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Interview With Former U.S. Deputy Surgeon General Boris Lushniak; Protests in Cuba; Haiti in Turmoil; Interview with Boris Lushniak; Italy's National Soccer Team Wins Euro 2020 Championship; Interview with Roger Bennett. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired July 12, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Haiti in turmoil days after the shocking assassination of its president. What happens now? I will ask expert and
Haiti native Professor Robert Fatton.
Then: Thousands of Cubans protests, as the country faces a great economic crisis. We get the latest on the ground.
JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Virtually all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the United States are now occurring
among unvaccinated individuals.
GOLODRYGA: All eyes on surging Delta variant cases in America and around the world. Former U.S. Deputy Surgeon General Boris Lushniak joins me on
how to contain the spread.
And then: elation as Italy wins the Euro's championship on a penalty shoot- out. Host of soccer podcast "Men in Blazers" Roger Bennett breaks down the victory and the fallout.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, who will be back next week.
We begin with Haiti, a country in crisis. Nearly a week after the brutal assassination of President Jovenel Moise, there are more questions than
answers about what transpired in the Caribbean nation and what happens next.
Police say they have arrested a man who allegedly recruited the assassins. That's in addition to at least 20 other suspects who have been detained,
most of them Colombian. U.S. officials arrived in the country on Sunday to assist in the murder investigation.
Dozens of desperate Haitians gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Port-au- Prince on Friday, fearing for their safety.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I can't close my eyes, not since the day before yesterday. I can't sleep at night. I had to come here to the
U.S. Embassy because I'm scared. There are many gunshots and you don't even know where they're coming from. I have abandoned my home. I can't go back.
I don't know about my family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. And with two competing prime ministers, gang violence, and, of course, the
pandemic, it is plunging further into uncertainty.
CNN's Matt Rivers is in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, and he joins me now.
Matt, thank you so much for joining us.
What is the latest that we know about this suspect who is a Haitian national with ties to the United States who authorities are calling the
mastermind behind the assassination?
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Bianna, it's a really interesting update.
For a few days, we really didn't get anything from authorities here in Port-au-Prince. It was on Sunday night, though, that officials held this
press conference, in large part to talk about this man, the 63-year-old who they say was born in Haiti named Christian Emmanuel Sanon.
He basically, according to authorities, came here to Haiti to organize this group of Colombian mercenaries, as they have been called by Haitian
authorities, as well as two Haitian Americans that also are a part of this suspected group of people that actually carried out this assassination.
Haitian authorities basically saying he not only helped organize this group of assassins or alleged assassins here in Port-au-Prince; he also helped
recruit them in the first place by working with a Venezuelan security firm based in South Florida, a very convoluted circle here.
But, clearly, what authorities are saying is that they view him as a central figure in this investigation, even at some point at this press
conference with the police chief, the police chief here saying that he thinks in some way this man wanted to seize power in Haiti, without
actually elaborating on what that actually met.
So that's what we know. We know they raided his home a few days ago, found some ammo, targets, things like that. But it's far from over at this point.
I think that there is a lot of skepticism, and rightly so, that this person is somehow the mastermind behind all of this, that he is where it starts
and ends in terms of getting all of these alleged assassins into this country, carrying out this attack.
I spoke to the elections minister here in Haiti just yesterday, and he actually believes that there will be more arrests on the island, that the
mastermind is still out there. And so as much as this was a big update, Bianna, no question about that, the idea that this investigation is over or
close to over or that we really have any idea of the full scope of what's behind this assassination, I think anybody that would tell you that is
probably not telling you the truth.
GOLODRYGA: And it really has turned into an international investigation and crisis.
You have Colombian officials who are also investigating now where these mercenaries came from and how they were recruited. But in terms of the U.S.
response, we know that U.S. security and Justice officials are on the ground there in Haiti.
What more are we hearing about the Biden administration's response to this unfolding crisis?
RIVERS: I think, so far, the Biden administration's response has been relatively limited. I think they're here in an advisory capacity. The
Haitian officials, Haitian government, led by the acting prime minister at the moment, certainly wants U.S. assistance.
But in terms of actually getting lots of boots on the ground, getting their hands dirty in this investigation, I don't think that we are there quite
yet. I think the bigger role that you might see the United States play in both the short and medium term would be in the political instability that
is the power vacuum right now here in Haiti.
It was just yesterday that a U.S. delegation met with the leaders of two competing factions, two political sides, here in Haiti, both sides thinking
that they should be the one in charge of the country at the moment, that they should be the ones to lead this country into elections at some point
down the road view, the U.S. basically saying they had constructive meetings.
But what didn't come out of these meetings is some kind of consensus, some kind of plan. When are new elections going to be held for both the
president, but also the Parliament? Because, remember, there hasn't been elections for Parliament. They are well overdue at this point.
So there's a big political crisis here in Haiti that is not over yet. And we know that this is a country that, when there are political arguments,
that often spills over into the streets. Protests are a very common occurrence here. They can turn violent at times.
