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Interview With Judd Apatow; Interview With Former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens; Interview with "George Carlin's American Dream" Director Judd Apatow; "The Power of Crisis" Author Ian Bremmer. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 23, 2022 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The future of the 21st century economy is going to be largely written in the Indo-Pacific.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): President Biden in Asia unveils a new economic partnership and tries to clean up President Trump's assault on American
credibility in the region.
I ask the former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens.
GEORGE CARLIN, COMEDIAN: Well, we have more ways to describe dirty words than we actually have dirty words.
AMANPOUR: George Carlin, the iconic comedian and master wordsmith, gets the Judd Apatow treatment. A comedy legend in his own right honors the
trailblazer with a searing new documentary.
IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: I think that, for the Europeans, the Russian invasion into Ukraine is an existential threat to democracy.
AMANPOUR: As the world faces multiple crises, are we ready for the crises to come? Walter Isaacson talks to author and political scientist Ian
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
President Joe Biden is on the last full day of his Asia trip, attending a security summit with Quad partners, India, Australia and Japan, and
launching a new partnership with multiple Asia-Pacific countries to boost trade ties in the region.
It's this president's attempt to shore up America's commitment to its allies after they were shaken by the last president. And it all plays out
against the backdrop of China's growing dominance.
But as so often happens on these international trips, it's what President Biden said when he wandered off-script that garnered the most attention. At
a press conference in Japan, he said this about America's commitment to defending Taiwan:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The United States is committed. We've made a commitment. We support the one china policy. We support all -- all that we've done in the past,
but that does not mean -- it does not mean that China has the ability -- has the -- excuse me -- the jurisdiction to go in and use force to take
QUESTION: Very quickly, you didn't want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily, for obvious reasons. Are you willing to get involved
militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?
QUESTION: You are?
BIDEN: That's the commitment we made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Top administration officials scrambled to reassure China that U.S. policy has not changed.
But, notably, the president has made similar comments in the past, which begs the question, how can America maintain strategic ambiguity towards
China after such unambiguous remarks from the U.S. president?
Kathleen Stephens is the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, and her experience in the region dates back to a Peace Corps stint in the '70s. She
joins me now from San Francisco.
Welcome to the program. I'm going to call you Ambassador Stephens. Once an ambassador, always an ambassador.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, first off, what do you make of President Biden saying this again, after having said similar things in the past,
actually saying, yes, the U.S. would militarily defend Taiwan?
KATHLEEN STEPHENS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA: Well, I think it's significant.
I think it's a sign that the kind of modus vivendi on Taiwan that underpinned the U.S.-China relations since full normalization of relations
back in 1979, that very delicate balance of one China policy, not supporting Taiwan independence, but some, as you said, strategic ambiguity
about what the United States would do in the event of Beijing moving to reunify with Taiwan, all of that balance is now being shaken.
And I think, yes, as you said, the White House scrambled to kind of clarify President Biden's remarks, but I think it's significant that he has said
something like this more than once. And, on this occasion, he said it in Japan, right at China's back door. And so I'm not surprised that it's
provoked a bit of a reaction from Beijing.
AMANPOUR: So let's quickly talk about Japan, a new prime minister there.
Japan has moved in a slightly different way, perceptibly shifted away from his strictly pacifist policy, with regards to the aid is sending to
Ukraine. Again, put that in context with what seems to be some moving parts in terms of policy now in the region.
STEPHENS: Yes, I think you see in the region as a whole -- and, by that, I mean, the U.S. alliances and partners there, most notably Japan, but also
South Korea, Australia, India, and others, all see and their public see a China that seems a bit more threatening, more aggressive, that is ready to
punish countries that displeased China in some way.
And they're worried about, again, as you mentioned, about American commitment to the region. So, with all that, yes, we have seen, not only
under Prime Minister Kishida, who came to power last October from the same party as his predecessor, Mr. Abe, but definitely a more muscular approach
by Japan, again, I think in part to try to replace some of what they saw as a bit of a gap in American leadership on economic issues, certainly, but in
the security area are ready to step up more.
And then, on top of that, I think Ukraine hit Japan and others in the region, the Russian aggression in Ukraine, as a bit of a shock. And they
began to draw comparisons to what lessons might China learn from that vis- a-vis Taiwan, or, for that matter, Japan has some disputed territories with Russia itself.
So the reaction has been quite strong, and, in that sense, out of character with Japan's more historical reticence on some of these issues, and I think
we will see that continue.
AMANPOUR: So, just to pick up on this particular topic, President Biden again addressed the Ukraine/Russia/China parallels.
