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Protests in Louisville to Los Angeles for Breonna Taylor; Grandy Jury Decision, Officers Responsible for Breonna Taylor's Death Will not be Charged; Patrisse Cullors, Co-Founder, Black Lives Matter, is Interviewed About the Grand Jury's Decision on Breonna Taylor Case; Charles Ramsey, Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner, is Interviewed About Grand Jury's Decision on Breonna Taylor Case; Sir Harold Evans Dies at 92; Robert Harris, Friend of Sir Harold Evans. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired September 24, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breonna Taylor. Breonna Taylor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Anger fills the streets. Where is the justice after the law says officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor will not be charged with her
death? We discuss with former Philadelphia police chief, Charles Ramsey, and Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAROLD EVANS: This story is a cereal story of scandal, of indolence, complacency, resistance from the government, resistance from the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A titan of journalism dies, we pay tribute to Sir Harold Evans and his outstanding legacy with his friend renowned novelist Robert Harris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRAIG SILVERMAN, MEDIA EDITOR, BUZZFEED: Facebook is not just delivering on a lot of the things it says it is doing around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Our Hari Sreenivasan digs into how Facebook still faces to act against dangerous interference.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Breonna Taylor is so much more than a black Kentucky woman who was brutally killed by police in her own home in March. She has become a symbol of the
traumatic, deep rooted racial injustice in the United States fueling Black Lives Matter protests and widespread calls for accountability from coast to
Oprah had funded 26 billboards one for every year of Breonna's life demanding that the officers be arrested and charged. "Vanity Fair" had put
Breonna on the cover of its September issue and professional athletes wore her name to voice their anger and their activism. So, it is no surprise
that after the decision not to charge any of the officers involved for her death, hope for accountability has turned to outrage. Laying bear the
difference between law and justice.
Protests broke out in several U.S. cities from Louisville to Los Angeles and overnight two police officers were shot, but they are in stable
condition. My first guest tonight is Patrisse Cullors, one of the first co- founders of the Black Lives Matter Movement and she's just been named one of "Time" magazines 100 most influential people of 2020. Joining me from
Patrisse Cullors, welcome to the program.
Can I ask you, as bitter as it may be to you and to many who believe like you do, that the law was followed in Kentucky as the law stood?
PATRISSE CULLORS, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK LIVES MATTER: I think that's a good, very good question to start us off with because it really begs to question
does the law protect black lives? And time and time again, we see that the law actually doesn't protect black lives and what we need is to divest and
defund law enforcement and really push for alternatives in our communities, a robust resources to -- for our communities to have access to adequate
education, housing and health care.
AMANPOUR: I guess, you know, the question that we posed about a second day investigation into this grand jury indictment where just to recap three
officers were not charged with Breonna Taylor's murder, her homicide. Her family had wanted manslaughter. One officer was charged with wanton
endangerment because he fired and sprayed his weapon from outside and not for killing her.
So, I want to ask you because, you know, you talk about defund the police. I know that that is a slogan that's a demand for many people, but, huge
majorities, I mean, really significant majorities of Americans from all political spectrums don't want to defund the police, they want to continue
the police, but they want to change many of the practices like chokeholds and other controversial and potentially deadly practices that the police
have engaged in.
So, where do you see, you know, the possibility for progress and reform given that Americans don't want to defund the police, so to speak?
CULLORS: Sure. I mean, I know that is true for now. I also know that Americans do want to reevaluate how the police are used. And I do know that
Americans are really interested at making sure that communities have the resources that they need. And so, much of our work is in the long game
while right now, there may not be all of America, the whole of America who wants to stand with defund the police. That was the case seven years ago
when we started Black Lives Matter. America wasn't ready to stand with Black Lives Matter. And seven years later the polling shows that America
is, in fact, saying black lives matter and sees why this movement is so critical.
And so, we're in a long-haul fight. We're not going to get everything we need right now. But if we keep pouring money into policing, if we keep
pouring money into court and the jail system that does not actually protect black lives, we're going to get the same exact results over and over again,
which is no accountability and no justice for our families and our community members.
AMANPOUR: So, we did see we've reported obviously about the protests that erupted. I mean, by and large peaceful, although these two officers who
were shot. What do you want to see on the streets? I mean, they were shot and we have to say they are in stable condition. They were not killed. What
do you want to see, because there's no doubt that the street protests have also energized people across the country and across the world to understand
that a change is necessary somehow?
CULLORS: Sure. I mean, our protests are the protests that speak for the people, the people who felt neglected by a system and abused by a system.
The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation calls for nonviolent protests. We call for protests that are challenging and pushing local
government and national government. That is what the work that we've been doing for the last seven years and the work we'll continue to do.
It's our First Amendment right to speak up and protest and to shout down white supremacy and to call out hypocrisy when we see it. So, we're going
to continue doing that. We're going to continue doing it until we get our demands met.
AMANPOUR: You know, I was fascinated and slightly, you know, alarmed that in the run up to the announcement by the grand jury of what they were going
to be doing, you know, the City of Louisville and maybe in other parts of the state had really, you know, they called a state of emergency. They
brought out the heavy vehicles and they closed off, you know, all of that sort of -- kind of protective anticipatory measures.