And so we're getting a little bit of word today that there have been few protests here and there, nothing large-scale, but that is what we're going
to be watching out for over the coming days and weeks, frankly, as Haiti tries to navigate this post-assassination landscape in which who is going
to run the country, who's going to set up these elections remains extremely unclear.
GOLODRYGA: All of the details are still so shocking. The country continues to be a tinderbox as the days go on.
Matt Rivers, thank you so much. We appreciate your reporting.
Well, joining me now to put all this into context is Robert Fatton. He's an expert on Haitian politics at the University of Virginia and a native to
the country. His latest book is "The Guise of Exceptionalism: Unmasking the National Narratives of Haiti and the United States."
And he joins me now from Charlottesville, Virginia.
Robert, thank you so much for joining us. What a timely book. And I do want to get to the relationship between these two countries and the history
But let's just put everything into context right now, because this is in a country that has seen crises before. There have been coups. There has been
a constitutional crisis. But we have not seen a presidential assassination since 1915.
How did we get here? And were there warning signs?
ROBERT FATTON JR., UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Well, yes, there were warning signs, because the country has been in a permanent state of crisis, in
particular, in the last three or four years.
The elections in Haiti have -- actually, they exacerbated the problems, because the competing political parties and personalities have actually not
accepted the results. So that has generated that kind of political instability and uncertainty.
In the case of Jovenel Moise, what precipitated the crisis before the shocking assassination was the fact that, first, when he was elected, he
was really a very dubious president in terms of his legitimacy. Only about 15 percent of the population bothered to vote. And that implies that the
vast majority of Haitians did not recognize themselves in those elections.
But then you had a series of crises generated by investigations about corruption. And in the past three years, there has been the rise, if you
wish, of civil society. And it's a different type of phenomenon, because that civil society is composed really of very young people, professionals,
and the huge protest against Moise, accusing him of corruption, and they wanted his resignation.
And then you had the additional crisis of President Moise's prolongation of his term. For people in the opposition, that was illegal, where as the
president said: I was elected for five years. I assumed the presidency in 2017. And, therefore, I will not resign and I will be president until
February of 2022.
So we have the context within which you had a political crisis. Then you obviously have a severe economic crisis that exacerbates further the type
of volatility that you see in Haiti.
So, it's a confluence of many factors, immediate factors. There are obviously much deeper historical reasons why we got to the situation in
which we find ourselves right now.
GOLODRYGA: And without a settled continuity of power, as we see.
We know that officials there are still debating as to what the Constitution says, because it had been amended over the past several years, about who
actually is in charge in the country. And you we're dealing with three men who are saying that they should be the designated leaders of country, at
least for the interim.
And we have an acting prime minister, Claude Joseph, a prime minister- designate, Ariel Henry, who just appointed in that position by Moise just weeks before his assassination, and the Senate president, Joseph Lambert.
We have U.S. officials on the ground meeting with all three of them. How likely is it that there will be some resolution, a perhaps unity government
that comes out of this?
?D+IT?MD-IT?ATTON: That is a very complicated issue.
If you look at past history, it is unlikely that you are going to have that compromise. On the other hand, the crisis is so profound that cooler heads
may prevail. But the problem is that all of the political actors now in Haiti are operating without a real Constitution.
It is not only that most actors in Haiti and in the external community have violated the Constitution of 1987 and then that of 2012. But we do not have
the actors that the Constitution stipulates. We don't have a president. We don't have a legitimate prime minister. We have an incumbent prime
But then we have a prime minister that had been nominated by Jovenel Moise who was himself questioned by the population. And then we don't have a
Parliament because there's been no election, and there are only about 10 signatures, and they are themselves to some extent divided. So we are
operating without a Constitution.
The constitutional order is really not in operation. So, a lot is going--
FATTON: Yes, sorry.
GOLODRYGA: No, go ahead. Go ahead.
FATTON: No, I'm saying that, therefore, it is only some sort of compromise between the different political actors.
But that in itself may not resolve the situation, because you have now that civil society which wants to be part of that kind of compromise. So you
have a traditional political class whose rulers have been, to put it mildly, a disappointment. And then you have that rising society that wants
to really change the ways Haiti had been governed.
And that means, therefore, that it is difficult to find some sort of compromise. If you look at Haitian politics -- oh, go ahead, please.
GOLODRYGA: I was just going to say, in terms of going forward, there is a complicated history.
And we can bring you book into this, because there is a complicated history of foreign nations and their involvement interfering with Haiti, in
particular the United States. We saw that happen under President Clinton in the '90s.
This is something that had clearly not been an President Biden's watch list, but here we are right now. How would you advise the Biden
administration to move forward here? And what help, what constructive help can the U.S. offer right now? We know the acting prime minister, Joseph, is
asking for U.S. forces on the ground. That is not something that this administration is likely to want to see in the time ahead.
But what can be done?
FATTON: Well, most Haitians, in particular, that new rising civil society, they do not want a foreign intervention. They want a government of national
unity, a government that would be transitional, that would more or less appease the different factions and also establish some sort of political
order, whereby the gangs, who have really manifested themselves in particular over the last year, would be eliminated from the political
And then you need to organize that government, which is a complicated business. That government itself needs to set the terms of its mandate. And
that would operate, obviously, without a Constitution and set dates for future election.
