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Oscar Winners; India's COVID Crisis; Interview with Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired April 26, 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. SCL GUPTA, BATRA HOSPITAL: Here, if somebody dies, you know, he dies because of a lack of oxygen.
AMANPOUR: India's hospitals gasping for air, desperate scenes, as a COVID surge grips the country. I look at what's driving it with epidemiologist
Bhramar Mukherjee and, from the ground in New Delhi, Dr. Yatin Mehta.
CHLOE ZHAO, DIRECTOR: This is for anyone who has the faith and the courage to hold onto the goodness in themselves.
AMANPOUR: Diversity reigns at the Oscars. I delve into the history-makers and the ones who missed out on a night of firsts.
BRANDON SCOTT (D), MAYOR OF BALTIMORE, MARYLAND: I myself would be up outside, and police would just stop me from being basically breathing while
AMANPOUR: Rethinking public safety. Baltimore's Mayor Brandon Scott tells Michel Martin how he plans to reform the city's police and tackle gun
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
International support is now being pledged to India tonight, as it racks up the highest number of daily COVID infections anywhere in the world.
In the vise grip of a second deadly wave, the government there says don't panic, as hospitals are on the verge of collapse, bodies are piling up,
makeshift crematoriums are burning nonstop, the oxygen shortage so severe, even in the capital New Delhi, hospitals are tweeting SOS messages begging
The United States, the U.K., Pakistan and several other countries have now pledged to send urgent medical need. And families are forced to try jerry-
rigging whatever they can to save their loved ones, as correspondent Anna Coren now reports.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As smoke rises over a pile of ashes, another family huddled over the remains of their loved one.
A son says farewell to his 49-year-old mother who died of COVID a day ago, while his twin brother fights for his life in hospital. Another body draped
in marigolds is led into the crematorium, an and assembly line of death and misery on an insurmountable scale.
For a fifth consecutive day, India has set a global record for daily infections and deaths. But health experts believe the real numbers could be
much higher. The acute shortage of oxygen across the country is the main killer, as hospitals already overcapacity turn away patients who don't have
their own oxygen cylinders and supply.
GUPTA: But here if somebody dies, you know he dies because of a lack of oxygen. You cannot describe that feeling, man, but you feel like crying.
You're feeling so helpless.
COREN: Unable to get an ambulance, this family takes their brother to hospital in a rickshaw, his feet protruding. But like all the others they
have visited, it has no available beds, let alone enough oxygen.
"I tried almost all the hospitals," he says. "Everyone told me they had no oxygen supply. So I came here, and they shoot us away at the gate, saying
they don't have any oxygen."
COREN: The wait outside, excruciating. The help never comes.
He shakes his brother, but it's too late.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described the second wave as a storm that has shaken the country and announced the construction of more than 500
oxygen generation plants. But that's cold comfort for the families who feel their government has abandoned them and left them to fight this pandemic on
When critics say the government should have been preparing and stockpiling for the inevitable, it dropped its guard, allowing social gatherings
religious festivals and political rallies to be held, some the prime minister himself attended, giving the virus the chance to spread and
In the capital, New Delhi, there is more than 30 percent positivity rate. And half the cases by the start of this month were the more contagious
variant that's afflicting younger people and has now been detected in the U.K. and Switzerland.
For radio host Stutee Ghosh, whose father contracted COVID, she pulled him out of hospital because she feared he would die there. For every 200
patients, only one doctor was available. She bought an oxygen concentrator on the black market for an exorbitant price, allowing her father to be
cared for at home.
But she says, if you don't have money and privilege, what hope do you have in saving your loved ones?
STUTEE GHOSH, RADIO HOST: If, God forbid, you're in a position where you can't breathe, I knew doctors who were breaking down on social media in
front of the camera, saying, patients will die. Patients are being turned away because there is no oxygen.
Who will answer for this? This is a failure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Anna Coren reporting there.
And this disaster is a problem not just for India, but for the world. Even with lifesaving vaccines rolling out, the WHO director general says:
"Here's the thing about an inferno. If you hose only one part of it, the rest will keep burning."
Joining me now are Dr. Yatin Mehta, who is chairman of the critical care department at the Medanta Hospital just outside New Delhi, and
epidemiologist and statistician Professor Bhramar Mukherjee from the University of Michigan.
Both of you, welcome to the program.
Let me start with you, Dr. Mehta in India.
What is the situation at your hospital? I know it's a private hospital and you have a lot of beds, but how desperate for you is the lack of oxygen?
DR. YATIN MEHTA, THE MEDICITY: See, we were not so bad, in the sense that, two days back, we had to cancel the routine operating list, which has
substantially come down, because we were told in the morning that there was some problem with the supply.
So far, we are OK, with the 200-plus -- 250 patients which we have of COVID, and more than 120 in the intensive care. But the smaller hospitals
and some of the hospitals in New Delhi have had a very rough time with the supply of oxygen, although it is getting a bit better.
But, still, the smaller hospitals, say 50 bedded hospitals, we call them nursing homes in India, are having major crisis with the supply of oxygen.
