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War Between Trump and the Press; Fintan O'Toole, Irish Times Columnist, and Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post Media Columnist, are Interviewed About America and Trump; Coronavirus: New York vs. Seattle; Interview With Actors Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired April 30, 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.
Missing in action. Why the world can't expect Trump's America to lead the cavalry against COVID. Margaret Sullivan of "the Washington Post" and
Fintan O'Toole of "The Irish Times" on leadership and accountability.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL MESCAL, ACTOR, "NORMAL PEOPLE": It would be awkward if something happened to us.
DAISY EDGAR-JONES, ACTRESS, "NORMAL PEOPLE": No one would have to know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Everybody's talking about "Normal People," and I speak to the stars of the hit new series, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal about this
beautiful story of love, intimacy and coming of age.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES DUHIGG, CONTRIBUTOR, THE NEW YORKER: If New York had moved about 10 days faster to shut things down, we would have soon 50 to 80 percent
fewer fatalities in New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Journalist and author, Charles Duhigg, compares how different states are fighting this virus.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
For months now, the world has been connected and consumed by one struggle, the health and economic devastation waged by the coronavirus. And these
images beamed around the globe of overwhelmed hospital wards, unbearable scenes from care homes, lines of people rushing to go home as borders close
or waiting at food banks raised a horrified question.
Sure, it's happening elsewhere, but how did this happen in America, the richest, most scientifically advanced nation in the whole world? How did a
third of all confirmed cases globally, 1 million infections with come to be in the United States? And why can even a crisis of this magnitude
apparently not stop President Trump from meddling tales made out of whole cloth, downright dangerous suggestions and even ramping up his war with the
This pandemic is sending shock waves through the very idea of American exceptionalism, of that city on a hill, that global leader that other
countries could look up to and call on in a crisis. Here to discuss are two guests who have been asking those very questions, "Washington post"
columnist and media expert, Margaret Sullivan and "Irish Times" columnist, Fintan O'Toole in Dublin who says, the world has loved, hated and even
envied the United States. Now for the first time, we pity it.
Fintan O'Toole and Margaret Sullivan, welcome to the program.
Fintan, let me start with you because those are very strong words and a very strong sentiment. Of course, the world has had a complicated
relationship for a long time with the United States. Why do you choose the word pity?
FINTAN O'TOOLE, IRISH TIMES COLUMNIST: I think because it's what I feel and it's what I get the impression that a lot of people feel. There's a
genuine sympathy for what the ordinary people in the United States are suffering and are going to continue to suffer. And a horror that they're
suffering that largely because of the most appalling display of bad political authority that we've probably seen in the democratic West for a
very, very long time.
We're all used to looking to the United States, whether we love it or hate it, as a kind of touchstone. It's, you know, the great power in the world.
And to see, as you mentioned in your introduction, you know, a country which has so many advantages going into this crisis. The advantage of time
and warning, the advantage of almost infinite financial resources, of a -- and military complex which has astounding capacities, the greatest
concentration of scientific and medical expertise in the world, a fantastic public spirit, I mean, all of those advantages have been utterly undermined
by this horrific spectacle that we've been watching in the way of which Donald Trump has undermined at every juncture the good advice that any
responsible leader would be giving at this time.
So, all of our governments are failing in some way, but I don't think you can point to any other government in the rich democratic world that has had
such a malignant presence at its heart in this crisis.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you to pinpoint apart from, you know, the controversial press briefings, which I'm going to get to with Margaret in a
second, but in terms of actual action, what, for instance, do you see your own government in Ireland having done differently compared to what you're
seeing in the United States?
O'TOOLE: Well, I mean, very simple stuff obviously, which was, actually, listen to the World Health Organization, listen to expertise, look at what
the experience had already been in China and Korea and Taiwan and learn, rapidly, that there were things that would work, which were to do with
putting social distancing in place and having -- being ready with the capacity to test and trace. That's -- we know that stuff worked. And the
Irish government and most other democratic governments pretty much followed that template.
I mean, here in Ireland, you know, we canceled St. Patrick's Day in early March. Right, you know. It was a statement going out to the public. This is
really, really serious. It's a matter of life and death. We're giving you a clear, simple message. This is what you must do. Please follow it.
And you have -- all through that period, you have Trump, you know, more or less suggesting that the whole thing could be a hoax. That it would all
just disappear. That it really wasn't to be taken seriously. And even at the end of March, when he finally did seem to take it seriously and accept
this was a huge crisis, he then continued very shortly afterwards to actively undermine what states have been doing. I mean, these tweets about,
you know, calling on people to liberate their states from governors who are, you know, putting in place restrictions to save people's lives, that's
absolutely astonishing and it is deadly.
I mean, this mixed messaging from Trump, you know, has undoubtedly cost many, many lives and will continue to do so because a lot of people still
look to Trump for authority and they take what he says seriously.
AMANPOUR: Clearly, we've had -- we've been watching and reading from around the world, this sort of, you know, staggered reaction to what's
going on in the United States. I want to ask you, Margaret, because you're in the United States. You've just written one of your latest columns for
"the Washington Post" has been that Trump is playing the media as puppets.
But first, before you get to that, I want to know what you make of what Fintan has said that in as much as actual executive actions, it's what's
coming from the daily podium that has caused this reaction from Fintan and many others around the world.
