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Three Songs For Benazir; Turmoil in Libya; Interview With Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger; Interview with Elizabeth Mirzaei and Omar Mullick of "Three Songs for Benazir"; Interview with Carl Bernstein on New Book, "Chasing History". Aired 1-2p ET
Aired January 11, 2022 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour, still isolating and working from home in
Tonight, we take a look at democracy and elections. As the United States grapples with this issue both at home and abroad, I will have an exclusive
interview with the U.S. diplomat who works for the United Nations trying to bring stability to Libya 11 years after the disastrous U.S.-led military
intervention that upended that region.
But, first, one year after the January 6 attack on American democracy, are American elections any safer or stronger? President Biden visits Georgia
today, the scene of Donald Trump's most blatant attempt to try to strong- arm state officials into overturning the 2020 vote.
Over to you now, Bianna, in New York for that story.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Thank you, Christiane.
And, yes, our first guest is one of those officials, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Here's part of the call that he received from Trump on January 2, 2021.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,
because we won the state.
And flipping the state is a great testament to our country.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Well, that was a jaw-dropping moment in this country's history.
And now Raffensperger is running for reelection against an opponent handpicked by Donald Trump.
Earlier today, he defended a new Georgia voting law that strips away the very power of his own office to control the election process. So, what is
Brad Raffensperger joins me now from Atlanta.
Welcome to the program, Secretary Raffensperger.
So let's begin with that very question. Are you concerned, given that you are now being primaried by somebody who has been endorsed by former
President Trump, that, in a future election, the results could indeed be manipulated?
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Will, with S.B.202 that was passed in early 2021, no one can overturn the will of the people.
And so that's been a false flag that's been out there.
But I think that they're -- if we're going to have serious reforms, number one is, we want to make sure that only American citizens are voting in our
elections. We have had photo I.D. for 10 years for in person voting. We now have photo I.D., just like Minnesota, for absentee voting. We think that's
secure. We think that there should be photo I.D. nationwide.
And that's supported by a majority of all demographic groups of both political parties. And then we need to an ballot harvesting like we did in
Georgia as soon as I took office.
The other issue that we're really having with federal law right now is that we have a 90-day blackout period where we can't update our voter rolls 90
days before an election. When you have 11 percent of all Americans moved together here, in Georgia, that represents 200,000 -- potential 200,000
Georgians that have moved.
Nationwide, we need to look at how we can update our voter rolls objectively like we do in Georgia, being part of a cross-state, multistate
organization like ERIC, the Electronic Registration Information Center.
But those are four commonsense reform measures that would be supported by the vast majority of all Americans. Most Americans believe that the only
person that should be voting are American citizens.
GOLODRYGA: And, of course, I know you're talking about something that's taking place and has been proposed and supported, and it's a bit
controversial here in the city of New York and in California as well.
But as -- of course, when we're talking about presidential elections, one does have to be a citizen of the United States.
I'm just curious, because you have pitched a lot of reforms now for voter safety. Experts from across the board, bipartisan, have said that the 2020
election was by far the most secure in this country's history. And look at what the courts have said as well, given how many attempts have been made
by the Trump -- President Trump -- former President Trump to overturn the elections.
That having been said, you previously had no problem with election integrity. So why are you now also voicing concerns about this going
RAFFENSPERGER: Well, when I ran it 2018, I said we should have photo I.D. for all forms of voting. It took three years to get the General Assembly
But I believe that what that does is, first of all, shore up security, but also confidence in the elections. People know who's actually showing up and
requesting those absentee ballots, so that's a good move.
We now have accountability to make sure that counties have to keep all their lines shorter than one hour. That's a great measure. And I think that
helps -- the voter will have a better voting experience. And then we also now have a cutoff for absentee ballots to make sure that you actually will
get your ballot and time so you can get it back.
So those are all commonsense measures that were put into place to shore up security or increase voter confidence. It's whatever we can do that
increased voter confidence and maintain security. That's a good thing. It's never been easier to vote Georgia. We have had record turnout in a
gubernatorial race in 2018, record turnout of five million voters obviously in the 2020 cycle.
We now have verifiable paper ballot so we can do audits. That's another implementation I did.
GOLODRYGA: If I could just run two points by you, because, in terms of voter fraud and your suggestion of photo I.D.s present, the ACLU has said
that voter fraud is rare and even rarer when done in person.
"The Washington Post" says 34 cases of alleged impersonation out of more than a billion, a billion votes between 2000 and 2014. How do you counter
that then with the strict voter laws, the Georgia law passed and also 18 other states, when you look at what's included here?
Early voting is expanded in a lot of small counties, less so in populous ones. Offering food or water to voters waiting in line risks misdemeanor
charges. Voters will have less time to request absentee ballots.
Many argue that that would disenfranchise voters of color in particular. What does that have to do at all with voter integrity and security?
RAFFENSPERGER: Well, let's dive into that.
