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Forgotten War in Yemen; Interview With Author Blake Bailey. Aired 2- 3p ET
Aired April 16, 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.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): The world's forgotten war.
I talked to director Skye Fitzgerald and correspondent Nima Elbagir about Yemen and the starvation that could wipe out a whole generation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 2010 National Humanities Medal to Philip Roth.
AMANPOUR: The life of a literary giant. The late author's official biographer, Blake Bailey, joins me to discuss Roth's writing and his
complicated personal life.
THOMAS ROBERTS, ATTORNEY FOR CARON NAZARIO: He has his hands out the window. He's dressed in fatigues from the U.S. Army. He is not representing
a danger to anybody.
AMANPOUR: More police outrage. The attorney for a U.S. Army officer pepper-sprayed by police in Virginia tells Michel Martin why his client
believed he could have been killed.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
And it's been a major foreign policy week for President Biden. The Japanese prime minister is at the White House today, as the president raises Asia to
top national security priority. On Thursday, the United States announced retaliatory measures against Russia for a massive cyberattack.
That followed Wednesday's declaration that American troops will all soon leave Afghanistan.
But an ongoing and largely ignored humanitarian crisis in Yemen could pull the U.S. back to the Middle East. There are complicated geopolitics at play
between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but bearing the brunt of it all are the children. A famine is stalking Yemen, and they are literally starving to
death. Nearly half-a-million children are at risk. It's a devastating reality for an entire generation.
"Hunger Ward," an Oscar-nominated documentary, looks at this through the eyes of two female health care workers fighting to save the lives of
children in therapeutic feeding clinics.
I have been speaking with the film's director, Skye Fitzgerald, and CNN senior international correspondent Nima Elbagir about Yemen's humanitarian
AMANPOUR: Skye Fitzgerald, Nima Elbagir, welcome to the program.
Just give us a sense of how many lives are at stake right now with this creeping famine and the starvation.
SKYE FITZGERALD, DIRECTOR, "HUNGER WARD": Well, 100,000 have already died.
And the recent estimates are that 400,000 more are at risk of dying by end of year if the status quo isn't altered. And that comes to a child dying
every minute and a quarter, every 75 seconds. So, the scale is credible. And the crisis is real.
AMANPOUR: So, you're telling me 400,000 children are at risk of dying?
FITZGERALD: Yes, the most vulnerable amongst us.
And, as you know, children are the ones that bear the brunt of these conflicts most closely. And that's really what we have tried to focus on in
the film as well, was to show not the fighting -- the fighting on the front lines, but, rather, sort of the more insidious ways in which war is
destroying an entire generation.
AMANPOUR: So, let me just play a small clip, because, as I said, you focus on a nurse and a doctor in two different parts of Yemen, two different
And it is just so heart-wrenching to see them try to do what they can, and they can't save everybody. Here's a small clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): the ICU will accept her for intubation. Hold her tight and support her head.
Each situation is different. Every case is unique. What they all have in common is malnutrition and heartbreak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: This is a therapeutic feeding center.
What do they tell you about who they can reach and when they can't reach the desperately needy?
FITZGERALD: Well, this war has really devastated an entire generation.
Any child that's been born during the course of this war over the last six- plus years is at risk of starving to death. And so both Dr. Alsadeeq and nurse Mekkia are really on sort of, in their own way, the front lines of
this battle to save an entire generation.
And that takes -- it sort of plays out in many different ways. They will do anything in their power to meet the needs of every child that not only
arrives on their doorstep, but, when they receive a call from a family in a distant village, they will sometimes send out one of their staffers on a
(INAUDIBLE) for example, to actually pick up that child and bring them through the multiple checkpoints for treatment, and then make sure that
they receive the treatment, so they can they can survive.
So, they're always finding a way to meet the need, no matter what the challenges are that the -- sort of the war places in front of them.
AMANPOUR: Let me turn to Nima, my colleague.
Nima, you have covered a lot of these desperate situations. I have too. I remember the famine in Somalia. Before my generation, it was the famine in
Ethiopia. They got a lot of attention. And there was intervention certainly in Somalia. And then there, remember, Live Aid for Ethiopia.
It got a lot of world attention because of journalists and because the journalists were able to tell the story. What has been the most difficult
aspect for you, in today's environment, of trying to tell this story?
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We were refused access repeatedly by the internationally recognized government. The Saudi-
backed, Saudi-led coalition is supportive of that. The U.S. is incredibly supportive of it.
And yet it was allowed to refuse us access for eight months, because of our previous reporting on the humanitarian situation on the ground and on the
fact that both sides, both the internationally recognized government and Ansar Allah, the Houthis, are using their people as pawns. But it is
particularly egregious when it is a government that is recognized by the global community to ban journalists access.
So we had to take extreme measures, and we had to travel into Yemen by boat in order to get in and see what was happening there.
