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Boris Johnson's First Speech in the House of Commons; Issues Boris Johnson Have to Deal With; Jack Straw, Former British Foreign Secretary, is Interviewed About Iran and Boris Johnson; Breaking Out of Neo-Nazi Circles; "Skin," a Film About Bryon Widner; Daryle Lamont Jenkins, Founder, One People's Project, and Jamie Bell, Actor, "Skin," are Interviewed About Bryon Widner and the Film, "Skin." Aired 1-2p ET
Aired July 26, 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.
As foreign minister, Boris Johnson's loose lips sunk the hopes of a British citizen imprisoned in Iran. Now, as prime minister, can he handle the
crisis with Iran in the Persian Gulf? I talk to the former foreign secretary, Jack Straw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're better than those racists.
JAMIE BELL, ACTOR, "SKIN": I don't know what to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Based on a true story of redemption, a new film portrays how a Neo-Nazi scrubbed his facial tattoos and turned his back on the White
Supremacist Movement with the help of a Black social activist.
And, the "Wall Street Journal" editor-in-chief, Matt Murray, in conversation with our Walter Isaacson.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
A momentous week in British politics saw one prime minister leave Downing Street and another move in. Boris Johnson's cabinet ministers have been
appointed taking a radical right turn at the very top of government with hardline Brexiteers put in all the senior positions.
And in the first address to the House of Commons, he spoke with his usual bombast promising his premiership was a fresh start.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker, today is the first day of a new approach which will end with our exit from the E.U. on the 31st of
October. Then I hope we could have a friendlier constructive relationship as constitutional equals, as friends and partners in facing the challenges
that lie ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Leaving the E.U. will be the toughest and most dramatic peacetime British operation. But Johnson has serious issues to deal with
even further afield, such as the crisis with Iran and the tit for tat seizure of oil tankers.
Jack Straw is a former British foreign secretary. And in 2001, after 9/11, he became the first top minister to visit Iran since the 1979 revolution.
His intense study of the vital yet vexing nation is the subject of his latest book "The English Job: Understanding Iran and Why It Distrusts
Britain." It looks at the two countries complicated relationship over many decades. And I've been speaking to Straw about this indispensable guy and
the role Britain has played in shaping Iran's domestic and foreign policy.
Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, welcome to the program.
JACK STRAW, FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: You have really built quite a name for yourself and that you are one of the rare Iran experts in the sort of field of public servants who
actually have to deal with the country. You've now written this book and we're going to delve into it. But first, I want to ask you, what do you
make of the current crisis, which is essentially tit for tat seizing of tankers and particularly Iran seizing the British flag tanker.
STRAW: Well, what I make (ph) of that is absolutely classic, you know, Iranian approach. They're up against the war not least because of
President Trump's sanctions. They're pretty desperate. They know the risks of getting into a full-scale war, which they would lose straightway.
So, they're doing their best to calibrate things. And I think it followed as night followed the day, that once the tanker in Gibraltar was arrested
there was bound to be retaliation. I mean, it was inevitable.
AMANPOUR: And then that was an Iranian tanker taking oil --
STRAW: To Syria.
AMANPOUR: -- busting the sanctions to Syria.
STRAW: Yes. I mean, this goes back, of course, to Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the JCPOA. I happen to think that that was the wrong
decision. I'm on the same page as President Trump in not wanting Iran to build a nuclear weapon. I think we all are. And there are big risks about
what Iran's real intentions are, but I just think it was crazy for him to pull out of this deal, which guaranteed that Iran effectively could not
build a nuclear weapons capability for 15 years and replace it by nothing directly.
And one of the things that --
AMANPOUR: So, he's made it more dangerous. In fact, pulling out of the -- you call it -- well, the former name is JCPOA, but the Iranian nuclear
deal, has actually potentially made it more likely that Iran could, if it wanted to.
STRAW: I don't think there's any doubt about that, first off.
AMANPOUR: So, it's made it more dangerous for the region.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And one of the reasons he's done that is because it has shifted the balance of politics in Iran. Now, I know there are people here
as well as in the U.S., people like John Bolton, for example, in the U.S., who take the view that this is an entirely homogenous government, there
were no arguments inside the government and it's all one lot [13:05:00] controlled by a (INAUDIBLE) to create them. But it's much more complicated
AMANPOUR: So, what you're basically saying is that the U.S. is alienating the pragmatic --
AMANPOUR: -- core of the Iran and not even recognizing there is a pragmatic wing and empowering most hardline, which is the Iranian
Revolution Guard Corps.
STRAW: Yes. And one of the great ironies of this is that the hardliners in the Revolutionary Guards around harmony (ph) were always opposed to the
nuclear deal. So, guess what --
AMANPOUR: So, they got what they want.
STRAW: So, here we are, the first impact between President Trump and the hardliners. And other miscalculation by John Bolton and President Trump
was that if they impose these sanctions, which in turn have unquestionably caused huge damage to the Iranian economy, to living standards for most
Iranians, this would cause an uprising and unrest. But it's not like that because just as when the Iran/Iraq war took place, the hardliners were able
to take control. So, yet again, they've been able to take control and appeal, amongst other things, to national pride and national immunity (ph).
