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Far-Right Gunman Goes on Rampage in Germany Killing Nine People; Racism is a Poison Says Angela Merkel; Katarina Barley, European Parliament Member, Germany, is Interviewed About Germany Shooting; Las Vegas Democratic Debate: Who Won?; Van Jones, Former Special Adviser to President Obama, and Vanessa Hauc, Climate Journalist, Telemundo, are Interviewed About the Las Vegas Democratic Debate; Democratic Presidential Debate Winners and Losers?; Interview With Journalist McKay Coppins. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 20, 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)
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): Racism is a poison.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Angela Merkle confronts Germany's rising far-right as a gunman goes on a killing spree near Frankfurt. We talk to the former justice
minister, Katarina Barley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think you look at Donald Trump and say, we need someone richer in the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Showdown in Vegas, Democrats go from passive to aggressive as Bloomberg gets on the debate stage and the stakes get higher. We talk to a
moderators, Vanessa Hauc, and political commentator, Van Jones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCKAY COPPINS, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: People are so confused and kind of disoriented by the onslaught of misinformation and propaganda that they
just throw out their hands and say, there's no way to separate out what's true and what's not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Journalist, McKay Coppins, on the topsy-turvy dangerous world of disinformation in politics.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Germany is in uproar today after a suspected far-right gunman went on a rampage on Wednesday night, killing nine people, all of whom, according to
a federal prosecutor had a "migrant background." Turkey says five of those killed were Turkish citizens. The suspect and his mother were found dead.
Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): Everything is being done to clarify up to the last detail, the background of these horrific
killings. There are many indications at the moment that the perpetrator acted on right-wing extremist racist motives out of hatred towards people
of other origins, religion or appearance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, Germany is struggling with the rise of the far-right in recent years and each violent incident eats away at the legacy that the
nation has carefully rebuilt from the ashes of its Nazi past.
In October, a gunman killed two people after attempting to attack a synagogue. And last summer, a leading politician was assassinated for
supporting Chancellor Merkel's refugee policy. Now, as Germany looks to a future without Merkel, will Democratic forces be strong enough to beat back
the rising far-right.
Katarina Barley is former justice minister and a vice president of the European Parliament. And she's joining me now from Amsterdam.
Katarina Barley, I mean, first your reaction. You know, you used to be a very senior member of one of the main parties, the SDP. Now, you're in the
European Parliament. What's your reaction to what's happened in Germany?
KATARINA BARLEY, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER, GERMANY: Well, of course, we all, the German Society, we're extremely shocked. Because, as you
mentioned, Germany has been -- has always been very aware of its specific history and we've seen decades where events like this weren't possible,
weren't considered even thinkable in Germany. And now, Holocaust is in the past. We have very few witnesses left who can tell their story. And so,
we're all extremely worried.
AMANPOUR: And, you know, we've seen this rising far-right-ism. I've explained the violence that we've seen. We know that anti-Semitism is
rising and we've seen this attack on what the prosecutors there calle people of a migrant background, many of them are Muslim, as you can tell.
And this gunman, you know, seemed to be spouting all sorts of racism and white nationalism.
What are the -- I guess the conditions on the ground right now politically, culturally that has been allowing this kind of violence, not to mention the
AfD far-right party to be rising in Germany?
BARLEY: Well, the circumstances, I guess, are the same as in a lot of other countries too. It's a climate that is being created by political
forces, especially, that build on scapegoats, that build on anti-Semitism, on homophobia, on racism.
And this man, for example, he was not someone who was known as right-wing extremist. But he obviously picked up all of this ideology, and then
decided to execute what others preached. And I think this is something that we see in a lot of countries. And unfortunately, nowadays, also in Germany.
AMANPOUR: Since you were former justice minister there and you had to deal with issues like this in your remit and you were, you know, leader of a
major party, the General Secretary, do you feel that this right-wing, white nationalism that we've seen rising with some of the violence I have
described -- and by the way, you know, prosecutors have said and the Domestic Intelligence agency estimated the number of violent crimes with
these far-right elements rose by 3 percent in 2018. So, they have been rising.
Is this something that you see as an organized issue or is it individuals who grab onto this political strain and act out their racist views? In
other words, is it a movement?
BARLEY: Well, I think it's both. We do see organized structures and we do see a political arm. But we also see people who, as I said, are not in the
focus of our national security system and who just pick up the ideology. And we've seen that, for example, with Anders Breivik in Norway or in
(INAUDIBLE) in other places in the world, and that is what makes it so difficult to combat.
Because the structures, you can survey, you can fight against them. But these people who just decide well, I've heard enough of all of this, I'm
going to now change it myself, these people are far harder to control, of course.
AMANPOUR: And it's rising in the United States as well. There have been incidents of precisely this kind of right-wing nationalism that have taken
place. But, you know, In the introduction, I said -- I asked, will Germany's Democratic structures be strong enough to prevent this rise and
rise not just of right-wing -- far-right-wing politics but also the violence?
But that, you know, forgets that, in fact, the AfD, the party which has condemned this attack, we have to say, Alternative for Deutschland, has
been democratically rising in your society. And it is, you know, the first, obviously, since the end of World War II.
