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Highest Daily Death Toll in Brazil; Brazil's President, Bolsonaro Continue Dismissing Coronavirus Threat; Luiz Henrique Mandetta, Former Brazilian Health Minister, is Interviewed About Brazil; Kick Starting the Economy and How to Move Forward; Mariana Mazzucato, Professor of Economics, University College of London, is Interviewed About the Economy; Interview With Filmmaker and Syrian Refugee Hassan Akkad; Interview With Mark Cuban. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired May 13, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RODRIQUEZ: That is absolutely ridiculous of Senator Paul. He's a doctor too. About saying that schools are safe at this point. Number one, we are
learning every day about this disease and now, we have the cases of Kawasaki syndrome in children that didn't happen in China are happening
here. So, children are not immune from this infection. That's number one.
Number two, you know, children live with adults. Children live with a grandma, with a grandpa, and they become vectors of infection. Number
three, mortality is not the issue. Latinos are young. So, here in Rhode Island, 88 percent of them under age 60. They only represent a small
percentage of those who are dying but they have three times the chance of becoming hospitalized.
So, if what we're trying to do is to really flatten the curve so we don't overwhelm the health care system, the last thing you want is for more
people to get infected regardless of the age and especially if we're talking about Latinos, you don't want Latinos to get infected.
KEILAR: All right. Doctor Pablo Rodriquez, we really appreciate your joining us. Thank you so much.
RODRIQUEZ: Thank you for having me.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Brazil records its highest daily death toll yet at the President Jair Bolsonaro continues to dismiss the coronavirus threat. We get the story
from the health minister he fired, Luiz Henrique Mandetta.
Then as recession looms large for the United States and many economies, can a fairer and more equal society emerge? Economist, Mariana Mazzucato, on
the way forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK CUBAN, OWNER, DALLAS MAVERICKS: Desperate times call for different if not desperate measures, and that's where we are now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Dallas Mavericks' owner, Mark Cuban, talks to our Walter Isaacson about getting the NBA on court and small business back on its
And the Syrian refugee turned filmmaker and now hospital worker. The amazing story of Hassan Akkad.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
As nations around the world wrestle with reopening their societies, a reminder of the dire health emergency still out there. Coronavirus
infections in Latin America's largest country are skyrocketing. And this week, saw Brazil's deadliest day yet with 881 deaths taking the total to
In the capital, Brasilia, dozens of nurses gather to pay tribute to many of their own colleagues who also died the virus. Yet, the President Jair
Bolsonaro, known as the Trump of the Tropics consistently plays down the threat. He's even called it a little flu. And he regularly flouts social
Like many world leaders, Bolsonaro is desperate to get his crashing economy humming again. He's urging businesses to reopen across the country while
governors scramble to slow the spread of the disease in their states. After sparring publicly with the health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, over
the Brazilian coronavirus strategy, President Bolsonaro fired him in April.
Mandetta is a doctor but he's been a lawmaker since 2010 and he's a member of the president's administration or he has been since his election in
2018. And he's joining me now from Brasilia.
Welcome to the program, Mr. Mandetta.
Let me just ask you, I talked about the deadliest day yet, that was yesterday, Tuesday. What does that say to you about Brazil's strategy and
on a level, you know, from zero to 10, how worried are you about the country's ability to contain this infection?
LUIZ HENRIQUE MANDETTA, FORMER BRAZILIAN HEALTH MINISTER: Well, Christiane, first of all, thank you for having me in your program.
It is -- the numbers say for themselves. You know, we've been going up and up, the number of dead people. We are probably, this week, are in the
beginning of next week we will be over 1,000 deaths a day. Big cities are now being involved. So, it all started from the north parts of Brazil, in
Manaus, which is the capital of the Amazon State and it's not a crowded state.
In Sao Paulo, where things started by the private sector now coming the social determinants of health of Sao Paulo which are slums and Rio de
Janeiro really worries me a lot. So, I think we are on the beginning of the hardest part that we are going to pass through. From zero to 10, I would be
worried like 10.
AMANPOUR: OK. Well, that's not very, very, you know, heartwarming, especially when you consider that like many other world leaders, President
Bolsonaro wants to restart the economy. So, I just want to first get to why he fired you. He calls it a consensual divorce, so to speak. He praised the
work you have done but it appears that there was a difference of methodology. He wanted to get the economy going and I think you thought
that you can't do that until you get the health crisis stabilize. What was it? And was it friendly? I mean, are you pleased with the way he's still
conducting this crisis?
MANDETTA: No. I could say that it was friendly because he was elected to take care of the country and I was nominated by him, but the reasons that
took it to this point of -- I mean, absolutely different opinions about the same situation. It was obviously something that I could not handle with him
saying to people to go back to job, walk around and don't keep distance. Saying that it was a simple flu.
And we were in the Ministry of Health. We follow the academy, we follow the governors and mayors and people from the universities and talking with
people all over the world, saying that people do have to stay home, to stay safe, to take care of the elderly people. We were clearly on opposite
sides. So, once these differences were public, I think that -- I mean, he did what he decided that he should do but history will tell who was right
and who was wrong. I think that the numbers talk by themselves.