They must have thought that something bad was going to happen. They must have known potentially what was going to come down the pike and I just
wonder how you react to what the attorney general closed his press conference yesterday with. The appeal he made to people. I'm just going to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL CAMERON, KENTUCKY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge. Our
reaction to the truth today says what kind of society we want to be. Do we really want the truth or do we want a truth that fits our narrative?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What is your reaction to that, Patrisse Cullors?
CULLORS: So deeply disappointing. It's disappointing that an attorney general would focus on the community who is going to need to protest
instead of really apologizing for the injustice of the lack of accountability. I think that what we've seen time and time again from
elected and appointed officials is that they are not standing up for black lives. They're not thinking about how to be courageous and bold in this
moment to reshape our society.
That's what we need from elected and appointed officials. They need to be courageous and bold right now and they need to be pushing for legislation
that really looks at divesting out of policing and into what I said earlier, investment into health care, investment into folks having access
to jobs and housing. That's what our communities are asking for and, instead, we received punitive measures and punishment. And that's no way to
care for human beings.
AMANPOUR: You know, your movement has spent all this time demanding reforms, whether it's police cameras. I mean, you started, as everybody
probably knows, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting of Trayvon Martin and, you know, there were a lot of issues that you tried to
redress and tried to get answered. Some of them, you know, have been addressed and many have not.
But I wonder if you can, you know, address the issue that happened in Louisville. There was so-called reform that led to this targeting of this
particular apartment. They had decided not to go into whole neighborhoods and, you know, fan out across neighborhoods but to go into what they
considered to be specific locations, which is what happened with these deadly consequences.
And so, I guess there are people who will say, well, without reform it's really bad. And with reform, it can be deadly. The same happened in in
Minnesota. There were meant to be reforms that had been enacted before the murder of George Floyd.
CULLORS: Same with New York before Eric Garner was killed. The chokehold was banned. Yes, those reforms, they do matter on paper. But if we have law
enforcement that isn't held accountable, if we give all of our dollars, our city dollars and our county and state dollars national dollars to law
enforcement and we don't tell them that they're going to be held accountable, of course they're going to continue to kill, abuse, maim our
communities. This is why the call to reduce law enforcement, to reduce law enforcement in our neighborhoods and communities is so important. This is a
matter of life or death.
AMANPOUR: As you and everybody, I guess, are well aware. So, last week, I believe it was last week, Breonna Taylor's family got a settlement, a civil
settlement from the city, it was $12 billion. The city adopted about a dozen reforms including requiring more oversight by top commanders, make
mandatory safeguards. The Metro Council unanimously voted to pass an ordinance called Breonna's Law, that was a few months ago, banning no-knock
search warrants. Is that a step in the right direction?
CULLORS: It's a step forward. Absolutely. I'm not going to take those reforms away. People on the ground have fought and fought and fought for
years and for months both in our movement but also leading up to what ultimately was no convictions. So, yes. That's progress. But it's not
And, unfortunately, the police in Louisville will kill again if they are in contact with our communities the way that they are, if they are not held
accountable the way that they are, we are going to see more death at the hands of law enforcement, and that's just the facts.
AMANPOUR: Patrisse Cullors, can I ask you because I'm trying to gauge your mood and I just wanted you to react to what was written by political
science professor, Melanye Price, in the "New York Times" who said, it hurts to keep hoping for justice. Do you feel that?
CULLORS: Yes and no. It hurts to keep hoping for justice because we never get it or we get it very seldom. But as someone who is an organizer, as
someone who has to continue to rally our communities and people to believe that one day we will get justice, one day there will be freedom for black
people here in the states and around the world, I have to keep my hope alive.
But tomorrow -- but yesterday was deeply disappointing. It was painful, it was depressing. You work so hard. Breonna Taylor, as you said earlier, she
received the cover of magazines, Orpah herself put up billboards. I mean, the entire world was calling for Kentucky to be present and do the right
thing and they didn't do the right thing.
And so, it's painful. But I have to remain hopeful. I have to remain hopeful for myself, my child and for black America.
AMANPOUR: Do you have any doubt -- finally, do you have any doubt that had the races been reversed there would be a different grand jury indictment?
CULLORS: No doubt. No doubt if Breonna Taylor was a white woman in a white neighborhood that all of those cops not only would be convicted, they would
never see the light of day.
AMANPOUR: Patrisse Cullors, thank you so much, co-founder of Black Lives Matter.
And listening to all of this has been Charles Ramsey, he's the former Philadelphia police commissioner and he agrees with the grand jury's
decision not to indict the officers for Breonna's death. He's joining me now from Philadelphia.
Chief Ramsey, thank you for joining us.
So, let me ask you, what's your reaction to the question I asked? Do you think, are you in any doubt that had the races been reversed there would
have been a different procedure and a different result from the grand jury?
CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: I don't know if that's the case or not. If all the facts are exactly like they are in this
case, at least the facts that I'm aware of that were presented by the attorney general in yesterday's news conference, then I don't see how they
could place charges against the two officers who discharged their firearms in the hallway.
