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Interview With Wendell Pierce; Interview With NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg; Iran Buries Top Nuclear Scientist. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired November 30, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Iran buries its top nuclear scientist, but was his killing meant to stop a bomb or stop diplomacy?
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: Well, I know Biden, Joe Biden, president-elect Joe Biden, as a very strong supporter of NATO, and he knows
NATO very well.
AMANPOUR: Amid worries a second-term Trump might have pulled out of NATO all together, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomes Biden's
commitment to the alliance.
ANGELA BASSETT, ACTRESS: Dear son.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Son.
WENDELL PIERCE, ACTOR: Dear son.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daughter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dear brothers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling you this.
MAHERSHALA ALI, ACTOR: In your 15th year.
OPRAH WINFREY, PRODUCER/PHILANTHROPIST: There's no uplifting way to say this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One must be...
PIERCE: Without error here.
AMANPOUR: Actor Wendell Pierce in the star-studded adaptation of one of the key texts of being black in America, bringing writer Ta-Nehisi Coates'
book "Between the World and Me" to life.
SCOTT GALLOWAY, NYU STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Let's hope we don't waste this one.
AMANPOUR: Author and Professor Scott Galloway tells our Hari Sreenivasan why the coronavirus crisis must be turned into an opportunity.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
President-elect Joe Biden receives his first presidential daily intelligence briefing, and even before assuming office, he has major issues
to deal with, especially on the global stage, including whether the Thanksgiving weekend assassination of Iran's top nuclear scientist was, in
fact, aimed at thwarting his own stated policy of bringing the U.S. back into the Iran nuclear deal.
Today, crowds in Tehran attended Mohsen Fakhrizadeh's funeral. Iranian leader blame Israel for assassination and the Iranian opposition figures.
Hard-liners inside Iran insist that it will take revenge, but President Hassan Rouhani wants people to have patience and not to fall into what he
calls a trap laid by Israel and the outgoing Trump administration.
Meanwhile, the E.U., a signatory to the nuclear deal, calls the assassination criminal and reckless, and it calls for maximum restraint,
while a former Iranian government official says that every day from now to Trump's exit are the most dangerous for Iran.
Ellie Geranmayeh advised European governments ahead of the Iran nuclear deal, and she's a deputy director at the European Council on Foreign
Relations. And that is today calling on Europe to bolster transatlantic diplomacy on Iran.
And she's joining me now from London.
Ellie Geranmayeh, welcome to the program.
ELLIE GERANMAYEH, EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Thanks for having me, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you. What is your analysis? What was this assassination, a highly sophisticated attack on a very highly protected top
Iranian official? What do you think it was all about?
GERANMAYEH: Well, look, this was an ambush against a top Iranian nuclear scientist, but, in my view, the main target of that was the heart of
diplomatic efforts that many expect will be under way between the next U.S. administration under Joe Biden and Iran.
And I think this has been a very calculated move that has been in the pipeline for years, really, by proponents of President Trump's so-called
maximum pressure campaign against Iran, to use the very last weeks -- we're talking about two more months of the Trump administration -- to serve of
the final blows for any hopes for diplomacy between Iran and the United States.
And I think we need to buckle up for a very turbulent few weeks ahead.
AMANPOUR: Well, what do you mean? I mean, what do you think might happen? There are all sorts of reports. You remember a week or 10 days ago that
President Trump had asked, apparently, for some strike options and then, apparently, was talked out of them by his top military and, apparently, his
secretary of state as well.
What do you think might happen, and what is the point of thwarting diplomacy to presumably make the world a safer place?
GERANMAYEH: Well, let's remember that this year began with the assassination of a top Iranian military commander, Qasem Soleimani, in
neighboring Iraq, and it's coming to an end with a severe attack, a very sophisticated attack, inside the Iranian homeland.
And there are multiple options that are now in the cards, I think, for proponents of the maximum pressure campaign to build this wall against
diplomacy. This assassination, I think, shows quite a high threshold for escalation. And we should expect perhaps similar attacks coming up either
inside Iran or in the wider Middle East.
Now, the point of this, I think the crux of it is that the proponents of maximum pressure never really wanted any sort of diplomatic efforts between
Iran and the United States to follow. And it's the very fact that there could be some sort of rapprochement between the two sides that makes many
In terms of next steps and whether we could have a prospect for diplomacy, I think the ball is in the court of both the Biden camp and also the
On the Biden camp side, they need to make a decision, and I think in -- fairly soon coming into office in January, about whether they want to
engage Iran quite rapidly in a diplomatic effort to come back to the JCPOA, the so-called nuclear deal, or if they are going to push the debate towards
leveraging the Trump era sanctions, as some more hawkish voices in Washington and elsewhere are pushing them to do so.
And, Iran, there needs to be a real decision now whether they are going to retaliate quickly or not towards these recent attacks that they have seen
AMANPOUR: Well, let's talk about that, because it does seem to be some debate, at least publicly, inside Iran, with the hard-liners saying, there
will be thunderous revenge, and the president, as I said, Rouhani, talking about, we will do it at a time of our choosing and let's not fall into a
trap, and blaming, out and out blaming Israel for this.