We have more than 12,000 cases. They thought that wouldn't be more than 1,000 and I think that we are going to be way over this. I think that
Brazil can become one of the highest number of cases in the world.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, that's quite frightening. And just as you're speaking, you know, we have latest news from the W.H.O. which says that coronavirus
might never go away. I mean, versions of that have been posited in public recently with the idea that one has to learn to live with it or at least
find -- and find a vaccine or a treatment.
So, with that in mind, that this is probably going to be around for the foreseeable future, what is the way forward for your country? I mean, you
know, you know that -- we just saw pictures and we've just heard you. We see the president taking his mask off when he is in confined spaces. You've
got the rallies. You've got him, in fact, last week or recently talking to a journalist about the deaths and him saying, I'm sorry, so what? What can
I do? I mean, how do you react when you hear the president saying that?
MANDETTA: Well, I tried to speak to people, because one of the things that kept me in charge of the Health Department even though we were complaining
on his behavior during more than a month, during 45 days, is that every day I could send a clear message to people and people understood what was going
I think that the Brazilian society knows what is going on. They know how to judge and they know what they have to do, which is what I think is the
reason why some cities and some states are still keeping some control of the disease. I think that the World Health Organization needs to be more
clear to countries that this disease is only going to end when we have a vaccine or when a large number of people get immune to it.
The problem is in what delta of time are we going to pass through it? Are we going to pass too fast that the health system is not going to work?
Things in Manaus -- people in Manaus are dying at home more than in hospital. So, there is something very important that need to be said by the
World Health Organization, a much more clear message to people, talking straight to people and not talking to the governors because the governors
always will have in their mind the economy, the jobs and they want to go back no matter what.
This happened here in Brazil and the United States and all over the world. The leaders wanting the economy to go back. And people really scared about
the deaths that they are seeing on their neighborhood.
The Latino community in the United States is suffering. The Latinos really are close people, people that hug, that kiss each other, that live in
houses with many people. The slums in Rio de Janeiro are crowded. We have respiratory problems, tuberculosis. So, it has to be much more clear
message from the World Health Organization so that people can connect direct to the health authorities and not to politicians that want to keep
the economy going. Their message is confusing for people to understand what is going on and that this new disease is a very unknown and very dangerous
disease for the whole society, since kids to the elderly people.
AMANPOUR: You just talk about favelas. I mean, I our -- in English, I guess that would be called the slums and there are some 13 million
Brazilians who live in those.
AMANPOUR: Impossible to social distance. And there were no clear orders by your government at the beginning. And so, it was left to some of the gang
leaders in those favelas, at least in Rio de Janeiro, to enforce social distancing or at least isolation and that was very difficult.
I just want to play a little bit of what Correspondent Shasta Darlington has found inside the favela talking to one small businessman there. Just
listen and then we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Francisco keeps the bar open, defying a state order to shut all but essential businesses. I have to pay
the bills, the bills keep coming, he says.
De Jair Bachista (ph) fishes for customers with the door half closed to his hair salon. If you stay at home you'll just starve to death. We have to
find a way to survive, he says.
Isolation doesn't exist in our communities. Not even in our houses. It is just too small to remain in isolation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, as a doctor and as a former health minister, Mr. Mandetta, what do you make of that very, very real problem, not just the close
proximity but the need for people to try to -- you know, to try to keep body and soul together?
MANDETTA: Well, they pass some laws that would give to this people certain amount of money so they can keep their houses and keep eating, but not
enough to pay their bills. So, we have people that live in informal ways that leave from the city happening and they are the ones that really cannot
stay at home.
Their homes are crowded. They have more than six people inside those type of houses. So, it is very hard to isolate people in those communities. But
the -- when we talk to them and when they decide how to work on it and to protect the elderly, take the people that have diabetes, hypertension out
of those favelas, keeping people out of there and making sure that there's a lot of young people in there that really can build an immune system very
fast, we could have a plan to manage how to work with them.
It's harder for them, the disease started in Brazil by the most wealthy people in the best neighborhoods, in the private hospitals. Now, when it
comes to those kinds of communities with public hospitals that are already crowded, it's really something that really scares all of us, how it's going
to happen in there. I think that only when reality will arrive, only when they have cases, only when die people from their families is when they
decided to isolate and to stay home.
Unfortunately, the president's message for them it's very appealing and they say, well, I have to work. I have to pay my bills. This is not going
to work. Isolation is not going to work. So, we are just going to do it. And this is making the problem much higher numbers. This is bringing a much
stronger enemy for the whole thing, which is the people not believing that something is really going to happen to them.
All those business men, small business and people that live from cities, they are not staying at home and this is bringing a huge problem to Rio de
Janeiro which is the city that has the largest number of those communities.
AMANPOUR: It really does sound quite alarming actually the way you put it. And I want to ask you this because, obviously, a lot of focus now is on
masks and things like that. We know the president wears it and then takes it off, et cetera. But we also know that his spokesperson tested positive
for coronavirus last week and we know that the president himself has been tested.
So, can you tell us what the test result was and shouldn't the public know what the test result was? Why are they not releasing it?