Now, if I were to advise the Biden administration, I would tell them that they should not really promise a massive intervention. That would be a
disaster. I think also they should not ask -- and they have been asking for immediate elections.
Elections in the current politically climate in Haiti are really, in my mind, something that is very much almost insanity. You have gangs
controlling significant portions of Port-au-Prince and other towns in Haiti.
You don't have the logistical bureaucracy to set up the organization of free and fair elections. And then you don't have an electoral council that
is actually acceptable to all of the political actors.
So, I think the elections have to be postponed, and the government of national unity has to be established. Now, whether the international
community is going to do that remains to be seen, because we have, as you said, a record of interventions that have not resolved anything.
And I think, to take Einstein's dictum about insanity, and that is that you are doing the same thing over and over again, and you expect a different
result. You will not get a different result. And that insanity is in both the international community and among Haitian actors because it is the same
syndrome that we saw in 1994, in 2004, in 2006, in 2010, 2012, and we see it again.
GOLODRYGA: It is a vicious cycle, as you say.
Let's hope that cooler minds prevail there, and there is some sort of unity government that can come out of this, at least temporarily, following this
tragic unfolding of event there, with the assassination, as you mentioned, that we haven't seen in that country in over a century.
Robert Fatton, we, of course, will be continuing to follow and monitor this story. Thank you so much. We appreciate your insight.
FATTON: Thank you very much.
GOLODRYGA: Thank you.
Well, we want to stay in the region now and turning to Cuba, because something we haven't seen before is unfolding. Thousands took to the
streets this weekend to protest the lack of food and medicine in the country. This comes as Cuba faces a grave economic crisis exacerbated by
the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Biden has called on the Cuban regime to -- quote -- "hear their people and serve their needs." In a statement, he said: "We stand with the
Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic
suffering to which they have been subjected."
CNN's Patrick Oppmann has the latest from Havana.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Calling for liberty, protesters take to the streets in Havana. In front of police, the crowd
yells "Fatherland in life, " a new opposition slogan that has gotten people who say it in the public arrested in Cuba.
But Cuba on Sunday seemed a very different place, as thousands of people in cities across the island took to the streets and took the government by
surprise. These are the largest mass protests in years, perhaps decades. Usually, any anti-government activity leads to immediate arrest.
Protests criticizing the state are simply not allowed here. But on Sunday, though, thousands of people voiced their anger openly. And many people told
us they simply had lost their fear.
Police surrounded the protesters and arrested some of them. But for the most part, they did not or could not stop the demonstrations. The protests
are only the latest sign of the unprecedented crisis facing the communist- run island. Even as Cuba produces its own homegrown vaccines, the number of COVID cases has skyrocketed.
On Sunday, health officials announced the highest single-day increase in new cases and deaths. For months, the Cuban economy has spiraled further
and further downwards. The island has been hard-hit by increased U.S. sanctions under the Trump administration, which have continued under
The pandemic has cut off tourism and the ability to receive help from relatives abroad for many Cubans. Lines for food now stretch around the
block and can last for hours. For many in Cuba, waiting for scarce food and medicines has become their life.
"Every day, there are people out here for whatever there is. Some days, you don't even know what products they're going to be selling, " Rachel says.
"You have to be out here if you want to have food."
The economic misery is already leading to desperation, as Cubans are now taking to the sea on rafts in the greatest numbers since 2017, when then
President Obama ended the wet foot/dry foot policy that allowed Cubans reaching the U.S. to stay. Cuba is confronting the worst crisis in decades
without a Castro at the helm, as Raul Castro stepped down from his last leadership role in April.
On Sunday, Cuba's new leader, Miguel Diaz-Canel, blamed the island's economic troubles on the U.S. and vowed to crack down on the protesters.
"The order to combat has been given, " he said. "Revolutionaries need to be in the streets."
As Cuba edges closer to the edge, neither side appears they are backing down.
GOLODRYGA: A region and turmoil.
Well, coming up after the break, we will look at the worrying spread of the Delta COVID variant in the United States and around the world. I will be
joined by former U.S. Deputy Surgeon General Boris Lushniak.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome back.
Well, it's fast becoming the most dominant and dangerous coronavirus variant in the world. Public health officials around the globe are
struggling to contain the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant, as it becomes the Achilles' heel in many nations' plans for a return to
normalcy this summer.
Recent numbers from Israel and the U.K. suggests that some existing vaccines may be effective, but not as effective at fighting Delta. And
drugmakers are already beginning plans for booster jabs later this year.
But not everyone is convinced that that will be needed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: There's a lot of work going on to examine this in real time to see if we might need a
But right now, given the data that the CDC and the FDA has, they don't feel that we need to tell people right now you need to be boosted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: With me now to discuss is former U.S. Deputy Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak.
Thank you so much for joining us.