AMANPOUR: So, let me just play this clip, then, because you set it up perfectly. This is you and your team on the boat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELBAGIR: The derelict coastline of the north of Yemen. Rusting hulks tell a story of war, blockade and devastation.
For years now, the Houthi-controlled north has been increasingly isolated from the outside world. We secretly traveled through the night by boat
after our previous reporting here led the government to deny us entry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: How -- just how scary was it, Nima?
ELBAGIR: I mean, it's an awful -- it is an awful trip. There's no way to - - I mean, I think it's always a little uncomfortable to talk about these kinds of things, as you know, Christiane, because we know that the
situation inside for the people that we're trying to get to is so much worse.
But I think it's important to state that this was not a trip that we would have taken if we had any other option. You end up having to cross the Red
Sea at essentially its widest point.
AMANPOUR: And it's really so scary.
Let me just read what we have just heard from the IOM and UNICEF. They have confirmed that at least 16 children and 27 adults have died after a migrant
ship controlled by people smugglers capsized off the coast of Djibouti, so all this sort of Red Sea area.
So, it is remarkably and hugely dangerous, but so necessary to tell.
I just want to ask you, Skye, because this is a trilogy. This is the third of a trilogy that you have done trying to raise awareness of great
violations of humanitarian and international law, not to mention the tragedy faced by actual individuals.
What are you trying to do and say, in a bigger picture, with these films?
FITZGERALD: Yes, that's a great question.
I think one of the things that drives me, sort of serves as a catalyst for me in this entire trilogy, is the fact that we currently live in a world
where 1 percent of our population is displaced. That's almost 80 million people who can't live in their homes because of displacement due to war and
other reasons, and to a great extent because of conflict.
And I -- as a human being, as a filmmaker, I just refuse to accept that. I refuse to accept that we can't do something significant as a global
community to alter that reality. And I don't think we have to accept it.
So, I sort of have taken it on in my own very small way, as a filmmaker with my own tool set, to try to bring more awareness to it and to hopefully
marshal resources as well to say, listen, the fact that we're living in a world where a 6-year-old girl weighs 15 pounds because there's an embargo
over the country, I'm outraged by that.
And so I'm trying to do these films to make people aware that we don't have to accept that reality, nor do we have to accept the fact that our own
government here in the U.S. is complicit in the fact that children are currently dying in Yemen. I refuse to accept that.
So the film has become sort of a vehicle for movement with 200 other civil society groups here in the U.S. to try to place pressure on the Biden
administration to change the status quo, to withdraw unilateral support for the Saudi coalition in this current starvation of children that we're
AMANPOUR: And, Nima, because you have been talking and reporting about the Saudi aspect of it as well. But now we have a number of lawmakers who have
written to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who are telling them, please, to tell the Saudis to lift this blockade.
What is the history of America's efforts to get that blockade lifted?
ELBAGIR: Well, there is none.
In fact, in the recent days, America has finally come out in line with Saudi Arabia and denied that there is a blockade. And this is in spite of
the fact that, in the aftermath of our reporting on the impacts of the blockade -- and you saw -- you played what Skye was able to see inside that
ward in Abs.
The World Food Program, the head of the World Food Program, David Beasley, the U.N. envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, the spokesperson for OCHA, all
of them came out and said that this blockade has to be lifted. In fact, David Beasley said it would be a humanitarian act.
And the United States' response is to say that there is no blockade. And it, frankly, beggars belief that this administration that announced with
its -- when it came into power that human rights in U.S. foreign policy is back, that it would choose to draw that line in the sand alongside Saudi
Arabia, when everyone else in the humanitarian community, filmmakers like Skye, Democratic lawmakers, in now a bipartisan effort from the House
Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress, have all come out and said the U.S. has to pressure for this blockade to be lifted.
AMANPOUR: It's interesting.
As you speak, I kind of got immediate flashbacks, because the war that we covered in the '90s was Sarajevo, Bosnia. And that also was a blockade. It
was a medieval siege that the international community did not break and did not try to break. They brought in bits and bobs of humanitarian aid, until
the massacre at Srebrenica.
So I guess this is a setup to ask both of you, what will it take? Do you think it takes 400,000 children, as awful as that sounds, to die of
starvation to create some kind of imperative to intervene here?
Skye, I mean, you obviously want to use your film to send that message. What do you think it's going to take?
FITZGERALD: I think it takes a continuation of the movement which has already begun.
So, as much as this is this incredible challenge to put it on the radar of Americans and citizens of other countries which can enact change, there
are, I think, two things, I would say. One, there is hope, because this movement that is begun is real.
We have the 70-plus lawmakers here in the states who have signed this letter really pressuring by the Biden administration to alter course. And
there are -- Hollywood is paying attention. Mark Ruffalo and Judd Apatow and the journalist Nick Kristof are all sort of speaking out to say,
listen, there is a blockade, and we need to alter course on this.