It seems to be that people have forgotten the fact that once inside, Mr. Walker fired the first shot, actually struck one of the officers and they
returned fire. That's what took place. Now, if there's more evidence, if there's more information that has not been disclosed, it ought to be
disclosed. And I do believe that the attorney general should release as much information as possible in this particular case.
I don't have an issue at all with the third officer being charged who indiscriminately fired into the building, but the two officers that had a
valid search warrant, neither officer was affiant on the warrant. They were there just to execute the search warrant. Once inside, they were fired upon
and they returned fire. It's tragic. There's no question about it. It's not justifying killing or anything like that. The issue is whether or not there
was a justification for the officers to use deadly force and return fire. In my opinion, yes, it was.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, as you say, the law in Kentucky says that they have the right to fire, if fired upon and Kenneth Walker, her
boyfriend, admits that he fired first. He did not know they were cops, he said, as they came battering in, you know, before dawn.
But I want to ask you this. There were 32 bullets fired in response to one bullet. 32 bullets by three officers. Where is the proportionality in that
and why do we keep having to ask the same question over and over and over again? There is a problem. It's disproportionate. 32 bullets. And in this
case, and I'm really interested in your -- you know, your law and order criminal justice opinion on this. Breonna Taylor is considered almost like
a bystander. The fact that she was killed was not taken into account. And I want to understand your logic and how you would rationalize that kind of
RAMSEY: Well, again, we're talking about whether or not criminal charges are appropriate. I agree that 32 shots are an awful lot. If I were the
chief there, I would be taking a very hard look to see whether or not that number of rounds being fired was necessary. I've also been in situations, I
worked narcotics in Chicago for many years. I've served hundreds of search warrants literally hundreds of search warrants. It's a very dangerous thing
to execute search warrants. You never know what is on the other side of that door.
And, so, it's just a tough situation. There's no way of knowing whether she was struck by the first bullet, the last bullet. There's just no way of
knowing. But certainly, that's something that needs to be looked in to. I had concerns when I heard the number of shots fired and it's not as if the
individual was returning fire in response to the police firing.
But, does that constitute a crime? Is there anything in the law that, you know, takes that into account? I'm not a lawyer. I'm certainly not from
Kentucky. I don't know. I don't know what was presented to the grand jury. But I do know that once the officers were fired upon, they had every right
to return fire. The question is, was it proportional, and that's a hard question to answer.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's not hard, it's not hard. I mean, I think everybody knows that 32 bullets in response to one is -- we can't even understand it.
I mean, here's what -- let me just read this to you and you can continue. W. Kamau Bell who has a program on CNN called "United Shades of America,"
and does many other things in the public domain has tweeted, Brett Hankison is indicted for shooting into the apartment next to Breonna Taylor and not
for killing her. He is fired for shooting into Breonna Taylor's apartment and not for killing her. This is systemic racism. Property is worth more
than a black woman.
Now, you can talk about the law in Kentucky, but the bottom line is, where is the justice, I guess? A whole community is looking for justice after not
just one killing, but decades of it. No, hundreds of years of it.
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, first of all, you have to look at this one case, and I understand the history. I mean, I'm African-American myself. And so, I
understand the history and I've personally been affected by racism and bias in my life and in my career. But focusing on this one case is really what
I'm trying to do here.
And, obviously, there are issues I understand the concerns. I think they need to be looking at the warrant itself. What made the individual
detective who applied for the warrant believe that there was any kind of criminal activity taking place at that location. That if once the police
executed the search warrant, they would find either proceeds from the crime or they'd find instruments of a crime. This -- was the timely information.
Was it a confidential informant? Was it an investigative process that took place?
My understanding when this originally took place there were multiple warrants served that night. What were the results from those other
warrants? Did they result in any seizure of drugs, money or other types of illegal activity? I don't know the answer to any of that at all. But I
think that we need to be looking very closely at why they were there to begin with because that investigation, there needs to be light shone on
that investigation. The quality of it. Was she involved in any criminal activity? Was she just an innocent bystander? Was she -- is it just because
she was dating a person who is alleged to be a drug dealer?
I don't know the answers to all that. But it's tragic that she lost her life because those things in and of itself shouldn't result in the outcome
that took place. But it's very unfortunate and it's tragic.
AMANPOUR: So, you are from Philadelphia and you're not Kentucky and you, obviously, as you point out, you are African-American and presumably want
to see justice and not -- justice as well as the letter of the law being applied. So, let me just play what Breonna Taylor's family lawyer said
after the indictment was handed down and then I want to ask you about the concept of justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR BREONNA TAYLOR'S FAMILY: If they want an indictment, they would get an indictment. If they want to exonerate these
police officers as they so often do in America when they kill black people, they exonerate them. And we just cannot have these two justice systems in
America. One for black America and another for white America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, that's the bottom line. It's still the bottom line. Where do you see this going? Every state has their own individual laws and
that's the peculiarity of the United States of America. But where do you see this movement, this demand for justice going?
RAMSEY: Well, what I and what I believe needs to happen is reform of the entire criminal justice system, not just police that's been the main focus.