MARGARET SULLIVAN, WASHINGTON POST MEDIA COLUMNIST: Well, I do think that's the case and Fintan's recent column was so powerful and so eloquent,
he's right. And that's why I have written that I don't think that airing, taking these briefings, which can sometimes go to 90 minutes or two hours,
and often include a lot of disinformation, lies, misleading kinds of things, that taking them live is a mistake, because it pours all of this
stuff into our public sphere and it's damaging. Which is not to say that we shouldn't be covering this as news, covering the news of it, but not taking
it live has been my position.
AMANPOUR: Your position is many other things as well, in your latest column. On the live issue, there's definitely a sort of two views on that,
obviously. There's the one you say. But there's also another one that's been written about by Olivia Nuzzi in the "New York" magazine, and she
wrote a very eloquent article. And remember, she asked a very pointed question of President Trump in the last briefing.
But she said that, look, the world actually does need to see President Trump unfiltered, not through the lens or the pen or the editing capacity
of sophisticated journalists who try their best to sometimes turn incoherence into a coherent message. And thus, also, potentially falsify
So, I wonder if there's another way, you know, instead of just not taking them, and I wonder what you make, for instance, of Joe Lockhart, who is, of
course, know was President Clinton's press secretary, who said, that actually there should be specialist journalists asking real specialist
questions that nobody would be able to sort of -- you know, sort of phase them on it, and there should be sort of an all for one, one for all
mentality where journalists should follow up on behalf of each other and, you know, support each other when they come under attack from the podium.
SULLIVAN: Yes, I think that both Olivia and Joe Lockhart have made good points. And I'm not suggesting for a moment that we don't cover, you know,
these briefings, that we don't take pieces of them and show them to the public.
But when I hear President Trump talking about some bizarre, supposed cure of perhaps injecting a disinfectant, and then later read that some people
have gone ahead and done just that and hurt themselves, I think that there needs to be something between the president and the public. So, perhaps
just a tape delay or some immediate fact checking and context that would put this into some kind of perspective would be wise.
So -- you know, and I also think that when President Trump is allowed this, you know, sort of spout off, insult people, say whatever it is he will and
the networks all fall in line and give him very precious air time for hours at a time, I don't think that that is journalism that serves the citizenry
AMANPOUR: So, to that point, and I'm going to put this out there and then ask you and in fact, Fintan to respond. Margaret, your own editor-in-chief,
Marty Baron, said very early on in this administration, we are not at war, we are at work. We're going to work. And yet, every single day at the
podium, there seems to be this almighty struggle between the executive and the free press. And I'm just going to play just a little sort of mash-up of
some soundbites just over the last week. Let's just play.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you say to Americans who are watching me right now who are scared?
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I say that you're a terrible reporter. That's what I think. I think it's a very nasty question and I think it's a
very bad signal that you're putting out to the American people.
It's such a basic, simple question and you try to make it sound so bad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not bad. I'm just trying to understand.
TRUMP: You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I'm --
TRUMP: You know what, you ought to be ashamed. You know you're a fake. You know that your whole network, the way you cover is fake. And most of
you -- and not all of you, but the people that are wise to you, that's why you have a lower approval rating than you've ever had before, times
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, you know what, counterintuitively, I'm going to ask Fintan to react to this. What would happen, Fintan, if your prime minister, for
instance, were to say that kind of thing to your press corps, your accredited press corps? What would your journalist do or say? You've
obviously been watching this all-out war that's being waged every day between the press and the White House.
O'TOOLE: Well, I completely agree that what happened here, certainly, is that journalists would back each other up. You know, journalists would
collectively decide. This is not about my newspaper or my TV channel or my regular station, this about the function of press in democracy. And we have
a duty, therefore, collectively to challenge this behavior, to get up and walk out. To -- you know, to boycott these press conferences, if that's the
only way to make the point.
What Trump loves doing, of course, is sort of playing favorites, picking one off against the other, engaging in this kind of punch and duty show,
and he loves it. He's reveling in all of this carnage. And this division that he's causing.
I do think -- you know, that the point that Margaret is making is a really important one, it's an excruciating dilemma for journalists. How do you
cover it when the vector in chief is the president? You know, you cannot cover it. You can't ignore what he's doing. But I do think the free press
has to take a stance and it has to take a stance for the difference between lies and truth.
AMANPOUR: And it does -- it's best -- as you know, there's a huge sort of fact-checking machine going on all across the press. But Margaret, I just
want to ask you, because as Fintan has said and as you have said, essentially the president is a master of this medium. He just is. And as
you said, he's playing everybody like puppets.
Not so long ago, Boris Johnson, who's also, the prime minister of this country, also very good at playing the press, quite a master of this
medium, but he tried -- the government tried to selectively invite people who they thought would be more friendly to them and disinvite those who may
have had a different view, for instance, on Brexit or whatever to a Downing Street event. And the entire press corps simply banded together and said,
it's all of us or none of us.
What do you think the American press in that room should do? I mean, I have to say, when I see my colleagues insulted like that on a daily basis, it
really does break my heart and makes me wonder what I would do. So, what are you saying? And you were the former ombudsman on all of this for "the
New York Times." So, what do you think?
