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Legendary Duo, Woodward and Bernstein, Turn Their Investigative Skills to Trump; "A Place for Us" Presented By Sarah Jessica Parker; A Debut by Writer Fatima Farheen Mirza. Russia Using Facebook to Attack America. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired September 17, 2018 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." And here is what's coming up.
Woodward and Bernstein, the legendary duo held one president to account. Now, 40 years after Watergate, they're turning their investigative skills
to President Trump. Is history repeating itself? Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein join me live.
Also, today, an actress for our times publishes a novel for our times. Sarah Jessica Parker presents "A Place for Us," the brilliant debut by
young Muslim-American writer Fatima Farheen Mirza.
Then, Facebook got trolled in 2016 when Russia used it to attack America's election and it all happened on this man's watch. Our Walter Isaacson
talks to Facebook's former chief of security officer, Alex Stamos.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
So, will President Trump's supreme court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh be confirmed now that psychology professor Christine Ford has gone public
accusing a drunken 17-year-old Kavanaugh of assaulting her at a high school party more than 30 years ago.
Kavanaugh firmly denies the allegation and says that he will testify again on Capitol Hill. The White House also said his accuser should be heard.
Would a derailed supreme court nomination add to the perception of dysfunction inside the Trump White House?
In his new book "Fear: Trump in the White House," the legendary journalist Bob Woodward provides an intimate inside portrait. And he says, even the
chief of staff says that this presidency has "gone off the rails."
Meanwhile, Carl Bernstein, once Bob Woodward's Watergate partner, is racking up scoop after scoop of his own on the Trump administration.
Bernstein, as he says, is following the money among many other issues in his groundbreaking reporting.
And they are now still icons of after all these years, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein join me for their first joint interview around this issue.
And in fact, the first joint interview as far as I can gather for more than a year.
So, gentlemen, thank you so much for joining me.
Can I ask you both -- let me ask you, Bob, because you're in Washington there, do you think that sort of them 11th hour revelation or public
revelation by Christine Ford alleging what she has about Brett Kavanaugh will affect the confirmation hearings?
BOB WOODWARD, AMERICAN JOURNALIST: I certainly don't know, have done no original reporting on it. It's obvious that they've got to try to get to
the bottom of it. That may be difficult and more consuming that lots of people would hope.
AMANPOUR: And Carl, just thinking about how all these hearings unfolded, you now, 40 years ago, all the Watergate matters and seeing this happen
right now, do you -- what do you think it about its potential or is it just going to be done and confirmation will go ahead?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think one of the great things about being a reporter is that we don't have a crystal ball. So, that
there really is not enough information for us to look ahead.
We're very much in the present, reporting the story as it's going on, including the dynamic of the White House and the possibility of extended
hearings, but we don't know what's going to happen, and I wouldn't hazard to guess.
AMANPOUR: So, Bob, let's get to your book "Fear: Inside the White House," as we said. The crystal ball, you actually did gaze very, very deeply into
this White House, you've talked to a lot of people, everybody knows the perimeters of your reporting. Why did you call it "Fear"?
WOODWARD: Because in an interview a couple of years ago we asked Trump what is real power and he literally said real power is I don't even like to
use the word fear. So, that's his -- and it was done in a way it was almost a Shakespearean side, Hamlet turning to the audience and saying this
is really what's driving me, this is really what it's about.
And if you look at his presidency, I think there is -- that that is one of the motifs that is -- he's trying to scare people and not only is he scared
people abroad and people in the country, he has scared a lot of people who work most closely with him.
AMANPOUR: I mean, I guess, you know, everybody has been, you know, sort of their hair standing on end over the revelations in your book and Carl
himself has been doing a huge amount of reporting as well, and you have both been talking a lot around this book and as it's been unfolding. What
do you think, first of all, Bob, obviously, it's your book and then I'll ask Carl, is the most significant revelation in a string of hair-raising
I mean, I'm particularly interested, obviously, in the nexus between national security, the global projection of power, the alliances and how
America remains a steadfast ally and an adversary to those who needed to be an adversary.
WOODWARD: I guess the overall theme is, and it's something Carl really focused on a year ago about Trump, and that is the line. Things that are
just not true. And Trump has a view of the word that somehow he can come in as the disrupter and that the framework that was handed to him, you
know, 70 years of work by democratic and republican presidents to keep the peace, quite frankly, and uses trade agreements, security agreements like
NATO, and top secret intelligence partnership to protect the United States and there are scenes in the book where he just will not have any of it, and
has his -- this very difficult catastrophic view, quite frankly, that the issue is money.
Oh, my God, we are protecting European countries, we're protecting South Korea, and we're losing money, and he literally says at one NSC meeting,
"We are being played for suckers. We would be so rich if we were smart." While the generals and the people who know this tell him very much up
front, said, "Look, these are bargains. If we had to pay ten times the money to keep troops in South Korea or in NATO or the forward deployment
that the United States has around the world, that would be exactly what we would do." He doesn't get it.
AMANPOUR: And, Carl, in the introduction, I said that you, among other things, concentrated on following the money. In a different way, what is -
- where is it leading you?
