Return to Transcripts main page
Sinn Fein Second Highest Number of Seats in Ireland; The Murder of Jean McConville; Patrick Radden Keefe, Author, "Say Nothing," is Interviewed About Sinn Fein; Bringing Serge Gainsbourg Back to New York; Jane Birkin, Actress and Singer, is Interviewed About Serge Gainsbourg; Battling Wealth Inequality; Interview With Jane Birkin. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 21, 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)
MARY LOU MCDONALD, PRESIDENT SINN FEIN: It's a statement that people want a different type of government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Sinn Fein's historic breakthrough in Ireland, but can they shed their IRA legacy? "Say Nothing" author, Patrick Radden Keefe, joins me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANE BIRKIN, ACTRESS AND SINGER: It was funny to come to New York and they said, oh, black in leather bag? I said, yes, leather bag is going to sing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: '60s "It" girl Jane Birkin on that bag, that song and being and Serge Gainsbourg's muse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HEATHER BOUSHEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, WASHINGTON CENTER FOR EQUITABLE GROWTH: Since 1980, late '70s, early '80s, we've been an economy that's been
growing apart, where a rising tide, no longer looks on bones.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Should the U.S. have to choose between equality and prosperity? We hear from one of Washington's most influential economic voices, Heather
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Sinn Fein for years it was known as the political wing of the IRA. But after decades on the fringes, is their historical baggage suddenly becoming
lighter? In a momentous surge into the political mainstream, the recent election in the Republic of Ireland, Sinn Fein garnered a quarter of the
vote and the second highest number of seats in Ireland's parliament.
Though the party platform calls for a United Ireland, their appeal to voters lay in populous pocketbook policies like the Bernie Sanders wing of
the Democratic Party in the United States, around health and housing.
Despite its links to the bloody legacy of the IRA, Sinn Fein also played a vital role in the Northern Ireland peace process, bringing Republicans into
the Good Friday Peace Accords. Patrick Radden Keefe is the author of the best seller "Say Nothing," which chronicles events surrounding the murders
of Jean McConville, which was widely considered one of the worst war crimes of The Troubles. And he joined me to talk Sinn Fein's past and its future.
Patrick Radden Keefe, welcome to the program.
PATRICK RADDEN KEEFE, AUTHOR, "SAY NOTHING": Good to be with you.
AMANPOUR: So, Patrick, you know, everybody is so interested here in the U.K. but also in the United States where, you know, Ireland, The Troubles
have a deep resonance. What can you tell us about this surprise surge, and should we be a surprise, that Sinn Fein, which many people have known as
the political wing of the IRA, as a political movement has surged to the top of elected office now?
KEEFE: I think we should be surprised. I mean, it's a real seismic result in the Irish elections. This is a political movement that, as you say,
started out as the political wing of the IRA and entered electoral politics in the 1980s in Northern Ireland and gradually, gradually built up support.
But until quite recently, as recently as just a couple of years ago, it was a pretty marginal player in the Republic of Ireland. And so, to see them
come out with the results that they have is pretty shocking.
AMANPOUR: You've obviously done a lot of work on this. You say shocking. What do you think it's all about? Why did they do so well?
KEEFE: Well, I think they positioned themselves as a party of change in a situation where the Republic of Ireland has really for the century have
been dominated by two center right parties, which are rivals, but in terms of policy can seem pretty indistinguishable. And there was a great deal of
dissatisfaction among the electorate in Ireland over real pocketbook issues, you know, jobs, pensions, health care, housing.
And Sinn Fein came in and pushed really hard on those issues and it was almost a kind of Bernie Sanders type message of change and made a lot of
promises about what they'll be able to deliver and essentially said, the status quo is not working and we'll be something different here. That is a
different political complexion and cast than we've seen with Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, where it's historically been this party that's pushing
for Irish republicanism for the unification of Ireland.
And so, I think by positioning itself in this way in the republic, it was able to bring a lot of young voters into the fold, a lot of people that
hadn't voted, and meet with this unprecedented success.
AMANPOUR: So, that's really interesting, because you mentioned the unification or the reunification agenda. And a lot of people have been
looking at that, certainly from the U.K. and a post-Brexit reality, because we know that Northern Ireland did not vote for Brexit.
And now, with this -- you know, with this power of Sinn Fein who knows what will happen. Now, people did not vote for Sinn Fein in the republic based
on unification or anything like that, as you point out. But the head of Sinn Fein, this younger generation head of Sinn Fein, this is what she said
on election day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY LOU MCDONALD, PRESIDENT SINN FEIN: Those on the island of Britain and in London in particular need to start preparing, because constitutional
change -- yes, constitutional change is coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Whoa. So, she's like, hey, you know, they may not have voted for us, but everybody knows what's in our platform. What do you say to that?
KEEFE: Well, I think it's been a longstanding position of Sinn Fein since the beginning that as an Irish Republican movement, they would like to see
the reunification of Ireland. And in terms of the Good Friday Agreement, the peace deal in 1988 that ended The Troubles, you could have a
referendum. And if at some point that referendum happens and people vote for it, you could see the reunification of Ireland.
I think Brexit has created circumstances in which that may become more likely, in part because the way in which Brexit was resolved in order to
avoid a hard border was to, for trade purposes, push the border between the north of Ireland and the south into the Irish Sea. And so, it actually
brings Northern Ireland closer to the republic, closer to Europe, which would seem to set the stage for reunification.