This is what he said about getting too soft on Russia too soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: If, in fact, after all he's done there's a rapprochement met between China -- I mean -- excuse me -- between the Ukrainians and Russia,
and these sanctions are not continued to be sustained in many ways, then what signal does that send to China about the cost of attempting,
attempting to take Taiwan by force?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's a little bit of what you were alluding to, but just expand on that, because it was a clear warning.
STEPHENS: Yes, and I think maybe -- maybe President Biden has picked up some of this in the region.
I think that's definitely the sentiment in Japan, to a slightly lesser extent, I think, in South Korea, but they do look at the parallels there.
And, that said, this has not been an easy thing for any of these countries to step up to the sanctions, because in the case, again, of both Japan and
South Korea, these are energy-poor countries. They're oil-poor countries.
And they do -- they're heavily hit by these disruptions in supply chains and by the spiking of oil prices. So this comes at a cost for them, but I
think they have made a strategic commitment they need to be on board for this.
I think it's notable that by I believe both the Japanese prime minister and the South Korean president are going to the NATO summit next month in June
in Madrid. So, we're seeing a kind of a -- I think what President Biden has been trying to forge.
And that is like-minded countries for perhaps a variety of -- somewhat a variety of reasons, given some of the threats they face, to try to have a
united approach to Russian aggression.
AMANPOUR: So, as I said, you were ambassador to South Korea.
And, again, South Korea has a new president, and he is taking a much tougher at least public stance to North Korea than his predecessor. And,
obviously, President Biden met with him as well. The North has launched a whole load of missile tests so far, like 15 so far this year, and there was
some thought that they might do something militarily while Biden was in country.
Here is what South Korea's new president, Noon -- Yoon, rather, told CNN about how he was going to be handling North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOON SUK-YEOL, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I think the ball is in Chairman Kim's court. It is his choice to start a dialogue with
us. I do not want North Korea to collapse.
My hope is for North Korea to prosper alongside South Korea. I do not believe that enhancing its nuclear capability is helpful and conducive to
maintaining international peace and shared prosperity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, do you think this slightly tougher rhetoric, maybe stance, is going to be more successful with the North Koreans than, for instance,
President Moon, who emphasized dialogue, who emphasized more sort of conciliation?
And you remember, of course, that President Trump accused President Moon in the early days of being an appeaser.
Well, success with respect to a breakthrough with either on getting North Korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons and missile program, to abide with
international demands that it change its approach and deal with a better life for its people, there's been little success with any approach, I have
to say, over successive administrations and successive tries.
What I think of when I learn to what President Yoon just said is, this is quite consistent with the approach that one of the previous presidents, Lee
Myung-bak, who was president when I was ambassador, from the conservative party took.
And there actually is some overlap between the presidents. It's kind of like our foreign policy in the United States. Sometimes, I mean, during
campaigns, the differences are drawn. In power, there's generally a mix.
And I would say right now, the mix and what Mr. Yoon is talking about is, yes, given the fact that North Korea has known -- shown no interest in any
kind of diplomacy or dialogue in recent years, in part because of its own self-isolation from the COVID -- because of the pandemic, its escalating
again of missile tests, its kind of suspension of its informal missile moratorium, and now doing these greater tests -- and I expect there could
well be more tests in the coming weeks even.
That, given all this, it's important for deterrence to be stepped up. One thing that President Moon and President Biden agreed on is, there will be a
resumption of more joint military exercises, there were a lot of assurances given by the United States about the extent to which the United States
would be ready trying to, again, overcome some of the doubts that were sown during the Trump years, that the U.S. would be -- would provide so-called
extended deterrence to South Korea in the event of North Korean aggression, so on and so forth.
But, at the same time, you hear President Yoon saying, we're ready for a dialogue, as long as they are.
AMANPOUR: Right. Right.
STEPHENS: So, I think, in that sense, is it going to be successful?
I think, first of all, I think it could be reasonably successful, if you like, in the first order for any South Korean president, and that is
ensuring the safety and security of South Korea. But I think they do have to be ready for more aggression from North Korea, but, at the same time,
see if there's a door open for dialogue.
And on that -- and I apologize for this long answer -- it is also notable, although it wasn't in the quote from President Yoon there, that when North
Korea recently announced for the first time that it had confirmed COVID-19 cases, South Korea was very quick to try to reach out and say, we are
ready, as we have said before, to provide vaccines, humanitarian assistance, and so on and so forth.
And I think just one last point, if I could add, I -- also something to watch with North Korea is the issue of food security or, for that matter,
insecurity. When we talk about, again, the broader global environment we're in, North Korea is one of those countries that is very, very vulnerable to
And so I think there's some vulnerability on the part of North Korea that could lead it to be more aggressive. At the same time, it could lead it to
see that it has no choice but to turn to perhaps even South Korea, the international community for some help.
