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Meryl Streep Asked What President She Based Netflix Role On; W. Kamau Bell Explores Why "We Need To Talk About Cosby"; "We Need To Talk About Cosby" Is A Documentary Series That Explores About Bill Cosby's Life And Work; Governor Chis Sununu Not Running For The U.S. Senate. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired January 28, 2022 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN HOST: The use of its crypto linked cards is on the rise. And that's a Quest Means Business for today. Follow me on Instagram and
Twitter at Alison Kosik. At the closing bell is ringing on Wall Street. Amanpour begins now. Have a great weekend.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Hello everyone and welcome to Amanpour. Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERYL STREEP, OSCAR WINNING ACTRESS: All things flow from this all things from flow from our existential crisis that we're in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Focus on the climate crisis, the inimitable Meryl Streep joins me with director Adam McKay on doing it with satire in their new movie "Don't
Look Up." Then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't often learn that your heroes the worst sorts of villain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is just a sad day in the history of black culture.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just like no, not Bill Cosby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: We need to talk about Cosby, comedian and now director W. Kamau Bell takes on the comic's complicated legacy. Why this conversation must be
Plus, leadership amid political gridlock. New Hampshire's Republican Governor Chris Sununu tells Walter Isaacson he doesn't want to be just a
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York. It's been a busy week trying to avert war in Europe and ongoing efforts to pass
meaningful legislation here in the United States. So tonight, we focus on how the world of culture and entertainment is taking on two huge issues.
First, a reminder that there is none bigger than the existential global climate catastrophe. And my first guest actor Meryl Streep and director
Adam McKay are addressing that head on with a stellar cast and a biting satire.
The latest Netflix hit movie Don't Look Up follows two scientists begging the powers that be to take action to avoid a world ending disaster. Only
for they're pleased to fall on deaf ears. Sound familiar? Here's some of the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEONARDO DICAPRIO, AMERICAN ACTOR AND FILM PRODUCER: We discovered a very large comet.
STREEP: Oh, good for you.
JENNIFER LAWRENCE, AMERICAN ACTRESS: It's headed directly towards earth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This comment is what we call a planet killer.
STREEP: At this exact moment I say we sit tight and assess.
DICAPRIO: Sit tight and assess?
LAWRENCE: Sit tight --
JONAH HILL, AMERICAN ACTOR: And then assess. The sit tight part comes first and you got to digest it. That's the assessment period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep occupies the Oval Office as President Orlean, while co-writer and director Adam McKay describes Don't
Look Up as the latest movie in his freakout trilogy, after the Big Short and Vice.
Meryl Streep, Adam McKay, welcome to the program really great to have you on this film is not just a film, but the reaction to the film as a whole
thing as well. So Meryl, let me ask you first because you are obviously the prima donna. But this is a massive ensemble of incredibly big, big power,
huge amount of talent in the cause of something important. I just wondered what you thought about that. And when you saw the whole thing assembled.
STREEP: I think it goes to it takes a village, it takes, you know, a constellation of stars to, I guess make people pay attention or something.
I feel like I was just so lucky to be in this gang of brilliant actors under Adam's direction because, you know, it just -- it's such a complex
problem. It's something that I've thought about for so long, and not really known how to bring it forward through, you know, a movie. And Adam figured
that out. He, as Leo says, he cracked the code and figured out, you know, to give it a timeline, to make it a comment. So, I thought it was
AMANPOUR: You sort of refer to it as part of your freakout trilogy, or maybe others refer to it as that. How did you decide that this existential
issue for, you know, for us, for humanity, how did you crack the code?
ADAM MCKAY, DIRECTOR AND CO-WRITER, "DON'T LOOK UP": You know, it wasn't that complicated. I tried a bunch of different ideas. I came up with about
five different premises on how to deal with the climate crisis, the impending climate crisis. And ultimately, it came from a friend of mine
who's a journalist who offhandedly made a comment about how it's like we're in the movie Armageddon, only no one cares that the asteroids going to hit
and it just made me laugh.
And I realized when you're laughing, there's a built in truth detector, it's very hard to get people to laugh at, you know, corporate propaganda,
ad double talk. And I thought, oh, yes, this is something I've done for a while. And then the second phase was that we would play with the way that
you hear the story that the story would not follow the traditional Hollywood first second third act progression, and it would end very
differently than the movies we watched. And at that point, I was hooked.
AMANPOUR: And how did you get such a huge ensemble? I mean, did you get Marilyn board? And everybody else flowed from that? Or how did you get them
all to agree?
MCKAY: I mean, it was a lot of grainy black and white footage, photographs of them behaving inappropriately in their personal lives. A straight up
AMANPOUR: I don't know what you had on Meryl?
MCKAY: Some rough stuff, some rough stuff. It was from the late -- the late 90s.
AMANPOUR: I guess, Meryl, have you long been, I mean, has -- you are -- you do activism, you have particular areas that you're passionate about in your
life. When did it occur to you that the climate was something, you know, you wanted to use your talent to try to, to bring notice to?
STREEP: Well, I have to say, I've been sort of in the weeds of other issues for a long time. And it took me a while to realize that all things flow
from this, all things flow from our existential crisis that we're in. Every question of injustice is tied to inequity. Everything comes from our
ability to sustain and for our kids to be able to live.
And right now, the way that the system is set up mitigates against that ever, ever happening. And the problem just seems so complex, that we, it's
easier to spend time on other individual injustices and work towards that. But really, this is the one. This is the one.