BERNSTEIN: I think what Bob has accomplished, and let me focus on that now and tell where leads me, what Bob has accomplished is many of us have had
little pieces of this through the past year and a half and a few big pieces. What he has do is assemble a coherent picture of the dysfunction,
of the ignorance as attested to and characterized as ignorance to the president of the United States by those closest to him, and not just the
ignorance but also a real level of incompetence, as the put it.
So, what we get is a book that now shows very clearly those closest to the president of the United States saying the president himself is a danger to
the national security of the United States. And what I have done is pieces of that, including we have looked at the aspects of it, and there's a lot
more to be learned about Donald Trump's relationships with oligarchs, what he has done in Russia in terms of most of his income as far as we know, and
one of his sons has told us, most of his income in recent years has come from Russia, Ethno-Russians and enterprises having to do with oligarchs.
We need to know a lot more about that and perhaps the Mueller investigation will tell us. But following the money and following the lies is the key to
understanding what this presidency is about, and Bob has done it and added up from those closest to him to the president a really dramatic narrative
that shows us in real-time what's been happening.
WOODWARD: And the vacuum here, if I may say, and I think Carl would agree, we never got or Trump never released his tax returns. You talk to people
WOODWARD: -- following the money. Those tax returns are a trail to understanding not just how he made money, how he lost money, what these
bankruptcies were about, but who he is. And it's a shame, and may I be quite frank here, I fault myself for not being more aggressive in trying to
get those tax returns. It would be such a window into all kinds of things, not a perfect window, but it would be something that would tell journalists
and book authors and the public who this man is.
AMANPOUR: But both you, Woodward and Bernstein, this is, obviously, the most leaky White House in recent memory. I mean, everything seems to pour
out one way or another. Do you think that these tax returns could leak out? I mean, they exist. The federal government has them, doesn't it?
WOODWARD: Yes. It's hard. But --
BERNSTEIN: Well, one is going to presume that Mueller is going to use them in some way that we might learn about them.
WOODWARD: But that's not for sure. And, you know, you say it's a leaky White House. Yes, it's a leaky White House. But it is, as Reince Priebus,
the former chief of staff called it, it really is a team of predators, not a team of rivals. And that they are chaos creators.
And what, you know, we have to do is find a method, and I go back to the method Carl and I used in Watergate, which, frankly, I learned from Carl,
go to people's homes at night. It's futile to try to see them in the office, certainly to see people in the White House. You have to go knock
on doors. You're going to get some no's and slammed doors but you will find people who are willing to be truth-tellers.
And that -- and that you can build a serious long-term relationship with. Difficult, it takes time, but that's where we've, I think, gotten out of
the habit, and I find myself that not only did I get out of the habit but I was getting too lazy.
And you -- there is a time and reporting on this at 11:00 at night where I called somebody and said, "How about now?" And he said, "Now, you know, we
-- that's ridiculous. 11:00 at night, go to bed." I said, "Well, I'm a few minutes away." He said, "OK, come on." And that opened the door and
the reality and it's vividly demonstrated in our book "All the President's Men" and in the movie.
Carl going to the bookkeeper in the Nixon re-election committee, and that's what began the unraveling for us, the understanding of what Nixon was up
AMANPOUR: Well, that obviously leads. But first of all, I have to obviously say what we've said over and over again that President Trump and
the White House and many of the protagonists have denied what you have written.
I mean, many of them have said, "No, I didn't say that to Carl Bernstein -- Bob Woodward," and the president himself put out lots of tweets, "The
Woodward book is a joke. Just another assault against me and a barrage of assaults using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources."
OK. So, that leads us to the very real question that so many have had and it's raised the issue of anonymous sources to almost an Everest-like level
in the stratosphere of what we all do.
I want to play, just for posterity, appearance by both of you, much younger men, 40 years ago,1976, on "Meet the Press" about this very issue of
anonymous sources and the opening question is from Jack Nelson, I believe, of the L.A. Times. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK NELSON, AMERICAN JOURNALIST: I think that what disturbs a lot of journalists about the book is the methodology used. Both of you say that
people say the book is journalism, and yet, you have written it from an omniscient viewpoint, that is, you get into the minds of people, you have
made -- you said you have made no judgments but, in fact, you have made hundreds of judgments in the book about how people feel, about how they
think, about whether they're sad or whether they're happy and so forth, and you do all of this, really, from a very omniscient standpoint.
And what I wonder is, is this the full flowering of the new journalism and do you think this is healthy for journalism? If Journalism already has a
problem of credibility with the public and if the public sees this as journalism, I wonder if it is healthy.
BERNSTEIN: If there's anything this is not it's not new journalism. It's not new journalism, it's psychohistory. It's very simply reporting, the
most basic empirical type of reporting that you and I do every day.
In fact, the real similarities to be seen in your stories and this particular piece of work, which is to say, we do use anonymous sources just
as you do in your stories daily about Washington.
The difference is, in this book, we don't use the phrase according to informed sources after every second or third paragraph.
WOODWARD: We use quotation very sparingly in the book, as you know, from reading it. And when we -- you say we get into people's minds or we read
people's minds, we do nothing of the kind. Well, just to take an example, the line in the book that Fred Buzhardt, one of Nixon's chief Watergate
lawyers, thought that President Nixon was one of the most transparent liars he had ever seen.