Number one, every county has the same amount of early voting, if not more. For -- all counties have to be 9:00 to 5:00. And many of the smaller
counties didn't -- they weren't working a full day. Now they will have to work a full day. But all the larger counties can have 7:00 to 7:00.
And that's their normal practice. We now have expanded to three weeks, Monday to Friday, plus two Saturdays. We have added an additional day.
Plus, any county that wants to have Sunday voting, there's two additional Sundays. So we actually have more early voting. There's nothing truthful
what people have been alleging about that.
We now have an absentee ballot cutoff. In other words, you have to request your absentee ballot 11 days before. Before, you could request it on the
Friday before. You would never receive about. This helps enfranchise voters. You send in your absentee ballot request. The county processes it,
sent you your ballot, and then you can send it back.
And that ensures that we can actually get -- the counties can receive your ballot, so it will be counted. So it's actually enfranchising more voters.
It helps the counties run the election and it helps the voters.
As it relates to the water, we had people that were electioneering within that zone. You had campaign T-shirts within the 150-foot zone. We have had
that 150-foot zone for as long as I can remember. And so we want no electioneering within the 150 foot.
But we also have now a rule that lines will be shorter than one hour. So people should be able to handle not having water, but if they need water,
they can step out and go back 151 feet and grab a bottle of water and then step back in line.
GOLODRYGA: What, if anything, could you agree to support with the two bills that have been proposed, the voting rights reform bills? So there's
the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.
Because you look at some of the things that are included, let's say the Freedom to Vote Act. That allows same-day and automatic voter registration
and provides a national holiday to vote. Many other countries are puzzled as to why we don't have that in the United States.
Would you support any measures in these bills as they are now?
RAFFENSPERGER: Well, on the face of it, a national holiday sounds good. But look at the three West Coast states. They have mail-in balloting. And
that starts a month before the Election Day. And then they can get their ballots in up to 14 days in some of those states. Utah has the same thing.
They don't need a day off, because they have all this time to do that. In Georgia, we now have 17 days early voting. And most of our voting now
happens before Election Day. So, that time has come and gone. Now if you want to do away with early voting and you want to do away with mail-in
voting, and have everyone show up on one day, then that may be some validity to that discussion.
But it's not required because of how voting patterns have changed.
GOLODRYGA: President Biden will be speaking today in Georgia an effort to promote voter integrity through the passage of these laws, and has
indicated that he will support even a carve-out of the filibuster, calling it a question of between democracy and autocracy.
Do you view voter integrity in the same light as the president does?
RAFFENSPERGER: No, I don't.
I believe that Georgia has struck the right balance. In fact, we have just been recognized as number one for election integrity. It's never been
easier to vote in Georgia, but we have photo I.D. just like they do in Minnesota for absentee balloting. So I don't see anyone calling up
Minnesota and filing a federal lawsuit against them.
But it seems that...
GOLODRYGA: Was that an independent entity that recognized your voting system?
RAFFENSPERGER: Well, there's no independent entities.
It seems that you have far left-wing activist groups, and then you have conservative activist groups. But we have been recognized number one for
GOLODRYGA: I guess, if we could just talk maybe concluding this conversation about how we got here, right?
And you had been praised -- it's very rare to get praise from both sides of the aisle -- for standing up for voter integrity and what's right after
having been bullied by the former president to -- quote -- "find" those votes.
And yet, here we are because of a red herring. There was no big lie. The vote was safe in this country and secure in 2020. And we have sort of gone
down a rabbit hole in trying to make up for reforms for a situation that, quite frankly, never really existed.
And it's led us to a place where you have a majority of Republicans now casting doubt as to the future of election integrity in this country. Let
me just read this to you.
According to a Morning Consult poll, only 35 percent of Republican adults expressed at least some trust in the U.S. electoral system at the end of
December of last year. Prior to Election Day 2020, Republicans trust in the electoral system stood at 69 percent. Is this all worth it?
RAFFENSPERGER: Well, I have shown that I have the moral authority, the moral courage to stand up and fight against stolen election claims, be it
from the left or the right.
But when I say that we need to have a constitutional amendment that only American citizens can vote, have a photo I.D. and we ban ballot harvesting,
those are all supported by a majority of people on both political aisles, all demographic groups. Those are bipartisan measures.
And it's time that we actually consider bipartisan measures that get buy-in from the average American. And so these are three great ideas that we have.
The 60-day -- the 90-day lockout -- blackout period prior to elections, that gets in the weed. But the problem is that we can't update our voter
rolls during election year.
That's another commonsense measure. But failing that, instead of one side trying to shove it down the other side's throat, perhaps then we should
reform a like something similar to the Baker-Carter Commission, where it was a bipartisan commission. Republicans pick someone that's well-
respected, a Condoleezza Rice-type of person with a high stature.
We know that she has high moral authority. Let the Democrats pick someone. And then work through the process of these contentious issues and find
something that the vast majority of Americans agree on.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, unfortunately, there are a few things that the vast majority of Americans agree on these days. Let's hope that that returns.
