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Amy Klobuchar Third Place in New Hampshire; Historic Challenges Facing Women Running for Office; Rebecca Traister, Author, "Good and Mad," is Interviewed About Biases Thrown at Women Running for Office; Fighting Poverty Everywhere; Esther Duflo, Nobel Prize-winning Economist, is Interviewed About Poverty; Interview With Fran Lebowitz; Interview With Economist Esther Duflo. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 14, 2020 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): And I also want to congratulate my friend and colleague, Amy Klobuchar, for showing just how wrong the pundits can be
when they count a woman out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Solidarity on the campaign trail, but will America elect a woman? Journalist, Rebecca Traister, author of "Good and Mad" joins me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ESTHER DUFLO, Nobel Prize-winning Economist: Being a little more relaxed about giving money to the poor is one of the things that has been shown to
work in the last few years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Myth busting to fight poverty, how economist and Nobel laureate, Esther Duflo, turns stereo types upside down, finding solutions for a fairer
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRAN LEBOWITZ, WRITER AND SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: The thing that has never changed with me is my unbelievable sloths, so I never worked one minute
longer than I had to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A sardonic New Yorker, Fran Lebowitz, leaves no stone unturned in a witty one-on-one with our Walter Isaacson.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Women have won the top job on just about every continent on earth, but not in the world's most powerful democracy, the United States of America. Even
there, however, many women point to the record number of female candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination and three are still in the race,
Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard and New Hampshire's primary surprise, Amy Klobuchar.
The senator from Minnesota came third behind Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, and she has one simple message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, America. I'm Amy Klobuchar and I will beat Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, polls show that the majority of Americans say they're ready for a female president, but are they really?
Rebecca Traister is a writer at large for New York magazine and she's traced the historic challenges facing women who run for office. She's also
the author of "Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger." And I asked her about all the biases thrown at women.
Rebecca Traister, welcome to the program.
REBECCA TRAISTER, AUTHOR, "GOOD AND MAD": Hi, I'm happy to be here.
AMANPOUR: So, we heard a little bit at the top of the program, we played a little snippet of a soundbite of Senator Warren congratulating Senator
Klobuchar. Female solidarity. But let's drill down into the question that we ask, can America, will America elect a woman?
TRAISTER: As somebody who has written about women in presidential politics for a long time and covered both of Hillary Clinton's campaigns, what I saw
happening this summer as Warren support was building was fascinating to me because it was so different from the paths that Hillary Clinton had taken,
right. And we have a very small sample size in the United States of women who have been plausible contenders for even a major party nomination for
And what Warren was doing was fascinating. She was using language that was ferocious, angry, fierce, without it being necessarily gendered, but I've
written a lot about women and anger. It's very unusual to see female politicians get out there and talk about fighting and how angry they are.
And Warren had been doing that consistently, sort of coming out of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation of the Supreme Court, she had said, I am not
afraid to say I'm angry. That was one interesting thing and it was something that Hillary Clinton had had a hard time doing in 2016 in a way
that was absorbed, in another election where anger was a driving force for both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.
Hillary Clinton had a hard time conveying anger. Warren was doing it effectively and consistently. She also -- Hillary had tried a couple of
different things. In 2008, she had downplayed her gender completely, not really talked about herself as a historic figure.
In 2016 she played it up much more rigorously. She talked about the gender card and talked about making history. That -- neither of those approaches
really gelled for her. And Warren had to figure out how to thread the needle between the two. And she did an amazing thing in this period in the
spring and summer, which was tell a story about change in the United States in which women, but not herself, women were the drivers of change.
So, she opened her campaign at the Lawrence Textile Mills in Massachusetts where young women had formed one of the first labor unions in the country.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, why do you think Klobuchar, Senator Klobuchar, has sort of steadily moved up, defying expectations? Her policies obviously are much
more moderate than Warren's, and, you know, my question to you is, is it policy? Is it gender? I mean, many people felt that Medicare for All and
not being able to explain how you would pay for that was a significant negative for Warren.
TRAISTER: It's interesting, because Warren actually is the person who did explain how she would pay for it. Now, whether or not you like her math,
she is the one who actually wound up -- and there is something sort of gendered about that.
She is the one who wound up doing the math. Everybody was fighting about health care and she got pressed on how you're going to pay for it in a way
that actually Bernie Sanders wasn't particularly, in part because he would say -- he says, I don't know. I'm not sure exactly how we're going to pay
for it, or he would say, middle class taxes are going to go up.
Warren wound up doing the math on it. And there is a school of thought, and I'm sure it's true, that that hurt her to some degree. The Klobuchar
question, I think, is very particular to Klobuchar's candidacy. I'm not sure that there's a steady build for Klobuchar. She had a really strong
debate right before the New Hampshire primary in which she came out very aggressively against Pete Buttigieg.
There's a sort of scramble to find another moderate alternative and I think that Klobuchar is showing in that one debate made her a favorite in New
Hampshire. I don't know -- she hasn't gotten a lot of scrutiny. She hasn't been the leading candidate. And a lot of stuff about her record hasn't
really come in for the kind of intense scrutiny that Warren's has, that Sanders' has, that Biden's has and that Buttigieg's has.
I don't know yet if she'll be able to survive a scrutiny period if she, in fact, continues to be a front-runner or if this New Hampshire primary was a
high point for her.