This first far-right party that's in the national parliament, it makes up, you know -- it is the biggest opposition party. It was established some
seven years ago, surging in elections and has done so on a very raw anti- immigrant and often anti-Islam message. These are electoral politics in Germany today. How does that get tackled?
BARLEY: Well, first of all, there have been other parties before, the NPD, the Republicans, but they have never been as successful as the AfD is at
the moment. And that is, of course, the worrying part that it gets further toward the center of the society.
So, what we have to do is we have to fight it in -- on the level of the society as a whole. We already do have stricter rules, stricter laws than
other European or other countries concerning crimes like denying the Holocaust, the existence of the Holocaust, for example, is a crime in
Germany. So, because of our specific history, we are already, I think, very aware. And that is maybe the encouraging part.
On the one hand we have these extremists, these aggressive people, and on the other hand, you do have a very, very vivid civil society that stands
up. And today, for example, you have seen gatherings of people in, I guess, every major city in Germany who stand up and say, no, this is not the
society we want. We have a Democratic, a pluralistic free German society.
AMANPOUR: I mean, you know, really unfortunately and scarily, there are -- there is also a rise in people who say that Germany has been too careful
about rebuilding from the Nazi past, that actually, you know, there's a backlash against that as well with people lionizing in some quarters, you
know, what went before in World War II.
And I want to ask you because for the 14 years or so you've had a strong leader in Chancellor Angela Merkel. And she has, you know, kept the
structures together, kept the peace, the economy going. And now, there seems to be a bit of wobbles going on in your country, in Germany. Her
handpicked successor has resigned. You know, there's some real problems about what might -- who might lead her party, who's going to challenge, you
know, and run for chancellorship after her.
But the reason AKK, as she's known, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, resigned is precisely because of the AfD, when CDU members, her party members, in one
of the regions voted with that party, the AfD, to remove a politician in a region of East Germany, which is against CDU policy, they're not meant to
have anything to do with the AfD.
And AKK has said, you know, when she resigned, we currently feel strong centrifugal forces in our society and in our party. We have to be stronger
than we are today. So, she's throwing down the gauntlet. There seems not to be a strong enough opposition to this.
BARLEY: Well, I think her problems were -- there were various problems that she had. She obviously did not have the authority within her party. I
think this is the main problem. And then that was the incident that really brought it to light completely. And what is true is that we have a division
concerning the AfD in -- still in east and west, we have them everywhere, unfortunately, but they are particularly strong in the Eastern German
But concerning the leadership, I mean, there's still more than a year to go until the next elections. And Angela Merkel has always said that she will
stay in office until then. So, I think it's a normal Democratic procedure that a party gets together to find their candidate and that's what the
conservatives are doing at the moment, that's what the other parties are going to do. I don't think that this is a particular case to worry about.
AMANPOUR: But AKK is worried about the blurring of the lines when it comes to the AfD. This is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNEGRET KRAMP-KARRENBAUER, GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): Regardless of what we judge the perpetrator to be, it seems he was moved by
racist motives and anti-foreigner motivation, and therefore, far-right motivation, and that strengthens me in my position that the CDU always has
to make it very clear, not just the CDU, but all the political parties in Germany that there can be no collaboration allowed with the political party
that is at least in parts far-right. And I say it consciously, support Nazis and their party and which lays a basis also in the political
discussion for exactly these kinds of thoughts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, she's putting down a red line, that the major political parties should never get into bed in any form or fashion with the AfD. Do
you think that's a line that can hold, particularly since they are doing, you know, relatively well, frankly, in elected politics?
BARLEY: Well, as I said, not everywhere. Fortunately, we have elections coming up in Hamburg at the moment where they might, hopefully, get kicked
out of Parliament. But yes, I think the conservatives really do have to make up their mind because this is an absolute gamechanger in German
There has been a consensus up until now that there will not be any kind of cooperation with the extreme right-wing party. And if that red line falls,
then we are really in deep trouble, I would say.
But also, the conservatives themselves. I hope that if they do that, the electorate would prove them wrong, because I am a social Democrat. I mean,
I'm from the party who's always fought Nazis for -- well, for the whole of history. So, we have absolutely clear. And the conservative side at the
moment is a bit wobbly. But I hope the public outrage they are facing at the moment will show them the way.
AMANPOUR: Katarina Barley, member of the European Parliament, former justice minister, thank you for joining us.
And now, we go to the United States and the State of Nevada where this weekend another contest in the race for the Democratic presidential
nomination takes place. And last night's Las Vegas debate showed how heated this race has become. The gloves came off and all the candidates took aim
at the newcomer, Michael Bloomberg. Elizabeth Warren dispensed with her unity message and went right for the jugular. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: About who we're running against. A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse faced
lesbians. And no, I'm not talking about Donald Trump. I'm talking about Mayor Bloomberg.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, Nevada is much more ethnically diverse and more representative of the nation than Iowa or New Hampshire, so it's being
watched for who will get the biggest minority vote which is vital for victory.