RAFFENSPERGER: They do agree on photo I.D. and they do agree that only American citizens should vote in our elections.
There's a good start right there.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, and the majority agree that the 2020 election was fair as well.
Thank you so much, Brad Raffensperger. We appreciate your time.
RAFFENSPERGER: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Christiane, now back over to you.
AMANPOUR: Thank you, Bianna.
Now, back in those heady days of the Arab Spring, where it looked like democracy was going to break out all over that region, a U.S.-backed NATO
bombing campaign ended the rule of the longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi Libya.
But this major oil-producing nation has been in turmoil ever since, splintered into violent armed factions, a hub for the massive exodus of
migrants across the Mediterranean into Europe and, so far, defying all attempts to unify it.
Presidential elections for December have been indefinitely postponed. Now into this steps Stephanie Turco Williams. She's an American diplomat, who
is the U.N. secretary-general's special adviser on Libya.
And she is joining me from neighboring Tunisia.
Welcome to the program, Secretary -- special adviser Williams.
I just want to ask you, when you see that the trouble the United States of America is in cementing its own democracy, how much of an issue is that for
you when you try to make the point and hammer home the point in places like Libya?
STEPHANIE TURCO WILLIAMS, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL'S SPECIAL ADVISER ON LIBYA: Thanks very much, Christiane, and good evening from Tunisia.
I just flew out of Libya yesterday, and I had first arrived back in the country in December. The secretary-general has sent me specifically to
support the electoral process and the nearly three million Libyans who have registered to vote and 2.5 million of whom collected their voter
registration I.D. cards.
And so I am banking on them. I'm supporting them. We're working with the institutions that are concerned with producing the elections to get the
electoral process back on track as soon as possible, because, as you -- Libya has been in a state of chaos and crisis for 10 years, and all of its
national institutions are facing a crisis of legitimacy, which can only be solved by allowing the Libyans to go to the ballot box and to
democratically elect a president, a government, and to end the years of division that had plagued the country.
AMANPOUR: Right. Right.
So the idea is to get democracy under way by having elections. As I said at the beginning, those that were scheduled for the 24th of December have been
indefinitely postponed. And you have just said you would like them to happen as soon as possible.
Is there a date certain? Is there a date at the end of this month? Or can you tell us when the next presidential elections in Libya will be held?
WILLIAMS: So, what happened is, on December 22, the High National Elections Commission declared force majeure, said that they were not able
to go forward with the presidential elections. They could not publish the final list of candidates.
And they have returned the matter to the Parliament, to the Libyan House of Representatives, which began meeting in open sessions with a large number
of parliamentarians present at the beginning of January to begin to tackle the electoral deficiencies that were cited by the commission as well as to
look at other means to move the process forward, including, for instance, a judicial review of the current list of candidates.
And so what we have now is, we have the Parliament, which has created a committee that is now touring the country and engaging in consultations
with a wide swathe of Libyan constituencies. I met with them last week.
And then, more broadly speaking, -- and because I took my own tour from Western Libya, from Tripoli all the way to the far east, and what I heard
and what I imagined that the committee his hearing is that there are those who want a constitutional basis to be present before national elections
There are those who want a full referendum on a draft constitution, whether the draft that was agreed in 2017 by the commission that was elected to put
WILLIAMS: ... or amendment to that draft.
And there are those who want, for instance, to go directly to parliamentary elections and allow a new Parliament to craft the constitution.
OK. Let me stop you there. Ms. Williams, let me stop you there. I need to parse some of this complicated stuff that you're talking about.
The bottom line is that there were a number of candidates, all of whom fairly controversial, that your predecessor in this role allowed to happen
and was roundly criticized for it, changing the certain electoral rules.
And I want to know whether you have any -- as somebody has suggested, whether you are able, with all the knowledge that you have of all the
players, to pull some kind of -- quote -- "rabbit out of the hat" to enable these elections to happen.
We have got a warlord called Khalifa Haftar. We have got the son of the deposed dictator, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, and an interim leader who pledged
that he wouldn't run in return for being the interim leader. Now he wants to run.
Are you clear that these people are going to be allowed to run? And when can election take place?
WILLIAMS: Look, it's not up to the United Nations to decide the eligibility criteria for Libyan candidates, whether for president or for
the parliamentary elections.
This is a Libyan sovereign decision. The law was written and produced by the Libyan Parliament back in September. That's what kick-started the
process with the National Elections Commission. And then they -- that's where they encountered the issues with the judiciary reviews and the cases
that were brought before the judiciary, which is why there could be, for instance, a judicial treatment of this.
What I'm, frankly, hearing more of is a return to some kind of a constitutional track to kind of undergird the process. The bottom line is,
and what I wanted to say, is that the political process that I ran that produced the agreement for the interim government and, most importantly,
the road map towards national elections, that road map extends up until June of this year.