SULLIVAN: Well, a couple of observations. One is that, one of the things that's going on in the United States is that there's something called Fox
News and it gives the Trump administration something that, at times, comes perilously close to state TV, which is very easily controllable and it is
used as a weapon against the rest of the press in a very effective way. And I don't think we see this, at least not to this extent, in the rest of the
democratic world. So, that's -- that is a huge factor.
Of course, the press needs to back each other up, and I think to some extent, to some extent, they do. But, you know, Trump is very wily and he
has a huge base and he plays to his base constantly. It's not as simple -- it's not very simple.
And the other point I would make is that I agree and continue to agree with my boss, Marty Baron, not just because he's my boss, but you talk about a
war between the press and Trump. I don't think we are at war with him. I think we're trying to cover him and he is at war with us.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. That's absolutely correct. Let me just quote something else you wrote, because Andy Lack, the head of NBC News, the president of
NBC News, published recently saying that the press is winning. And you said, because, you know, despite the odds, we tell Americans the truth
every day, he said. You said, in reaction, is this winning? Only in the sense that a verbally abused spouse is winning if she manages to get the
kids off to school after another sleepless night. Well, I mean, you know, that's pretty vivid imagery.
And let me now move it back to Fintan. The question here, Fintan, is that very few people, certainly not in President Trump's own party, are willing
to say the emperor has no clothes. And also, not amongst his global partners in the alliances in leaderships. We're seeing right now that they
are desperate, the world is desperate for traditional American leadership. As we've seen in previous crisis, pandemics, financial devastation and the
rest is simply not happening this time.
We haven't actually seen world leaders be as brave as perhaps they should be in this extraordinary face-off.
O'TOOLE: Yes. It's a great point to make, I think. Trump does not exist in a vacuum. So, within the United States, of course, this is only possible
because the ground has been prepared for it by the rise of the right-wing within the Republican Party, the collapse of traditional conservatism,
which, of course, would have, you know, emphasized safety, security, good authority, all of those kinds of old conservative values would have come
This crisis is showing us how deep the problem goes in the United States, which is that this is only possible because the Fox News agenda, the Rupert
Murdoch agenda, the tea party agenda, this hatred of government, this almost anarchic tendency in what used to be called conservatism has taken
hold to such an extent. And that's a huge problem for the rest of the world, right?
I think, up until this crisis, a lot of the rest of the world was saying, OK, let's just wait this one out. Let's hope that Trump gets defeated in
November and then we can go back to our good relationships with the United States again. I think that's going to be very, very difficult. I think
you're absolutely right to say that people are buttoning their lips at the moment. They don't know what to say. It's actually genuinely very
But that moment will because -- precisely because of the global nature of the pandemic. There will come a time when the pandemic is coming under
control, as it's beginning to do in Europe, for example. And people are going to have to say, what happens with travel to the United States, for
example? If the United States is still, which tragically, I think it may still be the global epicenter of this crisis, people are going to have to
make very hard decisions about the most basic things about how they relate to the United States, because the United States is still going to be a
breeding ground for the epidemic.
So, these questions are going to arise, I think, sooner, rather than later. And I think, no matter what happens in November, it's going to take a long
time, if we ever do, to get back to the notion of the United States as the indispensable nation, as the center of the world. Maybe it will never
AMANPOUR: Yes, it's a really important question. I just want to revert slightly, take a slightly different direction, because you brought up
November and the election.
So, Margaret Sullivan, what does the press do regarding now, not Donald Trump, necessarily, but Joe Biden, the presumptive nominee for the
Democratic Party? There are all of these allegations and your own newspaper, "The Washington Post," has said, and let me just quote, Biden
himself should address the Tara Reid allegations and release relevant records.
That, of course, refers to an allegation of sexual assault made against Biden from the '90s by a former aide, and it turns out that there's a lot
of reporting about this. And of course, the Biden campaign flatly denies it. Of course, there are also, and there have been allegations of very
serious nature in this regard, against President Trump. So -- at least when he was candidate Trump.
So, what do you think is the next step? Because there's a lot of uncomfortable sort of -- people not quite sure how to deal with this.
SULLIVAN: Well, from a news perspective, we need to report it out as thoroughly as possible, and that has been happening. It's not the case that
media in the United States has shut this down or not paid attention to it. We absolutely are reporting on it. I mean, maybe not every news
organization, but "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," and others have given it attention and will continue to do so.
You know, my paper's editorial board, as you say, called for Biden to come out and address it, and that is something that should happen. And we also
have to be careful not to create a false equivalency, the kind of thing that happened in 2016 with Hillary Clinton's e-mail controversy and all of
Donald Trump's foibles and misdeeds, somehow became equated.
So, I think we have to be very careful not to evaluate this beyond what it either is or isn't. And I don't think we know the answer to that yet, but
that's -- you know, it's a tricky thing, but we need to learn from the mistakes of the past, absolutely.
AMANPOUR: Margaret Sullivan, Fintan O'Toole, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.
And just as we're all craving human touch and connection in this lockdown world, a new TV series explores a coming of age romance for our times. It's
called "Normal People," and it is the best-selling normal from Irish author, Sally Rooney, which now has been adapted for TV by the BBC and
Hulu. It's getting rave reviews in the United States and around the world.