Here to talk about is Vanessa Hauc, she's a climate journalist for "Noticiero Telemundo" and she was one of the moderators of last night's
debate. And political commentator, Van Jones.
Welcome to you both.
Do you know what, I actually want to start by asking you because it's relevant, to comment on what we just were reporting from Germany, the rise
of right-wing nationalism, the violence that can come with it as we've seen overnight very tragically in Germany, and I know it's a concern in the
United States as well.
So, Van, let me ask you just to react, because this killer did have some, you know, weird thoughts and messages for the United States as well.
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes. Well, I mean, throughout the West we're seeing the rise of this sort of right-wing
nativist racist movement in politics. And the center and the left are not finding our footing in combatting it effectively yet.
And so, the election in 2020, in some ways, is going to be a referendum on how far-right, how inclusive, how embarrassing of diversity the country is
willing to be, and that's why what's happening in the Democratic Party right now is so important.
This sort of fistfight, food fight that you saw break out last night on the debate stage really, you know, had that as a key issue as Bloomberg has
occasionally said and done things that have offended the sensibility of feminist and civil rights people and others, and he wants to be the
standard bearer of our party in a moment like this, and that's why it got so hot last night.
AMANPOUR: From your experience, Vanessa Hauc, you -- as I said, you are a journalist with "Noticiero Telemundo." Obviously, you know, you report
heavily on the Latino community and all sorts of others but certainly the minority communities in the United States. What message do you take from
what happened last night? And who do you think your community is looking at as the best defender, if you like, as Democratic nominee?
VANESSA HAUC, CLIMATE JOURNALIST, TELEMUNDO: Well, thank you, Christiane. Well, definitely, this is going to be a very, very important election and
Nevada is going to be the first test for these candidates. 30 percent of the population of Nevada is Latino, and they were listening very closely to
all the proposals of the candidates.
So, I think they are definitely trying to concur the Latino vote because in this election, is going to be great weight. I think now, 32 million Latinos
are eligible to vote. So, this is going to turn the tides for one candidate or the other.
AMANPOUR: So, I tell you what, let us start by playing some of the sort of major moments from last night. I want to play, basically, as I said, in the
introduction, everybody was ganging up on Bloomberg because he's rising in the polls or he was before this debate. Here is Elizabeth Warren who we saw
attack Bloomberg on the billionaire front but she was particularly tough on him when it came to allegations of, you know, the workplace conditions at
Bloomberg. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has gotten some number of women, dozens, who knows, to sign nondisclosure agreements both
for sexual harassment and for gender discrimination in the workplace. So, Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those
nondisclosure agreements so we can hear their side of the story?
FMR. MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a very few nondisclosure agreements --
WARREN: How many is that?
BLOOMBERG: Let me finish.
WARREN: How many is that?
BLOOMBERG: None of them accuse me of doing anything other than maybe they didn't like a joke I told. And let me just put -- there's agreements
between two parties that wanted to keep it quiet and that's up to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Van, you are a veteran of Democratic politics. How is this going to go down? Is this these -- you know, is this going to be a game
changer for Bloomberg?
JONES: It is very, very hard to know. We cannot tell is this a Bloomberg bubble? He is spending an unbelievable amount of money. He's a multi-
billionaire, you know, 35, 36, some people say $60 billion and he's willing, apparently, to spend a couple billion on this election. That has
never happened in the history of our party. The entire party last year in the general election spent a billion. This guy might spend that for
And so, he's rising in the polls. He has ads everywhere. You cannot watch television in the United States on almost any channel in any state without
seeing almost wall-to-wall Bloomberg ads. He's also buying up all of the talent that every one of these candidates who's dropped out, he's reached
out to their campaign coordinators or organizers, their media people and he's just buying up the talent.
Does this mean he has now a kind of billion-dollar Teflon suit and no matter what you throw at him, he's going to be able to prevail? We do not
know. But Elizabeth Warren last night, I've been in criminal justice a long time, that was a murder scene. That was a premeditated murder scene. She
took him to task and went after his electability argument. He's saying, I'm a bigger billionaire than Trump. I can take Trump out. And she's saying,
yes, you have a lot of money, you're building a big machine but you also have a record.
And that record, when it comes to women, when it comes to people of color is potentially toxic one for a general election candidate who is a
Democratic. And we just don't know this clash of titans and identities and ideas how it's going to work out.
AMANPOUR: I'll get back to the record in a second. But first, I want to ask you Vanessa. As a woman and as somebody who was in the room, you know,
moderating the debate, how did Bloomberg and the other candidates come across, and from your perspective, the woman issue which is a big issue for
50 percent of the voters or at least 50 percent are women, how do you think that came across last night?
HAUC: Well, I think it was a very, very important moment at the debate, Christiane. You have to remember that we have the #MeToo movement here in
the United States that was so powerful for women. I mean, thousands of women got out to the street to march and to raise their voices precisely
against this type of situations.
So, Senator Warren was very, very outspoken and she really highlight the issues that Bloomberg is going to have to answer in this election. I think
all the candidates have been campaigning for months and investing their time and their energy trying to communicate their platforms, the message to
the communities. And Michael Bloomberg comes and in a matter of a couple weeks spend more than $300 million in campaigns, in ads on TV, and
definitely, I think that was one of the points that the other candidates were not happy with.