And, also, there is a problem with the domiciliary supply of oxygen. So people who are on oxygen support at home are finding it very difficult to
get replenishment for their supplies.
AMANPOUR: I mean, Doctor, you just heard in our report from Anna Coren the doctor there saying that, if you die in India today, it's because you don't
have oxygen. Isn't that just like a basic thing?
How come there are such limited supplies? And is the government's pledge to build more concentrators and more supplies, do you think that's working? Do
you think that's realistic?
MEHTA: No, I think it is -- it is working to a bit.
I mean, they have opened green corridors. They have opened oxygen extra strains, which are -- the manufacturer of the supply -- the making of
oxygen was not an issue. The supply or the transit was an issue.
So, some of the states who have been given adequate oxygen are not able to take it within the interior of their hospitals, because they do not have
the containers which are appropriate for oxygen transport.
So, these things have been handled not very well, I would say. Things will get better. But it could have been done much better.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, Professor Mukherjee, at the University of Michigan there, because you look at the statistics, you look at the data.
We're told that some 17 million Indians have been infected, that the death toll is 195,000. And yet we're also told -- and let me just read you this
from a government-funded paper. It says that there are roughly 30 infections corresponding to each reported case.
That would make it, I mean, much bigger than they're admitting. What do you know?
BHRAMAR MUKHERJEE, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes, thank you, Christine, for this important conversation.
I think data is at the heart of this pandemic, in terms of navigating the solutions, as well as identifying upticks and signs of the outbreaks. So,
what we have done in our research -- and this is based on the wave one data. And I think, when a surge happens, these numbers get inflated
dramatically -- what we have seen is that the underreporting factor for cases have always been between 10 and 20.
So, one in 20 cases are being reported in India, and there is massive heterogeneity across the different cities in the rural areas in terms of
this reporting structure.
For deaths, I will have to say that India has a very poor death recording system anyway. One out of five deaths are medically reported. But COVID-
related deaths, we estimate that underreporting factor between two to five.
All countries, to some extent have faced this problem with really accurately classifying COVID-related deaths. But I think, in India, the
problem is quite acute. And all the ground reality reports from the surge this -- the past seven days really is going to distort our estimates even
AMANPOUR: But you're saying -- and we start by saying there were 17 million reported cases since this started. You're saying that, according to
your data and statistics, it could be 20 times bigger than that.
Is that right?
MUKHERJEE: Yes, that is correct.
AMANPOUR: I mean, that's humongous.
How is that possible that these well, how is it possible? But what does that mean for the health care system there that appears to be on the verge
MUKHERJEE: So, definitely, that if we had the more accurate data in terms of the cases, infections, as well as the deaths, then, of course, we would
be much more prepared, and also anticipate the health care resource needs.
So, I think that hiding or suppressing data does not -- or having a faulty data system does not help us in any way, because it does not really changed
the truth. It only makes it worse for policy-makers to anticipate the needs.
I'm also very worried about people post-COVID, as we know that there is a huge generation of people who are suffering from long COVID. And if a high
number of people get infected, then what is going to happen to India's health in the generation to come?
AMANPOUR: Dr. Mehta, these numbers are huge. And, as we have said, many are reporting that the health system itself is kind of on the brink.
I know you said your hospital is doing pretty much OK. But all the data that we're getting appears to be from the major cities, whereas the vast
majority of India's population, some 70 percent, live in the rural areas, where there's less developed health care and any kind of infrastructure
What is your fear? And what are you being told about what's going on in the rest of the country?
MEHTA: No, so the problem is all over the country. Oxygen shortage is there. Shortage of certain drugs are there. Remdesivir, tocilizumab are in
short supply, or the supply has stopped at many places.
But I would not agree with Dr. Mukherjee that the data is all fudged, which is which is not correct, because every death of COVID, it has to be
reported to the civil surgeon. So, you cannot hide it. And the cremations are done in the specified areas which are designated for COVID patients.
They cannot be cremated anywhere else. We do not hand over the body to the patient's families. You cannot do that. The government handles that. So, I
think the data is, by and large, not really fudged.
But, yes, the problem is enormous. And the second surge is really breaking our back. We are struggling to get on with it. And I sincerely hope that we
are able to cope with it.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to ask Dr. -- Professor Mukherjee about the fudging of the data in a moment.
But I want to ask you, Dr. Mehta, because you're on the ground, there is no doubt -- and we have seen it -- that the government, first and foremost, is
trying to get Twitter to take down any criticisms of the government. Secondly, we have seen over the past weeks the government actively
encouraging people to go to cricket matches and religious festivals and political rallies.
These are all huge super-spreading events. Should the government be banning these mass events right now and making people wear masks? What do you
think, as a doctor?
MEHTA: No, absolutely.
I mean, the election should have been postponed. So, all the political parties should have got together and requested the election commission to
postpone the elections, because this is a completely wrong time to hold the elections. All religious festivities should have been banned, irrespective
of which religion they belong to.
So, I think all these major congregations should have been banned. Everybody let the hair down. They thought COVID had gone from India. And
that is what we are paying the price for. So, everybody has contributed to this failure of the system.
AMANPOUR: So, Professor Mukherjee, Dr. Mehta -- Dr. Mehta does not agree with the -- with the data statistics that you just said.
