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CNN'S AMANPOUR

Democrats Wants to Call Four Witnesses for Impeachment Trial; House Votes on Impeachment Tomorrow; Chris Ruddy, CEO, Newsmax, is Interviewed About the Impeachment Trial; How American Politics Got So Toxic; Ezra Klein, Author, "Why We're Polarized," is Interviewed About Polarization in American Politics; Pope Francis Lifts Vatican Secrecy Rules on Sexual Abused Cases; Jonathan Pryce, Actor, "The Two Popes," is Interviewed About his New Film, "The Two Popes"; Interview With Ronny Chieng. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired December 17, 2019 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): What is the president hiding? Why doesn't he want the facts to come out?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: The White House braces for tomorrow's impeachment vote. Trump confidant and "Newsmax's" CEO, Chris Ruddy, joins me.

Then, "Vox's" co-founder, Ezra Klein's, diagnosis on why we're polarized. What, if anything, can be done about it.

And --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY HOPKINS, ACTOR, "THE TWO POPES": Now, there's a saying, God always corrects one (INAUDIBLE) and presents the world with another population.

I'd like to see my correction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Divine intervention from actor, Jonathan Pryce. He talks about being Francis in the new film, "The Two Popes."

And we finish with a laugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONNIE CHIENG, COMEDIAN: Yow, the internet is making people -- stupid. Like, who knew all of human knowledge could make people dumber?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Comedian, Ronny Chieng, walks us through his mediocre rise from "The Daily Show" to "Crazy Rich Asians" to his brand-new comedy special.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm in Christiane Amanpour in London.

It is almost a foregone conclusion when the full Democrat controlled House votes tomorrow, Donald Trump will become the third American president to be

impeached. Afterwards, in the New Year, the case goes it trial where another foregone conclusion awaits his acquittal by the Republican-

controlled Senate. And thus, politics are well and truly cemented along party lines.

Senate Democrats have said they want to call at least four witnesses, including the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and the former

national security advisor, John Bolton. Republicans are resisting as the majority leader coordinates strategy with the White House legal team.

Impeachment should be a president's worse nightmare, but is it for this norm's busting White House? We get a peek inside with my first guest

tonight. "Newsmax's" CEO, Chris Ruddy, who is also a close confidant of the president and has been with us many times to try to break down what is

happening inside.

So, welcome back to the program.

CHRIS RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: Am I correct that this, in your view, and you've called it, you know, an existential crisis in the past, but should this be a president's

worst nightmare?

RUDDY: It's certainly the worst labeling you can get. I don't think this president likes to be remembered as an impeached president. But he is also

facing the most partisan Congress, probably the most polarized political scene any president has ever seen. And I think that the fact that not one

Republican, Christiane, is supporting this impeachment is very telling. And that one Democrat, Congressman Van Drew of New Jersey, is actually

leaving the Democratic Party. I think the symbolism of that is so powerful. And so, I think this president -- I just saw him last week at

the White House on Wednesday.

AMANPOUR: Which was the White House Hanukkah party?

RUDDY: Yes.

AMANPOUR: Yes.

RUDDY: And he asked me to meet him privately before the party, and I did chat with him briefly. And I had seen him over Thanksgiving. So, we've

got -- I have a good feel of where he thinks this impeachment thing is going. I don't think he's bothered by it. I don't think -- you know, some

people think, you know, he's bothered like he's disturbed, he's angry, he's worried. Donald Trump deals with thousands of crises as a businessman

through his life and I think he's very used to walking on fire and not feeling it.

AMANPOUR: So, I'm interested by that because, you know, I started by saying, is this -- it's a president's worst nightmare. Would it be for

him? So, in other words, does he not mind so much about the black mark of impeachment? Does he care more about the sort of get free, you know, card

of the Senate process? What is he looking at? Because he's -- you know, it's all going to come tumbling down soon.

RUDDY: Well, I think like any political figure, he's looking at the election coming up at 2020. I think -- and he and I have talked about

this. He sees it as a political act because they didn't have a candidate to run against him, that he has tremendous record. As you know, the

economy is probably the best in 50 years. Certainly, unemployment, which is a key factor in elections. I mean, it's best for everyone, even blacks

and Hispanics. Everybody is enjoying the ride now.

Professor Lichtman, Allan Lichtman, was on CNN six months ago. He's influential in Democratic circles. And he told CNN that unless the

Democrats impeach the president, they would not have any chance of defeating him. And Lichtman had called every election since 1984. I think

he was -- I was told was very influential in Democratic circles for moving in this impeachment.

AMANPOUR: Does the president, therefore, think that this is a Hail Mary act by the House and by the Democrats? Because I've also heard you say

that you feel, you know, he hasn't committed a political crime but that he does -- but you feel he may have committed a political sin or he may think

that.

[13:05:00]

What is the difference?

RUDDY: Well, I don't think he feels it.

AMANPOUR: But you feel it?

RUDDY: But I was quoting Alan Dershowitz and I agree with Alan that there might have been things that he did imperfectly. I always like to say, he's

not perfect. He's perfectly imperfect. He's very transparent. He's a nonpolitician, right? The first nonpolitician ever to be president of the

United States. This is very -- I mean, we've had generals but they're used to politics and Washington.

And so, this president comes in and he really does things like he did things in business, and he's not used to the political ways. Even that

phone call with Zelensky. And I really encourage people to read it. It's really classic Donald Trump.

He says he wants a favor to investigate the DNC servers, not Joe Biden. The favor related to the DNC servers, which I think it was okay for him to

ask. Biden comes out very end parenthetically to the conversation. I don't think there's an impeachable crime there but I don't think he could

have bring (ph) Biden's name.

AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, you say that -- right. OK. So, you say that. But those who have testified before Congress say specifically that it's

about trying to get "dirt or investigation" on Biden and the -- and let me just -- I don't know what you think about this but, as you know, the former

ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was the key player in this because of Giuliani and his cronies trying to get rid of her for her for

their own either pocket lining activities that she wanted to stop or for -- to act on behalf of the president.

So, you may have seen this New York article that was written a staff writer, and it has just come out. And he says, Adam Entous, that he had a

long conversation with Giuliani in November and Giuliani saw Yovanovitch as an obstacle, hindering his, Giuliani's attempt, to dig up dirt against his

client's rival, Biden, in advance of the 2020 election. And he quotes Giuliani saying, I believe that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way. She

was going to make the investigation difficult for everybody.

