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Boris Johnson Under Fire; To Mask or Unmask?; Canadian Trucker Protests Continue. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired February 09, 2022 - 13:00:00   ET




Here's what's coming up.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Right now, our CDC guidance has not changed. We have and continue to recommend masking in areas of high and

substantial transmission.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): To mask or unmask? As Democratic governors get ahead of the CDC on lifting those mandates, we ask top doctors around the

world how best to manage the end of the Omicron wave.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, will the prime minister do the decent thing? Will he reconsider his words, repent and resign?


AMANPOUR: More pressure piling up on Boris Johnson. I asked how long the British prime minister can survive this self-inflicted crisis.


TARA WESTOVER, AUTHOR, "EDUCATED": I started to feel a bit fraudulent, I guess, when people would say, oh, you're proof that absolutely anybody can

do anything.

AMANPOUR: Tara Westover, who wrote the best selling book "Educated" about growing up with survivalist parents, tells Michel Martin why she is not

proof of the American dream.


AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Denmark, Sweden and Norway are all saying goodbye to nearly all COVID restrictions, and the U.K. prime minister, Boris Johnson, signals that he

may soon follow suit. It's a push to begin a new phase of the pandemic, one marked with a return to more normal life and fewer restrictions.

Dr. Anthony Fauci agrees. A new stage is upon us, telling "The Financial Times" we're certainly headed out of the full-blown pandemic phase of


In the U.S., where Omicron cases are plummeting, how to handle the next step is still uncertain, with the CDC and a handful of Democratic governors

seemingly at odds, as ever, a matter of public health all tangled up in politics, as COVID fatigue sets well and truly in.

Here to discuss are infectious disease specialist Dr. Monica Gandhi and former Director of the World Health Organization Dr. Anthony Costello.

Welcome, both, to the program.

Dr. Costello, can I just start with you, because it seems that Europe is formally, well, many countries anyway, just lifting all the restrictions?

And we hear words from the WHO about how things are really going in the right direction.

Do you think this is absolutely correct? Is this what should be happening right now?

DR. ANTHONY COSTELLO, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: No, I think there's a false sense of security right now.

In fact, WHO globally put out a call, I think yesterday, a $16 billion call, for much more money to go into the access to COVID Tools Accelerator

program, which has been grotesquely underfunded, to provide tests, vaccines, treatments. And that sounds a lot of money. It's about 2 percent

of the U.S. defense budget. So it's much less than the world economy loses in a month from this pandemic.

And I think we are lacking solidarity. We're taking this nationalist approach. Yes, we have had the Omicron surge. Yes, cases are starting to

fall, but they're still pretty high. And the death rates are still high.

We have got at the moment 250 to 300 deaths per day in the U.K. You have got around 2,000 deaths per day in the United States. Cases are plateauing.

We have seen many more hospitalizations in children. And I think this idea that it's all over, we have been through this four times before.

I remember three months after Wuhan people saying we have all got herd immunity now. And then we got later that year -- it was all going to be

over by Christmas. We had the Kent virus, the Kent variant, or that became known as Alpha, and then, in India, six months later, the Delta variant and

then, six months later, Omicron variant.

And you are not going to get rid of this virus and its variants unless you really take seriously vaccinating the world. And we're not doing that right


AMANPOUR: OK. That's important.

But, still, the WHO has said that Europe is set for a long period of tranquility. And before I get to the U.S. with Dr. Gandhi, just, Dr.

Costello, it is kind of a fact -- I know you have cited figures -- but Europe is obviously doing a lot better than many of the other parts of the

world, which, scandalously, have not had the same investment or vaccinations.

Is Europe -- can Europe lift this safely right now, I mean Europe?


COSTELLO: Well, again, I think politicians responding to the popular demand to get back to normal. And I understand that.

And I understand but there's talk now in the U.K. about lifting isolation for all infections, which strikes me as dangerous, given that we know that

this is a -- we are seeing waning immunity. And we know that waning immunity occurs with this virus, and Omicron more so than with Delta.

It's only -- after two doses of the vaccine, even Pfizer or Moderna, they're only 50 percent effective within about less than six months, three

to six months. And so you have to have the booster. That takes it up, but not as high of its effectiveness, maybe 85-plus percent, as Delta.

So we have done pretty well on boosters, better than the USA, but you have done much better on vaccinating children.


COSTELLO: But what is going to happen in three months' time?

AMANPOUR: So let me put that to Dr. Gandhi.

The U.S. has done less well on boosters, better on children. And, also, as we said, Omicron cases are plummeting in the U.S. But there does seem to be

still a bit of a disagreement, I guess, again, between some politicians, political leaders, and the CDC.

What would your recommendation be right now to mask or unmask, for instance, as an infectious disease specialist?


I mean, I actually think the U.S. is reflecting what Dr. Costello just said, which is that we are 50 different states. And we are, like, in a way,

the world. We have low vaccination rates in some states. We have very high vaccination rates and other states, like my own California. California

looks a lot more like Denmark.

And, for example, Mississippi does not. And so it's hard for politicians here to message appropriately for 50 different countries, in a way. And the

way that I would think about masking is to use a standard metric across all states. Today, the CDC director still talked about transmission rates.

One problem with looking at case rates is that we're all over the place with that too. Some of our states test a lot more. Some of our states are

not actually recording rapid antigen tests into their case profiles. And a hospitalization metric is much more reliable on when to drop mask mandates,

because hospitalization, severe disease is always what we were trying to prevent with COVID.