AMANPOUR: So, let's, unfortunately, go to what's really unfortunate, in fact, the surface cosmetics rather than the deep policy. Obviously, Warren
has deep policy, as you point out, really well thought out, and it was giving a lot of people, you know, some pause for thought, particularly on
the other side. I think even Republicans thought she would be a fierce competitor given her grasp of all the matter at hand in a way that many of
the others don't have. But you have this horrible thing called likability.
Here is Warren just talking about some of the advice she's been given on the trail. Just listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: I'm out here every day trying to talk to people about it and trying to bring more people into the fight. But if you've got more ideas. I
was told what I needed to do is smile more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's kind of pathetic but in this day and age somebody would say that to such a competent professional.
TRAISTER: We don't even hear how common these things are. You can't pull apart the degree to which we're soaked in this. And one of the fascinating
things about Warren has been her willingness to talk about it and her willingness to not always smile, although she is a very chipper candidate.
She's been put in a position of trying to be a unity candidate, which means being nice all the time, when in fact she is really sort of an aggressive
AMANPOUR: Let's go from sexism to sexism and racism. As we know, all the candidates of color have dropped out because of, you know, their polling
numbers, including the one female, Kamala Harris, of color. Let us talk about Stacey Abrams, who ran as a black woman in Atlanta, Georgia for
governor and was beaten and she actually ran in the primary against a white woman. There was a whole, you know, exchange about her electability and the
coverage of her. Let's just play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I read a tidbit from a local columnist who said that the primary could have the feel of a feud between Beyonce and Taylor Swift.
Did you expect the media coverage of your race to be what it turned into, which was --
STACEY ABRAMS, FMR. CANDIDATE FOR GEORGIA GOVERNOR: Petty, reductive and deeply misogynistic?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you expect that?
ABRAMS: I wasn't surprised by it. But I do think there is a laziness, sometimes, to how we were described and how we were covered. There was also
a dismissal of the legitimacy of the candidacy because for a lot of these reporters there were multiple reasons, they didn't think I could win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)0
AMANPOUR: So, I guess the question, since we've stated sexism and racism, is which is worse for a candidate?
TRAISTER: They're so tangled.
TRAISTER: I think that they're so -- I don't think you can actually pull apart strands. Sexism and racism are so intertwined.
In 2018, we had a record number of women candidates running, and many of them were women of color, many of them were first-time candidates, unlike
any we had really seen before. Many of them had progressive politics, not all of them. And while that was happening, a couple of things were in play.
First of all, mainstream political media wasn't covering them with much interest, I think for two reasons.
One, they didn't make the candidacy very seriously. And two, in United States political media in the mainstream, the sort of big guns don't
actually pay that much attention to house races. And as somebody who covers women in politics, I was regularly told throughout 2018 that these female
candidates weren't going to win. The polling was bad on a lot of them, they didn't have the fundraising capabilities, you know, women don't win, it's
hard, you know, to beat incumbents. All these things.
A lot of them won their primaries. Then I was told, well, they're not going to win the general. A record number of them won the general election,
taking over the House of Representatives.
Now, here we have what was the most diverse presidential field we have ever seen. And in this case, we had major media paying a lot of attention to a
presidential race. We have people on television every day saying, well, I just don't know that, you know, this is the -- that a woman can win, or
look at this troubling polling. And so, as a result, lots of voters were getting the messages from the media that they trust and it's telling them a
story that they should be very nervous about these candidates.
And what we see is that they've dropped out. They haven't gone the distance. And so, we have a mostly white almost entirely male field at this
point. And I don't think we can underestimate the role of a media that tells us we should be nervous at all times because history tells us things
aren't possible. And what that does is depress the potential for them being possible in the future.
AMANPOUR: I want to also ask you then about the unconscious or conscious bias against women by women themselves, because there's been a whole load
of polls, as you know, that have been done about this particular race and it found that, among persuadable voters, women are a little likelier than
men to say that they agree that most of the women running for president are unlikable.
So, how much is that because of what you're saying, like this sort of circular argument, the press keeps -- and many other commentators, it's not
just the press, it's the whole body of politic that keeps questioning whether a woman is a legitimate or possible candidate.
TRAISTER: Well, in part we have to break down who the women are because as we know, you know, at least half and often slightly more than half of white
women in the United States, not only voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016, but historically have supported the conservative
So, when you're talking about women and you're looking at at least half of white women who, you know, may not like Democratic candidates to begin
with, it's not surprising that they might not like the female Democratic candidate.
Then, of course, there is the factor of women are excruciatingly aware of the double standards to which we ourselves are held, you know, and this is
-- I have often talked about how sometimes in -- this was true in 2016, it's true when I watch women candidates and I write about sexism and double
standards, and sometimes when I hear a candidate yell righteously, correctly in a way that I like, I also sort of tremble because I can hear
how a woman is going to be heard, as shrill or didactic or hectoring as unlikable.
We internalize -- we know the way in which our -- in which we can so easily be portrayed as unlikable. And I think we're very sensitive to them and
anxious about them. And so, I think that's part of what you're seeing reflected. Women are also taught to not like women very much.
