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United States and North Korea's Second Summit's Sudden and Abrupt End; North Korea Seeking Partial Sanctions, Not Full Sanctions; Interview with National Security Correspondent, The New York Times, David Sanger; Helping India and Pakistan from Recent Flare Up; Interview with Former U.S. National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley; Interview Pakistani Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi; The Rising Tensions Between India and Pakistan; Merchants of Truth. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 28, 2019 - 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." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: An abrupt end to the North Korea talks, President Trump walks away from the table and flies back to a political firestorm in Washington.
Was it a diplomatic fail you or the art of the deal in real time? I talked to former National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley, and New York Time
senior correspondent, David Sanger.
And another Asian hotspot, nuclear powers India and Pakistan step back from the brink. My interview with Pakistan's foreign minister.
Plus, controversy over former New York Times editor, Jill Abramson's new book. How did a high-profile journalist fail to meet her own ethical
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Hanoi where a summit between the United States and North Korea came to a sudden and
abrupt end earlier today without an agreement on denuclearization. And already, there are conflicting accounts from both sides as to what actually
happened behind closed doors.
President Trump says that while he still hopes for further progress in this process, the talks broke down over sanctions relief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn't do that. They were willing to denuc a large portion of the
areas that we wanted but we couldn't give up all of the sanctions for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The president says that he's unwilling to trade full sanctions relief for partial denuclearization. And so, that is why he walked. But
flying home to Washington and into the political firestorm over the bombshell testimony by Michael Cohen before Congress, the North Koreans had
their say, they made an extremely rare appearance before the press, on camera, with Pyongyang's foreign ministers saying that, in fact, they had
not asked for total sanctions relief but they had made "a realistic" proposal seeking partial sanctions relief and offering to "permanently"
halt nuclear and long-range rocket testing.
So, what really happened in the nuclear summit and what does this all say about President Trump's only I can fix this leadership style.
Joining me now is the New York Times senior national security correspondent, David Sanger. He's with me in Hanoi trying to make sense of
all of this.
David, we have had a bit of a roller coaster day. There were some expectations for this summit, not massive expectations but some and then it
all came to a grinding halt. They didn't even have lunch. We were left with the table, all its beautiful settings and name plates and nobody
sitting at it.
But we've had conflicting accounts as the day has worn on. The president saying that they demanded an entire lifting of sanctions. What did you
think when he said that?
DAVID SANGER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it made me wonder what kind of sanctions they all had in mind. But
certainly, the United States has been fairly consistent in its position across administrations that you can't relieve a core sanctions that the
United Nations has put up against the North Koreans until they fully denuclearize, because that's the only leverage the United States has.
And even if you do partial lifting, then the Russians and the Chinese, as we've seen and as eight months since the Singapore meeting, the first
summit, feel freer to lift their sanctions and it looks like they've been doing more trade with the North Koreans, not only in energy but in other
The really fascinating element though came when the president was pressed during the news conference on what exactly it was that the North Koreans
were offering to dismantle. And the answer was that they were willing to go dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear plants, when you see the most pictures
of, it's this vast but old plant, but that they would not discuss getting with facilities and Richmond facilities, facilities where you produce fuel
outside of Yongbyon.
Meaning, the president would have been in the position of proudly announcing that he had frozen their main plan but not accounting for
everything else they could do to build weapons.
AMANPOUR: So, then several hours later, as the president is flying back to Washington, you have this very rare situation with North Korean foreign
minister in a foreign country, (INAUDIBLE), right here in Vietnam, because they're still here in Hanoi, just not so long ago went before the press,
didn't take questions but put that own version of events forward saying that, "No. In fact, we did not ask for the entire lifting of sanctions.
We asked for partial lifting in -- of sanctions, in return for," he says, "permanently and completely dismantling all the nuclear material production
facilities in the Yongbyon area, including plutonium and uranium in the presence of U.S. experts and technicians from both countries."
Now, I know that you say it doesn't address the other facility.
AMANPOUR: Which has never been publicly disclosed.
AMANPOUR: I know you asked the president that question. But the foreign minister of North Korea says, "This proposal was the biggest
denuclearization measure that we can take at this present stage in relation to the current level of confidence between our two countries."
SANGER: So, what's that mean? It means he's saying the minute that we give up everything we've got; the Americans will forget about us. They'll
sell us out. You know, they watched what happened to (INAUDIBLE), a man who gave up a very nascent nuclear program, no place close to what the
North Koreans have, but ends up a few years later being traced around by rebels in his own country, pulled out of a ditch and shot.
So, the lesson they emerged from that was you never give up everything because the Americans will feel perfectly happy to turn against you as soon
as there's a revolution.
