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Interview With Louis Theroux; Interview With Former U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Interview With Future Shape Principal Tony Fadell. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 13, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
MARK ESPER, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I was never concerned about being fired. I was just concerned about being fired too soon, and too soon
being before the election.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Saving a country from its own president.
Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper tells me about his tumultuous tenure under Donald Trump and his new memoir, "A Sacred Oath."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You hate white people, OK? So why don't you get over yourself? Why don't you apologize for your ancestors from thousands of
years ago? Because you're white, Louis.
AMANPOUR: "Louis Theroux's Forbidden America," face to face with the Internet's dark side. I ask the popular filmmaker, what keeps driving him
to the underbelly of society?
TONY FADELL, AUTHOR, "BUILD": What kind of world do we want to live in? What society do we want to live in for not just ourselves, but our kids?
AMANPOUR: He helped lead Apple teams to create the iPod and the iPhone that have dominated the 21st century. Now he's sharing his insights in his
new book, "Build," with Walter Isaacson.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
As Ukraine continues to battle for its sovereignty and its territory, officials in Kyiv acknowledge the situation in the eastern region of
Luhansk has -- quote -- "significantly deteriorated." And Russia continues its push into Donetsk.
But to the north, in Kharkiv, Ukraine says its counterattack there has successfully pushed back Russian forces.
My first guest tonight was sworn in as secretary of defense of the United States just days before that now-infamous phone call in 2019 where
President Trump repeatedly asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate the Bidens in return for military aid.
Mark Esper's new memoir, "A Sacred Oath," is filled with explosive and instructive behind-the-scenes examples of what it was like working for the
most disruptive American president in modern times, who, in the end, fired him by tweet.
AMANPOUR: Secretary Mark Esper, welcome back to our program.
ESPER: Thanks, Christiane. Great to be with you.
AMANPOUR: So you have got a bit of a blockbuster book out there.
But, first, I want to ask you something that is related, but it's obviously current. What do you make of the U.S.-NATO leadership in trying to help
Ukraine defend itself? One of your major aspects that you came up with is no strategic retreats.
And so I want to pursue that a little bit.
ESPER: Well, I think we have to begin by the fact that it's been a strategic failure by Vladimir Putin in many ways, right, pushing Ukraine
greater into a Western orbit, unifying your NATO, bringing more NATO troops onto its borders.
And I think, at first, the reaction by the United States and others was slow and mixed. But I think it's picked up. We see a lot of consolidation
within the alliance, that Germany has changed its longstanding policies with regard to the sharing of military equipment, its own funding of NATO,
We see the United States has really picked up the pace when it comes to arms deliveries and sales and the provision of training. I was in Lviv in
early 2018 to visit with our troops on the ground training Ukrainians, and it's made a big difference.
And, look, now we're on the cusp of seeing Finland and Sweden possibly join the alliance, which I think says a whole lot about Western unity. And I
just hope it holds, because this could be a long war.
AMANPOUR: So, OK, I have to now go back to what happened under your watch, although, to be fair, you had only just been sworn in. It wasn't really on
your watch. But you were -- you were there. And, anyway, you have, no doubt, opinions about it.
Shortly after you were sworn in, in 2019, a few days later, it became public that President Trump had basically tried to strong-arm, for want of
a better term, the current Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, saying, we will withhold vital military aid that you need unless you help
dig up dirt on my political opponents. That's the Biden family.
Just tell me what you think about that and how you relate to that in your book.
ESPER: Well, first of all, I was sworn in on July 23. I think the call took place on July 25.
And, frankly, we didn't learn about it -- or at least I didn't -- until it broken the news weeks later. I think it was September. But I will tell you,
at the time, there were a few things going on. First of all, I think the Trump administration does deserve credit for approving the provision of
lethal aid to the Ukrainians.
That involved the Javelin anti-tank systems that are so prevalent on the battlefield today and crucial to the Ukrainian people. And, of course, we
were doing training. So there is some credit that goes there.
But I will tell you, in the succeeding weeks after I took office, a combination of Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, John Bolton, the
national security adviser, and I, at times, either individually or together, would approach the president and say, look, Mr. President, you
need to release the security assistance. It's vital.
And, as I recount in my book, I would go through a series of arguments, reasons why, the fact that we were trying to reassure allies, help a
fledgling democracy, help deter Russia. At the end of the day, it came down to, Mr. President, the fact is that Congress appropriated this money. It's
the law. We have to deliver it.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you now, in the fullness of the intervening years and what Putin has done, do you think that all of those things that Trump
was doing, including kind of cozying up to Putin, and certainly in face-to- face meetings, do you think it sort of empowered Putin?
Do you think it caused him to look at the West and the United States as not as serious, I don't want to say, adversaries, but maybe adversaries?
ESPER: Well, look, I'm a big believer of NATO. I served in NATO as a young Army infantry officer in the '90s. And I would go publicly and speak all
the time in Brussels and elsewhere about my view with regard to NATO.
I think it's clear -- and I would articulate this to the president -- that his public approach of under -- undermined the alliance. When he talked
about withdrawing and all that stuff, it obviously spooked the allies and gave some degree of reassurance maybe to the Putin that he -- that Putin
himself may not have to act against the alliance, that it could collapse if President Trump acted on his -- on what he was saying.
Look, on the other hand too, President Trump successfully pushed the NATO's -- many NATO allies to live up to their 2 percent GDP commitment, which I
thought they weren't doing. To this date, I think no more than 10 have met that requirement, which was absolutely vital to NATO readiness.