But, also -- and I'd like you to answer that, but, also, we're also -- he said that everybody let their hair down. Even you yourself have written
that even people like yourselves were so incredibly impressed by how the first wave was dealt with that you thought perhaps there was some
miraculous getting the -- getting COVID under control in India.
But now you see that that's not what happened. Why were you -- even people like you taken by surprise?
MUKHERJEE: So, let me answer the first question first, that about the fudging of the data.
I do think that -- I do recognize that every country has challenges. We should really decouple this problem into two parts. There are real
challenges with capturing COVID deaths, because deaths often are -- the cause of death is often assigned a comorbidity, like kidney disease or
And so that's a challenge. And that's why many countries are now doing excess death calculations, excess mortality calculations in the U.K. and in
the United States, to really holistically value it, the havoc caused by COVID in terms of mortality.
So, what I'm trying to say is that -- and, also, many COVID infections or silent infections, or COVID infection that is asymptomatic, so, obviously,
the number of infections are magnitude -- orders of magnitude different than the detected cases.
But right now in India, there is also a testing bottleneck. And if you look at the test positivity rates of 30 percent, 25 percent, that tells us that
we are not really testing enough. So, that definitely points to a large number of infections.
Whether anybody's deliberately fudging with the data or the system of recording and reporting has crumbled due to the pressure, but what -- the
numbers that we are seeing, I can only talk about the numbers that we are seeing and what our models are seeing.
The cause of that, I'm not pinpointing.
The second question...
AMANPOUR: No, no, go ahead.
MUKHERJEE: The second question, this miraculous decline.
And so, yes, scientists, experts, policy-makers everywhere try to surmise and explain. From September onwards, the virus curve in India steadily
declined and stayed, and the case counts came down to about 10,000 cases a day in January and February.
But I think, in February, when I saw the uptick -- and this was the middle of February, where the reproduction number curve started an uptick. And it
was three states, Maharashtra, Chandigarh and -- Maharashtra, Chandigarh, and Punjab.
And I even talked to my parents that there may be a second wave, you should get vaccinated soon. But there's the sense in the air that the virus has
gone away and India has conquered the virus, that people lived in data denial, even when those hypotheses were being denounced.
So, that's where I think that you have to really take data-adaptive policies, that you are open enough to respond to what you're seeing on the
ground and throw away your previous conjectures.
This is not the last wave. This is not the last variant. We need to stay prepared and not let our guards down and throw caution to the wind.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask Dr. Mehta that.
The whole double mutant variants that are -- that have arisen there and have been seen now in a couple of countries in Europe, I think Switzerland
and here in the U.K., how are they presenting to you? How concerned are you as a doctor about these mutants?
MEHTA: See, certain parts -- I mean, in Punjab state, we had the U.K. variant, a significant number.
A double mutant has appeared in certain areas of Maharashtra, which had huge numbers surging. But, still, I was actually on -- I was mentioning to
Pakistan TV just now that we have -- we cannot blame the U.K., as such, for our own misery.
I mean, we have -- the reason for such a huge surge is our own mishandling, whatever reason, social distancing, and giving up COVID-appropriate
behavior. And, also, the political will and the social distancing giving up have all contributed to this, and not the double mutant variant which you
talk about, which is, at the moment, not a huge, huge number.
AMANPOUR: OK, so, as a doctor, and with all your colleagues and friends at other hospitals and medical centers, now that the West and other countries
are pledging help, what do you need the most?
We have got a bottleneck in vaccines. Even though India is a great producer of vaccines, you don't have enough at the moment. You have got a real
problem with oxygen, and some are saying ventilators as well.
What is the single one or two things that you need to get a handle on this?
MEHTA: The single most thing which we need at the moment is oxygen. The rest we can handle.
And how difficult is that? How difficult is it to acquire oxygen or to get it made?
MEHTA: See, yes, getting made -- I mean, small oxygen plants are being set up.
And I think we have got more than 100 oxygen concentrators, which is also a small number for a huge country like India. But it's the containers. It's
the temperature-regulated containers which is an issue. So, transport in this huge country, with the roadways not being as good as what you see in
the Western countries, is a problem.
So, it's the transport of oxygen which is more of a problem than actual manufacture of oxygen.
AMANPOUR: Wow. Honestly, it just knocks me for six, really, to think that something that -- quote, unquote -- "simple" is the difference between a
massive catastrophe and getting it under control.
Professor Mukherjee, the U.S. has promised help, as we have said. We know that there are some -- there are tens of millions, up to 40 million doses
of AstraZeneca vaccine sitting in the United States, not yet approved by the CDC, presumably could be sent to India.
What is your position that?
MUKHERJEE: So, I think that there was a Twitter -- tweet from Vivek Murthy that U.S. is thinking about policies of how to disseminate that AstraZeneca
vaccines that they don't need.