But I think it's clear that you need to take a strong look at prosecutorial reform, they need to look at courts and corrections.
Your previous guest mentioned many of the drivers of crime and poverty early on when she talked about housing, education, things like that. There
needs to be a total comprehensive look at all these factors and make changes. I mean, is there racism? Sure, there's racism. Systemic racism.
It's in the system. It's in our society in general. And we have to find a way to deal with it.
Every case, however, it does not necessarily reflect that it's done based on bias. That's why it's important, I think, that the attorney general
bring forth as much evidence as he possibly can without jeopardizing that one trial. After all, these two officers were not charged. So, whatever he
presented to the grand jury, the people need to see that. How much evidence did he present? Did he present all the evidence, all the facts so the grand
jury could make an intelligent decision?
But not every case that goes before a grand jury results in a true bill. I mean, I hear that over and over again and ham sandwiches (ph). I've
personally experienced cases that have resulted in a no bill where the grand jury has decided not to indict. Granted in most cases, it is a true
bill, it is an indictment but not in every single case.
But what is important is what evidence did the prosecutor present to the grand jury so that they could make a decision? And that needs to be
disclosed, because based on what I hear now and what he said yesterday I understand that decision but there could be more there. And if it is, they
need to bring it forward.
AMANPOUR: It's interesting to hear you say that because also they're growing calls for that, that transparency and including the governor of
Kentucky, Andy Beshear, is calling for that, as well. So, we'll see how that progresses.
Anyway, thank you so much, indeed, Chief Ramsey, for joining us.
RAMSEY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And today, we mark the passing of a true giant whose life and work provided incontrovertible proof of why great journalism does matter.
Sir Harold Evans has died at the age of 92 after an illustrious 70-year career that cemented the transformative power of investigative journalism.
During his long reign as editor in chief of the "Sunday Times" in the United Kingdom, he did battle with governments, lawyers who sought to
restrict publishing and he did battle with the controversial mogul, Rupert Murdoch. The subject of a riveting memoir "Good Times, Bad Times."
Harry Evans was one of the most respected and best liked people in public life. And our next guest, former journalist and bestselling author, Robert
Harris, was his close personal friend. And he is joining us now to discuss Harry Evans' incredible legacy.
Robert Harris, welcome to the program and thank you for being here.
I just -- Let me just start by asking you, just where you were and what you felt, what passed through your mind when you heard this sad news today?
ROBERT HARRIS, FRIEND OF SIR HAROLD EVANS: Well, I was in touch with Tina Brown, Harry's wife, last weekend and she told me that Harry was sinking
rather. And so, I was kind of braced for the news. It still is a great shock. He was as unlike a 92-year-old, as you could imagine, a man to be.
He was like someone 30 years older. He had a kind of Peter Pan youth about him and vigor. He was a man of great charm and energy and enthusiasm. He
was a force of nature and force of life.
So, when someone like that dies, it always is a big shock and the world seems a little bit grayer and a little bit sadder without Harry in it
AMANPOUR: I agree with you. I had the opportunity to know him, to interview him several times alongside Tina Brown. Both of them were a
major, you know, in the vernacular power couple but a real force for transformative change in their careers.
You wrote that a world without Harry Evans will be a more boring world. Let's just also talk about his journalistic legacy because he was terribly
young. I mean, he left school at 16 and he managed to climb the ladder of first regional newspaper and then the "Sunday Times" and then the "Times."
I mean, the most illustrious newspapers, certainly in this part of the world at the time. Give us a sense of what drove him, what created this
HARRIS: Well, I think you put your finger on it there. He left school at 16 and started work during the Second World War just on ordinary local
papers, covering all the boring extraordinary things that go on in a small town. You know, the courtroom, the cake store, you know, the pub and it got
a grounding in ordinary life in journalism. Then he did his national service.
Then he managed to get to the Durham University and that really probably was the start of things for him. Opening up new horizons. He won a Harkness
scholarship and so he was able to travel to America in the 1950s. And that began a real love affair with America. He loved -- he absolutely loved the
United States. And an interesting campaigning journalism because he was covering the early civil rights days.
And when he returned to the North of England, he started as a young editor of a paper. And he was a campaigning local newspaper editor of a sort that
perhaps is more familiar in the United States, or was, than here.
And he came to the attention of Fleet Street in London. And, in 1967, when he was still only in his 30s, he landed what is probably the biggest job in
British journalism, which is the editorship of "The Sunday Times."
And he bought that dynamism and that outsider/insider quality, which made him so formidable, I think.
And I just want to read what the former editor of "The Guardian" Alan Charles Rusbridger wrote today: "His time in the editor's chair was not
driven by his views, but by an endless hunger to find things out. Reporting came first and last, peeling the onion, peeling the onion, he called it."
And it's so -- he really did put investigative journalism on the map here in the U.K.
HARRIS: Yes, he did.
I mean, he had a history of it in the North of England. He campaigned for pardon for a Timothy Evans, who was wrongly hanged for murder. And he
campaigned on various local issues. He took up the issue of cervical cancer screening quite young.