And I think we need to get stories of hope out. One of the reasons that I really focus my lens on Mekkia and Dr. Alsadeeq is because they're part
Mother Teresa, part Florence Nightingale. They, to me, are just symbols of how individuals can alter the course of what's happening.
So, I think we should be outraged, and we should be hopeful that this momentum which civil society has started can alter the outcome if we stick
with it, but we need everyone to join with us.
AMANPOUR: And, Nima, what gives you hope when you go there, and you go into the hospitals, and you also follow this terrible tragedy?
ELBAGIR: I think it's doctors and health professionals like Dr. Khaled (ph) that we met in Hodeidah who were putting their hands in their own
pockets when the fuel was running out to keep the hospital running because they know that, when the generators stopped because fuel has run out, it
means that children die, that it means that people in those wards will stop from slowly -- from dying slowly through malnutrition and start dying very
quickly from heat exhaustion.
But I also think I -- what gives me hope is that when people know what is happening, what is being done in their name, they tend to act, and people
essentially saying both in the U.S. and around the world, I reject this being done in my name.
And then, with Skye just amazingly capitalizing on the momentum through the Oscar nomination, and really just fantastically leveraging that platform to
get more and more attention, and then you giving over your platform today, I just feel like, the more we remind people what is being done in their
name, people don't tend to let you down.
People tend to speak out, because nobody genuinely believes that this should be done in their name, that people should die in the name of their
governments and their countries.
AMANPOUR: And, actually, this pressure has actually made some effect in Congress. There's a bipartisan push to end U.S. support for the Saudi war.
And Biden has pledged to end that.
But, also, I just want to ask you, Nima, because you have done plenty of work in Ethiopia and elsewhere. Ethiopia, there has been some terrible
violations, some terrible crimes against civilians being committed. I spoke to Senator Chris Coons, a very close confidant of President Biden, who has
just been to Ethiopia.
Let me just play for you, Nima, what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): I delivered a letter directly to him from President Biden, and I brought a letter back to President Biden from Prime
A couple of key developments. He made commitments about humanitarian access throughout Tigray. He made commitments and then publicly stated he
recognized there have been human rights violations committed by his own troops, by Eritrean troops, by the Amhara militia, by the TPLF, and
committed to an international investigation, in partnership with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, a lot of acronyms, obviously, a lot of different groups there at play.
What do you make of the Biden administration's intercession, and the voice of the president in Chris Coons going to the prime minister?
ELBAGIR: It has been largely toothless. And that is just the reality.
I think that perhaps the Biden administration has not caught up quickly enough with how much the world has changed since the last time President
Biden was in power, and that a lot of these violators of human rights are much more emboldened than they were the last time that President Biden was
seeing the view from inside the White House.
And they're not moving quickly enough to deal with a lot of these more emboldened perpetrators. We have Yemen, where they are toeing the Saudi
line. We now have Ethiopia, which has been going on for a good three months now under their watch, the whole -- the violence has been going on in total
for five months.
And the worry for a lot of people who are desperate for American moral leadership and American foreign policy leadership and have missed America
taking that place in the world, that they're not catching up fast enough, Christiane, and we're going to -- there's a lot of hope still, but it is
not yet really being fulfilled for a lot of people out there, frankly.
AMANPOUR: And I guess a final note, then. The Biden administration has signaled very directly that it is moving its focus away from the
traditional places like the Middle East, Africa, away from Afghanistan, as we have seen this week, and to Asia, to China, climate, of course.
Do you worry that, actually, even less attention might be put on a place like Yemen?
FITZGERALD: Yes, I think it should be a concern.
I think we should all sort of be keenly concerned about, given the level of complicity of our own government in the conflict over the entire course of
the conflict. And I think that puts a responsibility on us to make sure that we keep the pressure on.
AMANPOUR: And, Nima, the news pendulum, the lens moving from where you are to Asia, to China.
ELBAGIR: Well, I think the reality is, we have been here before.
President Obama also signaled a strategic pivot to the East, and had no choice but to focus on the Middle East and focus on the realities on the
ground that imposed themselves upon him. I think President Biden will find something very similar, that, if you take your eye away from these bubbling
cauldrons, that, eventually, you will have to come back and deal with a much bigger mess to clean up.
But they may state that they are shifting, but the reality is that they are still engaging. What people are asking is for them to engage more
effectively, and perhaps choose their strategic allies more wisely.
AMANPOUR: And that is the case.
Nima Elbagir, Skye Fitzgerald, thank you both so much for joining us.
FITZGERALD: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Two incredibly courageous and committed reporters reminding us that the lives of 400,000 children are at risk right now in Yemen.
Now, the death of Philip Roth three years ago mark the passing of perhaps the last great American literary giant of the 20th century. His 31 books
ranged from the ribald humor of "Portnoy's Complaint" to the sweeping portrait of Newark, New Jersey in "American Pastoral," to "The Plot Against
America," an alternate history of World War II where the anti-Semitic fascist leaning aviation hero Charles Lindbergh becomes president.