My viewpoint is that it is not just India's fight. We are all in this together, and the world needs to pitch in. It's a global pandemic. It needs
For example, we can see that the variants are spreading all over the world. The U.K. variant is in Michigan. The Indian double mutant is in U.K. We
cannot -- so, we really need to fight this crisis as a world. And the world of experts and citizens and media and the different countries are coming
I'm really pleased and grateful for U.K., U.S., France, Germany, many other countries which have reached out to India. And, sometimes, it's airlifting
of oxygen production plans. Sometimes, it's just masks or really supplying rapid antibody test and antigen tests.
So, help can come in various ways. And I think that it is time for us to work together towards a solution. And I'm very glad that U.S. made some
very progressive announcement in the last 48 hours. And thanks to all the citizens who have called their congressmen and senators in order to
mobilize this help for India; 18 percent, roughly 18 percent of the world's population live in India.
If we care about world, if we think that the value of human life is equal all around the world, then everybody should benefit from the science, from
the technology and from the goodwill of the people of the world.
AMANPOUR: That is an amazing statistic that you remind us of.
And, of course, as the WHO director general said, you can't just hose down one part of this fire. You have got to do it all. Otherwise, we're all
consumed by it.
So, Professor Mukherjee, Dr. Mehta, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us.
Now, as Professor Mukherjee said, even in the media and celebrities, even Bollywood stars are doing what they can with their money, their privilege
and their access.
And, of course, talking of privilege, Hollywood has just had its biggest night. This year's Oscar ceremony was unique in more ways than one, with
the Academy Award going to diversity. Chloe Zhao became the first Chinese woman to win for best director with "Nomadland." Best supporting actor was
Daniel Kaluuya for his portrayal of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in the film "Judas and the Black Messiah."
And Youn Yuh-jung became the first South Korean actress to win an Oscar for her role in "Minari." The American actor and director Regina King set the
tone when she opened the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REGINA KING, ACTRESS/DIRECTOR: If things had gone differently this past week in Minneapolis, I might have traded in my heels for marching boots.
KING: Now, I know that a lot of you people at home want to reach for your remote when you feel like Hollywood is preaching to you. But, as a mother
of a black son, I know the fear that so many live with, and no amount of fame or fortune changes that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And, indeed, the United States is grappling with ever more of those victims right now.
But let's dig in to what happened in Hollywood with the cultural reporters NPR's Aisha Harris and Kyle Buchanan of "The New York Times."
Welcome, both of you, to the program.
So, let me just ask you to start briefly with your takeaways.
Aisha, what was your takeaway from last night in general?
AISHA HARRIS, NPR: I think, overall, it was great to see so many people of color nominated across all the categories.
Last year, there were barely any people of color nominated in the acting categories. And this year, we had them in every category. And it was great
to see people like Daniel Kaluuya and Youn Yuh-jung, as you already mentioned.
But then, also, there were some disappointing moments of the night, like the fact that Chadwick Boseman did not wind up winning the award, and they
swapped around the category -- best picture is usually last. And this year, they swapped it around. And the acting category, the best actor category,
And that was a little strange, and it was a little anticlimactic, after that really great opening of Regina king at the beginning.
AMANPOUR: So, that's interesting. I have heard that too.
Kyle Buchanan, do you think it was a bit anticlimactic? And why? Because, usually, best actor, best actress, I mean, those are -- those are big
KYLE BUCHANAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": No, they're significant.
And, usually, that's where you see famous movie stars rewarded. But it was a bit of a gamble to bank on best actor being more important than best
picture this year. Clearly, they were hoping that Chadwick Boseman, who was the favorite, was going to win and that his widow, Simone Ledward Boseman,
would make a very emotional speech to close out the ceremony.
That didn't happen. The winner was Anthony Hopkins for "The Father." And Hopkins was in Wales, not in Los Angeles. So we ended the ceremony with
essentially nobody accepting an award.
Yes, anticlimax is putting it mildly.
AMANPOUR: OK. So I want to dig down a little bit more.
But, first, I'm going to play the sound bite from Anthony Hopkins, because, 83 years old, the oldest ever to win that Oscar. And, yes, he was in Wales,
potentially because of the travel, potentially because of his health, and maybe because he didn't expect to win it.
Let's just play what he actually said, having won it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY HOPKINS, ACTOR: Very grateful to the Academy. And thank you. And I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who was taken from us far too
And, again, thank you all very much. I really did not expect this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Aisha, it is kind of poignant, because he knew who the emotional favorite was. And let's just remind that he won for "The Father."
He played an older man in the grips of dementia. And it was an amazing, amazing performance.
But, Aisha, why do you think Chadwick Boseman didn't get it, having got all the others leading up to this?
HARRIS: I mean, it's hard to say. They're -- the Oscars, they do rank choice voting. So there's a way in which, even if you have someone like
Chadwick Boseman as your number two, if you have all these other actors at number one, then Anthony Hopkins, it turns out, was probably higher -- or
put on the list more often than others.
I think that's how it wound up. And I think, also, you could argue that, between him and Frances McDormand winning, there's still sort of a little
bit of the old guard that is voting for these awards. And Anthony Hopkins already has an award. And he's established.
And also, I will say, the performance by Hopkins is really, really moving. And those final few minutes of "The Father" are probably what's -- what
clinched it overall.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I mean, it is -- it's a just very moving, very dramatic performance.