STEPHENS: And I think South Korea and President Yoon would be ready to try to provide that.
AMANPOUR: And sort of back to China and a sort of a continuity or otherwise between U.S. policy. There's some thought that President Biden
may finally lift some of the trade tariffs or all of them that President Trump put on China.
How much do you know about that? And how important would that be? And what would it mean, in terms of U.S.-China relations?
STEPHENS: Yes, I have not followed that closely.
I think it would be an important signal in the region that the -- that President Biden is moving away from the Trump policy of punitive tariffs,
which is really not in the recent American tradition. Whether or not it would allow some sort of thawing of the now very difficult relationship
with China, I'm a little more doubtful about.
I would hope that it would, because one thing that does worry me, as we get back to like the Taiwan question you started with, is, we need to make sure
that there's an avenue of dialogue and working together in some respect with Beijing.
And if that would help to provide an opening to do that, it would be a very welcome thing, in my view.
AMANPOUR: Can I go back to your personal and therefore professional experience in the region? You were ambassador in South Korea. You had a
Peace Corps stint there. You have been there in that region on and off for a long time.
How does that inform your view of the politics and particularly now, with this sort of attempt to sort of shore up the partnership amongst the U.S.
and its allies, but also in terms of keeping democracy alive? And we see it's such an existential issue now for the West between Russia and Ukraine.
Talk to us a little bit about it in Asia.
Well, yes, I first went to Korea in 1975. It was essentially under martial law, and quite a different place, both economically and politically, than,
of course, what it's become over the years.
I would say, as a backdrop to it, at that time, I was very interested in China, as were many of my generation. Nixon had gone to China. And I was
watching -- watching eagerly and carefully to see if there was going to be -- and, of course, there eventually was -- an opening of relations with
China, although, of course, everything in Asia, I suppose, has exceeded our expectations, which -- for better or worse, I suppose, in terms of Asia's
But with respect to Korea -- and you asked a question about democracy. I certainly drew a lot of lessons, I think, about diplomacy and about
America's role in the world and American foreign policy from watching Korea's journey over the years, again, 1975, authoritarian, essentially
under martial law, but beginning to experience industrialization and economic growth.
I went back to Korea in the 1980s. I was the first woman to serve as a political officer there. It was actually a lot harder to get a job as a
political office in the embassy than it was ambassador years later, because people didn't think women could do that job.
But I spoke some Korean. And so I mention that because I think one thing I learned from my Peace Corps experience and others is, I really do think, to
do good diplomacy -- and maybe this seems obvious, but it's not always obvious to people in the capitals -- you need to know something about the
culture and the language.
You need to meet people where they are. And when I went back to Korea in the 1980s, and actually stayed for six years, because it turns out that not
too many other places you can use Korean as a diplomat other than the Korea at that time, and still, I saw this extraordinary and very bumpy journey
that Korea had to 1987, when they really took a step towards direct election of the president and a democratic constitution, for which they
really never looked back.
So I think the story of Korea's economic rise, which is very much focused on, is an extraordinary one. But I think the story of Korean -- the Korean
people's commitment to democracy, with a lot of flaws, is even more inspiring.
And this election that was held earlier this year that brought the new president to power marked a peaceful transfer of power. The turnout rate
was 77 percent of the voters, notwithstanding the fact that both the candidates were considered -- it was called the unlikables, tremendous
It didn't stop people from voting. The votes were counted. The loser conceded, even though the margin of victory was less than 1 percent, the
smallest inquiry in Korea's modern democratic history. And Mr. Yoon made a gracious acceptance speech.
I mentioned all that, because I think, to Americans, to those of us who do worry about democracy around the world, including in our own countries,
this is inspiring. And I think that the United States can take some satisfaction in that we have played a role, not the decisive role, but we
have played a role.
So I think, when you think about the role that the U.S. can play in the world, I take some positive lessons from Korea. But I think, also, we can
learn a lot from our history of how we need to understand well what's going on that country and try to show some commitment and some readiness to be
flexible and to have good policy.
And, again, I don't take credit for all of Korea's accomplishment, but I do think we can take some good lessons and satisfaction from its success.
AMANPOUR: And what lessons should the world, in fact, Asia, even Australia, take from the change of government there over the weekend?
The new prime minister has -- having his first meeting with President Biden in this Quad -- Quad group. And we see that it was climate, it was other
those kinds of issues that really did change the dynamic in Australia.
What do you read from that?
Yes, I guess I read that -- and, again, I'm a former diplomat, not a politician, but I feel like, in all of our countries and in our
democracies, we're seeing maybe a more of a blending of some of the domestic anxieties of countries with foreign policy and our place -- and we
share a lot of common challenges.