In this clip, Connell, who's the popular high school jock, he's a student, of course, and Marianne, a student, also there, usually the odd one out,
who marches to her own drug beat, they take, in this clip, their first tentative steps towards each other. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL MESCAL, ACTOR, "NORMAL PEOPLE": You know, you were saying the other day that you like me. By the photo copier, you said it.
DAISY EDGAR-JONES, ACTRESS, "NORMAL PEOPLE": Yes.
MESCAL: Yes. Did you mean like as a friend or what?
EDGAR-JONES: No. Not just as a friend.
MESCAL: Yes. I thought that might be implied. I just wasn't sure. See, I'm -- I was just a little confused about what I feel. I think it would be
awkward in school if something happened with us.
EDGAR-JONES: No one would have to know. That was nice.
MESCAL: What are you laughing for?
MESCAL: You're acting like you've never been kissed before.
EDGAR-JONES: I haven't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And joining me now from London, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, who played the two main characters, Marianne and Connell.
Welcome to the program.
You're under lockdown, we're doing all of this, you know, via Skype and all sorts of other technology. How do you react to the reaction to this? It's
got rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. I mean, it seems it's really hitting a spot. Let me ask you first, Marianne.
EDGAR-JONES: Yes. It's quite hard to kind of compute, really. Because, obviously, you know, it's all kind of just from our phones, you know. So, I
mean, it's amazing and it's so wonderful that the show is sort of still able to be viewed and we've been able to promote it in some capacity,
because we didn't know if we could when this all sort of started. But yes, it's quite surreal, to be honest.
AMANPOUR: So, you see, I have totally bought into the story, because I called you Marianne. Of course, you're Daisy. And now, I'm going to go to
Connell -- sorry, Paul. How did you react to this? Did you imagine that this would be -- I don't know, that this story would be so evocative of an
age that seems bygone? I mean, it's like the Paleozoic era. You're holding hands, you're kissing, you're together. Just comment on the strange time of
the release of this.
MESCAL: Yes, it's -- I suppose if you had asked me what the reaction would be, I thought it was going to be positive, because I was confident in the
work that we did, but I think it's very hard to compute or even kind of recognize how positive and effusive the reviews both kind of critically and
publicly have been. It's just been -- it's been a bit of a whirlwind of 72 hours. But incredible. And yes, delighted.
AMANPOUR: So, tell me, what was it about the book? Did you know the book? I mean, you probably had heard of it. It was massive best seller, Irish
author. What did you think when -- you know, about the story? What appealed to you about it, Paul?
MESCAL: I suppose that's the testament to how popular the novel has been is that, I think, everybody recognizes -- generally, everybody recognizes
themselves in either Connell or Marianne, and I think that's the appeal of the book, and I hope the series. I think what Sally has done so well is
that she doesn't make kind of (INAUDIBLE) like make Connell or Marianne heroes or villains, she just does so well to represent them as real,
living, breathing, human beings and not -- they don't feel fictional to me. And I hope that's the case to audiences of the show and readers of the
AMANPOUR: Yes. That's a really interesting way to put it. Daisy, you've talked about it as -- and we noticed that actually these are young people
who are not just doing what we understand many young people do like right now, just meet online or just, you know, endlessly texting or social media.
There's a huge amount of connection, verbal connection and it's very slow and considered and, you know, thoughtful between the two characters.
EDGAR-JONES: Yes. I mean, I think that's what's so wonderful about their relationship is that they have this very honest way of communicating, and
it's quite refreshing to see. I mean, there's a wonderful scene that's one of my favorites in episode five where they sort of speak from across the
room. And it's really fascinating to see sort of two people just speak very openly and honestly about the way they feel and what they're thinking.
But yes, I think it's -- it weirdly sort of resonates even more at the minute, because I think we're really missing human connection and it's
inherently, it's a story about love and growing up. And it's just lovely seeing two people connect, even if they sometimes miss each other.
AMANPOUR: Let's talk a little bit about, for want of a better word, what - - I don't know, me or others have called sort of a little bit of a power dynamic. And it's not just the class dynamic, because Connell's mother
works as a cleaner in Marianne's home, which is a mansion.
The two of you are both in the same class at high school, and Connell, as I said in the introduction, is the popular, he's very studious, he's
successful and he's a -- you know, he's a sports star. You're also very studious and great at your studies, but you're a bit more of an -- I guess,
I don't know whether outcast is the right word, but you're not the popular girl or you don't even want to be. You're very sort of independent.
And in that clip, we showed, you know, Connell is basically saying, don't let the rest of the school know. And here you are having your first kiss. I
just wonder if you can talk to me about that sort of power dynamic that takes the first part of the book and the series.
EDGAR-JONES: Yes. I mean, that's a wonderful --
AMANPOUR: And we'll get to you -- yes?
EDGAR-JONES: I mean, I love it.
AMANPOUR: Go ahead.
EDGAR-JONES: I mean, I think that it's really interesting that Marianne, she -- at school, she seems very confident in herself. And I think she --
her school friends find her quite unnerving, because she seemingly doesn't seem about the social structures which are so sort of integral to
everything when you're at school, you know, where you are in the social ladder, et cetera. But I think with that, she sort of postures that she
doesn't care, but really, she is a very vulnerable person.