I mean, there you go. That's the investigation. That's the Bidens. That's out of his lawyer's mouth.

RUDDY: Christiane, it sounds like another political sin, not necessarily a crime, right? The president's private lawyer was being asked to

intermediate in the Ukraine situation, investigate allegations that things happened in the '16 election. I don't think it's the best way to do things

but that's what happened.

A lot of that is very transparent. It's coming, I think, more information will come out in the Senate trial.

AMANPOUR: Well, we know that certainly in swing states and elsewhere, and we see polls that actually the impeachment thing in certain places is

upping the president's numbers. It's actually going quite well for the president.

RUDDY: The CNN poll just out shows a 10 percent drop in support for impeachment.

AMANPOUR: Right. But I want to as you this, because I have asked many Republicans, and you are one of them, and you're a conservative. At what

point does it bother real conservatives and traditional Republicans this very, very unusual president who has taken charge of the party and who

seems to be ditching all sorts of traditional conservative values, principles, methodologies, all the rest of it, you know, in the furtherance

of his agenda? Are Republicans -- are there any that you know, who you know, discomforted by this?

RUDDY: I know many. But this is the most conservative president in modern times. He's even more conservative than Ronald Reagan. I mean, and when

you look at the things he did, massive deregulation, the tax cut, corporate tax cut, tremendous -- and the military buildup is almost as strong as

Reagan's military buildup in the '80s.

So, when conservatives look at that, they might say, this is an unconventional guy. I don't agree with all of his approaches. But I have

-- and this explains why he's getting 80 to 90 percent support in every poll among Republicans, because they love this guy.

AMANPOUR: Because they see him as their team leader, right? So, it's about the team. It's about the party. It's about being in power.

RUDDY: Also, everyone between New York and Los Angeles fly over a country in the United States hates Washington. They're really tired of the elites

telling them how to --

AMANPOUR: Yes. But Donald Trump is an elite. Let's just not pussyfoot around that anymore.

RUDDY: But I was told recently that there are eight Senate Republicans that are discomforted, it's the word you used yesterday on your show, by

the president's Ukraine activities. They don't want him impeached but they definitely want a fair trial. They would like to look at the issues

carefully. And they're concerned. That's what I was told.

And I think the president should look at some of their criticism and try to address it because I think he actually does well when he gets negative

feedback. He doesn't like it all the time. He's a business guy. He's an optimist.

AMANPOUR: See, that's interesting. Because, apparently, he gets very little negative feedback or maybe you can give him negative feedback.

RUDDY: Well, occasionally I do. And --

AMANPOUR: OK.

RUDDY: -- he actually, if it's not personal, he's fine with it. I've always found if you give him information. But I think the media has been

assaulting him like --

AMANPOUR: No. Don't go down the media route.

RUDDY: We can't, we can't, right, here on -- sorry.

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AMANPOUR: No. But, I mean, we don't run the country. We just report what is going on.

RUDDY: Well, I think that the -- for example, the reporting on the House impeachment process, I think the process was very unfair. I think they

leaked a lot of things. They didn't allow him to cross -- they didn't allow -- I think the Senate is going to be a lot fairer. Chuck Schumer

came out. He wants to call four witnesses. I think his request is fair.

AMANPOUR: OK. But --

RUDDY: I think the --

AMANPOUR: The Republicans leaders don't think it's fair.

RUDDY: Well, it's early. I think the -- I would encourage Mitch McConnell, who I know, and the senators to do a fair trial because you know

why?

AMANPOUR: Would the president encourage that?

RUDDY: Well, he has said previously he wanted Mick Mulvaney and others to testify. So, I think if he thinks the form is fair, he didn't think the

Senate -- House form was fair. Remember, they wouldn't let --

AMANPOUR: So, if you were a betting person and now, it comes to a Republican-controlled Senate, would you think that the president would

himself present himself, allow all sorts of documents that they blocked so far to be --

RUDDY: I think the --

AMANPOUR: -- and send the witnesses that are being called?

RUDDY: I think it's a great idea. I think the president should testify because he is his most able.

AMANPOUR: Does he think he should testify?

RUDDY: I haven't talked to him about it but I do think that he would be a powerful witness. And he would be great.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you --

RUDDY: I think he -- I would incur, Mr. President, if you're watching the show, please testify. I think it would be good because I think you're your

number one witness.

AMANPOUR: All right. From your lips to hopefully the president's ears.

RUDDY: And I think it's a very important thing, and this is -- I also think that this is going to be very important for the president because the

Senate is going to look at this deliberatively. I don't think it's going to be quite --

AMANPOUR: Although, Mitch McConnell, you know, they have declared, some of them, that they're just going to, you know, take the White House side. So,

we're not quite sure.

But I'm interested in your view that he appreciates certain push back, right, certain negative feedback. I want to play who was then a Democrat

leader of the Senate, Tom Daschle back in 1999 after President Clinton was -- it's a co-pilot. We have a quote from Tom Daschle. When Clinton was

impeached, he said at the time when it was all over, as deeply disappointed as I am with the process, it pales in comparison to the disappointment I

feel toward this president.

Can you imagine Senator Mitch McConnell saying this about this president? That as much as he hates the process, the idea of trying to extort, bribe,

get, you know, a favor from a foreign leader for domestic reason is very disappointing?

RUDDY: I think that Congress has become so polarizing on both sides. When you look at the impeachment of Bill Clinton, there were 30 Democrats that

actually joined that impeachment and the Senate trial was a fair trial. They -- I think that we should go back to those. I think everybody is

better served, including this president because I don't think he committed an impeachable crime at the end of the day.

People are saying, what are we doing this for? You know, there is the obstruction of justice, the bribery charge, all of that wasn't even

included in the articles of impeachment, and we've been talking about this for months.

AMANPOUR: Obstruction was.

RUDDY: Obstruction of Congress, right. But it's not an obstruction of justice. They haven't included that yet. In fact, there are stories today

that they're trying to pull the Mueller report into this. This president, I don't know how he could be accused of obstruction of justice with Mueller

because he waived executive privilege. No president has done this with 500 witnesses called before Mueller. It was incredible what he did.

AMANPOUR: We will keep checking in with you. Chris Ruddy, thank you very much.

RUDDY: It's going to be a big story.

AMANPOUR: It's going to be a big story. It already is.

RUDDY: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And in fact, we're going to delve down into the partisan nature of it with my next guest.