A lot of confusion in the country and in the world right now. We seem to have competing narratives from both Pfizer and U.S. health officials. At
least in the interim, Pfizer officials and representatives are meeting with U.S. government officials now about their release statement that they are
expecting the need for more booster shots, as now immunity is starting to wane through their research that they have been conducting and following
U.S. government officials and, as we heard, Dr. Fauci saying, hold on, maybe not yet. What is your take on this? Do we need boosters now?
DR. BORIS LUSHNIAK, FORMER DEPUTY U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, I'm a believer in what Dr. Fauci stated already, in that it's all got to be data-
driven right now.
So, some of the companies Pfizer in particular, is coming out with some information that needs to be looked at, needs to be further analyzed. But
right now, there is no evidence, there's no evidence that boosters are necessary at this point time.
The real question is going to be in the future. And, again, don't forget this virus, right, the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has been always perplexing. For
the last year-and-a-half, every time we think we have it figured out, something new comes up.
And, unfortunately, I think we're in the pathway right now of having to do what? To learn new things about the Delta variant and our reaction was.
Booster or no booster, right? What are -- is the pathway ahead? That's really a question that they still needs to be answered, based--
GOLODRYGA: But, to counter that, Pfizer will say they're looking at data too, and they're looking at two countries, the U.K. and Israel, and their
citizens have been vaccinated, in many cases, months before the U.S. citizens were getting their vaccine shots.
So could Pfizer be seeing something that we are going to see imminently, and why not then counter that with a booster?
LUSHNIAK: Certainly, the Pfizer data is important. They have sort of this international realm, which, by the way, the World Health Organization does
as well, as does CDC and FDA.
We're not in an island situation here, where we're just looking at our own data. However, with the provisions of this emergency use authorization,
which basically tells us, based upon the data, how we use the vaccine, several thing.
Two doses, right, of the two-dose vaccines have given us the immunity necessary. The one dose of the one-dose vaccine has given us the immunity
necessary. The real sort of unknown right now is, what's going on with health?
Right now, the preliminary information, at least here in the United States, is, we seem to be covered. The two doses need to be taken of the two-dose
vaccines, right? Even the French study last week in "Nature" talked about the idea that partially immunized individuals won't be fully protected.
But you're absolutely right. We have to be able to monitor this information. I think this meeting with Pfizer that's coming up and U.S.
government officials is critical, because the idea is, let's share the information, let's come up with the right policies to ultimately protect
the world from it.
GOLODRYGA: So much of this is about messaging and trust, right? And we have seen a crushing example of what a lack of trust and a lack of
leadership can lead to, with the millions of deaths we have now seen throughout the world.
Many of them were preventable. And yet here we find ourselves in a position where one wonders why Pfizer officials or -- had not communicated with
public health officials from the CDC and the FDA prior, so there could be sort of a unified message that comes out of this, as opposed to two joint
messages, where, once again, there's more confusion, and, again, some people are even skeptical that there will be maybe some sort of financial
There would be no reason for Pfizer to do that at this point, and we're not saying that we -- they can't be trusted. But I think some of this could
have been prevented. And I'm wondering what your take is, a year-and-a-half in, why we can't seem to get the messaging right.
LUSHNIAK: You know, this is another OMG moment, isn't it, Bianna, is that, if nothing else, we have learned in this last year-and-a-half how messed up
health communication can be.
And whether it was early on in the process, where everything became politicized, at least here in the United States, or right now, which is the
whole idea of the lack of coordination in terms of getting public health messaging out. And I think that does several things, one of which is, it
leads to this idea of confusion, not only within the United States, but worldwide.
But also it brings up this whole issue of skepticism, right? Who is telling me what? And whom do I believe? We have to get better at this. From a
public health aspect, health communication, health literacy are critical to us achieving the endgame of this. And the endgame is going to be a massive,
massive continuing campaign of vaccination worldwide.
GOLODRYGA: You know, at CNN, we have seen and grown all too accustomed to the box that we have on the side of the screen that shows the number of
deaths and infections that we have seen throughout this pandemic.
And, fortunately, over the past few months, we have started to see that go down. Now there's been an uptick in new cases. And the majority of them are
attributed to the Delta variant here right now.
And in the United States alone, the majority of cases that we do see of people being hospitalized or sick or those that have not been vaccinated.
We're living in a country where there's an embarrassment of riches. Anyone who wants a vaccine can get one.
And yet there seems to be one political party in this country that's arguing that the government should not be advocating that people try to
stay alive, for lack of a better word.
I want to play for you some sound from the CPAC meeting over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX BERENSON, CONSERVATIVE AUTHOR: There is a chance that we wind up with a sort of much more health authoritarian state than we had, where
essentially you have to be vaccinated against this if you want to have any semblance of a normal life, if you want to -- if you want -- they were
hoping, the government was hoping that they could sort of sucker 90 percent of the population into getting vaccinated.
And it isn't happening, right?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BERENSON: There's a -- younger people are well aware of what the risks--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: I mean, you hear people cheering there in Texas.
We're talking about a country that has a plethora of vaccines available. Other countries would be envious of this. There's a reason we don't talk
about polio anymore in this country. That's because of vaccines. We send our children to schools having to show that they have been vaccinated.