The really interesting irony here, though, is that Brexit was not an issue that voters in the Republic of Ireland really cared about when they went
into the polls. This was a big push by the Leo Varadkar, prime minister in Ireland, who had essentially said, you know, I went out there. I fought to
avoid a hard border and I succeeded with Boris Johnson. That was what he campaigned on and it turned out that voters were much more preoccupied,
again, with these pocketbook issues.
So, it's an interesting dilemma that Sinn Fein finds itself in, it has a mandate or something like it with all the support, but it's support for one
part of the Sinn Fein platform and not necessarily the other.
AMANPOUR: So, that's really interesting. And now, to the voters because you've written a lot about it and certainly in your book and people are
looking at it. Shin Fein obviously has -- you know, because of its association with the IRA, has a lot of deep suspicion amongst certainly
generations of voters, maybe the older generation. And a lot of people have thought that, you know, it too is tarred by the bloody past and legacy of
And one of the people who was elected in this recent election actually sang an IRA rebel song. I mean, it was like up, up IRA. Let's just play this and
we'll talk about the significance of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CULLINANE, SINN FEIN MP: They didn't break the hunger strikers, they didn't break Bobby Sands and Kevin Lynch, they'll never break us, they'll
never break Sinn Fein. (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that was pretty -- I mean, it wasn't a public thing. Somebody had it on their phone, I guess, and published it. It wasn't like
he did that at a press conference. But that's pretty bold and it got a lot of backlash and anger. And yet, you know, Mary Lou McDonald said that it
was probably unwise but didn't totally disavow it.
KEEFE: Yes. This is so fascinating to me. So, McDonald is 50. She joined Sinn Fein the year after the Good Friday Agreement. So, she's somebody
whose whole political life has coincided with the post-Troubles, post- conflict period of peace, and I think she's emblematic of a younger generation that has turned Sinn Fein into the party into what we see today.
At the same time, as they're positioning themselves as this party of the future though, there's this issue of the past. This issue that you know
that this was the political wing of the IRA, that the guy who proceeded Mary Lou McDonald and was the head of the party was Gerry Adams, who has
been credibly accused of ordering pretty heinous war crimes during The Troubles.
And there's a rhetorical style that you see in Sinn Fein, which is a kind of dog whistle in which they'll come out and on the one hand they'll say,
you know, the IRA is long gone, you know, we're not that kind of group anymore. We're a forward-facing political party. We have no ties to
paramilitaries. And then at the same time, among some core constituency, you see moments like that where people are saying, up the RA.
Gerry Adams have famously said of the IRA, you know, they haven't gone away, you know. And I think this is something that in the Republic of
Ireland, a lot of people have concerns about and suspicions about, frankly, whether or not this is a normal, plausible, political party of the sort
that you would be used to in some other European country, or whether there are these quiet discreet deep historical links to a kind of shadowy
paramilitary infrastructure that continues to exist and maybe calling the shots.
AMANPOUR: So, before I get into that, you know, obviously there are a lot of people and analysts, you know, who have grappled with these issues. They
point out that the Palestinian, the PLO, for instance, was a terrorist organization until it went into peace treaties with the Israelis and with
the rest of the world and brought the political, you know, Palestinian authority.
You know, they say it about Columbia, the government finally came to a deal with people who were killers, you know, paramilitary killers, and that this
is an inevitable trend, if you want to bring so-called violence to an end and the hard men, because they are usually the hard men, into a peace
process. So, there's that. But interestingly, you say in your book that the IRA still has a certain amount of influence on what Sinn Fein does.
KEEFE: So, it's not my -- you know, that's not even my own finding. There was a report released by the secretary of state from Northern Ireland in
2015 based on intelligence analysis by British Intelligence and the police in Northern Ireland which said that the Army Council, the IRA's Army
Council, which is the small very secretive core of the leadership of the IRA, which had called the shots for decades, that the Army Council
continues to exist and continues to exert control over both what's left of the IRA, but also over Sinn Fein.
And so, the idea is that in the hierarchy you have the Army Council of the IRA and beneath them is the party Sinn Fein and that they have one
overarching strategy, I think was the expression in that report.
Now, I should say, the report does not say that the group is committed to violence, that they're armed. In fact, they're entirely committed to the
peace process. And the irony goes even further.
One of the things that was concluded in this report is that the continued existence of some residual part of the leadership of the IRA actually has
kept a lid on violence, because there is a sense that, you know, you wouldn't want splinter groups, you wouldn't want people carrying out
violent operations on their own and there's still a fair amount of top-down control, which has managed to preserve the peace. And so, you get this kind
of weird paradox which the continued existence of the IRA in some form may actually be part of what has allowed the peace to continue as long as it
But from a purely political point of view, I think this raises really fascinating questions, because certainly in the context of this election in
Ireland, there have been questions raised by the leaders of the other parties about what kind of a political party are you, like is there a non-
elected leadership of some sort that we can't see that is influencing the positions that you take? And if that's the case, could we conceivably join
a government, you know, form some kind of a coalition with you, how would that work?
AMANPOUR: Well, they have said no, categorically. They've answered their own hypothetical question and they've said, no, we're not going to go into
coalition with Sinn Fein. So, I mean, I know you're not in the business of, you know, numbers and seats in coalitions, but just broadly, how do you
think this is going to play out then? If Sinn Fein is the second biggest vote winner, Leo Varadkar's party came in third and the opposition center
right party came in first? What happens next? Who goes into coalition with who then, do you think?