Roth's prodigious output was rivaled only by his infamous love life, which often hit the headlines. Now a new biography, an instant "New York Times"
bestseller, tells the definitive story of Roth's live.
And so to discuss the fiction and the facts, we're joined by his official biographer, Blake Bailey.
And welcome to the program.
Of course, great reviews, great sales. What made you want to take on this job, because he's a notoriously difficult person to pin down on anybody's
terms but his own?
BLAKE BAILEY, AUTHOR, "PHILIP ROTH: THE BIOGRAPHY": Yes.
Well, I had written three previous literary biographies. And I was told that Philip had parted ways, with my predecessor, Ross Miller. I had
admired Philip's work on my life. I saw the opportunity.
And I wrote him a letter, and he called me. And he had known Cheever, and we were talking about my three previous subjects, all of them ruinous
alcoholics, and all of them safely dead.
And Philip said: "Do you ever write about someone who isn't alcoholic and dead?"
BAILEY: And I said: "Not yet. You would be my first."
So, we got together and talked about it. And we kind of -- we hit it off.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I mean, it sounds like, certainly from that story.
And he clearly liked and respected you. I mean, I think it took you about a decade or so to do it. But in a documentary in 2014, he said that you were
tireless, you were prodigious, and you interviewed everybody and went straight for the juggler.
Let's just listen to his voice talking about you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILIP ROTH, AUTHOR: So Blake thinks you don't take him until the year 2022, I think he said. And we had talked about this.
I said, I will do anything for you, but I don't know if I can stay alive until 20 -- I will do my best to stay alive until 2020. But don't push me
over the top.
So he's going to -- it'll be published after my death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Was that an issue for him? I mean, clearly, you were right. He was right. He wasn't going to survive until the publication.
How much of an issue was that for him?
BAILEY: The fact that he would not be alive when I was done?
BAILEY: When we met in 2012, Philip had recently -- I mean, from the age of 49, he had been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, and he had a
quintuple bypass in 1989. And he was still alive in 2012, because that was -- because Philip just had an incredibly rigorous discipline of exercise
and seeing doctors the way he should and so forth.
But he had recently been upgraded to congestive heart failure. So he said: "I have got about a year, and I'm going to -- we're going to sit down. We
are going to have a lot of interviews. I'm going to give you everything I got, and then I will get out of your way."
And I said: "Well, you seem pretty sprightly to me. I think you will be around for a while."
And, sure enough, year passed, year passed into year, and Philip wasn't going anywhere. And, yes, I think he began -- I mean, that BBC interview,
that was 20 -- it was it was taped in late 2013. And Philip finally died in May 2018.
But I think there toward the end, he was really scrappily trying to hang on, because our agreement was that he would get to vet my manuscript for
factual accuracy. And I think that that was a task that Philip keenly welcomed.
AMANPOUR: It's amazing.
And to his fiction now, he obviously was a hugely prolific and hugely influential author. In 2004, he reflected: "I don't really have other
interests. My interest in solving the problems presented by writing a book. That's what stops my brain spinning like a car wheel in the snow, obsessing
So, did you find -- is it fair to call him an obsessive? He was certainly a control freak, if I can use that dreadful word. He liked -- he even ghost-
wrote his own plaque, right, in New Jersey, or in Newark that they put up for him.
AMANPOUR: How did you find that desperation to control? I know, he said, here it is, and off you go. But was he obsessive?
BAILEY: He was extremely obsessive, yes.
And his obsessions were rather static and predictable. I probably received a total of, I don't know, 15 to 20 memos on the subject. And some of them
were quite long, I mean, like 10 single-spaced typed pages, about his being deceived and almost destroyed by his first wife, Maggie.
Maggie was a woman with a lot of problems. She was 5 years older than he was. She had two disturbed children who were almost illiterate. And,
finally, one day -- and Philip had been trying to get rid of her for a long time -- he discovered that she had just pawned his typewriter.
So, she said -- he said: "Maggie, you have to go."
And Maggie said: "I can't. I'm pregnant."
And he said, "Prove it" and gave her a jar. And she took the jar to Tompkins Square Park and found an obviously pregnant woman and paid $2 or
$3 for her urine, so she could establish she was pregnant. And Philip married her, and it almost destroyed his life in many ways.
So, Philip not an hour of his life passed until he died at age 85 that he didn't brood about Maggie. And whenever he brooded about something, which
was constantly, he'd write me a memo about it. So that's pretty obsessive.
AMANPOUR: Wow, that is obsessive. I mean, that really is, especially to obsess over somebody who caused him so much heartache.
And we know, of course, that his later wife, Claire Bloom, the British actress, wrote a pretty scathing denunciation of him and their time
together. And she portrayed in the lens of misogyny and emotional cruelty.