What is your take on how political this issue has become now?
LUSHNIAK: This is a continuation of the politicization, perhaps even getting worse, right, as time goes on, right?
I have been a public health practitioner my whole career. I'm now a dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland. So I'm teaching
the next generation of public health leaders.
And, in essence, that statement that you just played really is a reflection of how crazy, how insane this has gotten. First of all, the idea that
public health is out there somehow infringing on people's rights and that we're somehow hoodwinking people, trying to persuade them, right, against
their will to take this vaccine is not obviously helpful to the ultimate message. The facts are there.
You absolutely were right when you say that the idea that we're now saying a slight uptick, right? But the slight uptick can become a big up tick. 16
percent increase in the last seven days of cases in the United States. 9 percent increase in hospitalization compared to what he had in the winter
time, that's -- you know, it's headed in the wrong direction. It is not as bad as it once was. But what I hate is -- you know, is from that logical
perspective is seeing any increase whatsoever.
And the answer here is clear, you either get vaccine or you're going to get COVID. That is the way we should be selling this right now. That is the way
we should be persuading individuals. And ultimately, that will lead to protection not only within the United States but also in the world.
Don't forget on a worldwide basis, right now, only 25 percent of the world has one dose of vaccination, right, that's been delivered now. Low-income
countries, less than 1 percent are vaccinated. We have a battle ahead of us. And in this land of riches, we should be doing much better.
GOLODRYGA: Well, thank you so much, Doctor, for coming on and spreading the facts with our viewers. We're very fortunate to have vaccines in this
country. Thank you.
LUSHNIAK: Thank you so much.
GOLODRYGA: Well, still to come tonight the ugly side of the beautiful game. A glowing victory for Italy's national soccer team in the postponed
Euro 2020 championship and a devastating defeat for England's Lions. More on the match and how racism continues to more soccer. That's coming up
GOLODRYGA: Welcome back. A euphoric victory and scenes of delight across Italy. The county's national soccer team beat England in a nail-biting
final and claimed the Euro 2020 soccer championship. And a heartbreaking defeat for an English side robbed of the champs to bring it home for the
nation again. It's a loss made even harder by a savage outpouring of racist abuse which has been leveled of the English players by supposed fans.
Sports officials, politicians and fans are speaking out against player's shocking treatment. And England manager, Gareth Southgate, had these words
in support of his men.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARETH SOUTHGATE, ENGLAND MANAGER: For some of them to be abused is unforgivable, really. I know a lot of that has come from abroad, you know,
people that track those things have been able to explain that, but not all of it. And it's just not what we stand for. We, I think, have been a beacon
of light in bringing people together, in people being able to relate to the national team. And the national team stands for everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: After a tournament of heartwarming and inspiring performances by England's most diverse squad, it's a vile reminder of the bigotry which
can still emerge in the sport. Joining me now is Roger Bennett, self- proclaimed soccer nuts whose humble podcast, "Men in Blazers," has gone onto become a broadcasting empire. He news book, "Reborn in the USA," is a
love letter to his chosen country. It debuts on the "New York Times" bestseller list is week. The top of the list I believe.
Welcome to the program, Roger.
It is wonderful to have you on. I don't see a smile on your face and I was really hoping to see one. I didn't care who was going to win. I was
slightly rooting for England, only because I knew that I would be talking to you today. I know you were reborn in the USA, but you were born in
England and you have been rooting for that country and team for so many years. It came so close. How are you feeling today?
ROGER BENNETT, AUTHOR, "REBORN IN THE USA": You know, Bianna, I can measure my life in England's footballing agony and failure, that cycle of
big dreams and shattered dreams. And this team did become agonizingly close. 55 years it's since we were last in the final to shattering that.
It's almost like a team of Sisyphean footballers in cleats, they rolled that rock so close to the top of the mountain only to let it slip at the
last through their fingers, over their toes and back down.
Huge credit to the fantastic Italians who fully deserved it and had their own narrative of destiny. But this is such a terrific group of young human
beings who have really redefined what it means to be a footballer from the early 2000s when it was all about champagne, VIP room, drive a Lambo, crash
a Lambo. Buy another Lambo. These kids really embraced with a diverse face social justice, LGBTQ rights, anti-racism, child poverty and hunger. They
were a modern face, a briefly very happy face of the nation and one I actually hope still comes to be true.
GOLODRYGA: And look, you have hit on so many important points there. The second youngest team, I believe, in the tournament, such a diverse team,
right? And they we aren't expected to get this far. Let's be honest. I mean, I think it is pretty fair to say that the better team won, as far as
tactics are concerned and playing is concerned.
And before we get to the ugly side of what transpired overnight, I do want to talk more about the technical aspect of the game. Because Gareth
Southgate is receiving some heat about his choice as to who would be performing there and playing for those penalty kicks at the end. There were
three players who are amazing rising stars. One hadn't played much throughout the game at all. And they're just, let's be honest, not very
Is the criticism that he's receiving just from a tactical standpoint correct or accurate in your opinion?