KEEFE: Well, I mean, there's been talk about some kind of coalition between what had traditionally been the two leading parties and I don't see
that happening, though who is to say. And there's a possibility of Sinn Fein forming some kind of a coalition with a series of the smaller parties,
or you could see a new selection.
Sinn Fein is here to stay. And I think that there will be difficult questions for the party and for the people in Ireland about how to address
some of the skeletons from the past and some of these questions. But I think at this point their popular support is such that they're not going
away and the other parties will need to find a way to deal with that and with them.
AMANPOUR: So, that brings me, obviously, to the focus of your book, "Say Nothing". Let's face, I think you agree without the heft of people like
Jerry Adam and Martin McGuinness, there probably wouldn't have been a peace process and they probably wouldn't have been able to bring republicanism
into an agreement with the British government.
But you talk about, and you said earlier one of the worst war crimes of The Troubles and you point to the murder of Jean McConville. Why did you want
to focus on that story?
KEEFE: So, in 1972 at the height of The Troubles, there was a woman, Jean McConville who was a widow and a mother of 10. And one night, a gang of
armed intruders came into her house and they took her away.
Her children were screaming. And they said to the kids, we'll bring her back, we just want to talk to her for a few hours. But she never came back,
she disappeared. And the children grew up not knowing what had happened to their mother.
And what they learned over the course of decades, having all been orphaned that night was that their mother had been taken away and murdered by the
IRA and buried in a secret grave on suspicion for having been an informant for the British army, having been passing information to the British army.
And so, this was in a very tragic conflict in which thousands of people were killed, this became one of the most iconic tragedies, this great war
crime in which this woman is not just killed, but disappeared. And it has emerged through the testimony of a number of people who were aware of this
operation, who were in the IRA, that according to their testimony, the person who gave the order to murder and disappear Jean McConville was Gerry
Adams, was none other than the guy who ends up being the author of the peace agreement in 1988.
And this is complicated for Adams, not least because over the decades he has very consistently denied that he was ever in the IRA. If he were here
with us on this interview right now, he would look solemnly into the camera and tell you that he had never been in the IRA. Of course, in Ireland this
is a joke. Everybody knows that he was. He's really the only one at this point who denies it.
But it goes back to that issue of the dog whistle with Sinn Fein and in sense of which some people feel a certain lingering discomfort about how
comfortably they can take the party at its word, that this guy who was the longtime leader and may be implicated in this really heinous crime both
denies its involvement in the crime but also says, oh, I was never in the IRA at all.
And so, I think what that means is when you get younger leader like Mary Luo McDonald going out and saying, listen, you know, this is not the old
Sinn Fein, we have no relationship with the IRA, the IRA is dead and gone, that tradition of dissimulation for people like Gerry Adams puts her in a
tricky spot because, I think, that it does make people skeptical about those types of claims.
AMANPOUR: So, he was arrested, Gerry Adams, in 2014 and he was later released without charge. I know you tried to obviously get him for your
book and to talk to him, he didn't talk to you. He did talk to me after he was -- you know, in the aftermath of his arrest and this is what he had to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERRY ADAMS, THEN-PRESIDENT, SINN FEIN: I am innocent of any involvement whatsoever in any conspiracy or in any of the events, including the
abduction, the killing or the burial of Mrs. Jean McConville.
And incidentally, I went voluntarily to the PS and I -- and furthermore, when this became a matter of public speculation months ago, I contacted the
PS and I through my solicitor and said I was available to talk to them because there has been a sustained vicious, untruthful and sinister
malicious campaign against me going back some considerable time. So, I wanted to confront these issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, he referred to going voluntarily to the PSNI, that's the Police Service of Northern Ireland. But yes, he has -- you know, he has
said what he's said. I guess many people ask sort of would Gerry Adams have had to say the things that he says in order to enter the peace process and
in order to bring the republican movement into somewhere where they approve the peace process?
KEEFE: Absolutely. I mean, this is -- to me, as somebody who isn't dealing with any of these people in a political context, but instead is writing a
book about them, this is one of the richer ironies of this whole saga, is that you have a situation in which Adams tells these lies about his own
past, and they're lies that everybody understands to be lies.
And it drives a lot of people crazy that he lies about these things, not least of which, you know, the people who were under him in the IRA and
carried out a lot of his orders, to see him today claim that he was never in the IRA at all drives them mad.
But without having made that denial, it's unclear whether he would have been able to build the political space in which to act as the very
important critical broker that he did in the peace process. So, with people like Tony Blair or Bill Clinton, dealing with Gerry Adams, it helped that
he would say, I was never in the IRA. Because they could say, well, I'm not negotiating with a terrorist here, I'm negotiating with Gerry.
AMANPOUR: It's fascinating. Author of "Say Nothing", Patrick Radden Keefe, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
KEEFE: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: Now, to the English rose who captured gallic hearts, Jane Birkin, the ultimate muse to many, she's famous for her namesake status
symbol, the Hermes Bag. But she also brought us that once band uniquely sultry song, "Je T'aime Moi Non Plus." Here's a snippet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: British and Parisian, Jane Birkin was at the heart of France's sexual and feminist revolution. And her relationship with the master
provocateur, Serge Gainsbourg, is legendary. She joins me for a wide- ranging conversation about her extraordinary life as she takes her symphonic tribute to Gainsbourg to New York.