AMANPOUR: So, we know he's not taking part in the Nevada or South Carolina contest and he won't be taking part until Super Tuesday, which is early
March. Van, I want to ask you from your perspective as a Democratic, political, you know, operative. You talked about the record. So, there's
that record, the billionaire, the allegations of sexual, you know, harassment and NDAs and this and that.
But what about other issues that matter to Democrats? He's put a lot of his billions into health, into gun control, into climate, into education. Do
you think that is something that Democratic vote? Because we're talking about electability, you just mentioned that. Is that something that you
think will be able to carry him forward, or should?
JONES: Well, I think that people are going to have to look at both sides. You know, there's no such thing as a perfect candidate. The guy is, you
know, 78 years old, lived through a lot of different eras in which, you know, the standards and norms have changed mostly for the better. He has a
strong record on climate, a strong record on guns, he was able to, you know, preside over one of the most diverse cities in the world, New York
City and he was considered an effective mayor. So, he does have a lot going for him.
What's really happening though in the Democratic Party is we have these two-phenomenon coming from outside the party into the party. On the one
hand, you have a bottom up insurgency from Bernie Sanders, who frankly is a front runner, and he is a Democratic socialist. He's never called himself a
Democrat. So, he's coming from the left into the party with a massive movement of millions of people.
And then you have Bloomberg who's sometimes a Democrat, sometimes Republican, sometimes independent. He's kind of doing this top down
insertion of his own brand of politics from the right. And the mainline Democrats in the middle are just being squeezed out and crushed by these
two forces, one millions of dollars -- millions of people, Bernie Sanders, the other billions of dollars, Bloomberg. And it's part of the identity
crisis of the Democratic Party in the era of Trump.
And so, we just don't know until we actually get a chance to see a head-to- head vote, which won't happen until Super Tuesday, two or three weeks from now, is this Bloomberg phenomenon real, can it stop Bernie Sanders or does
Bernie Sanders on a path, as it looks like, to a nomination, the first time a Democratic socialist will have the nomination of a major party in this
country in the modern era. We just don't know, but we have a big identity crisis in the Democratic Party, in the era of Trump, and that's why it's so
fascinating to watch.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's really, really, really fascinating. And last night was all about the horse race, which we and the press are always accused of
focusing on. But it really was about the horse race. People were really trying to see what the personalities were and what might become of their
sort of, you know, fisticuffs overnight.
Here's a little bit of a back and forth between the two outliers who you just mentioned, Bloomberg and Sanders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a grotesque and immoral distribution of wealth income. Mike Bloomberg owns more wealth
than the bottom 125 million Americans. That's wrong. That's immoral.
BLOOMBERG: All I know is I've been very lucky. Made a lot of money and I'm giving it away to make this country better. And a good big chunk goes to
the Democratic Party as well.
SANDERS: You know what, Mr. Bloomberg, it wasn't you who made all that money, maybe your workers played some role in that as well. It's important
those workers are able to share the benefits also.
BLOOMBERG: What a wonderful country we have, the best-known socialist in the country is a millionaire with three houses. What am I missing here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Mr. Bloomberg made the point there, Vanessa, that, you know, defending socialism in a Democratic debate is the best way to get Donald
Trump elected. From your perspective, what do you make of this, you know, division, this ideological division within the Democratic Party when it's
Trump that is the opponent really?
HAUC: Yes, I think, Christiane, that you just hit the nail on the head. That's exactly what is happening. They are focusing on the Democratic
Party, trying to look for that candidate that is going to be able to defeat Donald Trump, and that is very, very important for many of the voters.
Even sometimes when they come across and they bring their policies and they share their message, the voters are thinking, OK, which one of these
candidates is going to be able to actually go and win the election against Donald Trump? And that's what Mayor Bloomberg is doing. He is sending that
message that he is that candidate.
But, of course, Senator Sanders has amazing support, especially from millennials from a lot of the Latino community, great part of the Latino
community. So, I think that we have to wait and see what is going to happen in Super Tuesday. It's very, very interesting to see. It's very exciting
election. A decisive election. I think the next president of the United States is going to have a lot of responsibilities, not only with the
economy, with immigration, but also with the climate crisis that we're facing here in the United States and all over our planet.
AMANPOUR: So, I'm going to bring up climate. Because, obviously, you, Vanessa, are the first ever climate journalist to actually be a moderator
and we've taken note of that and that's one of the reasons we wanted to talk to you.
What does it mean to be a climate journalist for "Noticias Telemundo"? What are you doing? I mean, how -- what do you see your mission as?
HAUC: Well, Christiane, I am a journalist, and I have been working for "Noticias Telemundo" for 17 years. And my job is to report what is
important for my community. So, sometimes it's politics, sometimes it's education, sometimes it's immigration.
But really over the past couple years, I have found myself covering more and more the impacts of climate change. And if you think about it, minority
communities here in the states, especially African-Americans and Latino are disproportionally more affected by the impacts of climate change.