And I believe it's important for us to see in electoral event in this in this time frame. The Libyans who registered to vote also need to have
target on the horizon.
AMANPOUR: So you're saying latest June of this year. I know you're not giving us a specific date, even though I have tried to get that out of you.
But let's move on. I mean, cast your mind back 11 years ago, when the U.S. tried to intervene humanitarian-wise to prevent people being slaughtered by
Gadhafi in Benghazi, and then the whole thing went off the rails.
If you were looking at this and would want to do it again, what was the interim step that the West or the coalition that intervened should have
taken? Was is it to have got all those people who have laid down their arms and entered into a process for the future? What went wrong from the very
beginning 11 years ago?
WILLIAMS: Well, I do think that the DDR process, the disarmament and reintegration of the militias, did not occur as it as it should have.
I will say that the first elections that were held in Libya in 2012 were very successful, with a high participation and acceptance of the results.
Then I think the international community retreated a bit, left the Libyans to themselves. But there was also interference from regional countries. And
that kicked off the civil war that plagued the country in 2014 and led to the formal division, which existed really until and through the war of 2019
And then we had the U.N. brokered cease-fire in October of 2020, and then the unity government, which was produced in March of this year. So what we
have been doing, what the United Nations has been doing through this comprehensive peace process is to pick up the shattered pieces of the
Libyan mirror that the country shattered in 2011, and put it back together in a fully inclusive peace and political process, which means that all
elements of the Libyan mosaic are present in this process, including supporters of the former regime.
That's the basis upon which we need to move forward. I'm confident that myself, and with the help of the international communities and the team at
the United Nations, we can work with the Libyan institutions and we can continue to raise the voices of all the Libyans who want to go to the
ballot box and who want to end this long period of transition and go to a more permanent future for the country.
AMANPOUR: OK, and, meantime -- and we don't have time to go into this, but Libyan authorities have been detaining and roughing up any number of
refugees and migrants there.
And that, I'm sure, is on the U.N.'s plate as well.
Stephanie Turco Williams, thank you very much.
And now we go to another country that is still reeling from an American invasion 20 years ago, and its abrupt withdrawal this summer, and that is
Afghanistan. It's experiment with democracy is down the drain for now, and its poverty so extreme that the United Nations has made its largest ever
appeal for help.
Millions of Afghans face destitution, sheltering in camps from freezing weather with almost nothing to eat.
A new documentary, "Three Songs for Benazir," tells the story of a young couple living in a camp for displaced people in Kabul. In this clip,
Shaista shows Benazir, his wife, how they are under constant 24-hour surveillance from above.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAISTA, AFGHANISTAN (through translator): You see that, Benazir?
BENAZIR, AFGHANISTAN (through translator): What is it?
SHAISTA (through translator): That balloon has been sent by the Americans and foreigners to watch us. It's full of cameras recording us.
BENAZIR (through translator): What do they do with it?
SHAISTA (through translator): They film this entire camp in case something happens here.
We will either be combed by the foreigners or killed by the Taliban.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, the film has just been short-listed for an Oscar.
And director Elizabeth Mirzaei joins us from Los Angeles with producer Omar Mullick, who's in New York.
Thank you both for joining us.
How did this story come about? I don't know which one of you wants to take this, but how did you decide to take this couple and to home in on their
ELIZABETH MIRZAEI, DIRECTOR, "THREE SONGS FOR BENAZIR": Sure.
Well, I'm American. I grew up in Pennsylvania and I moved to Afghanistan to teach photography and just fell in love with the country. I learned to
speak language. I lived there for eight years, where I met my husband, Gulistan, who is the co-director of this film, and he is from Afghanistan.
And at the time, we were -- had a bit more of a journalistic hat on, and we were kind of at this camp where a lot of journalists come every year to
tell stories about displacement. And in the middle of it, we meet this teenage boy named Shaista, who's just full of dreams and hopes and poetry
just bursting off his tongue.
And I know that, for Gulistan, my co-director, they really shared a mutual connection about displacement. Gulistan also was displaced by the war. He
became a refugee in Iran. His father was killed by a Soviet land mine. So they really had a shared bond together.
And through getting to know Shaista and Benazir, we felt that something remarkable happened in our friendship, was that we were able to tell the
story of this young couple in their homes in a way that felt unprecedented to us.
AMANPOUR: It is amazing. I have watched. It is 20 minutes' long, and it's almost -- in 20 minutes tells the entire story of Afghanistan without a
single line of narration.
Omar Mullick, what was it for you -- you are part Afghan -- about this couple and what they're living through that made you want to be connected
and produce this film?
OMAR MULLICK, PRODUCER, "THREE SONGS FOR BENAZIR": Well, as someone who's ethnically Pashtun and had been in and out of the region for the past two
decades, sometimes as a photographer, as a journalist or a filmmaker, there is something about this little miracle of a film that feels unprecedented
and, just as you said quite well, that it touches on almost everything about the country.