MANDETTA: Well, as a matter of fact, he released today for the Supreme Court as an order just this one and he said it was negative. I was not his
physician and I really don't know how did he test by the time that he took those tests.
What I know is that it was soon after he made a visit to the United States that they went to Florida and they were all having dinner with Mr. Trump.
And his communication guy, the guy that works for communication came back in the plane with the disease and from the people that went with him, 17
tested positive in about 15 days after they arrived. So, this trip was really a corona trip.
AMANPOUR: And just very briefly, last question, you raised President Trump. I mean, obviously, Bolsonaro has been compared in many ways to
President Trump, but he also really respects and gets a lot of sort of influence by President Trump, right? I mean, you have witnessed that. How
does that work? What's -- how did it manifest?
MANDETTA: Well, I think that work partially because even Mr. Trump begged his physician when he noticed how damaging that could be for the United
States, when the New York health system fell apart, Chicago, California, Florida, and our president kept with the same kind of statement saying that
we had the drug, the chloroquine, he keeps on telling that to people, that there's a drug that solves it. And it's very cheap and that we have the
drug. And he keeps on saying that this is just someone taking some kind of few directions that they can avoid it.
And unfortunately, he's one of the few leaders that are still keeping his statement that the economy must go back anyway, that the loss of jobs is
going to be worse than the epidemic and that people should be worried about how to keep the economy going because staying at home will be -- we'll
bring more damage to the people's health than the disease itself.
MANDETTA: That's the message that he sends to people. So, it is very hard to say to people that, no, let's wait the disease to take its natural
history and not expose ourselves to it. So, Trump at least came back from his position to call it just a single flu.
AMANPOUR: OK. It's really an extraordinary dilemma for the world. Minister Mandetta, thank you very much for joining us.
And of course, it's not just Brazil in economic free fall due to the virus. Here in the U.K., a significant recession is forecast for the year and it's
the same grim prediction for the United States, as governments desperately try to kick start their economies. The big question, of course, is whether
out of all of this will a more fair and just future emerge for everyone?
Mariana Mazzucato is a professor of economics and the founder of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College here in
London. And her latest book is "The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy." And she is joining me now.
Mariana Mazzucato, welcome.
You just heard a real-world dilemma described by the health minister, the former fired health minister of Brazil, fired because his president really
wanted to get the economy up and going no matter what. What do you -- how do you think the governors, the president, the basic world leaders are
going to be able to resist that pressure, that the cure is potentially going to be worse than the disease?
MARIANA MAZZUCATO, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LONDON: So, I mean, what's interesting, first of all, is that there is real
differences between how countries are approaching this, both in terms of how governments are and also how business is or is not kind of partnering
with states at different levels to come up with different solutions that are needed.
But just in terms of the lockdown, you know, what we, first of all, need is a long-term vision because obviously it may look like it will help the
economy to get everyone back to work but we know that if that causes a big lockdown that's going to be a disaster.
But also, you know, how to actually structure government and private sector activity in terms of investing in solutions that can go from solutions that
we need for kids who are home from school and we know there's a massive digital divide. So, my kids and your kids might be getting access online in
a certain way which is very different from those from other social class backgrounds. So, there's a digital divide question.
There's obviously a massive global health system crisis that needs investment in that. There's all sorts of different -- not just drug
investments that can be made but also new ways to think of hygiene. So, one really kind of interesting way to frame the economic and the health
emergency together is how can we actually think about long-run investment, partnerships and collaboration between government and business to actually
solve the immediate needs that we have and to use that lens to think about the recovery versus just kind of getting people back in work now? But
that's going to take time.
MAZZUCATO: But the last thing we want is people just getting back to the factories or to the universities where I work and then, you know, this kind
of plummeting back down because we'll have the W-shaped recovery.
AMANPOUR: So, let's just talk then sort of, you know, the aspirational, for many people anyway, attempt to get out of this by reimagining a better
world. You know, Governor Cuomo of New York basically brings it up every time he has his press conferences. He's just asked and calls for Congress
to pass another bill that's more just and to have things in it that can really push a better, more equitable future forward. Let me play this
little soundbite and we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): If you want to be creative and aggressive and smart, which is what we need more than ever, the bill shouldn't just reopen
America. Now is a chance to actually reimagine America. OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, he's talking about investing in infrastructure and all sorts of issues that can reimagine, you know, and make us slightly hopefully
better, more just society. Do you think it's possible? Is it likely that that will be the product of this crisis?
MAZZUCATO: Well, it has to be because we need to remember that the concept of going back to normal only makes sense if normal was good. And given the
levels of inequality that we have had in different countries, including advanced industrialized ones and developing ones, given the climate crisis,
which we shouldn't forget by the way, that we were clapping, you know, firemen and women up until just two months ago in, you know, Australia and
in California or the flood workers in Venice. So, we have a massive climate crisis in the background here. And ways to actually reimagine.
I love that word. To be imaginative and creative to structure our remedies now is absolutely central. And what I meant before when I said that
governments are approaching this in different ways. We already learned with the financial crisis that it is not enough to just flood the system with
liquidity. We actually need to do so in a way that produces a more just, inclusive and sustainable society. So, most of the finance that went in to
save the day with the financial crisis ended up just back in the financial sector.
