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60 Million People Under Quarantine; Loss of Trust Between People and Government; Interview With Stephen Fry; Interview with Yuval Noah Harari. Aired 2-2:35p ET
Aired March 13, 2020 - 14:00 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)
YUVAL NOAH HARARI, WRITER AND HISTORIAN: Humanity has dealt with many such epidemics before and we are probably in a better situation than ever before
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Philosopher and best-selling author, Yuval Noah Harari, on how globalization is best weapon against the coronavirus.
Then, a break from the virus as we go on an odyssey through ancient Greek myths and modern democracy with the inimitable wit and actor, Stephen Fry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID ZUCCHINO, AUTHOR: The city was 56 percent black, as I had said in 1898. Today, it's 18 percent. So, they just turned a black majority city
overnight into this white supremacist citadel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A murderous coup that changed everything. Author, David Zucchino, talks to our Walter Isaacson about an overlooked bloody conflict
and the rise of white supremacy in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The week began with Italy locking down the epicenter of its coronavirus outbreak and 16 million people, and it was the west's most dramatic move
yet. But by the end of this week, all of Italy, 60 million people are under quarantine and President Trump had banned all travel of Europe into the
United States for the next 30 days starting at midnight Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history. To keep
new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Trillions of dollars have been wiped off the world stock markets, culture, sports, schools, hospitals are all under siege, social
distancing becomes the rule.
In crises like these, people all over always look to their leaders for, well, leadership. But my next guest argues that instead there have been no
clear answers and a rapid loss of trust and confidence between people and their governments, making this crisis far worse.
Bestselling author and philosopher, Yuval Noah Harari, joined me to talk about it. He wrote blockbuster book such as "Sapiens" about human nature
and he's a history professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Yuval Noah Harari, welcome back to our program.
YUVAL NOAH HARARI, WRITER AND HISTORIAN: It's good to be here. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Well, these are extraordinary days. I don't know. You have written, obviously, a lot about history, a lot about what makes us human.
Have you seen in modern times, in our technological economic globalized society, a crisis quite like this one?
HARARI: Like this one, not really. I mean, we haven't seen an epidemic, a global epidemic, like this for at least 100 years. And really, nobody has a
living experience of what's going -- of what we are seeing now which is part of what makes it so frightening and so alarming. But when you look at
the broader perspective of history, the nearest humanity has dealt with many such epidemics before and we are probably in a better situation than
ever before in history to deal with such an outbreak.
AMANPOUR: Because of?
HARARI: Because of the modern medicine. You know, when the black death erupted in the 14th century, so it swept from China to Britain in about 10
years killing between a quarter and half of the entire population of Asia and Europe and nobody had any idea what is happening, what is the cause of
the disease and what can be done about it.
Today, with the coronavirus epidemic, it took just two weeks for scientists and doctors not just to identify the virus behind the outbreak but also to
sequence its entire genome and to develop tests that at least tell us who has the virus and who hasn't. So, there is still a way until we overcome
this but we are in a -- as I say, in a better position than any previous time in history.
AMANPOUR: But let's not forget it swept from China to Britain to the United States within a much, much shorter period of just a few months.
What, as an ordinary citizen now, frightens you most or do you wish most could happen to stop the panic at least?
HARARI: I think the worst thing is the disunity we see in the world, the lack of cooperation, coordination between different countries and the lack
of trust, both between countries and also between the population and the government.
This is basically the payday for what we have been seeing in the last few years with the epidemic of fake news and with the deterioration of
international relations. If you compare this, for example, to the 2008 financial crisis, which is, of course, a crisis of a different kind, but
there are similarities, in 2008 you had responsible adults in the world which took a leadership position, rallied the world behind them and
prevented the worst outcomes.
But over the last four years, basically, we have seen a rapid deterioration of trust in the international system, the country which was the leader
previously both in the 2008 financial crisis and also in the last big epidemic, the Ebola epidemic in 2014, and that country's the United States,
now it is not taking any kind of leadership position.
Actually since 2016, the current administration has made it very clear that the U.S. has resigned its role as world leader. It made it very clear that
the U.S. has no longer any friends in the world. It has only interests. And even if now the U.S., which is not doing so far, but even if it will try to
assume a leadership position nobody would really follow a leader whose model is me first.
So, what really frightens me is the lack of leadership and cooperation. And what people should realize, is that the spread of the epidemic in any one
country threatens the entire world because of the danger that if we don't contain this in time, the virus will evolve. That's maybe one of the worst
problems with this kind of epidemic is actually a rapid evolution of the virus.