So, look, it was a mixed bag in so many ways. I think the important thing, though, for the leader of the United States, which is so critical to the
health of the alliance, is to speak publicly and robustly about the importance of NATO, and then push behind the scenes to get the countries
and others to commit more.
And you can do so publicly, but you have to do so without undermining the fundamental nature of the alliance to begin with.
AMANPOUR: And just very quickly, because you mentioned Bolton -- and Bolton did say this -- that, in a second term, Trump would have attempted
to or pulled the United States out of NATO.
Do you think that was on his game plan for a second term?
ESPER: Look, I think it was very possible, I think you have to take leaders at their word, and not just NATO, but he spoke about Korea as well,
So, I -- you have to take people at their word, what they're saying. And it was something that I was very concerned about.
AMANPOUR: Let me just put this to you now about President Biden, who has stepped up, as you just described.
But he did originally say, and he's continued to say, essentially, not one boot on the ground. Let's just play this little bit of Biden's early
statements on what they would and wouldn't do in Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That is not on the table.
But the idea that the United States is going to unilaterally use force to confront Russia invading Ukraine is not on -- in the cards right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Secretary Esper, the question is a bit more nuanced than, do you agree with what he said? I mean, most people do agree with the idea of
not putting NATO forces on the ground at this point.
But do you agree with so publicly and continually taking it off the table, in other words, removing any kind of operational ambiguity?
ESPER: No, not at all. I think that was one of the mistakes I cited early on for the Biden administration, that and then his categorization or
classification of minor incursions vs. major incursions.
I don't think you ever take the military option off the table. I think it sends the wrong signal to dictators like Vladimir Putin. It signals kind of
a lack of resolve. And, as I said, I think, in the early days of this conflict, going back nearly three months now, that you don't take it off
the table, the military option, because you never know what's going to happen.
I said something along the lines of that the Russian attacks and devastation and their actions on the battlefield may be so devastating and
horrific that we may be morally compelled to act, even though we don't want to. So, I'd never take the military option off the table. I thought that
was an error.
And I think we -- seeing what we see now, that the -- what some have described as genocide, clearly war crimes, possible use of weapons of mass
destruction, we may have to respond at some point with military force, and that's why I would never take it off the table.
AMANPOUR: Let's broaden out a little bit.
Your book is not just about your experience as secretary of defense and your experience in the military, but also you frame it in the threat to
democracy. As you know, Biden has painted the Ukraine effort in terms of preserving democracy against autocracy.
And, in your book you write about Trump that you were very worried for the survival of American democracy in the summer of 2020. And after a year as
serving as Trump's secretary of defense, you saw a country -- quote -- "on the verge of crossing a dark red line."
Tell me what precisely that dark red line looked like. And what were the discussions in the Pentagon at that time?
ESPER: Well, I think what you're referring to is my sentiments the week of June 1, when we had this meeting in the Oval Office with the president, we
being myself, the vice president, the attorney general, Barr, Mark Milley, and others.
And the president was just very angry and in a tirade about what was happening on the streets of America, in the wake of the tragic murder of
George Floyd. And there was a lot of violence on the streets, particularly in the capital. People hurt. Buildings were vandalized. Fires were lit, et
And, look, I believe in law and order. We should not allow violence to happen. But we also have to allow Americans to peacefully protest, to
exercise their First Amendment rights. But the president was very upset about this, to the point of suggesting, pressing that we deploy 10,000
active-duty troops into the streets of the capital.
And then, of course, at one point, as I cited, and it's caught a lot of attention, of course, he suggested, mused about, could we just shoot the
protesters? And between that event and what followed in the next 24, 48 hours, you could see almost hundreds of American cities where unrest was
occurring, and it just felt, as I described in the book, that the republic was getting wobbly, that a voice was needed to kind of say, we're not going
to support this.
Or at least I wanted to say that I would not support this, as secretary of defense, that I saw on apolitical role for the military, that the military
role was not to police the streets of America. That was a role for law enforcement. And I just felt the need, on the morning of June 3, knowing
full well that I would probably be fired immediately after, that I could not support invocation of the Insurrection Act.
AMANPOUR: I mean, it's really -- even though I have seen it written, hearing you say that about the president of the United States asking about
shooting protesters, it just beggars belief, actually.
And despite your qualms, you did participate in that now notorious, infamous photo-op with the president. I guess the obvious question is, why?
You had these qualms about the president even before this photo-op. Why did you allow yourself to be caught up publicly in a P.R. event like that?
ESPER: Well, these are two different things, right?
First of all, it was my mistake. My political antenna wasn't calibrated. And I got caught up in a situation. As you read the book, you will know
that I was recalled back to the White House at 6:20 or so that evening, and told that the president wanted an update on our preparations for the
And I was called back. General Mark Milley was as well. And we get there. And we were told, no, no, there is no meeting. He wants you to walk across
the park to observe the damage. And even then, we should have picked up on it, and didn't.
And it really wasn't until we left the White House grounds and rounded the corner into the park that Milley and I realized that we had been duped, we
had been used.
And, look, it's on us. I'm going to own that. And I regret it. Later that night, I directed that a message be sent to the force under my name. I
worked on it the next morning to say -- to remind everybody that the U.S. military is an apolitical institution, committed to protecting the rights
of all Americans to protest, to assemble peacefully, to do those things.
We also have a role to support civilian law enforcement, but, fundamentally, that the American people had the right to protest and do so
peacefully. And I wanted to make sure that the institution, because I'm an institutionalist, understood where I stood, as the civilian secretary
And I wanted to make sure I cleared the way for my subordinate leaders, my uniform leaders to do the same, because I know the services, the Army,
Navy, Air Force, Marines, also wanted to send out similar messages. And I didn't want them to get caught up in a political fray. I wanted to be that
buffer, so to speak, between the White House and the Pentagon.
