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Interview With Morgan Freeman and Frankie Faison; Vaccine Culture Wars. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired September 13, 2021 - 13:00:00 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.
PROTESTERS: We will not be silent! We will not be silent!
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Anti-vaxxers and the COVID culture wars how it became a movement and why it may be getting stronger.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: White Plains police. We're here for a welfare check.
AMANPOUR: "The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain," a new film, details the horrifying police shooting of an elderly black man. Executive producer,
movie star Morgan Freeman, the actor Frankie Faison, and Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. join me.
MATTHEW POTTINGER, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: China is not only not liberalizing anymore. It's actually moving backwards.
Former Trump Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger talks about China, Afghanistan and why he resigned after the Capitol insurrection.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
More COVID mandates on the horizon on both sides of the Atlantic. Here in the U.K., the British prime minister is set to unveil a new plan to tackle
the virus for the winter months, ditching vaccine passports and focusing more on booster shots, despite the WHO appeal to first send vaccines to the
unvaccinated developing world.
In the United States, President Biden has ordered vaccine mandates for all federal workers and is hoping that the FDA gives a green light to boosters
Across America, there are about 1, 500 COVID deaths per day right now, almost entirely amongst the unvaccinated. Anti-vaxxers are finding success
crusading on the keyword freedom.
Science journalist Tara Haelle looked closer at this phenomenon, writing in "The New York Times": "This is the moment the anti-vaccine movement has
been waiting for."
Tara Haelle joins me now from Dallas, Texas, along with Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, who's the infectious disease specialist at the University of
Alabama at Birmingham.
Welcome, both of you, to the program.
Dr. Marrazzo, can I first ask you life-and-death questions? A few weeks ago, you had said you feared the apocalypse. You described it as sort of
apocalyptic what was happening in your state. And, if I'm not mistaken, you had -- well, now you have about 3,000 hospitalized.
Is it worse, better? What is the actual situation from when you used that word?
DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: Well, it's definitely not getting better, Christiane.
It's essentially to the point where most of the hospitals in our state are not able to provide care for the usual non-COVID illnesses that people come
to the hospital for. And when I used the term apocalyptic, it really was meant to invoke a breakdown of some of our societal expectations about how
we take care of each other and how we take care of people who are sick.
If you are having a heart attack or your parent is having a heart attack, you can expect that you're going to be able to go to the emergency room and
be taken care of. We have many emergency rooms right now in the United States that are on diversion, meaning they're not even taking new patients.
Our emergency rooms are very crowded with people waiting for a bed, and over half of our ICU beds right now in the state of Alabama are occupied by
people with COVID, most of whom are on ventilators.
So, that may not qualify as an apocalyptic vision to some people in the strict interpretation of the word, but, to me, as a medical provider, and
somebody who wants to make sure people get good care, it is very, very frightening.
AMANPOUR: Doctor, I want to ask you, because, as I mentioned, the statistics, as laid out right now, in terms of daily deaths, and the fact
that all -- or, rather, the vast majority of serious illness and death is being attributed to the unvaccinated, it's them who are at the most risk.
So, from your perspective, in terms of what we expect as public health measures, how bad is the vaccine take-up in your environment, and how much
does that contribute to what you have just laid out?
MARRAZZO: It's directly related to how bad things are.
If you look at the CDC's data on the rates of hospitalization, severe illness and death, it is directly inverse to the level of vaccination
coverage. So, the entire Southeast United States really has had a problem and a challenge with vaccine uptake, particularly among younger adults.
And it's important to recognize that the number of cases we're seeing, the hospitalizations right now are really being driven by relatively young
people. People -- of course, pediatric admissions right now have reached a record in the United States, but people 18 to sort of 40, they are really
driving the bulk of this transmission.
So you can do direct, literally, associations between the rate of vaccinations and the ability to keep people out of the hospital. Some data
suggest that the current vaccines are a little bit less effective at preventing acquisition of the Delta variant, meaning they may not work as
well as they used to for the original variants in terms of getting the virus, but they still work fantastically well for keeping people out of the
hospital and keeping them from dying, which is really, at this point, what we really need to do.
AMANPOUR: Exactly. That is, in fact, the point.
So let me turn to Tara Haelle, science journalist who's done a deep dive onto this vaccine crisis.
So, apparently, only 40 percent of the Alabama population is vaccinated. An alarming statistics suggests that the U.S., the most developed country in
the world, is certain to fall to last place amongst G7 nations regarding vaccinations. And across the country, only 63 percent are vaccinated, which
is different to Europe, where, as a whole, 80 percent are, and, here in the U.K., 77 percent.
So, all that to say, why and what have you discovered to be the most pernicious reason for this lack of vaccination?
TARA HAELLE, AUTHOR, "VACCINATION INVESTIGATION: THE HISTORY AND SCIENCE OF VACCINES": There's lots of reasons, but the dominant reason is the really
intense disinformation that's being distributed.