Well, that is -- the basis of that is it all sorts of people in the White House who heard Buzhardt say that time and time again, and it's simple
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Guys, you haven't changed a bit, what can I say, 40 years ago. But look, this is a real issue, a real live issue. And --
BERNSTEIN: Well, let me interrupt you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: No, but a lot of people have asked me --
BERNSTEIN: Bob's new book ends with the president of the United States today, Donald Trump, being called by his lawyer as in the Nixon book an
f'ing liar, the same thing, 42 years later, the methodology and the same conclusion by the president's lawyer about his client.
AMANPOUR: But, having said that, a lot of people keep raising this issue of anonymous and are worried about the credibility of anonymous,
particularly, the anonymous "New York Times" op-ed writer. So --
WOODWARD: This has got nothing to do with the "New York Times" op-ed writer who is not named and they're not specific incidents.
In my book, I had the luxury of time. And if you look at it, you will see it will say, "At 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January -- or July 15th, the
following happened," and you will see a meeting and a discussion of very substantive issues.
The sources of that are known to me. Happily, I was able to get notes, files, says diaries, actual documents, and some of them are reprinted in
the book and they are quoted from extensively. Think about the alternative, you go over to the White House and you talk to Kellyanne
Conway, say -- and say, "What's going on?" and you turn on your tape- recorder and say, "This is on the record." What do you -- what level of truth do you think you are going to get? It's a press release. We do not
want to give the public press releases.
And so, the avenue in is -- and Carl and I lived in this environment together in the Nixon case for two years, you cross-check, you double-
check, you try to find people and you can find people of conscience and courage. But don't -- let's not kid ourselves and let's not fool the
public, oh, that somehow, it's going to be pure and true if it's on the record.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, that point is really interesting for viewers to hear and to understand and to go back, certainly, to get it from the
horse's mouth and with the journalism that you have been doing for the last 40 years.
But I do want to also ask you both, you know, maybe Carl can sort of describe a little bit of what you bring up in the book. These are not
exactly profiles in courage. In a way, some people have thought that your book is all about, you know, sort of conquerors of the truth and stability.
But you have an incredible story in the book which you think is going to reveal what somebody is saying about Trump but it's actually what somebody
is saying about John Kelly, his chief of staff, about his attention span, about what he is interested in, about how to present him with substance.
So, I guess, you know, the question is, what faith do you put in the people around the president?
WOODWARD: Well, there are all kinds of people and at all kinds of levels. And as we're trying to say, it's about reporting. And you can do it and
let's not kid ourselves. In the White House, in the Trump White House, there is a level of anxiety that people have that, my God, the impulse is
going to drive the president to do one thing or another, like imposing steel tariffs.
99.9 percent of the economists say, "This is foolish. This is not going to help the American economy." And the president even keeps it secret from
his top economic advisor in the White House and his chief of staff, General Kelly, at that time.
AMANPOUR: And Carl, I wonder whether you think one of the unintended consequences of these kinds of stories is something might happen to one of
the gatekeepers. For instance, many, many people believe that general, now defense secretary, James Mattis, is a man of great experience, great
integrity and knows the military back to front and the global situation. Now, we read in the newspapers that his position may be imperiled.
Do you worry that the kinds of stories that Bob has written, you know, the kinds of reporting he has done, the kinds of stuff that you all do might
have consequences that cause some really true blue officials to pay with their jobs?
BERNSTEIN: No, because the truth is the best thing that we can have in terms of government, secret government, as Bob has said, is the enemy. And
what we need to know is more and more of the truth. We need to know more about the Trump presidency not less and not sit on it.
Let me say a word that Bob can't say out because he can sometimes be modest about the -- his body of work. That we know more about the American
presidency, going back to the Nixon books that we did together but then through subsequent presidents, we know more about the American presidency
and the real record of what happened during eight presidencies than we would have known at all had it not been for Bob Woodward's books.
It is an unparalleled record that we have from the inside accounts because of Bob's book. And the methodology that we developed in covering Nixon,
the result is to be found in the papers that are down at the University of Texas and in Bob's papers, which will be deposited in a place where
everybody, scholars and others can look at them. The same with my papers, dealing with a biography of Hillary Clinton, dealing with subjects of
But these sources and our methodology is going to be available for all to look at. But the whole idea that the president of the United States has
declared a war on truth, which is really what we're talking about here, and called the press, the enemy of the people, the press being the only reason
that we really know about what's been going on in this presidency and particularly, the way Bob has put this book together, this is where we are
today. We have a war on truth and happily, we still have a free press that is doing its job and doing it well.
AMANPOUR: So, many, many people would agree with you. And it does seem to be, you know, the latest situation of this adversarial role to an end's
But, Bob, I need to ask you because you also kind of criticized the Press Writ Large over the Trump coverage. And you've said, "I just think too
many people have lost their perspective and become emotionally unhinged about Trump. I can understand that but that's not the way the media should
response. The media should respond with what really happened."
You know, what do you mean by that and how should the media be responding?
WOODWARD: Well, I think it's very clear. You know, sometimes people get in a mode, particularly on television, of self-satisfaction and kind of a
smugness about it all. As Carl has said, you look at the Trump White House and what's going on, we need to have a wake-up call about it and there
should be no joy or comfort that people feel, whether in the press or citizens.
This is -- as I describe it, this is a full-fledged nervous breakdown. And if you know anything about nervous breakdowns, they're tough on the
individual and an institution, let alone a White House, a whole administration, as I quote people in books saying, "We're teetering around
on the edge," and there is no doubt about this.