So, one of the things that has been happening in France and Denmark, for example, recently are really interesting conversations on how to make sure
that the immediate cash injection in the economy and especially to businesses to the different types of bailouts and help that's being
provided to sectors is actually conditional on those sectors investing and innovating towards a better world.
So, the most obvious sectors, of course, the airline which are not flying. So, they are having troubles and, of course, they can be helped but that
should be conditional on them over the next, say, five years committing to reducing their carbon emissions, and that has happened recently in France
with the conversation with Air France.
Similarly, in Austria or in Denmark, the conversation has been, should we be giving bailouts to companies that have historically use tax havens, or
in the U.S. Elizabeth Warren has put to the floor the idea that we shouldn't perhaps just be bailing out, you know, across the board. There's
some companies that have shown that they're more interested in value extraction through record level share buybacks than reinvesting those
profits back into, you know, research and development or better working conditions.
So really -- you know, I mean, that's just one example how to structure the help that we must provide to industry because, you know, that's a good
thing to do, in such a way that gets us a better kind of economy, more inclusive and more sustainable.
AMANPOUR: So, you've also talked about -- I mean, if you were advising governments, you would ask them to make this stuff conditional on investing
in workers' training and also, as you mentioned already, green and sustainable economy.
So I want to ask you, because you mentioned Elizabeth Warren, and clearly, there's an appetite in the United States for an economy that benefits more
people, that can have a health care system that benefits more people, that can have all sorts of, you know, more progressive aspects to it and it
seems that Biden, who's now the nominee, has been putting out that kind of vision for an FDR-style kind of new deal. And I want to just play his most
recent soundbite in a recent interview about this and get your take on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, I think it's probably the biggest challenge in modern history, quite frankly. I think it's going to -
- I think may it not dwarf but eclipse what FDR faced. But like everything we have ever done, Chris, if we think about it now, we are able to -- we
are the only country in the world that's taking on crises and come out stronger for it. We have an opportunity, Chris, to do so many things now to
change some of the structural things that are wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, of course, he ran as a moderate and against some of the more progressive policies than Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders had. But there
is talk now about a wealth tax on the super-rich or just much more investing in the kinds of colossal failures that this crisis has exposed in
America. Do you think there's a chance?
MAZZUCATO: Well, I mean, I always say that there is no thinking, let's just do it. We don't have a choice. I think the last time I was on your
program you and I were talking about the Green New Deal. And, you know, this is the moment to really define what that means. We need a smart, so
innovation-led healthy Green New Deal, where along the way we reinvent and rethink what we even mean by well-being.
We know that COVID has completely woken us up to this, that we are only as safe as the neighbor is, both in a city and a nation but globally. Had this
epidemic begun in Africa where many countries really have extremely weak health systems, we would all globally be in a much worse state. So, we need
to strengthen globally our health systems and dare I say the welfare state, reinventing it along the way.
What Biden was saying is very important and that's exactly what I mean by let's not just, you know, only inject liquidity in the system. We need
structures in the so-called real economy that can also absorb that funding. One of the things we have experienced in both the U.S. and the U.K. is
actually a weakening of public sector capacity.
So, CDC, the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. have experienced, you know, very large cuts in their funding. In the U.K., the NHS, the National
Health Service, has experienced 1 billion pounds worth of cuts since 2015. So, we can clap as much as we want on our Thursdays here in London where
you and I sit, but if at the same time we're not strengthening the National Health Service and stopping what I think has been a massive outsourcing, a
state capacity to the private sector, then we are going to be in trouble with the next crisis.
And what we need is true collaboration between public and private. But what we've actually seen is a lack of appreciation of value within the public
sector. And now, that we're using these terms like key workers or essential workers, we should really extend that to what does it mean to talk about
the essential economy? How can we value that? How can we fund that?
MAZZUCATO: How can we imagine that?
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, every politician pays lip service, at least lip service, they always talk about the middle class and there are always, you
know, rallies of the middle class, the middle class. You know that better than I do that since the '70s, the middle class has just stagnated, wages
stagnated. As you've just said, the shift of the economy has gone from workers to corporations. And yet, we can remember after World War II the
last massive global crisis that in our nations and in the United States, the G.I. Bill, other programs stood up a middle class, housing, college,
all the rest of it.
Again, could the Democratic Party become again the party of workers and try to take advantage of this opportunity?
MAZZUCATO: Absolutely. And, you know, it's also a matter of how we talk about this. You know, I wouldn't say it's the party of workers. It is the
party of making sure that the way we structure our economy serves the majority and not the 1 percent. And instead of, again, putting sort of the
us versus them, 1 percent 99 percent, in the long run this actually is good for everybody.
It doesn't help an economy like the U.S. economy to have so many people whose real wages have not increased for a very long time. They are not
providing, you know, a stimulus in the economic terms of their own demand or the level of inequality that we also, as we were saying before, have in
our health systems as we then know hurts everybody.
So, using the stimulus which absolutely is needed because, let's be frank, it is going to be, you know, a very long recovery. It is going to take a
long time to happen.