And it has been for a very long time. I have been working on following the anti-vaccine movement for a decade. And especially starting in 2015, we saw
a shift, where the disinformation was continuing, but it was increasing. And it sort of -- it began to merge with the rhetoric of the Republican
Party, where we saw anti-vaccine activists take on that freedom cry, saying, I have the freedom to determine what happens to my body, I have the
freedom to determine what happens to my kids, and whether or not I give them the vaccine.
And that meshed very well with the existing rhetoric in the Republican Party of pushing for the freedom from government tyranny and other things.
The Tea Party movement that sort of pushed for this freedom narrative, those merged, and it enabled the anti-vaccine activists to basically bring
a lot of Republican legislators onto their side and leaders onto their side.
AMANPOUR: Let me just play this sound bite. It's from a health care worker in North Carolina, and she talks to what you have just laid out, and then
we can discuss it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We live in a free country and the right to make our own health care decisions is the core of it, really.
I mean, you can go into the vaccine part. But freedom is that core.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: so, Tara, let me ask you.
Others have said, including the president, that the freedom not to be vaccinated does not trump the freedom of the greater population, the
majority of the population, to be kept safe and to be able to save their lives.
How has this group, which appears to be a minority, but very vocal and very strong, how has it become that way? How long has this been going on, this
building of this political movement?
HAELLE: I mean, the anti-vaccine movement as a whole, as you said, it's very, very small. It's existed since the very beginning of vaccines. It
goes back 200 years.
But this sort of harnessing of the freedom messaging, harnessing of the freedom rhetoric, that started really in 2015. We had a Disneyland outbreak
of measles. Well, it was a measles outbreak that began at Disneyland.
And as a result, we had a lot of people in the country realize, oh, vaccine hesitancy is a real problem. Lower vaccination rates enables outbreaks to
actually spread. So, we saw people starting to get organized politically to have school exemptions from vaccines. A lot of parents wanted to stop
those. They wanted to not allow exemptions.
And when the anti-vaccine activists tried to push against that law, because they wanted to be able to exempt their kids from immunizations, they found
out very quickly that complaining about the harms of vaccines, it didn't work. The science was not on their side.
So they switched tactics. And they decided, OK, well, I'm going to promote instead, this is my freedom. I have the freedom to decide what happens to
my body. I have the freedom to decide how I raise my child.
And that had traction with the Republican legislators. And because it had traction, it grew. It spread. Activists shared their tactics with one
another across different states. And then we had Trump kind of run. He rode that in. We saw discussions of vaccines during the debates, where Trump
himself was spreading misinformation about the -- about vaccines, and it kind of all came to a head, basically.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, Dr. Marrazzo.
I'm sure you don't want to get political. You have a job of saving lives and administrating the public health, but, nonetheless, it has become
political. Let me just ask you about your own state and your own governor.
So, Kay Ivey, who's the governor of your home state, has called President Biden's call for vaccine mandates amongst all federal workers or
alternatively weekly tests outrageous. But she does blame unvaccinated folks for the coronavirus surge.
So just tell me, from your perspective, as a public health worker and a doctor, did you also feel the alarm bells back when the MMR controversy
started and the doctor, so-called Dr. Andrew Wakefield, started the that false connection between the mumps, measles, rubella and autism?
Did you notice it then? Did it worry you?
At the time, I was in Washington state, so a very different environment than Alabama. Yet we had some areas in Washington state that had some of
the highest unvaccinated proportions of children for measles, mumps and rubella of any place in the country.
And I want to bring this back to what Tara said so beautifully and what her article said, which is, what the anti-vaccine folks have done so well is
not just do the freedom thing, but they have actually latched onto concerns that are not completely crazy, right?
So the autism thing was just proven. But we are seeing a lot more autism than we were 20 years ago in kids. There's no question about that. And we
don't have a great explanation for that. So, sure, let's blame it on increasing vaccination. Ultimately, that was discredited.
But if you're a parent, and you don't know the science, it gets your attention. A great example of what happened with COVID and one of the
reasons we think young women aren't getting vaccinated so well is this myth about COVID vaccines affecting fertility.
In fact, there are actually OB-GYNs in our community and fertility specialists who are telling young women they should not get the COVID
vaccine if they're pregnant or if they want to get pregnant. And that is baloney. These vaccines are really safe in pregnancy. Not only that. The
risk of adverse outcomes if you get COVID in pregnancy is really scary.
We have had over a dozen women in this state, if not more now, who've actually died of COVID while pregnant. And you will see these stories over
and over in Florida, in Texas. So those are preventable deaths, where you have a pregnant woman -- often, the baby, of course, doesn't make it,
because these births tend to be premature.
They happen in week 30, week 28, so very, very, very tough. So -- and yet, again, this preys on people's fears with superficially credible
information, that, if they just don't know who to ask or who to go to, they might say, hmm, maybe I shouldn't get that vaccine.