So, how did American politics get so toxic in the first place? Let's get some answers with our next guest. The editor at large and co-founder of

"Vox," Ezra Klein. He's new book, "Why We're Polarized" delves into this very issue. And he is joining me now from Berkeley, California.

Ezra Klein, welcome to the program.

EZRA KLEIN, AUTHOR, "WHY WE'RE POLARIZED": Thank you.

AMANPOUR: You just heard Chris Ruddy with a really interesting and unique view into the White House, which we don't rarely get.

KLEIN: I did.

AMANPOUR: On the issue of polarization and how this has just become cemented, as I said, down party lines. Is there any way that this actually

emerges as a process that the American people can sort of buy into?

KLEIN: Well, the American people are one thing, that's the first thing about polarization. I will say first as a set up point, I was frustrated

by the interview of Mr. Ruddy because there's just a lot that wasn't true in it. For instance, there was -- within the House resolution that set out

the impeachment proceedings in the House, the president could participate in the judiciary committee. They could cross examine and they could do

quite a bit.

They decided not to participate or similarly, I think, this actually gets to polarization quite directly, it isn't simply the New Jersey Democrat who

switched parties the other day but also, Justin Amash, libertarian Republican. He left the Republican Party after agreeing that impeachment

was necessary because he was going to lose a primary challenge if he stuck in it.

So, one of the things that you have now is that the parties are sufficiently united in their internal construction, that if you're going to

go against the party on a major issue, you probably will not survive. That isn't how it used to be.

[13:15:00]

So, it means that what you do is you don't just have these two parties but you've all disagreements sorted across them. And so, if somebody is going

to disagree, then you're often better off changing parties and trying to hold that disagreement it within your party.

There are a lot of reasons for that, but it makes it so that it is very, very, very hard to get anything bipartisan on anything, not just

impeachment but think about Affordable Care Act or Trump tax cuts or really anything. You're not going to see people crossing over because it's very

dangerous to do so and because we've already authentically sorted so much disagreement that they don't want to cross over. That's why they're a

Democrat or that's why they're a Republican.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you to follow up on that. Just to remind everybody, Republicans oppose impeachment, 95-5. This is according to the latest

Quinnipiac Poll. Democrats support impeachment 86-11. You know, in terms of trying to figure out which way it's going to go, what -- I mean, what

will be the consequence after the Senate process?

KLEIN: I don't think we know the answer to that. So, I think it is pretty clear, the Senate is not going to muster a two-thirds majority to remove

Donald Trump from office. Impeachment requires not just a majority but super majority, and there's no real chance of the president's critics

getting that.

I do think you're looking at something quite different, at least in its political ramifications if you see a couple of Republicans break ranks and

vote to impeach the president and so, say, it's 52-48 vote for impeachment. That would not lead to removal but it would be, I think, seen as one way

rather than another by the country.

Some of these are distinct about this impeachment process, is that it's happening in the first term of the president's tenure. So, for both Bill

Clinton and Richard Nixon, it was coming in the second term. They were not going to face the voters again. So, impeachment, to the extent that people

felt there needed to be a reckoning for what they had done. Impeachment was really the only approach to it.

In this case, the Senate is not the only judge that President Trump will face next year or at least not the only jury, maybe more to the point.

He's also going to have an election. And so, one of the dimensions of impeachment that I would not underplay is it this is all bringing out

information that voters are going to use and that other politicians are going to use during the election.

And so, the degree to which impeachment ends up shaping public perceptions of the president, which we should say, it is not done very much so far. So

far, his approval rating is basically unchanged throughout it. But to the degree it does end up either changing what he's able to say or changing

what people say about him or changing how people feel about him, it could end up being an important player in the actual presidential election.

AMANPOUR: And one of the things the Republicans will say, and you actually heard Chris Ruddy, I mean, their narrative is that the minute Donald Trump

was elected and then the minute he was inaugurated, the Democrats ganged up to make sure that he was either a one-term president or that he was

somehow, you know, going to be impeached and run out of office.

What do you say to that narrative to the American people, really, who probably some of them, many of them, feel that way and use that talking

point, particularly knowing that Nancy Pelosi, when she became speaker, appears to very publicly opposed the idea of impeachment at the -- you

know, from the start?

KLEIN: Yes. What I would say is that there is a truth to it and then there is a lie to it. So, I don't think it is untrue to say many Democrats

have wanted Donald Trump impeached from very early on. And there are arguable reasons why he should have been impeached earlier. Impeachment is

for high crimes and misdemeanors. Those include such things in the definition books that the founding father is using as maladministration.

There are a lot of reasons to believe that Donald Trump is not actually fit for office he holds, and I happen to be one of the people who believe.

That said, impeachment was not pursued on those grounds. One of the strangest parts of Mr. Ruddy's presentation was when he said that Allan

Lichtman is an extremely influential Democratic political scientist. I know Allan. I know the Democratic Party. That is -- it is just not the

case. And what has happened here is that a political scientist went to Nancy Pelosi and said, you're not going to beat this guy unless you impeach

him, and Nancy Pelosi said, great, let's impeach.

The view of Pelosi and many others as an impeachment is not necessarily a political winner, that's it's a very dangerous thing to do. That's it's

practically not something you want to do in an election year because you want to be focusing on issues where you poll very highly, like health care,

the economy.

And so, she had to be really dragged kicking and screaming into this. And what changed it was not some external piece of political data, it was that

Donald Trump after the Mueller report, which Nancy Pelosi refused against the wishes of many of her members to move to impeach --

AMANPOUR: Right.

KLEIN: -- him over, after the Mueller report, which did not find a direct evidence of collusion, Donald Trump went and attempted extortion of Ukraine

to do what he was accused of doing with Russia, which is working with a foreign government to influence an American election.

At that point, there is no way for Pelosi to stop impeachment from happening. But the idea that it was some kind of Democratic plot, they

didn't want to do this. Donald Trump forced their hand by doing the exact thing that he had been warned not to before.

AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask you sort of pull out a little bit and get to the bigger picture around this polarization, which is being sort of

accelerating over the last several political cycles.

[13:20:00]

And sort of what drove parties and people to break apart along ideological lines. In your book, you talk about, you know, about all sorts of issues

such as, you know, race, one of them, obviously, economics, as well. What do you think is the main reason this has happened in this country?