And yet that backdrops what has always been something of a Holy Grail to all of us whenever we have gone in and out of the region. And I think I can
speak collectively when I say that, which is that there is something behind the closed doors. There's something of the lived reality of the tenderness,
the honor, the resilience, the pre-modern beauty of these people that's always been a little elusive.
And I think in the bits and pieces that make up a film, when that came across my table, and I saw that nascent me shining and glowing off the
screen, I just had to be any small, modest part of it that I could, quite simply.
AMANPOUR: It's really interesting that you talk about this little viewed tenderness and sincerity by Afghan people, which I found as well in decades
of covering the place.
And I think it's really struck me the fact that Shaista wants to be part of the Afghan National Army, because you did this film before the chaotic and
quite brutal departure of the West from Afghanistan, with a narrative that Afghans weren't ready to defend their own country.
Well, this boy, he certainly wanted to and was caught in a Kafkaesque cycle of hell trying to get into the army. Let's play that little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAISTA (through translator): I want to be the first from our tribe to join the army. I would be the first in this entire camp to serve.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We won't be responsible for your wife if you join.
I'm not happy, son. Understood?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If you join, the Taliban will chop us into pieces.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We won't sign. You can't join.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, accounting for my mixing Dante and Kafka, nonetheless, Elizabeth, tell me what you made of that part of the story, that he just --
try as he might, he could not get his family to support him going to the army, and thus getting a decent job with which he could actually provide
for his wife and his young family.
Well, he was kind of trapped, essentially. He has these hopes and dreams in a place that doesn't often give you the luxury of having hopes and dreams.
And I think that, for us, though, the film is really ultimately about this love story and the ability of love to prevail and intimacy to prevail
against all of the odds.
And so that's what really drew us to the story. But I think, like you said, it does give you a sense of the realities on the ground before the Taliban
take over Afghanistan, in particular with the Afghan army.
AMANPOUR: And just quickly, you talk about the love story, Elizabeth, and it is, again, remarkable. It's very rare to see images of Afghan couples in
tender embraces, giggling, laughing, touching each other.
It's just really rare to see that. What did you get from meeting the wife, Benazir, who eventually -- we will get to the end of the story in a moment
-- but was left to extreme hardship and poverty?
Yes, well, you know, we're used to kind of seeing these same stereotypes of Afghanistan over and over again. Guns and turbans and women being
oppressed. And Benazir, for us, was none of those things.
You can see she's very stoic. She knows what she wants. She's got this quiet strength and this presence in the room. And we knew it as soon as we
encountered it and we think the audiences will recognize it as well.
And Gulistan and I, we've ached for people to be able to see what's inside Afghanistan and this beauty and the tenderness and intimacy and the love
that happens inside these homes and between couples, even while the war rages outside.
And for us, with me having lived there for eight years and with Gulistan and our other producers being Afghan, we know what it's like to live at the
cusp of a war and how the fragility and beauty of everyday life becomes very pronounced and acute. And that's something that inspires us to tell
AMANPOUR: And Omar, it's even worse than that, because this poor boy, who wants to join the army, is then forced to do what?
Join the poppy harvesters and condemn himself to this life that, I guess, spoiler alert, turns him into an addict. It is this crushing poverty in
Afghanistan that is essentially the theme of your story.
MULLICK: Yes, and I think when you say it that way, very rightfully, the film only deepens this particular point. And the point is this: these
choices are not, as the region is often dismissed as ideological or backward or driven by terrorism or all of these dark tropes.
But they're lived realities and lived choices and experiential dilemmas of people just trying to get through the day today. So we talk about in heavy
terms in security of the Afghan national army or poppy fields.
And he has his back to the wall with the choices he has to make simply to get through the day. And I think in that universal, actually, as people all
over the world deal with global capitalism and shrinking economies, you have a sense that people can drop an anchor into this experience of doing
what they have to do to get through the day.
AMANPOUR: Do either of you know -- and I'm sure you do -- are you in touch with Shaista and Benazir?
Do you know how they are since the Taliban took over?
I mean, the word from the U.N. and all Norwegian refugee camps and all the others is that, you know, at least half the country is facing not just
destitution but another significant portion, famine, this winter.
MIRZAEI: Yes. We have been in touch with them regularly and, you know, we've known him for over 10 years at this point. We consider him a very
good friend and her as well. Two of our producers, one actually evacuated after the Taliban takeover, just got here to the U.S. last month.
And another producer, Jamiel (ph), is still in Kabul and he's been visiting them in person to deliver them support at this very difficult time. So we
have been in touch with them quite regularly.
AMANPOUR: And very quickly, we played it in the lead, the clip of the blimp that is hovering 24/7. I hadn't realized, that's a real thing in
They are constantly being monitored from overhead.
MIRZAEI: Yes. And there's just this detachment. So we really, like, for us, the political issues we felt that we wanted the film to upend these
political issues in favor of this love story from a region that you haven't seen before.