Jane Birkin, welcome to the program.
JANE BIRKIN, ACTRESS AND SINGER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Tell me about the symphonic that you'll soon be taking to New York, the Birkin-Gainsbourg performance that you're dedicating to your time
together and your artistic collaboration? Why now?
BIRKIN: Well, in fact, it started about three years ago, I started in Canada, which was supposed to be a one-off performance with the
philharmonic memorial (ph) and it went down so well that we did a second night and then I went to Hong Kong. And this time, it will be the last one
in New York before going to Moscow and (INAUDIBLE) it will be with Iggy Pop and Charlotte Gainsbourg, my daughter, who are guests on it. So, it will be
AMANPOUR: What do you want to communicate about that time when you were, you know, lovers, collaborators, performers together?
BIRKIN: Well, my good fortune was that Serge -- the songs when I was 20, which was sort of normal, "Je T'aime Moi Non Plus," and then album after
album when I was with him. What was more extraordinary is when I left him, he went on writing albums for me. And so, I have such a vast catalog of the
songs he wrote for me that in a way it's nice to take him around to places that he didn't manage to get to because he died in 1991 at the age of 63.
AMANPOUR: If you had to sum up, what would you say is the essence of Serge Gainsbourg and his legacy, not just in music but as a cultural touchstone?
BIRKIN: I think what no one has ever done better than him, and probably because he was ahead of his time. When he wrote also for everybody else,
for Bardot, for Catherine Deneuve, for everyone, was it was also his look and the way -- his way of being, his impertinence and yet, his great
romanticism, he was an eternal adolescent. And the way of being, that means that even when people have their slight beards nowadays, sort of a three-
day old beard and jeans and white tennis shoes, it was he who started it.
AMANPOUR: Are you talking about the fashionable stubble that almost every man is wearing these days? That's a really funny, interesting reference.
But look, you just mentioned "Je T'aime Moi Non Plus," you mentioned Brigitte Bardot. That song is possibly, you know, one of the most affecting
songs in modern times.
It's a very, very sexual, overtly sexual song, and it shocked a lot of people at the time with all the breathiness and the whole sort of, you
know, climactic quality of it. Tell me about how it came to you. Because he did write that for Brigitte Bardot, who at the time was the major French
BIRKIN: Well, he not only wrote it for Brigitte Bardot, but he recorded it with her. And in the recording studio, there were photos that got published
and Gunter Sachs, to whom she was married, admitted so that she would ask Serge to stop it, for it not to come out, so he had it in a drawer.
A year later, he came across me because we did a film together, "Slogan." He was a gentleman, but he couldn't quite resist showing me what he'd got
in his drawer and making me listen to "Je T'aime Moi Non Plus" with Bardot, which was incredibly sexy. And so, he said, do you want to sing it? And as
I was madly in love with him, I said, well, of course, because I didn't want anyone else to be singing it with it and then sort does a recording
studio a size of a wardrobe. So, I said, yes, of course.
I think that probably if I'm well-known in a lot of places, it's because of "Blow-Up," possibly, the film with Antonioni, and "Je T'aime Moi Non Plus,"
I would be very ungrateful not to know at least what will be my signature tune when I go out feet first, it will be "Je T'aime Moi Non Plus,"
whatever I do.
AMANPOUR: You know, in this sort of muse/artist relationship, you said, I was happy to be Serge's object of desire, his inspiration, happy to pose
naked. To be in Playboy magazine, even when I wasn't their type at all, I was this object that wanted to be one.
BIRKIN: I mean, I was delighted as one coming out of boarding school in England with everyone mocking the fact that I had no bosoms, saying that I
was half cast half girl, half boy, what a delight to come to Paris and for Serge Gainsbourg to say that he's always been afraid of bosoms. So, I mean,
I was just so delighted that he had found me attractive in any way. I had gone through a really miserable marriage with John Barry for three years
And so, I was -- it was really great fun to go -- to record "Je T'aime Moi Non Plus," to do the photos. I was pleased that people thought I was pretty
and that it was an object of desire. Afterwards I just got -- I outlived the role. If you'll see your time in -- in that he could only see me as the
person that he was (INAUDIBLE) and that he had done everything for me, that I was to stay in my place. And I didn't want to anymore. I thought I've got
something else to say or to be and I left him. I left him in the night.
What was really very extraordinary was that I left him and for another man, Jacques Doillon, with whom I had a baby, Lou Doillon . He became the
godfather of the baby. And he started to write me the most extraordinary songs, which were about his own pain.
So, I sang his pain. I became him. And he gave me this wealth of beautiful records, which meant that I had become my own sort of person with a very,
very long career.
AMANPOUR: I just want to play a small clip of him, Serge Gainsbourg, explaining the lyrics and what he thought "Je T'aime Moi Non Plus" is all
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGE GAINSBOURG, SINGER AND SONGWRITER: In "I Love You. Me Neither," the important sentence is physical love is a dead end. That's a sentence I find
very moral. I love you, says the girl in a moment of passion, and the boy who is far more rigorous says, not believing her, me neither. Because
physical love is not enough. When it comes to passion, you have to refer to other things. It's the most moral song I've ever written.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, the way he puts it --
BIRKIN: Thank you. I've never heard that interview.