It's why we even noticed COVID in December 2019. So I would recommend, for example, an ICU capacity metric that, as long as we're below 80 percent ICU

capacity, that we have still 20 percent ICU capacity, we can drop mask mandates in those states, and set a metric that makes sense for the entire


But you're right. This is a very important time in U.S. history of trying to navigate what Europe's doing and where we still are with our vaccination


AMANPOUR: So, just to illustrate what you have just said, I just want to play what the head of the CDC has said about the current state of affairs

within this moment of debate over the mask mandate.


WALENSKY: Our hospitalizations are still high. Our death rates are still high.

So, as we work towards that, and as we are encouraged by the current trends, we are not there yet.


AMANPOUR: So, I mean, she's confirming what you both told us.

But the question is really, how does one get out of this? Because, as I said, it's not just tangled up in politics, but people are also feeling

fatigue, and many people who see, oh, well, it's OK, I have had the disease, or I have got three vaccines, I'm OK, transmissibility is not so

high where I live.

There is this fatigue. How does public health deal with it in the U.S., Dr. Gandhi, and then around the world from Dr. Costello?

GANDHI: The one thing I'd like to say about what just said -- was said by Dr. Walensky is that something is happening in a phenomenon in terms of us

recording hospitalizations and deaths.

And President Biden just yesterday asked for clarity on which hospitalizations are for COVID or which hospitalizations are because we

swab everyone in the hospital, and we have to isolate them if they have code in their nose, but they're not actually sick from COVID. They're

coming in from multiple other reasons.

The reason that's so tremendously important is it can make vaccine effectiveness look less than it is if we group hospitalizations together

without distinguishing if someone's sick from COVID or not.

And, no, I believe in highly vaccinated regions, because I work in one. Our vaccines are working extremely well and we're nowhere near where we were

before vaccines and before immunity. So, if we clarify hospitalizations and deaths, we will see we're in a much better place in our highly vaccinated

regions. And then we can use a standard metric of when to drop restrictions.

AMANPOUR: And, Dr. Costello, Dr. Gandhi is talking about highly vaccinated regions. And we know that's the case pretty much around the world.


And yet there are still very significant pockets in many parts of the world, including the U.S., where there is not such a vaccinated population.

So, again, how -- we have been -- I mean, to be fair, we have been asking this question for nearly two years now. How does one get a grip on this

pandemic, and go back to some kind of normal life, without having the virtue and the benefit of everybody being vaccinated?

COSTELLO: Well, that's a choice for the world.

I mean, that's why WHO are putting out this call for $16 billion for vaccines. We have known about this for 15 months. To be fair, President

Biden, President Macron, and a number of other countries have called for a vaccine patent waiver, so that we can get more production going on around

the world, and also because the Pfizer, Moderna vaccines require refrigeration in ways that are quite difficult for low-income countries.

But then it got blocked by the U.K., Canada, Japan, and Germany. So there hasn't been agreement on that. The member states have not stepped up to

support WHO, and we have got 5 percent of the 2.8 billion people living in low-income countries vaccinated.

And I think it's a disgrace. And it's also not in our self-interest, because, longer term, it's going to keep damaging our economy. I mean, I

hope I'm wrong. I hope that this Omicron is all the last variant, but I don't see a real reason why. We live in a global world. Somebody who is

immunosuppressed in a low-income country could harbor some very new, different kind of variant.

It's not like flu, where you get sequential variation of the same virus. You're getting very different variants coming from different parts of the

world. So I think we have got to be much more careful. I think each government has got to consider its public health measures, which is

explaining the risks of COVID, that it's airborne.

For many countries, you can still -- many people can work from home where possible. Think about ventilation in schools, in public places, high-

quality masks. I'm pleased that President Biden has made 400 billion available -- 400 million, I think it is, available. Lateral flow tests,

global equity, and financial supports for poor people who have to isolate when they're sick.

But, overall, we must support global vaccination. If we don't, this could roll and roll for the next two years, like it has for the past two years.

AMANPOUR: So, listening to that, Dr. Gandhi, honestly, I can feel my stress level rising because I'm tired of the masks and a lot of these

restrictions, having been somebody who's followed it to the letter for the last two years, and a lot of other people are feeling that as well, because

they think, they think that each variant has been less deadly than the last -- certainly, Omicron anyway.

So, I want to ask you, Dr. Gandhi, I don't know how it works in viruses, but do the variants go up and down in severity? Or do they keep going down

in severity? Like, what do you expect the next one after Omicron to be like?

GANDHI: This is a great question.

One thing I want to add is treatments, Dr. Costello. The oral antiviral treatments, we also need more global equity for those.


GANDHI: But to answer your question, the Omicron variant, you're right, went -- it had 32 mutations across the spike protein that seemed to make it

less virulent, but also extremely transmissible.

And the next variant doesn't have to be less virulent. That is something that we see with HIV. The more it mutates, it becomes less virulent. This

is something we have known with HIV for a long time. And this did happen with influenza that we did see with the 1918 pandemic, that it became less

virulent. But, fundamentally, we got so much immunity in the population that the pandemic ended.

We went to endemic phase, and then it went up and down every year, just like it does. We got a scare in H1N1, but then it would settle back down.

So, hopefully, we're not going to get a more virulent variant.

But the one thing I'd really like to add is that 50 percent of the planet seeing Omicron, which is the estimates from IHME, means that you have seen

immunity across the entire virus. You saw immunity across the nucleocapsid, across the spike protein, and multiple parts of the virus.