We saw it before with the 2014 Ebola epidemic, it actually started -- the real epidemic started with one genetic mutation in one virus in one person
in West Africa which turned Ebola from a relatively rare disease into a raging epidemic because this single mutation increased the contagiousness
of the virus four times. Now, this could be happening right now somewhere in Iran or in Italy or anywhere else, and wherever it happens it endangers
the entire world. Humanity needs to close ranks against the viruses.
AMANPOUR: You say close ranks and that seems to be contrary to what, let's say, the populous and the nationalists have said, as you say, since 2016,
whether it's in the United States, here in the U.K. and elsewhere around the world, that globalization is just bad and we need to always close ranks
so that we don't get anything bad from across borders. But you're saying now, that has proved to be a bankrupt theory when dealing with kind of
HARARI: Yes. Because you can't deal with the virus really. I mean, you can't prevent epidemics through isolation. You can only prevent them with
information. If you really want to isolate yourself, to the degree that you're not exposed to outside epidemics, going back even to the middle ages
is not enough. Because we had these kinds of epidemics even in the middle ages. If you really want to isolate yourself against as a strategy against
epidemics, you need to go back all the way to the stone age, and nobody can do that.
The real border you need to protect very carefully is not between countries but the border between the human world and the virus sphere. Humans are
surrounded by an enormous variety of viruses in all kinds of animals and places. And if a virus crosses this border anywhere in the world, it
endangers the entire human specie. This is the border to really be think about.
If a virus originating, for example, in a bat manages to cross the border into the human species anywhere in the world, that virus then adapts to the
human body and then it's a danger to everybody all over the world. Now, it's an illusion to think that in the long-term you can protect yourself
against that virus by simply closing the borders of your country. The more effective policy is to police the border between human kind and the virus
AMANPOUR: How do you do that?
HARARI: By supporting health systems all over the world. By realizing that something that is happening now in West Africa or in Iran or in China, it's
not just a threat to the Iranians or the Chinese, it is also a threat to the Israelis. So, we need more organizations like the World Health
Organization and more international solidarity to help the country which is currently most affected deal with this crisis, whether it is by sending
them equipment and personnel and more than anything else, good information, good scientific information, or it is by economic support.
A country where an outbreak begins. if it thinks it is on its own it will hesitate to take drastic quarantine measures because it says, well, if we
lockdown the entire country or entire cities, we will collapse economically and nobody will come to help us so let's wait and see whether it's really
such a big danger and then it's too late.
Now, if a country like, I don't know, like Italy would know that if it locks itself down it will receive help from other countries, it will be
willing to take this drastic measure sooner and this will be a benefit for the whole of humanity and at every euro that Germany or France spends in
supporting Italy in such a situation would save them 100 euros later on not having to deal with the epidemic in their own cities.
AMANPOUR: Now, that this whole virus is out of the box and there's been, you know, one could say a slow response around the world, to try to police
that border between the virus and human beings, Italy's taken a drastic measure. I mean, the whole country's in lockdown.
AMANPOUR: What do you think about that?
HARARI: I would say that this is a test, especially for the European Union, which has lost a lot of support over the last few years and this is
the chance for the European Union to really prove its worth. This is the time for the other members of the union to come to Italy's support. If they
do that, they will not only protect their own citizens, but they will show the value of such a system like the European Union. If they don't do that,
the virus could destroy the union and not just individual human lives.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about the social impact. Does something like this, where people are forced to self-isolate with very little information,
with very little testing, with very little belief in what they're being told, how do you see this affecting society?
HARARI: Well, the immediate issue is the issue of trust, whether people trust their governments and whether people trust what they hear in the
media. Because to have effective quarantine you need the cooperation of the population. And that's a very problematic issue because this kind of trust
has been eroded over the last few years.
The other big issue, more long-term, is about surveillance. One of the dangers in the current epidemic is that it will justify extreme measures of
surveillance, especially biometric surveillance, which will be justified as a means to deal with this emergency. But even after the emergency will be
over it will remain. We are talking about a system of monitoring an entire population all the time for biometric signals allegedly in order to protect
people from future epidemics but this can also form the basis of an extreme totalitarian regime.
We are facing a huge issue of surveillance and privacy in our age. And I think that we'll see a big battle between privacy and health and health is
likely to win. That people will have no privacy at all in the name of protecting them from the spread of such epidemics.