But you mentioned Frances McDormand.
Kyle Buchanan, you have interviewed her. She won best actress for "Nomadland." And, as we said, Chloe Zhao won as director.
Just a note. CNN's coverage of it in China was blacked out. They just didn't even allow it to be shown in China, which is just a whole 'nother
conversation. But that also is extraordinary, as is the film, as is Frances McDormand herself.
Tell me what you learned about her when you went to interview. She gives such rare interviews.
BUCHANAN: She is because she's kind of a rare bird.
She chooses to play the Hollywood game only very selectively. And I think that gives her a certain amount of integrity, where she's probably the only
person that could have worked in that "Nomadland" role, since she's, by and large, interacting with other non-actors.
Most Hollywood people couldn't disappear into a scene like that, and she can. And I think that same integrity is why we have now seen her earn her
third best actress award. That is second only to Katharine Hepburn when it comes to best actress Oscars.
The Academy usually is loath to give that many Oscars. They like to spread the wealth a little bit. That's why people thought that Carey Mulligan
might have won this year, or even Viola Davis, who only has one Oscar to her name.
But, in the end, they obviously love "Nomadland." And if you love "Nomadland," it's hard not to appreciate Frances McDormand's performance,
because that is virtually the entire show.
AMANPOUR: It certainly is, and the fact that they had -- quote, unquote -- "regular people" in it. By no means were all the so-called stars of
"Nomadland" established Hollywood actors. They were real nomads.
And I think that was just an amazing, amazing thing as well.
Let me ask you, Aisha, again, because I think Halle Berry is the only woman of color to have ever won a best actress Oscar, and -- or certainly for the
93 years, in any event. The best actress Oscar is much less diversified than we have seen the other categories recently.
And yet there are so many phenomenal performances by actresses of color, black actresses, and other actresses of color or actors. What do you make
of that category?
HARRIS: Well, next year will actually be 20 years since Halle Berry won for "Monster's Ball."
And, you know, I think a lot of people were hoping that Viola Davis was going to be able to clench that and finally erase that record. And -- or
Andra Day, but I think the problem with Andra Day in the "United States Vs. Billie Holiday" was that while she was very great it in, the movie itself
is not so great. And so, she struggled in that regard.
I think we have a long way to go, you know, for all the diversity of the awards this year, there is still so much work to be done and so much work
that is being done, especially at the hands of people like Ava DuVernay who are really putting in the work for that. But we can't just pat ourselves on
the back for this year. And hopefully, going forward, we'll see even more diversity.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to spend a few minutes asking both of you about that big issues, which is, for want of a better word, the pipeline, you know,
the equality, the equity issue. It's said that Hollywood is even less diverse than industries and sectors like energy and finance. You may have
read the McKinsey Report that was done recently, that Hollywood leaves something like $10 billion a year on the table by not having more black
actors, black stories, you know, diverse non-white content and film and experience.
What do you -- how is it -- what is it going to take to get loyal Hollywood, do you think, Kyle, to sort of step up?
BUCHANAN: It's going to take a lot and it's going to take a lot of people really recognizing the part that they play. You know, very infamously the
Oscar were only fire years removed from back-to-back years of Oscars so White. That is all 20 acting nominations were given to white actors. Plenty
of worthy actors of color were in mix for those years but they were not recognized.
Now, the Oscars, for a while, were sort of reluctantly pushing back on any criticism saying, well, listen, we're at the end of this pipeline, you
know, it's not our fault. It's about the movies that are made. It's about the casting. It's about the directing. All we can do is work with what
we've got. But that's not true. The Oscars canonize, the Oscars tell us what stories are important and what storytellers we should favor and who be
starring in those stories.
So, these things all have a very circular effect on one another and we see that with career opportunities, you know, when people win Oscars or even
are in the mix, well, those are the people that end up directing or starring or, you know, producing the next films that come out the following
few years. It becomes this circle of canonization. So, every certain -- every single part of the Hollywood system is both important and complicit
in that issue.
AMANPOUR: So, Aisha, apparently, these reports generally sort of lay out the problem but rarely lay specific solutions. But this one, you know,
according to what I read about in the "New York Times" said, it did offer specific actions such as urging studios, the networks, streaming service,
agencies, production companies across the board to commit publicly to specific targets for black and nonwhite representatives across all levels
and roles in the industry to match the population. I mean, apparently, the black population is 13.3 percent, the whole population of color in the
United States is 40 percent. That's huge. And they are not represented.
Do you think that Hollywood would follow and make public specific targets like that was suggested?
HARRIS: I think it's really easy to feel as though we are going -- we are already doing a lot. There has never been a better time especially for
black people working in Hollywood right now. You have everything from insecurity, HBO Series to Jordan Peele and all these other examples of
black filmmakers who are rising in the positions of being directors, studio executive, filmmakers. I think that's great.