And so what I recommend for a booster next season for us here and you guys in the U.K., us here in United States, is a whole-virus vaccine, so that we

see the whole virus.

If we do that, we can keep ahead of variants, because we're only looking at a spike protein vaccine with the mRNA or the DNA vaccines. I think we need

to see Covaxin or a whole virus vaccine. Then we keep ahead of variants because we get immunity...


AMANPOUR: Is that possible? Does that exist? Does that exist, Dr. Gandhi?


GANDHI: It does exist.

There are three whole inactivated virion candidates approved by the WHO, Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covaxin.

Sinopharm and Sinovac don't have the effectiveness. And that's why the WHO has recommended a third booster shot for most populations for those

vaccines. Covaxin is an Indian-made vaccine that seems to look very effective. It's been given out to 200 million people. So I would look at

Covaxin as that whole virus vaccine for our booster next winter.

AMANPOUR: That's really interesting.

And, Dr. Costello, we have been talking about immunity.

Obviously, immunity comes -- the more people are vaccinated, the more there is a real, proper herd immunity. But here are the figures that you have

been talking about. In rich countries, nearly 70 percent of people have had at least one dose.

But, in low-income countries, it's just 12 percent. Now, the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is now a WHO ambassador, is calling out

world leaders.


AMANPOUR: He says: "They will either be remembered as the leaders who brought COVID under control by vaccinating the world, or they will suffer

the condemnation of history, vilified for creating an even more unequal and divided world. History will not be kind to our leaders if they fail, but

millions will hail them as heroes if they succeed."

So that seems to be a reasonable statement, except for the fact that we have hundreds of thousands of people -- and it's happening right now in the

U.S. and Canada -- people who simply are so against vaccines that they will even take to the streets in sustained protest.

So, I guess the question is, how do you perform public health in a situation where health has been weaponized, where vaccines have been

weaponized, where restrictions that are sensible have been weaponized, Dr. Costello?

COSTELLO: Yes, it's a very good question.

And, clearly, I mean, even if you go back to Edward Jenner's time, when he introduced cowpox, there were a lot of protests then. There have always

been a hard, small group of people who are real anti-vaxxers. And, of course, with social media, they get a much bigger attention than perhaps

they did in the past.

But I think, for a lot of people, there is vaccine hesitancy, which is very different. And I think that has to be addressed by community engagement,

going to vulnerable groups, going to black and minority ethnic groups, people who are worried about it, don't really understand it, haven't had

time to go and get a vaccine.

You have got to make the vaccines accessible. You have got to go and explain it. And, actually, if you do that, with good community involvement,

you can get vaccine levels up. You won't get them to 100 percent. But it will be enough to give you the short -term antibody immunity.

One other thing -- and I agree with Dr. Gandhi about the various aspects of new treatments and things. One big question is whether the T-cell immunity

will protect us longer term and certainly long enough to have boosters perhaps only every 18 months.

We don't really know that for how long yet. There is some evidence it's quite good. But there's also evidence from other lab studies that your T-

cells may be damaged or even destroyed by SARS COVID in certain circumstances. And, of course, some of that may underpin the big problem,

which we haven't discussed, of long COVID...


COSTELLO: ... and the worrying levels that we see across the world.

Maybe 2 percent of people who get this end up with symptoms lasting many, many months, including brain...


AMANPOUR: Yes, well that's worrying, indeed.

And I guess, finally to you, then, on this issue, Dr. Gandhi, again, the idea of public health and what to do right now, the professor of public

health at Brown University, Ashish Jha, has said that one has to also preserve people's willingness to do things if it gets critical again.

In other words, this whole mask thing is also a little bit about preserving, I guess, public officials' ability to persuade people to go

back and do it again if it's necessary.

GANDHI: Yes, I completely agree with Dr. Jha on this that this has been a two-year pandemic.

We are fortunate in the United States. We have the access to the vaccines. There are those who have not taken them because social media and

misinformation, like Dr. Costello said.

I think getting Novavax, which is a more standard vaccine, out here in the United States, getting Covaxin, more standard formulations of vaccines,

could help some of that hesitancy.

But putting it all together, at some level, you have to maintain trust in public health, because the next pandemic, we do not want people to not

listen to the CDC, not listen to public health authorities. So easing public health restrictions, the ones that are hardest to do, in time, like

masking, because they're harder, because they interfere with our day to day, I think we absolutely have to do that.


And we need good metrics to when we ease them.

AMANPOUR: Yes, it's really a dilemma that we're watching right now in real time.

But, Dr. Gandhi, Dr. Costello, thank you both very much, indeed, for joining us.

Now, as we said, some people do get angry over these COVID restrictions. And that's boiling over right now in Canada, where what started as an anti-

vax trucker protest has morphed into something much larger.

And Paula Newton is joining us with more.

Paula, there you are standing amongst all these truckers and people who've been protesting. What's the crux of their of their argument there, their


PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christiane, I'm glad to be able to give you a little bit of insight into this, because

there is such nuance here.

I mean, your other guests were talking about that vaccine hesitancy. There isn't a lot of vaccine hesitancy here. This is a small minority group. But

it is that pandemic fatigue, Christiane, that has basically seeped into what so many people are doing here in their daily lives.

And even truckers like this, Christiane, have substantial support from Canadians who feel like they have done their best. They have lost trust in

the public health officials and in the government. And that is the problem that is leading to what we see here.