So that's been a very, very challenging thing for us as medical providers and communicators about the science.
AMANPOUR: Well, let's talk about communication and how one tries to rectify this, if that's the correct word to use, and see what might happen
if there are other pandemics.
So, if mocking doesn't work, which it doesn't, as we saw with the Tea Party, and it's not a great thing to mock people, how do you actually get
the right message out, and particularly in a world, let's say, America, where it's just taken as a granted that you will put seat belts on if you
get into your car before taking off, that you will take the correct vaccines that you have to do for your children to attend public school?
All that's done as a matter of course these days. How do you get -- and I'm going to ask you, Tara, because I'm sure you have done a deep dive on this
-- how do you get parents, people to just sort of get it about vaccines in the way that the doctor has just laid out, that it's so much more dangerous
to get the disease than to get the vaccine?
HAELLE: There -- I'm going to first tell you what not to do. You mentioned not mocking.
But another thing that is not helpful to do is to amplify the messages that you hear from anti-vaccine activists, even if it's for the sake of saying,
this is crazy. Instead, you need to focus on saying the accurate information.
But, really, one of the things we -- one of the things that we think works that doesn't work as well as we wish it did is giving people facts. We do
need to give people facts, absolutely, but facts alone are not enough to change people's minds.
So there's two different ways to look at this. On the macro level, we need to have -- there's many people in the Republican Party who are pro-vaccine,
who have gotten vaccinated, who know the value of the vaccines.
And we do have a lot of them speaking up, but we need more of them speaking up. And we need them speaking to their constituents and letting them know,
I got this vaccine, this vaccine is safe, I want you to be safe as well. So we need actual role models, what -- they're called trusted messengers,
conveying this idea, conveying this important message.
The other thing is, one on one, when you're talking to someone, talk -- we all have the ability to talk to the people around us who are not
vaccinated. But what we need to do is start by listening to them. Ask them, why are you worried? What worries you? What scares you?
And listen to what they say. And then try and figure out, what's under that? What's -- the fertility concern, OK, so you're afraid that this is
going to affect your long-term fertility. You're afraid that you're going to lose control over the ability to control your ability to have a kid.
And then start to use sort of -- I know it's Socratic method, but asking them questions, well, did you realize that this many women died in
pregnancy during COVID? Did you realize that the baby can get actual antibodies when you're doing this? Did you realize that a study of more
than 30,000 people found no higher risk of preterm birth or any problems with the vaccine?
But -- and you -- so you ask them these questions, but then you come back to listening to them. And you have -- it has to be a dialogue. And it
doesn't happen in one sitting. A lot of people don't have the patience because they feel like there's no point.
And I -- there is a point. It does work. But it takes time and you have to really engage with them.
AMANPOUR: So, on that point, then, Dr. Marrazzo, I mean, we were talking about measles, just the facts here because of the anti-vax movement of MMR.
In 2019, the U.S. reported its highest number of measles in 25 years. And there were, as you said, a number of children who died because of it. But
in terms of trusted voices and who will model the required behavior, I mean, look, the governor of South Carolina has said: "The American dream
has turned into a nightmare under President Biden and the radical Democrats. Rest assured, we will fight them to the gates of hell to protect
the liberty and livelihood of every South Carolinian."
This is about vaccine mandates.
So who would you rely on as a trusted voice that you would hope would step up now and try to counter these messages, as Tara has laid out?
MARRAZZO: Well, in general, not politicians or anyone who has an agenda that doesn't really directly relate to one's individual health, right?
So these rallying cries for freedom have nothing to do in a way with the person who's sitting in front of me asking me if it's safe to get this
vaccine or someone like you interviewing me, right? The whole idea is to have a respectful, honest, informed, engaged conversation with people about
their fears, as Tara said so well, right?
You really do have to sort of say, what are you concerned about? And what can I tell you about this? And facts, it's true, probably won't change the
population as a whole, but, one on one, if you really engage with people, you can actually have a meaningful conversation.
There are some interesting studies that show that, for people who have a trusted health care provider, the message coming from that health care
provider, whether it's a physician or a nurse or mid-level provider, actually carries a lot of weight.
So, that's why we care so much about educating our professional communities, again, going back to this thing I said before about people
getting the wrong messages from specialists, who they listen to. So I think that is critically important.
The other thing I would point out is that peers are really important. And Tara mentioned that. We have enlisted athletes. We have enlisted student
athletes, our coaches, really, really important. If you look at vaccination uptake by the behavior of our college football coaches here locally, which
is a huge deal, you will see some very, very important trends.
So people respect authority. And, unfortunately, when politicians make those kind of arguments, and they want to go towards that source of
authority, it's very hard to undo and counter that.
AMANPOUR: Well, thank you both for laying this out so excessively.
Dr. Marrazzo and Tara Haelle, thanks for joining us tonight.