I think there's a sense in all of our countries that our democracies are under some pressures from misinformation, social media, the sense of
shrinking opportunities, the crisis of climate change. We could go on and on.
But you see this in every country, and it plays out in different ways. But it leads to some of the same phenomenon, I think, of polarization, of a
sense the institutions are beginning to show a lot of strain.
So, when it comes to things that we can actually work on together -- and we have kind of a standard menu. We have -- we have worked on the things we
consider foreign policy issues, but we also have to look at things like -- and you get to trade.
STEPHENS: What does trade really do for our countries? And it's one of the reasons the United States has moved from negotiating free trade agreements
to something more vaguely called economic frameworks.
STEPHENS: I think we see those same tensions in every country. And leaders are having to respond to them and figure out how to mesh the domestic and
the international agendas in different ways.
AMANPOUR: Ambassador Kathleen Stephens, thank you so much for joining us.
Now, in a world that often feels like it's teetering on the brink of catastrophe, it is ironic that some of the most insightful commentary on
life comes from a comedian who died 14 years ago.
He is the iconic George Carlin. And a new HBO documentary offers a comprehensive look at his complicated life and timeless work. And some
contemporary comic giants pay tribute. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY SEINFELD, COMEDIAN: He personified that thing that you see when you're young and you go, that's it. That's the thing. That's the thing to
be. And I wanted to be just like him, getting every word in the right spot, because, when he did it, it thrilled me.
And I wanted to do that. I wanted that skill, and I have spent my life pursuing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The documentary is called "George Carlin's American Dream," and it's directed by Judd Apatow himself, the comic force behind classics like
"Freaks and Geeks, "Anchorman," and "Knocked Up."
And he's a dedicated student of his craft, of course.
Judd Apatow, welcome to the program.
JUDD APATOW, DIRECTOR, "GEORGE CARLIN'S AMERICAN DREAM": Good to be here.
AMANPOUR: Were you one of those, like Jerry Seinfeld, who said, I wanted to be like that?
I hadn't heard so many of the modern comic giants pay such tribute to George Carlin in that particular way.
APATOW: I definitely was.
When I was a kid, the first comedy albums we had in the house were George Carlin records. We had Lenny Bruce records. This was all in the mid-'70s,
and the Steve Martin albums. And I think that he had a way of attacking hypocrisy that was very appealing for young people.
He talked a lot about school and rejecting authority and being a critical thinker. And he also sometimes was really dirty. And he talked about
cursing and how ridiculous it was that people were so nervous about it. And he would break things down into little pieces.
And I feel like the way he looked at the world and the way he wrote jokes kind of installed the software into a lot of people's minds of how to think
and how to write comedy.
AMANPOUR: So we will get to the famous dirty words in a moment.
But, first, most people now remember George Carlin as an anti-establishment figure. But he wasn't always that way. Take us back to the beginning of his
APATOW: Well, he was in the Air Force, and he was also a deejay. And then he got kicked out of the Air Force for, I guess, not behaving the way he
was supposed to, not following the rules.
And he started a comedy team with Jack Burns, who later went on to be in a famous comedy team called Burns and Schreiber. And I think Jack Burns was
the person who was very progressive, who taught him a lot about politics. And they had a duo. And then they broke up.
And then he was a solo act. And he was struggling. And he got very soft to appeal to television. So he would be on shows like "The Merv Griffin Show"
and "The John Davidson Show."
There's a clip of him with Richard Pryor from the mid-'60s being very corny on this John Davidson Kraft Summer show. And then, at some point, he
realized that he wasn't being who he wanted to be. He wasn't his real self. And in the late '60s, he started getting edgier. Then he started getting
fired from places like the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas.
And he grew his beard out and got rid of the suit and started dressing like a hippie and became a real rebel comedian after that.
AMANPOUR: And, to that point, in your documentary, Stephen Colbert says the following about that, and then we can discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": It's the Beatles of comedy. At a certain point in his career, there's this huge
He's doing the comedic version of "Love Me Do" for the first part of his career. And then, suddenly, he (EXPLETIVE DELETED) puts out the comedic
"White Album." Like, he does this huge turn. He has this almost spiritual transformation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So he's describing that it happened, and you did, but what specifically led it to change, and him to change?
APATOW: Well, I think that he thought that he wasn't allowed to say what he wanted to say on TV and in nightclubs. He was in Wisconsin at one point,
and he was talking about the Vietnam War and speaking out against it, and he got fired by the Playboy Club.
And I think he realized that he was performing to the parents of the people he wanted to perform for. He talked a lot about wanting to get back to
young people, and talking about what they were protesting about in the streets. And he wanted the complete freedom to express himself at a very
tumultuous time in the history of the country.
AMANPOUR: And, as you said, the Vietnam War. And he did go on campuses and sort of build a whole new audience.