AMANPOUR: But what about -- you mentioned Donald Trump and you mentioned the women who helped elect him in 2016. It's clear that the Republican
Party is concerned about many of those women being disaffected in these last three years and maybe moving away from that. But Trump has pointed to
figures that are actually legitimate, and that is wages over -- across the board for women have risen. Just listen to this for a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: The unemployment rate for women reached the lowest level in almost 70 years. And last year women filled 72 percent of
all new jobs added.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, State of the Union, as we know, a lot of his boasts sometimes are not quite factual, but this one happens to be. What do you
think, from what you're reporting and what you're looking about whether he can count on that same female vote to put him over the top again this time
TRAISTER: I don't make any predictions about what's going to happen. But I can say that I think that for right wing women who found Donald Trump
appealing in 2016, the chances are very good that they're going to continue to find him appealing. That doesn't mean all of them. And because -- and a
shift in just a few percentage points could be a ball game.
And I am not persuaded, based on the reporting I've done, that women who are -- who have been horrified by him are going to be talked into not being
horrified by him because of those numbers he cited. Donald Trump is not a friend to women and there is absolutely no way he can dress himself up as
That said, I think we have to be aware when we talk about women and how they vote, that there is this segment of women who are invested in the kind
of politics that Donald Trump represents and we have to be really forthright about that and not engage a fantasy where everybody is going to
be -- you know, where women are going to be swayed.
AMANPOUR: And finally, obviously you're completely on top of the #MeToo movement and this week, both the defense and the prosecution rest their
cases against Harvey Weinstein in New York. There has been a lot of talk that perhaps these weren't the best cases to bring and that perhaps he
might walk. If he is acquitted, what do you think that says on every level?
TRAISTER: I think that there are a lot of people who are very invested in the #MeToo movement who will not be surprised if Harvey Weinstein is
acquitted, but that's in part because part of what those who are -- who have participated in and learned from the #MeToo movement is that there are
all kinds of systems in place to protect the powerful men. That's how we got to the point where we are.
And there are all kinds of -- that doesn't just mean individuals and NDAs, so that's part of it, right, and legal systems. It means ideas about blame
and agency. I think that people who are engaged in the #MeToo movement understand that what they're challenging is a set of ideas and rules and
customs that have all been set up to protect the powerful and that that's why -- you know, that's why it's been so hard to get to this point to begin
So, do I think it's going to, you know, stop a conversation about the ubiquity and damage done, you know, by sexual harassment and assault? I do
not think it's going to stop that conversation. I think it is -- if that happens, I think it is going to be part of the conversation about how
systems are in place that benefit the powerful.
AMANPOUR: Rebecca Traister, author of "Good and Mad" now out oversees here in paperback, thank you so much indeed for joining me.
TRAISTER: Thank you for having me, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Now, the 2020 Democratic candidates are divided over the economy. The question becomes whether capitalism, as we know it, is fit for
purpose in the 21st century. And our next guest suggests that with a bit of work we can make it better for all.
Ester Duflo won the 2019 Nobel prize in economics to her experimental approach to alleviating poverty in the developing world. She's the first
female economist to win and the youngest and she shared it with two others, including her own husband. And she joins me for a fascinating myth-busting
conversation about fighting poverty everywhere.
Ester Duflo, welcome to the program.
ESTHER DUFLO, NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING ECONOMIST: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, you caused quite a lot of waves. You're one of the rare, if not the rarest of objects, which is a female Nobel economic laureate and
you are very, very young for this prize. Tell me, does any of that matter to you? Does it make a difference to be female and young in this particular
discipline at this particular time?
DUFLO: It feels a little bit isolating in general in the discipline just because there are so few women in economics and so few, in particular,
winning things like Nobel prizes. But it feels wonderful as well that it is tempting. And I'm certainly hoping that I will be a trailblazer and many
more will follow.
AMANPOUR: And I'm wondering whether, given that you have devoted your career to trying to identify the causes and the solutions to structural
poverty, has being a woman opened your eyes in the economic field differently, do you think, than had come before?
DUFLO: Well, I think that's a very interesting question, because if you look at the field that I'm working on, the field of global poverty and
development, it's probably one field within economics where you have about an approximate gender balance, where there is about has many men and women.
And I think that reflects the fact that women tend to be interested in those subjects, more than, you know, finance or the macroeconomy or even
So, certainly, there is an interest of many women and many younger people into, you know, how people live their lives and how to make these lives
better. And also, there is maybe both in my work and that of many women in this field, the idea that, look, we don't have to be ashamed of being
interested in those topics. They are the most important topic we should be thinking about and we can, you know, welcome those.
AMANPOUR: So, you've been working on them. What have you found in your fight against global poverty and has it got better or worse since you
started? I know that's a big question. But just give me the broad picture for the moment.
So, the broad picture, if you want it in one word, is that it's gotten better. It's gotten much better. Now, if you look at world poverty and you
just look at what happened since 1990, infant mortality has been divided by two, maternal mortality has been divided by two, the number of people
living in extreme poverty has gone down by hundreds of millions. So, clearly, there has been a tremendous progress. And there also has been a
bit more willingness to be pragmatic about those issues.
AMANPOUR: So, tell me about pragmatic and particularly, one of the ways you kind of figured all of this out. I think you are a proponent of what
they call Randomized Controlled Trials, RCTs. You developed that approach. What exactly does it mean?