So, I think when she has this, you know, relationship with Connell and he says, don't tell anybody, I think Marianne, she understands. She's clever
enough to know that to be associated with her isn't a good thing for his sort of social standing and unfortunately, she doesn't have, I guess, a
wonderful view of herself. I think she thinks she's an ultimately cold and unlovable person. And it's very sad, actually. I think she just -- she
understands where he's coming from.
AMANPOUR: And it's kind of heartbreaking, also.
Paul, I want to ask you about the scene where you don't actually invite Marianne to the high school prom. You invite another cool girl in the
class. And you tell Marianne that. And maybe you don't expect it, but she is heartbroken.
And while you're out there in your togs and dancing with this other girl, she's in bed crying herself to sleep. And you eventually leave the party
and probably realize that you have done a pretty awful thing.
This is clip of you leaving that party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "NORMAL PEOPLE")
PAUL MESCAL, ACTOR: It's me again.
I know it's late to be calling you. I know you -- you probably don't want to talk to me or anything, but I was just calling to say that I'm -- that I
So, yes, I can't really talk to anybody the way that I talk to you or anything like that. And -- yes, don't really know what to say, other than
the fact that I miss you, and I really love you, Marianne. And I -- yes, sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's really, really heartbreaking.
Just tell me how you internalized that scene, but also, you know, what we have just been talking about, the imbalance.
MESCAL: Yes, I think that's kind of Connell's journey throughout the whole novel
But to focus on that question specifically, I think when Connell goes to tell Marianne that he's inviting Rachel to the Debs, I think, in the back
of his brain, he's aware of what he's doing and the cause that that is going to have on Marianne.
And he tries to normalize the situation in the language that he uses with Marianne. And it doesn't go to plan. And I think you start to see the kind
of bread crumbs throughout that episode, when he's ready to go to the Debs, and Lorraine, Connell's mother, kind of says that sometimes you have to do
things you don't want to do.
And there's a pivotal conversation for him with his friend Eric outside the Debs, when Eric says, you know that we know you have been sleeping together
the whole time, and nobody really cares. And that's the thing Connell's been protected the whole way through.
And once that kind of carpet has been pulled out from under him, it allows him to really address his behavior internally and in himself. And I think,
in terms of playing it, it's just about being true to that, like trying to imagine those circumstances.
And then when you come to shoot the scene on the phone, you're just telling the person that you have really let down, that you're really sorry. And I
think that's just -- I can imagine that would be a very upsetting phone call to have to -- or voice-mail to have to leave.
AMANPOUR: I'm sure many, many people can identify with that.
But I do actually want to ask you, because you had an intimacy coach on the set. And this is becoming quite sort of usual now in various films like
Can you just tell me, from your perspective, Daisy, what that did, how that helped? And is there sort of a post MeToo aspect to it about consent and
boundaries? Just how did that help you?
EDGAR-JONES: I mean, it was incredible.
I mean, we had Ita O'Brien, who sort of -- she worked for "Sex Education," so she sort of she'd worked with young people before, the show "Sex
Education." So she was amazing, because, Paul and I, we were both very new to filming those scenes, and they are so integral to the story, it was
really important to do them justice.
And she just created an environment that was incredibly safe. And there was no pressure involved. And we always knew that we were able to be honest. If
we weren't comfortable with anything, we were never going to be pushed, and the same with Lenny and the director and all the crew were -- created such
a lovely environment for us.
And, yes, I mean, definitely, I think that I cannot imagine doing those scenes without one. And I really think that that has to be the gold
standard, because it's a very vulnerable place to put yourself in. And to know that you have someone who is looking out for you and looking after you
and making sure that you're safe ultimately makes the work better.
And I think, yes, it's incredibly important that that becomes the norm from now on.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, Paul, how you dealt with that? And, I mean, I guess you had also never come across an intimacy coach. You hadn't had, I
don't think, those kinds of scenes in your past.
And there's a lot of sex scenes. We're not allowed to show them on this television. But it's all part of the story, and none of it seems
And you said about the key one: "It's not clinical. It's loving and romantic and sexy, because you see two minds coming together."
Just talk about that, and also about how you reacted to having an intimacy coach on set.
MESCAL: Yes, I suppose the refreshing thing, personally, that I find about "Normal People" is that the intimacy is both physically sexual. But the
thing that I think really excites both the characters is the way in which their brains work.
And I think, when you have intimate scenes that require that level of detail, you have to shoot it in a different way. And I think you have got
to really invest in the intimacy between Connell and Marianne to really get the payoff at the end of the story.
And I think, for me, obviously, I totally agree with Daisy. The idea of the intimate scenes is a far more -- the idea of doing them was a far more kind
of nerve-wracking experience than actually the process.
I think we both felt incredibly empowered and part of the creative discussion throughout all of the sex scenes. And you're right, there is a
lot of them, but -- and it's also something that you just get better at as you go along.
Me and Daisy obviously got more comfortable with each other. And we knew how those scenes worked. But I think I couldn't -- just to reiterate what
Daisy said, I couldn't imagine having to do those scenes, nor would I probably sign onto a project where those scenes are required where an
intimacy coordinator wasn't employed.
So, I think it's been really positive in that sense.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's really, really interesting.
Paul and Daisy, thank you so much. Congratulations on the success. And we haven't even talked about the whole arc of the end. We will leave that to
all the viewers who are going to enjoy seeing the rest of this series.