Christiane, I want to show you what we see here. So, imagine that you're in any world capital, Capitol Hill, 10 Downing Street, whatever. So this is

Canada's Parliament right here. And it has basically turned into a parking lot. There are truckers and other cars that have been parked here going

into the second week.

When I say they're parked here, they're camped out here. They have everything they tell me they need, food, fuel, everything they need to stay

here for weeks, if not months. And this is what you can do with just a few 100 cars, a few 1,000 people and completely paralyze things.

I want you to see over here to my right, though, as well. This is how bizarre it's gotten. This is the prime minister's office, Christiane, if

you can imagine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who says he will not be negotiating with angry crowds, said that it would set a dangerous precedent

to get into these people.

They are camped out right outside of his office. The issue here, Christiane, is that the Canadian officials, whether it's police or

political leaders, continually say they don't want confrontation. They don't want violence.

The problem is that this has turned into a movement. And as I'm sure many have seen, this is popping up, this chaos, these protests, right across the

country at this hour blocking crucial links, border links between the U.S. and Canada, which could have severe repercussions for the economy and

beyond -- Christiane.

AMANPOUR: And, Paula, troublingly, even though some of them may be actual -- doing it for anti-vax reasons and the rest, which is troubling in

itself, there's a whole 'nother load of sort of extremist fringe politics motivating them as well, and even support from Donald Trump.

NEWTON: And that's been another part of this.

Look, Christiane, police here in this city and beyond really in other cities have been blunt. If you are in the United States or anywhere else

and you think you are supporting this protest, don't. They say it supports unlawful behavior.

And you bring up a good point. This city had to set up a hate crimes hot line. Can you imagine? And I have heard from residents themselves saying

that they have been harassed here. We have seen hate symbols. We have seen the Confederate Flag. We have seen many American flags. We have seen


And that is why Justin Trudeau now says, look, we cannot set the precedent of negotiating with these people. The issue here is, when I speak to

truckers in this crowd as well, Christiane, they're saying, look, these kinds of protests, we understand, attract these people. They say, do not

paint them all with the same brush.

But, Christiane, this is a huge issue. And it has opened up divisions in this country that I'm sure many people here and around the world didn't

even know existed. It will take time to get through this, even if these trucks are cleared in the next few days.

AMANPOUR: And, honestly, as you say, it's hard to see these things coming from Canada, which has had such a successful time of public health policy.

So, Paula, thank you for standing out there in the cold on the scene for us to explain what's going on.

And as those scenes unfold in Canada, here in the U.K., the British prime minister is still mired in scandal over violating his own COVID protocols,

with parties taking place during lockdown, and lots of them.

But this isn't the only problem of Johnson's own making, because, whilst in Parliament, he alluded last week to a right-wing conspiracy theory about

the leader of the opposition, which has now resulted in Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition, being harassed and shouted at by an angry mob

making the same false allegation.

One of the prime minister's key advisers resigned in protest, but Johnson has not apologized.

Mark Landler is the London bureau chief for "The New York Times." And he's been following this very closely.

Welcome back to the program.

When I say following this, you have been following, obviously, politics in the U.K., and particularly the meltdown over Boris Johnson, which began a

couple of months ago.


So, where are we now? And explain to our American and international audience why this allegation that he made, this insult that he hurled in

the heat of, I guess, parliamentary battle, has really seemed to tip him over the top in terms of anger amongst his own party and the opposition?

MARK LANDLER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, sure, Christiane.

First, just to give the context, as you say, the prime minister has been under siege, really, since the end of November, with this steady drip of

disclosures of one party after another either held in the Downing Street complex or in the garden behind, all of which or many of which were in

clear violation of lockdown restrictions.

And so -- and he's under investigation not just from an internal government civil servant, but from the British police. So, in a way, what we're

waiting for on that front is for the police to finish their investigation, perhaps levy fines, perhaps including on the prime minister himself.

We're also waiting for the full release of a government report. We got a very abbreviated release of it a week ago. And that was bad enough for

Boris Johnson.

But in the context of defending himself against all these charges on the floor of the House of Commons, he accused the leader of the opposition,

Keir Starmer, who was the former head of the Office of Public Prosecution, of deciding not to bring charges against Jimmy Savile, a very popular TV

personality, who was also a pedophile, so a very charged allegation to raise.

There was one problem with it. It wasn't true. And it was demonstrably false. And so Keir Starmer's view was to dismiss this as perpetuating a

right-wing stereotype, as you say, but rather than retracting it, he did issue a very mild clarification.

Boris Johnson, in effect, doubled down. And so this scurrilous accusation is out in the public bloodstream, as you say, and Keir Starmer and one of

his colleagues were accosted on the street by a number of people who were shouting at them, among other things, about the Jimmy Savile accusation.

So this is a case where, very much like Donald Trump in the United States, he's made an accusation that's demonstrably false. He's refused to

apologize. It's cost him at least one of his closest and most trusted advisers, who resigned in protest. And it has really had the effect of

taking a scandal that was already problematic for him and pushing it to an even more perilous level for the prime minister.

AMANPOUR: I want to sort of bring it -- because some British politicians have been saying this kind of throwing dirt and seeing where it lands when

you're in a deep hole of pretty much your own making, as Boris Johnson is, is very Trumpian.

A labor politician, the M.P. Chris Bryant, recently went on television, and this is what he said.