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, because, you know, here you are, a former foreign secretary, you had to deal with Iran, you know, certainly in the
post 9/11 period and all of that. And now, a British former foreign secretary is prime minister, Boris Johnson, and you've got Javad Zarif, the
Iranian foreign minister, having tweeted that, "I congratulate my former counterpart, Boris Johnson, on becoming the U.K. prime minister. Iran does
not seek confrontation but we have 1,500 miles of Persian Gulf coastline. These are our waters and we will protect them."
What do you think this is going to lead to? What does that mean? What does -- does Boris Johnson know how to deal with this?
STRAW: Well, in fairness to the guy, and I'm -- even if I've been with the Tory Party, I wouldn't have voted for him. He handled Iran as foreign
secretary OK. He took advice. I used to talk to him from time to time about this. And he stuck with the deal and was clear about that. I hope
very much that he does not respond to blandishments from President Trump, "We'll give you a trade deal but you split away from the Europeans. But so
far so good.
So far as attackers are concerned, this is very straightforward. The Iranians, even in good times, are transactional. "You take my tanker,
we'll take yours." So, there have to be a deal at some stage. It may be over a period of weeks where it's agreed with (INAUDIBLE) that both are
AMANPOUR: You know, you brought up the fact that the current new prime minister, Boris Johnson, is kind of really hitching his star to the Trump
administration. He desperately wants a break out of the box trade deal and quickly to sort of set the post Brexit stage. However, it doesn't look
like the Americans are responding necessarily in kind over trade or over defensing the seizure of their allies' tanker in the Gulf. This is what
Secretary of State Pompeo said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: So, the responsibility in the first instance falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships. But,
Bryon, you know this story. This isn't because of American sanctions. This is because of the theocracy, the leadership in Iran, their
revolutionary zeal to conduct terror around the world for now four decades continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Is that a vote of backing from their strongest ally? What is Britain meant to make of that?
STRAW: Well, no, it's not is the answer. And so as far as trade is concerned, Christiane, President Trump can promise anything he wants in a
trade deal but it's not for him to deliver. That is very much in the hands of Congress. And Congress will be defending -- members of Congress their
own constituents, their districts, their state's interest. So, if we want a deal on foreign products, fine. But senators from Iowa, congressmen from
other farming states will try to drive a hard bargain. That's how it is.
And no country in the world defends its own interests, its own national interest, more than does America. So, we got to be completely
straightforward about this.
AMANPOUR: Back to Iran, Boris Johnson, and then the historic trails that you track in the English job. You said Boris Johnson did a fairly good job
and took advice as foreign secretary. And like all of Europe and most of the world, he agreed with the Iran nuclear deal, that it was not perfect
but it was good.
However, he is accused of having completely bungled the issue of a British citizens captured, convicted, jailed in Iran, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
And he just played right into the hardliner's hands calling her a journalist when she said she was there to visit her family and she wasn't
there for professional reasons. I guess, again, does this fill you with confidence?
STRAW: Well, there are two Boris Johnsons, is the answer. And the Boris Johnson who was handling the nuclear deal dossier did okay. On Nazanin
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, he went to that [13:10:00] hearing of a select committee, hadn't read his brief, hadn't thought about it, was busting, and
the result of that, and it just happens to be a fact, he's made it much, much more difficult for the decent people in the system to argue in favor
of her release because he said out of his own mouth she was there as a journalist and you know better than anybody that as far as the Iranian
hardliners are concerned for journalists read spy. That's what they think.
So, it -- you can say exactly how much more difficult his made for poor Nazanin. But in my view, it has certainly delayed her release. And the
other thing, he's got to be really careful about is that if he wants Mrs. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be released, he doesn't want to jump into bed
with President Trump.
AMANPOUR: So to speak. Some would say he did jump into bed and did exceed to President Trump's demands when he threw a very distinguished British
diplomat and ambassador to the USA, Kim Darroch, under the bus after what we understand were very sort of conventional wisdom assessments of the
Trump administration and particularly his policy toward Iran.
STRAW: Yes, I agree with that. And it was pretty shameful. And, you know, anybody who has been in Washington for more than five minutes will
know that senior Republicans say exactly the same thing and worse about President Trump.
AMANPOUR: Now, let's get to your book here, "The English Job," because you talked a moment about ago about the relatively good guys in the Iranian
system. Of course, many in the United States don't believe that there is such a division.
AMANPOUR: I mean, I know from your writing that a lot of it comes from the post 9/11 moment, your encounter, your visit there with then reformed
President Mohammad Khatami, the support that the Khatami government gave to the United States, and to the West, and the sympathy after 9/11. Describe
what the situation -- it was a bit of a turning point then.
STRAW: Well, it was. President Khatami after 9/11 saw his opportunity, in the best emphasis of that word. And as you will recall, there were
spontaneous demonstrations in Tehran in sympathy for the victims of 9/11 with torchlight processions. So -- and there was a great opportunity
there, which President Khatami saw for Iran to help the U.S. and then to reset its relationships over time with the United States and with the West.
And that was why I went there within two weeks, to talk to the President Khatami about that on our behalf but indirectly on behalf of the U.S. as
well. There are a lot of backstairs negotiations between the U.S. and Iran. Great deal of cooperation. The Iranians gave huge amount of
intelligence cooperation to the international alliance that actually removed the Taliban.
AMANPOUR: From Afghanistan?