Thank you so much.
Now back to the United States, where states across the country are taking different approaches to the coronavirus pandemic.
Our next guest has been looking into this.
Charles Duhigg is a contributor for "The New Yorker," and he's been comparing the pandemic response in New York and Seattle. Both cities were
hit by the outbreak at around the same time, from late February to early March.
But, today, more than 30 percent of all U.S. coronavirus deaths are in New York and less than 2 percent in Washington state.
Duhigg speaks to Michel Martin from Brooklyn about it.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Charles Duhigg, thank you so much for speaking with us.
CHARLES DUHIGG, "THE NEW YORKER": Thanks for having me.
MARTIN: I have to say that your piece raises a really uncomfortable question, which is, Seattle was so much in the news at the beginning of
I mean, we were seeing pictures on the news every day from this one nursing facility right outside of Seattle. But now, these months later, New York is
the epicenter of this. There are hundreds of thousands of confirmed COVID cases in New York. There are tens of thousands -- I mean, what, how many
deaths so far, in the 20,000 range, I believe
And Seattle has -- and Washington state, on the whole, Seattle in particular, has a fraction of that. What happened? What did you find out?
DUHIGG: Well, what we have found is that Seattle put its public health officials, its scientists, in front of the cameras, and they relied on a
communications playbook that the CDC has polished for over 50 years about how to talk to the public to convince them to stay home.
In New York, the politicians took the lead. And the messages that they sent were much more muddied and much more confusing, particularly initially. And
the weird thing about a pandemic is that what you do in those first early days can matter disproportionately, because, once the virus is out of the
gate, it begins expanding exponentially.
And that's the mistake that New York made. It was only four or five days behind Seattle, but those four or five days made all the difference.
MARTIN: Tell me a little bit more about this playbook, the CDC playbook that you say Seattle followed, but New York didn't.
DUHIGG: So, the CDC since the 1950s has had a division known as the Epidemic Intelligence Service.
And what they do is, they take a new class every single year, for two years, they train them how to become essentially the shock troops, the
front line in an epidemic response.
And, oftentimes, those people go out, as alumni, and they become the commissioner of health of Los Angeles and Philadelphia and Chicago. And
this playbook that they give them, that they train them, which is actually available online, anyone can go look at it, it's known as the CDC's Field
It tells them exactly how to communicate. And it has a couple of rules. The first rule is, you must maintain trust with the audience, because we know
that advice is going to change over the course of an epidemic.
And whoever the spokesperson is speaking to the public, they need to be able to convince people to do things like stay home or avoid going to work,
even when that advice might change, even when conditions might change.
Another big piece of advice is that it's generally thought to be better for a scientist to be the head of public health messaging than a politician,
because, as one former CDC director told me, the problem with a politician is that half the nation might just do the opposite of what they're saying,
because they didn't vote or trust for the guy.
And so it's really important to use these principles to maintain this trust, because, ultimately, a pandemic is as much a communications
emergency as it is a health emergency.
MARTIN: Is there one crucial decision you think Seattle made early on that made the difference?
I know you said put the scientists first, but is there some way that you -- is there something you can sort of pinpoint that say, this is the crucial
DUHIGG: Seattle moved very quickly to close it schools and to ask companies to close their workplaces.
DUHIGG: So, literally just days after the first fatality in Seattle, the first fatality in the entire nation, one of the top politicians, a guy
named Dow Constantine, called Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, which is located nearby.
And he asked him to tell all of his employees to stay home from work. He did the same thing at Amazon. So, as a result, what one Seattle resident
told me was, he woke up on Tuesday morning and suddenly 100,000 cars were missing from the roads, because all the Amazon and Microsoft employees were
And he said, you knew that something important had happened. You knew that something scary was going on because the roads were suddenly empty. And
that's kind of the point, is that it's not enough for a leader to simply say something, even if it's a scientific leader.
You have to create an atmosphere that convinces people to move fast, because we can't order -- we can order them to stay home, but they don't
have to. We're a nation where people do whatever they want. And so what we have to do is, we have to persuade them.
MARTIN: Well, what made the officials in Seattle so willing to do that?
I think people who are in the New York area may remember that New York didn't close the schools, for, what, for at least, what, a couple of days
after that. And then when did New York close their schools?
DUHIGG: New York closed their schools in early March. And there was a long delay in which mayor -- the New York City mayor, Mayor Bill de Blasio, sort
of publicly had this indecision about whether he ought to close the schools.
And he was making a legitimate argument .One of the things he said is, look, if you close the schools, it disproportionately impacts our most
vulnerable, right? There's kids who rely on schools for meals. There's health providers who they can't go to work unless their kids are in school,
because they don't have day care.
Now, at the time, de Blasio was getting recommendations from his own health officers to close the schools and restaurants. In fact, two of de Blasio's
top health officers came to him and threatened to resign unless he closed the schools and bars and restaurants.
But it is a difficult choice. And one of the things that's interesting -- and this is one of the things that the CDC and the Epidemic Intelligence
Service teaches -- is that almost all the normal rules that apply to a politician suddenly become reversed when you're in a pandemic, right?