What can you tell us more about that debate?
GERANMAYEH: I always start by saying Iran is a country of 80-million plus, and there's a lot of different views about how to move forward.
But I think, at the political leadership level, there's two debates unfolding. The first is those -- and I wouldn't say they are just in the
hard-line camp -- I think it's across the board actually in different political opinions -- that say, actually, it's now time for Iran to draw a
line in the sand, that if there isn't some sort of a quick and reciprocal response, that this will only embolden the aggressors against Iran to
continue these attacks, because they are betting on Iran not actually retaliating.
And I think they need to build up some sort of deterrent, as they argue, against -- this carries a lot of risks for Iraq. As I said, there's only
two months left of the Trump administration, and a lot of political leaders know that Israel and Iran's other foes in the region and, of course, the
Trump administration want to set up traps and mines against diplomacy for the next U.S. administration.
Now, there's a second debate also unfolding, being pushed, I think, by the Rouhani administration and the office around him to say, look, we have had
strategic patience for four years under Trump. Let's not blow up the bridge to diplomacy so close to when a new administration is taking over, and
let's at least leave the political space open.
There's always the opportunity for Iran to retaliate and respond at a time and place of its own choosing later. And I think that second route will
actually provide Iran with some interesting bargaining chips when it comes to negotiating with the Biden administration and the Europeans, because it
could hold back an aggressive response in return for some concessions from the Western side.
AMANPOUR: The Europeans, as I said, call this a criminal act and runs counter to their values.
I mean, it was quite a pointed criticism at the assassination. And yet, obviously, the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, has been after this man
for a long, long time. A few years ago, he basically gave a press conference, and he said, remember this name.
Let's just play this sound bite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: This is how Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of Project Amad, put it.
Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh. So, here's his directive. It's right here. And he says, the general aim is to announce the closure of Project Amad,
but then he adds, special activities -- you know what is -- special activities will be carried out under the title of scientific know-how
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So Project Amad is sort of, not code, but the word for a nuclear weapons program that Bibi Netanyahu thinks is still under way and still the
What can you tell us about that? Because the IAEA has had a look under all these years of the nuclear deal, and Iranians say they shelved their
nuclear weapons program, if they ever had one, they say, in the early 2000s.
What about the substance of what the Israelis are claiming here?
GERANMAYEH: Well, I think Israel has consistently been saying -- even when the nuclear deal was being agreed under the Obama administration, Benjamin
Netanyahu took the unprecedented move to go to the U.S. Congress and lobby against the U.S. president at the time to say that this was all a live,
Iran could not be trusted, and that the deal wasn't strong enough.
But, actually, what we know is that the 2015 deal creates the most intrusive inspection and monitoring mechanism for any country in the world
in terms of its nuclear activities. And that monitoring system has exactly enabled the international community to oversee the fact that Iran has come
out of compliance with the nuclear deal over the last year-and-a-half, in response to U.S. sanctions and the U.S. maximum pressure.
And there is very little to validate, at least amongst the international level, what Prime Minister Netanyahu is saying. I think this goes back to
my earlier point that there are enemies that Iran has in the region, and there are folks within Washington that really fear this idea of any sort of
diplomacy between Iran and the United States that could, frankly, begin a very long process of perhaps rapprochement and normalization between the
AMANPOUR: Again, just to say, for our viewers, maximum pressure is the word, the policy of the Trump administration on sanctions on Iran, which
have, in fact, hurt the people, but it hasn't done what they hoped, which is regime change.
Can I ask you about the opposition that the Iranian senior officials now, senior defense officials, are accusing the opposition of being in cahoots
with Israel to have planned and carried out this assassination? What can you tell us about that?
GERANMAYEH: Well, the reference is being made to a group known as THE MEK, or the Mujahideen-e Khalq, which actually until quite recently was
designated as a terrorist group by both the European Union and the United States.
This group has in recent years developed a very cozy relationship with the Trump administration, for example, with President Trump's personal lawyer,
Rudy Giuliani, his former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who have made several appearances at MEK rallies abroad.
And they are reported to have very strong intelligence links with Israel. They have also boots on the ground inside Iran. But if you look at their
degree of popular support in Iran, there isn't much to go on. For example, in the recent waves of protests in Iran, both last year and the year
before, there very little calls for the MEK to be the true face of the Iranian nation.
And so there's a very complicated relationship there between the people and this group that is exiled and considered by many, actually, Iranians both
inside and outside the country as a group that has conducted terrorist activities inside Iran.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about the U.S. involvement potentially in this assassination.
I want to -- they have said no, and they have -- and, obviously, Israel has not talked about it since, but we know that, back in 2007, just before
President George W. Bush left and President Obama was to come in, Netanyahu was at time not prime minister, but head of Likud.
And there are all sorts of reports that they wanted to, and he did call for maximum sanctions, but that there was some eagerness by the then Israeli
government to, whatever, attack Iran, do something to its nuclear infrastructure in the outgoing days of the George W. Bush administration.
So, this is not new, this kind of policy by this Israeli government. Tell me what you and the U.S. as well -- how much do you think had the U.S. knew
or blessed this?