KLEIN: So, a few things on this. So, my book comes out January 28th. Thank you for mentioning it, "Why We're Polarized." The big picture that

I'm drawing in there, and is based from a lot of political science research and survey research, is that what you've had over the past 50 years is

assorting in which the two political parties, the Republican and Democratic parties, have become the host of a lot of other deep identities in American

life.

So, if you go back to, say, the '50s, you had a lot of liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. You don't have that anymore. Ideology sorted.

If you go back to the '50s, you had a lot less sorting by race in this country. There are more black Republicans, there were -- you know, the

parties were more mixed racially.

Now, nonwhite voters are overwhelmingly clustered in the Democratic Party, I think 44 percent of Democratic voters are nonwhite and the Republican

Party is over 90 percent white.

Religion, similarly. The Democratic Party and Republican Party used to be similarly overwhelmingly Christian. Now, the Democratic Party's single

largest religious group is people who don't have a religious affiliation at all. Democrats end up being a coalition of people without a religious

affiliation, liberal Christians, African-American Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Agnostics. The Republican Party is overwhelmingly Christian.

Geography, we have a larger rural urban divide. It used to be the case that the density of a place you live did not have a lot to say about what

its politics were. Now, density is overwhelmingly predictive of politics.

I can go into much more here. But the basic thing that has happened is that the parties have sorted such that all of these identities and

disagreements are on two different sides. And that makes the parties much more different than each other. Polarization is a very rational response

for the other party becoming more different from you, it having a scarier idea for you of what they would do if they were elected.

Go back to the period when Roe is decided. You can actually go look their Republican platform from that year and it says that in our party, our

people believe that abortion should be available in all cases and people believe it should be illegal in all cases, and we respect those

differences.

A couple of years later and as time went on, the two parties have polarized very much on this issue. But that's another way in which you could have

been a prolife voter in the Democratic Party of prochoice voter on the Republican Party for a long time, that's no longer really true. It's very

clear what side of the divide those parties line up on.

So, as the parties became such clear and different hopes for disagreement and for identity and for the different ways in which we sort ourselves in

society, it just became much harder to bridge the divides between them. Back when a lot of these disagreements were happening inside the parties,

there's a lot of room for comprise and a lot of room for unusual coalitions, which is what we had. Now, there isn't.

AMANPOUR: Right.

KLEIN: There's a long story about why this happened. A lot of American politics was structured by having a southern conservative and quite racist

Dixiecrat party that looked like Democrats on one level, were Democrats, at least, technically but were much more like what we think of it as the --

AMANPOUR: Yes. So, let me just jump in for a second. Let me just jump, Ezra. I'm just going to get one more question in on this issue. There are

quite a lot of Democrats very concerned about was President Obama a one- time black president or was it, you know, paved the way forward for, you know, a more representation in the presidential race?

And you've seen with Senator Kamala Harris dropping out and now, Cory Booker, the senator from New Jersey, finds himself not getting the numbers

to get on the next Democratic debate stage, also, the same with Julian Castro. Julian Castro, you know, a Latino, person of color. What do you

say to, you know, people of color in the United States who wonder whether they actually have a change in this system that you've just laid out to get

-- to move across that threshold?

KLEIN: So, I think the Democratic Party is very likely to have future nominees who are nonwhite. I think it's very likely that, say, if Joe

Biden is a nominee, that you have a nonwhite vice-presidential candidate, I would be surprised that if he did anything else. And that's not because

the Democratic Party is just trying to be inclusive, it's because the Democratic Party legitimately has to do that. It is a party where the

voting base is very heavily nonwhite.

Now, it so happens that African-American voters support, in the first place Joe Biden and in second place Bernie Sanders. So, it's very important not

to say that representation and the way people want to feel represented is simply that they want to see somebody who looks like them. There's more

going on than that, you know, or else Kamala Harris, they would have had more support from African-American in South Carolina and probably wouldn't

have dropped out.

AMANPOUR: Yes.

KLEIN: But I think, overtime, the Democratic Party is going to continue to have to be very representative. If it began to lose faith or lose its bond

with those voters, it would have no national chance at all. So, the question whether or not it's going continue to try to make sure that the

different factions of itself are represented in the upper --

[13:25:00]

AMANPOUR: Right.

KLEIN: -- ranks of its leadership, I don't have a lot of concern over that. What I do think is we're going to have a continuing sort of contest

between a Republican Party --

AMANPOUR: Yes.

KLEIN: -- who is increasingly a party that is white and the Democratic Party which is increasingly representing --

AMANPOUR: Yes.

KLEIN: -- diversifying younger nonwhite electorate.

AMANPOUR: All right.

KLEIN: The layering of demographics spilt like that over politics can be very combustible.

AMANPOUR: Yes. It really is. And it's so good to get your perspective. Thank you so much, Ezra Klein.

And, of course, if those politics, here, there, and in many places are toxic, the priest, Peter Felius (ph), scandal that ripped apart the

Catholic Church is also toxic.

And today, Pope Francis celebrates his birthday with an important announcement. He is lifting Vatican secrecy rules governing those abused

cases. It's an effort to speed up the legal process and accountability by allowing civil authorities and victims access to Catholic church documents

on sexual abuse. It's inline with the character that's made Pope Francis so beloved around the world, even among non-Catholics.

And now, a new film takes a look at the pivotal moment leading to his papacy. The film is called "The Two Popes" and it explores the unique

relationship and clash of culture between then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina and Pope Benedict XVI. Here's a bit of the trailer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY HOPKINS, ACTOR, "THE TWO POPES": You've been one of my harshest critics where you live in criticism now shows a criticism.

JONATHAN PRYCE, ACTOR, "THE TWO POPES": Well, you don't like my shoes?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Actor Jonathan Pryce plays Pope Francis in the film, which is released on Netflix this Friday. And I've been speaking to him from New

York.

Jonathan Pryce, welcome back to the program.

JONATHAN PRYCE, ACTOR: Thank you. Nice to be back.

AMANPOUR: So, "The Two Popes" is getting a huge amount of attention and critical review. Very good critical acclaim. I've watched it. It's

amazing. I just want to know, were you born to play this part? I mean, you look identical to Pope Francis.

PRYCE: Well, yes. I mean, it's not what I would see when I look in the mirror. I feel more Brad Pitt than -- yes. The day he was declared pope

was the internet was full of images of the two of us, either me or High Sparrow compared to the pope. And it seemed, as I've said, inevitability

that I -- you know, if there ever was to be a film about him that I would play him.