CHRIS BRYANT, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: It is deliberate. It's not accidental. It's an attempt to incite a mob, either online or physically in


And the thing is, we know how this -- how this plays out when politicians go down this deeply cynical route, because we saw it in the United States

of America. It's exactly the same as Donald Trump's playbook.


AMANPOUR: Well, I'm sure many people in the United States remember the famous Pizzagate scandal, which really wasn't a scandal, but they made up

this idea that there was a pedophile ring inside a pizza parlor, and they attached it to Hillary Clinton.

And then there was a man who went into the restaurant and fired live rounds, so it had a real-world, dangerous effect.

Do you think that what's happened to Keir Starmer -- and other pictures show him being surrounded and they're yelling at him. They're calling him

traitor. They're calling him pedophile.

Do you think that's sort of the British version of what happened with Pizzagate?

LANDLER: Yes, to some extent, I do.

Now, defenders of Boris Johnson will say that the people surrounding Starmer that day were anti-vaxxers. They were also shouting at him about

vaccinations. And that's true. That is true.

But the fact is, these are people that had clearly been wound up by what they heard. And that -- as Chris Bryant said, that is a deliberate

strategy. There's nothing unwitting here. Donald Trump knew what he was doing when he deployed that weapon in the U.S. And Boris Johnson knows what

he's doing as well.

And so I have often written and said that I think it's wrong and not fair to draw too much of a parallel between Johnson and Trump.


They are different people. They have different backgrounds. They have different interests in education. One was a former journalist, the other a

former businessman. So, they're not one in the same.

But there is noticeable similarity in the tactics they deploy, and they are, by the way, tactics that are deployed by other populous leaders,

whether it's Viktor Orban in Hungary or Bolsonaro in Brazil. So, we've seen these tactics in societies. Some of which are far less free than Britain or

the United States, they all have the same effect and it can be quite sinister and even dangerous. And I think Keir Starmer probably has reason

to think twice about his security in the wake of this.

AMANPOUR: And let's not forget that false allegations against labor MP, Jo Cox, back during the Brexit time led to her death by deranged, you know,

Brexit -- well, nationalists, and we had an MP killed in his own office just last year over other sort of allegations. I just want to play what

Boris Johnson has said about this.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I'm talking not about the leader of the opposition's personal record when he was DPP, and I totally understand

that he had nothing to do personally with those decisions. I was making a point about the -- his responsibility for the organization as a whole.


AMANPOUR: Mark, he refuses to apologize. Unless, our viewers think we're making too much of a big deal about this little fringe group, it's tipped

his polls, again, dangerously in -- you know, for him, it's caused many or several of his key officials, including one of his longest serving

political advisers, going back to when he was mayor to leave and to call him out.

And my question to you is, as you report this, do you think that this plus partygate puts him in a more dangerous position, or is the fact that the

partygate actual -- you know, final police report and the sue gray report are not yet out buying him more time and making him safer?

LANDER: Well, I think it's accurate to say or perhaps it's likely to say that for many conservative MPs who will have to decide whether they want to

push for a no-confidence vote in him, they're likely to wait for the sue gray report and the police investigation both to be completed. But as they

wait, they are making an assessment of their leader's character, and they are carefully reading public sentiment and looking at the poll numbers.

And so, to the extent that Boris Johnson rather than using this time to change the narrative, to shore up his support, to try to change the

direction of the office is allowing this kind of disheveled, this falsehood to not only enter the blood stream but for him not to retract it outright,

that plays into their thinking. That plays into their psychology of, do we want this to be the man to lead us forward?

So, I don't think he's done himself any favors here. There must be or may be a cynical calculation behind it. But to judge by the polling numbers and

the response of some of the members of his own party, it's not a tactic that appears to be working in his favor, and he needs a lot to go right to

avoid this no-confidence vote sometime in the coming months.

AMANPOUR: Mark Lander, thank you so much.

And we want to turn now very briefly to Alastair Campbell, who, as everybody remembers, was the spokesperson and director of communications

for Prime Minister Tony Blair.

You have seen a number of your own scandals and you've had to fight against, you know, headwinds that have come towards the government that you

served as well. Where does this one rate in peril for the prime minister, Alastair?

ALASTAIR CAMPBELL, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR TONY BLAIR: Well, I mean, where iterates in terms of reality, what this scandal is, I think

it's in a league of its own. And I think any other prime minister prior to Boris Johnson would have gone by now because it is a golden rule in our

British parliamentary system that you cannot mislead the House of Commons. He has already proven and misled the House of Commons.

So, I'm afraid now, Christiane, we're just into sort of Trumpian territory where objective truth is no more, where the guy just kept -- comes up with

more excuses and more lies, and this is what happens when you put somebody as a character of Boris Johnson into Downing Street. So, I don't think the

comparison is going to be made because he's just not a normal prime minister.

AMANPOUR: So, then, what does happen? Because, you know, we're waiting for the full reports to see what's in there and what isn't. Are you surprised

that the police report hasn't come out yet? And how long do you think -- or it hasn't been concluded yet. How long do you think that will take?


CAMPBELL: Well, I don't know. But, you know, the central factor is already established. Boris Johnson lied to parliament. Boris Johnson said that

there were no parties when there with. Boris Johnson said that if there were parties, he wasn't at them, when he was.