Turning now to the police killing of an elderly black man, a 10-year-old tragedy that never truly got the attention it deserved.
Before George Floyd or Breonna Taylor and all the other innocents, 68-year- old Kenneth Chamberlain was at his home in White Plains, New York, when he accidentally triggered his medical alert device, prompting a visit from the
What should have been a simple check-in ended with the killing of Kenneth Chamberlain. Indeed, that is the name of the film, which takes viewers
through the horrifying last hours of his life.
Take a look at this clip from the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Mr. Chamberlain, this is Candace Wade with Lifeguard Medical Alerts. This line is being recorded. We just received an activation
from your pendant.
Do you have an emergency? I'm not getting a response from you. I'm going to dispatch emergency services now.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: White Plains police. We're here for a welfare check.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Open this door!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Actor Frankie Faison and Kenneth Chamberlain are joining me now.
Welcome, both, to the program.
Let me ask you first, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. This is all about your father, your family. I, frankly, found it almost impossible to watch. It
was on the edge of my seat. Obviously, I knew what was going to happen. But the drama, the horror of it was almost unspeakable.
And I just wonder how you felt watching it.
KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN JR., SON OF KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN: Well, each and every time that I view it, the same reaction happens.
I mean, tears start to fall for my eyes, because, for some people, it's the film, but, for me, it's my reality. It's my life. So it's always very
traumatic when I look at it.
AMANPOUR: Let's just go through very quickly, before I turn to Frankie Faison, who did your father in the most incredible way.
He had a mental health issue. He had some bipolar issues. He had a heart issue. And he apparently rolled over at 5:00 in the morning on his device,
which was being monitored by a professional organization, who then would call help if there was an emergency.
Is that the basic parameters of what happened that terrible morning?
CHAMBERLAIN: That's correct.
My father, as you said, had bipolar disorder, but also suffered from a heart condition and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. So he did
accidentally or inadvertently trigger his LifeAid pendant. The monitoring station attempted to reach him. They weren't successful when they tried.
So they contacted White Plains police. White Plains police, being first responders in this city, did arrive at his home in White Plains, his
apartment. They knocked on the door. My father came to the door, said he was OK, that he didn't call them, but that wasn't enough for law
They wanted my father to open the door and allow them entry into his home, which he refused. And it was his right to refuse, because you were coming
for a possible medical emergency. You didn't have a warrant. You didn't have his permission. And there was no exigent circumstance.
AMANPOUR: So, Frankie Faison, this is a role for you. But you really inhabit it.
And, I mean, we just can't look away, as I said, the feeling of panic that obviously Kenneth Chamberlain was feeling and the aggression that was
happening on the other side of the door, which is palpable.
What about you before you started to play it gripped you? What -- sorry -- what about it and this story made you want to do this role?
FRANKIE FAISON, ACTOR: Well, when I first received this script from my manager, I immediately upon first reading was drawn to this character and
to this role.
In particular, he's a man who's about my age. And I just started thinking about my father, who was 50 years older than me when I was born. So, when I
got to see him when he turned 70 and 80, I got to see a very fragile individual and vulnerable individual.
And so all those -- all those elements, they fused through me as I read this script. And I was thinking that how easily it could have been my
father, it could have been someone else in my family, or even a friend or a loved one.
And the writing by David Midell is so, so comprehensive and beautifully done, that it is drew me in. And, as an actor, I felt that I really wanted
to be challenged by playing this role. And I knew it would be emotionally, physically draining in ways that I have never experienced before in a film.
AMANPOUR: So I'm going to play a clip, which sort of encapsulates what going on both sides of this door.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM MCELROY, ACTOR: Yo, Kenneth, remember me? It's Sergeant Flannigan.
Yes, I remember you from my walking post around here. We're going to give you one last chance to open this door, buddy. Come on, Kenneth. We don't
want to have to bust the door down.
FAISON: No, thank you. I don't need your help.
MCELROY: Going to have to let us in some time. Come on. You're a grown-ass man. Enough of this cry baby stuff. Let's handle this like adults. Just let
us in. We will check out and we will leave.
FAISON: I'm telling you I'm fine. I'm not sick. I don't need your help. Thank you for your time. But please get away from my door.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I want both of you to weigh in on this, because, clearly, Kenneth Chamberlain, your father was calm, polite. He said over and over
again. I don't need help. Get away from my door.
And indeed the actual company that was monitoring him had called off, at his request, the intervention. And yet the police simply did not know how
to de-escalate, and it -- and with tragic consequences.
Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., you were on the phone with your father in real time. And this whole film unfolds in about real time, as about an hour-and-
a-half to two hours. What -- you didn't go there. He didn't want you to go. He kept trying to say to you he could take care of it himself. Take us back
to that moment.
CHAMBERLAIN: So, that piece in the film, it's something that was included.