Now, the thing is that the technology can be very effective. We now have the technology to monitor entire population and discover, for example, the
outbreak of a new disease when it's only just beginning and it's very easy to contain it and to follow all the infected people and know exactly where
they are and what they do. But this kind of surveillance system can then be used to monitor many other things, what people think, what people feel. And
if we aren't careful this epidemic can give justification for the accelerating development of the totalitarian regimes.
AMANPOUR: That's a pretty dramatic thought to try to digest. Humans are not meant to be self-isolating people or self-isolating species. And there
are already anecdotal reports from Italy and elsewhere, you know, elderly women who like to go to a cafe to chat, to have their regular contact are
being sort of disallowed. There's reports of loneliness and shut-in syndrome and depression. That's also a big worry for society.
HARARI: Humans are especially vulnerable to epidemics because we are a social animal and this is how epidemics spread. The thing about the viruses
is that they often exploit our best -- the best parts of human nature against us. They exploit the fact not only that we like to socialize, but
also, that we help each other.
When somebody's sick, the obvious natural thing to do, especially if this somebody is a friend or a family member, is to come to them, to give them
support, to take care of them, to give them emotional support. To touch them, to hug them. And this is exactly how the virus spreads.
So, the virus really makes use of our -- the best parts of human nature against us. And again, there are two ways of how to deal with that. One way
is to give information to people and if people trust the information they receive, they can change their behavior, at least until the epidemic is
over. The other way is totalitarian way, to have -- again, it couldn't be done in the middle ages but it can be done today just to survey everybody.
So, it's, first of all, to identify the initial signals of your becoming sick. Like we now have the technology to know if your -- even without
putting something inside your body, just from a distance, to know if your body temperature is higher. And we can know all the people that you have
met today. And we know who, for example, broke the government instructions not to hug you or not to kiss you.
So, if people don't believe the information they receive and they don't do it out of trust, they can be compelled to do it by an omnipresent regime of
surveillance. This is the dangerous path. I hope we don't go in that direction.
AMANPOUR: Yuval Noah Harari, thank you very much for joining us.
HARARI: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And now, we look for a little relief as we go back to a time way before coronavirus, to Ancient Greece. And do so with author, actor and
welcome wit, Stephen Fry. His latest work, "Heroes," recalls Greek myths and their relevance to our modern world. A renaissance man, Fry is an
iconic fixture in British culture, known for his humor as well as his work exposing the brutal realities of mental health. He's a compelling
conversationalist, as well, as I found when he joined me here in the studio.
Stephen Fry, welcome to the program.
STEPHEN FRY, AUTHOR, ACTOR AND BROADCASTER: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Your book is about Ancient Greece and the myths. But I just want to know what is it about Greek myths, ancient Greece and ancient
civilization that attracts you?
FRY: Well, I think it's a number of things. One is simply as narrative of stories I think they are just unsurpassable in their juice and their wit
and their -- and a marvelous depth and ambiguity. Now, no character is all good or all bad and that seems to what we think of as modern.
But also, I'm fascinated by the way the world is going now, particularly the tsunami of technologies that's approaching us. Not just biohacking,
biotech, gene editing, you know, genomics generally, nanotechnology, quantum computing, A.I., machine learning and, of course, all of the
various possibilities of changing our bodies and robotics and so on.
All these are coming together, they're coalescing into one huge existential change for the world, and people talk about elements of it. And it's
strange enough in myth that you can see these things. The Greeks talked about the time when the gods punished us for having fire, for having self-
consciousness, and Prometheus, our champion, who stole fire from heaven and gave it to us was tortured on the Kaukasos mountains.
And the god, Zeus, you know, was afraid that man would have -- mankind would have their own spark, their own divine fire, as well as the fire that
melts and smelts and roasts and toasts. And that seems a long way away. But, of course, in the 18th century, it was crucial to understanding of
releasing ourselves from the shackles of medieval ecclesiasticism.
And now, we're in the same position that Zues was in. Do we give fire to our entities, our robotic A.I. entities in 20, 30 years' time when they
approach a level of intelligence? Do we give them self-consciousness in the way that -- well -- and if we do, will they no longer need us in the way we
no longer needed the gods?
AMANPOUR: There's the book in front of you, "Heroes." Do you have a passage that you can read for us? You mentioned Zeus. But this is about --
FRY: Well, this is the later period of the heroes.