GERANMAYEH: Well, look, definitely, there's a lot of reporting out there that suggests that this has the Mossad block all over it in terms of, we
have seen this movie play out before, when there has been a string of Iranian scientists that were assassinated in the 2000s going up to 2012.
Now, under the Obama administration, for example, there was a degree of coordination between Israel and the United States for its cyberattacks
against Iran's nuclear facilities, but the Obama administration drew a line and openly condemned the killing of scientists that were taking place
during their term in office.
What is quite ominous about the Trump administration is that there doesn't seem to be any red lines when it comes to Iran. Actually, there seems to be
a lot of green lights being given to regional partners like Israel and Saudi Arabia.
There's been a number of visits in recent weeks by Secretary of State Pompeo and other senior U.S. officials to the region, a reported secret
meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, recently, which does paint a picture that
there's definitely something being cooked up between the Trump administration and its regional partners to really use this last window of
the Trump administration to serve a major blow to Iran's nuclear capabilities.
AMANPOUR: Ellie Geranmayeh, certainly, this is a story we are going to keep an eye on. Thank you for joining us this evening.
Now, European capitals and alliance heads are all taking stock of the waning days of the Trump administration, eager for a return to multilateral
norms, none more so than at NATO, which has been Trump's punching bag ever since he called it obsolete even before he became president.
And now he's threatening to remove half of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan before leaving office, while his own top brass protest that conditions are
still not right on the ground.
There's no peace deal with the Taliban, who are, in fact, still blowing up the U.S.-backed Afghan security force. A weekend bombing killed 30.
I asked NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg whether the incoming president would usher in a U.S.-NATO reset.
AMANPOUR: Secretary-General Stoltenberg, welcome back to the program.
STOLTENBERG: Thank you so much for having me, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: We're on the brink of a new administration. The United States is the biggest NATO partner. And, apparently, the president-elect plans to
remove the notion of America first from his foreign policy.
What difference do you think it'll make, a Biden administration, after four years of what we have had so far?
STOLTENBERG: Well, I know Biden, president-elect Joe Biden, as a very stopping supporter of NATO. And he knows NATO very well through his
previous experiences as a leader of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate and also as vice president.
And I also have had the privilege of working with him over many years, so I know that he's a committed supporter of strong partnership, cooperation
between North America and Europe to NATO.
And this is important, because a strong NATO is, of course, good for Europe, with the U.S. security guarantees, the U.S. troops in Europe, but
it's also extremely good for the United States, especially in the light of the rise of China. It's extremely good for the United States to have so
many friends and allies as they have in NATO.
AMANPOUR: So, you're obviously very diplomatic. And you have had to work with President Trump for the last four years.
Would you say that, I guess, the concept that you're discussing again, multilateralism, work with allies, did that sort of run aground a bit
during the last four years? Are you expecting Biden to step up that relationship?
STOLTENBERG: Well, I called him, and he expressed strong support to NATO. And I invited him to the upcoming NATO summit here in Brussels early next
And I'm looking forward to receiving his here, because then we can sit together around the same table and discuss how we can further strengthen
the NATO and the transatlantic bond.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you about a question that's very much in the news right now? It's not necessarily a NATO question, but it's a security and a
global security question.
And that is the recent assassination of the top nuclear scientist in Iran by Israel. Israel hasn't commentated, but most people believe that that --
and maybe or maybe not got the green light from the United States.
The E.U. has called it, if I'm not mistaken, a criminal act, and one that runs counter to the principle of respect for human rights that the E.U.
stands for. Even the former CIA director says the attack was a criminal act and highly reckless.
You -- even as secretary-general of NATO, you welcomed in 2017 the Iran nuclear pact. Do you want to see what Biden has said he will do, and that
is to try to get back into that pact? And just as a former elected leader yourself, how complicating do you think this assassination might be for any
resumption of diplomacy?
STOLTENBERG: I supported, I welcomed the Iran deal when it was agreed some years ago. Then, for some time now, we had some differences inside the
lines on that issue.
At the same time, we have one administration at a time in the United States which NATO is working with, and now we work with the current U.S.
administration. Then, after the 20th of January, we will have a new administration, and I'm looking forward to working with that
administration, because I know Joe Biden as a strong supporter of diplomacy, of political efforts to reduce tensions.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about Afghanistan.
So, not so long ago, right after the election, President Trump fired his Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and it's believed that it was over Mark Esper
and the U.S. military being against reducing too many troops in Afghanistan.
Now the president apparently is about to announce a halving of U.S. NATO forces in Afghanistan. What could be the side effects of that?
STOLTENBERG: So, I have for a long time warned against too hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan, because then we risk losing the gains we have
made over nearly two decades in the fight against international terrorism.
We have to remember that the reason why NATO allies went into Afghanistan was to respond to an attack on the United States, 9/11, 2001, and NATO
allies have been there now for almost 20 years. More than 1,000 non-U.S. soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan.
And European allies are -- and partners are ready to stay, because they see the downside risk of leaving too early. At the same time, no NATO ally, no
partner would like to stay longer than necessary in Afghanistan, and that's also the reason why we so strongly welcomed the peace talks which are now
taking place in Doha.