BENNETT: You know, tournament football going this deep, it is an incredible achievement just to reach the final and you need to have talent.
You need to have a remarkable culture within those gents. And you also need luck. And I've watched this team with just delirious joy. They did
something almost impossible, which is take the nation, England, which is deeply divided. Football, at the end of the day, just holds up a mirror to
the culture that surrounds it and that mirror does not always show a pretty picture.
They fleetingly allowed the English people to feel joy after these months of lockdown and the awful (INAUDIBLE) Brexit before, they're allowed to
take off their shirts, to throw their beers into the area, to feel joy and fleetingly, fleetingly feel a sense of unity.
So, I admire Gareth Southgate. He is a deeply emotionally intelligent leader. I think Bonnie Renee (ph) and the "The Guardian" called him the
last sane man left in England. And God love, if he was actually prime minister, I think Britain would be like Scandinavia right now. So, I'm not
going to knock him in any way.
And sending kids to take penalties. These are gents who have practiced all of their life. You cannot practice for that crucible of penalties, which is
just -- it's not like a Russian roulette that's barely even connected to the game, the 90, 120 minutes that came before it. Jurgen Klinsmann used to
say, you know, sometimes you can pick young kids because they do not know enough to be afraid, they don't know they're meant to be afraid.
Unfortunately, we saw yesterday sometimes that experience, that veteran savvy not knowing enough doesn't deliver, and my heartbreaks for them. Last
night, it was awful to watch. Bianna, it was even worse to wake up this morning to see the vile abuse that they received, which is searing,
unforgivable and really reflection of that division within England which football cannot heal alone.
GOLODRYGA: It is disgusting. It is vile and it is the ugliest part of social media throughout all of this. And Gareth Southgate was very
prescient in his letter to England and its fans June 8th as this tournament was just unfolding and a warning about what all of this can lead to and the
vile comments that his players are on the receiving end of. And of course, we talk about those three players, Marcus Rashford and his teammates, Jadon
Sancho and Bukayo Saka, they have been now the target of vicious racial abuse.
There was a mural honoring Marcus Rashford, which was vandalized. This is a team that came together in support of anti-racism causes, taking the knee.
Embracing all. Again, the future of England is what all of these young men represented. I'm curious to get your thoughts on how this impacts all of
the work that they have done throughout this tournament to become the darlings.
BENNETT: I can't imagine what they feel like this morning. One of the elders of the team, the veteran, Raheem Sterling, who's been most
articulate and just incredibly, I mean, a searing leader on the issues of race, football and British culture, you know, he had an incredible
tournament. Five, six years ago, the tabloid media and an element of the fanbase were tearing him down in every single move that he makes. He was --
in this tournament, he was lauded as hero, let's build statues of him all over Britain.
You know, football fandom is deeply fickle. I feel for these kids. They are 19, they are 20, they are 21. They have huge careers before them. I mean,
the racial element, as soon as they missed, I think every sage human being who's watched these cycles of the English media and English fanbase, I
mean, there was a darkness that they had loss, but it was a darkness and fear and all that was to come.
I will say Gareth Southgate himself, the manager in 1996, missed a penalty which knocked England out of their most delirious tournament at home, Euro
'96. Said it was a wound that will never heel. But from such a wound, that lessons about life are learned that he's made him a better human being. You
see the goodness that man brings out into the world. I have no doubt these three footballers, please God, will follow in his pathway.
GOLODRYGA: Roger, nothing warmed my heart more than seeing Southgate and Gareth there hugging all of these players at the end, right, and consoling
them. The shootouts are fun but they are just so heartbreaking for the losing team.
Let's bring your book into this. Because you take out England and soccer and insert NBA and NFL and a lot of this can transpire int eh United States
as well, your beloved home, your adopted, your chosen home. Congratulations, you've become a U.S. citizen in 2018. And you wrote a
book, "Reborn in the USA," about your dreams of always becoming an American. You say you were born to be an American. Your great grandfather
just got off a little bit early in England.
But you had put certain aspects of the U.S. on a pedestal. And here, we're seeing before our eyes over the last few decades if not through our history
that -- and we have rose colored glasses on as well. I'm curious to get your take on how you have absorbed the good and the ugly of this great
BENNETT: You know, Bianna, my book is a love letter to the United States for me, a gentleman, who has shaped his life around the American idea and
became an American citizen in 2018. Just before things here really descended into the chaos. I wrote it in during the lockdown in New York
City, a city that I had painted on the skyline, a very crude image at the skyline of Manhattan painted on my bedroom wall in Liverpool in the 1980s.
I grew up there. Magnificent city.
But back then, the north of England and the thatcher was really laid to waste. The economics, politically, culturally, the coal mines shut down,
the steel mills ground to halt, the cotton mills. And Liverpool is once great port city was left to rot. Unemployment soared. Heroin epidemic greet
the city. You know, if you've seen Billy Elliot, you kind of get the picture of what life look like.