FRY: And one of the most famous heroes was Oedipus. He was very appealing to characters like Nietzsche because he represented what the Athenians were
the greatest virtues. He was intelligent, he was witty, he could solve puzzles. And he, of course, famously had the greatest puzzle of all to
solve, which is why the City of Thebes had been visited and punished by the gods and there was an uncleanliness that had happened that he traces it to
its source and discovered, of course, that it is himself, the fact he has unwittingly married his mother and killed his father.
AMANPOUR: Yes. That's what we know about the Oedipus.
FRY: The famous Oedipus complex.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Complex.
FRY: But on his way to Thebes, he can't get past the sphinx, who is this half lion creature. And she challenges everyone with a riddle and if they
don't answer it, they're killed. And here, Oedipus shows something of why he is Oedipus, if you like.
Tell me this, traveler, she says to him. What walks on four feet in the morning, two feet at noon and three in the evening? Hmm, four feet in the
morning, two at noon, three in the evening. Just give me the answer to that, purred the sphinx, and you may freely pass. Oedipus sucked in through
his teeth. Man, oh, man, he said shaking his head. That's a teaser (INAUDIBLE). Hah. You can't solve it then. But I did, said Oedipus, raising
his eyebrows in surprise. Didn't you hear me? The sphynx stared. What do you mean? I just told you, man, oh, man, I said. And man is the answer.
When man is born, in the morning of his existence, he crawls on all fours. In his prime, at noontime of his day, he goes upright on two legs. But in
the evening of his life he has a third, a stick to help him on his way. But, but, but how -- it's called intelligence, now let me go on my way.
AMANPOUR: That's great.
FRY: I sort of put it in that way, it is a famous subject, painters love to do it. You know, Oedipus and the sphinx. But he shows his self-
confidence, his over self-confidence. Of course, he has the great tragic flaw of puberty. He believes he can solve any problem and his action in
solving that problem.
But what's interesting -- what was interesting to me about that whole subject and about the way Sophocles attacked it in his play, Oedipus
Tyrannus, Oedipus The King, is that he saw the Greeks as wrestling with the two sides of human existence, the Apollonian, as he called it. Apollo was
the god of harmony and reason, music, the kind of golden light, mathematics. And Dionysus, the god of frenzy, appetite and addiction,
wildness, submission to the baser instincts of the self. And the Greeks seemed to understand we are both those things. You can't be just be
Apollonian and you can't just be Dionysian.
And Oedipus has a deep, dark, intense secret of his humanity, his drive, his impulses, his filth inside. But covers wit this idea, I can solve
problems, I am the new modern kind of leader. And that is true today as it ever was. We are brought down by our instincts.
AMANPOUR: So, you've also got a podcast, right?
AMANPOUR: Called "The Seven Deadly Sins." Tell me about that. Why -- what's that all about? And remind us just in case we've all forgotten what
the seven deadly ones are.
FRY: They are pride, avarice, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth, or if you call wrath anger.
FRY: You remember the (INAUDIBLE) gas, the easiest mnemonic I know.
I felt that we are doing a lot of looking out and finger pointing at what's wrong with the world outside, about how those people are letting us down
and those people at the fault, their weakness, their cruelty, their bullying, their inadequacy, their rapacity. And then very little looking in
and saying, well, actually, the fault of the world is me. I am the one who has these slimy thoughts, these -- you know.
And I think whatever your outlook, whether religious, nonreligious and whatever the philosophy you ascribe to or subscribe to, most of us when
we're lying in bed at night wish we were better. We feel we'd be happier if we were better. Not happier if we were richer necessarily but if we were
just kinder and people liked us more and we were prouder of ourselves in the best meaning of pride. And that deontic sense is very strong in all of
us, I think. And I wanted to explore it and to see whether it still held up and whether those sins held up.
AMANPOUR: And avarice, you mentioned.
AMANPOUR: I mean, greed.
FRY: Greed is good, was the --
AMANPOUR: Was the famous.
FRY: -- exposure of the (INAUDIBLE).
AMANPOUR: Exactly. Exactly. But there's a new film out. And I just interviewed Steve Coogan and the director, Michael Winterbottom. And you
and a number of other celebrities are in that film, which is loosely about a retail billionaire here in Great Britain who went bust but really
exploited his workers in the manufacturers of cheap fast fashion in Asia.
AMANPOUR: But you play yourself, so does Chris Martin of Coldplay, James Blunt, I think.
FRY: Yes. Norman Cook.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Why did you decide to do it?