DUFLO: Yes. So, Randomized Controlled Trials or RCT is the reasons why Abhijit Banerjee, Michael Kremer and I got the Nobel prize this year, and
the idea is to test any social policy, any new idea that you have to solve a social problem with the same rigor as you would employ to test a new
For example, if you have a new idea to improve, say, how well kids learn in school, for example, you think, oh, wouldn't it be great to have smaller
class sizes, then you would take a sample of schools, maybe 200 schools or 400 schools, randomly pick half of them and implement your new approach,
say, for example, divide the class size in two in half of the schools. Then you get test scores for the whole year, see how things are going and
measure the learning, comparing the classes that were divided in two to the classes that stayed large.
And because you've chosen the school randomly, you are sure that the only difference that you're finding is really due to the fact that the classes
were divided in two. So, if you find a difference, you can say, well, really, this is because the classes are smaller that the kids learn more.
If you don't find any difference, you can say, well, this was not the solution, we need to look further.
AMANPOUR: Some of the reading I've done is kind of really interesting because you say that it's not always the financial incentive that gets
people to cooperate in ways that are good for them and the way to emerge from poverty and into a healthier society.
So, what have you learned, A, in your RCTs, and in terms of what gets people to cooperate?
DUFLO: I think the team that you highlighted, the idea that people are not just sensitive to financial incentives, it's an important sort of
overarching team that we are also developing in our new book, "Good Economics for Hard Times," because most economies and also some
policymakers, think that the people are extremely sensitive to the financial rewards from doing their work.
And in particular, that the poor might become very lazy if you start making it a little bit too easy for them. And there is, in particular, this worry
that you shouldn't give cash transfers, you shouldn't just give money to the poor because they are just going to stop working now that they are not
at risk of starvation.
And in fact, one thing that does work and has been shown to work across many, many countries in the world in a series of randomized controlled
trials is to give people cash that is just to live their lives. So, sometimes the cash is to support, for example, the education of their
children or to help them get the kids into health centers. It doesn't even need to be conditioned on that, but it could be just framed as, look, here
is this allowance, this is to help your kids go to school.
And what you find with this kind of transfers, is number one, kids are going to school more. And number two, it is not that the adults stop
working because they now have this allowance. In fact, that cause now dozens of countries has been shown that when people -- when very poor
people get this money, they don't work less. If anything, sometimes they work a little more. And it helps their kids go to school and it helps their
kids get the essential services that they need, for example, vaccination and so on. And it last for a long time and the benefits last for a long
time and last for the next generation.
AMANPOUR: So, this kind of discovery that you've made in the developing world, can it be transposed to the developed world? I mean, when you look
at really developed countries which have a terrible, also, institutional poverty amongst too many of their people, what is the solution there? Can
you use that same sort of model?
DUFLO: So, it is very much what we tried to look at in our new book, "Good Economics for Hard Times," where we are trying to apply the semblance of
saying, look, shed your presumptions, shed your assumptions, for example, that the poor would become lazy if you give them money, and just look at
the evidence. What data do we have that tells us whether or not, for example, the Victorian ideology that it is dangerous to be too generous to
the poor is justified or not.
And if you follow this particular topic, this is something that -- for which there is actually plenty of evidence in the developed world as well,
in the rich world as well, where, again, you don't really find any evidence that people -- poor people are discouraged from working by getting
financial assistance. And what is surprising is how vigorous this idea is that, oh, the poor will become so lazy if we give them money, in the face
of the evidence we have that there is no such sign that it's happening.
AMANPOUR: It's really amazing to hear that right now, because again, we're heading to an election, we've obviously had all sorts of populous elections
over the last four, five years. And this idea of poverty being left behind and how to deal with it has possibly been at the heart of it, whether it's
about migration, whether it's about, you know, the so-called left behind in the globalization process.
What's your analysis of these great big structural movements and issues that are happening on this economic front?
DUFLO: So, what's very interesting is that a lot of the issues that we are fighting over are issues that have a lot of economics in them, where
economists have, you know -- that the economist have studied for several years. But there is a big distrust of listening to economists and what they
have to say. There is a big tension between the broader public and economists, where on the broader public absolutely no trust in economist.
We did a poll of about 10,000 Americans for our book and the answer was like the least trusted people about their own field of expertise are
politicians and the second least trusted people are economists.
AMANPOUR: That's a very dangerous mix.
DUFLO: So, it's a little bit unfortunate. That's a dangerous mix. When you're getting to a place where a lot of the debit we have, immigration,
trade, health insurance as well, social policy, the rise of inequalities are issues that are issues of economics and issues of politics, but neither
economists nor politicians are actually trusted by the public at all.
And migration is an interesting issue. Migration is an issue that people think about mostly from the emotional point of view, which is that it turns
out that migrants do not hurt the wage of the lower skill natives. And that's not something that people know because, in part, because that's not
in treaty (ph). You say, well, you know, if there are more people coming and trying to work, of course the wages are going to go down or employment
is going to go down.
And what we are trying to explain in the book is, well, first of all, that's not true. In practice, that's not true. When you look at waves of
migrants, everywhere in the world, you don't really see a negative impact on low skill natives.
AMANPOUR: That is a major important observation. I mean, you have a whole system here in Great Britain that is being turned upside down because the
Brexit, because people believe that, A, communities have been left behind, and, B, all their jobs to be taken by waves of European immigrants.