And I think part of the reason that it's so difficult for all of us to come to terms with it is that our attention is fractured into pixels of
information. And we're so -- and that's sort of what the film is about as well, is our inability to prioritize, and to make a list, we just need the
will. It's like that quote, when we have the pessimism of the intellect, but we need the optimism of will. And that's the only way you'll take
AMANPOUR: And to that end, you know, your characters, Adam, that you've written, and, you know, you put front and center of this a really, I mean,
very, very funny, and particularly Meryl, you are the president at the time, President Orlean, your son played by Jonah Hill as your chief of
staff. And we're going to play just a little, you know, a little clip to set to -- set out where we are. And this is where you're being told of the
impending, you know, disaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This comet is what we call a planet-killer.
DICAPRIO: That is correct.
STREEP: So how certain is this?
DICAPRIO: There's 100 percent certainty of impact.
STREEP: Please don't say 100 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we just call it a potentially significant event.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LAWRENCE: But it isn't potentially going to happen. It is going to happen.
DICAPRIO: Exactly. 99.78 percent to be exact.
HILL: Oh, great. OK, so it's not 100 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, scientists never like to say 100 percent.
STREEP: Call it 70 percent. And let's just -- let's move on.
LAWRENCE: But it's not even close to 70 percent.
STREEP: You cannot go around saying to people that there's 100 percent chance that they're going to die. You know, it's nuts. We should get some
of our scientists on this, you know, no offense, but you're just two people that walked in here with
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Oglethorpe.
STREEP: Dr. Oglethorpe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Obviously, there's Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as the astrophysicist, the science -- scientists involved. Meryl, what did you
base that very cynical sort of anti-expert president on, be honest now.
STREEP: Well, we have so many examples, currently in the public eye. Mostly I was interested in barrel curls. I've never had barrel curls and they seem
to be anywhere right now. And those bright red colors and I don't know.
I do think it's just, we are ridiculous. I see we -- I see myself in this. It's not pointing a finger at anybody but, you know, who's not paying
attention. And I felt that way even having made the movie even though I made my parts and then I'd go home and forget about it, and then go back to
But when I saw the film itself, it had such an impact on me and I took my kids and they were just devastated. I think you look at the world
differently. And you assess you think, well, now I have to do something. I'm Eve I've eaten the apple, and I can't go back. So we can't unknow what
we know as, you know.
AMANPOUR: Meryl has skillfully deflected my question, who did you base how character as president on?
MCKAY: Well, you know, the last 40 years in the U.S. have not been a great 40 years. So, you know, there's a little bit of everyone in there. There's
the blinding narcissism of the last president. There's the dangerously unqualified resume of W. Bush. There's the sleazy sort of used car
salesman, armchairs, kind of quality of Bill Clinton, they're all mixed in there.
And I think what it points to more is that it's -- we're really being kind of scammed by this red versus blue paradigm. And if you really look at the
last 40 years, it doesn't really track with that. It really tracks with big money, and big money taking over our democracy.
So I think Meryl did an expert job. And being a little smarter than the last president being a little smoother, like the President in the 90s,
being kind of incompetent like the President in the early aughts, maybe even a little pinch of the sort of performative quality of the president
before the orange one, as I call him.
So, I, you know, hopefully this movie, you know, it's about the climate crisis. It's a comedy, but hopefully, it starts to wake people up to the
fact that we're in the throes of much larger dynamics than the red versus blue tribalism we're being sold every day.
AMANPOUR: And Meryl, you said, you took some of your look from what you see as anchor people right now. I think you also skewering the media that we
don't take this seriously enough?
STREEP: I think it's all too human, isn't it? That we, you sort of, it's -- A, it's bad for business. I mean, to really think about this, if we really
applied ourselves it would be not fun. And the idea of, at some point, news became entertainment. And so when it's not fun, people just turn it off.
And the advertisers goes.
CATE BLANCHETT, AUSTRALIAN ACTOR AND PRODUCER: Wow, that's, you know, just something we do around here. You know, we just keep the bad news light.
TYLER PERRY, AMERICAN ACTOR: Right. It helps the medicine go down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STREEP: And if there's one thing that I hope that movie does is like, I hope that it reaches the mothers of the wives and the grandmothers who are
married to the people who sit on the 100 corporation boards and 100 corporations that are responsible for most of the carbon emissions, and to
say to them, your husband's driving a car, all the kids are in the back. And he's driving it straight for a cliff. And you're in the front seat. So
you have to grab the wheel. Because these boards are mostly men and they are not thinking about their grandchildren. And if the movie can't get to
them, I will I hope it does.
AMANPOUR: I wonder whether you was surprised Adam, sort of polarizing reaction to it. It's one of the most successful films that Netflix has ever
had. 350 million viewing hours so far, they say, the second most successful film. And yet, it was -- it got kind of weird reviews from the critics.
Adam, what was your initial reaction to that?
MCKAY: Yes, you know, I think it's all very healthy. I think, you know, the response from the public at large from the hundreds of millions of people
that saw it was overwhelmingly positive. But I also understand that we're living in very difficult confusing times. Right now we're in a hinge point
in human history, where we are as an empirical fact destroying the livable climate at an increasing rate and it's happening much faster than we
thought it would.
So the idea of doing a movie that's about how we've kind of gaslit each other for profit under the guise as Meryl said of everything's fine.
Look at these advertisements. Everything's normal. The idea that we would do a movie that's an absurd comedy, but also a drama, and that would draw
out split responses. You know, it didn't surprise me at all. And in fact, I think it's healthy to feel that kind of response.
AMANPOUR: One of the reviewers of the reviewers in the FT in the UK pointed out that, you know, the problem is us, faced with a planet killer of an
event, we have two big holes in the argument. And so, you know, people like Michael Mann, who I think is a friend of yours, Adam, and we've had him on
our program. So many times one of the preeminent climate scientists, he has said, this isn't just a funny film, it's a serious sociopolitical
commentary posing as comedy. "Don't Look Up" is indisputably a cautionary tale about the climate crisis in the form of inventive and genre bending
That's pretty good. That's kind of a great comment from the one of the preeminent climate scientists.