And, obviously, the elephant in the room -- and I'd love you to talk about this -- is his treatment of women and his apparently dysfunctional
relationship with so many of them. Talk to me about that.
BAILEY: Well, it needs to be put in perspective.
I mean, Philip's dysfunctional relationship with so many women, that's not really true. He had dysfunctional relationships with the two women he
married. And we should, perhaps in fairness, bear in mind that Philip did not want to get married ever to anybody, and was cornered into those two
marriages. The same deal with Claire. And I will come back to that in a moment.
But he had many healthy relationships. He had a five- or six-year relationship with Ann Mudge in the '60s, followed by five- or six-year
relationship with Barbara Sproul, who ended up dumping Philip, not vice versa.
And in both cases, they remained lifelong friends. Both those women and several others were at Philip's bedside when he was dying. And Mudge was 86
at the time and needed a helper to get there. And I was there. I saw it. Philip was loved dearly by many women who had been his lovers.
In the case of Claire, she has certainly legitimate grievances. Philip was did -- not have a monogamous bone in his body. He was rampantly unfaithful
to her. That's very painful to learn. He had a partner concurrent with almost the entire 20 years that he was with Claire, the woman I call Inga
in my book, who is the model for the insatiable Drenka in "Sabbath's Theater."
And, finally, he very abruptly and hurtfully abandoned Claire. And so she wrote the book she wrote, but -- so, all that's true and all that is quite
And, certainly, Philip was quite capable of sexually objectifying women and making incredibly tasteless jokes about it, many of which he put into his
books, especially "Sabbath's Theater" and "Portnoy."
But he was not, as Claire characterizes, in this sinister, Machiavellian, misogynist, bent on persecuting her and her daughter, Anna.
And, indeed, once Claire was finished doing the media stuff for "Leaving a Doll's House," she went back to saying constantly in public interviews that
her relationship with Philip Roth was the best relationship of her life.
AMANPOUR: Wow. It's complicated. And listen, you're right. And I want to give you and him his due. It is an extraordinary story that so many of his
lovers were at his bedside. And actually, I spoke to one of them, the poet, Mary Karr, who talked to me in the aftermath of his death in 2018 and
addressed the very question I asked you and this is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY KARR, POET AND FRIEND OF PHILIP ROTH: All these women, all these former lovers were at his death bed, I want to say there were five women
there, not one of them was the sort of sniveling masochist. There was a doctor, there was a woman who ran a theology department, there is a woman
who ran a quite vast horse farm in Virginia who was -- had been older than him -- than he when they were involved.
I mean, if you spend some weeks in a hospital with people you get the know them and their affection for him was pretty undiluted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, she wasn't his lover, she was his friend. But she -- you know, she's saying what you said. You said that you talked to him or he and
you had a conversation about the #MeToo, which obviously broke a year before he died. What were his reflections about that?
BAILEY: We never had a conversation about #MeToo per se. I quote him writing to his friend, Bernie Evershot (ph), and he was very rattled by
#MeToo. For one thing, he had made a very unseemly pass at the best friend of his -- you know, of Claire Bloom's daughter, Anna Steiger. I called Anna
Steiger's friend, Felicity, in my book. And he was terrified that she would -- he didn't do anything illegal but it was just unseemly. And he was
afraid that she would come forward with some public exaggeration of what had happened.
Again, it would just be embarrassing and humiliating to say what actually happened, he worried that there might be some exaggeration involved, and
the whole thing just scared him. I mean, he was scared. He knew that he brought a certain amount of scrutiny in that respect on himself and that he
was going to be in for it.
The way that transpired between us was that Philip became much more skittish in our conversations and much more sort of circumspect because
earlier in our relationship, Philip would tell me anything. I mean, he would tell me riddled anecdotes about him and various women in his life. I
mean, he loved talking about this. I mean, though I say it myself, he pretty funny about it often. But, yes. I mean, and he also very much
worried what woman, Inga, was going to tell me, had told me.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Let me ask you though, in the end about, you know, his incredible prolific and influential legacy of writing, going from
"Portnoy's Complaint," he was very self-referential in many of his books at the beginning. But then, you know, "American Pastoral" and the "Human
Stain," "The Plot Against America" were giants. What will his legacy be?
BAILEY: Well, I mean, for my money, you know, there are among the great Jewish writers of the 20th century in America, there's Ser Belo (ph),
there's Bernard Malamud, there's Norman Mailer and there's Philip Roth. And I'm a great admirer, particularly of Belo (ph). But I think Belo (ph) and
Malamud and Mailer, their work, at least, seems to be going somewhat into eclipse. I certainly hope that that will reverse itself at some point.
I think Philip, you know, is the greatest chronicler of the American Jewish experience of the post war era. And I think it would be ashamed if he
became unfashionable or was even cancelled because, you know, I mean, of the 31 books he published, some are absolutely essential reading, if you're
a reader and if you care about such things. I mean, his first book, "Goodbye, Columbus," in 1959 won him the National Book award when he was
26. "Portnoy's Complaint" 10 years later is on the modern library list of the 100 greatest English language novels of all time.