AMANPOUR: I will just pick up on something you just said: "I'm an institutionalist."
And sometime in this time period that you were secretary of defense, and clearly having all these issues and qualms, I think you -- either your wife
said: As your wife, I wish you would resign. As an American, you need to stay.
I'm paraphrasing, because that goes to the heart of, why didn't you resign in protest at these are unconstitutional ideas and asks that he was making?
ESPER: Look, I wrestled with this a lot, Christiane, particularly after President Trump beat impeachment in early January 2020, when I see these
fresh loyalists come into the Pentagon -- I'm sorry -- come into the White House, and then these more outlandish ideas happen.
You get, as I write, Stephen Miller proposing a quarter-million troops to the border. That happens in the spring. The president on at least one
occasion prior to June 1 says, shoot missiles into Mexico to take out the drug labs.
And I wrestled with these things and took the advice of my wife. I reached out to my predecessors from both parties. Since his passing, I have talked
about Colin Powell, who was very generous with his time and advice to me, and, to a person, recommended look, you got to stay. You got to do the
And, for me, as I thought about, what is my duty, what is my oath -- and my -- look, my oath was to, is to the Constitution, not to the president, not
to a party, not to a governing philosophy, but to the country.
And, look, it would have saved me a lot of grief and a lot of heartache and sleepless nights if I had walked away. But I thought that I was in a better
position to do a couple of things, first of all, advance a positive agenda within the Pentagon, where we were modernizing the military to deal with
China and Russia, where we're beefing up Cyber Command, establishing Space Force, taking care -- taking care of our soldiers and families, the service
members and families.
But, at the same point, I saw myself in a position to reshape not-so-good ideas and prevent bad ones. And at each of these turning points, if I
wasn't there to push back on a quarter-million troops to the border, I wouldn't have been there to push back on shooting missiles into New Mexico.
And if I wasn't there, if I had stood up and resigned then, I wouldn't have been there on June 1 to say no to U.S. troops in the streets of D.C..
So I kept saw seeing myself as making a positive contribution on the ground, in that position. And that's kind of what kept me going. And, at
the end of the day, I felt I just needed to get to the -- get the institution, get myself to the election, and let the people decide who they
wanted to be their next president.
AMANPOUR: So, then, were you relieved, in fact, that you got fired? Because, towards the end of 2020, you got fired, and by tweet.
And, basically, you signed an open letter afterwards on January 3 from all the living former secretary of defense, saying: "Efforts to involve the
U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory."
So, this -- and, shortly thereafter, there was the insurrection three days after that.
ESPER: Yes, look, I guess relieved in some ways. We had been going at it for some time, many months, and dealing with any number of issues, as I
recount in my book.
But, on the other hand, I still felt this kind of duty to serve. And I'm not a quitter, I did not want to resign. I was prepared to resign if we --
if I was really forced up against a red line.
But, on the other hand, I thought it was inevitable. I was surprised I made it to Election Day, plus a week. I thought I would be fired immediately
after the election. And so I -- as I write in the book, I was never concerned about being fired. I was just concerned about being fired too
soon, and too soon being before the election, before some of the outlandish ideas that people around the president were proposing might actually be
And then, of course, many of us were concerned as we saw the election continue to be -- the results of the election continued to be undermined.
We heard the stories about people being invited into the White House suggesting that the military sees ballot boxes. That concerned a number of
And I think that's what resulted in the letter that myself and the nine other living secretaries of defense decided to pen and print and -- as a
warning, if you will, a cautionary tale.
AMANPOUR: OK, so there's an obvious question that I have to ask you now, because you have set it up.
Why not -- since you knew all this stuff, and you were so concerned about preserving constitutional order and peace on the streets, and preserving
the lives of ordinary Americans, why not actually say all this stuff before the election?
It might have had a big effect before the election.
ESPER: Look, it's a good question. And I wrestled with this.
Again, I describe it in the first few pages of my book is, what, when why. In my calculation, again, I was -- if I would speak up, I knew I'd be fired
immediately. I would not be in a position to deal with might -- what might come.
I talk about my concerns in the days leading up to the election that, for one reason or another, the White House may be inclined to send troops into
the streets of America, either because they lost the election and wanted to seize ballot boxes or do something like that, or the election was won, and
folks from the opposing side came out and protested, and that wouldn't be tolerated.
I wanted to make sure I made it through the election. And I'm very clear about that in the book. So, I knew -- again, I knew, if I did that, I would
be fired. But these were the questions I wrestled with all the time about, what is the right thing to do? What's my duty? What's my oath to the
AMANPOUR: Hence -- hence, I guess the title of your book, "Sacred Oath."
Do you -- do you fear, worry, think it's possible that Trump not only will run again, but might win in 2024?
ESPER: Well, I have said already that I hope he doesn't run in 2024. I think that what the Republican needs is a new generation of Republican
leader who will push the same GOP policy objectives that President Trump did, so lower taxes, a stronger military, border security, conservative
And, to his credit, President Trump made a lot of progress on it. We had a very capable, a very good job rebuilding the military, a very strong
economy. But he just went too far.
And what we need are people who will, first of all, put country first over self, secondly, act with integrity in principle, and, third, reach across
the aisle, work with Democrats, bring the country together. And if you're a Republican like me -- I'm a Reagan Republican -- you got to be able to grow
that base and you got to win elections.