And this is what he said about Muhammad Ali and how he had obviously been stripped of his title, et cetera. This was a really brilliant riff. Let's
just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLIN: That's good that he's being allowed to work again. As you know, he couldn't work for three years. Of course, he had a strange job, beating
But that was his -- his right. He could have that job. The government wanted him to change jobs. The government wanted him to kill people.
He thought it over, and he said, no, that's where I draw the line.
CARLIN: I will beat them up, but I don't want to kill them.
CARLIN: And the government told him, well, if you won't kill them, we won't let you beat them up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, it is really brilliant.
And I don't know whether you notice or whether I'm just hearing it through the IFP, but I heard claps and some boos on then -- it was "The Ed Sullivan
Was it very edgy what he said at that time on that kind of mainstream TV show?
APATOW: Well, I think that was from "The Mike Douglas Show."
AMANPOUR: Oh, was it?
APATOW: And I would assume you always got some boos for that, because the country was very divided and certainly divided about Muhammad Ali standing
up for what he believed in.
And I think it was a really hard choice to say, I'm going to take a side and speak out. And he was so funny about it. I mean, it's a really
remarkable piece. We won't let you beat them up if you don't kill them. I mean, we won't let you kill them if you don't beat them -- whatever.
APATOW: I'm messing it up. This is why I'm not George Carlin.
AMANPOUR: No, but I agree with you. It's remarkable.
APATOW: But he was brilliant.
So, how do you relate to that? I mean, you're also a brilliant comedian, and you're obviously paying tribute to this predecessor. And it's just so -
- that was just so insightful, what he said. How do you relate?
APATOW: Well, I relate to it.
When we look at this time, the country is very polarized. So any position you take on any subject in comedy, say, 30, 40 percent of the audience
might be really mad at you. And it does take a lot of courage to speak your mind and try to get your ideas across.
And that's also part of the art, because, as strong a voice as he had, George Carlin really had an enormous audience and he found a way to bring
them in. And he always said: My job is to talk to an audience, cross the line, and make the audience glad they came with me on that trip.
AMANPOUR: So, one of the things that's obviously highlighted in your documentary and that many of his successes today talk about is this power
of words, the way he uses the words, the words he connects, the -- everything, the game play, but really precise, like a surgeon, the way he
And I just wonder whether you can talk about that, because he actually attributed quite a lot to his mother. What was the relationship with his
mother on that -- on that issue?
APATOW: Well, I think both of his parents were big storytellers. He's from an Irish family.
His father was very abusive. When he was 1 years old, his mother divorced his father. They ran away because he was beating up his brother, who was 6.
And -- but his father, I guess, would join contests to make speeches. And his mom was a big storyteller who loved words.
And I think words were his escape from a very difficult childhood. He loved to break them down. And then, in his routines, I think he likes to talk
about Orwellian language and the way governments use words to make us not realize how horrible things truly are.
So, he had a very famous routine about the world -- the word shell-shocked, the phrase shell-shocked, and how, over the years, that turned into post-
traumatic stress syndrome and how the word kept changing to make you not feel the pain of the soldiers in the same way.
And he talked about words like depopulate the area, as opposed to killing everybody there. And he felt that we all need to pay attention to the way
we're manipulated by words. He really felt that words, a lot of times were used to trick people.
AMANPOUR: That's really important to talk about right now. And I'm going to get to the famous seven dirty words in a moment, but the idea of these
benign words covering for such really, really difficult situations.
Now we live in a cancel culture. And I wonder whether -- how he -- what he would have made of it and how he would have survived.
APATOW: Well, he was a bit of a free speech absolutist for his time.
He was arrested for saying the seven dirty words on stage at a festival in Wisconsin. They said that he -- it caused a public disturbance. And then,
when it went in front of the judge, one of the attorneys from that area was there, one of the prosecutors.
And they asked him what he saw and he said, well, I just saw him get a standing ovation. But he would get arrested for his ideas, and that
happened to people like Lenny Bruce a lot, the doors, it certainly was a time where people were afraid about the government controlling what they
wanted to say.
He fell like less words was much more dangerous than more. But he also didn't live to see algorithms. He didn't live to see the way people are fed
information and fed conspiracy theories or fed lies through their feeds or through, you know, Twitter and YouTube and Facebook.
So, we really don't know what he would've thought about corporations manipulating people with the way they feed them information.
AMANPOUR: By the way, just that prosecutor and that situation you just recounted, again, I thought that was amazing because the judge actually
said, yes, I agree and dismissed the case. So, he wasn't actually, you know, held to account for that made up idea of disrupting and using those
words to disrupt. But he did say, we can't play those words on television. I mean, we could but we are just have to bleep the whole lot.