AMANPOUR: Really? Well, you're in the video there. We see the picture --
BIRKIN: Oh, I was?
AMANPOUR: -- of you there with him. And, you know, he says it's the most moral song he's ever written. It was banned all over the place. The Vatican
came out against it. Radio stations wouldn't play it. What do you think he meant by moral and do you agree with that?
BIRKIN: I completely agree with what he wants to say, because, in fact, in the lyrics it was je t'aime moi non plus, already in England they though it
was je t'aime moi ci hayce, neither breathing. No, it was already je t'aime, says the girl, moi non plus says the man. And in this, a lot of
sexual love. In fact, Serge makes himself say physical love is without issue, which means it doesn't go anywhere. You go in, you go out, it's only
that. It's not enough. You need something more.
AMANPOUR: He was a good deal older than you. You were a young (INAUDIBLE), as you say, you know, androgynous looking and, you know, very sort of
different from the -- I guess, the ideal of Bardot and Deneuve and et cetera. I wonder whether some of this stuff could be written now or some of
the other things that Serge wrote, for instance, "Lemon Incest," the duet with your daughter, Charlotte, about love between an adult and a child. You
know, people also talked about that and some people asked whether that, you know, could have been written today. What's your take on that?
BIRKIN: I really don't know. I mean, he did -- a lot of things were quite shocking at the time. I mean, "Lemon Incest," I always stuck up for Serge
because I know what he was like as a father and I know that his only way of declaring his love to Charlotte was to put her on a pedestal and sing this
duo with her. And "Inceste De Citron, Lemon Incest," it's a play on words, it was too tempting for Serge, of course. He put it onto classical music.
On the lyrics, you have him saying, this love that we will never make. She sings it now in concert quite boldly and rightly. She sings his part and
her part, and quite right too.
I know what he was like as well and most certainly what he would not do. I think he would have found his way to being quite provocative even now,
because it was a part of his makeup, being terribly intellectual. He's probably the poet that's the most appreciated after Apollinaire in France.
But he also had in his makeup something, what was terribly fragile and moved to tears over things, like adolescents are. They want to shock
people, but at the same time, they cry and they're emotional. Serge was like that.
AMANPOUR: You talked about the epoch in which he lived and which he thrived. And things have changed, let's face it.
And, certainly, we have had the MeToo movement and, right now, Harvey Weinstein is on trial, and it's going to the jury, et cetera.
I want to ask you about the French women's reaction right after the MeToo. Catherine Deneuve and a group of French actresses and other performers,
about 100 of them in entertainment, publishing and academic fields, who published an op-ed in January 2018, a couple of months after that -- Harvey
What they said is: "Rape is a crime, but insistent or clumsy flirting is not a crime, nor is gallantry or chauvinist aggression. As a result of the
Weinstein affair, there has been a legitimate realization of the central violence women experience, particularly in the workplace, where some men
abuse their power. It was necessary.
"But now this liberation of speech has been turned on its head. As women, we do not recognize ourselves in this feminism, which, beyond denouncing
power abuse, becomes hatred towards men and sexuality."
You know, that caused a big backlash in the Anglo-Saxon world. Were you ever asked to sign that on, sign onto that letter?
BIRKIN: No. No, I wasn't. And it's the sort of thing where you think, well, an unwise company, which was rare for Deneuve. And I would speak up
for her always, for good reason.
There was a dinner when we were very young, and, I mean, really young, sort of 25 years old, I was. Serge was 20 years old. But we were having good fun
with Catherine Deneuve.
And there had been a singer called Dalida who had done a poster for the Olympia, where she was singing, where she had a top hat between her legs.
And in a -- on the cover of a rather snide magazine, they had her with her hat off in between her legs and a female sex put in its place.
Well, everyone was having a good laugh around the table. And Serge, who had once Olympia rather well too, and everyone was giggling, me included.
And Deneuve said, if anyone had done that to me, I would make them eat the piece of paper it was written on. I would make the journalist eat the
paper. And she said, if it was Giscard d'Estaing that was on the cover, our president, she said, if it was a man, then no one have dared.
So she stuck up for women like something that I never did overtly, to that degree, even in private company. So, I know what she meant when she meant
that the French gallantry or the French, the Latin, say, hello, and they might leave their hand a bit on your waist and boys wolf-whistle in Italy,
and things like that.
Well, all that seemed as if it was inoffensive in comparison to rape, I think. But I boys' education -- my daughter Lou has a son, incredibly, but
of 17. And the way he's been educated to ask girls what they think, to have their opinion, to only do things if the girls wants to, that -- a whole way
of thinking that's quite un-macho, was -- is the way that boys have been educated as from now.
I think that's what will change things, is the attitude of young men, and the fact that women can feel that they're protected in their workplace.
Maybe -- maybe they will get the sack, but maybe other women will stick up for them.
I think that men will no longer dare be as--
And it's only starting really in France, because France is usually about 10 years behind England, and maybe 15 years behind America. I don't know.
BIRKIN: And whether they will get to the degree of America, I don't know, because in one way, it was quite to have wolf-whistles in Italy, I'm bound
I mean, there's some things that were really rather sweet that were absolutely unaggressive and not unkind in any way.
I have had my whole career in movies that really I have been much too naked and with really no reason whatsoever.
BIRKIN: I never had anyone that put their hand anywhere near me.