So, for me, as a journalist, it's not only job but it's my responsibility to communicate this message to the Latino community and to tell the story
of what is happening to our planet and better to tell them how can they be part of the solution, because we are in front of a monumental crisis and we
will need a great effort to turn this economy around and do the changes that we need to do in order to live in a sustainable way.
So, for me, it's very important to tell this story to my community. We have an investigative research unit that is only focused on environmental
issues, it's called Planet Earth. And what we do is we try to frame all of our stories on solutions. Yes, there is a great climate crisis or there is
this drought or there is -- or the sea level is rising, but there is always a solution, and that is the important thing. The technology is on the
table, we have the resources, we just need the will of the people to make a difference.
AMANPOUR: So, actually, unusually, last night's debate did focus some 15 minutes on the climate, which is quite a lot compared to the other ones and
you did ask Vice President Biden and he did mentioned, as you have just said, you know, the way it disproportionately affects minority communities
and, you know, underprivileged communities. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that any executive who is engaged in -- and by the way, minority communities are the communities are
being most badly hurt by the way in which we deal with climate change, they are the way that become the victims. That's who the asthma is, that's who
the ground water supply has been polluted. That's where, in fact, people, in fact, do not have the opportunity to be able to get away from everything
from still asbestos in the walls of our schools.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask you both about who you thought both responded best to climate.
But, Vanessa, since you asked the question, which candidate was the best on climate?
HAUC: Well, they all have the intention to face and to tackle head on this climate crisis that we're facing.
But I think the important message here, Christiane, is that we have to listen to the scientists. They have given us 10 years to turn around and
make a huge impact in the way that we're living, the way that we are consuming energy.
So, really, in order to make it happen and to do what they are asking us to do, that is, to reduce our fossil fuel, our CO2 emissions by half by 2030
and by zero by 2050, we really need to start right now.
That's why this election is so important. Vice President Biden, what I asked him was, what he was going to do to hold the executives of the fossil
fuel companies accountable, because we know that they knew for decades that they were causing irreversible damage to our planet, and they didn't do
They just continued business as usual. So, I think this question of accountability is something that many people want to know. What is the
president of the United States going to do to hold these companies responsible?
AMANPOUR: So, Van--
HAUC: I wish we had more time in the debate to talk about the issues and the policies and their plans. But, of course, there were so many -- so many
different topics that we needed to fit in two hours.
AMANPOUR: Yes, but this is a big one. And it did get a certain amount of time.
Van, you obviously worked on green issues and green jobs for the Obama administration. So, between that time and now, how have you seen climate
and the environment sort of become a real top-level electoral issue?
JONES: Well, it is kind of deja vu all over again.
Back in 2006-2007, Al Gore became this sort of global Paul Revere and brought the climate issue forward. And we had the remarkable outcome that,
in the 2008 election, both McCain and Obama both ran as climate champions. There was no, oh, it's a hoax, it's not real, fixing it is socialism, none
of that from the Republican Party.
McCain ran as a climate hawk, as did Obama. Immediately after that, when Obama was elected, the oil companies and other energy companies poured
hundreds of millions of dollars into moving the Republican Party into the denier camp, not the camp that says we have got a problem, we have a
difference about how to fix it, how much market solutions, how much government solutions, but into the complete denier camp: There is no
problem. This is a hoax.
And that cost us a decade. The most crucial decade in the history of human civilization in our planet was wiped out because of this billionaire kind
of buyout of the conversation. And, as a result, we have lost critical time.
It's amazing to watch the younger politicians of the United States, like AOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, bring this issue back, calling for the Green
New Deal, and to see Bernie Sanders championing it so passionately, and so it's now become one of the top three or four issues that Democratic voters
That's a big accomplishment at the level of politics, but we are falling behind at the level of policy and economics. And Mother Nature doesn't care
about election cycles. We are in real crisis here.
So I am proud the Democratic Party has all of our candidates -- none of them are deniers. All of them want to do something. But the -- we are in
now a grave situation, and we have a very limited time to deal with this emergency.
For this reason and many others, the 2020 election is not just important for the U.S. It's important for the whole world.
So, again, I want to ask you, because, again, Bloomberg is getting a huge amount of attention because of his billions, because of his latecomer
status to the race. But, again, his billions have actually gone to climate solutions.
Do you think that, whatever the other narrative or whatever complaints one has about his money or this or that or NDAs,stop and frisk, do you think
that is -- the big existential issue of our time, that he has actually put his money where his mouth is a good enough platform to run on and should be
JONES: Hey, listen, nobody is more credible on climate issues than Bloomberg.
But there is no Democrat running against him in the primary process that is against him on that. So, if you just want a climate champion, pretty much
any of them will do.
And so I don't think that the fact that he's a climate champion makes a difference in the primary. Now, obviously, when you go up against Donald
Trump -- we have two different theories in this party about how to beat Trump.
One says, hey, let's get somebody who's basically as close to the center as possible, so people who want moderate solutions and are scared of Trump
feel comfortable. That's the case for Bloomberg. Basically, you want a billionaire business guy, we got a bigger billionaire who's actually a lot
more credible on policy.