MCKAY: Yes, it's cool. I mean, the movie definitely touched a lot of people. And as I said, it's sort of about how our economy gaslights
segments of the world and tends to lean towards the big corporations, the 100 corporations that do most of the polluting, and it makes sense, if you
think about it, they paid for the advertising. They're the ones who a lot of these conglomerates own the media.
So it makes sense that you would have this clash between the economy of everything's fine, and the reality. But I think the thing that struck all
of us, all the actors like Meryl, and Leo and Jen and Tyler Perry that gathered for this movie, is people on the ground feel the reality. And that
was one of the most heartening things about this movie.
AMANPOUR: So I want to ask you, Meryl, I read that when you went for your first session at the, you know, at the studios after quite a long time in
isolation, you know, it was quite difficult and you walked in. And I think it's -- there was a -- you sort of confronted by your voice on a big -- on
big megaphones on microphones there were a lot of people that, and you sort of almost lost it. Can you explain that?
STREEP: Adam wrote it a year before and they were scouting the locations for it when COVID became a thing. And so we sort of were usurped the
metaphor that we're trying to talk about global warming was usurped by the pandemic, but anti-science is permeates both subjects. So that was
But living in the, I think, living through the quarantine and right now as we confront Omicron and its new variations, geez, like we need another,
it's beginning to dawn on us that the things are not going to change, that this is maybe shifting our weight and accommodating ourselves to these
virulent dangers or is just kind of be how we're going to live.
I found it so disconcerting to be isolated for that long and then walk into what used to be my playground, you know, a film set where you play around.
I was a masked. And then I had a plastic thing. And for the rehearsals, and then we'd take them off and try to be human and it was really hard,
especially when I was trying to be President Orlean, who's barely, you know, she's a gargoyle.
But yes, I found it really, really disconcerting. It wasn't that I didn't know how to act. It was like I didn't know how to be human anymore. You
know, walking into that situation.
AMANPOUR: And Meryl, there's a scene at the end of the film in which you are naked. I mean, were you really naked? Or is it a bodysuit? I don't
know. But Leo DiCaprio, gosh, I called him Leo -- Leonardo DiCaprio was said to be quite sorry to see your lower back tattoo. Your film royalty for
him. And he was a little bit, you know, worried about that familiarity?
STREEP: Oh, that's so sweet. Yes, no, it was someone else's backside.
MCKAY: It's actually my aunt. My aunt Nancy from Indiana stepped in. And she happened to have a lower back tattoo.
AMANPOUR: OK. I don't believe you.
MCKAY: And (INAUDIBLE) profile, so.
AMANPOUR: Is that true?
STREEP: Don't believe him.
MCKAY: No, it's not.
AMANPOUR: Me I'm like --
MCKAY: That is not true.
AMANPOUR: -- you know, jump. Wonderful. Meryl Streep, thank you so much. Adam McKay, thank you so much, Don't Look Up.
So culture can often be on the cutting edge for social change for good and for bad. And next, a bold look into the deeply troubling world of sexual
assault, accountability and taking women seriously. And in this case, a horribly complicated legacy. Bill Cosby had an enormous impact on American
and black culture. In public, he was seen as a moral exemplar.
But accusations by more than 60 women of drugging and sexual assault revealed a prolific predator who finally ended up in court and for a while
in jail, accusations that Cosby continues to deny. And now fellow comedian W. Kamau Bell wrestles with that both brilliant and toxic history in his
new series, "We Need to Talk About Cosby." It's a difficult conversation, especially for a black man. But Bell tells me that it is an absolutely
necessary conversation. Kamau Bell, welcome back to the program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
W. KAMAU BELL, DIRECTOR, "WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT COSBY": Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So we need to talk about Cosby. What more do we need to talk about him? There's been a huge amount the whole world practically knows
what he's been and what he's done. Why did you want to do this?
BELL: You know, for me, I think a lot of the Cosby conversations happen in sort of separate silos. There's the conversation with people who just want
to talk about his legacy. There's a conversation people who want to focus on the accusations of assault and rape, which I totally understand. But to
me there, I felt like if we combine these conversations and try to learn some bigger lesson from all of it, this is a tremendous opportunity.
AMANPOUR: Let's talk about the first lesson. And that is you laid out his pretty revolutionary trailblazing career as a comedian in America. What did
you want people to know? And you describe yourself as a child of Cosby as a comedian, black comedian?
BELL: You know, I think that, you know, there are people -- my mom is the exact same age as Bill Cosby. So she saw his whole career, has seen his
whole thing play out. And she, like him was an adult, because it was a major, he first came out. But then there's people who were in less than 30,
who were sort of like, why are they making a big deal about this guy? Why wouldn't he he's been accused of all these horrible things, why wouldn't
you just let him go.
And so a big part of this is part of all my work is the education piece that like for you to understand why this was so hard for people. Let me
take you back to how this started and why this was such a big deal. And even for someone like me, who I come into the picture all the time, he did
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, but I didn't really know I Spy. I didn't understand how he'd broken into late night television. I didn't understand
that Dick Gregory led the way for him to break on late-night television. So it's lot of history there that I felt like, if we don't tell the stories,
we're going to lose some important pieces of history.
AMANPOUR: So specifically, I mean, he's got a big career. So I don't know whether you can distill it. But what makes him so important in the
landscape of this career.
BELL: So I mean, specifically, Dick Gregory becomes the first black comedian on late-night television on Jack Paar. Cosby follows Dick Gregory
so that's -- that he's like, you know, among the first after Dick Gregory, but specifically on I Spy, Bill Cosby becomes the first co-lead of a of a
dramatic show in the United States, and he wins the best acting Emmy three years in a row. So it's like, I mean, that was -- what he got, maybe
wouldn't impress us now. But then it was like it was unheard of. He was basically Sidney Poitier on television.