You -- and you can see it when people who defend the president, fine, let them have their say, and they come out and give this portrait of like the
president himself has, the well-oiled machine. Well, that's just not so. It is provably not so.
AMANPOUR: Well, it is really remarkable reporting and we are so grateful for it and we are really grateful to see you two back together again on
Thank you so much, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, as we, of course, know, the Watergate reporting of both these gentlemen defined an era. And in a very different way now, my next
guest, the actress, Sarah Jessica Parker, also captured the (INAUDIBLE) of a different era, the turn of this century. It was with the runaway TV hit
"Sex and the City."
Parker is known for her shoes, her style and her acting chops, but who knew that she is not only an inveterate avid reader, she is also a brand-new
publisher, launching her own imprint called "SJP for Hogarth" in partnership with "Penguin Random House."
Its first title, "A Place for Us," by the young novelist, Fatima Farheen Mirza, landed straight on the "New York Times" best seller list. Mirza
takes us inside a Muslim-American family as they struggle against expectations of culture and heritage, religion and marriage in post-9/11
America. "A Place for Us" is, as I discovered, really a book for our times.
Sarah Jessica Parker and Fatima Farheen Mirza join me here in New York recently for our own private book club meeting.
Welcome both to the program.
Fatima, I mean, you started to write this, I think, when you were about 17 or 18 years old.
FATIMA FARHEEN MIRZA, AUTHOR, "A PLACE FOR US": Eighteen.
AMANPOUR: Eighteen. You're now around 27.
AMANPOUR: So, it took nearly a decade, not quite. And obviously, when you started to write it, it preceded the current --
AMANPOUR: -- hyper-partisan feelings, certainly, about foreigners --
AMANPOUR: -- about immigrants, about refugees and all the rest of it.
AMANPOUR: What was it that made you want to write about this book?
MIRZA: So, it's funny you bring that up because that' something I'm very relieved about now when I -- that I began it before all of this. That I --
that -- which allowed me to approach this family.
My goal when approaching them was that I wanted to -- I knew the labels that the world might assign on them, and I knew the frequency of notions
that people might have about a Muslim-American family post-9/11.
But for me, I always wanted to protect them from that and approach them as characters, as individuals and ask them, you know, every time I sat down on
the page, what is the story to you and what are you -- what is your life like when you are alone?
AMANPOUR: So, Jessica, what did you most connect with? I mean, it's a story of Layla and Rafiq, the parents who bring up their daughter. The
eldest one is Hadia, the brother is Amar and there's another sister whose name I just had forgotten.
AMANPOUR: Huda. Exactly right.
AMANPOUR: And it really does delve on their childhoods, on their ability to integrate within the American community that they grow up in, but it
also has a lot to do with love.
SARAH JESSICA PARKER, ACTRESS: There is so much that is compelling about the book. And I think what I what I saw in it immediately and I think what
you reacted to enthusiastically, which is a thrill for all o4 us, is that it's a book about with big themes, you know, and it is a book about love
but it's also a book about what it means to be an American family, and all its plurality today.
It's a book about what it is to love and honor those who sacrifice for you, how to be an observant person and choose to be observant in your own way,
how do you honor your faith, but also carve a place for yourself in the world, what it is to be a first generation American, to be a first
generation American-Muslim today, how you see yourself and what people projects on to you.
And, you know, the sacrifices we make for children, for love, it's about parenting and missed opportunities and loving wrong sometimes. You know,
it's -- I think it's -- and it's weeping. And so, it feels big in those ambitions. But those inner monologs because there are so many quiet
moments because they're not being candid with one another, they're so careful around one another, they're so polite and principled that we get to
be inside the bodies of these characters, and I think it's about all of us.
AMANPOUR: Essentially, this book was conceived and written in the, practically, immediate post-9/11 aftermath. And there is, you know, a
section in the book where the father, Rafiq, tells his daughters who are hijab wearing, scarf wearing girls, religious, observant girls in an
observant family, not to wear the hijab, in case when they go to school, in case they get backlash.
AMANPOUR: You yourself used to wear the hijab and then you didn't.
AMANPOUR: What -- tell me about that evolution.
MIRZA: Yes. So, I wear hijab for many years. I wear it from when I was nine to 22. But actually, that scene where the father asks his daughter to
take off their hijab in the direct aftermath of 9/11, that was a personal scene for me, although at the time I was in fifth grade. And Hadia and
Huda are juniors and seniors. So, that was something that I was very confused about as a child because you don't quite know what's happening and
you don't know exactly why something in you has to change.
If you've been - if you're just being who you are, right? But my - my journey with the hijab, it's been - it's been - it's not one that I can
speak of so simply. I - I wore it for many years with intention, and it was my decision.
And when I -- when I took it off, it's not so - it's not that I just didn't want to wear it anymore, and so I took off, it's also because I was aware
of how I grew up in a family where the women wear hijab.
And I was aware of how much pride my mother and cousin take in wearing it and what it means to them. And then as I got older, I began to realize
that my own individual relationship with my faith or with - with the hijab, it wasn't one that necessarily I felt - thank you. I felt-
AMANPOUR: That's a girl friend's (inaudible).
MIRZA: Yes, yes. That I felt as wholeheartedly in that decision as I saw my - mother and my cousins.
