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Vaccine Optimism; The Capote Tapes; Grief During COVID. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired February 03, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: If you can get people protected and get an umbrella of what we call herd immunity, the level of infection is going
to go very, very low down.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Following the herd to immunity. Economist Tim Harford dives into the vaccination data and tells us how soon we may see an
SAMIE MILLER, DAUGHTER OF COVID-19 VICTIM: I have never felt pain like that, because I couldn't be with him. I couldn't hold him. I couldn't...
AMANPOUR: The human factor. We hear the heartbreaking stories of grief in the time of COVID.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he was rather a spectacle. There was nothing ever like him on the American scene.
AMANPOUR: The complex life and times of Truman Capote. Director Ebs Burnough gives us a riveting new look at this literary icon in his eye-
opening documentary "The Capote Tapes."
CHARLES BLOW, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": In the aggregate, people who don't have to live under white supremacy are going to do better than those who
AMANPOUR: Charles Blow's bold idea in "The Devil You Know." The author tells our Hari Sreenivasan why he's calling on black Americans to return to
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
And it was a good day here in Britain, as health officials celebrate promising new data on one of the major COVID vaccines. The new study by
Oxford University shows that not only does their AstraZeneca vaccine prevent serious illness, but it also slows down transmission of the virus.
And this is hugely important, because, for the first time, it answers that very question about stopping the spread of coronavirus. And what's more,
data shows that one dose offers significant protection, and that spacing out the two doses to 12 weeks does not minimize the vaccine's effectiveness
and may even enhance it.
Good news, as the COVID vaccine rollout is in a race with the virus itself.
But poor nations are still not getting their fair share of shots, while variants and disinformation are spreading like wildfire.
Here to discuss is Dr. Helen Rees. She's a renowned medical researcher who's joining us from Johannesburg, South Africa. And the British economist
and "F.T." journalist Tim Harford, who hosts the BBC Radio 4 series "How to Vaccinate the World." He's also the author of "The Data Detective."
And both are joining me now.
Welcome to the program.
Tim Harford, let me ask you first, because you have been actually writing some of the good news about the vaccine rollout and what you foresee is the
impact. How did you read and assess today's Oxford study? It hasn't yet been peer-reviewed.
TIM HARFORD, ECONOMIST: Yes, early days, but it is encouraging, because I have been writing about the protective effects of the vaccine has made the
conservative assumption that maybe it doesn't do anything to actually prevent the spread of infection. Maybe it prevents people from getting
sick, but still allows them to transmit.
So, any extra news that says it also prevents infections from passing from one person to another, which is what this new preliminary data suggests,
that's extremely good news. That's a real bonus.
AMANPOUR: And, quickly also on the spacing of the shot, I think this country is the only one who's officially spacing much, much wider than
And the good news on that is that it may even enhance AstraZeneca's effectiveness. Of course, in the United States. Dr. Fauci is saying,
rightly, that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines still need to be taken in their special three-week window.
Talk to me a little bit about that.
HARFORD: Yes, so we don't have good data -- we don't have any data on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, exploring what would happen if you delayed the
I think it's important to bear in mind that the reason that we have this three-week or four-week -- it depends on which vaccine -- but this very
short delay before the booster shot wasn't because people thought that is definitely the optimal timing. It's because we were in a hurry.
We're trying to develop these vaccines at record speed. And the vaccinologists have done this. It's an incredible achievement.
So, they wanted to test the shortest possible timing of the booster shot. So, it doesn't mean the booster won't work after six weeks, or after 10
weeks or 12 weeks. It just means we don't know. Now, I happen to know the British government has just begun -- or just begun the process of starting
a randomized trial into that.
So, ideally, we are going to start learning about the effects of spacing out the booster shot and hopefully the rest of the world is going to going
to find out from that.
AMANPOUR: Can I turn to you, Helen Rees, in South Africa, because the South African variant, as it's being called, has come over here and
elsewhere. And the medical profession and journalists and people are very concerned about it.
What can you tell us about that? What do you know about it? And how is your vaccine rollout going in South Africa?
DR. HELEN REES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WITS REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND HIV INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF WITWATERSRAND: Well, starting with the variant,
South Africa is very fortunate, in that we have the capacity, from the laboratory point of view, to actually look at the virus and how it's been
And what was picked up at the end of last year was that the virus indeed was changing. The virus does change all the time. And it mutates all the
time. But the question is, do these changes mean anything?
And what has happened with the variant that emerged in South Africa is that the mutations that we have seen have affected the way that -- what's called
the spike protein, and it has made the virus more transmissible, more easily transmitted from one person to another.
What doesn't seem to have happened at the moment is that it hasn't made it a more serious disease. It's already a serious disease, but it hasn't
changed that pattern.
AMANPOUR: And what we have heard, also -- I mean, you have had a second, rather dramatic wave of COVID. But we also hear that, today, some of the
restrictions are being lifted, that numbers are potentially going down.