They are fragile, they are difficult, but, at the same time, they are the only path to a political situation to the crisis in Afghanistan. So, we
need to make a very difficult and hard decision early next year, and that's whether to stay and continue in a difficult military conflict, or leave,
but then risk to jeopardize the gains we have made.
My main message to all our allies is that we have to make those decisions together in a coordinated and orderly way.
AMANPOUR: Do you think, if these troops are drawn down by half and, as you say, not coordinated with the rest of NATO, could it be become a haven
again for terrorists who might want to attack Western capitals or other NATO capitals?
STOLTENBERG: Well, the United States has made it clear that they will continue to provide the key enablers, logistical support to the rest of the
And that's, of course, important. European allies have stated that they are ready to stay, because they all realize that, if we leave too early, then
we risk that Afghanistan once again may become a safe haven for international terrorists.
We have to prevent that, and we also have to prevent that ISIS, which is now trying to get a foothold in Afghanistan, that they are able to
reestablish the caliphate they lost in Iraq and Syria, that they are able to establish that in Afghanistan.
We often say in NATO that we went in together, we should adjust our presence together, and when the time is right, we should, of course, be
able to leave together from Afghanistan.
AMANPOUR: Can I just switch to internal NATO allies in Europe?
There's -- as you know, there's a little bit of back-and-forth between the French president and the German defense minister, the French president
saying that we Europeans, we cannot afford just to rely on the United States, the German defense minister saying that we can't not have NATO and
we can't just suddenly roll out and be sovereign.
How do you assess this argument? Is it over substance? Is it over style? What's at the heart of this?
STOLTENBERG: For me, the most important thing is that we need to have the United States and Canada present in Europe.
Of course, I welcome E.U. efforts on defense, but E.U. can never defend Europe. Eighty percent of NATO's defense expenditures are coming from non-
E.U. allies, of course, United States, but also Canada, the United Kingdom and other non-E.U. NATO members.
So, any attempt to weaken the transatlantic bond will not only divide North America and Europe, but it will also divide Europe. So, European unity
cannot replace transatlantic unity. E.U. efforts on defense are welcome, but that's not an alternative to NATO. It's something that should help to
strengthen the European NATO allies and, therefore, also strengthen NATO.
AMANPOUR: All right, Secretary-General Stoltenberg, thank you for joining us.
STOLTENBERG: Thanks so much for having me.
AMANPOUR: There is so much on the plate of the next president.
And we turn now to culture and art bringing the fraught issue of race to the fore. "Between the World and Me" by the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates is
widely considered a classic of the Black Lives Matter era. And now it's coming to the screen in a star-studded adaptation of the work that was
written as a letter to his teenage son.
It's both a stark warning and a celebration, and here's a short clip from the HBO program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to pursue things this. I was admitted to Howard University, but formed and shaped by the Mecca. The Mecca is a
machine crafted to capture and concentrate the dark information all African peoples and inject them directly into the student body.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body.
WINFREY: I'm sorry that I cannot save you. I always wanted you to attack every day of your brief bright life in struggle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Among the glittering cast is also star of the stage and screen Wendell Pierce, famed for his performance in "The Wire" and, of course,
"Death of a Salesman" on stage here in London. He's joining me now.
Welcome back to the program, Wendell Pierce. It's good to see you again.
PIERCE: Thank you. It's good to see you as well.
AMANPOUR: So, we saw that lovely clip. It's very powerful. On the one hand, it's a celebration, on the other hand this lament that a parent
cannot save and protect the child.
How much of that work, that book by Ta-Nehisi Coates resonated with you? What made you want to take that role?
PIERCE: Well, I thought it was a very special, very special book. It was seminal for our time and what's happening now.
What "The Fire Next Time" by James Baldwin was a generation ago, this book, "Between the World and Me," had for this generation. It reflected exactly
what the dangers are, macro and micro, in our community, how it's connected to the legacy of a violent past in America.
One of the most strident lines in the most memorable lines is that there's a tradition of destroying the black body in America. It's the part of our
tradition to kill black people, and that it multiplies in all of its amorphic ways, but you have to come back to that reality, that, whether
justified or not, there is an ongoing cultural tradition of killing black folks and destroying the black body.
And that was one of the most powerful lines. It's one of the things that spoke to me. And when I heard that the book was being done in film, as an
artist, that was something that I wanted to do, because that's what our role is.
While we have political advocacy to change structure and legislate change, that's one purpose, but there's a duality to this progress, which is, the
hearts and minds have to be changed by the artists. And that's what our job is here, to bring this book, this powerful book to change people's hearts
and minds. I wanted to be a part of it.
AMANPOUR: I must say that line that you just highlighted really struck me as well when I heard it in the clip that we played. It is a very, very hard
line to listen to and to hear.
And, again, this book by Ta-Nehisi Coates was written for his 14-year-old son at the time.
AMANPOUR: And I want to play a little clip, because here you are narrating a part of story in which Ta-Nehisi Coates is kind of pushing back against a
white woman who decides to lash out at his son, who was 5 years old at the time.