And I so much respected and admired what it meant or them to wear it. And so because I recognized both in myself a struggle, I - I ultimately decided
not to wear it anymore.
What really frustrated me when I - when I spoke to my friends and my - people who are not in my family about it, the reaction I received was oh,
now you're liberated. So that was so hurtful because what was I all the years before when I was acting out of wanting to wear it?
PARKER: Obviously there's so much territory covered in the book, and I don't want anybody whose ready yet to fee like it's a burden to read
because it really isn't.
It's this wonderfully ease - it's a gift for readers, because it just takes you. But that's another interesting puzzle that I think all the children
in the family are trying to figure out, is their own relationship to their faith, which they don't resent.
But it's - and I - Christians, like people examine their faith. When people are observant, it's - it means something to ask those really hard
questions. And it's so avertable I think to - to try to filet it a little bit for - for a reader in fiction.
And - and to see how - how (inaudible) misunderstands what the expectations are because of words that have been exchanged, you know, and how
(inaudible) is so misguided and ill-equipped to be nuanced about faith.
And so it's - these - how Fatima describes, those choices is - that's a big part of this book.
AMANPOUR: It really is a story for - for these days, particularly as I said in the current environment. Going back to Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex
and the City, and the whole girl friends, I want to lay this - this clip because it goes to the heart actually who knew, of your - of your respect
for books and the power of writing.
PARKER: There can be many tortured moment sin he life of someone who spends their days writing books. The antidote to those moments is the
moment the finished book finally arrives.
AMANPOUR: Never a truer word.
PARKER: There's never a truer word.
AMANPOUR: But it's funny to me-
PARKER: I never knew what it really meant until now though.
AMANPOUR: And then you appeared on the red carpet not so long ago with a novel instead of a cool designer handbag.
PARKER: Did I?
AMANPOUR: Yes, you did. Should I show you the picture?
PARKER: Yes, what was it?
AMANPOUR: I don't know, I was going to ask you.
PARKER: Oh yes, I-
AMANPOUR: Yes, look-
PARKER: I've always got a book in my hand. Yes, I can't help myself. Yes, I mean-
AMANPOUR: So you are a big veracious reader-
PARKER: We - I grew up in a house where there were lots of rules and one of them was that you weren't allowed to leave the house without something
And even that was applied to those of us who yet knew how to read, because my mother just felt like just simple exposure to books and stories. If we
would go to a museum, we'd say oh it's going to get bored.
She'd say find a bench and sit down, that's why you have a book with you. If you go to (inaudible), you bring a book. And so - and my mother, I had
many memories of my mother in carpool.
The red light, my mother had a book in her lap, she'd be reading, beep beep beep, we tap her on the shoulder, "Mommy, the lights green."
So, all of us were readers. And then we came to that choice on our own and for me as - as you travel so much, I - I think that my most relied - my
most rely upon companion are books.
And the ability to - to escape, to be in somebody else's life, and the more foreign, frankly, the more that it's not known, the more unlike myself and
my life, the more interesting I find it.
AMANPOUR: What effect, good or not so good do you think Sex and the City had on girls around the world?
PARKER: I'm not sure that I'm best suited to answer that. I mean, I think that in some ways, it's - it has been and might continue as new generations
discover the show.
I think it's been good in terms of the kind of -- the feeling that people can talk about their -- their intimate lives. That they have a voice in
it. That they can be who they authentically are.
And, you know, whether it's how they choose to live sexually or the kinds of exchanges they share with friends and intimate friends. And I think --
I think for a while there was an emphasis or sort of this sort of superficial stuff, which was always titillating and fund but as important
as the journey of friendship and the search for home and love. So.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you a little bit about your own personal life? I don't know whether any of this is autobiographical in your book, "A Place
for Us" but Fatima when you told your family that you actually wanted to be a writer, what did they say? I mean what was your -- your prescribed root
through life as far as your family was concerned?
MIRZA: That's a very interesting question. You know when I first moved away to go to U.C. Riverside I was -- I had struck a deal with my dad that
if I studied Pre-Med I would be able to move to Riverside.
And so it was actually there that I started writing this novel because I was taking creative writing classes as a way to honor what I had always
known that I'd wanted. At first my father was shocked that I was not going to be a doctor. Eventually he came around. But then he was .
PARKER: She applied to the Iowa Guider's Workshop and got in immediately, which is just like one of the most coveted .
AMANPOUR: Spots in the country.
PARKER: Spots in the country for a writer.
MIRZA: And that actually did help my father then decide like OK maybe she can do this.
AMANPOUR: She's legitimate.
MIRZA: Yes, but my father would always call me and say can you write a novel like "Hunger Games." Can you write -- he's like Fatima, I'm just
worried that no one's going to care about this family.
That no one's going to read this story. And honestly that was also my fear but I cared about them and so I was going to -- I was going to do my, you
know, best to tell it.
AMANPOUR: Excellent. Thank you (ph), Sarah Jessica Parker, Fatima Farheen Mirza, thank you so much for joining us.
MIRZA: Thank you.
PARKER: Thank you. Thanks for having us.
AMANPOUR: We turn now to the story of an insider who's blowing the whistle on a huge and powerful phenomenon, Facebook and the whole Facebook factor.
They continue to dominate headlines and Congressional hearings.