So, we just wanted to play another bit where he's talking about his descriptors of those words. Here we go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE CARLIN, COMEDIAN: We have more ways to describe dirty words than we actually have dirty words. That seems a little strange to me. It seems to
indicate that somebody was awfully interested in these words. They kept referring to them. They called them bad words, dirty, filthy, foul, file,
vulgar, course, in poor taste, unseemly, street talk, gutter talk, locker room language, barracks talk, body, naughty, saucy, raunchy, rude, crude,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I think I can see you smiling while that was happening. It's pretty awesome, right?
APATOW: Yes. I mean, it's incredible. I mean, he was such a great writer, he was obsessed with writing. He wasn't someone who went onstage and rift
and try to think of things on stage. He really wrote his sets like one-man shows. And then, he would go on stage and do the whole run for people.
There's a part of the documentary where he's trying out a new routine and he says to the audience, you know, this is for me. I'm here for me, you are
here for me, and no one's here for you.
AMANPOUR: And, you know, behind all this though, basically existed a pretty tragic descent into all sorts of addiction, not just from him but
from his wife at the time, I mean, until she died. And the daughter who you interview at length in the documentary who's just remarkable and relays the
story of not just having this genius father but also, of highly accomplished mother who felt sidelined. And she having to literally throw
herself between some pretty violent fights. Tell me about that a little bit.
APATOW: Well, they met in 1961, I think. And she was working at a club. And then, in a few months they were married. And not that long after that,
they had Kelly. And he was out on the road and she was left at home. And she got very depressed and wasn't able to pursue her dreams of the time,
and that led to her becoming an alcoholic. And as he became successful, he became addicted to cocaine. And Kelly grew up in a pretty brutal situation.
And one of the remarkable things about the stories is that they did stay together and they did get sober after a pretty long amount of time and
found each other again and found happiness again. But it's definitely an example of how, you know, women were not given the opportunity to pursue
their dreams and their interests in the culture at the time. And it really broke Brenda Carlin's spirit.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And it's so well told that, I mean, you can feel it particularly as a woman watching. And more to the point, he has a routine
that he did, you know, a long time ago about the culture war over abortion. And in the aftermath of the leak of the Supreme Court apparent draft ruling
on this, rolling back Roe v. Wade, it's really interesting to play this bit, that's also in your new documentary, that he talked about. Let's just
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CALRIN: Prolife conservatives are upset with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don't want to know about you. They don't want
to hear from you. No nothing, no neonatal care, no daycare, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If your pre-born,
you're fine. If your preschool, your --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, needless to say, that just demonstrates the relevance of George Carlin and what he did then and how it resonates today. So, lastly,
I want to ask you why George Carlin? Why now? Why did you decide to do this?
APATOW: Well, I got asked to do it by HBO and I thought, well, this is the person that made me want to be a comedian. And I was, you know, really
impressed that every time something would happen in politics, his material would be all over the internet, he would trend, and he had died 14 years
earlier. And it was strange that the best material about almost every subject was written by the same man. There aren't other people who are
going viral the way he is.
And I've always been interested in comedians, I spent a lot of my life interviewing comedians. I -- not to be a plugger, but I have this book,
"Sicker in the Head," which is all interviews with comedians like Sacha Baron Cohen and Amber Ruffin and Mindy Kaling. All the money goes to
charity or I wouldn't plug it so hard.
And I'm always just trying to learn and I feel like I make these documentaries also to teach me what I should do and how I should behave and
what I should not do.
AMANPOUR: Well, Judd Apatow, you hit the nail on the head. Thank you so much. It's really been amazingly well reviewed. It's airing now. It's four
hours, "George Carlin's American Dream" available on HBO and HBO Max.
Now, there was nothing humorous about a warning from the Swiss president today as he was hosting the world economic forum in Davos. He talked about
our world in the throes of multiple crises all at once. That is also the subject of a new book by our next guest, the political scientist, Ian
Bremmer. In "The Power of Crisis: How Three Threats and Our Response Will Change the World." Ian Bremmer looks at how we can better prepare for the
global challenges ahead. And here he is talking to Walter Isaacson about it.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNNI HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And, Ian Bremmer, welcome to the show.
IAN BREMMER, "THE POWER OF CRISIS" AUTHOR: Great to be with you.
ISAACSON: Your doctoral dissertation at Stanford, it was called the "Politics of Ethnicity: Russia and the Ukraine." And you've worked in the
past with Boris Nemtsov who was a great democracy advocate in Russia who got assassinated. Tell me what you're thinking was back then about Russia
and Ukraine, how it's change and what this means for Putin.
BREMMER: Well, I mean, you're bringing me way back. I started my dissertation back in 1989. I mean, how could one possibly not work on the
nationality's explosion in the former Soviet Union. I mean, this was world changing. It was empire shattering.