He thought that newspapers should not just report the news for their readers, but try and campaign on their behalf, especially if they were
And when he came to London, he transferred the same qualities. He campaigned for the thalidomide victims, famously. He exposed some of the
cover-ups regarding Kim Philby, a spy in Britain.
He was -- he had also huge resources at his disposal. I mean, he was backed by the Thomsons, the Canadian, rather benign newspaper proprietor, who gave
him plenty of money. He had talented writers. It was the '60s, so there was a spirit of openness and anti-authority.
And Harry really rode that wave and became the most influential and arguably the best British newspaper editor, certainly since the Second
World War. He established a dominant, almost starlike figure here in the 1960s and 1970s.
AMANPOUR: Yes, indeed, he's been named sort of in the same couple as Ben Bradlee, the great editor of "The Washington Post" and the Watergate
And they have been sort of named as the greatest editors of their generations on each side of the Atlantic, perhaps of the 20th century. Who
knows. I mean, they certainly created massive, massive impact.
I want to go back to thalidomide, because it was huge.
So, his team, the Insight team, investigated this drug, which in the '50s and '60s had been given to women, and it resulted in babies being born
malformed. And I just -- he talked about it many times. He was obviously interviewed about it, because it created a big change in policy and in the
And I -- one of my last interviews, I asked him about it again. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAROLD EVANS, FORMER EDITOR, "THE SUNDAY TIMES": When I was in newspapers -- it was a very young newspaper in Darlington.
I saw pictures of the babies at Chailey hospital. And I was kind of horrified with what they had to endure. So I put something in the paper.
People didn't like it.
When I got "The Sunday Times," I got hold of some documents from the company which distributed this thing. And my hair stood on end, because it
was obvious that they had marketed this drug for pregnant women, when they hadn't any idea whether it would damage pregnant women or not.
They pretended it wouldn't. But, of course, it did, because what these women all over the country didn't know why their babies were being born
with terrible internal damages, no arms, no legs possibly.
I was -- I was gobsmacked, as you say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, he has a great way with words. But that was a massive investigation.
How important -- I mean, just tell everybody how important what he revealed was and what it led to.
HARRIS: Well, he was taking on the Distillers company, which was a huge pharmaceutical company with deep pockets and widespread political
It was a very brave thing to do, and it cost the paper an awful lot of money to do it. But, by that investigation, he won justice for those
victims. And not only that, I think he broke open a kind of cabal.
And he changed the way journalism functioned in this country. And suddenly everybody wanted to be like that. And, as you said earlier, this came at
the same time, roughly speaking, as "The Washington Post" and the revelations about Watergate. Ben Bradlee was a great friend of Harry's.
And it was a sense -- it was the golden era for journalism, in a way, for print journalism, that perhaps we will never see anything quite like it
again, unfortunately. They rode a certain tide of anti-establishmentism and a desire to find things out.
And they were backed by a lot of money to do it as well.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. And both of them had very talented, feisty wives who blaze their own paths in journalism as well in their rights, Ben and Sally,
Harry and Tina Brown.
And I want to just play a little clip of when I had Tina and Harry on my program to talk about journalism and the couple as well, and this was in
2009. Just take -- it's so adorable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EVANS: First of all, she was quite brilliant, of course, and she made me laugh like a lot, like she did when she writes today. She can make people
And she was very brave and very passionate about journalism, about wanting to write things. And that made me...
TINA BROWN, JOURNALIST: I also stalked him.
AMANPOUR: You stalked him?
EVANS: She did.
BROWN: Yes. I mean, Harry was such a glamorous journalist. I mean, I was in love with journalism from the age of 12. So, for me to see Harry in
action, when Harry was doing the front page, I first saw -- walked in and saw Harry laying out the front page of "The Sunday Times."
I mean, it was like watching Nijinsky dance, as far as I was concerned, in terms of newspapers. And I have always -- my biggest regret really was that
I haven't been able to work for him on a newspaper in America.
EVANS: Well, I'd like to work for you on The Beast. Please take me on The Beast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So that was when Tina Brown was editing The Daily Beast. And, of course, she had done "Vanity Fair," "The New Yorker."
They had a great love story, didn't they?
HARRIS: They did.
It would be easy -- and a lot of people were probably quite cynical about the pretty young Oxford journalist arriving at "The Sunday Times," and
Harry much older, the boss.
And you would have thought, well, that won't last, you know? But it lasted the best part of 45 years. And I was at Harry's 90th birthday a couple of
years ago here in England. And it was very touching. And it was a love match.
It wasn't a marriage of convenience in any way. They admired one another. They were two professional journalists, and they supported one another.
They were very, very loyal to one another.
And my heart goes out to Tina tonight, because I think that he was so central to her life, that it's going to be very hard for her without him
around, because he was such a big person. Spiritually, he was a big person.
Thank you so much for your memories personally and about his legacy.
Robert Harris, thank you for joining us.
Now we turn to Facebook, which has found itself again under fir.
Whistle-blower Sophie Zhang alleging that it's turning a blind eye to political manipulation a global scale. Facebook says it's been
investigating these issues carefully, including those that Ms. Zhang raises.