And lastly, in 2006, the New York Times canvassed 200 critics, scholars and writers to name the best American novel of the past 25 years, of the final
list of 22 books, six were by Philip Roth. And those 25 years were less than half of his overall career.
AMANPOUR: That's amazing, really. It really is. And you're right, he is the definitive chronicler of American Jewish life.
Thank you so much indeed for joining us.
Meanwhile, pressure is now mounting on President Biden and Congress to commit to holding police officers accountable for misconduct. This comes as
newly released bodycam footage of the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago on March 29th raises significant questions about the
official version of events.
Yet another controversial encounter occurred in Virginia in December when two police officers pointed guns at and pepper sprayed Army 2nd lieutenant,
Caron Nazario, during a traffic stop. Nazario is suing the two police officers for a million dollars in damages. Here's our Michel Martin talking
to his lawyer, Thomas Roberts.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNNI CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Christiane. And, Thomas Roberts, thank you so much for joining us.
Thomas Roberts: Oh, you're welcome. It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: You are representing Lieutenant Caron Nazario in his case action. You and your firm are representing him in his complaint against the Windsor
Virginia Police Department, specifically the two officers who pulled him over in the department, not the whole, I would assume.
We're going to play some very disturbing video of this encounter. This just emerged. This incident happened in December, but this just emerged this
week and it's caused a lot of attention, as you would imagine. We're not going to play the entirety of the encounter, but we are going to play a
role, a portion of it. And here it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the car now. Get out of the car now. Get out of the car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, just get out of the car. Work with us and we'll talk to you. Get out of the car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You received an order. Obey it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm honestly afraid to get out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you should be. Get out. Get out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out, now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not committed any crimes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're being stop for a traffic violation. You're not cooperating at this point right now. You're under arrest for -- you're
being detained, OK. You're being detained for obstruction of justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For a traffic violation, I do not have to get out of the vehicle. Do you have any (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? Get out of the car now. Get out of the car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands off me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands off me. Get your hands off me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what, not a problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't do anything. I'm actively serving this country and this is how you're going to treat me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up, Daniel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't do anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on. What's going -- hold on.
MARTIN: Mr. Roberts, you're aware of the reaction that this has caused around the country when the public first saw this. I'd like to ask you how
you reacted when you first saw this.
ROBERTS: With horror. We saw this, first the eye of Lieutenant Nazario's camera and it caused us concern. We wanted to get all angles before we took
any action. So, we obtained the body cam footage. And when we saw that it confirmed our worst fear.
MARTIN: What is your worst fear and what did you see when you saw this, especially when you saw the incident in its totality? What do you see here?
ROBERTS: In its totality, what you first have to see is that when he was lit up from the body cam you can see that he immediately showed that he was
complying by slowing down. At one point in time, he had slowed down to 18 miles an hour and he moved to the closest lit place, which was insight and
pulled over and stopped his car, rolled his windows down. And although, this clip didn't start there, the very first demands they came out were
keep your hands out of the window.
And throughout this clip, you see that that's exactly what he did. He kept his hands out of the window and he kept him out because he feared. Why did
he fear? Because when he stopped, he saw in his mirror on the side that the first thing that happened is they came out with guns drawn pointed at him.
He was concerned that he was going die, that something volatile was happening, something wasn't right. And so, he turned his camera on at that
point in time. Had his hands outside of the window and kept him there.
Now, the commands were conflicting. How do you keep your hands outside the window and get out of the car? He chose to obey the first command and kept
those hands out throughout the entire incident.
MARTIN: Did they say why they tried to pull him over to begin with? Did that ever -- I understand we aren't seeing this video in its totality. It
goes on for, you know, some few message. Did they ever tell him directly why they say they pulled him over?
ROBERTS: Throughout the time that he was asking what's going on, they did not. Later in the video and also in police report, that's what we have
discerned is that it all dealt with -- that there was not a license plate at the bumper where you normally see one.
But again, that issue was clarified when they pulled in behind him and followed him at a slow rate of speed and got to the lit area of the B.P.
station. And you could see that, the reason for stopping him disappeared, and that should have been the end of it. But the law makes it very clear,
when you're talking about reasonable force under Graham, you know, you look at every instance and you don't look at it, you know, sitting in the, you
know, Monday night quarterback, it's from the officer's perspective and it's supposed to be an objective view, but you look at the severity of the
In this case, there was no severe crime. You look at whether or not he is posing a danger to the officers or others, he has his hands out the window.
