENIVASAN: Okay, what are some of those changes? How did they happen?
HAIDT: So, you've got to put yourself back in the early days of social media, 2003-2004, you get Friendster, and MySpace and The Facebook, and
these were pretty nice places.
It's just, hey, look at me. Here are the bands I like. Here are the links to all my friends. Okay. That's what it was for the first few years.
There was no way to spread outrage. It was not destructive. It was not toxic.
The big change happens in 2009, Facebook introduces the like button, and now for the first time, everything can be graded and ranked and now
everybody is rewarding or punishing everyone else with a single click.
SREENIVASAN: It is a popularity contest.
HAIDT: A popularity contest. Exactly. So now speech isn't just, you know, you and me talking, it's you and me talking in a way that I can get
the most likes for what I say, and you're just a tool I'm using to get more likes.
Twitter at the same time introduces the retweet button, and now the things I'm saying that you're liking tend to be the things that are going to make
people upset or angry or emotional, and then you or anyone can press retweet and spread that so now my anger can go to thousands or even
millions of people within a day.
And then the third big one is that Facebook takes the newsfeed and algorithmasizes it. It used to be just chronological. Now, it's optimized
for engagement. The things that make people engage are the things that go to the top of other people's newsfeed.
Put these three things together, what you get is a transformation of social media from hey, look at me and who I like, to I can't believe he said that
and I'm angry, too. And so we created this -- we -- the social media platforms got converted into an outrage machine we call it in this article
that I wrote with Tobias Rose-Stockwell who really understands social media from the inside.
Before I worked with him, I didn't realize how everything changed between 2009 and 2012 and then the next step is that the news media, mainstream
media has to adapt to this new world in which people aren't getting -- they're not going to "The New York Times" site as much, let's say. They're
getting links from Facebook.
So once you get everything wrapped up together, we're in a fundamentally different informational structure, a new structure than we were in 2008.
SREENIVASAN: So that the mainstream media is watching social media to see what's bubbling up, and then all of a sudden, it's on the news and then
back on social media.
HAIDT: Exactly. A little fix. So it used to be the news would talk about big things that would happen. And you wouldn't cover a fight between two
kids in a school in Peoria.
But now, maybe a video comes out of something that someone said somewhere in the country and people spin it, they manipulate what it was, they make
it more outrageous and that spreads virally on social media.
Now, all journalists are on Twitter -- just about -- and so they pick up things and oh, that that might get me -- if I write an article about that.
That might get me in the most e-mailed list.
So the journalists are looking for interesting news stories. So then something can bubble up and be covered on the news, and then of course,
there's all kinds of social media about the news story.
So we are now immersed in a cycle of conflicts about trivial things -- trivial things -- a word that somebody used, typically, things like that.
And it's filling our minds and distracting us from thinking about more important issues.
SREENIVASAN: I can hear activists behind my head saying, hey, what about the actual moments of transparency that social media has enabled? You
know, outrageous behavior by authorities in different places and different ways and were captured on and now it's actually getting the light of day
that it should have, right?
HAIDT: No, that's all true. So with each new revolution of technology you get, you get a lot of good things happening, you get a lot of bad things
happening. And especially with sexual harassment, just low -- especially low level stuff that we'd accepted or even high level, even rape that was
covered up. So it's great that that's now being exposed, and of course, part of those changes will be painful for some people. That's all to the
But to the extent that democracies are now, I think much more likely to fail -- fail. That is a very serious downside. And so we've got to
optimize. We've got to figure out how do you let -- how do you -- how do you encourage what we call --
I study business ethics -- how do you encourage a speak-up culture that people don't paper over real moral offenses? How do you encourage a speak-
up culture without moving all the way to what's called a call-out culture in which we're all afraid of each other because anything we say can be
taken, distorted and made to shame us?
SREENIVASAN: How do we connect what's happening on social media to this other idea that you're talking about democracies failing?
HAIDT: Get me past that.
HAIDT: So you've got to go back to the very beginning of this country when the Founding Fathers were thinking what kind of system should we have? And
they were very good historians, but there were limited libraries and they were excellent psychologists.