But they hover in the background and that security balloon is one example of that, of just being under constant surveillance and what it does to you.
AMANPOUR: And Omar, what do you think it does to them?
And, because some of the villagers have said they can't even sleep on their roofs anymore in the summer, which is a traditional Afghan thing to do,
when you need some cool night air in the dead of the summer.
And beyond that, what do you hope, particularly, if you do get chosen for an Oscar nomination, what do you hope this movie will say to the world, to
the bigger audience?
MULLICK: Well, I'll take those two questions in order.
The first response, when you ask about what the impact of that kind of consistent aerial surveillance does, with the constant buzzing sound, is I
don't have to speculate about that, because I have a memory about 10 years ago, of meeting young Afghan children.
MULLICK: Displaced as far away as Karachi, who were sleeping on a dump. And they were sleeping on a dump collectively because, whenever they were
indoors, they feared the buzzing sound that came from drone and surveillance airplanes that had destroyed their villages and homes.
And that was made viscerally, you know, brought home to me, with that experience when I met them.
As far as my hopes with regard to the film, a producer is very much, at least with this hat today that I'm wearing for them, a Swiss army knife.
But all of that goes into one single hope. All those multiple roles that you are going to (INAUDIBLE) hope, which is that the film by being short-
listed gets as many eyes on it as possible.
And I think this is something where you and I actually might share, as people who have been in and out of the region, trying to cover it, which is
that, for all the efforts to cover and bring attention to these things, you never feel that it's been enough.
And you sometimes, if you're like me, you question whether even those categories that you've used, economic, social, political, were even good
enough categories to capture this region and get people to understand. But I think all those categories have sort of been at the back of the general -
AMANPOUR: Yes. Oh, sorry. I don't mean to interrupt you, I was just hoping you'd finish your sentence.
MULLICK: Yes, no, no. I can give you a shorter -- but yes.
AMANPOUR: I got to go, sorry, sorry, sorry. The technology is not in my favor right now.
Omar and Elizabeth, "Three Songs for Benazir," it's a wonderful film. It will launch globally on Netflix on January 24th and everybody should watch
it. We're now going back to Bianna in New York.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, that does sound like a wonderful film, Christiane.
Well, the evolution of journalism has faced many obstacles, including a current epidemic in its way. That, of course, is misinformation. Legendary
journalist Carl Bernstein has seen it all. From a copy boy to winning the Pulitzer Prize for breaking the Watergate scandal, he visits that journey
in his new book, out today, "Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom."
Here he is with Walter Isaacson, discussing his memoir and the issues that intersect politics and our culture today.
WALTER ISAACSON, FORMER CEO, CNN: Thank you, Christiane.
And, Carl Bernstein, welcome to the show.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be with you, old friend.
ISAACSON: Tell me about that moment when you first walked into "The Washington Star" newsroom and you got addicted to the clatter and clang of
BERNSTEIN: Well, I applied for a job as a copy boy and I hadn't been hired yet. But the man who eventually hired me took me through a door into the
newsroom, which I hadn't seen yet.
And there was this incredible chaos and commotion. But yet it was an ordered commotion. And everybody was running around and yelling "copy" and
there was a deadline and it was the most exciting thing I think I've ever seen in my life.
ISAACSON: What were you wearing?
BERNSTEIN: I was wearing a cream colored suit that I bought a few days earlier in downtown Washington at No Label Louie's. There's a tale early in
the book about that suit, about that suit and the kind of hazing ritual that I was put through with the suit.
ISAACSON: Tell me about that hazing ritual.
You had to wash the carbon paper, man?
How did you fall for that one?
BERNSTEIN: I had a feeling that my leg was being pulled, to use a polite expression. But just the head copy boy told me and showed how hard the copy
boy's job was, was to go around the newsroom and to pick up all the sheets in this terrible double-sided carbon paper. If you just put your fingers on
it, it went up like dust.
And that was part of the copy boy's job. And we did it every day.
But he said, "Oh, Bernstein," he looked up at the clock and he said, "It's noon."
"Yes, it's noon."
And he said, "It's time to wash the carbon paper."
And I thought about that.
I said, wash the carbon paper?
And especially because my father at the time owned a Laundromat. And I'm somewhat familiar with washing machines.
But wash the carbon paper?
He said, yes, you got to hurry up or we'll be in trouble. And he had me going around in the whole newsroom to pick up every sheet, 100-200 sheets
of this double-sided carbon paper and put it in a basket.
And I'd hold out in front of me like that so it wouldn't get on my cream colored suit.
And he said, "Now take that into the men's room and go wash that."
So I went into the men's room and put it in the sink and filled the sink to about like that. And I turned on the water and it was one of those
newfangled faucets with the big spray. And it sprayed up and suddenly, my new cream colored suit, I looked like a damn leopard that has been in a
BERNSTEIN: And with all these spots, it was all in purple from the carbon paper.
And I knew that, wait a minute, something's not right here.
ISAACSON: Let's get more serious for a second.