But we also hear from the WHO -- and you chair an advisory vaccine commission for the region -- that there is a major problem with getting
vaccines to the developing world, Africa and elsewhere, which actually does have the vast majority of the world's population, whereas the 16 percent of
the world's population, which is in the developing world, is getting the majority of the vaccines available right now.
Tell us about whether you have enough vaccine and how that could impact the whole picture.
REES: Well, I think that this is -- I mean, this is one of the biggest problems that we have. There isn't enough vaccine in the world at the
moment. And there won't be enough vaccine in the world for the rest of the year to do what we would really like to do, which is vaccinate everybody.
And one of the problems is, we estimate that about 12.4 billion doses of vaccine will be manufactured in this year. But over about half of those
have already been pre-purchased by rich countries.
This means that the rest of the world, with the majority of the population, is going to have to try and divide up those vaccines. Poorer countries who
are not in a position to do bilateral negotiations by themselves would otherwise be at the end of the queue.
But there is a global initiative called COVAX. And the idea of COVAX, which was originated by WHO and various partners such as Gavi, was to actually
say, how do we make sure that we get equitable access? We don't want the situation that we saw with pandemic flu, that, for example, the African
region only got vaccines months after the pandemic was over.
So, COVAX aims to, on the one hand, enroll countries who want to purchase the vaccines through COVAX and, on the other hand, negotiate with all the
manufacturers to both provide vaccines through the COVAX facility, but also negotiate prices, because you have got the advantage of a big marketplace
on the one side and a secure marketplace.
So, the COVAX is proceeding, but COVAX is now having to compete to purchase vaccines with rich countries, who are buying up the vaccines. So, unless we
actually rectify this, we are going to go back to the situation where poorer countries are going to have far fewer vaccines to access than richer
And just one more thing about this. Not only is this inequitable, but it's foolish, in terms of stopping the pandemic, because, even if we were
managed -- if we managed to immunize everyone in the U.S. that wanted to have a vaccine or everyone in the U.K. that wanted to have a vaccine, there
will still be a sizable few who won't have the vaccine for one reason or another.
And as long as you have got susceptible populations, and you have other countries with no vaccines and circulating virus, that virus will find its
way back into countries and back into susceptible populations.
AMANPOUR: Yes, that is a real, real problem on the horizon.
Tim, I just want to ask you, though, to talk about what you're seeing and what you expect to see, because you have got the data. You have written the
book "The Data Detective," and you're a data guy.
And you have actually just recently written that there's a lot of kind of negative -- negative reporting about vaccines, about the impact, and people
are expecting immediate impact. Tell us how you're sort of calculating when we will see in this country, for instance, the impact of what the vaccine
rollout is right now.
HARFORD: Yes, Helen is absolutely right that the rollout is going to be very slow in poor countries and middle-income countries. I'd be very
worried if I was in Brazil right now.
But for countries that are in the privileged position of having access to a lot of vaccine, I think people are still saying, well, hang on, why are
people dying in such large numbers still? Why aren't case counts coming down faster?
And the difficulty is, it takes time for vaccinations to turn into a lower death toll. So, if you vaccinate somebody at the beginning of January, you
are maybe going to prevent infections mid to late January. That prevents hospitalizations in early February, and then maybe prevents deaths in mid
to late February.
So, even the people who were vaccinated right at the start of this year, we're not really going to see the benefit of that until Valentine's Day,
and very few people were vaccinated that early. So, that's the bad news.
But the good news is that because the death toll has been so concentrated in very vulnerable groups -- so, in the U.K., for example, more than two-
thirds of people who've died so far have been either care homes or over 80 -- because those groups are actually quite small, it doesn't take that many
vaccines to protect them.
And so there's this delay when nothing seems to be happening, nothing seems to be happening. And then, suddenly, I think it's reasonable to expect
pretty rapid progress. And I think, in the U.K., which is in a privileged position, things are going to look very different at the end of February
than they do at the start.
And I really hope -- Helen's absolutely right. I really hope that other countries are able to get a good number of vaccine doses quickly, because,
the sooner we start getting those doses into people, the sooner we will see the beneficial effects, obviously.
AMANPOUR: So, in the data that you analyze, you're basically seeing the light at the end of the tunnel?
Deaths first, because the people who die are in the smallest group. They're the most vulnerable group. It takes a little longer to see the benefits in
terms of, say, hospitalizations and ICU admissions, because those people are actually younger groups. They haven't been vaccinated yet.
But it's coming. So, it's not today, it's not tomorrow, but it really is coming.
AMANPOUR: OK, so I want to ask you both -- and I know you both are watching this. And again, Tim, you write about it, and you, Helen Rees, are
a doctor and you're concerned about it -- the spread of misinformation.
And we have heard -- VICE News wrote a really in-depth report recently on how the WHO has to deal with this, how UNICEF has to deal with this, how
there is a really organized group of kind of rich- to middle-class people who are sending all this misinformation to much less well-to-do and less
developed countries, and just scaring the bejesus out of people in terms of vaccine hesitancy and all the disinformation.