HAIDT: And they wanted something like democracy, but they knew that democracy is inherently unstable. They read Plato. They read Greek
political theorists. And they knew that the Greeks thought that democracy inevitably decays into tyranny because a demagogue comes along, inflames
The people, especially if there's instability or war, want a strong leader, in sweeps the tyrant. And so the Founding Fathers were thinking, how do we
stop that from happening? And their big fear was faction.
So in the Federalist Papers, James Madison writes about faction or division and a fascinating passage, which really is the crux of our article.
Madison is musing on the fact that faction has destroyed almost all previous -- most previous democracies, somebody will inflame passions and
then they don't care about the common good. They just want to fight the enemy.
But he says, in a very big country such as ours, you know, the 13 colonies with vast distance, someone could start a fire in one place, but the
country is so big, so big that it couldn't spread to all the other states.
By the time news got there, passions would have cooled. Well, fine, but what if we get this new technology that allows passion to spread instantly?
Completely instantly? And it goes through an almost Darwinian evolution set, the most outrageous versions of the story are the ones that spread.
And so the Founding Fathers fears about democracy are all coming true, and the mechanisms they devised to cool things off, to give us more time to
reflect, to use reason a bit more, those are being bowled over by the passions and powers and mob mentality of social media.
SREENIVASAN: So is the mob online so to speak? Is it representative of the will of the general body politic?
HAIDT: Not at all. Not at all. And so there is in fact -- it's very hard to know what people think. One thing I've learned from traveling around,
talking a lot of schools, a lot of industries, is that the great majority of people, the great majority of Americans are really reasonable.
But the dynamic has changed, so that saying reasonable things can get you in big trouble, and so if you have extremists on both sides politically are
the ones with the megaphone and they have this new ability to shame you, to call you out, to call you terrible names, people just silence themselves.
As one college student said to Deb Mashek, who runs Heterodox Academy, a site that argues for more viewpoint diversity at universities, this student
said to her, my motto is silence is safer. And this is a terrible model for college students.
SREENIVASAN: This is a college student?
HAIDT: A college student said just don't say anything, you won't get in trouble.
SREENIVASAN: And you won't learn anything either.
HAIDT: And you won't learn anything and your friends won't learn anything because if they say something that's politically appealing and wrong,
people are afraid to say, well, wait a second, what's the evidence for that?
SREENIVASAN: In parallel or combined with that, it seems that we are losing the ability to disagree agreeably, whether it's in that workplace
setting, in that academic setting in college, how does that influence the policy debates that actually need all of these different points of view?
HAIDT: It's devastating to that process. So if you think about humans in any society, we're really good at competing and conflicting, but also
making up, forgiving, coming back together. We do this in our families all the time.
If you have a long future with someone, if we're tied together, we live next door, whatever it is, we might fight and argue, but there's a lot of
pressure on us to keep it within bounds, because we're going to be together for a long time. That's normal human relationships.
On social media, it's lots and lots of interactions with people that you may never see again, some of them don't even exist. A lot of them are
using fake names. There is no future. There are no bounds and most dangerously, it's not real communication.
On Twitter, you see people having these discussions, sometimes good things happen. I don't want to overstate it. But mostly it's what's called moral
Each of us are just using the other as a platform to show off how committed we are to our sides of politics. And so if we're not actually --
SREENIVASAN: Just given an example of that.
HAIDT: Suppose somebody on the left were to say something nice about someone on the right, to say, you know, I disagree with him on almost
everything. But, you know, I think he's brave on this point, or I think he is -- I think they're right about this.
You know, it's always -- that's always been a little hazardous to do, but that's almost a definition of courage to be able to say something like
Well, now you will be called the worst sins by people on your side so fast, so there's a lot of pressure to not say anything good about the other side.
That means there's no nuance. There's not much room for compromise to say, well, you know, we can give on this and you give on that.
Partisans have to be more set in their ways and more focused on the script of battle. In negotiation, compromise politics should be a positive sum
game. But if it's all conducted in the glare of social media and instant negative reactions, people are going to dig in their heels and the benefits
we expect from politicians working things out, those are harder to realize.
SREENIVASAN: Is the solution then getting off of social media or what -- how do you -- how do we go about, at least on an individual basis playing
our part in trying to repair this?