And this is Ta-Nehisi Coates' reaction to his own action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIERCE: Not all of us can always be Jackie Robinson.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not even Jackie Robinson was always Jackie Robinson.
PIERCE: But the price of error is highest for you than it is for your countrymen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm ashamed of how I acted that day, ashamed that I endangered your body.
PIERCE: But I am not ashamed of being a bad father. I am ashamed I made an error, knowing our errors always cost us more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Wendell, I wanted to ask you about errors and the small, small space for errors that you talk about and that the book talks about,
and also maybe describe what actually happened in that scene to make Ta- Nehisi so ashamed of how he had reacted.
PIERCE: The thing was, he has his small child, who steps off an escalator after going to see a movie which is about actually the expression of joy
and inclusion and imagination.
And he steps off an elevator -- an escalator, and this white woman pushes him aside, as if it's -- as if he's nothing.
First of all, even before race, to have another person put their hands on your child, without even consideration of you as a parent there, just a
disregard for your even existence, is one thing.
To then endanger your child, being so presumptive to be physical with them, I see it as assault. It is reflective of how the micro aggression is as
dangerous, is as effective as the macro aggression. And so, this parent reacts to that, chastises the woman to say, who are you to touch my child?
Don't do that again. And then she is being perceived as the victim because, I as a black man or Ta-Nehisi in this case was a black man, talking to a
So, the whites around them assumed automatically because that's how we are seen in our culture, a black man raising his voice or being protective of
his son is not seen as a protector but as an aggressor and to know that that is the assumption that people will make about you can be dangerous
because in any other time it could cost him his life. Errors for us are a lot more dangerous.
If you step out and say, wait a minute, you can't do that, someone says to an officer, it happened to me on a lonely road in Louisiana, 100 degrees
Fahrenheit. I have the air condition on, pulled over by a police officer, and I can't hear outside the car, but I'm waiting for him to approach as
any normal traffic stop would happen, and he doesn't. I look in the mirror and I see that he is angered. I can only see his motion of his mouth. I
don't hear him had. I roll down the window, I realize that he is saying step out or I will blast you. I will take care of you.
And for me to just step out of that car and say, why didn't you come up to my car? I knew that's a mistake I couldn't make because he was going to
perceive me stepping out of the car as an attack, and that is the errors that we cannot afford to take, and that is the fear that black parents send
their child out into the world with and then we have to embolden them with the tools of recognition, of restraint, of awareness to make sure that you
don't make those errors that could cost you your life because of the prejudices and biases that other people perceive you as, and that is
something that is a micro aggression for us but is a macro aggression for any person in the world when it endangers their life.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. You know, obviously this -- the letter is to his son, but there's also -- it's a warning, but there's also a celebration in this
work. We saw some of it with the actress who is talking about going to the Mecca, Howard University, where, you know, we celebrated being black. Tell
me about that side of this work and what you hope the overall message of you and your star-studded fellow cast members, which is -- is going to come
out on HBO.
PIERCE: The idea that there's a duality within our community in the African-American community that should not be taken for granted, that it
goes all the way back to what the idea of the blues was all about. I don't have no shoes, and I don't have no money but I'm still going to walk to
Chicago from Mississippi. It's that sort of in spite of it all, there is a humanity and a depth to who you are that is something to be celebrated and
seen as a token of pride, a source of pride that is not just in this moment but has gone back throughout the history of our community that has been
handed to us like a Joshua generation from a moss generation, and that's what HBCUS, historically black colleges and universities provide, and
that's what Ta-Nehisi was talking about with his time at the Mecca as it's called, Howard University.
At the end of the film, you go, man, if I have to go back to school I want to go back to the Mecca. And it's not just the exclusion of those folks who
are black but, you know, anyone can go to HBCU which celebrates a community that they probably know little about, and that's the thing that makes them
even more important today when they came about in a time out of something ugly we made something beautiful, a time we could not go to any university
we wanted to.
We created these institutions that now have a rich tradition and celebrate all that our culture and our community has, and that's important to
understand because it is from those communities that you are given the tools and the fire and the energy to actually provoke change, not only as
an artist but even as a legislator of those who are mandating the structural change that has to happen, and that's what you see come out of
history of a place like Howard and the Mecca. It was there that Thurgood Marshall came out and the lawyers of the legal defense fund understood how
to attack the laws of Jim Crow that prohibited so much advancement in America and understood that the constitution provide that had freedom for
everyone and how to attack those that wanted to limit or prohibit that for you, and that exercises a right of self-determination that is so important
to embolden a person with when they go into a world that has so many challenges that are placed in front of it.
AMANPOUR: Well, as we said, you know, "Between the World and Me" has become a classic and it's great. Looking forward to seeing you and all the
other cast bring it to life on the screen. Thank you so much, Wendell Pierce, for joining us.
PIERCE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, the United States seems to be buckling up for an unrestrained coronavirus winter hitting new records like nearly every
single day this month, the number of new COVID-19 cases surpassed 100,000. Scott Galloway is a best-selling author and professor of marketing at the
NYU Stern School of Business. His new book "Post-Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity" takes a look at what the country will look like after the
pandemic from jobs to health care. And here is talking to our Hari Sreenivasan about it.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, Thanks. Scott Galloway, welcome back.