And I don't think we can do that with Donald Trump. I think we need to look to that next generation of leaders out there who can lead the party
AMANPOUR: Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, thank you so much for joining us.
ESPER: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Much of Donald Trump's impact and influence flourishes in the deep, dark Net.
And that's where we turn to next. British American filmmaker Louis Theroux is known for his immersive documentaries on difficult and often taboo
subjects. In his latest series, "Forbidden America," he turns his attention to the Internet's impact on the far right, pornography and the rap
Now, if his last name sounds familiar, it's because his father is the well- known intrepid American travel writer Paul Theroux. Now let's watch a clip of Louis' new series, this episode, with a far right activist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOUIS THEROUX, HOST, "LOUIS THEROUX'S FORBIDDEN AMERICA": Back at his parents' house, where he lives, recording his streams from the basement, I
decided to challenge him on his comments.
I saw the monologue you did about me.
NICK FUENTES, WHITE NATIONALIST ACTIVIST: Yes, I did do a monologue about you.
THEROUX: Yes. I just want you to know that I fundamentally disagree with what you promote and with what you stand for. But I'm here because I'm
curious about you.
THEROUX: Does that make sense to you?
FUENTES: Totally. You disagree with what I stand for. I disagree with what you stand for.
But I tend to operate with people in good faith.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now when, Louis joined me on set, I asked him whether the fringes are swiftly becoming mainstream.
AMANPOUR: Louis Theroux, welcome to the program.
THEROUX: Nice to be here.
AMANPOUR: You have obviously gone to some other mainstream topics and really important topics, mental health, alcoholism, the -- and we will talk
about that in a little bit.
And you have had many other incarnations, but you have gone back or maybe continued your exploration of the extreme with your latest series,
"Forbidden America," right?
AMANPOUR: Why? Why do you want to give that amount of credibility to the extremes?
THEROUX: Well, I don't know if I'm giving them credibility.
I'm definitely bringing them to the attention of a mainstream audience. And I suppose, really, it's because it's become a front-and-center issue. Like,
in the world at the moment, we have seen, with social media, with the election of Donald Trump, so much in the media and political landscape has
And it seemed to me that these subjects that I have been doing off and on over the years, because I dipped into mental health stories, social issues,
prisons, crime, but I had circled -- I come back to the extremes. And it felt like a good time to look at three main areas of American culture to
see what has changed in the new landscape, those being the extreme right, the world of porn, adult film content, and the world of gangsta rap in
AMANPOUR: Tell me about the extreme right. In the clips that we have, I think the main person who you profile is a guy called Fuentes, Nick
THEROUX: Nick Fuentes, yes.
AMANPOUR: He's 22 years old.
AMANPOUR: To be honest, I'm not going to play what he says because he says very misogynistic things...
THEROUX: Very much.
AMANPOUR: ... very extreme, racist things.
So I'm not going to play it. But describe to me what kind of a character he is and the kind of beliefs.
THEROUX: He is a baby-faced young man. He comes across as sort of rather likable.
It's often something I have noticed on the extremes. People who one would expect to feel like profound dislike for, you -- sometimes, you find
yourself thinking, like, seems quiet and approachable, friendly person.
He started -- with Nick Fuentes, he actually styles himself Nicholas J. Fuentes. I only mention that because it's sort of a tip of the hat to
Trump, I think. And I think he's -- notwithstanding his appearance and his ability to be sort of articulate, thoughtful in respect to -- like, he's
well-read. He is an extreme figure. He's on the outermost extreme, further to the right of the extreme right of the Republican Party.
In fact, the Republican Party won't allow him to be at their events. He was at Charlottesville at the notorious Unite the Right rally in 2017. And the
extreme right kind of organized themselves under his -- they regrouped, if you like, under his banner, as a sort of slightly less toxic, slightly less
obviously, kind of less obviously extreme in its branding version of what they believed.
AMANPOUR: So what is happening? I mean, I guess, are you basically saying that these complete extreme what one might call wackos because of some of
their beliefs are in fact becoming, to an extent, a bit of mainstream Republican?
THEROUX: Well, I don't think there's any question that elements of the extreme right have percolated into the mainstream of political discourse.
Like, I think it was commonly reported under the Trump presidency that members of the Trump family and sometimes the president himself would
retweet memes or talking points that had begun life in the extreme right, in circles that were tinged with white nationalism.
So, it's -- I mean, that's not even a secret. That's just what's happening. I think what Nick Fuentes represents is a continuation, a continuation of
that. And of all of the figures in that world, he, through a kind of genius for social media -- like, his main -- he's been kicked off Twitter He's
been kicked off Facebook, almost any of the mainstream social media platforms.
But he maintains his own platform on the Internet, where he broadcasts nightly and maintains an influence, sort of pulling what he would like --
it's an interesting thing, which people -- many people misunderstand, but he largely turns his fire, not on the left, but on the right, and
especially those right-wing Trumpers who he sees as being insufficiently right-wing, as a way of kind of pulling the whole mass of the Republican
Party, and especially the Trumpers, even further to the right.
AMANPOUR: So a couple of his views.
He believes that America was founded by white men, and, therefore, should be continued to be run by white men. He believes that women shouldn't have
the vote, women in America should not have the vote.
AMANPOUR: But here's a little clip that I am going to play of you asking him kind of how he does it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THEROUX: In the past, a voice like yours would have had to come up through a TV network or some kind of news outlet, right?
FUENTES: Right. Right.
THEROUX: But you built your voice and your platform using social media. Would that be correct?