STRAW: From Afghanistan. Without which, it would have been much, much more difficult. And things were relatively set fair until you have the
disastrous few lines in President Bush's State of the Union speech at the end of January of 2002 where he talked about acts of evil involving North
Korea, Iraq, and Iran. And I've talked to David Frum, he was the speechwriter about this. I mean, he -- just so well I put and it was
alliterative (ph), it was a few lines. I didn't expect it to survive.
Other people, Condolezza Rice says in her memoirs that she was -- and President Bush were taken completely by surprised by the reaction to this.
Colin Powell said that when it came around the State Department, nobody spotted it. You know, it was extraordinary. But in the end, after some
weeks of argument, it was the hardliners who said, "You can never trust the American. You know, the great Satan."
And although Iran continued to give some assistance to us in Afghanistan, because it was in their interests, there was a great opportunity lost
there. Now, we tried to get it back with a nuclear negotiation that I was involved when it started.
AMANPOUR: Yes, you started the process. Yes.
STRAW: Yes, with my French and German counterparts.
AMANPOUR: So, given this, I mean, really rocky, absolutely terrible relationship between Iran and the West, and it's gone back a long time. I
mean, even 1953, they blamed the U.K. --
AMANPOUR: -- for overthrowing their democratically elected prime minister, Mossadegh.
AMANPOUR: And they see the U.S. and the U.K. just as perpetual super power interference.
AMANPOUR: And I want to finish our interview on this personal story. You went back with your wife and friends. You were having a personal holiday.
STRAW: Holiday. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Tourism to Tehran, to Iran in 2015.
AMANPOUR: What happened?
STRAW: Well, in Tehran, it was fine except that I kept being spotted on the street. I was in my constituency, which I was totally unexpected. And
people come out to me saying Jacky Straw and asking for selfies.
And then between [13:15:00] Yazt and Shiraz, this is day six, we stopped off at a famous revered site history, 4,000 years old, just to have a look
at it. And there were six guys waiting for me all dressed in black and they had prepared a two-page very detailed document about all the crimes
that Britain had committed since the middle of the 19th century, if you please , and said Brits weren't welcome and I particularly, as a
representative of cunning fox, was not welcomed there and what was I doing there? It could possibly be a holiday.
That led being faced with a hard stop on a motorway, on the highway where four big guys get out of a car with know who the devil they were. Our
drivers removed, three of these guys, one carrying a pistol get (INAUDIBLE) out there, get off a high speed. We were finally told to transfer into a
different people carrier and taken to a completely different hotel.
It turned out to be provincial police on our side. On our side to protect us from the people who put the declaration together who were the Basij who
are attached to the Revolutionary Guards. And this is the only country in the world where you get police protection not against criminals or
terrorists, which is normal, but against other parts of the same state.
It happened again in Isfahan. And in Isfahan, we finally said we have to cut this short. But despite police protection, it was, unsurprisingly, the
Revolutionary Guards and their side kicks, the Basij, who won. But that also is a parable about the split nature of this government. That it --
AMANPOUR: Of this system.
STRAW: Of this system.
AMANPOUR: Jack Straw, thank you so much, indeed. Author of "The English Job."
STRAW: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Important reflections there on a vital region that remains volatile today. We turn now to a complicated tale of redemption coming
from a broken home. Bryon Widner found community in the Neo-Nazi Vinlander social group. He was one of the most violent members immersed in a
lifetime of hate and crime.
Unfortunately, it's a story that is all too common. Many young men are drawn into the clutches of extremism often because they're looking for a
sense of family and belonging. But Widner made the bold decision eventually to turn his life around. It wasn't an easy feat considering
that he is covered, or he was, from head to toe in racist tattoos.
Enter Daryle Lamont Jenkins, a social activist known for helping Neo-Nazis leave their circles. Widner's story has now been turned into a film "Skin"
with an unrecognizable Jamie Bell in the lead. It's a far cry from his break out role "Billy Elliot." And here is a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this business, you got to stay focused or fall back down the rabbit hole.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if I take all this stuff off and I'm still a piece --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I've been speaking to actor Jamie Bell and the actual Daryle Lamont Jenkins who join me both from New York.
Welcome to the program, Jamie Bell and Daryle Lamont Jenkins.
DARYLE LAMONT JENKINS, FOUNDER, ONE PEOPLE'S PROJECT: Hi.
JAMIE BELL, ACTOR, "SKIN": Thank you so much for having us.
AMANPOUR: So, this is truly a film that you have to have a strong constitution to watch. I mean, it is very difficult, very, very raw and
quite violent, both emotionally and actual physically. I mean, Jamie, let's face it, you come from "Billy Elliot" and "Rocketman" and all sorts
of different kinds of productions in the past. How tough was it for you to take on this role?
BELL: Certainly, my most challenging role that I've ever done. I think when you're portraying someone who is so vastly different from who you are
as a person, so intensely, wildly off color as this character is morally to begin with, it is challenging. There's also kind of the physical
transformation of the role, you know, to be sitting in the chair for many hours a day to have all the tattoos on, adding 20 pounds weight. All that
stuff, I think, is actually is more easy to deal with.
The hardest thing for me to understand was the intense level of detachment that this character had. Detachment from compassion, detachment from
empathy, detachment from love. Walking around with that every day for six weeks was just very unpleasant.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let's bring on our first clip. This is just now, Jamie, you playing Bryon and your wife with her three girls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELLE MACDONALD, ACTRESS, "SKIN": Thank you, by the way.