We've got now more than a quarter of a million people who have died. That number is likely to go up significantly. This book, "Post-Corona," that
you've written, it's not just trying to find, I guess, the silver lining because it's hard to ever come up with anything that counts or counteracts
that. But this pandemic, as you point out, has been both revelatory and also an accelerant in showing us both our weaknesses but also some of the
opportunities to fix those weaknesses.
SCOTT GALLOWAY, AUTHOR, "POST CORONA: FROM CRISIS TO OPPORTUNITY": Yes. So, first off, Hari, thanks for having me.
Yes. There is a silver lining here, whether it's hopefully we're maturing a generation of young people that recognize the cooperation across border,
the empathy that the economy was working really well for many people but some of the morbidities of our nation, optimism verging on arrogance, lack
of respect for our institutions, for our government institutions that were woefully underfunded and somewhat vulnerable once this pandemic hit.
But, yes, moving forward, there's tremendous opportunity, both to bring down the costs of education, bring down the costs of health care, to spend
more time with our families, to have less emissions had. So, a crisis is a terrible thing to waive. Let's hope we don't waste this one.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. You've pointed out that this is an accelerant for huge shifts when it comes to health care, when it comes to higher education, to
e-commerce. We've spoken at length about what you think about higher ed. So, why don't you start with health care. What are the opportunities here?
GALLOWAY: I think the greatest shift in stakeholder value is about to occur in business history, and that is 17 percent of the U.S. GDP is health
care, it's arguably the largest business in the world clocking it at, you know, $3 trillion to $4 trillion a year, but the outcomes have been
decreasing. Life expectancy has been going down, infant mortality is stuck at a certain level, customer satisfaction is pretty anemic. And even if you
think about the medical profession as retail, it's probably the second worst retail in America behind gas stations.
Imagine going into a Sephora and asking to see sun block and somebody takes a plexiglass slide and says, fill out this paperwork, we'll be with you in
30 minutes. It's just a fairly uninspiring experience. And the exciting thing is 99 percent of the people who have contracted, endured and
developed antibodies for novel coronavirus did it without entering a doctor's office much less a hospital.
This morning I got a COVID-19 test in my kitchen. So, just as e-commerce took the store to your living room, just as movie theaters are moving from
the -- moving to your living room, could doctors' offices and hospitals and diagnostics move to your house? It might give us an opportunity to not only
reduce costs but take us off our heels as a nation around being reactive or defensive to health care and get on our toes and talk more about primary
care, make people more comfortable with a more fluid relationship with a health care provider.
We saw Amazon announced that they're going to have 24/7 pharmacists available and two-hour delivery. So, you could see an explosion in
innovation around health care. I think that's arguably the most exciting place in our economy post-corona because regulations have come crashing
down and consumers are now comfortable receiving health care over their hand-held in their home.
SREENIVASAN: We saw a big boom in e-commerce, I mean, what happened in the pandemic was almost -- it took years for that kind of growth to happen in
the cycle of e-commerce but, you know, what was also interesting is that it laid bare that this was a boon for those who could afford it. I mean, it's
kind of like a blue-collar pandemic and a white-collar pandemic. A white- collar pandemic, meaning, yes, everything was great. I can get everything from Instacart and Amazon. But if you're an essential worker, that doesn't
really apply to you on the same day.
GALLOWAY: You're exactly right. So, look, if you're in the top 10 percent of income earners, there's no change in unemployment. It means, you're no
less vulnerable than you were professionally before the pandemic. There's a 60 percent likelihood you can work from home, meaning, spend more time with
your family, you maybe got 10 hours back a week. If you make less than 40,000 a year, 40 percent of those people have lost their job and less than
10 percent can work from home.
So, you don't like to say this out loud, but if you're in the top 10 percent and you're blessed with good health, you're most likely spending
more time with Netflix, your kids and less time commuting. And by the way, your stocks are probably up. And I would argue that a lot of stimulus,
unfortunately, hasn't been about arresting the pandemic, it hasn't been about helping the neediest, it's been about flattening the curve for rich
The savings rate in America have never been higher. The NASDAQ has never been higher. There are more -- if you do a Google search for COVID and
markets, you'll find more articles than if you put COVID and mortality. It's as if as a nation our priorities are reflected in our spend and our
priority seems to be that a velocity of death, which is unprecedented. And more people are dying every day from this than every crisis in history and
that's meaningful. What would be profoundly tragic is that the NASDAQ declines or at least that's what our spending seems to indicate. We seem to
want to save restaurants but not keep schools open. We seem to want to ensure that the markets are washed in liquidity and people are wanting
stimulus, but we aren't protecting people.
We've seen infection rates rising. We're seeing our state health officials wanting for PPE equipment. It does definitely seem as if we have decided
that corporations are people and they are the ones that we have to save.
SREENIVASAN: How is there and why is there such a disconnect between Wall Street and how the economic realities are being felt on main street today?