As we've said, this is at the heart of elections, right? I mean, right now, President Trump is going to run on, you know, a successful economy and the
Democrats want to say, well, it's an economy that works for some people but not for others. So, the Democrats are saying, you know, a whole number of
things, including what Elizabeth Warren says, you know, wealth tax, some of the others, her and Bernie Sanders, Medicaid for All and all the rest of it
-- or Medicare for All.
Let me just play this soundbite and we'll talk about some solutions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: We can put 800 billion new federal dollars into all of our public schools. We can make college tuition-free for every kid, we can put $50
billion into historically black colleges and universities and we can cancel student loan debt for 90 percent of the folks who have got it. Two cent
wealth tax and we can invest in an entire generation's future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Is that right, Professor Duflo?
DUFLO: So, what is clear is that another thing that economists have won that's perhaps not likely, is that, oh, if we start to have higher income
taxes on the very rich, or if we start having something like a wealth tax, it's going to wreak havoc in the economy because they are going to stop
And, in fact, again, all the evidence we have is that, very much like the very poor are not very sensitive to tax rates, the very rich aren't either.
What happened when tax rate increase is that there is more tax evasion, but it's not that people stop working. So, If we had a very high marginal tax
rate on the top, top income, like we had in the Eisenhower era where the tax rate on the richest were up to 90 percent, so, if we had much higher
income tax rate on the very, very rich, or if with he had a wealth tax at the level that is proposed by Elizabeth Warren, for example, it would not
be -- it would not be the end of the economic system as we know it.
AMANPOUR: But would it be helpful?
DUFLO: It's not something that is -- it would raise money.
I think what would be very key -- what would be very key is to raise money and then, too, is there a wealth tax or a marginal tax that's a bit higher,
and then use it in a way that is visible, that is effective, and that will slowly build back some amount of credibility in what the government can do.
Our social unease is the fact that people realize that the economy is not working for them as they wish, but they also think that the government can
do nothing for them.
Showing what the government could do, which could be done by raising -- by raising money through a modest increase in taxes, and then would slowly
build up -- build back up a certain amount of trust in what the government can do for people.
AMANPOUR: OK, so, let me ask you then, because one of your solutions for areas and sectors of society that are really hurting is, like -- you call
it like a G.I. Bill or a Marshall Plan for the--
AMANPOUR: So, that would be from the monies that are raised, I guess, on these kinds of taxes that are being proposed.
So, what -- if I were in charge of finding a new program, what I would do with something like an increase in taxation coming through a wealth tax,
for example, is to spend it very directly on those who are hurting from the modern economy.
And, in particular, one of the things that we really have paid no attention to, we being politicians and economists, is the fact that the international
trade has really completely dismantled some communities, because, when people lose their jobs, they're making furniture in North Carolina, they
don't pick up and go to get a job to sell furniture in New York or become a security guard, for the reason we were discussing earlier.
Moving is difficult, and, therefore, people stay in place. And as they stay in place, the entire economy of a town can easily just implode. And that's
how you see the Main Street being shut down and people living extremely difficult lives.
And we have sort of ignore that, because, while the economy as a whole is doing well -- that is true -- what is really scandalous is that, even
though some specific people are hurting, we have done almost nothing to help them.
AMANPOUR: OK. It's really interesting. I could go on and on, especially, I mean, your own personal story is really interesting, too.
You came from France, Your husband, who co-won the Nobel with you, came from India.
Just finally, how has your mixed marriage, your international perspective affected your economic vision?
DUFLO: That's a very interesting question.
I think the fact that we come from different countries, I come from France, I grew up there, and we are both working here in the U.S., and most of our
work is on very poor countries, in particular India, I think gives us a sense that there is -- there's nothing evident.
When I was little, I was always wanting to help people in poor countries. And I had this idea that they lived these absolutely desperate lives and I
needed to go and save them.
And when I started working on the poor countries, my first trip to India, I was like, this is entirely different from what I thought. These people are
not desperate. They live very rich and complex and interesting lives. And they have as much to teach me as I have to potentially bring to them.
Professor Esther Duflo, thank you so much, and congratulations on your Nobel.
DUFLO: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And now from the economy to comedy, the grownup, sardonic sort.
The writer and cultural critic Fran Lebowitz is known for her bold and witty observations of American life.
And her interview with our Walter Isaacson is no different.
From President Trump and the Democratic candidates, to the impact of technology on today's culture, she gives her take on the currents of 2020.
They also talk about her coming of age in 1970s New York and the struggle to get a job, to find her passion, and eventually interviewing the famous
pop artist Andy Warhol.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fran, welcome to the show.
FRAN LEBOWITZ, WRITER AND SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you.
ISAACSON: You grew up in New Jersey in a family that sold furniture and stuff. Did they ever want you to go in the business?
I mean, this was -- I was born in 1950, the end of 1950, so I'm not as old as you maybe, adding. I'm a year younger than you think I am.
My father owned a little shop, and he was an upholsterer. If I had been a boy -- there was no idea in my father's mind that a girl could do that.
Now there are women upholsterers, but -- and I'm -- that was the upside of being a girl in the 1950s. There were not many, but one of the upsides was,
no one expected you to be an upholsterer.
LEBOWITZ: And so, no, there was no idea that I would do that.
ISAACSON: Were they a little bit baffled when you kind of went into the humor business?
LEBOWITZ: They were generally -- well, to the sense that they paid attention to something like that -- I mean, people have asked me, did your
parents want you to be a writer? And I would say, no. Did they object to you being a writer? No. What did they want you to be? A wife.