So, the central fact that affect his future as the prime minister and into any lasting integrity that he might have is gone. And you saw from his

conduct in prime minister's questions today, they have decided that whatever comes out in the sue gray's report and whatever comes out of the

police investigation, they're just going to try and tough it out. They're going to do exactly what Donald Trump would do. And Trump, I'm afraid, he

wasn't right about much, but he was right when he said that Johnson is Britain Trump.

AMANPOUR: Really interesting. Alastair Campbell, thank you so much for joining us.

Now, from a political circus of such to the politics of education, for many, the cost of a university degree is simply too high. "The New York

Times" best-selling author Tara Westover shares her childhood experience and financial pressures in her memoir, Educated." She recounted her

unorthodox upbringing as the child of survivalists the last time we spoke.


TARA WESTOVER, AUTHOR, "EDUCATED": In a lot of ways, I had a beautiful childhood. I grew up on this beautiful mountain in the Idaho, but because

my father had some kind of radical beliefs, we were a bit isolated. So, I was never allowed to go to school or to the doctor. I didn't even have a

birth certificate until I was nine.

AMANPOUR: You didn't have a birth certificate?

WESTOVER: No, not until I was nine years old, which meant -- because we didn't go to school or to the doctor, effectively, according to the State

of Idaho and the federal government, we didn't exist.


AMANPOUR: So, that's the world she grew up in, and she didn't set foot inside a classroom until she was 17.

Successful now, she still says she's not a poster child for the American dream. And Westover joins Michel Martin to discuss why universities should

function less like a business and more like a school.


MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Tara Westover, thank you so much for joining us.

TARA WESTOVER, AUTHOR, "EDUCATED": Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: Well, congratulations on the success of your book, which so many people have embraced. And you recently wrote an essay in "The New York

Times" kind of reflecting on some of the lessons you think people are wrongly getting from the book. And I just wanted to read one line from the

essay. You said that, a curious thing happens when you offer up your life for public consumption, people start to interpret your biography to explain

to you what they think it means.

When did you first start to notice that?

WESTOVER: I do think a story like mine tends to get put into this category of inspiring, resilience. And that's kind of fine, too, I don't mind. But

occasionally people would say something to me that took it a little further than that and they would say, you are a proof that the American dream is

possible, that absolutely anything is possible for anybody.

And that started to wear on me a bit over time because I just knew I was so lucky and I was also very helped, and I was living in a time where you

could actually work your way through college. The university I went to was affordable. I mean, it was really hard, but I it was still possible. And

I'm not sure that's possible today.

And so, it started to feel -- I started to feel a bit fraudulent, I guess, when people would say, oh, you're proof that absolutely anybody can do

anything. And I would think -- I think there's value to stories of resilience. I don't think that we should completely discount them. But you

don't want to weaponize resilience and you definitely don't want to use it as an excuse not to reform your institutions or have a look at what people

are facing today and how that changed.

MARTIN: The title of your essay is "I Am Not Proof of the American Dream." You can't get any more blunt than that. So, I want to ask you, walk me

through it, for people who haven't walked your walk. So, first, I want to talk about how hard it can be to be a poor kid in a rich school, even to be

a poor kid in a middle middle-class school, like the one that you went to, you went to Brigham Young University, BYU, which, at the time, was pretty

affordable and still is.

So, I just wanted to ask you to talk a little bit about what it's like to be on that grind.

WESTOVER: Yes. Well, I started out working as an early morning janitor, which meant I had to be at work at 4:00 a.m., which meant I had to wake up

at 3:30 or 3:40. So, I would sleep in my clothes so that I wouldn't have to get up and that 10 minutes of extra sleep feels like a lot more than 10

minutes when you're talking about 3:00 a.m. And I did it because they paid a dollar more, basically. You could be an early morning janitor and get a

dollar more than if you worked the day shift.

And everything at that time in my life was about money, because I just didn't have any. And so, trying to make enough for food and rent in the

summer, cover tuition, I pretty much had to take every job that I could, working in the cafeteria, serving food for the freshmen meal plan, which I

couldn't afford, by the way. I wasn't on the meal plan because I didn't have that kind of money, but I worked in the cafeteria for it. And it was

really hard, but it was possible.


And then, my life changed completely when I applied for a Pell Grant, my -- the second half of my sophomore year. I applied for it, and it just changed

absolutely everything. It was the difference, I think, between me dropping out of school and staying in school was that Pell Grant.

MARTIN: You say in your piece, the day I cashed that check is the day I became a student.

WESTOVER: Well, I would say all of us have a limited bandwidth, for lack of a better metaphor, of what we can think about, and there's been a lot of

research done on what happens when you have a massive scarcity in your life, something important, whether it's love or money. You become obsessed

with that thing, and it's very difficult to think about anything else.

When I was -- you know, you could have shaken me awake in the middle of the night, which for me would have been at 1:00 a.m. instead of waking up at

3:00 anyway, and asked me like how much money was in my bank account. I could have told you down to the dime. But if you'd asked me what courses I

was taking, I'm not sure I could have told you. That was like really far back in my list of priorities.

And what happens when I cashed that check, I actually started thinking about my classes. I started thinking about what do I enjoy, what do I like

doing, I did the required reading. I did more than that. I actually became a student instead of someone just trying to make rent money. And I think

what I learned that day is that maybe the most powerful advantage of money is really just that it gives you the ability to think of things besides

money. It frees you up to think about your life and what you want out of it and what you want to learn and who you want to be, and I just did not have

that before I applied for that Pell Grant.