Interestingly enough, when the company told White Plains Police Department to contact me, they refused to contact me. So I had no clue and no idea
what was actually taking place with my father that morning. Had they simply called me, I could have gotten to the -- to his apartment on time. And
maybe, just maybe my father would be alive today.
AMANPOUR: And we're about to get Morgan Freeman up on the satellite. He obviously is a movie star, but also the executive producer of this film.
Morgan Freeman, can you hear me?
MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR/EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: I can. Can you hear me?
AMANPOUR: Fantastic. Yes, I can.
So we're glad to have you along with Frankie Faison and Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. We have been talking about the origins of this film.
What is it about it? There are many, many innocent black men who have been killed and black women by the police out of control. What was it about this
one that made you want to put your name and your executive producing title behind it?
FREEMAN: I think this is the only one that somebody decided to make a movie of.
So we have not actually seen -- we have seen actual events, but we've not seeing it dramatized as a movie that would go into the theaters, you could
see it over and over again. And when we saw it last year, we decided that this needs all the help it can get to get out to the public, that it needs
to be seen. We need to digest this kind of information and figure out how we can make use of it.
What kind of a lesson can we impart here with this kind of -- with this film? It's important, we feel, that these kinds of things be dramatized
more. So here we are trying to get it distributed.
AMANPOUR: So, trying to do that.
So, what is your main takeaway? There are so many. What is it, like, number one, that you want to see?
You have been interviewed and you have said: I know that, whatever I say, people are going to take it as defund the police. That's not what I mean.
What do you mean? Because the scene of the police outside that door would enrage anybody. Even if they say they didn't know whether he was dangerous
or whatever, he wasn't presenting a danger. He was speaking calmly. He was explaining. The center had called off the call. And the police wouldn't
What do you want to -- what do you -- what sort of reform would you like to see?
FREEMAN: You asking me?
AMANPOUR: Yes, Morgan Freeman, I am.
FREEMAN: Sorry. Yes. Well, you know, my companion and I have funded a department at Ole Miss that is set up to address this sort of situation.
What do we do about police, number one, misconduct, but police just in the wrong place? In Kenneth's situation, police had no business being there.
And when they were there and he said, I'm OK, I didn't call you, there was no reason for them to stay. They should have left.
They send the police to something that had to do with mental health or just health issues, and police don't know what to do. So, I think what we have
to do is get a movement going that is going to not defund the police at all, but refund them, take money them and allocate it for different
departments. Departments that can deal with health issues, with issues that have nothing to do with criminality.
AMANPOUR: Yes, because from the beginning they treated him as if he was a potential criminal. And obviously, from the beginning, he looked at them
with a -- well, didn't look but engaged through the door as somebody who had reason to, because of his demographic, afraid of the police.
I'm really interested, Frankie Faison in how the film was done in that just very tight, almost claustrophobic, environment on that landing outside the
front door and a little bit inside the apartment. Tell me about the filming that created the atmosphere.
FAISON: Well, that is -- it is very spectacular the way in which this was done. First of all, the film, I shot my section in eight days and they shot
everything of me from the other side of the door. And then, they took more eight more days and shot the people on the outside, on the stairway, you
know, and all of that.
They used two cameras and it was like a dance. Because they didn't have the finances to do elaborate setups. It would have been too expensive. It would
have been longer. So, they just did everything with those two cameras and dancing around me, not trying to get in each other's way so that they could
get the kind of shots they needed to get. And they were like sort of part of my inner conscience. It was like -- they were there but they were not
there. They were not in the way ever. And that is the way that was shot. And I never had any interaction with the people on the outside of the door
until they finally burst in at the end of the film. And it was -- to me, it was just one of the most economical and fascinating ways to shoot this
AMANPOUR: And Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., this is your father -- no, no. This is good. This is your father, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., and as, you know,
Frankie says, the police finally, you know, bash the door down, try to take it off its hinges. You know, they run in with handguns, with taser. And
they kill him. They shoot him. And he dies. No gurney. No nothing. This was meant to be a welfare check, a health check. None of that.
And then about justice. Tell me about what happened. Did the jury, when it came to trial, hear the full story? Did any of the police -- were any of
the police held accountable? And there was some very ugly racial comments thrown around, particular by that one officer who is -- you know, the white
officer who is one of the featured officers. Tell me about the process of taking this to court in the end.
CHAMBERLAIN JR.: So, after my father was killed in 2011, it went to the Grand Jury in 2012. The district attorney at that time promised the full
and fair investigation. But in May of 2012, she came back with no true bill. There was no indictment. They all seemed to read from the same
playbook when it comes to that. Reporter actually asked the current -- asked that DA at the time who was Janet DiFiore. They asked her about the
racial slur that was hurled at my father before he was killed. She didn't deny that it was said. She did say, yes, an officer did use the N word, but
she justified it. She said it was used as a tactic to distract my father.