He had ballet dancing, I didn't. And I learned to survive by just imbibing everything American I could lay my hands on. You know, the television,
"Heart to Heart," "Fantasy Island," "Miami Vice," the Chicago Bears, Run- DMC and, of course, my one true queen, Tracey Chapman. All of them taught me life lessons about possibility, hope and courage.
And I wrote the book in lockdown that descended into Black Lives Matter movement and then the chaos of the 2020 election. And I just say that if
you have stood in a courtroom, as I did in Lower Manhattan, with 162 other freshly minted new Americans, some of whom walked through desert, survived
famine, civil war to be here to the idea of America that I root about, you know, the idea of America, when you talked to them gave us courage, gave us
confidence, gave us a sense of hope when we most needed it.
And ultimately, that is the narrative that I try and engage within the book. The idea of America, of a young man, is romantic. It's a myth. It is
not the real America. I live in the real America, grapple with the real America. You know, the epigraph of my book is the Langston Hughes line, let
America be America again. The land that never has been yet and yet must be. And I think all of us want to close the gap between the idea of America as
it exists in our head and the reality of America that we now view.
GOLODRYGA: Roger, you know, I read a passage from my book to my parents, you know, we came here as political refugees as well, from the same
country, close to your great-grandfather, from the Soviet Union. And tears went down my mother's eyes because it doesn't matter which generation you
came in. Everyone has the same emotions. And knowing that they chose to come to this country and they worked to be Americans and they live the
American dream, mopping floors. In your case, working as a waiter in a restaurant.
Do you get a sense that that social mobility that so many people aspire for in this country still exists for those that want to come?
BENNETT: No. I can say that the day I became American was the day that I did decide to write this book. I held up over Twitter a photograph of
myself with my new naturalization certificate. And it was a beautiful moment for me. To me it was the greatest moment of my life to fulfill this
dream. Kid with Statue of Liberty on his bedroom, to end up becoming an American. You know, a couple hundred feet away from the statue itself.
But in that moment, you know, over Twitter, there was a huge outburst of congratulations. I think my joy, the fact that I never take this for
granted to be an American, it's something that I wake up every morning here in New York and I just genuinely honored by it.
But there was a really strain of individuals that said -- felt the need to say congratulations, you did it the legal way. The legal pathway as opposed
to and then tarnishing other people who aspire to the same dream. And the truth is, I didn't. You know, I was an illegal alien for a long time when I
first arrived, and that is the beginning of my story.
And that toxic reality because I am white, funny and on television, people project what they want and then project in the other way going to many
other people, I felt that and it really pollinated a deeply -- and made toxic, to be candid, one of the happiest days of my life. So, right then
and there, I think I felt the challenge that you question hints at.
GOLODRYGA: Well, and it is what you strive to achieve more of and more unity in this country. I know for your children as well and I could only
imagine without sounding too sappy, Roger, that your grandfather who you spent so much time with and playing chess with and who you adored who lived
across street from you would be very proud that you finally made it to Chicago and now New York.
BENNETT: It's one of the joys of this book release. I mean, first of all, to be candid, it's deeply humbling to have my love letter to America reach
the top of the bestseller list. It is deeply, deeply humbling how that has been received. But the second joy of it is to have my grandfather's memory
live again and breathe again.
His dad, my great-grandfather, Harris, left Ukraine like millions at the turn of the 20th century. And he was a butcher. And he wanted to go to
Chicago, the hog capitol of the world. And as you say, when the boat docked in Liverpool to refuel, he saw the one tall building on the Liverpool
skyline, looked at it and thought, oh, we're here. We're in New York. Let's get off. And instead of going to the promised land, ended up in the
northwest of England.
And so, that dream always, always just lived in our DNA. When things were dark in Liverpool, my grandfather would take this green cheap green church
key (ph) that's now on my desk of the Statue of Liberty, he takes it off his shelf and we look at it and he'd say, we should have lived there. We
should have lived there.
To fulfill that three-generation story, albeit 85 years later than was originally intended is genuinely the honor of my life. And I hope in five,
six generations, my own family have my head shot over their dinner table and they point to it and they say, who' is that bald dude? And they will
look at each other and be like, none of us can remember his name but he's the one. He's the one that brought the family to America.
GOLODRYGA: And there is a reason so many people can understand and relate to your story because millions of people from around the world experience
the very same thing and you write it so beautifully, Roger. Congratulations for being an American. My parents and I celebrate our anniversary every
year and we thank you for joining us to talk about football and your journey to become an American. Thank you.
BENNETT: Bianna, thank you for having me and big love to your parents.
GOLODRYGA: Will do.
And joining me now for more discussion on what we can take away from Sunday's soccer match is CNN's sports commentator, Darren Lewis.
Darren, thank you so much for coming on.
You know, we wanted to talk today about the darling team in England, the second youngest team in the Euros there. The new face of England. A diverse
face, young players. And here we see the wrath once again, the ugly side of social media and racism.