And what was pretty clear to me from having lived for a year in Ukraine back in 1992 -- in fact, I attended their first ever (INAUDIBLE), their Day
of Independence -- was, first of all, just how extraordinary it is to build a new country. Secondly, the fact that the Ukrainians and Russians in Kyiv
and Kiev, as they refer to it at the point, got along extremely well and thought of each other as fraternal nations, as very friendly, very engaged.
But also, that when you traveled as I did down to Crimea and down to parts of Southeast Ukraine that this was a very different place. And that that --
that the challenges of identity, of historical attachments, of power and capital, these were not going to suddenly be resolved by the independence
of Ukraine as a country.
So, there was -- in other words, there was a lot to think about and play for back in 1994 when I submitted my dissertation in thinking about Russia
and Ukraine on the ground.
ISAACSON: You've said that this has the opportunity to unify NATO, to unify Democrats and Republicans even. But how long can that be sustained if
this is a two, three, four-year process?
BREMMER: I want to, first of all, say that for NATO and for Europe, Walter, this is a generational change. So, what is -- has ended is a peace
dividend of 30 years. What has ended is the idea that the Europeans don't need to be spending on their own defense, don't need to be focused on their
own national security. And indeed, that the Germans now understand that they're going to spend twice as much on defense going forward. That the
Europeans understand with very few exceptions, Hungary the notable exception, that they are going to decouple themselves from the Russian
economy, at great expense.
Even in terms of things like coal and oil and gas and faster than anyone would have expected. I think that is permanent. I think it's generational.
I think that for the Europeans, the Russian invasion into Ukraine is an existential threat to democracy.
For the United States, it's a bigger question. And I don't feel as confident that the United States in a year or in 2024, with the
presidential election coming up, will it be as committed and as focused on a country that's far away that the Russians have done almost no business
with the United States. There are very few refugees that make it to the U.S. U.S. is not part of Europe. I think the potential for the Americans to
end up more divided on this issue is real, but I think that's an open question and there is a real opportunity for the Americans to not only
rebuild and revitalize what had been a NATO drift, but also bring in the Asian democracies and allies to become a broader part of that. Something
that clearly was not seen as possible on February 23rd.
ISAACSON: You've said that it was very difficult to maintain a front against Russia win our relations with China seem to be degenerating,
spiraling out of control. Do you think this is an opportunity and a necessity for us to do a reset with China?
BREMMER: I don't think that we have a relationship of trust with China. I think that's mutual. And I don't think that's going to change anytime soon.
But when -- on February 4th, three weeks before the invasion. Xi Jinping and President Putin got on a stage in the opening to the Beijing Olympics
and declared to the world that they had a friendship without limits.
I will tell you that in the end of May, that relationship looks different. That relationship feels like a friendship with not that many benefits. And
if you look at Xi Jinping's private conversations in the last couple of weeks with Chancellor Scholz and with President Macron in France, they've
been talking as if they really don't want to be tarred with the same brush as Putin has been, that they want territorial integrity with Ukraine. They
want to be friends with everyone. They want to cease fire. They don't want a new Cold War. I think they're being much more cautious.
And I also think -- I do expect with Biden's trip to Asia, that there will be a phone call with Xi Jinping, there will be direct engagement. I know
that the White House has been talking about maybe trying to reduce or remove some of the tariffs on China that was set in the Trump
administration. Because, frankly, inflation right now is a very big issue affecting the American voters and not helping Biden's popularity one bit.
And the Chinese would surely welcome that.
I think the Chinese have taken a number of lessons away from the extraordinary level of unity, that the United State and allies have shown
in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I do think that that affects the way they think about Taiwan going forward. And I think it
affects the way they think about their relationship with the West going forward in ways that can be constructive for the Americans.
ISAACSON: If you were Jake Sullivan or Kurt Campbell or Anthony Blinken, helping arrange Biden's trip to Asia, would you have him both call Xi
Jinping in China and maybe even offer to have a summit between the American president and the Chinese leader?
BREMMER: 100 percent. Biden's meeting with Putin a year ago in Geneva was something that Biden very much wanted to do. I don't think that's feasible
going forward because Biden feels like Putin has lied to his face and is a war criminal. Biden never talks about Xi Jinping the way. He talks about
how much the two men have gotten to know each other when Biden was vice president and Xi Jinping was vice president. Biden's proud of that. And
it's not that they agree on everything but they feel like they have a level of mutual understanding and respect for each other.
Biden is a big believer in personal diplomacy. He's a big believer that went two individuals get together and speak honestly with each other, they
have the ability to resolve problems. And especially because Biden is being so welcomed by the New South Korean president, just came into office two
weeks ago, very aligned with the United States. With the Japanese, the relatively new Japanese from minister, very assertive on the global stage.