AMANPOUR: So, you've been covering this for a long, long time and you've seen the various negotiations and deals under the Clinton administration,
under the George W. Bush administration. This one has a different tone about it because of the two leaders meeting. Is it not worth the United
States building on what President Trump has started? You know, sort of chipping away at this wall of mistrust, getting these better relations with
the two leaders in order to try to achieve the impossible even if it doesn't happen all at once? I mean, they were not going to get a complete
denuclearization promise today.
AMANPOUR: Should the president have taken what he could? What they were offering today?
SANGER: Well, first, I think the president deserves some enormous credit for coming to the conclusion that you're never going to get anywhere unless
you deal with the leader of the country. And there's only one person who makes decisions in North Korea and if you're not talking to that one
person, it's unlikely you're going to go anywhere.
And what the Clinton efforts, the Bush efforts and the Obama efforts had in common was that they were trying to do this through the North Korean
bureaucracy and never through the leadership.
The risk of going directly to the leader is that if you have a breakdown, like you had today, there's no place else to go. It's not as if you can
say, "Well, the bureaucrats messed it up but will meet and get things together."
Big question of whether the president should have taken the deal that was on the table, and it's hard to know because we're getting, as you say,
these conflicting accounts. But the president became, I think, increasingly sensitive to the criticism that he had gone into the last
meeting unprepared, that he was lowering the bar for this meeting.
Just last weekend he told the nation's governors, "As long as they don't test missiles and nuclear devices, I'm happy." And I think he actually
made some very fundamental mistakes by appearing over eager to have this deal.
AMANPOUR: Well, I'm going to play now what Joseph Yun said to me, in fact, last night right after we saw the sort of handshake, the initial handshake
between the two leaders, and this is right in the middle of all the Cohen testimony.
Joseph Yun, who is former special negotiator for the Trump administration and before that the Obama administration with North Korea, I mean, he knows
these people and he knows what it's like in -- on both sides. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH YUN, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REP. FOR NORTH KOREA POLICY: They followed these issues, they know what's going to happen. And believe me, you know,
the Radio Times as well as -- you're right, they watch you, you know. So, they know what is going on.
AMANPOUR: But do they think then? I mean, are we to believe that Kim Jong-un may be calculating the length of time this president has in office?
YUN: Well, I think, you know, of course. They know the election is coming up next year. And typically, even, you know, in normal course of action
they really don't want to do any business during an election here. That's typically the case. And this case, that is very much on their mind. They
know how much policies can change with a change in administration.
So, they are calculating this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, given what Joseph Yin had said, how much of that, do you think, plays into what we saw today?
SANGER: Oh, I think it had to.
AMANPOUR: On both sides.
SANGER: Yes, I think it had to. Because the North Koreans are frequently described as hermits. If they're hermits, they're hermits with Twitter and
pretty good high-speed internet connections. They're acutely aware of when the next presidential election is and they may well think, and I think
they're probably right about this, they're going to get a better deal from Donald Trump than they're going to get from any other president. So, in
that regard, time may be on the president's side.
On the other hand, the president knows that he needs to score some big points on the board in foreign policy at the moment that he's under so much
pressure at home, he's got the Mueller investigation about to get delivered, he has the testimony that his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, just
offered and I think he was really hoping to go change the headlines here.
It's interesting that someone advised him not to take the deal. And my guess is that that's some combination of Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of
State, who's pretty hawkish on North Korea, worried about the proliferation risk if they have a weapon and certainly, John Bolton, the National
Security Advisor, who was here in Hanoi but never heard from in public. And he has always sort of taken the view, they had to let this play out,
that the North Koreans, ultimately, weren't really interested in disarming.
AMANPOUR: Except, they say they really are and Kim Jong-un who also never answers questions from the West and press answers specifically the question
about denuclearization when it was thrown at him the table, he said, "I wouldn't be here if I didn't believe in this." Let us play the exchange
that you had with President Trump at the press conference today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Mike and I spent a long time negotiating and talking about it to ourselves and just I felt that that particular -- as you know, that
facility, while very big, it wasn't enough to do what we were doing.
SANGER: So, he was willing to do Yongbyon but you wanted more than that, I assume --
TRUMP: We had to have more than that, yes. We had to have more than that because there are other things that you haven't talked about, that you
haven't written about that we've found and we have to have -- that was done a long time ago but that people didn't know about --
SANGER: Including --
TRUMP: -- and we brought -- yes.
SANGER: Including the second uranium enrichment plant?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Other things that you haven't talked about is what you were talking about, the uranium facility which is not at Yongbyon. Is that
SANGER: That's right.