Well, our next guest is the man who published the accusations. BuzzFeed's media editor Craig Silverman is an expert when it comes to online
Here he is speaking to our Hari Sreenivasan about all of the details.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks.
Craig Silverman, thanks for joining us.
First, let's talk about the most recent article, which was based on a memo that a whistle-blower at Facebook put out to a large group of employees.
For people who haven't read that article, what did she say? Who was she? And what did she say?
CRAIG SILVERMAN, MEDIA EDITOR, BUZZFEED NEWS: Yes, the memo was written by a data scientist, a relatively low-level data scientists at the company
named Sophie Zhang.
And in the memo, she details how, over the past three years that she had worked at the company, she had come across repeated examples of fake
accounts and other kinds of manipulation on the platform being used to really influence public debate and, in some cases, elections.
So, for example, she found that accounts, fake accounts linked to the president of Honduras had actually been manipulating discussions on
Facebook. She talked about findings in countries like Bolivia and Ecuador, an election in India early this year where multiple parties were using fake
accounts and other types of manipulation Facebook.
And so part of it is talking about everything she found. But she's also saying that it's her last day at Facebook, because Facebook just didn't, in
her view, take these things seriously enough, act on them, further investigate them, give resources to go after this kind of manipulation in
countries other than the U.S., and other than countries in Western Europe.
And so she's really expressing this personal toll and the weight that was on her of saying: I suddenly am one person responsible for finding this
stuff in these countries, and my colleagues aren't able to follow up on it or aren't interested in doing that.
And so the memo was really a condemnation of the unwillingness of the company to take these kinds of things seriously in different parts of the
SREENIVASAN: Then, tell us a little bit about this employee. What was the context in which he published this memo? Was she fired? Is she disgruntled?
Did she have anything to lose by going public?
SILVERMAN: So, she -- one of the things that she noted in the memo, which was posted on kind of an internal discussion board at Facebook on her last
day there, one of the things she noted was that Facebook had offered her a $64,000 severance package, which included a non-disparagement agreement.
And she said that she turned that down because she wanted to be able to send this memo. She wanted to be able to alert her colleagues. And her
motivation, as she described it was to help the company be better and take this stuff seriously. She -- and, in the end, she admitted that in some
ways her performance had suffered because she was spending time on these things, as opposed to her usual kind of spam work.
And so, in the end, she was fired by the company. They offered her a severance package, conditional on a non-disparagement agreement. But, in
trying to verify this memo, we did speak to people who knew her, who had engaged with her within the company, and they really had glowing things to
say about the work that she was doing in this area.
And they felt that the company ultimately had kind of mistreated her and marginalized her. One person said they should have given her a team, rather
than kind of pushing her aside and telling her to stop working on this stuff.
SREENIVASAN: Now, how much of this is new? I mean, Facebook has literally had to answer some of these questions to members of Congress on what kind
of manipulation is happening on their platform, what responsibility they have and what steps they're taking.
I mean, Facebook, obviously has been under a lot of pressure for roughly around four years now about how people, whether it's politicians, or for-
profit people or trolls abuse its platform.
And so, in that sense, it's a continuation of the story we have been hearing about for years and years and years. But I think what's really key
about this is, one, it's coming from someone inside the company who was very skilled at identifying this stuff, even though it wasn't actually her
job, and who is saying that the company that says publicly, yes, we care about this stuff, we have hired lots of people, we have specialized teams,
she's saying, well, then how come you're not paying attention to these countries?
And so I think it reinforces perhaps a perception that was already there that Facebook is very U.S.-focused in Western Europe focused, but it gives
us the goods and the insight of someone on the inside saying that, yes, that's the case. And, in their exact words, it leaves them with feeling
like they have blood on their hands.
SREENIVASAN: So, what's Facebook's response been to this?
SILVERMAN: Facebook has basically given us a relatively generic statement saying that, you know, we do a lot of work in this area, we have
specialized teams, we take this seriously, we have dedicated people in countries around the world.
And that was the official statement. I think what was actually even more interesting than that is that the company's vice president of integrity,
which oversees all of these efforts to kind of secure the platform, he commented to my colleague Ryan Mac on Twitter saying, You know, guys, this
was really just about fake likes, and we have to prioritize, and this just wasn't that important.
And so I thought that was a really telling message, because it's true. Some of what she had found was by following fake likes that had been put on
content, and been used to help spread it. But, at the core of it, she still identified governments doing this, she still identified fake accounts, she
still identified manipulation of elections.
So, for the V.P. to come out and say something that's dismissive was really quite telling, I think.
SREENIVASAN: So, just so people understand how this kind of manipulation occurs, give us one of the examples that she was talking about.
What are these networks of people that are working to tip an election in one way or another? What are we likely to see if we were on their Facebook
pages or if we were in that ecosystem from that country?
SILVERMAN: Yes, so a few things that you would see is, let's take the example of what the Facebook V.P. said was going on, fake likes.
So, if you have networks of fake accounts, one thing that you can do is direct them to go and engage with certain types of content. And because
Facebook pays attention to the engagement levels with content to decide what to kind of promote and spread more, if you hammer one particular post
or one particular account with tons of fake likes and reactions, that's going to send signals to Facebook's systems that, hey, this content is
popular, people are engaging with it.