As a politician, our instinct is always to calm, to avoid panic, to reassure citizens. But, in a pandemic, what you actually want to do is you
want to foster a little bit of panic, because you're trying to convince people to do things that are really hard before they can see the evidence
of the disease around them.
And panic does a pretty good job of convincing us to choose to change our behavior.
MARTIN: Maybe people outside of New York might not remember this, but I know that the mayor, Bill de Blasio, came under some criticism for going to
the gym right before he -- just as he was urging other people to stop going to the gym.
You might think, oh, that's kind of petty. Everybody wants to do what they want. But why does something like that matter?
DUHIGG: It matters enormously, because the consistency in messaging is key to persuading people what to do.
In a moment of panic, when someone's asking you to do something like stay in your house, what you're saying is, like, A, I want to find an excuse to
ignore them, and, B, I want to understand what's going on.
And so if, for instance, as in this case, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York state says, I'm going to close down all the gyms, and then mayor Bill de
Blasio of New York City, asks his driver to take him to a gym that's nine miles away, so he can work out, then the average viewer, they're saying,
who am I supposed to listen to?
Am I supposed to be like the mayor and go outside, or am I supposed to listen to the governor and stay inside? Any time you have any conflicting
information, particularly in an emergency, when people are scared and they don't know what to listen to, it's really, really dangerous.
You can't have these distractions during a pandemic. They become deadly.
MARTIN: What about Governor Cuomo? Well,
DUHIGG: Well, initially, Governor Cuomo, similar to Mayor de Blasio, was saying, look, you don't need to be concerned about this.
Like, their instinct is to reduce panic, which is usually a pretty good instinct. It's just not the right instinct in a pandemic. And, now, I will
say both of them, compared to, say, federal leaders, did get on the horse pretty quickly and start saying, look, this is something to take seriously.
We need to be concerned about this.
But those four or five lost days matter a lot. Dr. Tom Frieden, who used to be a commissioner of public health in New York, and was the director of the
CDC, he actually estimates that, if New York had moved about 10 days faster to shut things down, we would have seen 50 to 80 percent fewer fatalities
in New York.
And that's a big deal.
MARTIN: That's remarkable.
DUHIGG: It's huge.
MARTIN: Wait. Wait. That's remarkable.
You're saying that just those couple of days, maybe a week, could have saved thousands of lives?
DUHIGG: Absolutely, because, remember, a virus moves in an exponential manner, right? So, if you have one case, and then two cases the next day,
and then four and then eight, it doesn't take that long until you get to 100,000 cases, and then the next day 200,000 cases.
Those initial days matters so much, because that's when you can mitigate. That's when you can stop the virus in its tracks. Once it's escaped, once
it's spreading to thousands of -- tens of thousands of people, then you really don't have that many tools to stop the spread, except for completely
drastic reactions, like telling everyone to stay inside.
MARTIN: Let me ask you a hard question, though. Is this a question of sort of the political leadership in Seattle and in Washington state kind of got
their act together sooner, were more willing to listen to the scientific authorities, or are just the circumstances of life so different?
I mean, the fact that Seattle is a lot less dense, it's a lot less diverse, Washington state is a lot less dense, it's a lot less diverse, there's a
lot less international travel, I mean, so -- I mean, I'm asking you a hard question, but was this a leadership issue, or is this a facts-on-the-ground
issue, in your -- based on your reporting?
DUHIGG: At the end of the day, it's almost impossible to answer that precisely.
But let me say this. You're exactly right that New York has some conditions that Seattle doesn't that would have made the spread easier here, but
mainly population density and the fact that we use public transit so much.
But, in addition to that, leadership does matter. In Seattle, you had this situation where all of the political leaders were generally aligned. And in
addition, these graduates of the Epidemic Intelligence Service, they were in powerful positions.
It's a network. They had been working with each other for years. And so when they needed to respond, and they went to the governor, and they went
to the mayor and county executive, they could speak with one voice, and those politicians were primed to listen.
In New York, although conditions were different, and, obviously, there's a chance of luck, an element of luck in every pandemic, in New York, we had
the opportunity to respond quickly, but, instead, what we had was a situation where Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, was, frankly,
fighting with his own health department.
He was not listening to the advice. There was a history of bad relationships there. And, more importantly, there was an ongoing feud
between Mayor de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, the governor of the state of New York.
And that fight, that feud has meant that communications have been muddied. They have fought in public about who has the right to close down the
schools, what kind of advice should be given out.
It's impossible to say, if we could rewind the clock, that just changing the leadership would have changed the outcome of the -- and the course of
this pandemic, but, certainly, in New York, the fact that we are now the epicenter, that we are the epicenter of the entire world and have tens of
thousands of deaths, some of that must be laid at the feet of our political leadership and the fact that, frankly, they weren't ready for this, and
they weren't listening to the people who were ready and trained about how to communicate during a pandemic.
MARTIN: Were you able going to ask each of them why they didn't listen, or why they didn't follow the same playbook, at which -- you point out is on
the Internet? You can read it for yourself, which was news to me.
Were you able to ask either of them why they didn't follow that playbook?
DUHIGG: Governor Cuomo and Bill -- and Mayor Bill de Blasio both declined to speak with me. They did not want to.
And, look, we're in the middle of an emergency, right? And they have a lot of stuff going on. And I will say that, in the last few weeks, once it
became clear exactly what was happening, both of them did move very actively to start putting in social distancing measures.