We need to structure it to be investment-led, but the direction of that investment must be in not only green infrastructure, but the care
infrastructure, the social infrastructure, which we're learning right now in this crisis is desperately weak.
And it can create opportunities for innovation bottom up by all sorts of actors in society. This is not a top-down kind of government plan, but it
has to be government directed.
AMANPOUR: Really fascinating. Thank you for your insights, Mariana Mazzucato. Thank you so much.
And coming up, the inspiring story Hassan Akkad, a Syrian refugee who fled war in his own country nine years ago, and now finds himself working on the
front lines of Britain's COVID wards.
But, first, many of us are really looking forward to the return of professional sports to our lives and to our screens. And so too are the
moneymaking giants behind some of the biggest American teams.
But the question is how to get players back out there as safely as possible.
Mark Cuban owns the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, and he says they have no immediate plans to reopen practice arenas. Billionaire investor and star of
the TV show "Shark Tank," he is also an adviser on President Trump's new economic panel.
He's joining our Walter Isaacson to talk about the challenges faced by American businesses right now.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Christiane.
And Mark, Mark Cuban, welcome to the show.
MARK CUBAN, OWNER, DALLAS MAVERICKS: Thanks, Walter. Thanks for having me.
ISAACSON: And you own the Dallas Mavericks.
What are you looking for when you and the other owners and Adam Silver have to decide whether to open up the NBA?
I mean, we're not going to put our players, we're not going to put any essential personnel or anybody at risk, not that we can eliminate risk
entirely. But we're going to do our best.
I'd like to think we will use the White House protocol, since that's probably -- they probably had the best source of information and science
available to them. Probably the steps that they take are the steps I'd like to see taken for our players.
ISAACSON: So, the White House, they test people every day. Would you want to be able to test you employees, everybody there every day in an ideal
CUBAN: Well, it just depends on the circumstances, obviously.
There's some employees that just may work from home. And it depends on, are they taking public transportation, what they feel, how they feel about
things. There's civil rights issues. It's got to be something we all come to an agreement on.
But if it's a noninvasive test that's easy with quick results, and readily available, so we're not taking it away from those in need, yes, I'd like to
test them every day.
ISAACSON: You hired secret shoppers, people who go around to businesses that were reopening in the Dallas area, where you are. What did you find?
CUBAN: What I found was that only 36 percent of businesses even opened up, which kind of surprised me. I thought it'd be a lot more.
I found that it was difficult for the small businesses to invest in the tools and the changes that are needed to enable social distancing enable
supporting the protocols that were recommended by the CDC and the state.
I found that, as we talked more after the fact, there's a lot of confusion how even they can use the PPP money. One of the challenges is, you can't
use the PPP money and get reimbursed if you use it to upgrade your facilities, your location, your retail.
And so I found a lot of frustration on the part of business owners.
ISAACSON: Why did you do it?
CUBAN: Because I'm curious, right? I mean, I want to know what's going on. I mean, as I said earlier, I believe in data.
And so the more information available, the better the decisions I can make for myself, my businesses, my family. And, remember, that creates a
baseline. It wasn't meant to be a final determination. It wasn't meant to be -- we didn't release any names, so it's a completely anonymous survey.
ISAACSON: Of the businesses your secret shoppers went to see, what were the problems? Were they complying with health regulations, social
distancing, wearing masks?
CUBAN: I mean, the greatest issues were compliance with some of the more detailed things, not removing everything from a table in a restaurant, so
that they can properly clean it, not having masks on all employees.
But, again, I think that -- those are the types of things that over time will be rectified, which is why we're going to survey again. And we will
see what happens.
ISAACSON: If you had been governor, if you were the president, do you feel that's something that the government should be doing?
I mean, I think we need to be more informative. The White House, the federal government should have access to the best information, the best
data, the best scientists, the best doctors, hopefully, and we should be sharing the best methodologies for getting back open.
Being in my role with the open economy council, they assigned a liaison to me. And, just yesterday, I sent him an e-mail asking, what's the process to
try to get the Treasury to allow small businesses to get PPP loans to use part of that funding to upgrade their businesses where they need to make it
as safe as possible and adhere to those protocols, and not get penalized in -- by having it not be reimbursed?
And so there's a lot of things that I would have done just differently.
ISAACSON: You talk about the PPP loans, the payroll protection things that are supposed to go to small businesses, so they don't have to lay people
And you kind of imply that the banks are doing it in not a very careful, a very methodical way. How would you change that?
CUBAN: I would have done an overdraft protection program.
Look, the goal -- the amazing thing that happened with PPP is that it was passed very quickly. The unfortunate side of it was that it was funded very
slowly. And it was a timing issue that was most important.
And so we needed to have companies feel like they can continue business as usual and retain their employees. But that delay from the time the program
was approved to the time when businesses were funded or not funded, and we had to get to a second tranche, that created a lot of problems.
And what I would have done is allowed companies to continue friction-free with the way they were doing business, but provide for overdraft
protection, so that you couldn't bounce checks for any payroll or specific business-associated expenses.
And then the banks who were funding those overdrafts would be made whole by the Fed on a daily basis. That would allow businesses to continue doing
business as usual, retain their employees. And I think that would have created more confidence by employees that they were going to be able to
keep their jobs.