AMANPOUR: Other such things.
SANGER: There was a uranium facility that was shown to a visiting American scientist early in the Obama administration. As soon as people looked at
it, they said, "This can't be the only one. It seems modeled on someone up -- someplace else." And the CIA thinks it's found where that is, in a
suburb of Pyongyang.
So, the question is, if you're President Trump and you win a shutdown of Yongbyon and everyone turns around and says, "Well, you've just been taken
for a ride because they have all these other facilities," and he does a while look like he entered this without his eyes wide open.
AMANPOUR: And on the other hand, he doesn't want to let go perhaps the latest best chance and the biggest chance to resolve this situation at one
SANGER: That's right. This may be the biggest opportunity we've had since the Clinton administration negotiated a deal in 1994 that held together for
a number of years until the North Koreans treated on it. But it didn't stop the North Koreans from producing more material, and that's something
that's missing right now, Christiane.
While this next chapter plays out, the North Koreans are continuing to build. And the more they build, the more pressure is going to be President
Trump and whoever his successor is because the arsenal is just going to get bigger.
AMANPOUR: Well, let us now turn to somebody who has been in the room around these kinds of crises, near and far. And here is Stephen Hadley,
the former national security advisor to President George W. Bush. He helped manage the six-party talks with North and South Korea, China,
Russia, Japan, as well as U.S. and North Korea. Stephen Hadley joins me now from Washington.
Welcome back to the program.
You've listened to everything David Sanger has been saying, you've heard what President Trump has said and now, you've heard what the North Koreans
have said about what happened behind closed doors. Just give us your take on whether a big chance was missed here or whether walking away was the
STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I think the conversation you had with David, Christiane, framed it up very well. I
think it's too soon to say, if the deal was a Yongbyon only, that is to say a partial shutdown of North Korean facilities in exchange for total
sanction relief, which is the way the president framed it, then the president was right to walk away. There are a lot of people who are
concerned that he would give away the store. Well, he clearly did not do that and was willing to walk if he didn't get a good deal.
I think you're right, there is an opportunity here, as you and David discussed. So, the question is, where do we go from here? One option
might be an escalation of rhetoric, an escalation of programs, an escalation of sanctions. I think that's less likely.
I think what people will do is step back, take a deep breath. I think Mike Pompeo and Steve Biegun will try to deal with their counterparts and see if
they can reconstruct a more balanced partial deal, an incremental deal, that could be embraced by the two sides.
So, I think this is not over. This is the latest act. North Korea is very difficult to deal with. You have these ups and downs. And I think this is
just the latest round. And I would hope the kind of process I described is what follows and it's something that President Trump very much kept the
door opened for.
AMANPOUR: So, Stephen Hadley, the North Korean foreign minister, as I described it, as an extremely rare appearance on camera, before the press.
It was a statement, he didn't take questions and answers, it wasn't a press conference but he felt moved to come out here and counter the narrative
that has been going on since this summit ended abruptly.
And the first thing he said was, "We did not ask for a total entire lifting of sanctions." He actually used the word partial. "We asked for partial
lifting in -- of sanctions," and he described for the civilian economy and to help civilians in North Korea. He said, "There are 11 U.N. sanctions,
we wanted five to be lifted." In any event, that's what he said, in return for a total shut down of Yongbyon plutonium and uranium under the
supervision of U.S. inspectors and technicians from both sides and he also pledged a commitment to permanently stop -- let me just read this, to
permanently and completely dismantle all the nuclear material production in that area and the nuclear testing and long-range rocket launch testing.
He said there also that that was the most that they could offer at this time. Just give me your analysis of that the most that, the most that they
could offer at this time.
HADLEY: Well, it is a partial offer in terms of denuclearization. It is not total denuclearization. I think it's positive and encouraging that
they would make this unprecedented step to articulate what they thought was on the table, it's clearly not what the administration thought was on the
I think the encouraging piece about it is that it gives the administration something to work with when Secretary Pompeo and Steve Biegun, the special
envoy, reengage, hopefully, fairly soon with their North Korean counterparts.
There are other things that were talked about at this time, there was discussions about the possibility of a declaration ending hostilities on
the peninsula, there was discussion about exchanging liaison missions. There are a lot of pieces from which you can see constructing a sequence of
steps that over time would both build some confidence that the North Koreans have in this process and gradually degrade their nuclear
capability, hopefully, on the road towards, in the end, the final objective of complete denuclearization.
AMANPOUR: You know this team, you know they are -- as you say, they're wily, they're experienced around the negotiating table, they know a lot
about what's happening in the United States, they're not hermits, as we just said, and they make very, very clever or rather careful calculations.