BELL: I use this all day too. (INAUDIBLE). You all going back to the next movies? It's going tok be massive.
MACDONALD: No, we don't want this -- it's our last gig.
MACDONALD: I don't want my kids to be around this. [13:20:00] We're just here for a paycheck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK. So, Jamie, describe now Bryon, this White supremacist full of tattoos and his wife. This -- is this the turning point when you meet
Julie and she decides she can't go to another one of these gatherings with you?
BELL: Well, Bryon Widner is, at this point, where we meet him is a career Nazi. That's all he's kind of really done. He's kind of indoctrinated
into this ideology, and that was his life, a life of intense drinking, heavy drinking, violence, bigotry, hatred.
And then, he comes across this -- Danny Macdonald who plays Julie in the film and she has three girls, as you just saw. And I think there is the
spark here that begins this kind of journey out as well as his relationship with you, Daryle. I think he sees stability. I think he sees in these
children the opportunity to be lighter, be someone who maybe can have compassion and that he challenges himself to look inside.
But it's -- the role for me is a man who is completely unconscious coming to being awake, kind of reawakening and Daryle is certainly a huge part of
that but also, him becoming a parent to these children is also, you know, an intensely motivating factor for him. Challenging him to see does he
have these things inside of him? And could he ever be any different?
AMANPOUR: OK. Well, it's a relevant conversation. And now, I want to play a clip with Daryle's character and this is where you're explaining to
brain, Jamie Bell, the cost and the modalities of getting out of this life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE COLTER, ACTOR, "SKIN": I want to help you. The feds need your full cooperation on this thing, Bryon.
COLTER: And they make no deal without it.
BELL: I just want to know where we're going to go, where we're going to live, what about the girls?
COLTER: Look, man, all of that is classified.
COLTER: Even I won't know unless you want me to.
MACDONALD: And what about school for the girls?
COLTER: They will be taken care of. I promise you that.
MACDONALD: It's been a hard time.
BELL: I mean, yes, especially (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Daryle, that's the actor, Mike Colter, playing you. What is it -- what motivates you, Daryle, in real life, to jump in here and to try
to save a character like that, take him out of this toxic brew?
JENKINS: Well, the fact remains that they are still human beings. They don't start off being bigots. They don't start off being hateful. And I
would also extend that to people who are in gangs, people who are in cults and such.
The thing is, however, is where do we come in, how do we help them? In truth, it all depends on them. I remember Jamie talking about -- in
another interview, about how this is not a redemptive story. And it's not. There is -- it's all on Bryon in this movie. It's all on what he wants to
do and where he wants to go with his life. All I can be is a guiding light.
I mean, in the beginning of the movie, we're not the best of friends. We are at odds to underscore a fact. And that's the kind of thing I have to
deal with in my day-to-day when I'm dealing with these folks. Either I am fighting them or helping them. It depends on that person.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's really interesting you are, in a way, fighting them, as well because you have an activist intention. You have a professional
organization that actually takes videos and posts them and kind of names and shames and puts them out there when you can get to their meetings. So,
I guess, how did Daryle, you, how did you enter Bryon's life? What was the catalyst for getting -- you know, getting Jamie/Bryon out of this?
JENKINS: Well, curiously enough, it was Julie in real life. It was Julie that contacted us and says, "Look, we're trying to get out. We're trying
to figure out how to do it." She put me on the phone with Bryon after a few conversations with her and that was -- that started the conversation.
I haven't had any problems talking to Bryon since that day.
As he would probably tell you, beforehand, this wouldn't have worked. I mean, he was still deep in the Vinlanders, the Vinlanders Social Club, as
they were called, and I'm straight up (INAUDIBLE). So, there would have been fist to cuffs if we saw each other in the street. I would have been
concerned about the damage he would have done to others. So, that's would have been where we were at. Were it not for our conversation, were it not
for him and Julie saying, "We want out. We want to advance ourselves in a different direction."
AMANPOUR: You [13:25:00] brought the opposite of detachment into Bryon's life, right? Just briefly tell me about how you reintroduced him into his
JENKINS: Well, basically one of the things that was important about my initial relationship with Bryon was the fact that we didn't talk politics.
We didn't talk about our disagreements in that particular sphere. We just talked music. And we talked about what it is that really bonded us and
connected us. And it wasn't even a conscious effort on my part. It wasn't a tactic or anything like that. It's who I am. And apparently, it was who
And because of that, because I was able to relate to him on some sort of level, I think it went a long way into him being able to grow himself out
of this world that he was living in for 13 years.
AMANPOUR: Bryon is completely marked by his tattoos. In return for information, it looks like you found a donor to remove at least some of the
tattoos. And we see this depicted in a 2011 documentary called "Erasing Hate." And I want to play a little clip of the real Bryon and the real
pain he went through.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRYON WIDNER: The president of the club, he called me up and said I had to make a choice between either my family or them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you got a scar on your face and head.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was a little intimidated by both of them.
WIDNER: The coming off frequently is more painful than going on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) any better.
WIDNER: No, it hurts like hell.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's all part of the process. I don't want to see him in pain. Everything has a price.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But just to remind us, he would tattoo himself every time he committed, I mean, essentially, a hate crime.