What once was seen as a purely positive force in our lives connecting old high school friends and cementing new friendships has since 2016 lost some
of that luster. The Trump election showing how easily the platform was gamed by the Russians trying to manipulate American's emotions and their
My colleague and the award winning biographer, Walter Isaacson, has just spoken with someone who saw it all from a privileged position inside the
Silicon Valley Castle. Walter, you've just been speaking, tell us who. Tell us what he came up with.
WALTER ISSACSON, BIOGRAPHER: It's Alex Stamos. A wonderful guy. He was chief security officer over Facebook and as we went up to the 2016
election. This is not a job in retro spec that you wanted to have.
And we talked about the evidence started coming in. That the Russians were both hacking our election and then using young kids to try to mess with our
minds through Facebook.
And the frightening thing about his interview was he said nobody's trying to stop it. The republicans have blocked any plans to try to halt this.
Facebook is making some efforts but not enough and it's too late to stop it for the midterms this year, but we got to start working now if we don't
want the Russians to hack us in 2018. Here, listen to a little of what he had to say.
You were chief security officer for Facebook in the 2016 election which seems like a pretty tough job especially in retro spec. When did you start
getting the sense that something was going definitely awry with Russians hacking our election.
ALEX STAMOS, CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER AT FACEBOOK: The actual direct hacking didn't happen on Facebook. But what did see after the hacks against the
DNC and Trump (inaudible) email, Colin Powell's email, we saw them come back and create personas -- fake personas of American individuals behind an
organization that they called DCLeaks. They set up their own WikiLeaks effectively.
ISSACSON: So when did you discover that people were setting up fake news sites to give disinformation?
STAMOS: So the -- that (inaudible) activity was in the fall and we shut it down. During the entire election there was this whole debate around fake
news and a real question of who was behind it.
But it wasn't until after the election that we really dove in to trying to figure out is fake news mostly a government phenomenon or something that's
financially motivated. And it turns out, as we figured out kind of in the spring of 2017 the majority of what people were calling fake news, the Pope
endorses Trump, Hillary has cancer kind of stories.
The majority of those stories were actually driven by financially motivated spammers. Who were trying to create lots and lots of click-baity headlines
to make money on ads?
ISSACSON: So in 2016, I remember people talking about Russia trying to influence our election with these things. You didn't know about it?
STAMOS: We knew that they were pushing stories. We didn't -- at that point, did not know about the large cluster of activity that was found in
ISSACSON: Or the people at the Obama administration, Homeland Security people all knew Russia was putting out -- trying to meddle in the election
through the internet research agency. I'm surprised you didn't know.
STAMOS: Well, to be clear, they were talking specifically around the hack and leak campaign and we got some information from the government around
that. We got nothing from the government around the IRA.
ISSACSON: How could you not know that these were fake accounts coming from weird people in Saint Petersburg using proxy servers?
STAMOS: I think one of the issues was we were looking for the traditional kinds of hacking activity that we saw from JRU. We were looking for people
to break into accounts to steal data, to spread malware. There -- the creating of groups, who's entire job it is to look for organized propaganda
activity, that didn't exist either at Facebook or honestly anywhere in the industry at the time.
ISSACSON: (Inaudible). It was a large coordinated group of people who weren't really who they said they were. It was clear these weren't real
American's having real opinions.
STAMOS: It wasn't clear. And nobody -- there was a lot talk about Russian activity and there was obvious Russian activity around the DNC hacks and
the Podesta hacks but there was nobody of data that we could use to find the IRA. That was never -- whatever the government had they didn't share.
ISSACSON: So you don't know -- you can't find out where -- if large amounts of information are being pushed through Facebook, you can't find
out where it's coming from and say hey, that's weird. This doesn't sound right?
STAMOS: Well, nobody is sitting there approving these post. Right? Like these platforms allow people to communicate in real time. What you can do
is later look for is there activity that looks like it's coordinated?
Are these accounts tied together in a weird way or do you have geographical links. But those links are not always obvious. And it actually took a
pretty large effort that Facebook took on voluntarily and internally to go find and stop that activity. But honestly it was in the end a tiny portion
of the overall discourse.
ISSACSON: It did seem to have an effect.
STAMOS: Well it has -- it certainly has an effect.
ISSACSON: And it had an effect in which direction? What were they trying to do?
STAMOS: Well, again, there's two totally different .
ISSACSON: I'm talking about the IRA.
STAMOS: Right. The GRU (ph) campaign directly targeted Hillary Clinton. The IRA campaign is much more dispersed. It started before the election
and it's lasted afterwards. Their goal is to get people not to trust each other online in America.
They want us to believe that our political opponents are the craziest -- you'll hold the craziest wildest versions of any argument. And so that's
why they will pretend to be, for example, a black lives matter activist.
And in doing so will push forward much more radical positions than anybody who is legitimately part of that movement. And then on the other side
they'll have a pro police group that will specifically reference that group saying, Oh my god, look .
ISSACSON: But they're both fake.
STAMOS: But they're both fake.
ISSACSON: I'm going to ask a broader philosophical question because we wondered into it.
ISSACSON: If we were trying to fix the social media ecosystem that was supposed to bring us together and make us better, wouldn't we try to find
ways to have a little bit less anonymity. Allow people some freedoms to maybe use a suedo-name (ph) but make sure that just as in the real world if
you really did something bad you could be tracked down?