That's one wing of our party looking for a moderate solution.
The other wing says, listen, if you want somebody who's electable, they have got to be able to electrify, you have got to bring passion and energy.
And you didn't see passion and energy behind Biden. You may not see passionate energy behind Bloomberg. You do see it behind Bernie Sanders.
And that's why you have these two different movements. And, look, the only people, the only candidates who are going to be able to compete in Super
Tuesday in all these states and spend the millions, believe it or not, Bloomberg, with his personal billions, and Bernie, with his millions of
They're the only ones who have enough money to compete in Super Tuesday. And so people can say, well, what about this good thing about Bloomberg?
What about this good thing about Bloomberg? Yes, Bloomberg has a lot of good stuff. And up against Donald Trump, I think he's going to get a lot of
But inside our primary, he's just basically the same as everybody else. He's just got a lot more money.
I will say this, though. You started this segment earlier talking about anti-Jewish sentiment on the rise. No, it's remarkable that it is
unremarkable that our two most leading candidates are both Jewish.
JONES: Bernie Sanders is Jewish. And Bloomberg is Jewish. And it has not been an issue in this campaign at all.
AMANPOUR: That's a good -- yes.
JONES: And so there is -- OK, so there is something that is still healthy in our country.
The fact that it is unremarkable that we have two Jewish front-runners is quite remarkable. And I'm proud of our party and our country for that.
AMANPOUR: That's great.
Van Jones, thank you so much. And, Vanessa Hauc, thank you so much.
Now, the money spent in U.S. presidential elections, as we have been saying, is mind-boggling to so many people. And President Trump himself
says he is ready to spend a billion dollars if it helps him stay in the White House.
"Atlantic" journalist McKay Coppins created a new Facebook account so that he could follow MAGA-related pages, join groups and receive messages from
And he told hurry our Hari Sreenivasan what he learned about the campaign's aim to spread disinformation, discredit journalists, and even dismantle
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: McKay, thanks for joining us.
So, I want to start with a couple of paragraphs in your piece that are the worst-case scenario after all of your research and diving into this story.
"On Election Day, anonymous text messages direct voters to the wrong locations or maybe even circulate rumors of security threats. Deepfakes of
the Democratic nominee using racial slurs crop up faster than social media platforms can remove them. As news outlets scramble to correct the
inaccuracies, hordes of Twitter bots respond by smearing and threatening reporters.
"Meanwhile, the Trump campaign has spent the final days of the race pumping out Facebook ads at such a high rate that no one can keep track of what
they're injecting into the bloodstream.
"After the first round of exit polls is released, a mysteriously sourced video surfaces purporting to show undocumented immigrants at the ballot
box. Trump begins retreating rumors of voter fraud and suggests that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers should be dispatched to
"'Are illegals stealing the election?' reads the FOX News Chyron. 'Are Russians behind the false videos?' demands MSNBC."
If it was 10 years ago, I'd say that sounds like science fiction. Why is this so plausible to you after what you have been looking into?
MCKAY COPPINS, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, what I found over the course of the last several months as I was researching and reporting this, this article,
is that there is a new and sophisticated suite of tools that are being deployed right now in the United States by political operatives and various
political coalition's to actively advance disinformation that helps their candidate.
In the case of this story and what I was focusing on, the coalition to reelect the president -- that includes the campaign, partisan media, pro-
Trump political operatives -- all of them are working in concert to advance false narratives, fan conspiracy theories, and basically to confuse and
disorient the electorate enough that he is able to win reelection.
And I put that worst-case scenario in the piece in part to kind of illustrate what could happen on Election Day. Some of the experts I talked
to said that doesn't go far enough, that, given the scale of the tools that are available to political campaigns and the brazenness with which people
on both sides, but especially those in the president's orbit, have shown in kind of advancing misinformation, it could get even worse than that.
SREENIVASAN: I can see politicians on the other side of the aisle looking at your piece and saying, hey, how is this different than what every
president tries to do?
They have the apparatus of the Democratic Party at their disposal. They have the power of the bully pulpit there. They have the ability to do these
things. So what's so different about this? And why are you calling what the Republicans are doing disinformation vs. what has always happened in
politics, is that people try to protect the power that they have by any means necessary?
COPPINS: It's a fair point.
And I should say that every presidential campaign I have covered and certainly a lot more campaigns before that have featured a fair amount of
partisan spin and half-truths and outright lies, right? We know that political candidates say things that aren't true on the campaign trail all
What's different is both the type and the scale, I think. First of all, the tools that are available now make it a lot easier for those lies and spin
and half-truths to travel around the Internet.
And a lot of voters on both sides of the aisle are so firmly ensconced in their own information bubbles, that they're more susceptible than ever to
this kind of disinformation, without ever being exposed to fact-checks or information that might challenge the authority of what they already
The other thing is that we have not had a president, at least in a couple generations, this willing to say things that are flatly untrue.
I should say, I'm not talking about matters of ideological opinion or viewpoint, right? And there are all kinds of conservative arguments and
liberal arguments that I think are completely reasonable. And I -- in my perfect world, 2020 would be a year where we have a big ideological debate
in this country.