But it's also going to take more than just the black people within -- and people of color within the industry to make these changes and it really
does comes down, you know, making sure that at all levels, not just on screen but behind the camera, there is way for them to be seen, to be -- to
get those jobs and to be able to rise up in the ranks and not get stuck being interns or being assistants.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And they even suggested, go recruit down in the south where 60 percent of black American labor force exist, you know, get out of L.A.
and New York and cast your net wider. Finally, I want to play Frances McDormand's -- part of her speech where she talked about the movie theater.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCES MCDORMAND, WON BEST ACTRESS OSCAR FOR "NOMADLAND": Please watch our movie on the largest screen possible and one day very, very soon, take
everyone you know into a theater, shoulder to shoulder in that dark space and watch every film that's represented here tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Kyle, how soon is that going to be?
BUCHANAN: That's still in the works, you know. Theaters in Los Angeles were closed for a full year due to pandemic. They've recently reopened,
but, you know, at somewhat lower capacities. As, obviously, the United States deals with these things, theaters can kind of come back to full
health, but will the movies be there? And in some cases, the movies that those theaters were counting on, the really big Marvel movies might go
straight to Disney Plus because those movies were counting on a worldwide gross that really can't happen because the rest of the world is still in a
more dire place during the pandemic.
So, these gears all sort of fit together and if other gears aren't turning, it affects how quickly we can get back to, you know, a normal theatrical
experience that might not even like the normal that we're used to since streaming made such incredible gains over this past year while we were all
trapped at home with no alternative but to watch movies on television.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And yet, those big fans have to be seen to get the real -- you know, the real flavor of them. We hope the cinemas opened again.
Kyle Buchanan, Aisha Harris, thank you both so much for joining us.
Now, from glitzy glamour to gritty reality again now, 37-year-old Brandon Scott is Baltimore's youngest mayor in more than a century and he
campaigned on a promise to reimagine police reform and public safety in one of America's most dangerous cities.
Since taking office in December, he's been tackling two crises -- the pandemic and gun violence. And here he is speaking with Michel Martin about
the impact of the Chauvin verdict and why the fight to make his city a safer place is so personal.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNNI CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Mr. Mayor, Brandon Scott, thank you so much for joining us.
MAYOR BRANDON SCOTT (D-BALTIMORE, MD): Thank you. Thank you for having me, Michel.
MARTIN: Would you just start by telling us where you were and what you were doing when the jury came back in the Derek Chauvin case and do you
remember how you felt or what went through your mind when the jury back?
SCOTT: I felt a big sigh of relief for the Floyd family, for the state of Minnesota, for this country, in particular black people in this country. It
almost brought me to tears. I thought about -- I lost my grandmother late last year and the conversation that her and I had about what happened in
Mr. Floyd via a Duo phone conversation and her just saying, you know, over and over, they didn't have to kill that man.
I think about my dad who was -- thought about my dad who was in what we call a middle school or junior high and was integrating schools in North
Carolina where one of his classmates was sent to a school with a gun by their dad who says, it's OK for you to kill one of those N-words.
But about all of the stuff that has happened in this country of black people and really thought that this was a big bang, but it wasn't really a
cause for celebration but it's a cause for more to be done for black people's lives to truly matter in a country and wish they had this in this
MARTIN: Of course, in Baltimore, you know, this -- I guess now sort of notorious case of Freddie Gray who died because of actions while in police
custody, it was alleged. And, you know, five police officers were prosecuted. None was convicted. And this was a hugely traumatic event in
the life of the city. And I just wanted to ask, did that bring up anything about Freddie Gray rate case for you?
SCOTT: For us here in Baltimore, we know that Freddie Gray's legacy lives on. His life was lost and cut way too sure for foolishness. But now what he
has done is sparked years of reforms and efforts that would have never happened, we would probably have never -- Maryland before this verdict came
back became the first state repeal the law enforcement officers' bill of rights under the leadership around House Speaker Adrienne Johnson and our
state senator a Bill -- Senate President, Bill Ferguson.
That would have never happened. Baltimore would never have had a police department can consent decree; we would never have gotten local of our
police department if our Freddie didn't die. So we know that his name lives on. But also, the legacy that -- of his life and what impact that's going
have, not just here in Baltimore but in this country.
MARTIN: So let's just talk about what's going on in Baltimore more broadly. You know, Baltimore, like many cities -- many cities, is
experienced a wave of violence. Now, particularly gun violence. As I understand it, like some 92 homicides have taken place already in the city
That follows some more than 300 in Baltimore last year. What's your take on what's happening here? Why is this happening?
SCOTT: Well, the truth is, is that, for us here in Baltimore, there's a disease known as gun violence has been a plague in the city longer than
I've been alive. You can't just think that you're going to police your way out of these problems. And I think that's the kind of leadership that I'm
bringing to the mayor's office here.
That's why I created the Mayor's Office and Neighborhood Safety and Engagement and then embarking upon Baltimore's first of its kind
Comprehensive Violence Reduction Framework Plan. We're going into the community, asking the community how we should work together to reduce
Sixty-three percent, Michel, of the guns that we recovered last year in Baltimore came from another state. But not until we are now forming and we
have a first of its kind gun trafficking data pool that we're now going to have a unit of folks who are targeting these individuals who are straw
purchasing and bringing guns into our city.
But we're also going to expand the great work that we have here in Baltimore about safe street violence interrupters where we take people who
are used to be involved in shooting people. And now, they're interceding in that violence.