And it might spread that to more people, so attempts to use fake engagement, like likes and reactions and comments, to get content to spread
more on the platform.
SREENIVASAN: So, let's connect this kind of story that just published back to the United States.
So, we have this employee detailing how Facebook is not living up to its own standards, its own self-professed standards, in several parts of the
How does that connect to what's happening in the United States?
SILVERMAN: Well, I guess there's a couple ways of looking at it.
One is that this person is saying that, really, nothing is more important to Facebook than the U.S. elections when it comes to this kind of work. And
so, if that's the case, but there are still examples of Facebook kind of failing to spot things and failing to act things in the U.S. election,
well, that reinforces to us that, even in its top-priority areas, we're dealing with these cases, and they still can't get their arms fully around
So this is kind of the reality of the world we're in. The other part, I think, is just remembering that Facebook is a massive global corporation,
but, being an American company and having, as she said, a bias towards American things, I think that connects back to the U.S., in that they're
putting a lot of effort there.
And it's -- what's falling through the cracks are literally countries around the world, which is a crazy thing to think about. Her -- this is
what kept her up at night, literally, was sitting there and realizing that she didn't have the time to look into more into Bolivia, didn't have the
time to look more into Ecuador, and then seeing, in some cases, deadly civil unrest happen in these countries.
That's where she felt she had blood on her hands. And so you have employees, junior level employees in America, feeling like they're
responsible for the public debate and public safety of countries around the world.
SREENIVASAN: Now, we have seen in reporting that Facebook uses human beings in some instances to try and figure out what content to moderate and
what not, whether it's horrendous videos that people shouldn't be seeing, et cetera.
But, in this case, is it all the computers? Is it the algorithms, the machine learning, that tries to figure out what's a fake like vs. a real
like, and whether that posts really should be elevated to more people or not?
And then, if that's the case, why isn't it working?
SILVERMAN: I think a lot of Facebook's efforts take on the form of kind of hybrid efforts, where you have typically highly trained specialists around
disinformation, fake engagement, those kinds of things, using their behind- the-scenes access to the platform to run really kind of sophisticated programs or queries to see if something looks inauthentic.
And, in this case, what's interesting about Sophie Zhang is that she was working on a team that, yes, was focused on fake engagement, but it was
really looking at spam. So it was looking at commercially oriented efforts to use fake accounts to help push a product, for example.
And so, as she was doing that work, she kind of saw some patterns that were unrelated to spam, but actually connected to kind of political discussions.
And so, in her case, we have a very highly trained human who has one job, but comes across other things.
At the same time, yes, Facebook operates systems that it runs to analyze engagement patterns and to kind of sniff out and elevate stuff that looks
suspicious that human analysts and data scientists like Sophie Zhang would then look at more closely.
And I think, if the question is, so why does stuff get missed, is, let's remember the scale of Facebook as a platform. We're talking about roughly
two billion users in most of the countries around the world, people who are uploading tremendous amounts of content, as well as ads, as well as
commercial offers, and a wide range of things on the platform.
So, it is just so big, that, even though Facebook builds tools to supposedly deal with that scale, there's no way for it to actually know
everything that's going on, on its platform. And that just creates amazing opportunities for scammers, for hackers, for all kinds of bad actors to
exploit the platform.
SREENIVASAN: I can hear someone arguing on behalf of Facebook or perhaps taking a contrarian view, saying, look, well, are we expecting perfection
in a way that is unfair? Is there anything that's 100 percent?
There is no government agency that's that solid. There's maybe no other private company or public company either.
SILVERMAN: Yes, I mean, it's true that no company and no platform, for that matter, can sort of 100 percent enforce on things.
But if we look at what's going on inside the company and what are they prioritizing, if it's basically saying, we don't have the resources to deal
with this election in that country and the election in this country, and if you're showing us fake accounts connected to the president of a country, we
just can't -- it's going to take us nine months to deal with that, I think there are kind of basic standards of competence and oversight that people
And this memo, I think, really underlines that Facebook is just not delivering on a lot of the things it says it's doing around the world. And
so, as a minimum barrier, are they doing the things they say they're doing, and are they able to enforce the policies that they have?
And I think, on those two questions, the amount of information that's been coming out from this memo and other things says, there are still some
serious problems there. And it's also a question of the resources. Facebook makes billions of dollars in profit every quarter.
And they're basically saying, well, we don't have all the people we need to be able to look at every country. I think it's reasonable to say, then you
need to step up, and you need to use your significant resources to make sure that you have people in the country with domain expertise, language
expertise to actually make sure you're supporting your users there.
SREENIVASAN: Let's pivot a little bit about what's happening with the platform in the United States.
So, if Ms. Zhang's concerns were with elections overseas, here in the United States, our intelligence agencies have pretty much established
several years ago that the Russians were involved in trying to manipulate our elections.
And, even now, the FBI has said that there is active participation from foreign actors that are trying to manipulate how we think and what we what
we do come November.