You were there with the George Bush Administration when Yongbyon was mothballed and we all saw it. It happened --
AMANPOUR: -- in 2008. They allowed CNN and a couple of others into Yongbyon and we watched them basically rip it apart, blow up their cooling
towers, saran wrap the components, and it was working for a while. How important is it for them to say, "We will, again, you know, dismantle all
our operations there, including uranium"?
HADLEY: It's important. It's an important step. Yongbyon is very important. But as David Sanger pointed out, as the president pointed out,
they have other facilities, in Richmond's facilities, from which they make nuclear materials.
So, it is a step, it is a piece of the process. But look, three administrations now have used a bottom up process to try to reach an
agreement with North Korea, have reached agreement with North Korea and North Korea has not stayed in the agreement, that's the problem. And
that's why I think we ought to give some space to President Trump's different, rather unorthodox approach, top down dealing with the leader. I
think we need to give it some opportunity to run.
I think that walking away from this meeting was useful because I think the unpredictability on the part of this president, it may throw the North
Koreans off a little bit and maybe precisely why they took this unprecedented step of having the foreign minister come out and say, "Well,
this is actually really what we offered."
So, I think this is the latest round. I think the president looks like he did the right thing. I would hope now with all these pieces on the table
the parties would reengage, we would come up with something that is a partial progress towards denuclearization that could be embraced.
But in the end of the day, the question is, will Kim Jong-un make a strategic choice to move away from isolation, dependence on the military,
his nuclear capabilities, open up his regime to be part of the international community, try to improve his economy? That's a strategic
choice we would like him to make. And the only person who's going to convince him to make that choice, in the end of the day, is President
AMANPOUR: Let's move on to another thing. Actually, President Trump stunned everybody by first mentioning India and Pakistan before he even
talked about North Korea in his press conference, saying that they had had important discussions with both sides to try to diffuse the tension between
the nuclear neighbors over this military confrontation in the disputed territory of Kashmir.
And now, the Pakistan prime minister has said that they will release one of the -- well, the Indian pilot who was shot down. Just give me your
assessment of how important it is to also keep an eye on these two nuclear armed neighbors that have actually been to war several times before.
HADLEY: It's very important. We've been through these scenarios before when terrorist activity brings the two countries into confrontation. They
are difficult to manage. There's a lot of distrust between the two sides. There are not good channels for communication or reconciliation and there's
always an information deficit between the two. Neither side really knows what the other is doing.
And that's why there's an important role for the United States and the leaders of other countries to be a facilitator to help the two countries do
what I think they want to do, which is back this down so it does not become a conflict.
And we can do this by providing information to the two sides about what the other is doing, help them choreograph reciprocal steps that will walk down
the crisis and also, cooperate with them to try to deal with the terrorist problem that continues to threaten the relationship between these two
AMANPOUR: And finally, Stephen Hadley, the president also mentioned the -- well, nonexistent Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It's meant to, you
know, be unveiling some kind of peace proposal. And today, we've heard from the attorney general that they will, we understand, indict the sitting
prime minister. Benjamin Netanyahu, after a certain process.
How is this going to affect the peace process, the nonexistent right now, peace process?
HADLEY: Right. Well, I think it's going to have the effect of delaying the rolling out of the administration's peace initiative until after the
election so that they actually know who they are dealing with.
I think the other thing I've been concerned about, it's one thing to have an initiative, it's another thing to have worked with the parties, the
Israelis, the Palestinians and countries in the region. So, when they roll out a peace proposal, something happens, it actually provokes some active
diplomacy, it actually moves the process because you can only do this trick one or maybe two times. And if nothing happens, you've squandered the
So, I think the real question is not just have they come together with a peace plan but are there preparing the diplomacy, so when they roll out
their plan something actually happens to advance the cause of peace in the region.
AMANPOUR: All right. So many important issues to keep an eye on. Stephen Hadley, Former National Security Adviser, thank you for joining us.
HADLEY: Nice to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Now, the Korean Peninsula isn't the only place home to nuclear tension in Asia. And as we've just heard, President Trump started his
press conference today talking about trying to help nuclear armed neighbors, India and Pakistan, walk back from the brink of their recent
flare up. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have, I think, reasonably attractive news from Pakistan and India. They've been going at it and we've been involved in trying to have
them stop and we have some reasonably decent news, I think, hopefully, that's going to be coming to an end. It's been going on for a long time,
decades and decades.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, the reasonably decent news is that Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan, announced plans to release an Indian pilot who was
shot down over Kashmir on Wednesday, and this was when he was flying a mission after India had accused Pakistan and terrorists based there of
killing 40 Indian soldiers in the disputed Kashmir region.
Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, is deeply immersed in this developing situation and he told me from Islamabad that they are
trying to diffuse the tension.
Foreign Minister Qureshi, thank you for joining me from Islamabad.
SHAH MEHMOOD QURESHI, PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, I'm happy to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you to confirm for me some of the deescalatory steps? Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Pakistan will release the
captured Indian pilot. Can you confirm that? Has it happened? When will it happen?
QURESHI: Well, he made a statement while he was addressing the joint session of parliament and this was a goodwill gesture and we feel that this
should be an expression of Pakistan's willingness to deescalate. We are willing to hand him over as soon as possible, perhaps tomorrow.
AMANPOUR: Here we are in Hanoi where the president of the United States, the leader of North Korea, have been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to
deescalate and denuclearized. The whole issue of nuclear weapons is so dangerous in front of mind. And here we had the situation between you and
India, two nuclear armed nations who have been to war before and it really captured the world's attention. It looked very, very serious. How serious
QURESHI: Well, the situation certainly was serious, when India attacked Pakistan, when the violated our airspace and drop bombs in Pakistan, when
they violated the U.N. charter, when they violated international law and undertook an act of aggression, this was serious.
You know, the Indian air force is fully mobilized, the Pakistani air force is fully mobilized. How dangerous can it be?
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, you know, you raise the exact question. I mean, is this the kind of situation that had it not deescalated could have tipped
you both over the brink? Could you envision all-out war between India and Pakistan?
QURESHI: I hope not. That would be mutual suicide. Pakistan never wants to escalate, Pakistan never wants to be in a hostile position.
From day one, you know, when this comment came into office, Prime Minister Imran Khan offered, "That if you take one step towards peace, we will take
two." He wrote to the Indian prime minister saying, "Let the two foreign ministers meet to on the sidelines in New York so that they can chat a way
When this Pulwama tragic incident took place and I landed in Munich for the security conference and I learnt about it, what did I do? The first thing
was condemn it, condole and then the prime minister made a very balance, a very reasonable offer, that listen, "If you have actual evidence, share it
with us and we would honestly, sincerely investigate."
I wish India, instead of attacking Pakistan, should have shared their evidence and the (INAUDIBLE), which we use -- we received today earlier.
AMANPOUR: What can you say then to the Indian claim that, in fact, it was Jaish-e-Muhammed, the terrorist group, that is housed in Pakistan, that
launched this massive bomb in Indian controlled Kashmir and killed so many soldiers there, dozens of soldiers? I mean, they are, obviously,
incredibly concerned about this group, and it's not the first time this group has operated inside India.
QURESHI: My message to the Indians is, this is a new government. This is a new government with a new mindset. We want to live in peace. We have a
people centric agenda. We want to concentrate on fixing the economy. We want to improve governance in Pakistan. We want to eradicate corruption in
Pakistan. That's the mandate given to us by the people of Pakistan. We want to see peace and reconciliation in Pakistan (ph).
And that Western front is, you know, consuming us. We do not want an Eastern front. We want to put an end to the 17-year-old war is going on in
Afghanistan. We want peace and stability in the region.
After a very long time in Pakistan, there is a government which has complete support of the Pakistan armed forces, you know, the civil and the
political leadership is on the same page. This was a great opportunity, historic opportunity that they should avail. The policy of this government
is that we will not allow our soil to be used by any organization or any individual for terrorism against anyone, and that includes India.
[13:30:09] AMANPOUR: Well, then let me ask you a direct question then regarding the head of Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Indian government would like
you to have that or would like his name, the head of it, to be put on the international terrorist list. But your friends, the Chinese government to
constantly, apparently on your behalf, vetoing that. Is it something that you would welcome now in the wake of this rise, this escalation in tension
between you? Should he be put on that terrorist list?
QURESHI: We would be open to any step that leads to de-escalation. And if they have good solid evidence, please sit and talk, please initiate a
dialogue and we will show reasonableness.
AMANPOUR: Is the chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed, Masood Azhar, is he present in Pakistan? And if so, will you go after him?
QURESHI: Well, he is in Pakistan according to my information. He is very unwell. He's unwell to the extent that he cannot leave his house because
he's really unwell. So that's the information I have.
AMANPOUR: Why doesn't your country arrest him so that the head of this group which you've all admitted is a terrorist organization and causes
incredible tension to say the least between your two highly armed neighbors? Why don't you arrest him, ill or not ill?
QURESHI: If they give us evidence which is acceptable to the courts of Pakistan, after all we would have to justify, they would go to the court.