AMANPOUR: And then with the Cosby Show, which I remember watching --
AMANPOUR: -- religiously, he was termed what America's dad?
BELL: Yes. And I think it's important when he says in the doc, you know, for a black man to be called America's Dad, it still would be a big deal,
especially in the 80s. When all the other images not -- many of the other images of black people on TV are of us being arrested, oppressed or running
from the police or something were criminalized. But Cosby is on TV as America's dad. And I think again, that's one of the things that like, if
you list the biggest hits sitcoms of all time, it's just on that list, but you don't know the cultural impact it had that other hits it comes down
AMANPOUR: And then of course, I was interested, because right from the first episode, you lay out this incredible career. And by the way, I found
it also interesting that he wasn't overtly a campaigner for civil rights. Unlike Dick Gregory, who just made it his business --
AMANPOUR: -- when he got the platform. Cosby did it in a different way.
BELL: Yes, Dick Gregory basically gave up his career for many years to just fight for civil rights and to go to protest and advocate. Whereas Cosby and
Roland Martin talks about this was doing a lot of things behind the scenes. On the set of I Spy, it's his first TV show. He's his first black guy to do
this, he's got this big opportunity, and they're going to do stunts for him. And he sees a white stuntman getting painted black, not brown, black,
and that guy was going to do a stunt for him. And apparently, from all accounts, Bill Cosby said, I refuse to work on the show unless you give me
an African American or a black stunt man.
AMANPOUR: What I was also struck by is at the very beginning, you said that a lot of people just did not want to have this conversation about, did not
want to talk about Bill Cosby and you talked about the few brave people to whom you very grateful. Why did they not want to have this conversation?
BELL: I want to be clear, I think a lot of people didn't want to have the conversation. Maybe some of them didn't want to have it with me. I think a
lot of people who even on the record with believing the survivors feel like every time they talk about it, it just stirs up a hornet's nest of trouble.
It divides people. And if you're especially if you're black performer or a black public figure, you sort of know that if you talk about Cosby, no
matter what side of the issue on or how nuanced you try to be, you're going to lose some members of your audience who are black, as I'm finding out
AMANPOUR: There was one particular and this is now we're going further down into the series, one woman who talks about, you know, she accuses him of
rape and sexual assault and drugging her, her name is Victoria, and we're going to play this soundbite from the series here.
VICTORIA VALENTINO, BILL COSBY ACCUSER: Here had taken advantage of my grief and had no compassion, no empathy. He didn't care. I was just the
sacrificial lamb. I was collateral damage. He didn't get what he wanted from my roommate. So he took it out on me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did your roommate have any idea what it happened? Or does he ever question what you said happening to her?
VALENTINO: Well, I don't think I ever told her the details because I was so humiliated. I was so ashamed.
AMANPOUR: So she's talking about, you know, having lost her son. And, you know, he was, well, she was very upset about the whole thing, but
particularly that it happened there. When you started to listen to these testimonies, as you were interviewing people, not just what you'd heard on,
you know, television in the past. How did it make you feel?
BELL: I mean, you know, that was the first survivor interview we did. I was very nervous about how do I talk to this person? You know, I was aware that
we didn't want to just have her show up and tell talk about the Cosby part, we want her to talk about her whole life.
But the thing I learned from that day with the survivors who talked to me for the series is they're not really owned by the story in the way that
they're sometimes portrayed in the media. Like the saddest part, the part where she cried was about her son who died, not about Cosby.
And I think that like, that's what was important for me to sit down and go, the things I've taken in from their portrayals of the media, even if and
what I think I've taken in because maybe I haven't focused well enough, it -- I want to make sure that we show the human is three-dimensional human
beings who are not just their moments or relationship to Cosby.
AMANPOUR: And then you talk to a lot of press people who were active at that time, his rise, his celebrity, and during the fall. And that I also
found really interesting because when particularly black journalists, or black editors, for instance of Ebony and the rest, you know, they came
under a lot of pressure when they tried to tell the story. Explain that. What was the situation within the black community because it came from the
black community, the pressure?
BELL: You know, well, Cosby had been a standard of the highest level of black excellence before we even had the term black excellence and common
parlance. He was just a paragon of virtue of morality, of philanthropy, of community building. And so and for so many of us, by the time you get to
the through the Cosby Show, he'd been with us for our whole lives like somebody like me.
So when the story starts to come out, the allegations starts to come out, it just becomes as Jelani Cobb sort of too much to countenance. The bridge
between America's dad to accused of sexually assaulting raping over 60 women, it just became too much. And for some of us, we chose sides, you
know, and I think the, for many people, because we are in a deficit of black role models in society, always, Cosby becomes too valuable to lose
even if you believe these things happen.
AMANPOUR: And we've actually seen that with others. I mean, R. Kelly and the initial response is to say no, not in our community, you know --
AMANPOUR: -- and don't touch. So again, I was really struck by the fact that it was a black comedian, Hannibal Burress, whose stick on stage
basically went viral and started the public awareness of the dark side. Describe that.
BELL: You know, so I know him a little bit. We're friendly. Hopefully, we're still friendly after this comes out. But Hannibal was on stage. It
was sort of a perfect storm. Hannibal Burress, who was an up and coming comedian in the public sphere was onstage in Philadelphia, doing his act.
And at some point, I don't know, we don't have the footage, the whole show, but at some point he started talking about Bill Cosby, and talks about how
-- that he's frustrated by Bill Cosby.
At that point, also being a public scold of black people of the most oppress black people, of the most low income black people, while also
claiming to be America's dad, while also raping women is what Hannibal puts it that talks about the accusations of rape.
And you can feel the crowd, again this is Philly, be like what oh, no, there's sort of this. And for a lot of us, we are like, I had heard of
these accusations. But I hadn't put all these pieces together. And then just again, perfect storm, there's reporting the back, Hannibal start
talking about Cosby in Philadelphia. This reporter pulls out his cell phone with the worst cell phone camera ever because it's 2014.