I just want to ask you, Helen Rees, what you're seeing, for instance, in South Africa, what you're hearing in the region, where, already, Africans
generally, because of colonial times and experiments, are concerned about vaccines from the West and the like.
And it is a global concern. And it's a concern in this region. WHO in 2019 said that, actually, vaccine hesitancy was one of the 10 biggest global
health threats. And that was before we had a pandemic. It is really true now.
This -- for the African region, one of the things that triggered this was an unfortunate conversation between two French doctors which suggested that
Africa would be a place to come and do trials for vaccines, which started the conversation about is -- are African countries going to be sites of --
for guinea pigs, for testing out vaccines?
And from there, there have been many other rumors -- and some of these are global rumors -- about microchips in vaccines and so on and trying to
control and 5G.
All of those rumors that are global have also reached this region as well. I think the other thing, though, is trust, because, in our region,
traditionally, people do immunize their children. And there's been trust and confidence in vaccines, by and large.
One of the questions that people are legitimately asking, which is different to the misinformation and the rumors, is, all these vaccines safe
and are they effective, and were they developed too fast?
And I think, from the scientific point of view, it's up to us to explain the difference between doing something very fast and continuing to monitor
when we roll out, vs. doing something that's reckless and dangerous and having unsafe vaccines, because those questions are legitimate and need
answering, and people need reassuring.
I think the good side, if there is a good side of what's going on with vaccines and -- there's a good side of vaccines, but what's going on with
the pandemic, is that it's actually made people talk about vaccines and the importance of vaccines.
And I do think that the message is now getting out that we are going to battle to stop this pandemic unless we get vaccines out there and we get
high vaccine coverage. And that message is probably one of the most powerful messages.
But the misinformation and the use of social media is absolutely rife in this region as well and in South Africa.
AMANPOUR: So, Tim -- and, again, you have written a cover story about wishful thinking and how people are kind of -- why they allow themselves to
be so fooled.
You also, as I said, in your book "The Data Detective" talk about the positive impact of learning statistics and learning about how to use data.
So, why is it -- what have you discovered about why seemingly educated people in the developed world and elsewhere are so fooled and so willing to
be fooled by absurd conspiracy theories and the like?
This is beyond the kind of legitimate concerns that Dr. Rees talks about.
HARFORD: Yes, I mean, Dr. Rees is absolutely right to make a sharp distinction between the committed anti-vaxxers, who are either very well-
organized and believe some very strange things, and the large minority of people who are hesitant and want reassurance.
It is extraordinary the things that we can convince ourselves to believe. One the themes that I explore in "The Data Detective" is really how I can
give you all the technical information that you like. I can try and advance your expertise in statistics, but, fundamentally, if you want to fool
yourself, if you get yourself tied up in -- we fall into the wrong crowd or you really start to passionately believe in something, those emotions are
going to override almost any facts or evidence that I can offer.
And, I mean, the simple principle I would say to people, I say the three C's. So, it's calm, it's context, and curiosity. Calm, just try and get
over your emotional reaction to whatever information you're being presented with. A lot of the information that we see is designed to make us fearful
or angry, because that wins. It gets engagement, gets clicks. Just be calm.
The moment you have noticed your emotions, you're in a position to think more clearly. Second, just get context. Don't believe something that just
circulates on Facebook that -- with some sort of crazy graphic, and there's no context, there are no credible sources, there are no links.
If someone wants to communicate properly with you, they're going to give you the context, give you the sources, put something into perspective.
And, finally, curiosity. If we view statistical claims as a way of finding out about the world, that's the right frame of mind. If we view them as
ways to win a particular argument, then we're not making ourselves smarter. We're not really helping anybody else either.
AMANPOUR: Really valuable lessons.
Tim Harford, thank you so much. And, Dr. Helen Rees, also from South Africa, thank you.
Now, as for the human factor, of course, the unfathomable loss of life around the world is taking place in the shadows, with people mostly dying
alone and also grieving alone.
Correspondent Phil Black spend some time with some of the bereaved families here in the U.K. who are trying their best to pay proper tribute to their
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like all of us now, Trish and Peter Skinner find comfort in family video calls.
Here, they're connecting to dozens of people across England and the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your boys are so grown up.
BLACK: For a brief moment, there's joy seeing all those loving faces, but the feeling is quickly crushed, as the screen shows why they have come
They're watching live images from a gray, windy cemetery near England's Southern Coast, where Trish's father is being buried.
Herbert John Tate (ph) died from COVID-19. He was almost 104, remembered as the strong-willed patriarch who held his family together for generations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was granddad, and I loved him.
BLACK: The pandemic means only a small number of young people can be there to mourn him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's once more with his sweetheart.
BLACK: Trish can only watch and listen (INAUDIBLE). A shaky image on a small screen is a limited window to the ceremony honoring her father's
long, meaningful life.
And then it's over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beautiful funeral, hey, really lovely.
BLACK: But for a grieving daughter who longs to be with family, it's not enough.
TRISH SKINNER, DAUGHTER OF COVID-19 VICTIM: The saddest thing now is that we're all going to leave.