He's dressed in fatigues from the U.S. Army. He is not representing a danger to anybody. His hands are clearly in an, I give up, I'm complying
People -- I hear people saying, well, he should have gotten out of the car. In the clip that you showed, you heard many times, get out of the car. But
in order to get out of the car, what would he have to do? He would have to take his hand and move it into the dark car, even though it's lit, you
know, you see him can't moving it. And in this case, this young officer had a legal firearm near the seat belt. It was concealed weapon. It was
lawfully. He had every right to have it there.
But the last thing he would want to do is reach in the vicinity of a firearm when you have two guns pointed at you. Had he done that and they
shot him, we'd probably be hearing a different story, a different narrative with a young man reached for firearm, shot, officer's a hero.
MARTIN: You hear Lieutenant Nazario say, I'm afraid to get out of the car.
MARTIN: And then you hear Officer Gutierrez say, you should be, you should be. How do you interpret that?
ROBERTS: I think everybody interprets it the correct way. When he was asking, what's going on, Lieutenant -- Gutierrez, he responds, what's on?
You're about to ride -- you're fixing to ride the lighting, son. Now --
MARTIN: What does that mean?
ROBERTS: You have two people -- you know, you have Gutierrez, whatever he intended it to mean, and you have Lieutenant Nazario. I believe, first and
foremost, it meant that you are about to experience violence.
MARTIN: Is there any circumstance in which you think that's an appropriate thing to say after a traffic stop or during a traffic stop?
ROBERTS: What it did is it confirmed that Lieutenant Nazario was reasonable in his belief that he was about to be injured or killed. He's
saying, I fear -- I'm fearing. Because of the prior statement you made, I legitimately fear and you got two guns pointed at me, I fear for my life.
I'm afraid to get out. And the officer confirms that and says, you should be. It's despicable.
MARTIN: The police chief of Windsor department, Rodney Riddle, has finally spoken about this. He spoke about this on Wednesday of this week. And he
insisted that 2nd Lieutenant Nazario "created the tense situation" by failing to respond immediately on the night of December 5th when the police
car flashes lights and pull him over.
And so, how do you react to that?
ROBERTS: First of all, if you listen to a tape, the officers themselves dispel the chief's statement. And I find the statement to be disingenuous
for the following reason. The officers admitted on the videotape later as he's in handcuffs, they say, yes, you know, it happens all the time. People
don't stop on a dark road and drive to a lit area. If it happens all the time as they said, how is driving 80 miles an hour failing to obey?
MARTIN: So, let me just say this, but chief says that this whole -- that the escalation is -- that the situation in totality is Lieutenant Nazario's
fault. But he did fire Officer Gutierrez who pepper sprayed Lieutenant Nazario in the face and you can hear screaming at him and saying falsely
that he is -- that he's under arrest, which he isn't. Does that change anything for you?
ROBERTS: What's was disturbing about the statement by chief of police is, first of all, the chief of police showed up there that night. And secondly,
as I understand it, we're going to be looking -- investigating further. But the history between Officer Gutierrez and the chief is, from what I
understand, a long history.
And after the meeting that Gutierrez had with the chief, there is a clip portion that you should find extremely disturbing. Because in that clip, it
appears that Officer Gutierrez to convinced Lieutenant Nazario that he is the one that's responsible for this incident and he's walking through a
false narrative on the tape. And then it gets worse when he says, you know, I know -- and I'm paraphrasing here a little bit, but I know, you know,
it's your right to make something up, to speak out. But if you let it go, we're going to let you go, while he's got the man in handcuffs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chief is giving me discretion on how to handle it. He's like, these are the situations. I said, that's what I was thinking.
That's what I want to do. He's like, not a problem. We can either let it go, help him out, get his eyes back and get him on down the world so the
army doesn't get involved or we charge you and then it's a big hassle for you. It doesn't change my life one either way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: I don't know how to interpret that other than saying, you know, you shut up, you keep it quiet and we're not going to charge you with a
crime. We have words for that, it's called extortion. This is wrong. You can't do that.
MARTIN: At the moment, you and I are speaking, there has been another killing of an unarmed individual in Minnesota, Former Police Officer Derek
Chauvin is on trial in the death of George Floyd with also video evidence that has now gone viral internationally. This has been seen all around the
What do you think about this particular case that people find so disturbing? What is it that you think the public is reacting to here?
ROBERTS: First of all, I'm seeing -- from the public, I'm seeing an overwhelming response. From some of the leadership, there's a corner that's
missing. You know, many of our Democratic friends have spoken out. But in the conservative circles, there's complete silence. Among the population,
not so. Among the leaders, silence.
There -- I think they are afraid because it's yet another black man that they're not going to speak out. That's wrong. Justice is for everybody,
irrespective of the color of your skin. And I tell people, you know, we take cases. We take cases whether you're white, whether you're black, we
take your cases. But the unfortunate reality is that so many other chases are cases involving minorities, people of color. That's a sad reality. And
you can it -- conservatives have got to get their head out of the sand and say, this is a problem and it affects minorities in a way that it
shouldn't. It's too much on the minority community.