But they also continued fighting with each other. Even just as recently as last week, they were battling in the press over who has the right to decide
-- to determine when the schools will reopen.
MARTIN: I can't help but notice that Governor Cuomo, as we are speaking, very recently has expressed some regret about the way he has handled his
He says that he wished that he had sounded the bugle earlier, meaning, I think, raised the alarms about the seriousness of this earlier. What do you
make of that?
DUHIGG: I think it's great that he is now recognizing, that Andrew Cuomo is now recognizing that the cautions should have been made earlier, that
they didn't respond fast enough.
I obviously don't know what the governor knew, but I do know what people around him and what epidemiologists were saying at the time. Now, perhaps
those people weren't shouting loudly enough at Andrew Cuomo. Perhaps he wasn't -- they weren't in the room with him.
But it's unequivocal that, in retrospect, we are going to look back and we are going to say, Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio in New York state, that
they didn't act fast enough, that the warnings were out there, that everyone should have known, as soon as Seattle started having massive
numbers of deaths and massive numbers of cases, that we had to respond immediately, and assume that coronavirus was moving through our
MARTIN: You talked about the importance of being consistent.
In fact, you used an interesting phrase in your piece about the need for officials to ostentatiously model the behavior that they need people to
And yet we see that President Trump is refusing to wear a mask. He exactly said at a briefing, I'm not going to. Often at the White House briefings,
very rarely is anyone wearing a mask. I may have seen one, say, public service announcement by the surgeon general where the people around him
were wearing a mask.
But I haven't -- as a consistent factor, I haven't seen anybody, including the doctors, wearing masks. I mean, what should we draw from this?
DUHIGG: It's a terrible trend. And it's -- it's going to kill people.
In the 1950s, when the polio vaccine was discovered, there was a huge outcry of people saying that they didn't want to get it, that they actually
-- they actually thought that it was going to give people polio, that it was all a hoax.
And so the commissioner, the New York commissioner of health, who was actually this woman who was married to the founder of the Epidemic
Intelligence Service, she put on a series of public events where people could get shots in public. She would take cameras into schools so that you
could see kids getting the shots.
She asked Elvis to come and get his shot in front of reporters and in front of TV cameras. And the reason why is because she knew you have to
ostentatiously demonstrate this stuff, right?
During the H1N1 outbreak, you saw public health officials who at were no risk of being infected -- they were inside an office building where nothing
was ever going to get -- they would wash their hands in public, they would wear masks.
When President Trump announces that the guidance has changed, and that the CDC is asking us to wear masks in public now at this point, for good
reason, with scientific basis, and then he says, you can do it if you want, I'm not going to do it, I'm not going to wear a mask, at best, it's just
And this is a terrible time to have anything confusing going on, because, when people get confused, they don't make good choices.
MARTIN: I can imagine that people would be reading this and would be very angry to discover that this is a well-established, as you pointed out,
half-a-century's worth of knowledge about how to handle an epidemic, and that previous leaders have followed it, and other jurisdictions have
followed it, with important results, and they didn't.
Do you have a sense of -- do you have an opinion about what should happen as a consequence of this?
I mean, in the near term, what we ought to do is, we should listen to that same advice about reopening the economy and reopening societies. There's
very clear criteria about when we ought to reopen. We need to have 14 days in a city or a given area of declining case counts of COVID-19 before we
reopen that area, because, without that, we know that the virus is expanding, rather than contracting.
And when we do reopen, we should reopen gradually. And at the first sign the virus is beginning to tick up, we should reclose, right? It's a
process, a series of waves of reopening and then closing down again. We know that from 1918.
More people died in San Francisco in 1918 in the fall, during the second wave of the influence epidemic, than the first. And the reason why more
people died is because they got tired of wearing their masks.
So, when the city said, you can take your masks off, and then a couple months later said, put your masks back on, people didn't put them back on.
And so thousands more people died.
So that's -- in the near term, that's what we ought to do, is, we should just listen to the advice that is out there. We know how to do this. But
then the second thing that we should do is, we should really think about what this means when we're in the ballot box, right?
If anything of the last eight years has shown, leadership matters. Who you shoes matters a lot in what happens. If you have good leaders, you can
escape situations like this. If you have leaders who don't listen to experts, who are not on message, who give in to petty disputes, who give in
to their own instincts, rather than listening to the better advice of others, you can see the consequences in our graveyards and in our economy.
MARTIN: Charles Duhigg, thank you so much for joining us.
DUHIGG: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: And tune in tomorrow.
While all major sporting events have been called off, we have an exclusive joint interview with tennis legend Billie Jean King and Wimbledon champ and
Olympic champ Andy Murray.
We will talk about how highly trained athletes are coping at home under lockdown. And we will talk about gender equality on the court as well.
And finally tonight, Captain Tom Moore has now raised a staggering 32 million pounds for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden here in
England on his walking frame.
He said he'd do it by his 100th birthday, which is today.
So, happy birthday, Captain Moore.
And to mark the occasion, Captain Moore has been made first honorary colonel. And he's received a Royal Air Force fly-pass over his house in
And, as we say goodbye, just take a look at the sea of birthday cards that Captain Moore has received from the public. They were opened up by
volunteers at his grandson's school.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.