BLACK: Grief in the time of COVID is made worse by loneliness.
SKINNER: Can't possibly be the same. There's no interaction physically, and that's the biggest -- biggest thing that's missing during this terrible
EDWINA FITZPATRICK, WIFE OF COVID-19 VICTIM: He was like my best friend. Felt like I had known him forever.
BLACK: Edwina fitzPatrick also knows that pain. She and her husband, Nik Devlin, had both caught the virus. Nik deteriorated quickly,
FITZPATRICK: I wheeled him through with one of the nursing staff through the hospital. And we went in. And that's the last time I saw of him waving
through a window blowing kisses to each other.
BLACK: Edwina was abruptly alone with her grief, locked down in the home they had shared, surrounded by evidence of their life together.
(on camera): How dark did it get for you?
FITZPATRICK: Oh, I did think very strongly and seriously about committing suicide that first weekend.
BLACK (voice-over): Instead, Edwina chose to live to ensure Nick's first novel was published and to help others. She set up COVIDSpeakEasy, video
support groups for those experiencing the pandemic's unique power to inflict trauma through grief and isolation.
SKINNER: We don't want to tell people just how terrible we're feeling, both physically and mentally.
MILLER: I have never felt pain like that, because I couldn't be with him. I couldn't hold him. I couldn't...
I couldn't say by to him.
BLACK: Samie Miller is describing what it was like losing her father to COVID-19.
This was David Miller only a few months before he died, 66 and healthy, loving and loved. Samie says everything about grieving him is harder
because of the pandemic.
MILLER: I'm waiting for bereavement counseling, because I don't know how to live without my dad.
BLACK: To find closure, she turned to London St. Paul's Cathedral, for centuries a building focused on remembering loss and sacrifice.
Samie added her father's image to the cathedral's permanent online memorial, a project to help people cope with the specific challenges of
confronting grief in the time of COVID.
MILLER: I just think it's a beautiful thing that St Paul's Cathedral is doing. And I just want to keep his memory alive.
BLACK (on camera): He's not just a number.
MILLER: He's not just a number. He is my dad.
BLACK: David Miller, Nik Devlin, John Tate, just three among the millions lost, a tiny sample from the pandemic's infinite pool of grief.
AMANPOUR: Really moving reporting there by Phil Black from the real front lines of this virus, which puts into perspective the good news that we have
been talking about on this program today about the vaccines.
And we're going to turn now to one of the most enigmatic literary figures of the modern era, the American author Truman Capote. His book "In Cold
Blood" and also "Breakfast at Tiffany's" were blockbusters.
And now he's the subject of a new bio-doc. Here's a clip from the trailer of "The Capote Tapes."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE CAPOTE TAPES")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he was rather a spectacle. There was nothing ever like him on the American scene.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In those days, there were very few people who were out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had a special life because he was going to live it a special way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He really saw the way to make the world you live in art.
AUDREY HEPBURN, ACTRESS: Won't you join me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Audrey Hepburn now. And, of course, you read the book, and it's completely different.
TRUMAN CAPOTE, AUTHOR: "In Cold Blood" is what I call the nonfiction novel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "In Cold Blood" propels him into a world of achievement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... original.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Truman is going to be read by generations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The extraordinary Truman Capote.
And the film centers around his unfinished novel "Answered Prayers," which sparked his decline and his ostracization by the New York socialites he so
coveted. It marks Ebs Burnough's directorial debut as well. And he's joining me now to talk about it.
Ebs Burnough, welcome to the program.
Yes, he's a very colorful, important, iconic figure. But why did you decide to take on Truman Capote? What was it?
EBS BURNOUGH, DIRECTOR, "THE CAPOTE TAPES": Well, thank you for having me, Christiane.
I was actually in the midst of reading a book many years ago that was on Bill Paley and the founding of CBS. And when I finished the tome, the two
most interesting people to me were Truman Capote and Bill's wife and Truman's best friend, Babe.
And that sent me back down a rabbit hole of studying Truman, and, of course, rewatching, the two feature films. Obviously, there'd been "Capote"
with Philip Seymour Hoffman and "Infamous" with Toby Jones, but both really focused on a slice of Truman's life.
They focused really on the writing of "In Cold Blood." And as I read more, and as I researched, I felt like his was a life that had not fully been
mined for what could be learned today.
I mean, he was an extraordinary character, and there was so much about him that just hadn't been told, particularly in those films.
AMANPOUR: So, what for you is the most revealing thing that you found out? I mean, so much that you wanted to discover about him.
BURNOUGH: I think the most revealing thing for me was his real desire to have a family and the fact that, in an era where it was illegal to be an
openly gay person in many places around the world, Truman was both openly gay, very famous, very clever.
But he managed to create a family for himself by more or less adopting the daughter of one of his last lovers. And she moved in with him around the
age of 13. And he raised her. And she considers him very much her father.