AMANPOUR: Did you have any inkling there might be? I mean, that this might actually happen? And it happened in this way because -- I mean, the

vehicle is so compelling. Essentially, tight shots of you and Anthony Hopkins playing two living popes and really mostly just a discussion

between you, I mean, an important one but it's not action and adventure and intrigue and, you know, Vatican high crimes and skullduggery.

PRYCE: Well, it is about all of those things, high crimes and skullduggery. It's also about faith and about forgiveness and compassion.

And when you read it on the -- you know, you get the screenplay sent to you, and it seems a very dry read. It's two men of the church, two old men

of the church, having a debate and an argument and there are flashbacks to Bergoglio's life in Buenos Aires.

But, you know, when you know that it's going to be directed by Fernando Meirelles who -- as a wonderful film that is one of my favorite all-time

films, all-time favorite films, "City of God," there is going to be a different kind of energy to it. It wasn't going to be a hagiography, it

was going to have some life and vitality and have a political point of view, well as a religious point of view.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, let's break that down because, again, you embody Pope Francis in a way that's just -- I mean, eerie really. And you start to

really believe that Anthony Hopkins is the spitting image of Pope Benedict and the two of you are having these discussions. And let just talk first

about the politics.

Because, I guess, explain to me where the politics are for you and for the two popes.

PRYCE: Yes. Well, I'm not religious. When I was a child, I was brought up in the Welsh Presbyterian Church. I used to go to chapel. And like

many teenagers, moved away from the church. And not being a Catholic, I had never really taken much notice of any popes. I was aware of them to a

certain extent. But Pope Francis was the first pope that I began to listen to because not only was -- he was on the TV screens and the newspapers were

full of him.

[13:30:00]

He was -- well, I felt he was talking to me. And he was talking to me about political issues and about the economy, about the inequality in the

world, talking about the environment, talking about issues that me and millions like me want to hear our leaders talk about.

So, I was drawn to him because of these issues, less to do with the church.

AMANPOUR: So let me play the clip that we have. And it's not necessarily about the politics, but it's about your character, playing Bergoglio, who

was then the cardinal, Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina, actually coming to Rome to try to retire, resign, and to ask then Pope Benedict for

permission.

And then Pope Benedict does a -- does a 360 -- or a 180 and totally surprised you by suggesting that, in fact, that's what he's going to do.

Here's this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TWO POPES")

PRYCE: Why do the presidents of America and Russia and China come to you? Because, unlike them, your authority comes from the fact that you will

suffer and die in the job, a martyr to justice and truth.

For this, all people come. Forgive me, but...

ANTHONY HOPKINS, ACTOR: But?

PRYCE: Christ did not come down from the cross.

HOPKINS: Ah, God always grants you the right words.

PRYCE: No. No. No. A pope must go forever, be the personification of the crucified Christ.

If you do this, you will damage the papacy forever.

HOPKINS: And what damage will I do if I remain?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: You see, it's so powerful, that, because just that last question from Pope Benedict sums up the difference between them, right, I mean, that

he was the sort of old guard, that Francis was perhaps the new God.

And Pope Benedict, at least in this film, has a lot of self-doubt when he's talking in this particular scene. Talk to me about the self-doubt, because

it's not just him. It's your character as well, particularly Pope Francis, or, again, Jorge Bergoglio, about what he did as a Jesuit priest in

Argentina during the military junta.

PRYCE: Yes. Well, it's -- they're not supreme beings, even though he is the pope.

And that is what's wonderful about both men, is that they are self-aware, they question themselves, and they have doubts.

And Bergoglio, his history in Argentina, he carries with him. He is still seen as a divisive figure there because of his possible collaboration with

the junta and not doing enough to protect his priests who were accused of being communists and taken away and tortured and killed.

So, he has -- he's aware of his fallibility. And I think this makes him much closer to people. And he certainly was a reformer. He needed to

reform the church. The church needed reform, should I say. And he was there in order to do that.

Benedict, I think, saw himself as part of the problem. And he needed a new broom to come in and sweep it clean.

AMANPOUR: Well, so interestingly, we're looking at a shot right now, which is -- without giving any spoilers, Benedict in this scene asks you to hear

his confession.

And then he starts to talk about what we think is about the church child sexual abuse, the pedophilia amongst the priests, and then it goes silent.

And you don't hear exactly what he's saying.

But you see this rage then from Bergoglio, after he has said what he said.

And I just want to play for you something that director Wim Wenders told me when he actually interviewed Pope Francis for eight hours or so for his

documentary. And he talked to the real Pope Francis and described him as being incandescent and somewhat powerless to affect this sexual abuse

crisis.

Just listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERNST WILHELM "WIM" WENDERS, FILMMAKER: He got very upset, sometimes. My question about pedophilia, he got very angry, really angry.

And you realized, if only he could, he would do so much more right now, right away. And you feel it in the conversation. There was a completely

fearless man in front of me. And that is very rare to see that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: I don't know what you make of that.

Of course, today, Pope Francis has lifted the veil of secrecy over all the sort of texts and other notes and the information about the sexual abuse.

I guess the struggle, to know which direction the church is going in, was encapsulated by these two characters, Benedict and Pope Francis.

[13:35:05]

PRYCE: Well, everything we say is either taken from things they have either written or they have spoken in public in speeches and whatever.

And this moment that -- when you see Benedict confess to Bergoglio, we don't -- it's not on record what he felt about these particular issues. So

we felt it -- it wasn't incumbent upon us to make these public.

And I think it -- in some ways, it's even more powerful, because you don't hear what he says. I mean, it's another film to be made about what

Benedict felt about the issue of child sexual abuse.

But you do -- as you say, you do see it played on Bergoglio's face. And it's -- again, I go back to say, it's why Benedict would want Bergoglio to

come in, as -- because he -- Benedict was part of the problem, not that he was a perpetrator of sexual abuse, but that he didn't do enough, the same

as Bergoglio hadn't done enough in Argentina.

He didn't do enough to bring the priests to justice or to help the victims. And that's what Francis' -- his main objective is to saying that the

victims need help, and you can't -- it's not a stain on our society. It's a wound that needs to be healed.

And he saw himself as the man who and does himself as a man who can heal and will heal.

AMANPOUR: And Bergoglio in the film talks a lot about walls. Walls become a very important motif through the film.