HAIDT: Well, I think the heavy lifting is going to be done from systemic changes, and so in our article, we lay out just very briefly, for one
thing, we've got to reduce the pressures, the systemic pressures to display and grandstand.
And so when Instagram is hiding the like counter, things like that, those are steps in the right direction. So things that can be done to the
systems, the platforms to make it that engagement is a little more authentic, and not so much moral grandstanding. That's one.
Two is we've got to make it harder for people to reach large audiences when they haven't even shown any evidence that they were real person. We should
not allow people to just create fake accounts and then make death threats and rape threats and say terrible things.
I'm not saying you have to post with your real name always. But to get an account, you should have to show -- you should have to prove something
about your identity, not to Facebook, I don't want it having my driver's license, but to some third party that at least validate yes, this is a real
So if I make death threats, there is a way I could be found. That would knock out most of the accounts that exist. A lot of them are fake, and the
platforms would lose money. So they're going to resist this.
But I think the dangers to democracy from allowing fake accounts that are just a gift to the Russians and the North Koreans and the Chinese who are
our enemies, the risks of electro-manipulation, and the fact that kids can just make up any -- you know, any kid can get on any platform just by
lying. This has to stop.
SREENIVASAN: You said you're not asking for people to be having to use their real names. But even third parties, I mean, there are people who are
able to dissent politically in countries, partly by having a pseudonym. Lots of restrictive countries where social media is the only valves that
can relieve that pressure.
HAIDT: Yes, that's right. And so that's why I think it's important that you still have the option of not using your name or using an avatar. And
it would be nice if we could say, anyone can open any account without any identification at all. And that's the way things started.
But it may be the case that we can't all be on one platform in this world, that what is necessary in restricted countries, a level of secrecy and just
let anyone open an account with no proof of anything, maybe they need to be on separate platforms.
That approach in America, I believe, is incredibly damaging to our democracy. Of course, if you had to prove you were a real person to some
nonprofit entity or somebody that just vetted, that yes, you are a real person.
You know, so if you had to do that, plenty of people would still post poisonous stuff. But at least it would be highly -- it would just it would
just cut down on the ease of doing that.
SREENIVASAN: As you've been looking at this generationally and how kids are being impacted by social media, how colleges are being impacted, how
now society is, what concerns you most?
HAIDT: What concerns me most is that we have a very, very sudden and very big increase in rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide that
hits American teens right around 2012, 2013 is when the graphs all started going up, especially for girls. Boys go up, but girls go way up on almost
The same in Canada, same in Britain. So this is not a uniquely American story. I think there's a lot of evidence pointing to the arrival of social
media just before then, so what was happening in 2006 and 2007 isn't very important because it wasn't so toxic, but in this exact window, 2009 to
2012 when it changes, it becomes more toxic.
Right after that is when the teen depression and fragility rates go skyrocketing. I'm very concerned about that in and of itself. My own
children are 10 and 13 years old. It's a national catastrophe that we have so much suffering and fragility and suicide.
But it feeds into these problems about democracy because part of the fragility is, you said something I don't like, I shouldn't have to just
ignore it and I shouldn't have to ask you or engage with you to make you stop. That could be very upsetting to me. That could be very traumatizing
So if you said something I don't like, I've been told since I was young, tell somebody and so I report you to the authorities. That attitude is
completely incompatible with democracy.
Alexis de Tocqueville when he traveled in America in the 1830s, he praised our art of association. He said Americans are really good at coming
together. Let's build a bridge. Okay, how are we going to do it? They're very good at functioning without appeals to power.
HAIDT: Unlike in the old country where you'd ask an aristocrat or a king to do something, no Americans did it themselves. And what I see happening
in Gen Z is -- we've overprotected them, we've always been there to protect them from things. We've blocked them from developing the art of
association, working out problems for themselves.
And if you can't work in a business with somebody who voted for the other party, if you find that person's mere presence threatening to you, how are
we going to have a functioning democracy?
SREENIVASAN: Jonathan Haidt, thanks so much.
HAIDT: Thank you, Hari.
AMANPOUR: And in these polarized times, when we won't talk or listen to each other, it is true the democracy won't function properly. An important
point to consider as the impeachment process moves on.
That's it for now, though, remember, you can listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter.
Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.