And that, for me, was an extraordinary angle about him, because, so often, we hear about the clever writer, the mean person, that tiny terror, but
that story and meeting her and delving into that piece of the story really put him in a different context for me.
AMANPOUR: And it showed his -- the warmth of his heart, actually. And that will be interesting when we talk about essentially what happened to him at
the very end with "Answered Prayers."
But I want to start by asking you about what you profile as well, "Other Voices, Other Rooms." I think that was his first major work. It was written
in the '20s. And it caused quite a stir. It was kind of a coming out novel. It had a very provocative picture of Truman Capote on the cover.
And I think one reviewer called it, like, the fairy version of "Huckleberry Finn."
BURNOUGH: Yes. Truman was always provocative. And it showed through in that first novel, certainly, which was I think -- Jay McInerney called it a
bit of the very "Huck Finn" in the doc as well.
But Truman was someone who, from an early age, dared to be who he was. And I think part of that was, he couldn't run away from who he was, his size,
his voice. He was also an orphan. And he embraced -- he embraced his outness, and he used it less as something to be afraid of, and really as a
And I think, for him, certainly getting to New York City, and being able to invent, not even reinvent, but invent himself, as a small Southern boy
coming from Alabama was an extraordinary -- it's an extraordinary creation. Part of Truman is about self-creation.
And his works often really focus on what it is to create yourself and change your identity from someone in the past to someone incredibly
interesting and new.
AMANPOUR: So, I wonder if that all crystallizes is in one of his most famous books, "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
So, his mother was known as a courtesan. I'm not sure quite exactly what that means. But, also, as you say, she abandoned him. She never accepted
that he was gay. And he was raised by two aunts.
And in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," the film, as you say in your documentary, is totally a candyfloss version of his book, which was much, much grittier.
Tell me a little bit about and whether it kind of was a commentary on his own mother as well.
BURNOUGH: I definitely think it was a commentary on his own mother. It was also, you know, Truman style of writing. From a young age, and I think it
is fair to say there is a great story of him being 8- or 9-year-old and writing a story that won a prize in the newspaper called "Mrs. Busy Body"
and it was about a terribly curious rather nosy woman who sat on porch in town and was always tending to everybody else's business.
And of course, it was really based on the mother of his best friend, Harper Lee, and Truman got into terrible trouble about it, but he was always a
person who wrote what he saw and he wrote what he knew. And "Breakfast at Tiffany's" it's certainly elements of his mother, it's also an amazing
story of self-creation. I mean, the story itself is rather difficult in the sense of there isn't a love story and it is a person who is, you know, more
or less a call girl or an escort who is making her way in New York.
And the male character in the story is, you know, also rather decidedly, in many ways, gay and lonely. It's two lonely people that are finding their
way. And I think Truman certainly wrote from the heart. His mother was very similar to that. She made her way to New York and made a life for herself,
but he wrote what he knew and what he saw. He just could not help himself.
AMANPOUR: Yes, and I am just imagining Audrey Hepburn and Holly Golightly and it definitely wasn't the version in the book, much, much grittier in
the book. And what about "In Cold Blood" because, you know, you talk and you get people to talk about, you know, how he found out about that grisly
murder, how he went down there, but also, how he tried to influence the sentencing of the killers.
BURNOUGH: Yes, I mean, you know, Truman had worked on the book for almost six years and it needed to have as, you know -- he needed it to have an
ending. He needed it not to just go on from, you know, trial to trial and stay of execution to stay of execution. He actually needed it to have an
ending, and he didn't end up having any influence certainly, but he -- and I think that is something that tortured him, because his success was very
much built on the deaths of two people.
And while they weren't innocent, certainly he developed close relationships with both of them and very close relationship with perry. And so, it is one
of the things that made him a huge international star, but it is also one of the things that he carried with him for the rest of his life and weighed
very heavily on him.
AMANPOUR: Well, his fellow very, very novelist, Graham Green, said after that, you know, if anybody had a splinter of ice in their heart, it was
Truman Capote. And it contrasts so much with his sort of presence on the social scene, you know, he gave that very famous, and everybody knows about
it, black and white ball in New York, and there is a clip in the film about it. I just want to play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the ladies are wearing masks on Truman Capote's orders and the inky (INAUDIBLE) of the press, on his orders also, are being
kept a discrete distance from the guest outside this door.
The people arriving here have come from Rome, from Hollywood, Venice, Paris, Washington, San Francisco, London, just to go to a party. 540 or so
have dressed and coiffed and masked themselves and presented themselves at the plaza for the honor of serving themselves at Truman Capote's bar and
saying that they were here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, how did he pull that off? And literally, you know, it was a who's who of, as it was pointed out, of all of the top socialites of the
world frankly. How did he pull that off? What was that all about for him?
BURNOUGH: You know, I think a lot of that was -- it was his also coming out. I mean, he had finished "In Cold Blood," he had -- you know,
"Breakfast at Tiffany's" had been before and he, of course -- he couched it as if it was a black and white ball honoring Kay Graham who was, you know,
the publisher of "The Washington Post." But the reality was, it was Truman's moment to shine. It was the little boy from rural Alabama had
actually made it to the center not just of New York, but to the center of the world.