Just describe for us the politics of the wall and what the film is saying about that.

PRYCE: Well, it's a very simple image. And it's an image that, I should say, comes in towards the end of the film, where everything they have been

talking about, and especially what Francis has been talking about, is that we open it up to see these images in the rest of the world.

And he was one of the first persons who was talking about building bridges and not walls. And the irony is that all these walls are going up or

people want to build walls in America, in Eastern Europe. And we need to break these walls down.

We need to reach out to people. We need to have a civilized debate in our politics. I mean, I'm in America at the moment, but I have been working

here for the past four months, and I have watched the inquiries going on every day in the Senate.

And it's the inability to see the other point of view and the inability to discuss these things openly. It's very black and white. You're either

wrong or you're right. You're either for us or against us.

And what this film shows rather wonderfully is that we can debate these issues. Two men with very different views of the church and about society

in general, but they can talk about them. And we need to talk about them.

AMANPOUR: It's so important to hear you say that, given what we have heard already in this program about the divisive politics that are our daily life

right now.

Jonathan Pryce, thank you so much for joining us.

PRYCE: Well, thank you. It's nice to talk to you again. Thanks.

AMANPOUR: You too.

So let's now seamlessly sail into some comedy with stand-up comedian and "Daily Show" correspondent Ronny Chieng. He had his breakthrough last year

as Eddie Cheng in "Crazy Rich Asians," a fictional portrait of the glitz and drama of the Singapore elite.

Today, he's making his debut on Netflix with "Asian Comedian Destroys America," where he explores the United States from his unique vantage point

as a Chinese immigrant.

And our Hari Sreenivasan gets a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're ethnic Chinese born in Malaysia, grew up in Singapore and New Hampshire. You started your

comedy career in Australia. You studied to be a lawyer.

This all sounds like a LinkedIn profile of like a super secret agent's file.

(LAUGHTER)

RONNY CHIENG, COMEDIAN: Yes. Yes. You're doing a really good job of, yes, just listing down the...

SREENIVASAN: Right? Yes.

I mean, how did that, from law school, turn into comedy?

CHIENG: Global financial crisis in 2010 meant a lack of high-paying corporate jobs. I couldn't even get a job. I couldn't get a job.

And then I started doing stand-up comedy, and that worked out a lot better, as in terms of, even in the moment, I was getting more work from stand-up

comedy than I was from law, so...

SREENIVASAN: Yes. How'd that go over with Asian parents, the conversation, I'm not practicing law, mom? I'm...

CHIENG: Yes, I didn't tell them.

SREENIVASAN: Really?

CHIENG: Yes, I didn't tell them. I just did it, because we were in separate countries. I was in Australia at the time, and they were living

in Singapore.

SREENIVASAN: So, they think you're billing like $500 an hour equivalent, and yet you're really at 1:00 a.m. trying to make four people that are

really drunk laugh.

CHIENG: For like -- not only am I not making money. I actually lost money doing that, yes, just trying to go out there.

So they don't know. Even to now, they still don't know.

SREENIVASAN: It's really -- it's just a secret?

CHIENG: Yes, it's a secret. They don't know. I'm hoping they don't watch this special on Netflix.

(LAUGHTER)

[13:40:05]

SREENIVASAN: Now, most Americans are probably going to be familiar with you from "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah."

CHIENG: Sure.

SREENIVASAN: And I think, if they have seen that, the thing that might have put you on the map for them is your sort of response to a story, a

pretty horrible story, where someone goes down to Chinatown basically to make fun of Chinese people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW")

CHIENG: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) this guy. And, seriously, Mr. Miyagi? Update your reference material.

That's like me making fun of Americans for "Saturday Night Fever" and Mr. T. Yes, real topical stuff, buddy. If you want to come at Chinese people,

make fun of China's high pollution, or the fact that they censor most of the Internet, which in this case might actually be a good thing, since no

person in China will ever have to watch your garbage attempt at comedy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SREENIVASAN: You came here in, what, 2016?

CHIENG: 2015.

SREENIVASAN: 2015?

CHIENG: September 2015.

SREENIVASAN: Were you surprised that in 2015, 2016, that something like that was actually happening in the United States?

CHIENG: Yes, I was.

And guess what? Everyone else was surprised as well. That's why the clip I did kind of went so viral, because everyone was like, oh, this is

unacceptable. You know what I mean?

SREENIVASAN: Yes.

CHIENG: So, yes, it is -- we can point to the fact that they did that as, like, proof something bad happening, but I also see the popularity of the

response as a sign that way more people thought that was unacceptable than acceptable.

SREENIVASAN: Yes, yes.

We have -- you talk about in your special that we have access now to more information than we ever had before. The Internet is in our pockets. But

-- and you talk about this in your stand-up, that that's not necessarily making us smarter. We have a clip here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ASIAN COMEDIAN DESTROYS AMERICA")

CHIENG: What's going on in America in 2019? Measles is coming back, right? Bringing back measles. Why not? Why not at this point? How much

worse can it get? Let's bring back measles.

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: Every year, America becomes more and more hipster.

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: Start to bring back organic small batch diseases.

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: Got all these stupid anti-vaccination idiots really some bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED) on the Internet, getting brainwashed, not vaccinating

their children.

Yo, the Internet is making people so (EXPLETIVE DELETED) stupid.

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: Like, who knew all of human knowledge could make people dumber?

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: Like, in 50 years, we're going to look at the Internet the same way we look at smoking right now.

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: It's going to be like, man, I can't believe 50 years ago we just let pregnant people use the Internet.

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: What were we thinking? Pregnant people were just using the Internet. We would use the Internet in front of babies.

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: We let babies use the Internet. Yes, in 50 years, we're going to have special areas outside buildings where you can use the Internet.

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: Internet designated zones 50 feet from every entrance. Don't bring the Internet indoors. Secondhand stupidity is the real killer.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SREENIVASAN: A big chunk of this special that you have and a lot of the work that you do is kind of observations by someone with a fresh set of

eyes, whether you were doing the stand-up in Australia coming from another part of Asia or here in the United States.

You like to say it's just information, no judgment, just solutions-driven stuff.

CHIENG: Sure.

SREENIVASAN: One of the things you think should happen is that there should be more Asians in the U.S. and that, if you get a chance to vote for

an Asian, do it.

Why?

CHIENG: I love how you're analyzing this, like I gave a speech at the U.N.

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: No, this was like a comedy show.