JENKINS: And considering how many tattoos there are he had on his body or -- and still has on body, that will give you an idea of how bad he was. He
was one of the top enforcers of the Vinlanders Social Club, one of the nastiest individuals out there. I have friends of mine who are still
scared of him today.
So, for him to make this transformation over the past 10, 11 years is remarkable to me. I think it's a testament to him.
AMANPOUR: And I heard it was really medically difficult, if not impossible, to remove every single one of them from all over his body. You
could see his arms and his torso and everything is painted.
BELL: I think -- well, did it take two years?
JENKINS: It took about two or three years, yes.
BELL: Yes, yes, yes.
JENKINS: Now, he still has some tattoos but they're not any of the more racially sensitive tattoos, of course. So, he still has some on his body.
It would just him take too much for that. But I was there for one of the sessions and I could just tell you, it is -- it was intense. It was
BELL: I mean, listen, when you choose to do that to your body, cover it with hate, in an attempt to intimidate people and scare people, to isolate
yourself from the world, and then you change your mind, that's -- you know, you put yourself in that position.
I'm so kind of glad that we used his treatments as milestones within the film. That -- it was important for me that the character actually goes
through some sort of physical pain. I really do think that was a crucial element to me inside of the story.
JENKINS: And he did.
BELL: I know. You can see. He's mewing what he -- you know, what he chose. But he's also been given a gift. You know, I went to meet him to
research the role and spent a lot of time with him. And when you look at his face, if you didn't know beforehand that this was there, you would
never know. I mean, you can kind of see a little skin discoloration here or there, but you just wouldn't know.
So, he has been given an opportunity to reclaim his life and change his life forever. And I think when he looks in the mirror, he reckons with the
guilt of the things he's done and he must realize he's been given just an incredible opportunity to kind of start again.
AMANPOUR: And what does he do now? What is his life? Where is he?
JENKINS: I mean, you know, he's still dealing with life as a -- he's still going through the redemptive process and he is somebody that is still also
learning. He's still learning about life outside of what he knew for 13 years. And we talk every now and again and we're always joking around
about this and that. Not just music but about the various things that we see going on. And we're definitely getting a kick out of being in this
AMANPOUR: Well, look --
JENKINS: He's been on set with us too, I should say. He's been on set and he has helped us along. And me and him both helped the movie along to --
JENKINS: -- help them understand what it is we were doing out there.
AMANPOUR: Well, because -- look, the fact that it's coming out now means that it is more than just a movie, it's also a political and cultural
signpost to the times that we live in. And I wonder whether you both feel that way.
Let's just play a mash-up of Trump and some of the other politicians over the last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as I'm concerned, if you hate our country, if you're not happy here, you can leave.
ILHAN OMAR, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: He's launching a racist attack. This is the agenda of white nationalists.
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: This country belongs to you and it belongs to everyone.
NANCY PELOSI, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: Every single member of this institution, democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president's
WILL HURD, U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: I think those tweets are racist and xenophobic.
LINDSEY GRAHAM, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: No, I don't think it's racist to say -- was it racist to say "love it or leave it?"
TRUMP: The stadium was packed. It was a record crowd and I could have felt it 10 times as you know.
Those are incredible people. Those are incredible patriots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Whoa. I mean even now listening to that "send her back" and then calling them patriots. I mean it just goes to show how important this
film and the message about it is. So weigh in then how much do you think it's relevant to today?
BELL: What we've seen the last week in this country is it looks like it's ripped from the pages of (INAUDIBLE) doing 50, 60 years ago. I mean to me
it's really terrifying. I hope this film is an urgent, fire alarm bell, a wake-up call that this is still happening.
JENKINS: Yes. And that's exactly why I do what I do. Why I and others have been doing this for as long as we have.
I mean I think that while we're showing clips of our politicians and clips about Trump, in the end, it's not so much about those politicians but those
people in the rally, for example.
It's about us. It's about how we're going to relate to each other.
We are going to be the ones who solve our own problems. Those politicians are there because we put them there and they will leave because we pull
them out. That's how that's going to work.
What I hope this movie does is show people why that needs to happen. And what kind of world we are creating for ourselves and how we can keep it
from going in the wrong direction. I hope this benefits that conversation in the long return.
AMANPOUR: I think everybody -- I assume everybody hopes that, as well. But I must say that you know, "The Daily Stormer", many of these, the A
chant and all the rest of it, I mean they are really loving all this Trump stuff.
Here is what -- and you know that it's the most highly trafficked Neo-Nazi website. Its founder said, "Man, President Trump's Twitter account has
been pure fire lately. This might be the funniest thing he has ever tweeted. This is the kind of white nationalism we elected him for."
And on A Chan, a user said, "It is OK for him not to want to be swamped by Brown scum that clearly despise him. These invaders have stepped well out
of line making demands of us. They don't have to like the way we run things. They can go the hell back."
Yes, it's up to us but this is online, you know, ginning up this kind of stuff.
JENKINS: Exactly, it's online. Andrew England hasn't shown his face in public in years. And whoever is on Reddit is anonymous.
The fact they have to resort to just being as far away from us as possible to avoid the conflicts, to avoid that opposition is a testament to us.
It's a testament to what it is we want and what it is we will reject when we see it.