MARTIN: Why does this bother you so much that you're not hearing from conservatives expressing outrage about this?
ROBERTS: It's embarrassing. It's embarrassing. I'm a conservative because of the views that I hold. I hold the views that all men are creating equal.
I hold the views that government and the source of government should be restrained by a constitution. Traditionally, that was the conservative
view. And there was a time when liberals and conservatives could meet on some essential elements, like the First Amendment. You know, the right to
speak. People use to say, you know, I may disagree with you but I will defend your right to speak. I will die for your right to speak. We've lost
that in this country.
MARTIN: What do you think should happen now or what do Lieutenant Nazario think should happen now?
ROBERTS: Well, first thing. Giving an individual a shield or a badge and a gun is a responsibility, it's an honor and a responsibility. If you are not
able or you're not willing to live up to that response (INAUDIBLE), get out of the force. And I say to our officers, if you see a fellow officer that's
unwilling or unable to live up to that responsibility, don't tarnish your name by standing there doing nothing. You need to intervene. You need to
say, we are subject to the law and you may not violate the law by using excessive force on this man, and you may not cover up a matter by writing
something in your report that is inconsistent with the facts.
There are good officers and those officers should be the ones standing up and saying, no more. This has to stop. Because it ruins their reputation.
MARTIN: You seem -- forgive me for -- obviously, we are here to talk about Lieutenant Nazario, your appearance, his representative, but you seem very
upset and I just wanted to ask what is this bringing up for you?
ROBERTS: I love this country and I know a lot of people do. I love this country because the people in it and I love this country because the way
that it was set up, there were ideals. The nation has not lived up to those ideals but it's a nation that began with ideals. And our struggle that we
have today is to continue to rise to the ideals. You know, acknowledge we failed.
MARTIN: Do you think that Lieutenant Nazario would have been treated the same way if he were white?
ROBERTS: In this, case I don't believe so. And the reason I say it, in this case, because the officers acknowledged that -- first of all, it
happens all the time that people go travel to this lit area. And secondly, they acknowledged that 80 percent of the time, there's people of color who
do that. And so, coming in with guns drawn, I think in this case, is -- has to be based upon what they told us was in their mind.
MARTIN: Well, what does that mean? I mean, it would seem to me that maybe that means that the people of color pull over to a well-lit area because
they are afraid of them.
ROBERTS: And --
MARTIN: Isn't that the logical implication of that?
ROBERTS: Absolutely. And, you know, there's nothing unreasonable about that fear given what we've seen in the last 10 years.
MARTIN: You know, the people -- the chief has said in his remarks earlier this week that this was a training issue and he said that the -- as we've
said, he fired one officer but he also (INAUDIBLE) the other officer, Officer Crocker, who you've seen, the younger officer who we heard in the
earlier clip, has the makings of the officer. Is this a training issue or is this something else?
ROBERTS: I'm going to answer that question by saying, look at his report. How do you train honesty? Character is a virtue and I think that you don't
just train, it's part of the person, it's part of the long makeup. And when you have an officer that writes in a report things that don't match what
actually happened, that's a character problem, that's a character issue. That's not a training issue.
MARTIN: What does justice for Lieutenant Nazario look like in this case? And could you be more specific and tell us what specifically your lawsuit
ROBERTS: Justice in this case is to hold the officers accountable. And the only way that we can do that in the lawsuit is to ask for money damages.
Those money damages include compensatory damages to compensate him for the agony, for the mental stress that he experienced and will continue to
experience. This is not going to go away in his mind, this event, where he thought he was going to die as -- like a dog on the street as they are
putting it down on the ground.
He was like, no. You know, that compensation is one that a jury, a jury of his peers in the Norfolk Federal Court will decide, you know, how do you
put a salve (ph) over this injury. The other part of that is punitive damages. We've asked that -- the jury in this case, we will ask them to do
two things, to punish the offenders and not only that, but to award what's called exemplary damages.
Exemplary damages are to make this statement. A statement loud enough for people to hear as a warning to other officers that if you do this sort of
conduct, you will be punished. This has to stop. And so, that is what justice looks like for Lieutenant Nazario.
MARTIN: Thomas Roberts, thank you so much for joining us.
ROBERTS: Well, thank you for your interest and insights. Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: And just to reiterate, the program did contact the Windsor Police Department for comment, and a spokesperson said, one of the police
officers involved was fired.
And finally, this Saturday, the British royal family will lay their patriarch to rest as millions tune into watch the funeral of Prince Philip,
partner of Queen Elizabeth for more than 70 years. It's set to be less grand and more of a family affair since the pandemic has slimmed down the
guestlist from 300 -- from 800 to just 30 people.
The House of Windsor has spent this week rehearsing, revealing this custom land rover that was designed by the prince himself and which will carry his
coffin to St. George's Chapel. You can join me tomorrow for a CNN Special Coverage of this event.
And that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.