MARTIN: One of the things I appreciated about that book is that, you know, it sounds like many of your students were really kind to you, they really

wrapped their arms around you. I mean, sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively, they really wanted you to succeed. But you do think they

understood just how different your life was from theirs?

WESTOVER: No. I mean, I came from a really unusual family. You know, my parents were kind of radical in their ideology. They didn't believe in

doctors or hospitals. So, we never went to the hospital or to the doctor, never got vaccinated. I didn't have a birth certificate until I was nine.

My parents didn't allow us to go to school. I had a pretty unusual upbringing. And there were very few people -- I never met anyone else like

that at BYU. I felt kind of on my own in that way.

But it was something I wanted to write about in the piece is that I wasn't the only poor kid at BYU, not by a long stretch. You know, so the -- there

were other freshmen working in that cafeteria who also could not afford the meal plan. And I think it's because Brigham Young University was such an

affordable university. And so, it attracted people who wanted to work their way through college. It was the first rung on that ladder that it was low

enough that a lot of people got onto it that you wouldn't expect to see at university. And so, there were people maybe not with my exact biography but

certainly who had come from money working their way through.

And part of what motivated me to try to write the piece is that I'm worried that when that first rung is too high up, those kids stop climbing. It

becomes unimaginable. And so, you know, for me, the tuition when I went to bring Brigham Young University was $1,600 a semester, I think it was

$1,640. And that was a lot of money for me. I've never seen that much money, but it was an imaginable number. I could imagine myself getting

together that kind of money.

If I had looked at the website and it had been $15,000, $20,000, $30,000, $50,000, everybody knows that college students don't often end up paying

that sticker price. If you get a bunch of aid or you get scholarships or things come through, but think of a poor kid who doesn't understand that

system, who doesn't understand how to navigate that, they -- you know, when I had a cousin in Idaho who got a really high score on her ACT, high enough

that Harvard actually wrote her and said, hey, why don't you apply here?

And she and her dad, they went to the website, they saw the tuition sticker price, and they just closed the browser. They never even looked at

financially and things like that because they don't know about the system. And so, there's something to be said for just keeping the numbers

imaginable. They have to be something that if your father's a truck driver, if your mother is a waitress, you can imagine that amount of money. And

right now, I think the numbers are not imaginable.

MARTIN: What -- you know, you say in your piece, for kids today from poorer backgrounds, the path I took through education no longer exists. Why

does it no longer exist?


WESTOVER: Those universities are the first step for a lot of people, whether you're talking about community colleges, or in my case BYU, or just

publicly funded state flag universities, that's where a lot of kids go from all over the place, it's their first step. And the tuition at those

schools, I mean, the Department of Education has said that even after you adjust for inflation over the last three decades, the average cost of

attending -- just the tuition actually of a four-year school, not a fancy private school but just a four-year public institution has more than


And so, you start taking -- you start making education just an unimaginable thing where kids don't feel like it's for them. These 16-year-old, 17-year-

old kids, where that's the age where you're making massive decisions about your future, and I think the message we're sending to them is, this isn't

for you, unless your family has money, unless you come from five generations of college graduates, this isn't for you.

MARTIN: Kids graduate with tremendous debt, and it isn't just a matter of the poorest kids who are likely to get some support if they can figure out

how to get it. But what about kids whose parents are on the first rung of that middle class?

WESTOVER: That right now is, what -- is it $1.2 trillion? It's an incredible increase and an incredible debt to saddle any young person with.

We know from the Department of Education that tuition has doubled over the last three decades, right, even after (INAUDIBLE) inflation. But if you

look at the wages, if you look at the Department of Labor, how much has the earnings of people age 18 to 29 gone up over the last three decades, it's

not even 20 percent.

And so, you're talking about this huge increase and the cost to get an education, but not that much increase in the wages to actually pay for it.

So, I think that's the knowing scenario, I think, for lower-class kids, for middle-class kids, how do you navigate this system with any hope of ever

owning a home, with any hope of ever being out of debt, like how do you navigate that?

MARTIN: What you say in the piece, you say, to poor kids today, we present a no-win scenario. We shout shrilly that they must get a college degree,

because without one they can't hope to compete in a globalized economy, but even as we say it, we doubt our own advice. And then, you say that, it's

almost like -- you say, for them, the American dream has become a taunt.

What do you think the consequences of that is? I mean, first of all, let's talk about -- you've thought about this, obviously, is, you know, what

happens when it becomes sort of a luxury good, like higher education becomes a luxury good? What do you think the consequences of that are?

WESTOVER: Well, you know, there's a Gallup Poll that came out in 2019 where they found that the number of young people, I think it's 18 to 29,

thought that college was very important had drop 30 points in six years. So, it got from, I think, 74 percent to 41 percent of kids saying, college

degrees isn't important.

And we know that that's not a reflection of the economy. Because in the economy, a college degree is probably more important than it's ever been.

So, what is that a reflection of? And I think it's a reflection of inaccessibility. When something is not within your reach, it's just human

nature to devalue that thing.

And so, I think that that's going to be the inheritance. We've created a situation where so many people feel like this just isn't a possibility for

them. They no longer think it's even valuable. And I think the social implications of that are really frightening, and the political

implications. I mean, education sits at the center of our political divide, whether or not you have a college degree has a huge impact on the way

people vote, the way that they identify themselves, the kind of tribalism that's in our politics that's largely starting to be along educational


And so, I think that is part of the inheritance of making education into a good but it's distributed according to wealth. Is it -- it becomes another

mechanism of our great divide.