And if they have solid evidence, share it with us so that we can convince the people and we can convince the independent judicial Pakistan.
AMANPOUR: Do you doubt what he's accused of doing and what the group is accused of doing?
QURESHI: You see, it's not a question of me doubting. There is a legal process and you have to satisfy that legal process.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you then because this is obviously not going to be litigated on our program, what conversation have you had with the United
States? You heard what President Trump said about trying to help you all deescalate this current crisis. And Secretary State Pompeo has said the
Tell me what conversations you had with the United States about all this. What did they urge you to do? What -- did they help you? Did they make
any guarantees of security? What was the conversation like?
QURESHI: Well, to begin with, I'd like to thank President Trump for taking an interest to deescalate. He, I think can play a significant role.
United States can play a significant role.
United States and Pakistan have had good relations for decades. We have been close allies. And today, we have a shared objective to achieve peace
and stability in Afghanistan.
I have had a meeting -- not a meeting. I had conversation, a telephone conversation with. Secretary Pompeo in which we discussed this evolving
situation. And I'm happy that they have taken note of this rising tension and they want to play a constructive role to deescalate. This is a very
AMANPOUR: And just finally, in the bigger picture of relations between you and the United States, President Trump has made no secret of his
frustration with Pakistan over the years. And there was all sorts of talk about reducing aid to Pakistan and holding Pakistan accountable,
particularly in regards to the war in Afghanistan and the whole fight against terrorism. Describe your relationship and the relationship of
Pakistan with the U.S., particularly under the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
QURESHI: Certainly. That frustration was there and one can see the South Asia Strategy Policy announced by President Trump. But this is a new
government. And as soon as I came in as Foreign Minister, I said one of my desires is to reset our relations, our bilateral relations with the United
When Secretary Pompeo [13:35:00] came to Islamabad, we had a very constructive and a very engaging meeting. He invited me to Washington and
we had another very positive meeting. And today, President Trump and Secretary Pompeo both and Ambassador Asad have acknowledged that Pakistan
is playing a constructive, Pakistan is playing a positive role. And this was said in the State of the Union address.
AMANPOUR: Well, all eyes are on your region right now and we hope that the de-escalation continues. We'll wait to see the ensuing actions taken by
your government and by India. We thank you, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for joining us.
QURESHI: Thank you, ma'am.
AMANPOUR: So we also invited the Indian foreign minister to join us as well on this program but the foreign minister declined and didn't provide
anyone to talk to us. But this is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during an election campaign rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER: India will live as one. India will work as one. India will grow as one. India will fight as one. India will
win as one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So let us hope that the escalation of tensions is resolved over the next few days.
And we'll return now to a trailblazer for women in journalism and she is Jill Abramson. She served as the first female executive editor of "The New
York Times". And her new book, "Merchants of Truth" was supposed to be the definitive account of how the news business is evolving in the digital age.
But its publication was marred by allegations of plagiarism and factual errors. And when our Walter Isaacson sat down with Abramson, he asked her
to respond to the accusations and he also took a deep dive into her observations about the impact of the digital revolution on news.
WALTER ISAACSON, CONTRIBUTOR: Jill, welcome to the show.
JILL ABRAMSON, AUTHOR, MERCHANTS OF TRUTH: Thanks so much, Walter.
ISAACSON: You've been accused of plagiarism in the book because a few passages that are pretty much verbatim from sources that weren't cited
well. My students that I teach would say, "OK, I'd get in real trouble for that."
Tell me the process you were using in which you took something out of another thing and you put it in and didn't cite it. And what type of sort
of technology were you using? Were you cutting and pasting?
ABRAMSON: I wasn't doing that much cutting and pasting some. And -- but I don't think that in the -- there are three examples of things that just
went uncited, either authors or publications. I have 70 pages of footnotes and 835 separate citations.
I was using a form of footnoting that I had never used before called "Trailing phrase" and was uncertain whether for -- some people were angry
because I credited some material but used other quotes from someone's interview and didn't do a separate endnote on that. I didn't think that is
what that form required.
But looking back, I wish I had been more careful. And as you know, as a book author, the footnoting and citation is a little bit left towards the
end. That's, unfortunately, is fact-checking. In one case I know I looked at a long paragraph and saw that there should be a citation to "The
Washington Post" which there is. But the top of the paragraph which flows right into that came from somewhere else and I failed to say that. And
that was just sloppiness.
ISAACSON: But it wasn't just a lack of citations. It was in three, four, five, six sentences, passages, sentences, two or three sentences that were
almost verbatim from somebody else's writing. I mean how did that happen? And this is a book about journalistic ethics. Shouldn't you be careful
enough not to just verbatim, take two or three sentences?