And puts that online and that thing goes viral. And it's this, again, a perfect storm of like, as Hannibal says in the series in the piece that we
use from archival from the sway in the Morning Show, it wasn't even a finished bit. But the most important thing Hannibal does in that that as he
says, when you go home, Google Bill Cosby and rape, there are more results for that than Hannibal Buress.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: It is actually extraordinary that piece. And then I think the thing that just -- the bit that just struck me was when
Cosby himself goes on a lot of basically, you know, established television shows whether it's Larry King Live, whether it's Charlie Rose, whether it's
-- I don't know -- The Today Show, and he starts talking about and boasting about this thing called Spanish fly.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to play the clip from Larry King, which was so iconic in this regard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL COSBY, COMEDIAN: You know what I think about Spanish fly?
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: When we were kids, we used --
COSBY: There you go. There you go. That's all. I just wanted a recognition.
COSBY: Spanish fly.
KING: And we knew what it was.
COSBY: Spanish fly was the thing that all boys, at from age 11 on up to death. We will still be searching for Spanish fly.
KING: Got you.
COSBY: And what was the old? The old story was if you took a little drop, that it was on the head of a --
KING: That's right. Drop it in a Coca-Cola. It didn't matter.
COSBY: It didn't make it and the girl would drink it and --
KING: And she's yours.
COSBY: -- hello, America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's a massive signpost but the two of them are yucking it up, including the interviewer. And it was almost -- he was, I mean, he was
outing himself. Although to be fair, many people said Spanish fly was just an aphrodisiac. What did they know then and when did they know it? And why
were they all sort of complicit in this rah, rah yuck, yuck about this?
BELL: I mean, we talked about this in episode one of the series. There is a culture in the media of -- whether it's Hollywood or the media, we're all
of a boys club. And especially the further you go back in time in America, the more boys are in that club, and the less women are in that club. And
the more it's white men in that club, and then Cosby gets in, he's a special black guy to get in that club.
And so, it's one of those things where they don't even know not to do the locker room talk, just in the locker room. And I think we've seen that
across culture. We've seen that with, you know, with even a president in this country that they don't -- that they are doing the thing that they do,
and because they're so powerful, and they've done this in front of so many people, and they sort of talk this way, they are forgetting that maybe this
is not the form to do that.
And also, at that point, Cosby had been -- it's was the height of the -- you know, this was like him on the height of the Cosby Show on the -- that
he feels all powerful, I believe. And I think it's really -- a lot of the series is really about how rape culture works to perpetuate stereotypes,
and to break women into body parts instead of -- in full instead of fully formed human beings. And so then men feel like they can get away with a lot
of things. And we can laugh it off, not knowing that they're -- some of these men, they're actually telling on themselves.
AMANPOUR: Telling on themselves. I thought that was very revealing that one of your interviewees said. And I want to play another clip from one of the
victims because it did turn -- it looked at the beginning as if it was just white women who have been preyed on. But here's what one of the victims
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LILI BERNARD, BILL COSBY ACCUSER: OK, so people think that it's a conspiracy, right? That a bunch of white women are trying to take Bill
Cosby down. Well, a third of us, of his public survivors are black women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So I guess fast forward, forward, forward, and he gets convicted. And he gets put in jail. And he serves how long?
BELL: He served, I believe, three years.
AMANPOUR: OK, so three years was the low end of his term of his conviction. So he could have got out, but then he did get out. That was pretty shocking
to a lot of the women and it happened in the midst of your shooting. What - - how did you recoup? How did you carry on this series when the story has such a twist and turn at the very end?
BELL: I mean, not only were we filming, we're filming in Philadelphia that day, and it was our last day of filming, which it ended up not being for
obvious reasons. I mean, I just remember feeling so much sorrow and sadness and empathy for the survivors. Because they -- because they're been talking
with Cosby getting paroled. But then it was clear Cosby wasn't going to do any of the rehab work to get paroled early. And so they thought, well, he's
going to be in there for 10 years. So he will spent the rest of his life in prison, or he will come out as a very, very old man.
And so nobody saw that coming. And I just remember feeling so much sorrow. And as I say in the film, I didn't know what the film was anymore. Like,
what are we doing here? After a couple days, meaning the producers, you know, looked at it and said, really, the story doesn't change that
dramatically. The stakes are raised. Somewhat, it feels like a dangerous way because now he's out again, and all the Cosby defenders are going to
But it was, honestly, I would gone too far. There's a line that Kiernan Mayo says in the series, that she was basically repeating what I said, the
only way out is through. We had gone too deep. I could not put the survivor interviews on the shelf and not respect the time they'd given to us. So we
had to keep going.
AMANPOUR: Again, he did serve the minimum time that he was convicted and they did overturn it on a technicality which many of the victims were very,
very upset about.
BELL: Yes, it's about -- I mean, it was overturned. It's basically like back room legal dealing that went wrong. As Michael Cord (ph) says, a good
decision for a bad man.
AMANPOUR: And finally, so we asked the PR team for a response to your series. And they did and they call it, the official response to PR hack W.
Kamau Bell's Showtime documentary. And it reads in part, "Mr. Cosby has spent more than 50 years standing with the excluded, made it possible for
some to be included. He's standing with the disenfranchised, and standing with those women and men who were denied respectful work because of race or
gender within the expanses of the entertainment industry. Let us talk about Bill Cosby. Mr. Cosby continues to be the target of numerous media that
have, for too many years, distorted and omitted truths intentionally." And then they refer to his overturning of the conviction.
What do you --
BELL: Which is not about -- the conviction overturning was not about his guilt or innocence. Let's be clear about that. It was about there was a
backroom deal that was made between lawyers that was in -- that somebody then went backwards on the backroom deal. And that's what got him out.