FUENTES: So, I mean, I basically have a very intuitive sense, as all Generation Z do, on social media, smartphones, and the information
The mechanics of it are pretty straightforward. I mean, you create content. You share it. You hope that people notice it and that they all -- that's
what social media is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So is there any way to stop this stuff? I mean, that is actually -- that's it, basically. He says, like, everybody, we're just using the
platforms and the algorithms available to us.
AMANPOUR: Does it ever trouble you?
THEROUX: Yes, it is troubling.
And I think why it's important is that, actually, this -- he represents the extreme case of a way in which society, in general, the civic fabric is
fraying, and that -- and what can be done about it, I think I -- it's a thorny issue, but I tend to think that the curation of the public space
with respect to not using algorithms -- the social media companies using algorithms to drive divisive content is clearly having an effect.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Yes, absolutely.
THEROUX: It's simple things like that.
AMANPOUR: And clickbait and all the rest of it.
You also explore here, as you said, pornography, the adult entertainment industry and rap.
AMANPOUR: What's the connection?
THEROUX: Well, they're all aspects of American society that represent something at the extreme.
AMANPOUR: And forbidden, again, under this headline.
THEROUX: And, paradoxically, although I use it, extreme, which feels a little bit loaded with judgment, there's also a sense in which these are
Like, it's a sort of an open secret that adult content is used by millions of people, but sort of covertly and sort of shame-facedly. It's a sphere of
life with respect to social media and specifically new outlets that exist, like OnlyFans. There are others that exist, I'm sure, where you can
subscribe, and more or less pay a subscription fee each month in order to get adult content from a specific porn performer that you like sort of
piped to your phone.
This is a world where, paradoxically, the new power that -- we have all observed that social media has a sort -- almost a democratizing effect.
Like, it empowers random people who can create their own platforms. And in certain respects, that can be divisive.
In the adult world, in the world of adult content, it's actually had -- it's tended to disrupt the old way of doing adult film by empowering
performers to work and campaign for greater workplace safety.
AMANPOUR: On the flip side -- and this just came into my mind while you were talking just now -- here in the U.K., there's been quite a lot of
outrage over an M.P. who was found...
AMANPOUR: ... watching porn in -- I believe, at Westminster on his phone.
AMANPOUR: He had to resign.
And then others just watching it on the tubes...
AMANPOUR: ... as if it's become so normalized that they don't even understand that people around them would take offense by it.
THEROUX: Obviously, yes, and, as a father of three boys, I'm very conscious that the availability of extreme content -- and that goes across
-- we could mention -- you -- we're talking about adult film.
But in a way, like, racist content or extreme gangster rap content, these are all freely available. You know, and it's not something that is easy to
find a fix for, like, we -- we're sort of at the mercy of information, data that's gushing into our phones. It's like, it's so far -- in a way, that
question is far bigger than, sort of, in my limit to be able to answer. But I do think that the film itself is observing that within this, kind of,
slightly depressing outlook, there are small -- there are small examples of hope. And examples of the way in which technology has had a positive. You
know, we can sometimes lose sight of that.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, again referring to some of your earlier work, we talked about the one you did on addiction and alcoholism. And there's a
poignant moment where you're hugging the character in question. I just wonder, how your character sometimes affect you and what, you know, what
you think about the interaction between, let's say, some of these folks that you're doing on "Forbidden America" and some of these really hurting
people who you're profiling on addiction and other issues right now?
THEROUX: Well, it's true because I -- I sort of walk on two sides of the street. There is a world of extreme and provocative content creators where
it's on -- I have to be able to be on my mantle to challenge them and to not overly give them too much space to sort of spout hate. And then on the
other side, is the material that I do. The documentaries that I make about vulnerable contributors. And you mentioned one where, like a Joe who had on
and off extreme alcohol addiction to a point of, sort of, weeks-long benders where he would just sort of have to be hospitalized between himself
and immense harm.
And I am -- it's an odd -- it is an odd thing for me. Sort of emotionally, professionally I'm in a kind of slightly -- sometimes queasy in-between
state of being. Something like a friend while trying to maintain my journalistic distance. Most of the time it's straightforward. Like, most of
the time I have a team around me who do a lot of the hand holding, the before care and the aftercare. And a lot of the time, I maintain a little
bit of distance. I don't ready always give my phone number to the people I'm interviewing. Especially if I think there's a likelihood that it could
become just difficult.
You know, there are so many only people that I talked to. And as sad as it may be, I can't really keep up and check in with all of them. And so, I
have to sort of subtract myself sometimes. But it's awful. I recently heard that one of the people in that film had died. Not Joe. Joe is doing very
well. And you stop and think about the -- the -- you just stop and think and -- it's like being an exposed therapist in some research. And you have
to have a little steely side that keeps you away from it.
AMANPOUR: Why do you think you are such a cult figure? I mean, seriously. I've heard people have tattoos of you.
THEROUX: That's true.
AMANPOUR: There are pillows with your imprint. There are all sorts of merchandise. What is it?
THEROUX: OK. That's a good question. I don't always feel like the best- qualified person.
AMANPOUR: What do you think?
THEROUX: I'm thinking --
AMANPOUR: Why do you think?
THEROUX: I think what it is -- what I would like to believe is that -- is that the programs connect with people. And I think they do that for a
reason. I -- very early on, I got very lucky. I was given my own show at age 25. After we worked -- you know, after I worked for Michael Moore at TV
Nation, the BBC -- in a kind of classic BBC which rolled out the red carpet and said, why don't we have four -- a series of my own? You can make four
hours of TV on whatever you feel like.