And that assembling for him was a very defining moment to say, I did it. I'm here. I've arrived. But unfortunately, after it, I think he found
himself kind of looking in the mirror saying, now what?
AMANPOUR: Well, wow what was -- then came "Answered Prayers" which was his unfinished novel apparently. We'll talk a little bit about that. But he
thought that he could, you know, change a few names and write down all of the secrets of all the grand dames who he met. Here he is before his
decline and before his fall talking to the great talk show host, Dick Cavett about it. This is a clip from your documentary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CAVETT: Don't you have a book about to appear now? For a couple of years, have been waiting for "Answered Prayers" and have you turned it over
to the publishers yet?
CAPOTE: No. I refer to it now as my posthumous novel, because I am going to kill it or it is like me. It is just sort of like an endless Chinese
dinner. It grows and grows. I can't seem to get to the bottom of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Wow. It was prescient, wasn't it, because it was not published and it did cause a massive backlash. Tell me about it. Was -- the end of
the story is really that?
BURNOUGH: Yes, the end of story is really that. And it's also a moment which I wanted to point out in the documentary. It is also a moment for all
of us and for the viewer, hopefully, too also address what addiction can also do and the effects of addiction.
You know, it is -- it doesn't go lost on me, it wasn't lost on me working on this that, because as I said earlier, that Truman always knew what he
knew and what he saw. And when you think about "Breakfast at Tiffany's" you had all of these women raising their hand saying, oh, that was based on me.
And yet, when you saw -- when you read the story, you thought, oh, it is a little bit gritty for someone to raise their hand and say, it is based on
me. But the writing was so beautiful. And as Norman Mailer said, he wrote the best sentences.
I think by the time he really was digging into "Answered Prayers" he was heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol and there was a slide effect
happening, and the work wasn't as strong because his faculties were not as strong. And he was feeling the pressure in terms of having a million-dollar
advance and delivery, but it was era of his life when he was drinking a great deal, addicted to prescription drugs as well as other drugs.
So, I often think that he was basing his -- he was basing what he was doing off of what he knew before, off of the writing he had before. But
unfortunately, his faculties weren't quite up to it and so it's not at all (INAUDIBLE), unfortunately. It's entertaining certainly, but it was far too
revealing and it didn't have any nuance and it got him completely locked out of the society of the black and white ball society that he had spent
his entire life craving and fighting to get into.
AMANPOUR: A sad end to his life there. Ebs Burnough, thank you so much indeed. And "The Capote Tapes" is available now to watch on digital
platforms in the U.K. And, of course, it's releasing in the United States this summer.
"The New York Times" op-ed columnist and author, Charles Blow, has had a new book. It's called "The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto." It's a
roadmap for overturning white supremacy he says. He has moved to Atlanta, Georgia after living in New York for 25 years. And he is now proposing that
other black American up north do the same, to boost their political power in key southern cities.
Here's our Hari Sreenivasan talking to him about why now and how it would work in practice.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Charles Blow, thanks for joining us.
Majority of the book is outlining an idea that is not a thought experiment for you, you're living it. Explain the proposition.
CHARLES BLOW, AUTHOR, "THE DEVIL YOU KNOW: A BLACK POWER MANIFESTO": The proposition is simply to return to the places where you were majorities or
large percentages of the population to consolidate political power.
Before the migration, 90 percent of all black people lived in the American south. At the end of the Civil War, three southern states were majority
black. Another three were within 4 percentage point of being majority black. Every southern state had large black populations. If black people
had not migrated, which is a big if, and if there was still the passage of the civil rights legislation and the voting rights legislation, another big
if, it is conceivable that black people today would have control of the 14 states, it's taking control more electoral colleges than New York State and
California combined. They -- if they voted over that same period of where they vote today, they would not have been a Republican president in the
last 50 years. That would mean that the Supreme Court would look completely differently.
And I don't think there's a justice on it who was appointed over 50 years ago. This is a -- you know, it would have been a major shift in power and
it can still be. The only thing that black people have to do, and not even all of them have to do this, but large numbers have to do what smaller
numbers are already doing, which is to return to the south.
SREENIVASAN: You want people to come back to the south in order to be able to exercise their political power better than what they have in the north,
BLOW: Absolutely. There is no real power, political power of the black people happened in the northern states.
SREENIVASAN: How is it possible? We've -- and this is one of the premises of the migration out of the south was, you know what, it's going to be
better in the north. How is it that they don't have political power in New York or in California or in Minnesota?
BLOW: Because they're all deluded. So, the black percentage of California is about 5 percent. Black percent of New York is about 15 percent, same in
Illinois. So, you are not going to deliver a state. You may be (ph) added in a group when white people basically split down in the middle. But you
can't delivery a state on your own. You can't elect a senator on your own. New York has never had a black senator.