GALLOWAY: I think there's a couple things. I think as a nation, we suffer from an idolatry of innovators and we personify company and believe that it
all starts with the shareholder. The shareholder class is the premiere class and as long as the economy is strong, everything will fall into
place. And we measure the economy's health by these dangerous industries called the NASDAQ where 90 percent of stocks are run by the top 10 percent.
The NASDAQ and the DAL aren't indicators on the health of our economy, they are a proxy for how well the wealthy are doing, and spoiler alert, they are
Also, through a lack of DOJ and FTC action, we end up with private power that has now overrun government. There are more full-time lobbyists from
Amazon living in Washington, D.C. than there are sitting U.S. senators. There are more people manicuring Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg's
image in the communications department of Facebook than there are journalists at "The Washington Post."
So, we now have a situation where if you look across the markets, the S&P 500, the companies, the 50 biggest 50 companies are up for the year, the
companies in middle are down high single digits and the smallest 50 companies in the S&P 500 are down double digits. We have decided that
companies are either big tech monopolies or too big to fail. That is our priority. And the wealthiest cohort in America, small business owners, have
received one of the largest bailouts.
And there will be very well publicized examples of the owner of a small cupcake bakery that made it to the other end. But mostly what PPP has done
is do two things, not given bridges to small business but given them peers or, in fact, they're not -- they're still going to go out of business, we
just kick the can down the road because this economy is reshaping. It's coming back differently. And, two, we flattened the curve for rich people.
Small business owners are millionaires typically, and there was no reason they needed a bailout.
The big mistake here looking back will be we should have protected people not companies. We should have put that money in the hands of people and
then let them decide what businesses survived and which perish. Capitalism and rough individualism or rugged individualism on the way up and cronyism
and bailouts on the way down. It's just cronyism. It doesn't help an economy, and money is nothing but the transfer of time and work, and all
we've decided is that we want our kids and our grandkids to spend less time with their loved ones such that wealthy people now can stay wealthy.
SREENIVASAN: You wrote a book, the first time that we spoke, was about "The Four," and that is Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, and you spent a
good chunk of this book updating. One of the key finding is that the pandemic has been exceptional for them.
GALLOWAY: Yes. So, if you owned $100 worth of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google on January 1, post-pandemic or post -- now, we're in the midst of
this pandemic, I would argue we're kind of at the median probably or the halfway point, you're up 47 percent. And so, if Tesla, the ultimate story
stock in March of this year, sitting here in March, Tesla was the second most valuable automobile company in the world. Sitting here today, it's not
only the most valuable company in the world, it's worth more than numbers two, three and four combined.
So, the market -- if you think of the market as an organism that absorbs millions of data points and spits back a verdict, the market is saying it
loves unregulated monopolies and these are fantastic companies, but let's be honest, they're monopolies and they're able to extract rents like other
companies can and also companies that are too big to fail. You have airlines that have reinvested 93 percent of their free cash flow back into
stock buy backs, which chooses the equity-based compensation of their CEOs. And then on the way down, they wrap themselves an American flag and say,
we're all in this together, and look for bail outs.
So, the big four, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have only come out of this stronger. There were 60 cents on the digiting marketing dollar went to
Facebook and Google pre-pandemic coming out of this, it will be 80 cents because there's a calling of the herd right now in business. And the
biggest elephants will come out of this with more foliage to feed off of across fewer elephants.
So, we've had a very scary trend towards more and more consolidation of power across fewer and fewer companies. It's bad for the economy because
typically the companies that generate two-thirds of our jobs are small and medium-sized companies. There are half as many companies being formed today
as there were during the Carter administration. So, the concentration of power, the tyrannical march of big tech taking share from everybody else
SREENIVASAN: Do you think that Congress and regulators will be able to come in and break these companies up whether it's through antitrust or
other means? I mean, because it's almost like they are doing them a favor because companies often spend millions of dollars for consultants to figure
out how to break out if Congress was able to -- or if the FTC was able to do this?
GALLOWAY: I hope so. I believe the most oxygenating thing we can do over the medium and the long-term. Obviously, in the short-term, it's massive
stimulus. We've had that. But the most oxygenating thing we could do long- term for the economy would be to massively increase the funding to the DOJ and FTC and have them restore their proud legacy of coming to a company
when it becomes so dominant that it can perform jedi mind tricks and begin killing other companies by just announcing it's going into that business.
Look what happened when Amazon announced they were getting into home delivery prescriptions with (INAUDIBLE), you saw retail pharmacies and
pharmaceutical firms shed tens of billions of dollars in market capitalization. I think we need to go into these companies not only across
big tech but big pharma and big AG and break them up and restore and oxygenate the marketplace. If we go back to the At&T break-up, all seven
companies were more valuable than the original one.
So, you have more jobs, more acquisitions, more funding, broader tax base. Everybody wins, typically, in break-ups except for one stakeholder and
that's the CEO. And unfortunately, with these dual class shareholder companies and people that love sitting on the throne of all of Westeros
instead of one of the seven realms, they haven't been broken up.
So, I hope more than anything the Biden/Harris administration has more of a backbone, funds the FTC and DOJ and we oxygenate our economy with a bunch
of fantastic firms that get split up into even more robust, more scrappy, you know, smaller firms only worth a quarter of a trillion dollars each.