So when you see it online, be ready for it, combat it. But remember that we are still decent people. We are still in a good place. We have to stay
AMANPOUR: Look "Skin" is not just about hate and neo-Nazis. I mean the people who are in these groups often talk about family or feeling validated
or feeling that somebody is out there to, you know, bring them in when they feel alienated.
And that's not an unusual thought. We just had on our program a young writer Jamil Jivani who's written "Why Young Men" and he told Michelle
Martin what drew him to gang culture as he used.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIL JIVANI, AUTHOR, WHY YOUNG MEN: Society was rigged against people like me. I didn't think that I had -- like there was no meritocracy in my
So what is the point of working at school if you think people don't want you to be successful? They're not going to give you a job.
When you go to the mall, you're followed around by security guards. It all added up to this feeling of I'm not destined for success here, so why
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[13:35:00] AMANPOUR: So, Daryle, I mean the alienation and the feeling of validation and family in some of these hate-filled groups.
JENKINS: Yes. And I think that there is is a parallel between, as I pointed out before, whether or not you go into white power crews or whether
or not you go into some garden variety street gang.
If you get yourself involved in a cult, if you're radicalized in some fashion. You can go in that direction or you can go in a more positive
direction, join a positive church or what have you.
I think it all depends on how much we are reaching out to those that are feeling that baggage, feeling like their lives aren't worth a damn. That's
really what we're dealing with initially.
One of the important things in the movie is that there's a character named Gavin. And he said the reason why he was in the movie -- and I don't want
to spoil it. I don't think it's a spoiler or anything like that.
But he said the reason why he joined the group was because he was hungry. He was in the street when they found him.
JENKINS: And I spoke to somebody about that scene awhile back, and that took their breath away. Because that's exactly what it is we're dealing
AMANPOUR: Well, it's a remarkable story at a remarkable time. So Daryle Lamont Jenkins, founder of the One People's Project and Jamie Bell who
plays Bryon Widner, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
BELL: Thank you for your time.
JENKINS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: It's uncomfortable but surely a much-watched film that is out in selected cinemas across the United States today.
Our next guest is the "Wall Street Journal's" Editor-in-Chief, Matt Murray. Taking over the paper in 2018, Murray has since been working tirelessly to
win back the dwindling public trust in the news media.
He sat down with our Walter Isaacson to discuss the ongoing challenges facing journalists today and celebrating 130 years of the "Wall Street
Journal" in print.
WALTER ISAACSON, CONTRIBUTOR: Matt, thank you for being with us.
MATT MURRAY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, thanks Walter for having me for your first. It's great to be here with you. I really
ISAACSON: You know, the "Wall Street Journal" has one of the most trusted names in the media according to surveys. But in some ways, that's like
being the highest mountain of Louisiana that trust in the media's collapse so much. Why is that happening and how do you fight that?
MURRAY: It's a challenge. And I think the media has to take very seriously that we have a major major trust problem among ourselves.
So, yes, as you say, I'm happy that in most surveys, we are at the top or right near the top as trusted but the whole media has slid. I mean look, I
think it's things we know.
Technology has driven more polarization in how we consume consent and the awareness of content. I think that's been a real challenge for us.
Obviously, lots of politicians and executives. The president being the foremost example but not the only example, have found that they can just
beat about the media for whatever we write, deny anything is truthful that they don't like.
Generally, of course, often the rule is the more truthful it is, the more views you get. And that's been accepted by people in this polarized world.
And look, I personally think, to some extent, there are self-inflicted wounds here that we have to take seriously on our part. There's been a
move in certainly mainstream dealing news reporting of the kind of the "Wall Street Journal" does. There's been a move toward so embracing
audience data that I think we're getting too opinionated sometimes with our news.
We're confusing opinion and fact too often and there's strong points of view in a lot of stories that I think are aimed often with good intentions
to engage with audience but have the risk of only speaking to part of the audience out there. And that leaves some of the rest of the audience
One more thing I'll say is I think when we make mistakes, and we do, journalism is a human enterprise. We as an industry have to be very
forthright about them, own up to them, talk about them, admit them, explain what we do.
We're not very transparent. We are suffering the same kind of loss of faith in institutions that every institution is suffering but we're not
always helping ourselves.
ISAACSON: Do you think that the media has moved away from a concept of objectivity and a desire or belief that you can actually do objective
MURRAY: I think corners of it have. I think corners of it have.
And look, I want to be clear that there's always, of course, room for a very robust media environment with, you know, opinion journalism and point
of view and different elements. But I think that in the core where you want objective-straight news, when you declare that that's your intention,
I think at times yes, it's been harder to find that.
Understandably in some ways because some of the pressures of today and the challenges of covering the president sometimes attest everybody's
objectivity and the challenge of being in the middle and finding an audience in the middle in some ways is harder these days than it might have
been in the past.
But I do think also there are people who think a point of view is truthful. That the idea of objectivity is a bit of canard that nobody is [13:40:00]
truly objective so embrace your point of view.
ISAACSON: You don't believe that, do you?
MURRAY: I think if you declare that's what you're doing and you admit that you have it and you are transparent about it, I can accept that. The
change I have is, if you're going to be objective and play it straight, you've got to really strive to do that, which includes an awareness of your
own biases and how you accommodate them.
ISAACSON: You said that the age of Trump and Trump himself makes it harder to just stay on the straight and arrow and be objective. Why is that?