And I said, OK. I'll make a program, a series about American culture. Where I got to know people on the extremes and I live with them. And I play
guitar with them. And we go and shoot guns. And I'll get naked in the porn agent's office. And I'll push the envelope and be really weird and
cultivate these relationships with people who you've never seen on TV in this way.
And it became -- you know, those programs, which are on iPlayer by the way in the UK, they still hold up. There is a quality of reality, and
authenticity, and intimacy to them. But it's timeless. And I think -- because I've been able to work in that way ever since I have accumulated a
catalog of work in which you see me in these settings connecting with people and it's quite a powerful thing. You sort of get to know me. And you
also see me at my best because they're all edited. So, I'm a little bit more witty, a little bit more interesting, and a little bit more, just sort
of, generally acceptable than I am in my normal life.
AMANPOUR: OK. Now, the unedited Louis Theroux. So, talking about viral and culty, I'm going to give you a choice.
AMANPOUR: Either you can give us a rap or you can give us a song in falsetto, "I Can Boogie". Which one would you like to do?
THEROUX: You -- you know what, I'm going to do the rap. I mean -- I'll tell you why. Because it's a -- you catch me in the midst of quite an odd
moment which is the -- I've had -- the rap that I did on "Weird Weekends" in 2000, when I did an episode about gangster rap in the South has gone
viral on TikTok.
THEROUX: Did you know that?
AMANPOUR: I did.
AMANPOUR: That is why I'm asking you.
THEROUX: Good pick.
THEROUX: My money don't jiggle, jiggle, it folds. I like to see you wiggle, wiggle, for sure. It makes me want to dribble, dribble, you know.
Riding in my Fiat, you really have to see it. Six feet two in a compact, no slack. But luckily the seat go back. I got a knack to relax in my mind.
Sipping some red, red wine.
It felt weird talking to you, Christiane, and saying I like to see you wiggle, wiggle. I'm just going to absorb that. But I got through it.
AMANPOUR: You got through it. You got through. And the authentic rappers, did they give you any credit for that?
THEROUX: Well, that was co-written by two wrappers in Mississippi called Reese and Bigalow.
THEROUX: So, I wish I could take credit for whatever charm it has. It's got surprising levels of love from people who know a thing or two about
AMANPOUR: No falsetto for me?
THEROUX: Not this time. Invite me back and then I -- you have a deal.
AMANPOUR: Louis Theroux, thank you very much indeed.
THEROUX: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And we're determined to have Louis back for that falsetto.
Next, Apple founder, Steve Jobs, quickly became a household name of course. But few know of the other trailblazers behind the company. Tony Fadell co-
created the iPhone as well as the iPod alongside the famous designer Jony Ive. And he's now mentoring the next generation of start-ups that are
changing the world. His new book "Build" is an advised encyclopedia. From his personal experience navigating initial failures to monumental success.
He joined Walter Isaacson to talk about his journey and the future of tech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And Tony Fadell, welcome to the show.
TONY FADELL, PRINCIPAL, FUTURE SHAPE: Thank you so much, Walter. It's wonderful to be here. And thank you, Christiane, for having me.
ISAACSON: You wrote a wonderful book called "Build" that's just out. And it's about how to be a great entrepreneur start-up artist. I knew you back
when you did the iPod and then the iPhone. You led the team at Apple that made those. Tell me what lessons you learned from that, that entrepreneurs
FADELL: Well, you know, "Build" was really a book all about mentorship. It's, you know, it's -- it was written to help people whether they're in
their career building something or in their -- you know, building themselves or building a team, building a product. And so, these are
lessons learned from across my -- across my back -- my experiences.
But the biggest thing that I learned at Apple was from Steve was to how to tell a story and generate a customer experience. From the very moment
someone heard about a product and figuring out how to get people to hear about the product, all the way through not just buying the product or using
it but also what happens for customer support, all of these kinds of things. How do you tell a real story about the product as well as bring
that story to life through every single customer touchpoint that a user has or even a -- before they purchase the product? So, that was a big thing
that Steve brought to Apple and was such a master at it.
ISAACSON: One of the things we do as we learn from things that don't work, that were mistakes. And in some ways, you learned from your "General Magic"
experience. Explain what "General Magic" was and why it didn't really work?
FADELL: OK. So, "General Magic" -- there's a whole movie about it. People should check it out because it's the -- it's a spectacular failure that
people can learn from. But "General Magic" was the Mac team minus Steve creating the iPhone 15 years too soon. It was a product that was born out
of the future. OK. And it was a bunch of incredibly smart people, my heroes, creating something that the world didn't need yet. They were
creating for each other. They saw where technology was headed. So, they were creating for each other.
But people in that day, and this was in -- early '90s, they were creating that iPhone back in the '90s, there was no internet. We had no internet.
So, we had no mobile data services or mobile communications. Most people didn't even have email, right? We had downloadable e-shopping of travel,
games, apps. All of these things that -- today, we know our problem- solvers, painkillers. Back then, no one even knew they had the pain. They didn't even know it could exist. It looked -- it was basically magic. But
no one had to buy it. You know, they didn't have the need to buy it, except a few geeks, about 3,000 people bought it.
And it was a -- at the time, $500 million, $750 million investment. And obviously, it turned into zero. So, you know, it's not just about having
the right team. It's also having the right timing when society understands the problems you're trying to solve, as well as having the technology to
solve it in the right way. So, you take all of those things to come together to make a new product. And that ultimately ended up what became
the iPhone, right. And many of the different people at "General Magic", android was born out of "General Magic", Ebay was born out of "General
So many things came out of there. And it was a seminal time for many people. And I would never trade it for -- trade that disaster.