STAMOS: In most cases I think people can be tracked down under lawful process on most of the major sites. And you're right, this is an
interesting problem and that you have the spectrum where you have more anonymity means more freedom but also a lot more abuse versus sites with
And I think Facebook is actually on the far side of less anonymity compared to almost any other major platform. You know like the Twitters and the
YouTubes in the middle where people are suedo-anonymous but don't have to tie that account to the real identity.
And on the most anonymous you have the four chans (ph) and eight chans (ph) and you can see from anybody who's visited those sites they become pretty
aggressively and hostile and poisonous communities very very quickly.
ISSSACSON: But so we see then a spectrum where the more pure anonymity you have, the more hostile and aggressive people become. It's just a
sociological phenomenon we discovered with the invention of social network.
And then you get to a Facebook which has a little bit less anonymity. Shouldn't we have some way where we can have civil discourse that's even
more authenticated than Facebook is?
STAMOS: Maybe I -- you know I think one of things you got to think about is we're talking about this from a very U.S. centric perspective and
something like 90 percent of Facebook users are not American. Right?
And we got to be careful about -- you know here and I can post things on Facebook against our government under our real names and not face legal
repercussions. That is not true for a huge chunk of people in the world.
ISSACSON: And you've said that you take some responsibility in retro spec. What do you feel responsible for that you'd wish you had done differently?
STAMOS: I wish we had had dedicated teams looking just for the propaganda activity. We were a security team, I'm the chief security officer. We
were focused on information security.
But it turns out that the vast majority of harm that happens online is not tied to technical security issues, it's the technically correct use of our
products to cause harm, and that includes disinformation, misinformation.
So I do wish that we had constitute of that - that team before the election that we had seen the warning signs.
ISAACSON: Do you think Facebook and Twitter have good teams like that now?
STAMOS: I can't speak to other companies. I think Facebook has built a really good team. The question is like, how much is enough is always going
to be a difficult - is it big enough, is it good enough I - is always going to be a hard thing to answer.
Because the truth is, is we're also reacting to what happened in 2016. There's so much focus specifically on Russia, specifically on the U.S.
election 2016 that we're kind of missing the big picture of what has happened since then.
And the - the texture of how disinformation, misinformation has worked in elections since the U.S. is actually quite different.
ISAACSON: You said when you get signs that something's going to arrive, you call the government-
ISAACSON: You call government agencies. I know if a missile hit the Facebook campus, you know exactly who to call. If a burglar came in, you'd
call the local police.
Is there a one sort of 9-1-1 number you call in the U.S. government or is it too diffuse the way the U.S. government handles this?
STAMOS: Yes, I think this is actually a problem in the U.S. is that we have - we don't have a single agency whose reasonability is to prevent
cyber attacks against American assets, including this disinformation and misinformation.
But also including traditional security threats. And effectively where we've ended up is the F.B.I. is playing that role. And there's a lot of
really good confident people there.
But they are - they are structured as an organization to investigate crimes after they happen and to indite people that are within the reach of the
U.S. legal system. And the truth is that's just not how cyber attacks work.
It - there's nobody whose really motivated to prevent things from happening, to build the relationships with the companies that can prevent
the activity in the first place and perhaps in that case earn the opportunity for legal action.
ISAACSON: And do you think part of the problem is as you said, congressional republicans after all this happened just said OK, that was
fine, were not doing anything about it.
STAMOS: Yes. As a country, were not going to be able to respond to this problem unless we all agree it's a problem, right? Just imagine Pearl
Harbor happens and half the country believes it was a hokes. So we - there's no way we could of moralized the homeland and win World War II.
STAMOS: And that's where it feels like we are right now, that we're in a place where a significant percentage of the country believes that nothing
happened in 2016.
And to be honest, of all the people in government, I think congressional republicans have some of the most responsibility for that because they have
slowed down investigations, they have reduced the (inaudible) people have.
And it would be very very powerful to see both republican and democrats speaking with one voice that this is not something the United States is
going to allow and passing legislation to secure our elections to give the proper authorities to regulate the online ad ecosystem.
But they don't do it, because they can't get passed the idea that that calls in the question of the election of 2016. And we just got to say OK,
Trump's president, he won, let's move on and think about where we're going.
Because the - the other risk they're running here is I think republicans think that this is always going to be a good thing for them. Countries
getting involved in our election, and that's not-
ISAACSON: Yes. And when North Korea, Iran and China do it and start electing democrats-
STAMOS: Right, right. And the republican playbook is out there. Anybody who is paying attention, who reads the reports that we put out, the
government's put out the indictments, you can recreate the entire Russia playbook from the outside.
And there's nothing technically sophisticated that the Chinese can't do, the Iranians the North Koreans.
ISAACSON: And you've gone to Capitol Hill to talk to some of these people a lot. I think on the Senate side, you have Senator Mark Warner and
Senator Burr, democrat an republican trying to work together but not yet too far yet.
ISAACSON: But at least they're civil. Bit on the House side, it's much different, right?
STAMOS: Right. Yes. Yes ,and you have to give the Senate intel committee credit that they have been able to accept the basic (inaudible) that we
were attacked in 2016 and that they have to do something about it.