So, we move forward civilly at that point. But the judge hearing the case civilly removed the meat of our case and took it down to the final seconds
of, like, maybe three seconds right before the officer pulled the trigger. There is no way you can present a case or fight a case like that when all
you have is three seconds. We couldn't talk about the events that led up to it.
So, the jury originally found for the city. But we filed an appeal. And then last year, we won the appeal based on qualified immunity. We won the
appeal and the decision that the judges wrote, they said, instead of treating Mr. Chamberlain like a critically ill patient, you treated him as
if he were a criminal suspect.
So, we are back in court now. And, also, the current Westchester County district attorney is taking a second look at the killing of my father to
see what was presented and whether or not it was presented fairly to a Grand Jury.
AMANPOUR: All right. And, of course, all of this has come up again, obviously in the aftermath of George Floyd and all the names that we've
been reporting on over the last few years.
Everybody, thank you so much. It is a really amazing film. And really our condolences to you, Kenneth Jr. as well.
And now, we turn to Asia where North Korea claims it has successfully test fired new cruise missiles. Our next guest, Matthew Pottinger, focused on
Asia before becoming President Trump's deputy national security advisor.
Here he is speaking to Walter Isaacson about the threats to the region and why he resigned from the White House after the January 6th attack on the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thanks, Christiane. And, Matt Pottinger, welcome to the show.
MATTHEW POTTINGER, CHINA PROGRAM CHAIRMAN, HOOVER INSTITUTION, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Thanks for
having me, Walter. Great to be with you.
ISAACSON: We're just learning on the news today that North Korea is again testing long-range missiles. What does that mean and what should we be
POTTINGER: Yes, you know, I think that North Korea is watching the mistaken -- you know, the mistake of the Biden administration's moving
forward with trying to negotiate again with Iran on Iran's terms. I think they have seen this withdraw from Afghanistan. They have seen us make
unilateral concessions to Russia, since President Biden is coming to office, this one mystified a lot of the people that I work closely with,
why would reallow Russia to build, for example, against the wishes of Congress and against the wishes of our European allies with the exception
of Germany? Why would they allow Russia to build a gas pipeline straight into the heart of Europe bypassing Ukraine?
So, you know, I think that Kim Jong-un is a savvy character. He watches what we're doing. He watches how we're doing in other parts of the world.
And then makes, you know, calculations about whether he wants to go back to an old playbook.
ISAACSON: But you and the Trump administration tried pretty hard to engage him, to actually negotiate with him personally, right?
POTTINGER: I'm not against engaging dictators, particularly at their level. My view is that you are better off going leader to leader than going
through the charade of having a bunch of mid-level diplomats spend years negotiating an agreement that dictators end up, you know, reneging on 10
minutes later. I'm not against the idea of us engaging with dictators.
But what I have a problem with is when we make unilateral concessions in the expectation that dictators are then going to treat us fairly, that is
just not how those systems work. So, I think we might be moving back towards this pattern which we had been able to short circuit. At end of
2017, we had applied so much economic pressure through the U.N. Security Council, economic pressure in the form of sanctions on North Korea that
their nuclear and long-range missiles tests stopped at the end of 2017. And, you know, it's been almost, you know, whatever, four years since they
have started again.
He maybe now testing the waters again to see whether he can provoke in a way that would lure the Biden administration into going back to the pretty
stupid pattern that we followed for 30 years of mid-level negotiations that take years, involve us giving significant concessions only for us to be
disappointed in the final result.
ISAACSON: So, you were a marine, two tours, in Afghanistan. First of all, what did you make of our withdrawal from Afghanistan?
POTTINGER: Well, the way in which we've withdrawn has dealt a grave blow to our standing. There is no question about that. When we see our European
partners, in some cases, censuring the president of the United States. I think it's been painful for veterans, certainly, to watch and many of us
have been engaged in trying to get people out of Afghanistan who worked most closely with us to try to establish a viable government there.
So, certainly, the short-term impact has been quite grave. Medium, longer- term impact is a much tougher guess, right? We know that this has done damage to India. India, in a certain respect, now that the Taliban has
taken over most of Afghanistan. In some respects, India is now having to worry about two Pakistan's on its northern flank. We don't want India to be
encumbered by additional threats of terrorism, and because we need India as a partner to help counterbalance China's ambitions throughout the region.
So, that is on the negative side.
The Biden administration has tried to describe this as -- our withdrawal from Afghanistan as an opportunity to double down on the Western Pacific
Region and to ensure that Southeast Asian countries, Pacific countries, Japan, Australia, South Korea remain independent and strong and safe from
China's ambitions, not to mention Taiwan. So, I'm hopeful that the Biden administration follows through on proving that our loss in Afghanistan will
be our gain somehow in the Western Pacific.
ISAACSON: But it was the Trump administration, with you as deputy national security advisor and Trump as president, who set a time to get out of
Afghanistan. Was that a mistake?