Was it because they knew it was private property of Serge Gainsbourg? I don't know. But it never happened to me.
And my daughter Lou, I know, walked off a set about 10 years ago because the director was inappropriate. And she stuck up for the other girls.
And so things will never be exactly the same again, and that's a revolution.
BIRKIN: And c'est bon. It's a good thing.
BIRKIN: It's a good thing for girls.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you one last thing. You might hate this. But one of the other things that you're very well known for is that Hermes--
BIRKIN: My bag.
AMANPOUR: Yes, the bag, the Birkin bag.
We did a little bit of research. I mean, it costs tens of thousands just ordinarily in a shop. And it takes years of being on a waiting list to get
it made. But we found a record price at auction for one of the bags. It was $380,000, which is a lot for a handbag.
What does that all mean to you?
BIRKIN: Nothing much.
I was sitting next door to a man on a plane. He was very sweet, because I let my agenda -- my thing where you write your rendezvous in--
AMANPOUR: Your diary?
BIRKIN: Fell onto the ground, and -- my diary -- and a lot of other stuff onto the ground. And he said, really, you should have a diary with a pocket
on the inside to keep all these photos and all the mess I have usually got.
And I said, well, what can you do? He said, well, give me the diary, and I will get it done for you. And I said, really? And he said -- it is an
Hermes diary. He said, but I am Hermes.
And I said, why don't you make a bag that's sort of four times the Kelly, that you can leave open, sort of, and sort of half the size of my suitcase,
because girls like to have things on the end of their arm to put all their stuff in?
And he said, well, draw it for me.
And so I drew it on one of those sick bags, the vomit bag, in the airplane.
BIRKIN: And he was true to his word. And when it came to coming over and paying for the bag, he said, no, it's a gift.
And so I was knocked out. And he said, but we think it's so great that we would like to give it your name and to put it out, you know, as a handbag.
And he said, we have only had my grandfather's traveling bag and the Kelly, after Grace Kelly, so I'm grateful.
But it was funny to come to New York. And they said, oh, Birkin, like the bag? I said, yes, now the bag is going to sing.
AMANPOUR: That's a good one.
BIRKIN: And Lou told me that people say to her, you mean, you're the daughter of the bag?
BIRKIN: So, I thought, bless me. You know, when I'm dead, then not only is it "Je T'aime Moi Non Plus," but it will possibly even only talk about the
AMANPOUR: On that note, Jane Birkin, thank you so much for being with us.
BIRKIN: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And Jane Birkin will play at the Beacon Theatre in New York on March 6, before she takes the show around the world.
Now, the United States economy is going through its longest expansion in history, but is it working for everyone? That, of course, is the
battleground on which the 2020 election is being fought.
Heather Boushey is CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. And she warns that wages aren't rising as quickly as the economy. And she tells
journalist Tanzina Vega the answer must be political.
TANZINA VEGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Heather, thanks so much for joining us.
HEATHER BOUSHEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, WASHINGTON CENTER FOR EQUITABLE GROWTH: Thank you. It's a real treat to be able to be here today.
VEGA: So, the most recent job numbers have unemployment at less than 4 percent. This caused a fury on social media. People were saying, the
economy is so great. People have jobs.
Are they right? Is the economy doing on great?
BOUSHEY: Well, yes, on the one hand, right?
We have low unemployment. We're in the longest economic recovery in recorded U.S. history going back to the mid-1800s, when we started counting
the business cycle. Stocks are up. Profits are up. So there's a lot of indicators that the economy's doing really well.
And yet, for far too many families, they're not seeing that kind of economic progress. And, in fact, when unemployment is low, we actually
haven't seen wages rise as much as one would expect, given the low rate of unemployment.
So this is an economy where it's moving forward, but it also isn't benefiting everyone to the extent that we think it should and we think that
the economy could be.
VEGA: Now, I don't want to rain on the economy's parade, but there are a couple of things that stand out to me when I think about whether or not
we're in a good economy.
And here's what I'm thinking. Health care is still really expensive. A lot of Americans are still paying out of pocket. Retirement savings, a lot of
folks still don't have what they need. Rent and mortgage payments are going up. Savings are kind of flat for a lot of folks, and just overall wealth
inequality is growing.
So can we still say the economy is strong for most Americans if all those indicators are still at play?
BOUSHEY: I don't think we can, right, because implicit in what you just asked, or the way you just laid that out, is that there's one thing called
the economy, and then there's something else, which is how people are experiencing changes in their living standards, changes in their economic
Those are the same thing, right? So it is the fact that we have these jobs, we have -- we do these investments, we have these firms. They create this
thing that we call the economy. And if people aren't benefiting from it, then we have to sit back and ask ourselves, well, what is this thing we
call the economy? What is it for? Who is it benefiting?
And, I mean, that is, I think, where the most interesting new research in economics is really asking that big question. But -- so the short answer to
your question is, no, things aren't going well in the economy if, is it actually delivering across our society?
VEGA: So the rising tide isn't lifting all boats, if you will?
BOUSHEY: No, not at all.
And in fact, I mean, it used to be the case, right? It used to be the case, in the 1960s and '70s, that when the economy grew, everyone benefited. And,
in fact, we grew -- we were a country that grew together.
And really, since 1980, late '70s, early '80s, we have been an economy that's been growing apart, where a rising tide no longer lifts all boats.