All this delay and everything just created so much confusion that now still a lot of those recipients of PPP are in a state of suspended animation.
They don't know how to spend their money.
ISAACSON: What should they do now?
If the president and his counsel that you're on was asked, how should we fix this mess, what would you say?
CUBAN: First thing, you got to get data, right? You can't just wing it.
Whether it's the White House or there's new programs now trying to come from the Democrats that are trying to emulate what happened in Europe,
that's -- it's too late to do that. We need to talk to small businesses and find out exactly where they are.
And, number two -- and I think this is even more important -- we need to stimulate demand, consumer demand, because unless people are confident that
they have jobs, they're not going to spend money on anything but rent, essentials and basic expenses.
They're not going to spend on the random things, and they're going to save too much money on, and so the economy won't have the demand side that we
need. And two-thirds of GDP is customer -- consumer demand.
ISAACSON: And so how do you stimulate consumer demand?
CUBAN: You create a jobs program.
We have never seen anything like this before, 30-plus million jobs lost in two months, you know, another 20-plus million underemployed or losing
hours, so 50 million, give or take, that are in a precarious situation.
The only way we're to start to chip away at that is by creating a federal jobs program. And we have things that we need, tracking and tracing. We
talked about testing. You can train people to do those jobs, deal with HIPAA compliance, et cetera, so they can do that job.
We have a population, not just elderly population, but a population of people that have preexisting conditions that are going to be hesitant to go
out and use resources. Hiring and training people to support them and help them in every community across the country, that's millions of jobs that we
can create that we can pay $30,000 or more, give them health care benefits, because we haven't even started to talk about health care and the problem
Because the less people feel confident that their health is going to be taken care of, particularly since people are avoiding the hospitals and
avoiding doctors right now, or they may be closed, until we started taking care of the job security and health care security, people are not going to
But we're not addressing either of those issues right now.
ISAACSON: But what you're talking about seems to be a pretty massive expansion of the federal government's size and role in the economy.
What type of pushback do you get, if any, from the Trump administration and the people on this council?
CUBAN: Actually not that much. I mean, I don't think they're taking it -- when I mention it to them, I don't think they're taking it seriously. So
they haven't pushed back a whole lot.
But I will keep on pushing, because I don't think we have a choice. We're not -- private -- historically, we have looked at private business to
create jobs. And I have been a big fan of that. Historically, we have looked at trickle-down economics. And it's an easy argument to say why that
hasn't worked out well for the bottom.
But we -- historically, we have never had 50 million people effectively unemployed or underemployed and had that created in two months. And
desperate times call for different, if not desperate measures, and that's where we are now.
So, we're going to have to take different steps. And all dogma, all partisanship has got to be discarded immediately.
ISAACSON: You have never been, if I'm correct, a big fan of unions.
ISAACSON: Has this help changed your perspective?
CUBAN: Yes, I don't think there's any question.
I mean, now we're -- historically, unions -- well, it depends on where. If you go back to the '20s, unions had their need. I mean, I read Upton
Sinclair in school, like everybody else.
But over the last 20 years, I haven't been as big of a fan. I'm not against them. I'm just not a huge fan. But now we have got to make sure that
employees are taken care of, because we're -- again, unique circumstances. We -- this needs to be bottom up.
We need to make sure that employees are taken care of, that they're compensated correctly, that their health care is taken care of correctly.
In a perfect world, employers would do that automatically. And for an organization where they're taken care of, maybe there's not a need for
But where there are scenarios like we have seen with meatpacking plants, where people have really put employees' health at risk and haven't taken
the precautions necessary, absolutely there's the need for unions.
ISAACSON: Are you still paying your hourly workers who can't be coming into work?
CUBAN: We pay -- I'm paying all of our Mavericks employees.
And so, for the arena employees that were paid per game, we paid them through the end of the regular season. But we also partnered with an
organization. What is it -- it's called GetShiftDone.org or .com.
And what -- then we contributed money for that organization. And what they did was, they go to nonprofits and other organizations who need people to
come in and work by the hour. And this app -- people who need our hours for work download the app, and it notifies them.
And so I donated money to create hours for our employees and anybody, for that matter, to be able to pick up hours and make some money.
ISAACSON: If you were advising medium-sized businesses, big businesses, would you tell them, avoid layoffs?
CUBAN: If they can afford it, of course.
There's a bigger picture here. If -- and no business survives without consumer demand, and, obviously, there's a cascading issue. So, yes, if you
can afford -- Salesforce.com, Bank of America, there's a lot of companies that are really stepping up from an employment perspective.
And that's going to be important. And the bottom line is, those companies who don't take care of their employees, their brands are going to be
destroyed. I mean, they will be talked about forever as examples of what not to do.
ISAACSON: You want to give me some examples?
CUBAN: No. I'm not trying to throw anybody under the bus.
Look, this is hard for everybody. Walter, it comes down to this. This is the thought process every American is making right now. Who do I trust with
my life? Because decisions I make for myself, my family, my employees may potentially be life or death.