There was no idea that I would work. I mean, my mother worked. She was a decorator, and she worked in my father's shop, the idea you might have to
work to earn money, but -- and they never really talked to me about my future.
The only thing I remember my mother specifically saying about my future was one night, when we were doing the dishes, which is one of the jobs of being
a girl, was, she said, you know, Fran, you should marry a college professor, because you like to read so much, that, if you married a
professor, you would always live in a place where there are a lot of books, I mean, not that you might be a college professor.
There was tremendous pressure for me to do well in school. That was extremely important.
ISAACSON: But you get kicked out of high school.
LEBOWITZ: That's right, and they never forgave me.
ISAACSON: How did that happen?
LEBOWITZ: I was in public school, where you really couldn't get kicked out for sleeping, which is basically what I was doing.
But they did tell my parents -- or my mother -- when we said our parents, we meant our mother, because our fathers were not involved in our
upbringing the way that they are now at all. And they told my mother, she's failing everything, which I was. If you want her to go to college, which
was their only desire for me, she's going to have to go to private school, which they could not really afford.
But, at great personal and financial sacrifice, they found a private school. Private schools when I was that age were all, like, girl schools or
boy schools. There were two schools where I grew up. Neither took Jews. One was for, like, smart WASPs, and one was for stupid WASPs. But none were for
Jews of any sort.
So the nearest school was like 20 miles away. I went to that school for like five minutes, and then I got expelled. People always think I did
something glamorous. I was just not their cup of tea.
ISAACSON: Sort of excessive surliness or something?
LEBOWITZ: Yes, I think that's probably -- what my mother used to call that look on your face, because we didn't talk back to our parents the way that
-- it was called talking back, because we were basically afraid of them. I don't mean in terror. I don't mean my parents were physically abusive.
But, basically, we were afraid of adults. They were in charge of everything. We never had the idea that kids have now, that what our parents
had was ours. I never felt like the house that I grew up house, I thought it was my house, but I didn't think I owned it.
Also, our parents didn't have the same desire to be friends with us that my -- my friends who are parents, which are not most of my friends -- but they
want to be friends with their children. My mother used to specifically say, I'm not your friend, I'm your mother, in case I would imagine that she was
ISAACSON: So you get to Manhattan. How does that happen?
LEBOWITZ: I always wanted to live in New York, even though I enjoyed my childhood, my young childhood. I lived in a very pretty little town. There
was a good library in the town.
Once you got a bicycle, which I got at the age of 10, you could go wherever you wanted. No one ever thought anything bad would happen to you. Nothing
bad ever did happen.
So, there's a lot of freedom that children don't have now anywhere. But I - - like, for my birthday, they would always ask, what do you want to do for your birthday? And I always said, I want to go to New York. I want to go to
the Museum of Modern Art, which I was obsessed with from the very first time I went there.
And so I just thought, I'm going to live in New York when I grow up. I guess I imagined I would go to New York after I graduated from college. But
since I didn't go to college, I got there early.
ISAACSON: And you got there driving a taxicab?
LEBOWITZ: I didn't get there driving a cab.
LEBOWITZ: I had a -- I came to New York, I didn't know one single person, not a single person. And I didn't have a high school diploma.
And I didn't have the one skill that girls needed to get a job, which was I didn't know how to type. And I deliberately did not take a typing class,
because I didn't want to know how to type, because I didn't want to type.
And so, hence, I now don't have a computer or phone because I don't know how to type. But there were a million bad jobs in New York in like 1970, a
million. You could get one -- so I went by "The Village Voice" every day. I worked, like, at least five, sometimes six days a week, but I never worked
Wednesdays, because Wednesdays, "The Voice" came out.
And I would go to Sheridan Square, get "The Voice," to look for a new bad job, which you could always get. And these were the kind of jobs that paid
you that day in cash, which is something I really needed. So I wanted to drive a cab, because I thought there were no girls driving cabs.
There were a few hippies at the time. There was a rumor of a woman cab driver. I never saw her.
Because you could do whatever you wanted. So there were three shifts. There were big fleet garages, not like now. You could just come in if you had a
cab. I had to get a license. You could just come in at the beginning of any shift. There was always a cab available.
At the end of the shift, you had money in your hand. So I never -- the thing that has never changed with me is my unbelievable sloth, so I never
worked one minute longer than I had to.
ISAACSON: Have we lost a sense of the virtue of sloth?
LEBOWITZ: I don't think it was ever considered a virtue. It's incredibly looked down upon, being lazy.
I mean, I know a few other lazy people. I don't know anyone as lazy as I am. And when people often say, like, why didn't you do it this way, I go,
I'm lazy. I don't want to.
I used to -- when I first started working when I was a kid, I would, like, stop doing one bad job. I think this is a horrible job. Let me try another
job. And it didn't take long for me to realize, Fran, you hate to work. Let's face it, you hate to work.
Now, there are a couple of jobs I have always wanted to have. These jobs are also very difficult jobs, but they're so out of my reach that I can
ISAACSON: Like what?
LEBOWITZ: Oh, my childhood idol was Leonard Bernstein.
And I -- like, I would think I would love to be an orchestra conductor, even though there were no women orchestra conductors. And, of course, I
never could have been one.
And I also have always felt, although I feel I could be a Supreme Court judge -- I think I could be an excellent Supreme Court judge, because I
never understand -- I follow the court not assiduously, but to some extent.