POTTINGER: Well, you know, I think that we saw a timeline set multiple times, and then we were able to push that timeline out contingent upon the
Taliban actually making good on the promises that it made in that agreement
ISAACSON: So, you are saying Trump would have pushed it out and not followed the accord that he signed?
POTTINGER: I think you would have to ask him. I think that there is a -- there were earlier -- their ambitions during the Trump presidency to get
out earlier that be we did, you know, Trump finished his term without having completely gotten out.
ISAACSON: Were you among those pushing not to get out too quickly?
POTTINGER: Yes, my view was that keeping several thousand troops, and again, in sort of a background role where they're providing support, we're
providing money and expertise and contractors are able to keep equipment and aircraft up in the air and to provide the all-important close air
support from the U.S. air force to navy would allow us to buy time. It wasn't going to win this war in -- in the -- you know, as defined at
various points over the course of that 20-year conflict. At certain points, we thought we could completely defeat the Taliban and establish, you know,
a sovereign centralized democracy.
I think that that is a pipe dream. That would continue to be a pipe dream. Even if we had stayed. But Afghanistan, you know, we don't need for
Afghanistan to become, you know, a Western European democracy in order for us to help protect ourselves. We just need Afghanistan to be a better
Afghanistan than --
ISAACSON: Let me make sure I understand this. I mean, when you said you would have kept a few thousand troops indefinitely, Trump basically went
against that advice, right?
POTTINGER: Yes. I mean, the agreement that was signed said that we were going to get out completely in May, assuming that the Taliban work towards,
you know, a unity government, a partnership whether they would reach through negotiation not through the barrels of their guns. And also, that
they would no longer support al-Qaeda.
Now, we've just seen that the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who we've not heard from in a very long time, they've just released -- al-Qaeda
just release a video by him. I think that that is a hint of what's to come. I don't think that those links between the Taliban and al-Qaeda have been
severed. Far from it. I think we're going to learn the hard way that, you know, in coming months that al-Qaeda is going to be back in business.
ISAACSON: So, was that disengagement agreement for this May that Trump has done, was that a mistake?
POTTINGER: I think that the -- it hadn't yet been fulfilled on the part of the Taliban. So, it would have been a mistake to get out in May given where
the Taliban was in reality and what they were failing to do to keep up their side of that bargain, yes.
ISAACSON: President Biden and China president, Xi Jinping, a few days ago had a conversation. Went on for an hour and a half, and it was not really a
great conversation. For years, we thought engagement with the Chinese and economic engagement with Disney and Apple would help make our relationships
with China good. Was that a flawed thesis?
POTTINGER: Yes, I think it was. And it is one that a lot of us all subscribed to, if we're honest with ourselves. We had a bipartisan, really
whole of society consensus that, at the end of the Cold War, with our success and triumph in that Cold War, that it was inevitable that China was
going to have to liberalize overtime as well and that we could hasten that liberalization by engaging with China. And it was a -- it was big hearted.
It was optimistic. And it was also a little bit arrogant. And unfortunately. turned out to be wrong.
We thought that by opening up our markets, providing capital, training China's entrepreneurs and scientists and military officers and government
technocrats that we would hasten this liberalization of their markets at first. And hoped over time, we'd make their system a bit more pluralistic
as well, the political system. We now know, you know, 20, 30 years on, it's been 20 years since China entered the World Trade Organization, that China
is not only not liberalizing anymore, it is actually moving backwards towards an earlier era.
ISAACSON: You know, I've watched your career ever since you were at Wall Street. Great Wall Street journal reporter in China and through many
things, the marine corps. Tell me, why did you join the Trump administration?
POTTINGER: Yes. Well, you know, I'm -- I swore an oath when I became a marine to the Constitution of the United States. And that's my north star,
you know. And you know, I'm -- I believe that when president of the United States asks you to serve, you -- your default decision has got to be to say
yes. I'm really proud of my service in the Trump administration. I'm very proud of the foreign policy that came out of the Trump administration. I
think it's been undervalued in, you know, sort of mainstream discourse.
And over time, I think people are going to realize that some of the things that we achieved with the paradigm shift on our approach to China,
strengthening NATO, in reality, even though we were tough on NATO rhetorically, we were able to extract, you know, hundreds of billions of
additional dollars over the course of the decade for European countries to stand up for their defense.
And then, you have got things like the Abraham Accords. I mean, that would have been -- I mean, if that had been a different administration that it
achieved, you know, peace between Israel and multiple Sunni-Arab, you know, monarchies, that would have been a pretty big story, I think, in a
different administration. So, you know, we pulled some rabbits out of the hat.
ISAACSON: In your foreign affairs piece you talk about how China has now adopted a tactic, I think, Russia had been using of using our own social
media to do things like spread conspiracy theories. Spread what QAnon is saying, undermine belief in vaccines. Undermine various ways, public health
measures for COVID and vaccinations.