MURRAY: Well, because he likes to put us on the playing field, the press, not the "Wall Street Journal" particularly. But he likes to make it issue
And he has a habit, sometime, as we know, of saying things and then when they report it saying I didn't say that or I was mischaracterized or
wanting to use us as a hobby horse.
And I think it's a game that he plays with us. And so the challenge I think is to cover him fairly inaccurately, hold your ground.
But look, a president sometimes wants to pull you down there in the mud. And I think others are learning that habit from him a little bit.
ISAACSON: Your predecessor was sometimes criticized within your own newsroom and sort of a tamped down morale, people said, by edging and
trying to keep it more pro-Trump or not as anti-Trump as the rest of the press. Do you feel that's something you have to wrestle with and how do
you handle that?
Does your staff sometimes push you and say "Hey, how come we can't use the word racist or use the word lies?"
MURRAY: I think that the first six months or year of the president's term provoked a lot of discussions, a lot of newsrooms, and caused a lot of
challenges for everybody. And he's such a unique figure, in some ways.
One of the challenges, sometimes, of course, he has a habit of tweeting outrageous things and then you go write to tweet but you don't want to take
your eye off the policy over here. So you don't always want to give attention to every outrageous thing.
Look, he's a master of media. He probably understands the things that punches media's buttons better than certainly any president we've seen in
our lifetime I think. And he's good at it.
So he knows what organizations will do to get clicks and readers and what T.V. viewers, he's good at that. So I think everybody wrestles with that.
And I think -- you know, I was deputy at the "Wall Street Journal" so I was part of it. I think it was about all of us and not just my predecessor.
So, you know, my judgment is we did pretty well in the end not falling into those traps.
And I think, actually, I'm not going to, you know, name, I think some people went a little far in the other direction, all sort of --
MURRAY: Yes, very anti-Trump all the time in a way that, you know, was not -- I don't know whether the reporting always backed up the assertions, I
would say. My predecessor also was the one who signed off on the Michal Cohen coverage and supported that and ran the early stories on Michael
Cohen which led to the entire investigation of Cohen. It's the only reporting on from any major publication that's implicated the president
directly in the commission of the crime.
We won the Pulitzer Prize for it this year. And, you know, I'm in the job and I get credit for that but my predecessor deserves -- Jerry deserves the
credit for a lot of that work. So I think what we're going through was being felt in other newsrooms, too.
ISAACSON: Give me an example, you know, recently of a meeting you had to have in the newsroom where you had to sort something out and figure out how
do we play the strength.
MURRAY: We spent a lot of time last week when the president sent out his initial tweets on the squad about whether or not the term of racist which
was a big discussion in a lot of newsrooms. And, you know, it was a very typical kind of a Trump tweet where he walked right up to the line, didn't
overtly necessarily in the eyes of some people use explicitly racist language.
Some people characterized it as xenophobic because go back where you came from has been used for Irish and Germans and others in American history.
So, like, on the first day we described it in a headline on the front page as racially charged.
I think we actually went furthest of the big papers in putting race in the headline on the first day. But there was a lot of debated discussion on
the journalism world about whether to call it racist and how far to push it. And I think people felt good about how we did it but we continued to
have a discussion with reporters in our Washington Bureau and talk about it amongst ourselves.
There are people of color in the newsroom that we talked to. And every single person I solicited and asked what they thought, they said, "From my
experience, it's not even a close call. I've heard it all my life."
ISAACSON: It's racist?
MURRAY: Racist. And so, you know, we ended up using the word to describe the tweets. And this came about after a lot of discussion and debate
[13:45:00] amongst ourselves.
So I think you have to have a newsroom that has those kind of conversations as you run into these issues and as the world evolves.
ISAACSON: The American economy is booming for almost a decade.
ISAACSON: I get there's this big populist and resentment backlash of a feeling of discomfort. Why is that?
MURRAY: Well, I think the middle class and the working class in the United States was battered for a long time, even prior to the financial crisis.
Our economic center at the time was writing stories which we we weren't always -- we didn't know at the time how spot on he was about how much of
the economy in the odds years, in the odds of the Bush years was fueled by credit and home equity loans and people borrowing but the real wages and
real growth have really stagnated around 1999.
And then, of course, you throw in China and it's clear that as the Chinese economy took off a lot of jobs did go overseas to China and did go overseas
to Mexico and something was happening there. Then you get the meltdown hits all of us, unemployment shoots very high.
A lot of people lost their houses. A lot of people took big hits on their credit. And I think there are just deep scars, deep traumas on a lot of
people out there that are still with us.
I think there's little doubt that a lot of people who were feeling battered five years ago are feeling much better today and should be feeling much
better today but I think there's still an era of contingency about some of it for some people and they're still making up ground that was lost.
ISAACSON: You've often said that Rupert Murdoch doesn't interfere with your way of guiding the editorial product. But what sort of guidance, what
sort of involvement does Rupert Murdoch, and for that matter News Corps path, in setting the direction of the "Wall Street Journal"?
MURRAY: So since I've been in the job, I have to say he genuinely has been hands-off on guiding on any stories or story selection or how to play
particular stories. I really had no guidance on that.
And in fact, have been told explicitly you're the editor, your decision. Rupert does have, I think, strong feelings about having a newspaper and a
product that is lively and engaging.