FRY: I thought it was an amusing irony that I always played myself as somebody who greedily accepted money and free flights to go to a
billionaire's party. But in fact, all I was doing was accepting the lowest possible income you can get, which is a Michael Winterbottom film.
AMANPOUR: But it is a little bit, you know, this idea of greed is also a sort of a morality play for today --
AMANPOUR: -- because it informs so much, particularly the younger generation's view of politics, inequality. You know, the --
FRY: Absolutely. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Just the -- you know --
FRY: And again, without being sanctimonious or pious (INAUDIBLE). But in the early days of the internet, I used to go to a lot of meetings for the
start-up companies and things and I always used to see instantly the greediest person in the room. There are some people who go into these
things in order to have an IPO, in order to sell to Google or one of the big entities in Silicon Valley, in order to have power and money and not in
order to change the world. I know that sounds ridiculously naive.
But there is -- in the early days of that technology, there was something so exciting about it. And I -- you know, you've got to be careful what you
wish for. Do you remember the phrase used in the early days of the -- you know, the Dot-Com Explosion was moved quickly and break things.
FRY: Which is what they used to say at Facebook and the Google. And the other word, disruption.
FRY: No one said to them, hang on. Haven't you ever noticed that in life, moving slowly and not breaking things is a really good way to be? And that
disrupt -- (INAUDIBLE) is a break.
AMANPOUR: And it's become a political mantra now, disruption.
FRY: Yes. And --
AMANPOUR: President Trump.
FRY: Exactly. And going around breaking things doesn't strike me as being that. And the irony politically is extraordinary because the conservative
party that I grew up with literally, my parents, you know, conservative country, fates and so on, and in the old school way, was precisely against
people breaking things.
It was conserving things. It was the way things are, may be not quite right but will slowly evolve. And I was impatient with it but I could sort of
respect that sort of conservativism. I mean, it valued institutions, it valued things that have -- were indicated by history and had a patina of
something that were organically made, they weren't planned in the sort of socialistic starlanistic (ph) way like New Town.
FRY: They had grown up and it was of human shaped. Do you know that was the conservative approach? Not to tear things down out of some attempt to
build a new country, a new -- and now, that's completely reversed. It is now the right wing that does the tearing down. The left wing seems sort of
slightly hopelessly old-fashioned and wants to retain some things and destroy others. I mean, it's not the only approach that you should have, is
which side wants to tear things down but it is worth observing.
AMANPOUR: It is. It is really -- again, it's so real relevant.
AMANPOUR: Look, I mean, many people -- I just want to put up this lovely old picture from 1983 where you are pictured at Cambridge with Emma
Thompson, Hugh Laurie and others. And this was sort of, I guess, your -- I don't know, the petri dish that --
FRY: Yes. Good.
AMANPOUR: You know, that was responsible for your growth.
FRY: Mutated the virus that was --
AMANPOUR: Well, no, no, let's not go all coronavirus.
But I want to get just a little bit serious, if I can make a hard turn, because then, many years later, in 2006, you made a documentary. You made a
documentary called "The Secret Life of The Manic Depressive."
You came out about your own mental health issues.
AMANPOUR: You made a campaign, which we've got the picture of, and you've been the president of Mind since 2011.
You've used it also in your podcast, and you talk about it a lot.
Just how, for those who are suffering -- and there are so many people suffering out there -- just what can you tell them about what you went
through, about what is there for them, about how mental health is being treated, should be treated now?
FRY: Well, I'm hoping people watching feel less alone than they might have done 10, 15, 20 years ago, where it really wasn't a subject that people
discussed a great deal. Their inner moods and their personality changes, their anxieties and dreads and so on were things you tended to keep quiet
And I think some people may feel that it's all being talked about too much now.
But I would say this. One of the problems of not being diagnosed and not realizing that you have, say, a mood disorder like bipolar disorder, which
is what afflicts me, is that you will do anything to change this pain, this mood, the mood that is either that you can't rest, you can't stop your mind
from racing and racing and racing and racing, and you can't sleep and you go a little bit manic, or you're so dark and depressed that you can barely
And the things you naturally reach out to are drugs and alcohol, because they can do that. They can alter your mood, can cheer you up if you're
down. And alcohol can sort of tamp things down if you're too high.
But they are obviously a disaster to become -- if they become something you depend upon.
And people naturally look on you as just someone as a bit of a loser, who's just not capable of staying sober and is a wastrel.