What were the values you learned in the old fashioned newsroom that's almost like out of the movies?
BERNSTEIN: Well, it's an old fashioned newsroom almost in the rewrite mold. But it's also and I think resonates today and today's media because
Woodward and I came to call the best obtainable version of the truth.
And "The Star" had (INAUDIBLE) about the truth and how you get to that contextual truth, by knocking on doors, by making sure (INAUDIBLE) don't
have an ax to grind. It was a much more fair and balanced newspaper than "The Washington Post" was, at that time, before Ben Bradlee got to "The
Post" and threw out the old ways of "The Washington Post," which bled its opinions on to the news pages.
"The Washington Star" never did that. And Woodward and I would talk about the best obtainable version of the truth. And it was almost exactly the
phrase that was used by my mentors at "The Star."
And they were absolutely insistent. You know, the elements of, what is the truth?
Well, it's about context as well as just stringing together disparate facts. And it's about going out and seeing one source after another after
another after another. And one of the things this book is about, yes, it's about another time in America, another time in journalism.
But it is also about how we still need to get stories out of this methodology that we used in Watergate. But it started at "The Star." That's
where I learned it.
ISAACSON: Tell me about the phrase "the best obtainable version of the truth."
Somebody will say there is no absolute truth but --
ISAACSON: -- that phrase is you say, yes, but we're aiming there.
BERNSTEIN: You're aiming there but you keep going. You don't stop. You may get the story one day. Look, we did 200 stories in a year on Watergate.
That's what would have done at "The Star."
You'd the story, you keep going, you keep going. You keep going, you don't take no. You use common sense. You don't go visit people in their offices
with their bosses next to them. You go to their houses at night.
(INAUDIBLE). I learned all that stuff at "The Star." At "The Star," it came naturally to people.
ISAACSON: You said that at "The Washington Star," they were careful not to blur opinions with news and journalism.
BERNSTEIN: Absolutely. There was a line that was in -- you did not cross that line.
ISAACSON: So how did we end up crossing that line, where we blur opinion with news journalism?
BERNSTEIN: I think it's both the country and journalistic institutions at once. I think we need to look at the country as a culture, not just as a
politics and a media enterprise.
And people began looking, 15, 20, 25 years ago for information and news quotes that fit their own preconceived notions of what the truth ought to
be, to reinforce what they already believe.
And increasingly, I think media institutions started repeating that out of control beast, particularly the Murdoch newspapers, for instance. You look
at what the "New York Post" became. It not only bled opinion, it was not interested in what this complicated truth is.
And truth can be very complicated. And I think one of the things that we were able to do in the 1960s, '70s and into the '80s in journalism was to
reflect the complexity of the truth.
Look, great reporting has always been the exception. But good reporting had really been a hallmark of an awful lot of newsrooms in this country. And
that started to change. Also, a kind of -- you know, again, getting back to what I learned at "The Star," lengthiness is made into (INAUDIBLE).
You've got to keep going. You can't stop. And the minute you do that, you undercut the best obtainable version of the truth, because you've got to
keep getting more facts, more information, more misinformation that you say, wait a minute, I'm going to another source. And that source says
that's misinformation and disinformation.
BERNSTEIN: So it's not just that you're getting from your sources the truth. Often, you're getting what's not the truth. And then you have to
make those decisions about what is the truth and that was just bred into us at "The Star."
ISAACSON: The first day at the job at "The Times-Picayune" in New Orleans, had to go door-knocking. My (INAUDIBLE) said go knock on that door, find
out what happened during the situation.
Likewise, when we covered politics in New Hampshire, I remember you'd go door knocking. In your book, you talk about knocking on people's doors.
Explain why that's so important.
BERNSTEIN: Because you get people at home when they're relaxed, when they're with their cup of coffee, when the kids are all around them.
They're in an environment in which they're free of pressure.
And maybe the best scene, in some ways, in "All the President's Men," the movie had some great scenes in it. And they probably did a better job of
showing some of the aspects of reporting than we did in the book, quite honestly.
And that scene where I -- or Dustin Hoffman who was playing me -- goes to see the bookkeeper. And who knows the secrets of how money was used to pay
for this espionage and sabotage, it was the real meaning of Watergate from the White House.
And I get my foot in the door. And but it's her home and her sister is there and I'm fighting to stay in that living room with her. And I'm trying
to make her comfortable. You're going to people with an expectation that, very often, they're going to tell you their truth if you give them a chance
and you're a good listener.
And reporters so often just come in with a bunch of questions, throw a microphone in the person's face, if it's television, and run out the door
when they've got a quick answer.
There's a scene in the book where I go out with a great police reporter named Walter Gold (ph). And what I learned from Walter Gold (ph) was how
he got along with cops and respected them and gave them a chance to tell the truth.