So, you know, he's a believer that often our stories are too long and that people lose interest quickly. And that you can see it in the data so say
what you want to say, get out, and move on.
I think we've been owned by News Corps. I've been there 25 years and we've been owned by News Corps for almost 12 years now. So, you know, the "Wall
Street Journal" did not really use much art prior to their acquisition and they have big thoughts about photography and creative use of art and the
engaging visual sensibility which we've developed by leaps and bounds in the last 12 years.
So, you know, thinking about the drama of photography and the splash of the front page, those kinds of things, sort of the classic components of an
exciting newspaper that way. So I hear thoughts on that.
And being engaging and grabbing attention and making people want to sit down and really read you and compel their attention and not taking it for
granted. I mean there's a lot of that which is useful in translating to how we think about the digital product as well in the same way.
ISAACSON: Let me ask about a few things that could worry you and you tell me what worries you the most. The federal deficit.
MURRAY: I think it's worrying. I think we've crossed a point here to where there isn't anybody in either party really holding up the flag for
the deficit. I think both parties have crossed the line in their openness to building the deficit up more and more and more and I think that will
catch up to us eventually.
ISAACSON: Trade skirmish with China.
MURRAY: You know I think we're seeing some effects of this trade skirmish right now on us. I think probably we'll get a deal of some kind. It might
be a more modest deal, not a transformative deal.
And I think we've actually absorbed it so far a little better than I would have predicted a year ago. I'm cautious on making predictions, but,
obviously, it extended a kind of very distant ongoing trade battle would have real effects on both countries.
I think we probably are in some ways maybe with good reason, we probably are headed to a permanent recalibration of the economic relationship
between the United States and China. Even if we get a deal here on the immediate trade stuff.
ISAACSON: Crisis with Iran or war with Iran and maybe an oil crisis that would come from that.
MURRAY: I hate -- I mean I hate to sound cavalier about something that I think is a risk. I think the risk with Iran [13:50:00] is probably more of
an accidental thing that happens that sets off a larger thing.
But I think right now, I think there's a kind of calculated escalation gamesmanship going on here that probably is resolvable in some way at some
ISAACSON: What other things worry you about the economy? What are you sort of tell your reporters, hey, we better keep an eye on this?
MURRAY: Well, I think that you know, I think a lot of people are still left out on the prosperity of the United States and the economy in the
United States in ways that not all of us fully understand and fully realize.
You know, people who have been -- I was reading this book "Dignity" that just came out by Chris Arnade who I don't know but that is getting some
attention. And you think about some of the other bold books, the think pieces about what they call the Trump voter and some of that could be a bit
But nonetheless, you know, there's no doubt that there's a lot of hollowed uptowns in America, that were prosperous towns 30 or 40 years ago. There's
no doubt that there's a lot of people without access to proper educational systems or opportunities to move out and who feel very left out, who are
vulnerable in the country.
And at the same time, I think you've got New York and San Francisco and other cities getting more and more concentrated by and more and more
expensive and in some ways harder and harder to break into for many people, harder and harder to understand. And I worry about that divide, as many
people do who are much smarter than I am about it a lot.
I think, you know, are we really in a place of two economies for many people? I think that's something that should concern all of us.
How do we bring more Americans on board? I mean if you -- you know I've heard people talk about this. If you can raise everybody's credit score in
the United States by 50 points and you can bring them more into the economy, it would be great for them and more prosperity for all of us.
I worry we don't know how to do that. We don't have answers for those people anymore. And I think some of our politics reflects maybe sometimes
a sense that there's a finite pie and we're grabbing for pieces of it. I don't know how we make the pie bigger for everybody. I think that's a
ISAACSON: Your father became a monk.
MURRAY: Yes, and a priest.
ISAACSON: And a priest. Tell me how that affected your view of your purpose in life.
MURRAY: That's a good -- it's an interesting question. So, yes, my parents were both writers, which had an influence on me. And then my
mother died when I was seven and my father retired early from his job in the government. I grew up in Washington.
And he felt he had a calling. And he became religious as I was in high school. And after I went to college, he ended up going to Central Illinois
to take vows in the monastery.
He went to seminary for four years, became a priest, spent the last 18 years of his life as a priest in this area. You know, I guess the ways
that it influenced me and ways I wasn't conscious of at the time was a strong desire that my father had to have purpose and meaning in life and to
pursue meaning and to actively pursue and particularly to do something meaningful, engage with other people. And really overtime, in the service
of other people.
You know, my father was an extraordinarily generous person to others with his time, far more than I am. Far more than I am. And I think the example
he set for me of putting others first and sort of pursuing what, for him, was the ultimate meaning in importance was a pretty strong example for me
to try to, you know, not just think about what you're doing today or the immediate task in front of you but about doing something meaningful and
really always remembering that you're working with human beings in front of you or whatever the circumstances, whether you're writing hard stories
about them, which we do a lot of times at the journal, whether you're having meetings with them, whether they're working for you, whether they're
Try always to think about the personal human interaction and the meaning of two individuals coming together. So I hope I've got some of that from him.
ISAACSON: Matt, thank you very much.
MURRAY: Thank you.
ISAACSON: I really appreciate it.
MURRAY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And that's it for now. Remember you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and you can follow me on Instagram
Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.