And you look on yourself as that. And then when you try and stop taking the drugs or the alcohol, you're left with the hole in the middle that you were
trying to fill with those ridiculous things.
And that's why it's very important, I think, to try and get some form of diagnosis to be shown that this is a common thing.
Moods -- and I have described them before as being like the weather. You know, when it's raining, it really is raining. It's never pretending to --
it's not raining, because you'll get wet. It is, and it's windy and you'll get blown around.
But it's also important to remember that it's not your fault it's raining. You didn't cause the rain.
That's a mad reach of a Solipsism to suggest that you -- no one would do that. Oh, no, it's raining. It's all my fault. And because it's raining,
nor does it mean it's going to rain for the rest of your life.
The sun will come out. You don't know when. It's beyond your control. It may be tomorrow. It may not be for a whole week. You may have to knuckle
and hunker down for a week.
But that's how it is with a mood disorder. It's so easy to think it's your fault. It's so easy to think that it's permanent. And it's so easy to think
that it will -- there's nothing you can do about it. And the answer is, you have to find ways of coping.
AMANPOUR: And you can. And there is help if you...
FRY: There is.
AMANPOUR: ... seek it.
FRY: Yes. And, of course, it's like anything. Some people have it so seriously, that they hurt each other terribly.
And I have had a couple of suicide attempts. And that was really, really grim. And like a lot of it those -- like a lot of pain, like a lot of
misery, it's quite hard to bring it back into your head.
You can't make yourself unhappy just by remembering your unhappiness. You can think, I was unhappy. Why was I so unhappy? I wanted to do that. I
don't understand that in myself.
And that's a blessed thing, I think. It's like you can't recall the pain of a broken heart, and, suddenly, you're screaming in pain again, fortunately.
But it's something you have to remember to live with, this.
AMANPOUR: And I think when people like you tell these stories, it's really doubly and triply valuable, because people who know you can see, well,
actually, OK, maybe I'm not a superstar, but at least I can also be functional.
And it gives them a lot of hope.
FRY: Yes, because -- two important things to say. One is that it can be incredibly serious, and you mustn't underestimate the morbidity, as a
doctor would say, the threat to health and life that it presents.
But, at the same time, there are remarkable people in the past and present living extraordinary, creative, fulfilled and happy lives with it. So the
two have to be accepted.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you a final question? And it's kind of funny.
Everybody here in Great Britain will know you as the audiobook voice of the "Harry Potter" series.
AMANPOUR: But you have a funny story about a line that you just couldn't get right, and that J.K. Rowling was not sympathetic.
FRY: She was.
There was a phrase in it. And it's just one of those rare things. It's not a difficult verse, three words: "Harry pocketed it."
Still can't say it. Harry pocketed it.
FRY: I keep...
AMANPOUR: Harry pocketed it.
FRY: You can do it, you see, but for some reason I keep wanting to put in extra syllables, Harry pocketed it.
I kept saying it and then trying it. And the engineer was laughing, and I was laughing. I said, look, let's park it. And Jo wasn't in that particular
But -- so I called her at lunch. And because the books were unabridged, she was very determined that they shouldn't be in any way condensed or cut,
because she imagined children would follow with their fingers while listening to the -- that that was a good thing.
AMANPOUR: Of course.
FRY: And so, I called her to say, look, for some reason, Jo, I can't say Harry pocketed it. Do you mind if I say Harry put it in his pocket, which I
And she said, "No."
FRY: Well, so, eventually, I managed to get it, but there were five more "Harry Potter" books, and each one contained the phrase, "Harry pocketed
AMANPOUR: She got you.
FRY: Bombs for me.
AMANPOUR: She did. Can you actually say it right?
FRY: I'm -- Harry pocketed it.
AMANPOUR: Well done.
FRY: But if I try and say it at proper speed, Harry pocketed it, I just put that extra syllable. Weird.
AMANPOUR: Stephen Fry. "Heroes" is the latest.
Thank you very much, indeed.
FRY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: A tongue-twister, indeed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, everyone.
You have been watching AMANPOUR.
We want to take you now, though, to CNN's coverage of U.S. President Donald Trump's upcoming press conference on the coronavirus.
The president is likely, of course, to declare a national state of emergency. That's according to two sources.
He speaks at the top of the hour.
Let's listen in.
ISIAH THOMAS, NBA HALL OF FAMER: That's what has definitely happened here.
The -- when we in the NBA, as an NBA family and we as a sports family, as you can see, what we have always tried to do is put the human being first.