MARTIN: You know what interesting? Because in the piece -- in your book, you talk about what difference education made in your life, but there's

this one scene where you started to be exposed to black people and the experiences of black people in America. And --

WESTOVER: There are not a lot in Utah. This is --

MARTIN: No. There are not a lot in Utah nor in Idaho.


MARTIN: You kind of awakened me to the idea of what it would be like for a white kid who doesn't know any black people reading that and how you would

absorb that and how -- once you became acquainted with realities, how it opened your mind.

WESTOVER: Yeah. What I was taught about slavery growing up was pretty limited, and I didn't question that, you know. It was information I had. It

was given to me by people I trusted and I didn't really question that. And then, I got to college and I was -- it's my first time in classroom. I was

17 years old before I was in a classroom. And I took a class, it was a civics course, an American civics course, and that professor taught



And, you know, we had to read the autobiography of Frederick Douglass. And we just learned things about it, and that was shocking to me, you know,

that shifted things for me a little bit. And then, I learned a couple months, maybe a month or two later, he taught the civil rights movement and

I had never heard about the civil rights movement. I just -- nobody ever told me anything about that.

And for me, I was just -- first I was confused. Do we get -- 1968? Surely not 1968. I had no idea that these continued for so long. And when I read

about the civil rights movement, I was in that lecture, I remember he told us the story about Rosa Parks and I remember he told us that she had been

arrested for taking a seat of a bus. So, I assumed that what he meant was that she had been arrested for stealing the bus seat. That's the kind of a

ridiculous misunderstanding of like to take a seat versus to take that seat.

Because in my mind, from what little I knew of history, that it made a lot more sense that you would get arrested for, you know, stealing. We arrest

people for stealing. I had no idea that we arrested for sitting. And so, that just shifted my whole frame when I finally understood that story for

what it was and when later, he was telling us about Emmett Till, and you can't really miss misunderstand that story.

Once I started to get a grip with what was being discussed, what had happened, what the history was, it shifted everything for me. And my family

was definitely problematic around race and I went home and I noticed those things, words were used, things we said that I suddenly was very

uncomfortable with. But I had to change (INAUDIBLE) long story of it. The history I grown up with was really inadequate.

MARTIN: Before I let you go, I have to ask you, because there has been such a fight over educational policy in recent years. You've seen a sort of

conservative movement to, you know, contest with and to fight with the universities, sort of bastions of elitism. And now, you're seeing this

fight over education policy going into the lower grades where people are arguing over what books they want kids to read or, you know -- and that's

going deep into the curriculum.

So, I guess I have to ask you whether you think this is part of political movement in a way?

WESTOVER: I think the sad thing is that because education has been distributed by income and because the income increasingly -- you know, all

these things are connected to each other. So, whether you have a college degree is a strong predictor of how you vote, it's also a strong predictor

of what kind of income you're going to have.

And so, we've allowed these things that should be pretty evenly distributed among the population regardless of party and regardless of income to be

almost determined by those things. And so, I mean, it breaks my heart to see universities become such ideological -- become so ideological tainted

in that way, where I -- you know, I learned about the civil rights movement at a really conservative university. I was at Brigham Young University, you

know, a very Republican place. That's where I learned about it.

And I just don't remember there being this climate of we can't talk about this. You know, I mean, people disagreed and it was a conservative climate,

but you could get exposed to all kinds of ideas there. And I thought that was the beauty of the place. There were conservative ideas, there are a

lot, there were also a lot of progressive ideas there. There was all manner of perspectives.

And I get very nervous because I grew up in a family where my dad didn't want us go to school because he didn't want us to be exposed to ideas he

didn't agree with. That was one of the reasons. And I don't understand an approach to education that tries to restrict access to perspectives, you

know. If you're living in a school district and they're only teaching one thing, I could kind of imagine getting a little bit upset with it. But in

general, I think exposure to a lot of different ideas and perspectives, it's just -- it's a good thing and you use that exposure to everything to

make up your own mind and decide what you think.

And so, I get very anxious when the debate over what to teach in schools goes to a legislative kind of book banning place as oppose to a war of

ideas. You know, you don't like the ideas that are being taught, bring better ideas. Let's have a conversation about it, as opposed to banning

certain perspectives, which seems very bizarre to me.

MARTIN: Tara Westover, thanks so much for talking with us.

WESTOVER: Oh, my pleasure. Thanks for having me.


AMANPOUR: And what an experience she's had.

And finally, tonight, musical artists sounded clarion call for different ideas and perspectives at the Brit Awards last night, which are the U.K.'s

Grammys. The night belonged first and foremost to Adele who racked up three of the biggest prizes.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the winner of Song of the Tear is Adele, "Easy on Me."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Artist of the Year goes to Adele.


AMANPOUR: And the third was Album of the Year. This was the first year the awards show featured gender-neutral categories as Adele acknowledged in her

acceptance speech.



ADELE, WINNER, BRIT AWARDS ARTIST OF THE YEAR: I understand why the name of this award has changed, but I really love being a woman and being female

artist. I do. I do.


AMANPOUR: And one of the most moving moments came from Best New Artist, Little Simz. The rapper brought her mother on stage and brought the house



LITTLE SIMZ, WINNER, BRIT AWARDS BEST NEW ARTIST: I am living proof that if you work hard at something no matter where you come from, no matter your

background, no matter your race, you can do something extraordinary.


AMANPOUR: And it was an extraordinary night of music. That's it for now. Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.