So, how is Facebook being manipulated now and in the next 50 days in a way that's perhaps different than what was happening four years ago?
SILVERMAN: Well, I think one of the things that's changed since four years ago is that people have to be a lot more clever.
The easy, simple, obvious approaches to spreading false information, to using fake accounts, that actually has gotten harder. And so you can give
Facebook some credit for that. Where it really was not doing a good job on these things, it certainly has improved in some areas.
So, what does that mean? Well, it means people have to be more creative with the ways they go about this. And if we think about -- a recent example
was that Turning Point USA, a conservative student group in the U.S., apparently, they were using these kind of student ambassadors, people they
were paying, to run accounts on Facebook and to kind of spread messages, sometimes in a very coordinated fashion, of literally copying and pasting
the same kind of message.
And so I think one of the things that campaigns and people trying to influence public debate have done is try to think about, well, what is
Facebook good at spotting at? Dumb automated accounts. So, what do we need to do? Well, we need to coordinate real humans to behave in ways that it's
going to look like it's authentic.
I also think that Facebook continues to miss ads that are political ads that are meant to influence people and that should have a specific
disclaimer and be in a database. So there's still people able to do things like, for example, paying to rent someone's Facebook account, and using
that to set up an ads account to then run ads through them.
And we know, for example, that Russia did that in Ukraine's election last year. So, a lot of the tactics that have been -- often been used by
spammers and advanced kind of commercial operators are now being adopted to cover the tracks of disinformation operators and to use real humans to try
and influence other humans in a more coordinated fashion.
SREENIVASAN: I mean, it seems that, by kind of the architecture itself of the platforms, the very things that make them so successful, that make
ideas and thoughts go viral are the things that support mis- and dis- information.
SILVERMAN: There are certain things about the designs of these systems that are, yes, amplifying and creating problems that are worse than we have
experienced in these areas ever before.
And there's also the question of what decisions they make and what priorities they have. And when you look at Mark Zuckerberg, one of the
things that I think he's made very clear is that, if he has a bias around this stuff, what he says is, his bias is that he would rather leave content
up than ever remove it and take it down.
He thinks that there are, of course, thorny issues around free speech. And there certainly are around that. We don't want Facebook to turn into the
world's biggest censor because they're trying to overcorrect for these issues.
But him sending that message from the top has also created an atmosphere and a culture within the organization where things like the QAnon
conspiracy theory and other things have really taken flight on their platform, and been able to really grow and pull in and recruit more people
than ever before, because they tend to be slow to react, and they tend to prefer not to remove, not to try and restrain things in a big way.
SREENIVASAN: Let's talk a little bit about the money that's behind some of this, the motivation here.
I mean, these are very successful companies that, if they told their shareholders, hey, guys, listen, you know what, we're turning off all
political ads from now until the election, we're going to be, for lack of a better word, censoring anything that even smells close to political, we're
just going to turn it off, right, they could continually do this for 60 days, and it might hit their bottom line for a little while.
But what else can they actually do? Because it seems that, even when they deploy engineers and new tweaks to the algorithms, we still have what could
be edge cases become very successful, where they -- whether it's the QAnon conspiracy, whether it's, horribly, someone taking their own life on the
platform and livestreaming it, we're still not able to catch these incredibly painful incidents.
SILVERMAN: I asked a former engineer at Facebook about this.
I'm like, is it just too big? Is it impossible to really get your arms around this problem? And their point of view was actually that there still
remains a lack of will at Facebook and perhaps in some of these other countries.
Their view was, for example, when the U.S. government went to Facebook years ago and said, you have an Islamic state problem on your platform, you
have terrorists recruiting, you have them here, and you need to deal with this, Facebook leapt into action, and it was priority number one for all of
And they have done a good job of keeping ISIS off the platform. And so the engineer's point was that, if they -- there's still room for them to make
even more of a commitment to these things than what they have said. There's room for them to grow these teams even more. There's room for them to
invest even more, and to make it even more of a priority.
And I think that that's something that Facebook pushes back on a lot. They talk about how much money they spend, but people inside the company still
look at it and say that there is more we could be doing that we're not in terms of making this a priority, investing in people, building tools and
doing things to stop it.
SREENIVASAN: Craig Silverman of BuzzFeed, thanks so much for joining us.
SILVERMAN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And when you hear Craig Silverman talk about a lack of will to stop disinformation and misinformation, on a night where we pay tribute to
the line of journalism, Harry Evans, and the people who really had guardrails and protected what was factual and what was truthful, you
realize we do live in a much more dangerous world.
And, finally, though, the real-life star-crossed lovers that prove love in lockdown is possible.
Back when Italy was the hottest COVID zone, and residents were confined to their homes, many neighborhoods held mini-concerts through apartment
windows to raise spirits. And during one special performance in Verona, Cupid shot his arrow straight into the hearts of Paola Agnelli and Michele
Their eyes locked across their socially distant balconies. And nearly seven months later, they're now engaged. To commemorate the unique first
encounter, they are considering a marriage ceremony on Paola's large roof terrace. A story to rival "Romeo and Juliet," also set in Verona, but with
a happier ending.
That is it for now. Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.