ABRAMSON: Yes, or put them in quotes in the text as preferable to a footnote. But I now wish I had put them all in quotations rather in
citations. But the important thing as I wasn't intentionally stealing anybody's work.
ISAACSON: How much -- [13:40:00] how important is it whether it was intentional or not?
ABRAMSON: Well, I think it is important because I've -- since this has become a controversy, I've talked to many people about how to define
plagiarism and it's sort of all over the map. But a number of professors have said to me there has to be sort of the venal intent. And they see
what I did at the -- as menial mistakes.
ISAACSON: Meaning sort of unintentional?
ISAACSON: You weren't trying to actually steal somebody's words.
ISAACSON: Even though you sort of changed a few words here and there but that was just inadvertent sloppy or is that sort of you trying not to use
somebody else's words?
ABRAMSON: No, it wasn't the latter. I think I was just rushing through.
ISAACSON: You teach journalism some and you have a seminar on journalism.
ISAACSON: Two seminars on journalism. Issues you've gone through now on using other people's material and plagiarism, is that a teachable moment?
And have you figured out how to make that into something where you can look inside yourself and then share it with students?
ABRAMSON: I brought it up firsthand and we talked about it for -- my seminar is three hours. We talked about it in one class for more than an
hour and another for at least an hour. A teachable moment is such a cliche. I hate to use it.
But it was important to me because obviously, academic plagiarism has been a big issue and every college you teach as well. And I wanted to explain
to them exactly what had happened, how I could have done better. That I was disappointed in myself and sorry and that these were errors that were
inadvertent, and that I regret completely. And I just had a good discussion with them.
ISAACSON: You write a lot about "Vice" and how "Vice" really helped reinvigorate the whole notion of news, does a lot of great reporting. And
yet you also got a lot of pushback from the people at "Vice". Tell me your thoughts on "Vice" and why there was so much pushback on the sections on
"Vice" you wrote about in your book.
ABRAMSON: Well, my thoughts about "Vice" are similar to what you just said, that especially -- I watch their HBO nightly news show, "Vice News
Tonight." And they don't have an anchor. They don't have correspondents doing standup very much. And their correspondents are young. Many of them
are excellent. I mean their coverage of the Charlottesville Marches over the Confederate Statues were just amazing, long videos piece.
Young people are not watching nightly news. They don't watch appointment T.V., period. So they're trying to reinvigorate news for a younger
audience which is vital and important.
I think I got pushback from them mainly because they thought there was a tone of snarkiness whereas like a media elitist. I was somehow looking
down on them and saying they weren't as good or as qualified as people at "The New York Times" or "The Washington Post".
ISAACSON: One of the things in your book is sort of this notion that the ad-supported model of media isn't going to sustain itself and that the two
old institutions you write about, "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" have actually turned out to be better than you would have expected
when you began the book.
ABRAMSON: That was one of the interesting things about reporting and writing this book is that when I began it, I thought it was the shiny new
digital upstarts, "BuzzFeed" and "Vice" that everyone was envious because they were full of very lucrative native branded advertise. They were
really successfully using other platforms like Facebook and Google and getting a ton of both audience and because they had such big audiences,
The world changed on them really in the past year and a half very sharply. And Facebook and Google are now taking for themselves like by far most of
the digital advertising. [13:45:00] And they're not really sharing revenue to a significant or meaningful degree where it would support a company with
the people who are supplying them with the news and video they put in people's news feeds or that Google puts on YouTube channel.
They are starving because advertising was their chief and single revenue source. And for the legacy newspapers, "The New York Times" and "The
Post", advertising for them was going this way in the newspaper. And that was their old chief form of revenue for decades.
ISAACSON: How did Arthur Sulzberger and A.G. Sulzberger, your former publishers when you were at "The New York Times", how did they end up
figuring it out?
ABRAMSON: Well, I think that they saw that it was just necessary that "The Times" needed to have more than advertising revenue to support its gigantic
newsgathering operation. And in 2006, "The Times" had tried charging readers especially for opinion content than other kind of special material
but it was called "Times select" and been a big flop.
So yes, I think it was a combination of just needing the new revenue but being brave. It was a brave decision of Arthur Sulzberger Jr. to try it
again. And lo and behold, it worked. I think the first month that they put a digital pay plan in, 300,000 people had taken them out. And it was
chits cheap. I mean it's still very cheap. I'm sure some of your viewers get those a dollar a week.
ISAACSON: Did Trump help?