New York -- black New Yorkers have never deliberately (INAUDIBLE). It's still going to be blue whether black people are there or not. And that make
-- and that is what New York City having 2 million black people in it. More black people than any other city in America. And yet, they can't produce,
So, you -- they can't elect a black governor. There's only been one black governor and that was because he was lieutenant governor when the
(INAUDIBLE) governor got on the prostitution scandal. No black senators. The last -- too many people have been seated up. We've only had one black
mayor in the entire system in the City of New York and that was 30 years ago. And behind him came Rudy Giuliani whose tactics -- who use racist
tactics Michael Bloomberg who was a champion at stopping things.
SREENIVASAN: You know, at the surface when someone looks at an idea like this they're going to say, well, this is sort of the new Garvey. Is he
calling for black supremacy? Is he giving up on integration? Is this about self-segregation?
BLOW: Well, I would turn that glove inside out. For the last 90 years, every state in America except Hawaii has the majority white. No one says
that that's a problem for integration or diversity. Right now, as we speak, seven states in America are 90 plus percent white. Is that not white
supremacy or white majority or overwhelming? Is that not a problem to diversity?
There are 40 million black people. There are only 10 million people in the entire -- if you collect all those people on 7 states together, it's 10
million people. They're four times as many black people in America than in those 7 states, but black people don't -- they control only Senate -- black
senator, two sets of seats were also -- who is elected by a coalition with black people, with the majority.
But how is that possible? Those people represent, what, about 3 percent of the American population but they control four senators and they are 90 plus
percent white. People can't ask me questions about whether or not this is a problem, about racial concentration and racial power until they deal with
those 7 states.
SREENIVASAN: Well, let's talk a little bit about sort of, let's say, brass tacks, right. So, let's say, ok, all right. I'm signing up. Now, I'm
thinking to myself, what sort of incentives are there? What sort of economic opportunity is in the south? I mean, do we have -- have we kind of
frozen our idea of what the south is because one of the hesitations of people have is, I don't want to go to the south. Well, it's more racist
there. There's less jobs there, et cetera. You've been diving into the data for all your research. What did you find?
BLOW: Well, Forbes has a list, I think, every year. You know, I think it was 2018 (INAUDIBLE) book.
Places where the black middleclass is thriving (ph), half of that list are cities in the south when researchers looked look at where black owned
businesses are most concentrated. The number one region for that is the southeast. When you look at real gains in medium family income, the south
ranks the top of that list on and on and on. The black middle class is actually thriving in the south.
The other thing is about racism. Well, I ask people at the project implicit which studies implicit bias, there's probably (ph) been like hundreds of
thousands online. Hence, I've asked them to cut their data, just show me racial bias, what they track is empty black pro white biases. Show me those
biases by region and by race, very simple request.
So, it was surprising even then. There was no difference in the amount of racial bias among white people from the south and those in the north and
those in the Midwest, none.
SREENIVASAN: You know, there's a quote your book that says, the supposed egalitarianism of northern cities is more veneer than core doctrine. It is
flimsy disguise for racism and white supremacy that divergence from its southern counterparts only in style, not substance. Explained that.
BLOW: Well, when I look at the militarizing of the police, that is a northern and western city phenomenon, the supposedly liberal cities, right.
That you got the swat team from California because they were responding in part to the Black Panthers. That was the first swat team.
If I look at stop and frisk, that didn't start in Greensboro or Birmingham or Jackson, Mississippi or Little Rock, Arkansas, that starts at New York,
that's order (ph) to California and Los Angeles and Chicago. If I look at every police department right now that is under a consent decree with the
Department of Justice because they have misbehaved and have violated people's civil rights, only two of those are in the south. All the rest are
in northern and western cities.
The data -- I don't understand why people don't actually look at the data. When I look -- you know, people look at incarceration rate, massacres was a
huge issue for a lot of African-Americans. They always point to the south and say they incarcerate a lot of people. Yes, but they also incarcerate a
lot of white people.
What you have to do is look at it and say, of the number of black people that you have, what percentage of those do you incarcerate? And when you do
it per capita, the summon (ph) states rarely even rank. Vermont is at the top of that list for black men.
SREENIVASAN: You brought up Vermont, that's interesting. In the book, you point out that Vermont is the result today of a rather drastic and short
migration that began there. Not dissimilar to what you're talking about, really, from an article in Playboy.
BLOW: Absolutely. And that was part of my inspiration for this book because it worked so well. During the Vietnam War, early 70's, young
hippies were liberals. I wouldn't call every -- all of hippie but a lot of them were. That was not a derogatory term. Were protesting against the war,
protesting against the way Nixon was executing work. But he was not budging. He was actually -- he was -- he continued to execute it the way he
wanted to do.
Two young Yale law students wrote an article in the Yale Review that said, you know, you can -- (INAUDIBLE) this way you can have a kind of arm rest
of revolution but you can do the same we call radical federalism, which is to basically go -- move to a small state and take it over. One to smaller
states, Vermont, it doesn't take as many people, move. And it's kind of languish (ph). Therefore, a few months until a writer picked it up and
wrote an article in Playboy. And yes, people used to replete with the articles because there were a lot of great writers writing in Playboy. And
he wrote an article under the title, "Taking Over Vermont."