They haven't done anything, right? So, I mean there is that component we are almost two years out. And there hasn't been any actual legislation
that's come out. And there hasn't - I think honestly as a country, what we've missed was the opportunity for something like a 9/11 commission.
We really should've had a nonpartisan, nonpolitical--
STAMOS: Investigation. Because one of the benefits we have in the 9/11 commission is there are lots of augments about whose fault things were and
over the legislation but the basic set of facts in tat document were generally agreed upon by the vas majority of the political-
ISAACSON: OK, so tell me what should be done. It's probably a little bit too late for the 2018 midterms, is that right?
STAMOS: Yes. Yes. I -- I think we've -- we've definitely missed our shot to collectively respond in the -- effectively in 2018. There are people in
DHS doing work, there are people in the FBI doing work, there's people at the tech companies doing work. It's not very well coordinated, and as a
country we have not done the big picture things that we need.
When you think of all of the components of the online ecosystem that were weaponized, the component I think we need to be most concerned about is
advertising, because that is a very powerful way to find and reach people who are vulnerable to your message. And that's not just in the case of
foreign influence. We have to be really careful about what we allow our politicians to do online versus traditional advertising.
ISAACSON: And so give me the Alex Stamos plan.
STAMOS: One thing we've got to look at is who's responsible for the actual security and election infrastructure. DHS was granted power on the last
day of the Obama administration...
ISAACSON: Yes, Department of Homeland Security, but they couldn't get the states to buy in.
STAMOS: Exactly. And they're working really hard, but they don't have the power, they don't have the resources, they have no authority.
ISAACSON: Is that partly because the Trump administration doesn't want this?
STAMOS: I think one of the big issues right now is that there's no cyber- security coordinator in the White House, and so as a result you have all the agencies trying to do their best, but part of the goal of the White
House and the National Security Council is to knock those heads together and to get everybody going in the same direction, and that doesn't exist.
We need to push this responsibility to the states. There's a number of states that have central security teams that are highly competent.
Colorado is probably the best example that I personally worked with. Every state needs to have a cyber-security center on elections who can support
then all of the cities and counties. There's over 10,000 local election authorities. We can't have 10,000 competent security teams, but we can
And so we -- we need to have federal legislation to support that, to give them access to intelligence to do clearances for the people, because
they're going to need access to NSA and FBI data, but we've got to push that responsibility to the states. If the states want to run their own
elections, they should also be held accountable for that.
ISAACSON: And what should Facebook and other social media giants do?
STAMOS: There needs to be more and more transparency. Now this is where it gets difficult. Because those pages and those pseudo-anonymous Twitter
accounts are also what drove democracy movements in Egypt, and are being used (ph) by the resistance in Thailand to fight the military junta, and
are being in Turkey, and so there's a lot of autocrats who would love to have transparency. It's just (ph)...
ISAACSON: And by the way, all of those movements failed in the lay (ph).
STAMOS: That's right. And yes, and that's I think one of the sad -- when we look back at the Arab Spring and all these other democracy movements,
there's only been a couple of positive long-term stories. For the most part, the autocrats have -- the empire has struck back, right? The
autocrats have figured out how to first neutralize the risk from social media and then to weaponize it against their own -- their own movements.
ISAACSON: So what are you doing now? Both to address this and to make sure average citizens, students of Stanford can address it?
STAMOS: Yes, so I've joined Stanford as an adjunct professor, and one of the things I want to work on is -- is solving that problem of how do we
build institutional memory in Silicon Valley of all the ways people have caused harm before so that when you launch your product, you have thought
adversarialy (ph), you have thought about the problems that Facebook or Google or Twitter or YouTube have faced, and you have put solutions in
place so that you don't have to scramble afterwards and make excuses of like, "How could we possibly know that this problem that's existed for
years happened over again?"
ISAACSON: And so I'm a student in your class and I'm saying, "Professor Stamos, it didn't work out the way your generation thought. Social media
didn't help democracy, even around the world, it didn't help democracy at home, it didn't bring us together, it lead to a lot of bullying and
divisiveness. What did you do wrong and what would you do next time?"
STAMOS: I think what we have to do is we have to stop building products just for ourselves.
STAMOS: Silicon Valley has a serious diversity issue, as a lot of people know. A lot of people look like me, they come from backgrounds like mine,
computer science degree from an elite school, you know, backgrounds that allow us to get into good colleges, access to capital; those kinds of
issues mean that a lot of people look the same and have the same abuse (ph).
We have to first build diverse teams from day one, not staple on diversity way later. And the second is when we build products, we have to think
adversarialy (ph). We have to, from day one, not just think, "This is how I want my product to be used, this is how my parents will use it and my
friends will use it," you've got to think about all the bad guys having it (ph).
But even if 0.1 percent of the planet are people who really want to cause harm, that is tens of millions of people on these platforms, and you have
to imagine that from day one, that those people exist, understand what they want, understand what they've done in the past, and think about your
product from day one...
ISAACSON: Alex Stamos, thank you for joining us.
STAMOS: Yes, thank you, sir.
AMANPOUR: A really important point there about diversity versus silos, and a note about what's coming up tomorrow, when Oscar-winning actress Sally
Field is here. The all-American star who first soared to success as the Flying Nun is out now with a decidedly raw and revealing memoir, In Pieces.
That is it for our program. Thanks for watching, and remember to listen to our podcast, see us online, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.