But that debate is very difficult to have when there isn't a common set of facts that most Americans are working from.
And what the Trump campaign is actively trying to do -- and I saw this firsthand as I was reporting this story -- is to make it so that there is
no common set of facts, that people are so confused and kind of disoriented by the onslaught of information and propaganda, that they just throw up
their hands and say, there's -- there's no way to separate out what's true and what's not, so I'm not even going to bother.
SREENIVASAN: Break down for us, what is the connection between, say, for example, when the president tweets something, what happens and how does
that loop work?
COPPINS: Well, as part of the research for this story, I actually created a separate Facebook account from the one that I typically use and
subscribed to President Trump's page, that of his reelection campaign, and then kind of followed the Facebook algorithm as it suggested various other
right-wing accounts for me to follow.
And what happened was, I created a Facebook feed for myself that was -- that was completely filled with the messaging and content that the
president and his allies are pushing out every day.
And I have to say, it's a lot more sophisticated than I think a lot of people realize. Some of it is just sort of parroting what the president
says on Twitter or what he will say at a press conference.
But a lot of it is actually very slickly edited videos. For example, during the impeachment proceedings, there were days when I would be watching the
impeachment hearing live on TV. I would take stock of the witnesses and the evidence that was presented and sort of draw my own conclusions.
And then, later that day, I would look at this Facebook feed and see a video that the Trump campaign had created that actually took out-of-context
clips from the same hearing that I had seen, and slapped them together in a way that made it seem like the hearing had exonerated the president or that
it had been some sort of major triumph for the president.
And I have to say, even as a journalist who had gone into this with my eyes pretty wide open, I became disoriented by it. I -- there were moments where
I would see one of these videos and say, wait a second, is that what happened? Did I misunderstand what I saw in the hearings?
And I could see how easily people of good faith who were not trying to just see information that they agreed with, but they could -- they could become
confused and disoriented by the constant onslaught of information and basically decide that it wasn't worth trying to sort out fact from fiction
and either disengage or just become disillusioned.
SREENIVASAN: How did Brad Parscale, the person who is Trump's kind of digital chief, how did he innovate around this? What did he do around the
2016 election that was so dominant? And what's happening now?
COPPINS: So, in 2016, the Trump campaign, after Trump won the nomination, they kind of looked at the landscape, realized that they were outgunned by
the Clinton campaign, did not have the same war chest that Clinton had, and didn't have the ability to advertise on TV the way that the Clinton
And what happened was Brad Parscale, who at the time was the digital director of the Trump campaign, decided to go heavy on Facebook and Google
advertising, basically convince the campaign that we can get more bang for our buck by advertising primarily on these digital platforms.
And he made use of a technique called microtargeting that maybe some of your viewers have heard about, but don't know that much about. Basically,
what it is that you take the electorate, if you're the Trump campaign or any other campaign, and you slice it into very narrow, distinct, specific
And then you can tailor ads directly for those niches. And so what the Trump campaign did kind of masterfully was that they acquired a ton of data
on voters in the United States, and would break them into very small groups.
So, for example, if they wanted to serve an ad about defunding Planned Parenthood, they could serve it directly to 800 pro-life Roman Catholic
women in Dubuque, Iowa, and know that they would get a pretty positive result.
Now, they didn't invent microtargeting. It had been used by the Obama campaign in 2012. The Hillary Clinton campaign used it a bit, but the Trump
campaign was different, both in how much it used microtargeting and how many ads it created.
There was a five-month period in the 2016 election where the Trump campaign placed 5.9 million ads on Facebook, while the Clinton campaign placed just
66,000. So that gives you a sense of the scale.
The other thing that they did was, they were willing to use microtargeting in ways that were kind of outside of political norms. So, for example, in
the final weeks of the race, they microtargeted ads directly to black voters in Florida that said, Hillary Clinton believes African-Americans are
That was drawing from the controversial quote that Hillary Clinton had given in the '90s talking about gangs, and kind of stretching the bounds of
what she had actually said, but they served it to black voters in Florida. And there was a Trump campaign official quoted at the time who said that it
was not really designed to win black voters over to Trump. Instead, it was designed to depress black turnout in Florida, basically to disillusion
So if there are going to be more Facebook ads in 2020, how consequential is the decision by Facebook as a platform not to fact-check anything, to
basically not hold the political ads to the same standard that they would hold if you and I were just selling a product?
COPPINS: Yes, and that's a key point. I'm glad you brought that up, because commercial advertising on Facebook is held to basic standards of
truth in advertising.
You are not allowed to run an ad that just blatantly lies about your product. Facebook will pull the ad if you do that. That's not true for
politicians. Mark Zuckerberg actually announced last year when he was under a lot of pressure over this question of how misinformation was spreading on
his platform, he said, look, we're going to crack down on some of it, but we believe that we shouldn't be in charge of arbitrating political speech.
So, if a politician decides to run an ad that's false, we're going to allow that to happen and leave it up to journalists and watchdog groups and
opposition parties to decide whether the ads are true.