And even, if not death, the impairment, we haven't ever even discussed the impairment rates, blood clots, heart, kidney disease, neurological
problems. We -- that's not even part of the discussion or risk profile. And so who do I trust with my life?
And we're not -- we don't have that person right now. There isn't somebody or a group or organization that we just point to and say, you know what, I
know the data from there, the recommendations, the ideas coming from them are well-thought-out, well-planned, and I'm going with what they say.
That's a real challenge right now. And that's why I don't want to throw anybody under the bus.
ISAACSON: Should that be coming from the president?
CUBAN: Be coming from the White House, if not the president, then somebody he assigns.
ISAACSON: And so do you feel that has happened?
CUBAN: No, not at all, not even a little bit.
And that's the problem.
ISAACSON: Explain that more. Why has it been a problem? And what should be done?
CUBAN: I mean, like I said, we're all asking ourselves a very basic question. How do I protect my family?
And to answer that question, you have to ask, who do I trust with my life? What sources of information? And the hope would be that that comes from the
president. And, to his credit, at the beginning, he tried.
That's how we met Dr. Fauci, and that's how we met Dr. Birx. And he deferred to people.
But, more recently, it's been just a crap show of, everybody else is to blame, and every other topic. And there's just -- there's nothing that's
being said or done right now to -- that gives me or I think anybody confidence that this is who we need to trust.
I mean, you have Dr. Birx saying -- being condescending towards the CDC. You have people saying, the CDC is changing data, and there's just nobody
that's standing up and saying, no, these are the facts, this is what you can trust, this is what's happening right now, this is what we recommend.
I think the economy would rebound more quickly if we had more confidence in our leaders.
ISAACSON: So, do you think that the political people in the White House are making this too much of a partisan issue, unlike the Dr. Faucis, who
are trying to keep it based on the science?
And are they looking and is the president looking more to his own political survival, vs. just trying to be a straightforward, effective communicator?
CUBAN: I think all politicians are making this too political.
I mean, when you hear the president speak, it's always, the Democrats this, the Democrats that, Obama this, Obama that. And when you hear Chuck Schumer
speak, it's, the Republicans won't let us do this, the Republicans won't let us do that.
This is what -- this is where leaders need to become leaders and get beyond it. They were able to do it for the CARES program. And I thought, oh, my
goodness, maybe we're getting past at least part of the partisanship and dogma.
But, again, do I think the president is doing a good job? No. Do I think Schumer is doing a good job? No. Do I think Pelosi is doing a good job? No.
Do I think McConnell's doing a good job? No.
Any single one of them could stand up and show any level of leadership, and I think they would get a lot of people behind them.
ISAACSON: And do you think we have also lost the leadership ability globally?
CUBAN: Yes, that's gone. Yes, we're no longer leaders.
Now, it's -- again, four years -- it's four years, not a lifetime. And so I think that it's reclaimable, but we have got to -- we have got to recognize
that, particularly dealing with a pandemic like this, this is a global issue, and we're global citizen, and we're getting into the habit of trying
to place blame.
One of my friends asked me a simple question. What if China invents the vaccine first? Are they going to give it to us? And not because they're bad
people. That's not what I think at all. I think just the disharmony, the conflict that's been created at a government level, are we going to -- if
we come up with it first, are we going to share it with them?
I mean, that's terrifying, when you think about it, that it's just not obvious that anybody who comes up with a vaccine should share it with the
world immediately. And that's what we should be saying. Hey, world, we're all in this together.
From what I read, we have brought in scientists from around the world to work together to help solve this. Let's make it clear that this is --
whoever solves it, whether it's us or anybody else, or whether it's a coalition that solves it, that whatever we come up with is made available
to everybody in the world, because, otherwise, we're segregating the world, and they may decide to segregate us and work together.
We're able to rebound from this because the United States' dollar is the reserve currency for the world. If we lose that, yes, I mean, there's just
-- we need changes. We need people to think differently.
ISAACSON: What type of companies would you like to see pitched on "Shark Tank," your show, coming out of this pandemic?
CUBAN: We're basically starting with a blank slate on what America 2.0 can be. And there's going to be entrepreneurs out there who have amazing ideas
that I don't even -- I can't even conceive of right now.
And that's exactly what we need. You know, 20 years, 25 years from now, whatever it is, when we look back to the pandemic of 2020, I think we're
going to recognize that there were five, 10, 20, 25 or more world-class companies that basically changed the world that were created as a result.
And those are the companies I want to see.
Hopefully, I'm smart enough to invest in them.
ISAACSON: Thank you very much. It's been great to be with you again, Mark.
CUBAN: Always, Walter. I always appreciate it. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Great conversation, and, of course, really has to be made accessible to the whole world whenever a vaccine is found.
The European Union is trying to do it. And, certainly, the United States has been asked, if they discover one, will they make it available to
everybody in the U.S., regardless of their income level? It's really important.
Finally, imagine fleeing civil war, and then ending up on the front lines of another battle in your new home.
Hassan Akkad is a Syrian refugee turned filmmaker whose nail-biting journey to the U.K. was part of a BAFTA-winning documentary.
But he's now joining the fight against coronavirus and working as a cleaner on a hospital ward here in London.