He brought them donuts, coffee at night, at the scene of a murder. He did not treat them like quotes, sources, not to be human beings. He looked at
them as people. That's the other thing that we learned at "The Star." We're dealing with people with emotions, particularly because we were covering
People who were being denied their rights, who bled, who hurt. And that's the other thing about, even in Watergate, the sources had feelings. And if
we could start to comprehend their feelings, look at Deep Throat. He was outraged at what he had seen.
It was getting to that human factor in part that enabled the reporting, knowing that the bookkeeper was exercised. Somebody had said to me, you go
to see that bookkeeper because she knows and she's angry. She doesn't like what she had to do. That's part of the story. And you're not going to get
that on Hulu.
ISAACSON: As you were going through the Trump scandals that obviously brought back a lot of memories, what you and Bob Woodward did in Watergate,
how were things different in the Trump scandals, especially the journalism?
And was that a problem?
BERNSTEIN: It was a problem but I think it was a problem that a lot of the press met brilliantly. It might have taken a little while but they started
reporting on television, in newspapers, -- newspapers, yes, but also online, the best obtainable version of truth about Trump.
And I can remember, you might remember this, on CNN. In the early months of the Trump presidency, I went on the air and I said, "He is lying. He is a
And I think it may have been the first time that anybody said this. And I remember thinking long and hard that I was going to do this on the air. "He
is a serial liar."
And I said, you know, I have to step back myself as a reporter. It almost takes my breath away to hear myself saying that on the air. But it's
repertorially accurate. It's justified by the facts. And so we now need to be reporting on his serial lying, because it's the fact. It's the context.
BERNSTEIN: It's the best obtainable version of the truth. And if we ignore that lying, that serial lying, then we are not telling the truth in our
So I think what happened, that Trump was so extreme in his actions, in his authoritarianism, in his disdain for truth, so extreme, so easy in some
ways, to get, as a reporter, facts, accounts of his dishonesty, accounts of his authoritarianism, accounts of his disbelief in democracy, that the
reporting was done.
What wasn't, what didn't happen, is people of the country were indifferent, to a large extent, a huge number of people in our country are more than
indifferent to what Trump did and has done.
And then there's half the country that's saying, in one way or another, you know, we know what it was and the support he continues to have, OK, it's
all right that he does these things.
ISAACSON: One reason that people felt that way about Trump and supported him and said, yes, stick it to him, is because they hated the media.
What was that about?
BERNSTEIN: Oh, they hated the media. I think it's easy to go -- you know, during Watergate in the early days, as you know, Richard Nixon tried to
make the conduct of the press the issue in Watergate; the conduct specifically of Woodward and me and Bradlee at "The Washington Post."
And every day, a spokesman for the president would get up and attack us for using innuendo and hearsay and all this. And it worked for a good while.
That tendency of people to blame the messenger is always going to be there.
We now live in a different culture, in which truth is devalued by huge numbers of people, who are looking for reinforcement of what they already
believe in their media consumption. That's a big difference from when you and I started out in this business. We live in a different culture. We live
in a culture of untruth, to a large extent.
ISAACSON: What caused that?
Why did that happen?
BERNSTEIN: That's way beyond anything, the locus of it is not journalism. The locus of it is cultural. It has to do with the forces that have been
building this country for 30, 35 years.
You probably heard me say on the air over and over again, we are in a cold civil war in this country. I've said it ad infinitum, to the point where
other people got sick of it. But then that cold civil war was ignited by Trump. And we are now past the point of ignition.
And that is also what we need to be reporting on right now. I'd like to also turn for a minute to what may be the biggest story of all, that I
think every news organization has got to keep on through this presidency, the next presidency, and that is voter suppression, voter suppression.
We have one of our two political parties is now committed to undermining democratic election. That's really what the Trump lies are about and their
embrace by the Republican Party.
It's astonishing. It's amazing what happened January 6th in the White House. It is amazing what those Republican senators and congress men have
done since to embrace the untruth of what happened on January 6th and who was responsible.
So it just gives a totally different reporting imperative, I think, than we've ever had before because never -- and you have to go back to the Civil
War when one of the two parties has become wed to undemocracy.
That's factual. That's the best obtainable version of the truth. Now it doesn't mean everybody in the party or everybody who votes for that party
is committed to undemocracy. But right now, that story is not a story just about politics; it's a story about our culture. That's what we need to be
reporting on right now.
ISAACSON: Carl Bernstein, thank you so much.
BERNSTEIN: Good to be with you, old friend.
GOLODRYGA: Carl Bernstein there on the need to protect voting rights.
And finally, the late poet and activist Maya Angelou has made history as the first Black woman to be featured on a U.S. quarter. Treasury Secretary
Janet Yellen said it's a chance to say something about what we value and how we've progressed as a society.
Well deserved, wonderful to see that take place. And that is it for me in New York -- Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Yes, indeed, Bianna.
And here in the U.K., the Rolling Stones are getting their own stamp from the Royal Mail for their 60th anniversary. The set of 12 features their
most famous performances.
And that is it from London. Thanks for watching. Good night and see you tomorrow.