Now, to a certain extent, I sympathize with that, because I don't think that Silicon Valley companies should be the final word on what kind of
speech is allowed in our political arena. But, at the same time, when you're looking at the amount of information that is available on Facebook,
the relatively scarce resources that journalists like me have, and the relatively short -- relatively small amount of time we have to sort through
all of the ads that are being posted, you start to see the problem here.
So I think it is a consequential policy decision that Facebook made. And I think that it basically incentivizes politicians to stretch the truth and
lie, because it'll be very hard for them to be held accountable. And it'll be easy for them to take advantage of the political benefits of lying on
Facebook, with relatively little downside.
SREENIVASAN: So one of the things you also point out is that, in addition -- I mean, if two or three cycles ago, we were talking about robo-calls,
and then maybe a couple of cycles ago, we were talking about e-mails, and even if last year we were talking about Facebook ads, that text messaging
is going to be an important part of this cycle.
So, until pretty recently, for a campaign to include you in a mass text, you had to opt in. You had to give your phone number to that campaign and
say, I'm willing to accept texts from you.
What's happened is that, in the last few years, peer-to-peer texting apps have been created, which basically enable campaigns to hire staffers or
even give volunteers this job and have them sit down and just literally click send over and over and over again and send hundreds of messages in
the space of an hour.
And to the FCC, that kind of texting is not considered mass texting. It's considered one-on-one texting, which basically has meant that political
campaigns have been on this mad scramble in the last few years to suck up as many cell phone numbers as possible, so they can then send messages to
Because of the advent of these peer-to-peer texting apps, and because there's relatively little federal regulation around them, it's entirely
possible that, later on in the race, as we enter a new stage of this election, you could see campaigns or outside political groups using these
peer-to-peer texting apps to spread disinformation, to confuse people about where they're supposed to vote, or when the election is, to run false flag
operations tagging opposing candidates with positions that they don't actually hold.
There are a lot of experts I have talked to who say this can be a big problem. They believe that regulators will eventually catch up to it, but
that, at least in this election cycle, you should be a little wary of any kind of weird political text message you get that you didn't sign up for.
SREENIVASAN: There have been a lot of stories over the last couple of years -- actually, not a lot of stories. I should say there have been a few
stories about a lot of different Web sites that look like they are coming from a specific community, but they're actually not.
They're fronts. And it's from a centralized place. How does that work?
So, the last decade or so has been brutal for local journalism. Local newspapers have been shutting down across the country. Something that's
emerged to fill that vacuum, but in a very different way, have been these sort of faux local news sites. I call them Potemkin local news sites,
where, if you look at them, they have kind of innocuous names, like The Kalamazoo Times or The Arizona Monitor.
They sort of look like local news Web sites. You can scroll through them. They have coverage of local schools or whatever. But if you look closer,
you will see that they don't have local addresses. They often don't have mastheads or bylines. It's not clear who's behind them.
A lot of them are actually owned and operated by Locality Labs, which is a company owned by a conservative activist. Others are run by lobbying groups
or even local Republican parties.
And I spoke to one political strategist who told me how they're often used, which is that a candidate who wants to get a certain story placed about an
opponent, and the local journalists won't actually take it, they can actually pay a third party to have their desired headline placed in one of
these Web sites.
And the average reader who's just kind of scrolling through Facebook and comes across this will have no idea that the Web site has a political
agenda. They will think it's just a normal news story.
But that's what actually makes these valuable.
SREENIVASAN: Is there such a movement at this scale on the left? I don't want to paint a false equivalence, but what has the left been doing?
COPPINS: This is kind of an open debate among Democratic strategists right now.
So I would say that it's much more sophisticated, much more advanced and much more, for lack of a better word, brazen on the right, but there is
another information ecosystem on the last where there are Democrats openly kind of discussing whether they need to co-opt the same tactics that the
president is in order to beat him in 2020.
What I would say is that we won't have a really clear idea of how far or how -- they're willing to go until we have a Democratic nominee. But my
concern, really, in writing this piece wasn't with the immediate horse race or who wins this election, but what happens to our information ecosystem
going forward, because I do think, if we get into a situation where both major political coalitions in this country decide that the only way to win
is to actively engage in propaganda and disinformation and to kind of trick voters into voting for them, then we have a real problem with the health of
our democracy that will expand -- extend well beyond 2020.
SREENIVASAN: McKay Coppins, thanks for joining us.
COPPINS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, as we heard, the race for 2020 on the Democratic side is really getting quite, quite brutal up there on the stage.
Coming up tomorrow, the actress and singer Jane Birkin, who captured French hearts at the height of the '60s with her musical and romantic partnership
with bad boy poet Serge Gainsbourg. You will know them for the erotic and breathy song "Je T'aime Moi Non Plus."
Take a listen.
AMANPOUR: So sensual, it was indeed banned in several countries for being too racy.
And I speak to Jane Birkin about her life's journey from British boarding school to muse and star, how she ended up having one of the most famous
handbags in the world, yes, the Birkin, designed and named for her for Hermes.
That is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast, and across social media.
Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.