We're going make sure that we are pushing towards a world class 911 diversion program where we're going to be sending healthcare professionals
and mental health professionals out to help not (ph) police officers or fire firefighters out when folks call 911.
And if any city in the country can get that right are the city that has Johns Hopkins Hospital can get it right, because every single city agency
plays a part in reducing violence, not just the police. We have to invest in communities, invest in the promise of our young people, not just their
MARTIN: Which is one reason why I think some of your constituents were -- were shocked, frankly, when the budget came out and it emerged that the
police actually have a slightly larger budget than they did last year. And I think it was particularly surprising for some of your supporters because
of your former role as a city council president, you actually led a cut in the police department's budget.
I mean, I understand that some of the increase is accounted for simply by what I would call sort of fixed costs, like increases in budget payments
and, you know, health insurance payments. But I still think some of your constituents were expecting a bolder move in the police budget. You want to
talk about that?
SCOTT: Yes. I think that we understand what some folks are saying. But the reality is that, what you just said is absolutely the case, right? We have
contractual obligations, healthcare benefits that we have to give to all of our employees. I don't want folks to go after just healthcare for police
officers and then think that that's not going to impact our work -- our sanitation workers.
And, Michel, the most important thing is, prior to the budget coming out, as a part of regaining local control, a part of this legislation says that
I have to appoint an advisory group to talk about what that's going to look like, how it's going to happen.
I announced two weeks ago, that that group, that very same advisory group has -- is passed by me to looking at how we can responsively reduce budget
BPD's budget over a five year period, because we have to do that any responsible way because we are under federal consent decree. We cannot
violate that which can lead federal interventions and nobody in the city of Baltimore wants.
It's critical that we get this reimagine of public safety right at every step and not just a move to rush to do one thing so quickly without being
able to immediately replace it, but also with having a hurtful impact on the city and its -- in totally because of things that are in place. We have
to honor our consent decree. We fought for that. As a city council, I stood side by side with community organizer. We asked for that.
MARTIN: On the other hand, do you feel like they're sort of between a rock and a hard place? I mean, on the other -- one hand, the governor, Larry
Hogan, a Republican, albeit one who's been twice elected in a predominantly Democratic state calls your plans to reduce police funding reckless.
On the other hand, you had constituents at your town hall meeting last week saying that they regretted voting for you. And as I understand reporting,
like every single person who testifies said that they were against the budget. How do you respond to that?
SCOTT: It is -- I don't -- I respond to it like this. I said on my first day in office that I'm going to do the right thing, not the popular one,
Michel. I didn't get into this job to make everybody happy. I've gotten to this job to do things the right way and in the best interests of all folks
Baltimoreans. And that's what I'm going to do.
People are going to be upset; they're going to be mad because I'm not doing it exactly the way that they happen. I think what I would say for -- to the
governor and to other folks, they have to understand that I have a very unique perspective.
I lived in Baltimore my whole life. I live in a neighborhood of Park Heights that the world listens on for horseracing every other day of the
year. I wasn't seen as human. I had to duck bullets. I had the gun in my face. It's different for me.
And what I am going to do is make sure that I am setting a path for our city to be where we all want them -- the city to be, a city that's
investing in different ways and not just policing.
But we're going to do that in the safe way and I'm going to work with all the citizens in Baltimore who believe that we are having the right approach
and work and respect everyone's opinions.
MARTIN: And on the other hand, the state's attorney, Marilyn Mosby, has said she's already stopped prosecuting certain "low-level offenses" like
drug possession and prostitution, for example. Do you agree with that decision?
SCOTT: Well, what I'll say is this, the state's attorney and I share the opinion that people who have substance abuse, people that are in sex work
aren't inherently criminal. And what I will also say, Michel, is that we have years and years and years of data here in Baltimore that arresting
them did not make our city a less violent place.
But what we have to do, the important work now is for us to -- how do we get those individuals the help that we need, but also, we can still enforce
our laws, our police department can still enforce those laws and figure out creative ways to not have people ending up in jail. But we have to build
the systems on how to allow those individuals to get the help that they need, because I'll just --
MARTIN: But it sounds like those systems aren't built yet. So somebody is committing sex just outside of my car, what do I -- outside of my house, in
front of my house at 3:00 in the afternoon in their car, what happens? What do I do?
SCOTT: Yes. The police can still come and disperse that incident. And in many cases, there are some systems still, especially when you think about
sexual abuse and others. But the truth of the reality is this, Michel, think about Baltimore in the 90s and 2000s when I was growing up, right,
they were arresting hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people. I myself would be outside and police would just stop me from being basically
breathing while black. That didn't make Baltimore safe, right?
And that -- when you think about it like this; in 2003, the city had 278 homicides and arrested over 110,000. In 2011, we had 197 and arrested
60,000 people. It's never been about how many in Baltimore, it's about who and for what. And that's where the focus has to be in order to bring peace
to our neighborhoods.
MARTIN: Across the county, there has been this cry, this outcry, a demand on the part of some to reimagine the way policing is done, the criminal
justice at large is done, and that's all sort of become sort of discussed under the headline of, you know, defund the police. Is that the right way
to think about it? Is that core of it?