There was not about weighing in on his guilt, for instance.
AMANPOUR: So in response to this, media intentionally lies, et cetera. What's your response to their response? And what's your final hope for
where this series lands? And what it does?
BELL: I mean, my response to their response is, I hope you tune in because I think you'll learn a lot.
AMANPOUR: And I guess for everybody.
BELL: Yes. And I think, ultimately, and then what I hope for this series, you know, the thread of this series is that it's bigger than Bill Cosby.
Bill Cosby is this the most compelling case for me to talk about because he's a black man who was born in Bill Cosby's America, who grew up to
become a stand-up comedian, who tried to model how he did good onstage and offstage after some aspect of Bill Cosby's career.
You know, it's the most compelling case of like, what's going on in this world? What's going on in this industry? And for me, the thing this film
really wants to do is lead us to have discussions afterward, which should be basically focused on how do we create a world that is safer for
survivors of sexual assault. It's not about -- we always focus on the one bad man in this situation, but we have to focus on the structures in the
AMANPOUR: W. Kamau Bell, thank you.
BELL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And we need to talk about Cosby, will premiere on Showtime this Sunday, January 30th at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
As we said, President Biden continues trying to navigate the political gridlock in Washington. And now the Republican Governor of New Hampshire
Chris Sununu explains why he doesn't want to contribute to the paralysis over policy. He believes that most Senate Republicans intend to do nothing
but block the Democrats agenda. The Governor joins Walter Isaacson to lay out why he will not be running for the U.S. Senate this year.
WALTER ISAACSON, CHAIR AND CEO, CNN: Thank you, Christiane. And Governor Chris Sununu, welcome to the show.
CHRIS SUNUNU, NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: Well, thank you. I'm very excited to be here. How are you doing, Walter?
ISAACSON: Pretty good, pretty good. You just decided not to run for the Senate and to say, as Governor, we actually can do something. And I think
that you talk to some of your Republican colleagues. Here's a quote, it says they were content with the speed at which they weren't doing anything.
They made it clear. They just had to hold out for two years.
And you said, so I'm not at that person to be a roadblock for two years. That's not what I do. Why have things gotten so paralyzed and so polarized
in Washington these days?
SUNUNU: Sure. Well, look, it's a great question. And to be fair, that comment applies to all 100 U.S. senators. Frankly, it's not -- I was
talking to Republicans at the time. But I think we can all agree, I'm just sharing the sentiments of most Americans, frankly, that we want stuff done.
And when we elect people, when we hire them to do a job, we might not agree with every policy and every position. But at the end of the day, you got to
move the ball forward. I love being a governor. It is one of the most challenging things you could ever imagine. But it can also be one of the
most fulfilling because you connect with individuals, you connect with people, businesses, kids, schools.
You see where the system work. Where it didn't work. Where we can fix it. How to design a new system. How to make it better. How to balance the
budget. I love that stuff. It's not easy, but I really do love that connection it brings. And it's no secret Washington doesn't have that
ISAACSON: And why? What's causing that polarization in Washington now?
SUNUNU: OK, let's jump right into it. I think one of the biggest problems is the media. And not because I agree or disagree with one opinion or the
other but I think the media. Let's take a step back. I think social media early on realized there was a lot of money to be made in the fight. And the
example I give is when, you know, you're in the fifth grade and you hear there's going to be a fight at 3:00 between, you know, two bullies in the
Where does everyone show up? They show up in the schoolyard. They want to watch the fight. Well, social media realize this early on and they really
pounded in and almost encouraged a lot of that polarization, right? People had a voice to kind of scream and shout and be negative.
And mainstream media, not PBS, but we'll call it mainstream media, really caught up a few years ago and realized the polarization is how we make
money. And so, what that really drove was individuals, I think, in Washington on both sides of the aisle that, frankly, spent 80 percent of
their time trying to get on television, as opposed to 80 percent of the time trying to deliver results.
And they can do that. They can be successful in their own way doing that. That's not the way I roll. It's really not. And so I thought about kind of
being a new voice. I tend to be -- I still -- I'm 47, I still consider myself pretty young for this business. And I thought, well, maybe I'll go
to Washington and try to be a new voice and bring some collaboration.
But at the end of the day, I saw, you know, Democrats didn't, you know, work -- trying to be a roadblock in 17, 18 and 19 and 20. Republicans seem
to, you know, be trying to just hold the line. Now, I got to get stuff done.
Public service is hard. It's really hard on family. There's a lot of scrutiny on it. It can really take a tax in a toll on you. So if I'm going
to make those sacrifices, I'm going to ask my friends and family to make those sacrifices. And then we'll going to get something done in meantime.
ISAACSON: One of the things that we've learned through this coronavirus crisis is how hard it is to balance the need for public health and the need
to keep the economy and schools and everything open. Why do we get that balance wrong? And how can we fix that?
SUNUNU: I got to be frank, I don't think we've gotten wrong in New Hampshire. I really think the solution is not a national balance, because
there isn't such a thing, right? Every state is different.
Look at Massachusetts, it's 30 miles to my south and they're so fundamentally different than New Hampshire. What their needs are, how their
schools are managed, how their businesses can be managed, what their dynamics are, it's all very different. And so, Massachusetts should design
Massachusetts solution. New York, California, Arizona, also different than New Hampshire.
When you let states have the flexibility of that design, they can create the balance, because the key to balance is listening to your constituents.
The key to balance is listening to the needs of the business where it's working, where doesn't work. Have a feedback response system, a changing
dynamic that isn't just so static, one-size-fits-all out of Washington, but can say, you know what, our small cities in New Hampshire work this way.
Our rural communities work that way.
The Southern Tier works one way. The northern part of my state up on the Canadian border works another. That's so different than any other state. I
would never try to tell another state what their balance should be or what their formula should be. And so that's really the key to getting the
balance. And that's why I think when governors are given them more flexibility as a nation, that's actually how we have more success.