In fact, when we get those numbers on gross domestic product on how well our -- quote, unquote -- "economy" is doing, now economists have shown that
actually 90 percent of Americans are experiencing growth that is less than that average.
It's only those folks in the top 10 percent, the top 10, that are seeing growth that is at the average or above. So we really are no longer a
country where a rising tide lifts all boats.
VEGA: How do you explain the consolidation of wealth in the United States into this top 10 percent, into the top 1 percent, even? Like, what's
BOUSHEY: So, there's a number of things.
So, one, sort of mathematically, rising incomes, right, rising income inequality, with those at the top getting more and more, sort of naturally
transmits itself into rising wealth inequality, right? So those at the top have more and more income year after year. They save a lot of that money
because they don't need as much, and so then that sort of calcifies into rising stocks of wealth.
So that's one way that we're seeing it. But we're seeing something happening across firms as well. So we have been seeing the ways that firms
pay out dividends, the way that we have seen this rise in firm concentration is also connected to this rise in the concentration of
So you have a smaller and smaller number of firms across a lot of industries in the United States, and fewer and fewer people benefiting from
those firms, which is also connected to this rising concentration of wealth.
VEGA: So, when I think about American workers today in particular, I think about -- there are many strains of American workers. But one idea that
comes to mind is the fact that people are really out there asking for a standard wage, $15 an hour for a lot of folks, a minimum wage that they can
at least live on.
And you think $15 an hour in New York is almost impossible.
VEGA: But, at the same time, there's this feeling that American workers are just on a hamster wheel, that they're constantly trying and just not
able to keep up.
You have written about work-life balance. Is that possible when you're still trying to just get to $15 an hour? Is it possible to really achieve
something like work-life balance today, when companies are just making more and more and worker productivity is really high, and yet we can't make ends
BOUSHEY: It's a great question. And it starts with the fact that, as you pointed out, we are an economy that is creating value.
We are creating -- there's a lot of money being made. We continue to live in one of the richest countries the world has ever seen. Right? So there's
a lot of firms that are making a lot, but how is that being shared? And how are we investing in those workers and making sure that they have the wages,
so that they can support their families, so that they have the money to afford the kinds of care that they need?
Are we making those public investments so they have access to child care and other elder care and the kinds of things that families need to
adjudicate that work-life, those conflicts day in and day out?
And do we have a set of rules around the labor market that give people the right to stay home when they're sick or when they need to care for a new
child or need to care for an ailing family member?
So, I think on the -- I think, certainly, we can certainly that, but it requires coming to terms with the fact that that's going to -- we're going
to have to push firms to share those -- the benefits of economic growth.
And the challenge right now is that we have fewer people in unions today as a share of the private sector work force than we did before unions --
before people had the right to collectively bargain in the 1930s.
So our unions are back to where they were over almost a century ago, and we don't have the institutions in place to give people that voice at work to
make those policies happen. And we're going to need to be thinking long and hard about how we're going to make that next generation of supports and
opportunities for that kind of voice and engagement.
VEGA: How do we get Americans or more Americans to understand and connect the dots here between lack of day care services, for example, the pay gaps
that we're seeing, and all of the ways that poverty in particular affects different types of communities?
I mean, I'm thinking, in the most severe situations, we're thinking criminal justice, right? If they're not able to be employed, if there
aren't opportunities there, whether they are education or otherwise, the pads are pretty different.
And so we're spending so much money as a nation on incarcerating people, as opposed to educating them. It almost cost more to incarcerate someone than
it does to educate them. How do we get Americans to make that connection, and not just progressive Americans, but really across political lines to
understand, that, without these investments, we have -- we're going to spend more than we are in one way or another, right?
BOUSHEY: I mean, that is the question of our times. And how do we do that when we're starting from a place where we're so divided?
So we have been working hard with folks on the Hill to introduce a new way of thinking about aggregate economic output, about gross domestic product,
this indicator that we get every quarter that shows how well the economy's doing, and saying, we need to not just look at that top-line aggregate, but
we need to look at that, what that looks like across families, so that we can see, OK, if we hear from the government, oh, the economy grew by 2.5
percent over the last quarter--
VEGA: What does that mean?
BOUSHEY: Yes, who did that go to? And so we actually have the capacity.
Economists have worked out how you can actually show, oh, well, of that 2.5 percent growth, one of those 2.5 percents went to those at the very, very
top. And this little bit just went to the bottom half of the American people, and what that looks like across race, across place, and cross
So we have the capacity to do that. And we have been working with folks on the Hill to introduce legislation and to get the government to actually
shift the way they're doing that. That's not the whole answer. But I think if we can unpack our metrics of economic success, and talk about what that
actually looks like, for families all across the United States, all across the income distribution, we will have a very different conversation about
how well we're doing.
And we won't be sort of confused by saying, oh, well, it looks like the economy is so good, but some people aren't benefiting. And I think it would
also help us see that those investments that we're making in people and families aren't just about those families, which is very, very important,
but it's also about how that is benefiting our whole economy, and that we're going to be stronger as an economy if we make those investments in
VEGA: There are people, however, who will say the economy is working great for me. Why should I care?
What do you say to them?
BOUSHEY: Well, I mean, so what I can tell you from the data is that most of them are at the very top of the income ladder. And that's awesome.
That's really great.