SCOTT: Well, it is about reimagining. We have to treat violence and crime like a public health issue. That requires reimagining what public safety
means and how we think about and govern public safety.
That's why we have -- that's why I create the Mayor's Officer of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement. That's why our health commissioner is
who led the development of our violence reduction framework, because we're treating it like a public health issue.
For some people though, Michel, they're scary because they don't think that people who look a certain way, black, brown, poor people, should be treated
like them. They think that they should be policed and gathered just to protect their way of life.
And what reimagining is going to cause, not just my city, it's going to cause this country to do and the world, even maybe, is to think and be
uncomfortable, be uncomfortable about where you stand, how systems work, how we govern. And that's going to cause people a lot of stress because we
know change is hard. But the reality is, Michel, we can't continue to do it the same way because it hasn't worked.
MARTIN: Are there specific changes that you want to see within the police force itself?
SCOTT: We are a city under a federal consent decree. Many of the things that we are implementing here, we've implemented EPIC, a program where
people -- our police officers are now charged with interceding when they see other offices acting in an inappropriate way.
Really though, for us, it's about total reforming of our police department, making sure that we're going from a warrior mindset to a really assistance,
they have a peacekeeper kind of mindset.
And when you think about some of the significant changes that we made and where we're going, being one of the first cities to add the use of force
policy, we were, to my knowledge, the first city to have citizens sit on what are known as a trial board or a police accountability board where they
were inside the room as the discussions were made when misconduct was achieved, people were accused of misconduct.
It's about making sure that those systems never go away, that they become policy and rule and regulation for our police department.
But also, the biggest change, I think, that I want to see in our police department is to actually have police responding and working on issues that
police should work on, right? Our police officers should not be the first responders out to people who are suffering from overdose or substance abuse
or mental health issues. That's not their job. We have to reduce the burden that we place on the backs of our police departments across the country.
MARTIN: I am wondering though, what is that deep stem here? You know, you talked about the fact that, you know, Baltimore has been one of the
country's most violent cities in some -- you know, one of the violent cities for years in a row. What's the deep stem here?
SCOTT: The deep stem for us here in Baltimore is you can look at a map of the cities, Michel, that has the homicides and shootings, that has obesity,
childhood obesity, that has vacant housing, that has all the liquor stores, that has everything that's wrong for our city and look at the map for when
realign was created in Baltimore City.
Systemic racism is the stem. And that's why I passed a few years ago and we're now going to implement as -- with me being mayor, our Equity
Assessment Law to make our city the first place to pass that kind of legislation. Operate through a lens of racial equity.
Because, of course, East and West Baltimore are having the issues that they have when not only that you determine that they all only live here and
basically be poor here in the same neighborhood, but then intentionally are there neighborhoods who are disinvested in.
We went -- from the time I was born until the time I was 28, I was 28 and on the city council. That was the first new school that we built in the
city. And we've done a lot of that renovation since then. But that matters.
When we look at the history of the city's capital budget, right, not just the operating budgets, the capital budget. The capital budget historically
goes to our rich white neighborhoods not our poor black neighborhoods. We're going to flip that on a scale because that is the stem.
MARTIN: You've talked a lot, really, throughout your public career about the violence that you have personally witnessed. You've talked about that
as a young child. As I understand it, a friend of yours, someone that you had worked with in the violence prevention space was killed recently. Can
you talk about the effect that you think these events have had on you?
SCOTT: I was at home on a Zoom, working on a Sunday and I got a text message about a shooting and then people started to call, they said it was
Daunte. And go down to the scene. And in that moment, I think it allowed folks to see how different it is when you're -- sometimes when you're
Because I immediately had to basically dry my eyes, put away the fact I lost someone that was close to me, that I was friend with. And I had to be
there to console his sister, his wife, his mother, his brother, his coworkers, the community that loved him so much and put aside my own grief
and talk about Daunte and his work.
And there hasn't been a day that's gone by since he passed that I haven't thought about him and what he would say to me. And I know what he would say
to me. And I said this, he would say, keep working. It's not over. Keep working. Like you have to keep going.
You have to do it, Brandon. And he would also that forgiveness was the realist thing he ever, ever came to know. And it impacts me in a deep way
because someone that lived the life that Daunte lived, right, who was on the quote-unquote wrong sides of the track and then was able to go back and
He saved thousands of lives in our city. And this shows how much impact one person can have if people are truly humble themselves and understand the
things don't always have to be the way they are.
MARTIN: Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for talking with us.
SCOTT: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And seeing that is so important. And finally, taking lockdown isolation to his extremes, a group of 15 volunteers have now emerged from a
cave in southwest France after spending 40 days without phones, clocks or even sunlight. It was all part of a project called Deep Time which aims to
test how humans can adapt to losing their sense of time and space. Most of the team didn't know how long they had been down there, relying only on
their own body clocks and sleep cycles to count the days. And yet, two thirds of the participants said, they wanted to stay underground even
longer. There are no final results yet, but the study is ongoing.
And that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thank you for watching and good-bye from London.