These are the simplest questions there are. Is this constitutional? Why does it take them more than two minutes? No.
LEBOWITZ: Also, I'm like -- I make snap judgments. I would be very fast. I'm very judgmental. I never have any trouble figuring these things out.
Plus, the big advantage they have is, they have writers. There are clerks who write for them. They just have to, like -- so I thought, I'm available
for this. And you do not have to be a lawyer to be on the Supreme Court, and I'm already not a lawyer.
ISAACSON: How did you end up with Warhol, Andy Warhol and "Interview" magazine?
LEBOWITZ: It really had nothing to do with Andy. It had more to do with the fact that he had a magazine. And I was writing for a smaller magazine.
At the time I started writing for "Interview," I don't think 5,000 people read it. In fact, I'm certain they did not. I was writing for an even
smaller magazine. A friend of mine was writing for "Interview." So I asked him to get me an appointment, so I could -- there to see if I could write
There were -- and that how I started writing there. It didn't have anything to do with Andy.
ISAACSON: Explain to me Andy Warhol. What was he like?
LEBOWITZ: Well, that's a pretty broad question.
LEBOWITZ: I mean, I never liked Andy. He never liked me.
ISAACSON: You all hung together a lot, though, right?
LEBOWITZ: Well, it wasn't like -- these worlds were so small then that, if you were around these scenes, you saw the same people.
Like, I probably saw Andy every night of my life for 10 years, not once by design, OK? So -- and that was true of a lot of other people. I always say
now the entire art world used to be able to fit in one restaurant.
It also used to be called the art world, and now it's called the art market. And that is the huge change in that world. But, truthfully, the
people that I knew when I was young, you just saw them constantly because you were in the same kind of scene.
There were people who deliberately saw Andy. But I was not one of them. And there were people he deliberately saw, but I was not one of them. But I saw
him probably every single night of my life for many years.
ISAACSON: This was like the scene of Studio 54.
LEBOWITZ: This was way before Studio 54.
LEBOWITZ: But, yes, also during Studio 54, which didn't last that long. Now I can't remember, but I think it was less than two years until they
went to jail.
LEBOWITZ: I don't mean Andy went to jail, but Steve and Ian went to jail.
So, these -- especially in retrospect, especially the people who were young, this seems like it was some huge long era. Everything used to take
less time. Think of how short World War II was compared to what's going on now.
Think -- now everything takes forever. In the era that's supposed to be an era of speed, it seems to me everything is much slower. Like, wars to take
like this. Now they just -- generations come and go, and we're in the same war.
ISAACSON: So, back then, there were artists and there were rich people, and, suddenly, they each wanted to become each other or something, right?
LEBOWITZ: Well, now everyone is an artist. So, I mean, not everyone is rich.
Everyone is an artist. People use the word art now so unironically. I'm -- like, to me, this is the world going backwards, the world becoming more and
more corny, more and more square. Everyone says they're an artist. People refer to the most mundane kind of chores as their art.
People -- the word creative is a noun. So, that's pretty striking to me. There were always rich people. And, truthfully, the history of art is also
the history of wealth. That's who can pay for it.
But now there are more rich people. They are richer. They are stupidly rich. And so now they determine -- you know, you could say, in a way, that
the art of the Renaissance was determined by rich people. And that is true.
But it doesn't make the present-day artists the artists of the Renaissance.
ISAACSON: You're sort of famous for observational humor. And the field has been left somewhat open to you by the fact that nobody observes things
anymore. They're all on cell phones.
LEBOWITZ: This, to me, is the greatest gift I have ever received.
I can't believe everyone just gave it up, because I don't have a phone, I don't have any of these things, and I'm in the street a lot. I walk a lot.
And I'm around the town a lot.
And I -- it seems to me I'm the only person that's not looking down. And, hence, when I talk to my friends, all of whom live in New York, about
certain things, they never have noticed a thing.
I will say, can you believe they took down that building on the corner? No. When did they do that? Didn't you notice that? No. But you live two blocks
away. It doesn't matter.
Also, if you're on the phone, if you're looking at the phone, that's where you are. So, it's not just New York. It's geography in general that's been
dispensed with, because that means you're always in the place you want to be, which is, apparently, dealing with yourself.
So, I mean, I look around me on the subway very often. I used to read over the shoulder of people reading newspapers, which people used to become
furious at this. I always found that hilarious, as if you're reading their newspaper was going to take the print away from them.
But I look at so many people's phones, and I noticed that the majority of people that I'm looking at their phones are playing games. I'm talking
about adults. They're playing games. Games. Adults. This cannot be good for the country.
They're playing games. And they're watching television shows or -- but I think, like, people, go what do you do on the subway? I can't read on a
moving thing. It makes me feel sick.
I'm watching my fellow human, and it's not encouraging.
ISAACSON: In the '80s in New York with "Spy" magazine and all, Trump was sort of a running joke. What did you think of him, and can you imagine how
LEBOWITZ: I mean, I never paid any attention to Donald Trump. I thought -- I mean, he was a joke.
I was so wrong about this election. I know a lot of people were wrong, but I was, like, unbelievably, emphatically wrong. I spent the year going
around the country telling literally thousands of people, zero chance.
I was serene. I can't tell you how serene I was. I never saw the television show that he had. I heard of it, but I never saw it. But even if I had seen
it, I don't think it would have ever occurred to me that people thought it was real.