But I also think we all can recognize that we are a country that is experiencing a lot of political polarization. And it feels like every day
you see these different maps of the United States that show that growth, right -- you can see how growth is concentrated in certain parts of the
country, and not others, and that not everyone is benefiting.
So, yes, it is true that some are doing quite well. But if we want to maintain our identity as one nation, right, where were we value what's
happening to our fellow citizens, I think that -- like, sort of tugging on the fact that it might be great for you, but we're not going to be able to
maintain that sense of common purpose if we don't take some time to attend to the common good.
VEGA: We have not been able to solve the problem of growing wealth inequality across political lines.
Is there -- and I know this is a tough one with this election coming up, but do you see a way for us to be able to do that?
BOUSHEY: So, here's the interesting thing about the political divide and economics.
So one of the things that you saw with the rise of Donald Trump is that he has, in many ways, upended the conservative economic narrative. I mean, on
the one hand, he was for tax cuts, in the same way that we have seen conservatives putting into place for many decades.
But he also spent a lot more time talking about jobs and the rule of using the bully pulpit to encourage firms to do the right thing, when he first
came to office and he talked about the Carrier plant.
And, of course, he's been really willing to raise tariffs and to change the way you think about the global economy.
Having said that, there's also, I think, a really important story of how we have thought about how we see economic progress, how we see economic growth
and what that means.
And for the latter half of the 20th century, we were told a story and policy-makers really believed in a story that said that it was about the
individual investments that those who had money were making, and so the best thing we could do for the economy was to get out of the way, don't tax
them, don't regulate them, and they will create those investments that then will create the jobs that everyone will benefit from.
VEGA: Trickle-down economics?
BOUSHEY: Yes. There was this idea that the economy could really deliver this kind of -- sort of almost utopian, that it was optimal. You could show
in these models that economists used.
What we're learning now from the research and the evidence is that we have had that story wrong, or, at the very least, that story doesn't work when
you have high economic inequality, that you actually need institutions that constrain inequality at the top and create a countervailing force to
balance that concentrated economic power to create the kind of investments and opportunity that are going to move the economy forward.
So this question of why we have this polarization, right, we have this economy that isn't delivering, it's mysterious to people, people don't --
we have been told this story about how it's going to work. And yet it hasn't.
And I think we're in this moment of real change in our policy-makers and how economists and the public are thinking about what we can do to create
an economy that works for all. And so moments when you're changing your understanding of the world around you, I think, can lead to this
polarization, can feel very chaotic.
But the research and the evidence that we're seeing coming out, especially over the past 20 years, and increasingly over the past five or so, really
does show that addressing economic inequality, and especially inequality at the top, is going to be imperative to creating strong, stable and broadly
shared prosperity in the years to come.
VEGA: We're on the precipice of a major presidential election in this country, with candidates representing all sides of the political spectrum,
but also the economic spectrum.
When you look at what President Trump and his philosophy is on big business and corporations slashing the corporate tax rates, et cetera, and you look
at some of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, for example, and how they're approaching -- Elizabeth Warren is -- some would argue, is
frightening big corporations, because she wants to tax them.
Which message is really resonating with Americans, do you think, right now?
BOUSHEY: I'd like to focus on two things, right?
BOUSHEY: So, first, you mentioned that -- President Trump's view on corporations and how he's seen about the economy.
And, of course, he put into place that -- with Congress' help -- that significant tax cut in December of 2017 that went disproportionately to
corporations and disproportionately to families at the top of the income ladder.
It has been clear before that legislation passed and after that the majority that the American public has recognized that that really wasn't
going to benefit them. And what we have seen is that that legislation, instead of spurring investment, as President Trump said it would, it
actually led to a lot of firms doing stock buybacks, not increasing wages, not making the investments that we were told, if you cut their taxes, they
will use all that money to invest.
That hasn't been happening. And you see that being reflected in polls and the way that people are responding. So, my understanding is that a lot of
people see that, oh, that was just a boondoggle for those at the top. It didn't actually benefit me, my community or to create those good jobs.
But the second big economic issue that you're hearing a lot of people talk about now is the role of economic concentration across firms. And alongside
that, you have actually seen a decline in the level of investment in the United States that one would think, given the level of profits out there.
And economists have been tracing this to the rise in economic concentration. And so it's like, well, if you're the only -- if you're one
of two or three players in a big market, why do you need to invest? You're already -- people have to buy whatever it is you're selling, because
there's not a lot of competition.
That really doesn't benefit workers and their families. And I think you hear a lot of candidates talking about this issue. And I think you're
seeing this also bubbling up in the polling and how people are talking about the economy.
You're seeing people, I think, start to recognize this for what it is, which is monopolies and oligopolies, and that that's also not good for
their jobs in their communities.
VEGA: Heather, thanks so much for being with us.
BOUSHEY: Thank you. It's been a real treat.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, imagine living in a war zone where airstrikes are an everyday reality. It would be hard for anybody to cope with, especially
But a Syrian father has found an incredible way to help his daughter cope with the trauma, by teaching his 3-year-old, Salwa, to laugh whenever she
hears the sounds of bombs falling. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it a jet or a bomb?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A bomb.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bomb?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When it comes, we will laugh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it make you laugh?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it is funny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is funny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And this game has reminded many of the Oscar-winning movie "Life Is Beautiful," in which a father helps his son survive by convincing him
their life in a Nazi concentration camp is a game.
So, now that family in Syria is a case of real life imitating art.
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.