How dangerous is that and why haven't more Republicans pushed back against these disinformation campaigns, much of which, according to your piece, are
being amplified by China to undermine our country?
POTTINGER: Yes, yes. I think that authoritarian governments are looking at our social media platforms as a golden opportunity for them to influence
American populations and the populations of other free societies. And so, the Russians -- but the Chinese now, probably with even greater resources
than the Russians applied, have banned all of our platforms in their own borders but are now energetically using them for both overt propaganda but
also convert propaganda that makes use of algorithms and bots and proxies that try to create the illusion of organic, real citizen discourse, when in
fact, it is highly orchestrated discourse designed to do a number of things.
And you have mentioned some of them. One of them is designed to find those areas where there are divisions in our society or at least cracks and to
try to tap wedges into those cracks. They are trying to, you know, amp up division and controversy. Another area is simply to try to cause Americans
to lose faith in our system of government, even though our system of government, for all of its flaws, has worked pretty darn well and hell of a
lot better than China's system of governance has worked for its people.
Remember, the communist party has only been in power for seven decades in China. They have killed roughly 50 million of their own people through
abuse by Mao Zedong, through The Great Leap Forward, cultural revolution and many people fear that we may be sliding back into an era where --
because all decisions are now being made by one man at the top, if that one man at the top makes a mistake, that is going to reverberate through
society in ways that can be extremely disruptive and even deadly.
So, they are trying to cause people to doubt that our system of government can deliver. And so, I'm -- I actually give credit to President Biden for
having spoken out repeatedly about the idea that this is really, in some respects, an ideological competition that we're in. It is about, as he's
put it, whether democracy is still going to prove itself and refresh itself, to continue to be the greatest hope for humanity or whether we're
going allow this flowing tide of authoritarianism to corrupt our systems and undermine our sovereignty.
ISAACSON: So, do you think President Trump and maybe some of o his enablers and supporters also helped spread disinformation, whether it be on
COVID or even about the election?
POTTINGER: Well, I think that the election outcome was litigated and judges, some of them appointed by President Trump himself, came out with
their determination on the outcome and that led to President Biden being the president. I think that we have to realize that part of upholding the
constitution is to live by the three branches of our government. And when judges determine that the election has come out a certain way, you have got
respect that and we move on.
ISAACSON: You are saying Trump really should quit saying that the election was stolen?
POTTINGER: Yes, I don't think that we can say that the election was stolen when, under our system, judges determined that, you know, the outcome came
out the way it did. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't find ways to improve our election system so that everybody can have confidence that our
elections are free and fair. And we've obviously got a lot of work to do on that, and I hope we move forward with that in a very bipartisan way.
ISAACSON: But you quit. You resigned from the Trump administration the day after the assault on the capitol. Was that because you were worried about
the threats of democracy that had been happening there and because the administration had helped stoke some of that?
POTTINGER: Now, I resigned on the 6th. The afternoon of the -- of those protests. And, you know, I felt just given the events of that day that it
was appropriate for me to leave.
ISAACSON: Matt Pottinger, thank you so much for joining us.
POTTINGER: Thanks, Walter. It's great to be with you.
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AMANPOUR: So, let's just reemphasize the deputy national security advisor for President Trump left because of that assault on democracy on January
6th. And rightly says one of the great changes now going forward, not just to the United States but for the rest of the world, is to defend democracy
against the growing authoritarianism around the world.
Finally, tonight, in France, liberty, equality and artistry, as we speak, one of the great Paris landmarks is being transformed into a work of art 60
years in the making. The Arc de Triomphe is being wrapped in silver blue fabric posthumously fulfilling a lifelong dream of the artist, Christo, who
died last year.
The installation opens this weakened. And visitors will be able to touch the fabric and even step out onto it when they reach the monument's roof
terrace. Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, famously wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin, the Pont Neuf Bridge, islands in Florida, among many,
many landmarks around the world.
I spoke to Christo in 2018 here in London about his Mastaba. It's a megastructure which was floating on the Serpentine Lake in London's Hyde
Park. And he told me that while some people might not quite understand his work, what matters is that they have thought about it at all.
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AMANPOUR: Your works always spark a huge amount of conversation.
CHRISTO VLADIMIROV JAVACHEFF, ARTIST (through translator): And controversy.
AMANPOUR: And controvery, yes.
JAVACHEFF (through translator): A lot of controversy, yes.
AMANPOUR: So, there are some people --
JAVACHEFF: Who don't like it.
AMANPOUR: -- who swim here all time and they say, what is this? And why is it block our view? And we don't like it.
JAVACHEFF: Of course. You know, any interpretation of our project is legitimate. You know --
AMANPOUR: So, you say, any interpretation is legitimate?
JAVACHEFF: Negative, positive, they're all how world works in the minds of the people. This is why do the projects, to generate that thinking.
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AMANPOUR: Christo, whose megaprojects also captivate so many imaginations for so long.
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.