ISAACSON: President Biden recently kind of agreed with you, said more should be done at the state level, we should push it there. What would you
like to have him push down to the state level?
SUNUNU: Well, I got to tell you that was an amazing when he said -- I was on a zoom call when he said it. And I think we all took a breath, and when
even Democrat governors were like, wow, this would be great. You know, we really have not had with this administration the flexibility we had with
the previous administration. There's various reasons for that.
But, I mean, ultimately, let me give you a quick example. They provided $180 million rental relief program for New Hampshire. Same program for all
the different states. I mean, I think billions of dollars for a couple other states. And I said, look, rental really isn't our top priority here,
but building more housing is, right? Achieving that goal of housing and you build more housing, the costs come down, you have more open market, but New
Hampshire's economy is so strong, people are moving in so fast.
We want to spur the development of new workforce housing. You know, for the teachers and the nurses and just the average worker out there. And I've
been begging the Department of Treasury. And I got a letter yesterday saying no, no, you can only use rental relief, you can't use these unspent
dollars on, you know, building more a workforce housing, which doesn't make much sense to me, right?
We have a workforce housing. We're trying to solve a workforce housing crisis. But we can't do what we need.
Look, maybe in New York or California or another state, rental relief is the top priority, might not be for us. So that's just one example of where
I think we can make huge strides when you let states to design their own systems.
ISAACSON: One of the things has been nationalized is an attempt to have vaccine mandates. Now, you've been vaccinated, you've been booster shotted,
yet you don't think there should be a vaccine mandate or businesses should be allowed to put a vaccine mandate on their employees. Why is that?
SUNUNU: Well, no, just to be very clear. I don't believe in a government mandate. If a business wants to create a mandate, that's absolutely their
choice. I -- and I fully support that because that was the rule before the pandemic. Businesses have always had the ability to say, I want my
employees vaccinated. That's going to be my choice. Because you know what, it's their business.
It shouldn't be the government telling them they can't do that or a hospital, right? That's a private organization. It's their business,
whether they want to implement a vaccine mandate. That is part of the game.
Now when the government forces it on a business or forces it on an individual, whole different ballgame. Now the government is telling you how
to manage your own health choices, and whatnot. And that just gets -- that's just somewhere I fundamentally don't agree.
I absolutely --
ISAACSON: You all have had a pretty good success in New Hampshire --
SUNUNU: Doing great.
ISAACSON: -- getting people vaccinated. Tell me how you did it.
SUNUNU: Good messaging, making sure folks had the data. They weren't -- we weren't just saying, listen to the governor, the governor says you must.
That's not how we roll here. We do it with a very positive attitude. We show all the data behind it. We encourage people to talk to their doctors,
and we get very out in front of it in a very aggressive way. Not a negative aggressive way, but a really a positive way.
We have commercials and ads, and we really encourage people to talk. We were on the forefront, and all of New England was on the forefront of the
COVID pandemic back in 2020. We really felt at heart here, but we managed really, really well. And we provided a lot of opportunity and flexibility,
not the government saying, you thou shalt not do this. But saying, here's the opportunity we can create so that your customer feels comfortable
coming in the door, your employees feel comfortable so you can maintain them as employees and businesses have the flexibility to do that.
In the case of businesses back in 2020, we let them decide the guidelines and the protocols that they wanted to use. And then myself and our
epidemiologists and our Department of Public Health would adjust it to make sure it really melt -- met health standards. But allowing those businesses
be the designers of their own guidelines was an immense opportunity in the state.
Now, if I may, on the same side, I don't think the government should ever tell a business you can't mandate a vaccine. Again, the government is just
telling people who they can hire and fire. No way. I'm a business guy. I ran a ski resort for a number of years. I had 800 employees.
If the government ever tried to come in and tell me who I could hire and fire and why and on vaccines, that's just -- that's definitely not right
for the (INAUDIBLE) state, I don't think is right for the country. And I think we've struck that the right balance,
ISAACSON: You say that the vaccine was a game changer. Of course, you got vaccinated. You had your booster shot. As a leader, you know, you set an
example for the people. And do you feel that other leaders, other governors should be more forthright and say, yes, I believe that these vaccines are
working. Here's why, and I recommend you get them.
SUNUNU: Absolutely. Look, the vaccine works. The booster is a vital important -- a vitally important part of that. And from a leadership
perspective, you have to lead by example. I just always believe in that.
Now, look, if a governor firmly doesn't believe that the vaccine works, that's their choice. I mean, I would tell them to do something they don't
fundamentally believe in, but they're wrong. I mean, it does work. The boosters are important. And you just have to lead by example. There's no
question about that.
And, you know, you have to do it. I don't mean to keep going back to this and sound almost hokey about it. But you have to do it with some
positivity. You have to do saying, look, this is a scary time for individuals. We're going to connect with your empathy on it and empathize
with that fear that a lot of families are -- were feeling both before we had the vaccine, and then during the vaccine, saying, gee, what does this
mean? You're asking me to give my child a shot of an unknown thing?
You know, most people, virtually everyone in the country has given their kids a vaccine in one way or another already, right? We don't expect
everyone to be, you know, chemists and epidemiologist on every vaccine. So -- but that's why we look at the FDA and the CDC, and they go through their
process. They don't skip steps.
There was an Emergency Use Authorization, and then they got full use authorization. So there is a process that was followed to ensure that these
were safe. And so, you know, that's why it's our job to promote that data, promote that science and say, this is safe, it's effective, that kind of
pushback on all the misinformation out there.
Not ignore it, but, you know, talk about it and say we know there's misinformation out there. But here's the hows and whys around it. Not just
don't just believe me, talk to your doctor, talk to your pediatrician, talk to the real experts in your community that can make sure that they're
dotting the i's crossing the t's and get you a comfortable place to make that decision.