ISAACSON: I get it.
FADELL: Because we really learned from that failure in a big way.
ISAACSON: One of the things about "Build", the book, is that it's of mentorship in a box, you call it. Tell me why mentorship is so important
and who was the most important mentor in your life?
FADELL: My most important one? My grandfather. Because if he didn't start me on the path, I would've never gotten through all of the things that I
did. You know, he was an educator. He was the superintendent of the Hamtramck school system in -- right outside Detroit -- or inside Detroit,
Michigan. And he taught me how to use tools. He taught me that everything in this world that has been built, has been built by humans. And don't be
afraid of it. You can create with -- just like they did or you can modify. You can repair.
And so, I was using tools with my brother. You know, hand tools at three years, and saws. And, you know, my mom and grandmother were, like,
shrieking, like, oh my, God. They're going to, you know, hurt themselves. But he put us in harm's way for a reason, to teach us. And teach us that we
can create, we can be creative. And that was at the age of three or four. And he continued and helped me buy my very first computer. So, I think he
was a clear person who could educate and get me set on the right trajectory. And I couldn't thank him more and dedicate the book to him.
ISAACSON: When you helped create the iPhone and then the iPod and then the iPhone, it really kicked Apple up a huge notch into being a platform in
which other people could build. And it made Apple very much a concentration of power. Now, we have four or five companies like Google, like Apple, like
Facebook that truly concentrate power. What do you do to try to stop this market concentration that might hurt competition?
FADELL: Well, what I've always said, and I do believe with great power, comes great responsibility. And you cannot extract every penny from
everyone because -- and you can't -- and this is the problem I saw, you know, with other companies in the '90s and 2000s where they would crush the
suppliers in Asia and get all the money out and they would just have them, you know, quarter to quarter, they were all paupers even if they were doing
incredible work for these businesses. You have to understand when you are in that seat, you have to be benevolent. And you have to make sure
everybody is winning here. If somebody is losing, they're going to come against you at some point. And so --
ISAACSON: Well, do you think some of these big tech companies are following the role of benevolence when it comes to competition?
FADELL: No, I don't. Unfortunately, I don't. And I think that they need to be careful because it will be a strong backlash. Just like any revolution
of a government where the inequity becomes so wide, there's a revolution. There will be a reckoning at some point. And everyone has to understand we
have to all work and get along. It doesn't mean we're all equal. But it doesn't mean we have to be closer and reduce the inequality and make sure
that it is accessible to people and open because otherwise you will get an uprising and we're starting to see that in governments around the world
because they said enough is enough. And you can't just extract, extract, extract without giving back.
ISAACSON: And there's a big push back against big technology in American politics today as well. Which of the technology companies be worried about
and is it a valid worry?
FADELL: Well, I think not just tech companies but most companies in general. You know, they have become governments in their own right in some
way. The CEOs -- and I don't -- I wish them well, but a lot of them are politicians now. They have to worry about the governments and multiple
governments. And you know, should we be selling in China or not? If we are selling in China, we're not, you know, doing the right thing for human
rights. These kinds of things.
So, these big businesses have turned into governments in a way. And these CEOs have turned into, you know, certain government officials. And that's -
- and with their own biases, you know where they -- the people claim that they have a biases.
It's really hard now. I don't have any real advice. But if we have to watch out for politicizing companies and company culture because it, you know --
and media has always kind of been that way. But we can't let that get into tech and everywhere else. Because if we do, we're never going to solve this
climate crisis. We're never going to solve our social media crisis that we have. We have to find some more common ground and bring more togetherness
and be around a mission and not am I left, am I right and being attacked from all sides.
ISAACSON: You talked about the crisis in social media --
ISAACSON: -- just now. What is the crisis in social media?
FADELL: Anyone with any voice says I have an equal right to use this amplification tool to influence people. And for me, the biggest issue is
sure you can have a bigger town square. OK. So now, you have a bigger town square with a town crier and says whatever they want. But when you're
selling ads and those ads are algorithmically put next to things that have intentional inflaming content, whether that's you believe it or you don't
like it, that is where you're amplifying for money. And that drives companies and Wall Street to only look at those metrics of money and
engagement instead of societal benefit, right. You have --
ISAACSON: Are you talking about Facebook in particular?
FADELL: I'm talking -- yes, Facebook, in particular. I look at other people as well. You know, Twitter is doing what it can and well see --
ISAACSON: but what should be done with Facebook?
FADELL: What should be done with Facebook? Facebook -- well, we've heard their false promises for years. They need to be regulated. These needs --
you need to come in and you need to start looking at these algorithms and start removing this amplification from revenue model, right? It is toxic.
We have to separate the two.
And we saw what happened in media, in -- and traditional media. It is 10 or 100 acts online media. And we have to do something about it and get that
algorithm out and understand it's for public good. Not for public destruction.
ISAACSON: And how do you do that with a private company? Do you think the government should go in and sort of fiddle with the algorithm of Facebook?
FADELL: Well, I wish the controllers of Facebook would actually dig deep into their hearts. Find their hearts and understand that what society do we
want to build? What do we want to live in? When we were doing the iTunes video store after the music store for the iPad and what have you, there was
a discussion about -- with Steve and the executive team at Apple. Should we put porn? Should we put porn on the Apple video store? License video store?
And Steve got up and said, this is not a world I want to live in. I don't want this world for my kids, my grandkids. We will not do this. This is not
allowed. We -- I don't care if people make money and it's an incredible cash business. I am not doing it and I am not enabling it, right.