Like, so you said that you would like more Asian people in the -- yes, it was in a comedy show, man.

(CROSSTALK)

SREENIVASAN: Right. That's right. That's right. So you're familiar -- you're totally supportive of Andrew Yang.

CHIENG: Sure, yes.

SREENIVASAN: Since he's the only Asian that is running right now. Right?

CHIENG: Yes, I guess so.

SREENIVASAN: So, this is an endorsement. You're endorsing him right now.

CHIENG: Sure. Again, money -- will this make me money?

SREENIVASAN: Yes.

CHIENG: I will take whatever position makes me money.

SREENIVASAN: I think if Andrew Yang gets elected, he'd like to give everybody $1,000. So, you're in.

CHIENG: OK, well, then -- I'm in.

SREENIVASAN: OK. That was easy.

(LAUGHTER)

SREENIVASAN: Another place people might recognize you is "Crazy Rich Asians."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CRAZY RICH ASIANS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You know, if you move, it would look more natural.

CHIENG: No, this way, you get our optimal angles.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Then we're done.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Russell, thank you so much. It is an honor to be photographed by you.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: My pleasure. People will love it in the next "Hong Kong Vogue."

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Thank you, Russell.

CHIENG: "Hong Kong Vogue"? I knew it. Your dress is a disaster.

If you wore the Bottega gown, like I told you to, we would be in the American "Vogue."

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You can wear that gown to hell, Eddie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SREENIVASAN: It seems like it was a part written for you.

You're a guy that grew up in these places. You might not have been that sort of income strata in Singapore or wherever you were growing up. But

did these kind of people?

CHIENG: Yes. Actually, I got to correct you. I actually wasn't in that movie.

SREENIVASAN: Oh, you weren't in that movie. It was a different guy. Yes, a totally different Asian guy.

CHIENG: I got you for one second?

SREENIVASAN: No, I -- didn't.

CHIENG: No? Oh, you knew? OK. Just checking. I usually throw that out there.

(CROSSTALK)

[13:45:00]

SREENIVASAN: I felt a little racist, but then it passed

CHIENG: But one second. I got you for one second. Right?

SREENIVASAN: No, no.

CHIENG: No, not even one. OK?

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: Yes, it essentially was -- that's actually how I got the role.

I just -- I told my agent like, listen, man, this is -- it's a -- it's a story set in Singapore. They're looking for authentic accents. There was

a newspaper article, I think, in "Variety," that came out where the director, Jon Chu, said he was having trouble casting because he was

looking for authentic accents.

So I told my agent, like, listen, man, this is only set in Singapore. I know this world. This is the only accent I can do. This is literally the

only accent I can do. This is it, man. This is now or never.

Like, get -- if you get me an audition for this, I will book this.

SREENIVASAN: And if you can't get me this job, really, like a guy who was built for this job, I'm getting the representation.

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: Yes. Well, yes, I mean, there's a lot of talented people out there who probably could have done this road. I'm lucky that Jon Chu asked

me to do it.

SREENIVASAN: Yes.

So there's I think supposed to be sequels to the movie. Did you and the other actors, did you guys have a sense of what was happening, how

significant it was to have...

CHIENG: That's a good question.

For me, I think authenticity and storytelling is what resonates. You could tell the authenticity on set because it was a cast of people who live that

story, you know, that Asian background.

SREENIVASAN:

CHIENG: We're filming it in Singapore. It was a Singapore story.

Someone -- like, I grew up in Singapore. Michelle Yeoh understands that region very well, Malaysia and Singapore. So there was a lot of

authenticity on set that I think you could feel.

SREENIVASAN: To watch a film full of Asian people in a screen in the United States is very different than -- obviously, huge chunks of Asia

watch all of Asian casts, India, whatever.

But it was still a little new here.

CHIENG: Yes, in America.

I think it's interesting to see. And I think that's the ultimate legacy of the movie, is a baseline level storytelling for Asian stories in America.

So, that movie will -- I think established like the idea of, oh, there's Asian leads -- Asian man in a leading role, Asian characters who are not

one-dimensional, who span the entire spectrum of the human condition in that movie.

And I think that gets people used that idea. And from there, you can build onto other stories.

I think previously, before that movie, the idea of having an Asian man lead it, people would be like...

SREENIVASAN: Yes, romantically, yes, it's pretty rare.

CHIENG: Yes. I don't think they even -- I don't think they could wrap their heads around that idea.

SREENIVASAN: Do you find it strange that, when you're on stage and you're talking to different audiences, whether you're making fun of Australians in

Australia, or making fun of Americans in America, what is it about us that we like to watch ourselves sort of getting made fun of?

It's a strange thing, because your observations on the United States are funny to Americans, like, yes, I guess I never thought about it that way.

CHIENG: Right.

When I first moved to America, I actually met with John Oliver to ask him how to be a non-American correspondent on "The Daily Show," and he was

extremely sincere and generous with his time.

I met him in his office. And he told me that it took him two years to relearn how to do comedy in America, because he came from -- he was a

comedian in the U.K. And he said it took him two years to relearn how to do comedy in America.

And he was spot on to the day, because I think, if you come from overseas to America, you can joke about being a foreigner, being a foreign joke, the

novelty foreign act.

SREENIVASAN: Sure.

CHIENG: Oh, this guy's from Australia. This guy's from China

SREENIVASAN: Right.

CHIENG: But after about six to nine months, I think the crowd can sense the bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED), in the sense of like, you're making fun of us

as an outsider, but you live here now. So you can't be making these surface level jokes right about us, because the crowd is like, you're not a

foreigner anymore. You're living here.

SREENIVASAN: Yes, yes, one of us, right.

CHIENG: So, after two years -- it takes about two years to actually learn the nuances of the country enough that you can make fun of them in a way

which they respect you for understanding, like, understanding the actual point of view.

SREENIVASAN: Yes.

CHIENG: You can't just make fun of, why is there 10 flavors of Coca-Cola, because Americans are like, we don't even care about that.

But if you can joke about things which Americans actually care about, you still might be the outsider, but I think the audience will give you the

respect of like, oh, he actually gets what it is. And, yes, it is ridiculous, but at the same time, he's taken the time to actually learn our

position, as opposed to just kind of crapping on us from an outside point of view.

Like, oh, this thing, this is terrible, this is terrible, this is terrible.