And Hassan Akkad is here to tell me his incredible story.
Hassan, welcome to the program.
We have talked several times before, because I have met you in many of your other instances of raising funds and the good charitable work you do. But,
here, you have gone to one of the most dangerous places that exists right now, and those are hospital wards, COVID wards, in the middle of this
What made you do that?
HASSAN AKKAD, FILMMAKER AND SYRIAN REFUGEE: Thank you for having me.
It was a simple Google search that I did, because I wanted to help since the pandemic started. And that search led me to a job post at my local
hospital, Whipps Cross, which is literally a 10-minute walk from my flat here in East London.
They advertised for cleaners. They were desperate for cleaners. And I had read articles that the virus can survive on some surfaces for up to two
weeks. And my colleagues in the NHS staff are contracting the virus in some hospitals.
So I figured that cleaning and disinfecting would help my colleagues in the NHS and would also help the patients recover in a clean and safe
AMANPOUR: Hassan, did you do that because you felt it was your duty in your new home? I mean, you're doing a heroic job. You're part of the
essential work force now.
But you used to be an English teacher. You have been a filmmaker. You have done a whole number of things. What has caused you to search this job now?
AKKAD: I have done all kinds of jobs. I taught English. I made films. I'm a photographer.
And I have never professionally cleaned before. The reason why I wanted to clean is because I wanted to look after my community. This is, again, my
local hospital. This is where my neighbors are, my ill neighbors are. And this is the hospital where I would go if something were to happen to me.
I don't have a duty, to be honest, because seeking asylum and refugee -- my refugee status is my right, which is enshrined in international law. But
since I have been here in London for the past four years, I have been treated really well by the people here.
And I wanted to contribute. I wanted to pay it forward by cleaning and disinfecting my hospital.
AMANPOUR: Well, we have got a picture of you up there which went viral. And it's you in your full PPE.
Clearly, you're getting that, and it's great that you are.
But tell me a little bit about the condition of the wards. And, particularly, what is it like being in that hospital? You -- I know some of
the cleaning you do is of the beds when a patient dies. I just want to know what it's like being there and sometimes seeing these patients pass away
And that's it. You are probably the closest witness to their final moments.
AKKAD: Parts of my job as a cleaner is disinfecting the -- every inch of the wards, of the COVID-19 ward that I work in.
And I also have to clean and disinfect the bed frames, the tables, the chairs, all the hot spots. I got used to some of the patients. I actually
chat with them every day because some of them have been there for weeks.
And, naturally, you become friends with the people that you see every day. And one of my friends passed away, sadly. But before she passed away, I
witnessed her saying goodbye to her daughter on Skype.
And I have to say, that was one of the most harrowing things I have ever witnessed in my life, because the thing about this pandemic, it's -- what
it's done is that it changed our rituals. It changed everything that has to do with our lives, but death by itself -- to die alone -- I mean, she
didn't die alone, because we were around her.
The nurses and everyone, we were around her. But that was -- that was quite difficult on so many scales.
I -- the ward I work in, my colleagues are -- I'm just constantly inspired by them. They come actually from 10 or more than 10 different
nationalities. We -- it's like -- it's like the United Nations in my ward.
We're from Spain and Syria and Thailand and India and Ghana and Nigeria. We're all from an immigrant background. And we're all on the front line
facing this pandemic and trying everything in our power to help.
And I'm so proud to be...
AMANPOUR: We are showing, Hassan -- well, I was going to say, we're showing some of your lovely pictures that you have taken of these
colleagues who you are describing.
I just want to ask you. You have been treated well in this country, you say. And, as you know, though, there's been a rise in xenophobia, in sort
of anti-immigrant sentiment across the West.
And you were amongst that huge wave of refugees who fled your country at war, fled Syria. And you came here and you got here.
But what do you feel when you know that the vast majority of people on the front lines today are the people who you have been photographing, people
like yourself? What do you feel when, every week, health workers get applauded?
AKKAD: I -- the applause is an incredible act of solidarity from the public. It's -- it makes me happy. And it makes my colleagues happy.
But it should be followed by action from the government, because applause - - applause by itself isn't going to pay the wages. We -- sadly, most of my colleagues are on minimum wage, and the cleaners and the porters and the
Applauding isn't going to help. I keep saying that we -- the government has to do more. It has to pay these people. We have to value them and respect
And going back to your previous point about immigrants and refugees, for the past three or four years, the world has been very, very unkind to
refugees and immigrants, from America all the way to Asia. We have militarized our borders. And we have put fences, and we have sent boats
back, and we kept telling people to go back to their countries.
But from all I see in my ward right now, we are here in our adopted country doing everything in our power to help this country. And I hope this sends a
message around the world that immigrants and refugees are -- they add so much value to their host communities.
AMANPOUR: It's really, really an important reminder for us, Hassan Akkad.
Thank you so much. And I hope that message gets broadcast loud and clear around the world.
And just to say, also, you have raised a considerable amount of money by your viral pictures, by putting on Instagram. And that's gone to charity as
Hassan Akkad, thank you for joining us tonight. We owe everybody like you a huge debt of gratitude.
And that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.