It takes that kind of leadership at these other media companies to say, what kind of world do we want to live in? What society do we want to live
in for, not just ourselves but our kids and our grandkids in our societies? It takes that kind of guts. When you have that kind of leadership, you have
that kind of responsibility, you need to lean in on that.
ISAACSON: I want to read you a quote, you say, "I wake up. I have cold sweats every so often thinking what did we bring to the world?" In other
words, are you having second thoughts about the addictiveness of the iPhone and other types of devices that are now controlling the attention of our
FADELL: I am. I do think about it and that quote, that statement I made is absolutely true. These were unintended consequences. The iPhone and mobile
networks and data and internet, all converged at the same time to be 24/7. The goal here was to be able to do things that you do on your computer
remotely. OK. That's what the whole goal, we see and do quick messages.
It became quickly the center of our life and especially when the Apple economy was added to it years later, right. When it was added years later,
or a year ago, that's when people were able to exploit the platform. So, the way I look at this is the iPhone or smartphones in general, they're
refrigerators. OK. They're neutral. If you put bad things in your refrigerator and you eat those things, well then you know, you're not going
to be healthy.
So, we have unintended consequences with the iPhone. So, what you as a platform, you know, as a platform fighter you have the responsibility to
give nutritional facts for every single app that you download. Does it have kind of these algorithms in it? What could it do to you? What are the --
just like we have for food, what's the nutritional line items for all the things that are in these apps we download? And I don't want --
ISAACSON: But wait -- wait a minute. No kid is going to be reading the nutritional values of every app.
FADELL: No, that's true.
ISAACSON: We have unleashed this. What should we be doing about the world that these devices play in our lives? Should we be putting them in separate
rooms at times?
FADELL: Yes, well absolutely. Look, there's one when kids are 18 and below, I think you have to put in screentime limits. You know, I was a real
big advocate for screentime limits and different safety around that. But parents also have to abide by that as well. They have -- they set the role
-- they're the role models for the kids. They can't just control the kids and not control themselves.
But that said, we do need more system-level controls around these things, so you do that. Now, you have to be the change you want to be, you to --
for -- to see that your kid should mirror. Those are the kinds of things where put your phones away when you're at the table. Look at each other.
Talk to each other. Don't just do this, right. Don't even have the phone on the table because it's distracting. I turn off all the notifications.
You know, pre-COVID, we actually had one day a week where we would have no screens and displays in the family, right, to have that kind of experience.
We know that these are really useful tools, right. And the reason why I don't feel bad about these tools is because they bring incredible
information. But like food and everything else, it needs to be used in moderation for information.
Work, you got to work on it. But when you're consuming things like entertainment or other content, you need to watch out. Because you cannot
just binge-watch everything, you can't just TikTok or reels or whatever that stuff. You have to moderate yourself and use screentime tools. And
also use, you know, help your kids who you have to teach.
ISAACSON: You know, it's really interesting. You're one of the primary inventors of the iPhone, obviously, Steve Jobs was.
ISAACSON: Steve Jobs never allowed his kids or his family or himself to have the iPhone or any computer where they ate dinner, in the evenings. And
likewise, you're saying, as one of the primary people who helped bring us the iPhone, you don't allow it around dinner. You don't allow your kids
just to use it. So how do you --
FADELL: Yes, I really am -- get upset when I do see that. And I also don't want to see it when it's -- when adults are together either.
ISAACSON: You're now very involved in green technology. Tell me why you've turned your focus to that and what do you think the promise of those
FADELL: So, we are in a climate crisis. We are going to have to reinvent our -- the way we live our societies. We need to find those technologies
that allow us to live similarly to what -- well not the same, but similarly to what we can live today but in a green circular way.
So, we're trying to find the disruptive technologies that allow these things to happen. So, I've taken it on over the last six years. And now
we're investing in 20, 30, 40 different companies all around climate. And in fact, with "Build", all proceeds -- now, proceeds of "Build" are matched
five times by me to go fund climate crisis solutions.
So, we're really trying to -- with this book and with our -- with what we do every day, is try to show the way of how we are going to get out of this
crisis we're in. And we're going to need to do it together with the best brains, the best capital, and work together to make that happen. So, I'm
very excited about the hydrogen economy. I'm very excited about new forms, like I said, of agriculture, transportation.
And so for me, it's really rewarding to see, you know, what happened with COVID and how we all came together around COVID. COVID sucked. But we
needed to come together and create new businesses and new ways of being -- and we could pull it together in weeks. Look at what happens -- the
terrible tragedies that going -- ongoing in Ukraine. Look at how we're changing our energy systems in weeks. We can do this if we mobilize, and
unfortunately, against ourselves and how we're living. We have to mobilize and have the will to go and make those changes so it is better for our
future generations as well as ourselves.
ISAACSON: Tony Fadell, thank you so much for joining us.
FADELL: Hey, Walter, always great to see you. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: He most definitely has a point.
And finally tonight, despite the crushing war it endures, Ukraine has made it all the way to this weekend's Eurovision Song Contest final. It's that
strange place where geopolitics often meets high cam and pop music. The Ukrainian entry, Kalush Orchestra, are the favorites to win. The bands'
style combines hip-hop with traditional Ukrainian music. Let's take a listen to some of their rehearsals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, the contest is aired in many countries around the world. The Ukrainian commentator though will be following it all live from a
makeshift studio in a bomb shelter. In an obviously undisclosed location inside the country. Russia has been banned from entering. And if Ukraine
wins, it'll host next year's competition, hopefully, as a nation in peace.
That's it for now. Remember, you can always catch us online, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and of course on our podcast. Thanks for watching
and goodbye from London.