SREENIVASAN: One of the observations you're making in this new stand-up is our general impatience. Let's play a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ASIAN COMEDIAN DESTROYS AMERICA")

CHIENG: Fifteen million boxes flying across America at all times. The airspace above America is just Amazon Prime packaging just knocking into

each other, like satellite debris.

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: More. More Prime. Can't get enough Prime here.

Need it Prime. We need Prime harder, faster, stronger. Faster Prime. Prime now.

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: Prime now. Two-hour delivery. Prime now. Give it to me now.

[13:50:07]

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: When I press buy, put the item in my hand now.

In America, there should be no lag, zero lag between when I press the button and when the item is gently placed into my hand, so I can use it

now.

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: Oh, same-day delivery? Oh! Un-American. Same day?

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: Now. Prime now. Break into my house.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SREENIVASAN: I mean, we have gotten to pretty close to that point where we want it before we even know we want it.

CHIENG: Yes.

That's what an algorithm is. It just predicts us better than -- dude, the algorithms are right now out of control. Even this video right now, it's

probably someone -- it got pushed you through algorithm, probably.

SREENIVASAN: Right. Right. They probably saw it because you already liked X, and you already liked Y.

CHIENG: Yes. Yes.

SREENIVASAN: If you like Trevor Noah, you might like this conversation with this guy.

CHIENG: Or if you like "Harold & Kumar," you might like this interview, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

SREENIVASAN: I will tell Kal Penn that. And...

(LAUGHTER)

SREENIVASAN: So, is there something that you are still looking forward to doing? You have done some movies now. You have done this kind of stand-up

world. You have done -- you got a steady job. What do you like the most out of it, out of these?

CHIENG: Stand-up is kind of my -- I think I consider myself a stand-up comic first. It's always been my...

SREENIVASAN: And "The Daily Show" pays the bills?

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: "The Daily Show" pays the bills.

"The Daily Show" -- OK, so, like, stand-up comedy is what got me "The Daily Show." You know what I mean?

SREENIVASAN: Sure.

CHIENG: And I still do it every night in New York. On weekends, I tour stand-up comedy. So that's kind of my primary creative profession.

And let me put it this way. You can't fire yourself. Or you could fire -- you could quit, but you can't fire yourself from stand-up comedy, meaning

it's always there for you to express yourself in.

"The Daily Show" has helped me with stand-up, not just by increasing my profile, so that people will want to come and watch me, but it's just

taught me a lot about comedy in general.

SREENIVASAN: Like what?

CHIENG: I learned a lot of things.

Like, for example, in "The Daily Show," we always talk about, what does this joke -- what are you trying to say? What are you trying to say with

this joke?

And before "The Daily Show," I was probably a lot more casual with that, in terms of like, I'm just trying to make people laugh.

SREENIVASAN: Right.

CHIENG: But "The Daily Show" kind of drills into us like, OK, this is a funny joke, but what are you ultimately trying to say with it? Are people

going to laugh for the right reasons?

Is the point you're making the point you want to make? And, if so, do it. And if it's actually making the point, the opposite point to what you

actually feel, maybe don't do it. So...

SREENIVASAN: So are you -- do you think that right now, given this political climate, that shows like "The Daily Show" or "Saturday Night

Live" have maybe almost a different responsibility, or are they trying for something specific, if they're saying, why are people -- why are we writing

this joke in?

CHIENG: I think there is a responsibility.

But, ultimately, when we're making the show, we can't be thinking about that. When we're making the show, all we're thinking about is, is this

funny, and is it accurate? And that's it. We're not thinking about like our place in history or how important is this to changing minds?

SREENIVASAN: Yes, yes.

CHIENG: We can't, because we're functioning on a very limited time cycle here.

We start the show -- we start the day in the morning. We have to have a show by nighttime. The only way to accomplish that is to be New England

Patriots, just in the moment. Focus in the moment.

(LAUGHTER)

CHIENG: It's very Buddhist, focus. Yes, you can't be thinking about all that other stuff.

SREENIVASAN: Yes.

Now that you have figured out comedy at, at least some level of success...

CHIENG: Yes.

SREENIVASAN: ... was there a line for you that you figured you wouldn't cross? Did you ever get close to it? Did you cross it? Is that how you

learn?

CHIENG: I think comedy is an art form, not a science, meaning there's no equation you can plug in to determine what's funny.

And so, being an art form, you just got to feel it out. You feel it out. And you don't always get it right.

SREENIVASAN: Yes?

CHIENG: But I think great comedy pushes the boundaries, pushes the edge, and, sometimes, it crosses the line. And, sometimes, that's the point of

it, to cross the line.

But hypotheticals, it's impossible to tell how far is too far. You have to be very specific with, what are you saying and what is the example you're

talking about?

SREENIVASAN: Do you ever feel like you crossed any lines in your own head?

CHIENG: In my own head? A hundred percent. Every day, I cross lines.

As a professional stand-up comedian, anything you tell me, I'm trying to think of a joke about it, even if it's wrong. And, in fact, if you tell me

that you shouldn't joke about this topic, I'm like -- I see it as a challenge. Like, how do I solve this puzzle?

[13:55:00]

I might not always express the joke. But, in my head, that's just how my brain works, is, I'm trying to figure out how to make this funny.

SREENIVASAN: I mean, I ask that partly because we're in a culture where it's more difficult.

I think there are a lot more people who are a lot more sensitive about different topics. There's a way for them to express themselves and say,

that's not funny anymore or that person shouldn't be working there anymore.

CHIENG: Sure, sure. Sure, sure.

SREENIVASAN: It seems that there's more consequence to a comic if they cross the line.

CHIENG: Sure, sure. Yes and no. Yes. Yes and no.

But I can't tell how much of that is exaggerated and how much of it is true. But I will say that, like I said, I'm a professional stand-up

comedian. If you tell me a topic, I'm going to try to think of a joke about it.

Now, if you're going to express it, if you're going to express a joke about something controversial, you're playing with dynamite, and you better be

spot on. And you can play with dynamite. And people have successfully done jokes about all kinds of topics.

But I'm just saying, if you're going to express it, you better be spot on. Otherwise, you're going to blow yourself up, and you're going to blow up

people around you.

So -- but this -- this you can't tell jokes about this and this is, I just -- as a professional comedian, I can't buy into that.

SREENIVASAN: Ronny Chieng, thanks for joining us.

CHIENG: Thank you. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Ending on up note.

That's it for now. Thanks for watching. Bye.

END