And I want to get your take on what, you know, many people anticipated, including perhaps even football manager, Gareth Southgate. He wrote a
letter to England going into the Euros on June 8th and anticipated and discussed just this. How bad are things right now? And how will this impact
DARREN LEWIS, CNN WORLD SPORT CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I heard you talking to Roger a second ago about your parents and they came to the country and the
way they forged a life for themselves. And I bet, just like my parents, they didn't think that five or so decades later their children would still
be fighting and doing what they can to highlight the issues that society continues to have with racism.
But that remains the case. And as much as black and brown people, I would suggest on both sides of the Atlantic, struggle to integrate themselves
into society, certainly in this country.
The football has shown us that you are English when you are winning, but you are very much black and brown when the team aren't doing well. And what
we've seen at the start of this tournament, we saw the players taking the knee. Just as you guys have sportsman doing over there, to highlight the
issue of racist abuse. And at that point, what we saw was the prime minister in his home secretary refusing to condemn the people who were
booing the players taking the knee.
Then the players started to do well in the tournament. And they managed to get beyond the quarterfinals stage, which historically is when England
normally bow out of tournaments. They reached the semifinal stage and a new momentum started to gather around the country.
People started to seriously believe they could win the tournament. And suddenly, the politicians who wouldn't give those players the support they
had asked for when they took the knee, when they tried to highlight racial injustice, suddenly, the politicians are back on the bandwagon.
And today, we've had the prime minister now issuing more a finger wagging rather than a message of condemnation for the people who have been racially
abusive. And it tells you everything about where we are as a country.
We've been divided for the last five or six years since Brexit, even before the election. We have had so much divisive rhetoric from the leadership in
this country. And what that has done, it created a febrile atmosphere within which people have felt emboldened, empowered, able to kind of come
out with a kind of thing that they wouldn't have done previously. Again, very similar to the other side of that Atlantic, pre the election.
And what we now have is people asking what the FA, the Football Association, here in England are going to do about the messages that the
players are receiving. But the messages are just a symptom of something much bigger in this country. That is much more structural that we are going
to have to fight, all of us together, to fight -- to overcome in order to ensure that the newer generation, the younger generation don't have the
same problems that we've had.
GOLODRYGA: You know, two things came to mind when I read those vile messages this morning. And one was, you know, why wasn't the British goalie
sort of receiving any backlash for allowing the Italians to score during the penalty kicks? I mean, it's -- again, this is not the direction that it
should be going in. But it is striking that it was the three black players at the end who were on the receiving end of this ugly vile racism.
And my second thought was, if such prominent players in the world are subjected to this, what message does this send to the young brown and black
boys and girls in the U.K. and around the world who, you know, aren't big names, aren't celebrities?
LEWIS: Well, as I say, it is all about inclusivity and acceptance. And what we've found historically, even away from sport, is that no matter how
hard we try to integrate ourselves into society, we're only really useful if we can add something, win something, entertain, provide something.
That's when black and brown people are useful.
It is uncomfortable and it is not very nice to say. But I think a lot of our viewers watching right now will recognize what I'm saying, because this
is all about acceptance. It actually has nothing to do with sport, and everything about the history that we have found of black and brown people
not feeling inclusive, unless you are a good immigrant, unless you are someone that provides something. It is the kind of hostile environment that
the government here in this country want to create. Unless you can bring something to the party, help us economically. Then we'll consider you a
And I think there are wider issues at play here than just the messages. As I said before, the messages are a symptom of something wrong. You mention
the goalkeeper. I kind of liken it to far more serious issues that are happening in terms of social justice in the U.S. where people say look,
we're not asking you to treat them in the same way you treat us. We're asking you not to insult them -- sorry, not to insult us, just like you
don't insult them. And that is a point.
Why is it that if you are black, if you are brown, suddenly you are cast aside if you put a foot wrong. It is a problem that we've had for the last
three or four months, probably even longer of the regular football season. It will happen again next season too.
GOLODRYGA: And let the record show, that no one should be insulted. I didn't mean that the goalkeeper should be insulted. I just noticed that
wasn't the case here. And it sounds trite to say at this point, but, you know, we as a society and as humanity need to be better and these athletes
should be celebrated and not celebrated and not ridiculed and exposed to such a vile treatment.
Darren Lewis, thank you so much for joining us.
LEWIS: Well, thank you.
GOLODRYGA: The team got very far and they are darlings.
LEWIS: Thank you very much indeed. I agree.
GOLODRYGA: And finally, in keeping with the theme of sport, which we were just discussing. On Sunday, Novak Djokovic secured a record equaling 20th
grand slam at Wimbledon. The Serbian ace bested Italy's Matteo Berretini over four sets dashing Italian hopes of a whitewash at Wimbledon and the
Euro. The Italians have a lot of celebrate still.
Despite the racist abuse directed at England players after the soccer final, the two tournaments reminded us of the power of good will in
support. At Wimbledon, Djokovic gifted his match-winning racket to a young fan in a heartwarming moment reminiscent of another gem at the Euros. In
case you missed it, England star Mason Mount, made Young Belle McNally's day when he gifted his shirt to the superfan at last week's semifinal.
It is a wonderful moment and we need more of those.
Well, that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thank you for watching and goodbye from New York.