A friend of mine said to me before the election, you know, Trump could win. I said, don't be ridiculous. She said, well, you don't understand the
country because you don't watch reality television. I thought, that's ridiculous.
People in New York didn't even think he was a real estate developer. He was literally beneath contempt. No one paid any attention to him at all. People
ask me, have you ever met him? I couldn't even remember. I mean, who would pay attention to this guy?
New York City voted 9-1 for Hillary Clinton, 9-1. I can't imagine what else you could get New York City to agree on like that, 9-1.
ISAACSON: Give me your take, if you would, on the Democratic field.
LEBOWITZ: If they called me and said, Fran, we're going to let you choose the Democratic candidate, I would choose Elizabeth Warren.
I would choose her because she is very clearly and by far the smartest. Being smart is the number one important thing for a president. I don't -- I
mean, it's the American hatred of the intellectual -- not that she's particularly an intellectual, but is the American hatred of intelligence --
do you not understand, this is a very hard job?
So it's a very hard job and requires someone very smart. She's very smart.
There's people in that field of candidates -- like, I still don't know who Tom Steyer is. I still don't know who he is. I know he's rich. I see him on
TV all the time. But I don't know, like -- I don't know when it became the idea that, I'm rich, I should be the president.
It's like, these things are unrelated, by the way. I loved Julian Castro at the very beginning. I think he -- I didn't like the way that he talked to
Joe Biden that time. I thought it was very -- I thought, how stupid could you be? Do you know how many old people vote? Don't make fun of someone for
being old. It's not fair.
ISAACSON: But you have made fun of Biden and Sanders for being old.
LEBOWITZ: No, I haven't made fun of them for being old. I said they're too old to be the president.
LEBOWITZ: OK? They're too old to be the president.
ISAACSON: -- take away their keys?
LEBOWITZ: Yes. I said, they're too old to drive. OK?
If they were your father, you would be conspiring with your siblings, we got to get dad's keys. Look, I went through this with my parents. You never
can get them, by the way. If people -- if your parents live in a place, other than New York, where you need to have a car, forget it. You're never
going to get these keys.
I think we should have laws about this, by the way, because it's very dangerous for the old people and for the other people who might be around
Joe Biden, I never liked him, because, A, I did -- never forgot the Anita Hill hearings. I didn't need to be reminded of them during the Kavanaugh
hearings. I remembered them. I was appalled by that.
I also -- no one ever mentions he turned Delaware into a cesspool of usury. Democrats never mention this. If a Republican had done that, I think
there'd be a lot of remarks about it.
Bernie Sanders, I never liked a lot. I think he's a phony. I think he is a total phony. And I also think, what kind of persons leaves New York when
LEBOWITZ: To me, that disqualifies him. It's OK if you're old, 78. Say if you're 78, you might think, you know, I just can't take New York anymore.
I'm old. I should move to Vermont, but not when you're 18.
LEBOWITZ: I really dislike Pete Buttigieg. A, he reminds me of Clinton.
And whenever I say this to people, who -- I never liked Clinton. He's very calculating. I can see he's very calculating. He's very measured.
Those kind of people, I never feel -- although I don't feel he has the -- one thing that Clinton did have, I really believe, was his empathy for
other people. I don't see that in Buttigieg.
But the most important thing about Buttigieg is, he was the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. There are more people in my building than in South Bend,
Indiana. He could be the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He could not be the president of my condo board. He could not take it.
ISAACSON: You used to write in the '70s and '80s a couple of great books and stuff.
You kind of moved away from writing, become more of a conversationalist, performer, and everything else.
Do you think you will ever get back to writing?
LEBOWITZ: Well, it's always been my hope.
I mean, I didn't really move away from writing. It's just that, as we said before, I'm very lazy. Talking is very easy. Writing is very hard. Writing
is so hard. I mean, writing is very hard for me. But it is actually hard. As you know, it's hard to write. It's very hard.
I have always thought that -- I mean, the only job I could ever think of that was harder than writing was mining.
LEBOWITZ: And so, I always felt sorry for miners. I still do.
Coal miners now -- I was unaware of these mica miners, some of whom are like 6 years old. This is much harder. I'm not saying it is not harder.
But other than mining, which I believe everyone knows is hard, writing is really hard, and talking is really easy.
And so -- but I do -- I have two half-books finished. My publisher refused the idea that I had, which is, I have two half-books that are unrelated,
but two halves. It's a whole book.
ISAACSON: You could stitch them together?
LEBOWITZ: No, he didn't like that idea.
LEBOWITZ: I guess I do always think I will finish a book. I would like to.
I also buy lottery tickets. So, who knows?
ISAACSON: Fran, thank you so much.
LEBOWITZ: Oh, thank you.
LEBOWITZ: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, to a retired Japanese farmer who has been named the world's oldest man.
It's an honor that has been a long time coming from the Guinness World Records, 112 years and 344 days, to be exact. That is the age of Chitetsu
Watanabe turns 113 next month. And he credits his long life to not getting angry and keeping a smile on his face. Watanabe also has a sweet tooth.
These days, he enjoys custard and cream, because he's actually lost his teeth.
The world's oldest person, a woman, also lives in Japan, Kane Tanaka. She turned 117 last month.
And that's it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast, and across social media.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.