And that, thousands -- tens of thousands of young white hippies grabbed their things and moved to Vermont. And some of the (INAUDIBLE) had places,
they slept in a field, they created communes. But they transformed Vermont from one of the most -- more conservative states in the union to now it is
the most -- one of the most liberal states in America. It is where you get a Bernie Sanders. It is where Barack Obama gets his highest percentage of
the white vote in 2008.
They basically changed Vermont from New Hampshire into Vermont. And that is the power of migration.
SREENIVASAN: We are not in the era of Jim Crow. We've repealed many of those rules. Why do we need now this influx of black Americans to move to
these places and what impact will that have? Isn't the system working?
BLOW: It's not working. We have not repealed those rules. We've forced the people who want the same rules to reinvent them in a more elegant form. We
still have massive voter suppression, it's just in a different form. It's not a poll tatt or it's not a literacy test, but it is, you know, all of
the things that is happening right now in Georgia in response to the fact that black people, majority of that coalition to deliver to state for
Democrats. And now, they're introducing a bill at the bill in the state legislature here in Georgia trying to say, get rid of no reason, early
voting or require true forms of variety.
Anything that they can do to make it more difficult for people to cast a ballot is exactly what they're going to do. And they know and I know and
you know that that disproportionately affects black people, brown people, college students and the elderly who are poor.
It is not that these things have gone away. And as long as you have state legislatures that are hostile to you, and that exist some -- in many ways
across the country, hostile to, you'll never be free.
SREENIVASAN: Charles, you're also making, right now, in your last answer, the case against moving to Atlanta or to Georgia saying, hey, just --- even
if we have more black people here, it doesn't mean racism stops, that doesn't mean attempts to disenfranchise may stop.
BLOW: I don't think that's an argument against that at all. If -- I'm not promising anybody utopia. If racial majorities and control of state power
guaranteed utopias, every white person in America would be prospering because for the last 90 years they have controlled the majority of the
states like Hawaii. But they're not all prospering. There's still crime. There's still poverty. There's still income inequality. There's still food
Those seven states that I mentioned to you, 90-plus percent white, surely all those white people are prospering. No, they're not. They're human
beings. They have problems that are competent to human condition. If you go to the south and by chance have a black majority, you will also still have
the problems that a competent human condition. There's no such thing as human -- as a utopia when human beings are involved.
It is just that in the aggregate, people who don't have to live under white supremacy are going to do better than those who do. And this is the only
way for you to not have a space in this country, legally, constitutionally, where you do not have to live under a system of white supremacy.
SREENIVASAN: Look, are you assuming that all black people will vote the same way? I mean, look, look at the elections in the last two cycles. I
mean, you had large numbers of Hispanics, Asians, black Americans vote for Trump.
BLOW: I am not assuming that at all. And what I am very careful in saying and want to be very clear about in all of my interviews is black power is
not a political party power. I am not advocating black power for Democrats or so that Democrats will have more of an advantage or a black (INAUDIBLE)
Republicans can get it for the vote. Black power is for black people to not live under white supremacy whatever form that takes.
You know, 100 years ago, if you talked into any room in America, majority of the black people in that room would have been Republicans. Democrats
were the party of the races, clear and simple, no doubt about it, the Klan and everything else. But the Democratic Party reformed itself, change
itself. And black people, over the course of a century, forgave the fact that they were the party of the Klan.
You could have a future in which the Republican Party no longer sees a viable path to national election and then starts to court black people the
same way that the Democratic Party started to do. I don't know what the future holds on the political party strip threat. Right now, the Republican
Party, my opinion, courts the races, which is a nonstarter for black people. They just can't get with it.
But I don't know if that would be the future. But black power to exist separately from a total alignment with any particular party.
SREENIVASAN: So, lay out the distinctions between your proposal which you say is based on anti-racism, pro blackness. How is that distinct from black
supremacy? How is the entire idea not racist on its face?
BLOW: Again, I go back to this idea, like how is it that no one is saying that we -- this is white supremacy that you have every single state, except
Hawaii that's majority white right now. And that is not a fluke, that is by design. People will run out of those states where they were from by white
terror. They had majorities there. There was -- there were times when Native Americans were majorities of what would become states and they were
chased west. There was a time when some of the western states had must larger percentages of Hispanic people, that was kind of their territory.
So, the idea that we, the American people, by design chased people using white terror into spaces where now none of them have -- or majority of the
spaces where they would have been majorities anyway, that seems to be not a problem. But allocating that black people might one day be one percentage
point over 50 percent in a state, not 90-plus percent like those seven white states (INAUDIBLE). Just 1 percent of a 50, that freaks people out.
We have to interrogate why that sounds like a problem to people.
SREENIVASAN: Charles Blow, book is called "The Devil You Know," thanks so much for joining us.
BLOW: Thank you. I really appreciate it.
AMANPOUR: And that is it for now. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.