ISAACSON: Across the spectrum at either extremes as sort of this weird paranoid sense about the vaccine that goes all the way from a Robert F.
Kennedy, you know, to a Joe Rogan, to a Tucker Carlson. And, you know, we can argue against that. But somehow it seems to me, push back if I'm wrong,
that a lot of people in your party, leaders, responsible leaders cater a little bit to that paranoid populism, instead of just being upfront and out
there the way you are. Do you think -- why do you think they become somewhat captured by the fear of saying what you just said about vaccines?
SUNUNU: Well, let's be fair. I think both sides of the political spectrum, there are leaders on both sides in the party for different reasons that are
captured by the extremist views. You could say that there are some Republican leaders have tended to go with the anti-vax crowd on the right.
You can talk about some of the Democrat leadership that goes with the ultra-socialist progressive woke stuff on the left.
I don't think that's America on either side, right? And so I think you need leadership that says, you know, I'm a Republican and I stand for X, Y, and
Z. Or I'm a Democrat and I stand for X, Y, and Z but I'm not going to cater to these extremes because those aren't my real constituents.
They're loud. They tend to look very vocal on social media, but they're really just talking in these smaller echo chambers, right? We need to be
forthright about understanding who we represent, what the average citizen is dealing with on a daily basis, and go attack those problems.
ISAACSON: The Biden administration, through a whole lot of possible programs into what's called Build Back Better and then never really could
get much traction. Do you think there's a chance to break it up into bite- sized pieces in which there could be bipartisan consensus on some things? And which of those things might you support? Whether it's early childhood
education, or child tax credits or community colleges?
SUNUNU: Sure. So look, I was not a fan of Build Back Better at all, because it was a massive -- when you -- just as you kind of describe, you have so
many different programs so much money, it was almost too hard to even understand where the dollars were going. And last time I checked, we got 30
trillion in debt. Now, that doesn't mean that we can't take some bite-sized chunks.
If there's some good pieces in there, I have no doubt 100 percent guarantee that you could find consensus across the aisle, bring some Republicans with
you. And it's so important to do that. And, look, I didn't support the President, President President Biden. You know, I didn't vote for the guy.
But I can tell you that the bulk of America did support him with the idea that he would bring his relationships to the table, his moderate approach
to the table, and he would be the one that could reach over to a dozen, two dozen of the Republicans, especially in the Senate, or even the House, use
those -- that relationship connection to build those bridges and get certain pieces done.
And you do that, just as you said, breaking it up into bite-sized chunks, finding what's going to work and what are just the deal breakers. They
there was no attempt to do that, whatsoever. And if I can be a little bit critical, I try to stay positive. But boy, if the Democrat Party spent as
much energy trying to reach across the aisle to Republicans, as they did beating up on Senators Manchin and Sinema, there's no doubt would have
something passed, right?
But boy, they spent all their efforts just saying you all have to be with us because you have a D after your name. It's a very authoritarian
approach. And that's not the American way. So I'm hoping that President Biden can still use those relationships and use that ability to create some
ISAACSON: You'd say that you blame the Democrats are not reaching across the aisle. But it seems that the Republican Party, especially in the
Senate, recently, has just been down the line 100 percent voting no on things. Don't you think there's a problem on that side of the aisle as
SUNUNU: Look, I've said all 100 -- I think all 100 senators, my blame and my criticism of the Senate works on both sides of the aisle. The Democrats
are the leadership position. It's their responsibility to reach across the aisle.
The -- remember, the infrastructure bill got done, because Republicans reached across the aisle and demanded that, look, we pare it back a little
bit, we find a common ground. And that's how that got done. So I'm not just trying to cast blame, but I would cast the same blame on the majority
party, if it were Republicans if they weren't trying to reach across the aisle to get things done. I think there's a responsibility in that.
Now, it doesn't mean everything the Republicans want you to get passed. Of course not. It's called concessions. You know, the minority party doesn't
mean that they have no voice. That is not the American way. They have to have some voice that's why I'm very supportive of the filibuster, as were
the Democrats a couple years ago. And that's why it was designed to make sure that the minority party has some sense of voice.
But when it's all or nothing authoritarian or nothing. And as you talked about with Build Back Better, there really wasn't a whole lot of
concession. It was, you know, it's our way of the highway. If whoever the party is doing that approach, that's just not really the right way. And, of
course, it failed.
So let's take it in chunks. Let's take it in approaches. Let's go grab that low hanging fruit while we can and show America that when they hire us to
do a job as elected officials, we're going to deliver something.
ISAACSON: As you think about the national scene, does what you said about the need for a sensible sort of common sense approach to things, make you
think, all right, maybe you would consider running for president on that platform?
SUNUNU: I don't know. You know, look, one thing I really preach very strongly is, if you're talking about 2020, you're missing the boat. If
you're worried about what's going to happen in 2024, you're missing the boat.
If you're worried about politics, focus on 2022. Inspiring good new candidates to step up with their ideas. Inspiring folks that are part of
that 80 percent, I'll call it that giant middle if you will, not the extremist to say you do have a voice and you do have a pathway for
microphone. That's what we have to.
And as a Republican, I'm very passionate about trying to bring that next generation up, trying to show folks that there is a pathway to be
successful to be a contributor to their community. You know, so I'm just focused on '22. I think there's a huge opportunity for Republicans to win
in '22 because the record right now with Democrats just isn't good. I mean, there's just no two ways to deny that.
ISAACSON: Governor Chris Sununu, thank you so much for being with us.
SUNUNU: This was a lot of fun. Thank you.
ISAACSON: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And that's it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. You can find it at
CNN.com/podcast and on all major podcast platforms. Just search for Amanpour or scan the QR code on your screens right now.
Remember, you can always catch us online and across social media. Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.