SREENIVASAN: Just to be clear, you're saying this as a fan of capitalism, not someone who is for excessive government overreach?
GALLOWAY: I'm a full-throated capitalist. I don't like this weird form of socialism we're in now I would describe as cronyism. Part of capitalism is
that you want to oxygenate the marketplace. When we look back on break-ups, typically not only has everyone done better but companies themselves are
worth a lot more than the original company. So, I think this is an exercise in capitalism that we have to have a robust ecosystem. We have to have
opportunities for other companies to get a seat at table. And also, we find that innovation is always buried inside these companies.
When we broke up AT&T, we found out that cell, data, wireless, optics were all lying dormant in Bell Labs. So, yes, this is the capitalist handbook.
Break companies up when they become so powerful that they are performing fantasied on small companies and prematurely euthanizing big companies,
which tend to be great employers and good tax payers. We don't break them up because they are bad people, we don't break them up because we're angry,
we break them up because we are capitalists. This is absolutely a capitalist thing to do.
SREENIVASAN: One of the things that is interesting in the book, you point out basically certain social trends that are occurring because of the
pandemic that are unintended consequences. One of them was that work from home actually exacerbates certain inequalities that have already existent,
and specifically for women in the workforce.
GALLOWAY: Yes. So, I mean, there's a few things that are going to happen. One, you have work from home is seen as -- it's mostly a good thing. It
will have a lot of positive benefits. But another thing that will happen is that folks that slowly but surely -- if they can move your job to Denver,
they can move it to Bangalore. So, sort of be careful what you ask for and that is, I think you're going to see continued pressure on the working
class as we get better and better at creating outsourcing jobs.
I think that the ability, if you will, for people to be at headquarters, the people who can afford to be at headquarters, the people who are
proximity is a key component of relationships. And because women are still, typically, carry a larger burden around the household and child rearing,
if, in fact, they spend more time in the house, which is in many ways a good thing, but don't have that quality time, that proximity to power, if
you will, at HQ, I wonder if we'll end up fomenting the same trends that we have now, where less than, you know, whatever it is, 2 percent of the S&P
500 CEOs are women.
In other words, are we making it -- are we creating an infrastructure where basically HQ is just going to be filled with white guys? And as a result --
I mean, there's just no getting around it. Proximity to headquarters puts you on a different path in terms of advancement within the organization.
So, I think there will be some positives and some negatives that we'll have to adjust for and recognize that people who serve or have the money or
don't have the kids or have the ability to live close to work will have to adjust for the fact that just naturally as a tribal species that likes
affinity and proximity, we'll have to adjust for people who aren't capable of being in headquarters every day.
SREENIVASAN: So, what's your advice to the incoming Biden administration? What should they do whether it comes to stimulus, whether it comes to
trying to increase entrepreneurship or trying to even out some of these inequalities?
GALLOWAY: I think in general, any additional stimulus has to be focused on protecting people, and that is, if we had taken $2 trillion or $3 trillion
in stimulus and divided it among the most vulnerable households, I mean, we don't like to say this, Hari, because I think both of you are probably in
this cohort. But if you're in the top 10 percent, you're living your best life. But the other 90 percent, the key is how do we protect them. And I
think the stimulus should take the most vulnerable, say the lower third households, that's 30 million households, at $3 trillion, that's $100,000
had a household.
So, say it's even a trillion, that's $30,000 a household, and help them make better decisions such that they don't have to pile their diabetes
medication and a bunch of diet cokes into an igloo and head out and turn on their app and run a pay day loan against their car called Uber and put
themselves in harm's way and not be home for their kid to do remote learning. We seem to be obsessed with keeping restaurants open.
You know what, probably the biggest long-term scarring here outside of the health issues, we're losing a generation of kids. Pre-pandemic low-income
kids largely tracked with middle- and higher-income kids in public schools on math. And since the pandemic hit, they have fallen off the map. And
regardless of the moral corruption there, we're going to lose half our scientists, half our military leaders, half our civic, half our social
leaders when 50 percent of kids don't have the skills to enter college. So, we're losing an entire generation of leaders and scientists because we have
decided that we're -- it's more important to keep businesses open than keep our schools open.
So, I think it's really if it comes down to one theme it's protect people, not jobs. And also, that capitalism doesn't work. It's not an organic state
unless it rests on a groundswell, a tied pool of empathy.
SREENIVASAN: The book is called "Post Corona." Scott Galloway, thank you so much.
GALLOWAY: Thing you, Hari.
AMANPOUR: So, much to think about there. And, of course on empathy, finally, in case you missed it this weekend, the Roman Catholic church made
diversity history. Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. has become the first African-American cardinal. He flew to Rome for the formal
ceremony, tested several times for COVID and self-isolating before receiving the blessing from Pope Francis. He told "The Washington Post"
that he hopes to be a voice in the pope's ear for the African-American community. Other new cardinals from Uganda (ph), Chile, the Philippines and
Bruni all show the pope leaning towards truer representation in the church.
And that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thank you for watching, and good-bye from London.