ABRAMSON: Well, definitely Trump help. And, you know --
ISAACSON: The Trump bump?
ABRAMSON: That so-called Trump bump for sure. I mean "The New York Times" has gained millions of new digital subscribers since Trump's election.
ISAACSON: Is "The New York Times", either when you were the editor now sort of congenitally anti-Trump?
ABRAMSON: Well, "The New York Times" that I worked at was congenitally urban and cosmopolitan and reflecting the values and interests of people on
the blue coast. And to that extent, I think the paper is and I think deservedly so.
I think readers are so sort of interested and loving the toughness of "The Times" and "The Post" which some people do see as anti-Trump because the
stories, our investigative stories, that are about questionable business dealings and how he acquired his wealth and his tax avoidance and you name
I think -- it's in keeping with "The Times", we've never seen a presidency like this and it is on an order of magnitude that's different. And I think
"The Post" and "The Times" have been emboldened to load their news reports up with stories about Donald Trump most of which are critical and they
attract huge numbers of readers who want to read about Donald Trump.
I mean I have friends at "The Times" who have said when they aren't writing about Trump, chart eats numbers for their readership go down.
ISAACSON: Is "The New York Times" almost addicted to punching Donald Trump because it gets the traffic?
ABRAMSON: I mean I think they're not the only ones. I think there is an addiction to Trump. And the comedian at the White House Correspondents'
Dinner a year ago made the joke to all of the journalists there, "I think you want to date him".
So it's widespread. And "The Washington Post", their posts most product has two or three -- they're not about Trump but they're obvious clickbait
stories. And you kind of can't resist, they end in headlines like, "And you won't believe what happened next", [13:50:00] which is straight out of
ISAACSON: You've covered for organizations. One of which is at "Times" where you worked. And I like the book how candid you were about your own
turmoil as editor of "The Times". Why were you fired?
ABRAMSON: It's -- why do you I wrote -- why do you think I was fired?
ISAACSON: Well, you explained it a lot in the book but I was --
ABRAMSON: It doesn't like boil down to a sound bite. And what I tried to do in writing about that painful passage of my career. It's the only part
of the book that isn't a third person narrative, it's first person. It's be candid about my own failings as a manager. I'm a little bit about what
I think is still gender double standard at many companies where a woman is criticized for being too pushy or assertive or other worse words.
But there have been many studies that show that's seen as leadership in men and that women's likability goes way down when they get the top job. So
there's some of that. There was internal politics. There were concerns on my part about the lowering of the wall between the news and business sides
of "The Times" in the digital era. And so it was a combination of things.
ISAACSON: Your book shows the excitement of things like "BuzzFeed" and "Vice" coming along with a whole new vitality. But recently, they're the
ones doing the layoffs.
ABRAMSON: Two hundred and fifty staffers each gone.
ISAACSON: And "The Washington Post" and even "The New York Times" are still staffing up.
ABRAMSON: I think "The Times" is up to 1,600 journalists. I mean that's a big bump up from when I was executive editor.
ISAACSON: And do you think that this is a major turn or is it just one of those roller coaster things that's happening?
ABRAMSON: I think that "The Times'" financial picture will outlast the Trump bump. Whether it can continue to support such a large staff of
journalists and technologists and designers, I don't know. Things go in cycles.
ISAACSON: But you look at "BuzzFeed" and you look at "Vice" and their business model hasn't yet led them to be able to get revenue from the user,
from the reader. Is that a fatal flaw?
ABRAMSON: I hope it's not a fatal flaw. But I think that both of them are in real trouble right now and worried about the future. And Jonah Peretti
has even tossed out a proposal that maybe some of these companies should merge and that that would create a path out of this very difficult moment.
ISAACSON: They seem to still have a pretty high valuation. Why is that?
ABRAMSON: Because they had crazy high valuation starting five or six years ago. It wasn't that long ago that "BuzzFeed's" valuation was like 1.7
billion and "Vice's" was the highest of any digital media company and got to 6 billion.
And I think for both of them, that meant the idea that there'd be a white knight coming to acquire them, that moment has passed too. They're just
too valuable. Their valuation is too big.
Maybe the time will come that it's like newspapers. I mean "The Time Spot", "The Boston Globe", and another -- "The Whistler Paper" for $1.2 or
$1.3 billion and sold the globe for 70 million. I mean so surprising things happen over not that long a ton.
ISAACSON: Thanks for being with us.
ABRAMSON: Thanks, Walter.
AMANPOUR: And on that note, we end our program from Hanoi. And, of course, we will continue to follow the fallout from this summit.
Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at amanpour.com. And you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for watching and goodbye from Vietnam.