Very popular at home.
And also, with a meeting of the quad that Trump presidency started but the Biden presidency continues to grow. That includes also Australia and India.
The fact is, that the Chinese do not want to feel like the only purpose of American policy in Asia is to contain them. And frankly, that feeling has
been part of the reason why Putin and Xi ended up on the global stage the way they did. I feel quite confident that Biden will want to address that
ISAACSON: If Biden does address directly the Chinese issue, has a summit with Xi Jinping, do you think that will cause a widening of the political
divide in Washington? Because one of the things that Republicans and Democrats have agreed on recently is that we're in a very deep rivalry with
BREMMER: Yes, there is no question that there is massive agreement among Democrats and Republicans with very limited exception in how to respond to
Putin, how to respond to Russia. So much so that Trump has been relatively quiet on this issue. And even backtrack a bit when Putin invaded Ukraine,
said, well, that's not the Putin that I knew.
So, on China, I think Biden has been very cautious. I think that Ron Klain, his chief of staff, who is obviously critical on these issues has been very
cautious because they understand that a Biden who might be perceived as soft on China could lose your votes. Did lose them votes in swing states
back in 2020. And obviously, they don't want that to happen again.
But Biden is much more concerned about inflation at home. Biden is much more concerned about the future of the global order an American's role in
it. And I don't think he is prepared. I mean, he appointed John Kerry, and on the climate, he said, the Chinese and the Americans need to work
together. He said, you go and do it. And I don't think he was worried about backlash when he sent Kerry over Beijing and said, find a way to work with
ISAACSON: One of the maximums and foreign policy comes from the cartoon character Pogo who said a long time ago, we've met the enemy and it is us.
BREMMER: And it is us.
ISAACSON: Yes. And so, in your book, you talk about the dysfunction of democracy and how that's something that we have to fix and we have the
opportunity to fix because of a lot of these crisis that have come along. How important is it do you think for us to concentrate on fixing our
democracy at home?
BREMMER: You started this interview asking about my dissertation. When I started writing my dissertation, it was 1989. America's greatest strength
were our ideas. Our political system. That's why the wall came down because on the people on the other side wanted their system to be more like ours.
They aspired to have the kind of individual liberties and civil society that the United States embody. And that is not true anymore 30 years later.
The American institutions have eroded, they have fragmented, they have become delegitimized. Every day, we see new unprecedented things. We see a
Supreme Court opinion leak. It's never happened before. We see people demonstrating in front of the homes of Supreme Court justices. It's never
happened before. January 6th had ever happened before. All of these unprecedented things because we, Americans, increasingly don't believe in
our own political system.
So, clearly, if you do not address that your ability to continue to function as the north star, the leading light, for other countries around
the world, you know, you can forget about it. And that is -- I think that's a big challenge for the United States.
ISAACSON: In your book, you paint some scenarios that might stem from this dysfunction and this distrust of government that you've just talked about.
And one of them is that big technology companies, global technology companies will end up with a lot more power, and a techno utopianism in
which governments will play a smaller role. Do you think that's likely and explain what that would be?
BREMMER: Well, I'm not sure how likely it is that will feel like a utopia. But I think it's very clear that technology companies are functionally
sovereign in the digital space as opposed to the physical world. So, let me give you an obvious example. Russia invades Ukraine. NATO provides javelin
missiles and stingers and tanks and helicopters. But in terms of defending Ukraine from Russia, a cyber-attack, that's actually Microsoft and Google
I mean, literally, it's not the government. It's private technology companies that are deciding, as companies, how they want to act. And that's
kind of astonishing. It's very new. And so, if you want to think about the dangers that come from disruptive technologies, like cyber and like
algorithms for disinformation, and like lethal autonomous drones and like quantum computing, we have to recognize the principal actors in that space
are not just governments anymore, they're actually tech companies.
So, we now have a lot of very new, very dangerous disruptive technologies and it's not going to be just about governments taking action to ensure
that they do not proliferate. From the get-go, it's going to also be private sector corporations. And that means any institution that we create
to try to facilitate that regulatory space that governance will not just be about governance but it will also be about tech companies. It's kind of a
post West failing (ph) order in the virtual world that affects all of us. It affects the global economy, it affects our personal security, and it
affects national security around the world.
ISAACSON: After World War II, we developed a lot of institutions that served as guardrails against the threats we might be facing, political,
economic, military, whether it be NATO or the World Bank or the IMF and the United Nations even. Nowadays, those institutions don't seem suited to be
the guardrails. Do we need a whole new set of institutions to serve as a guardrail for this new era?
BREMMER: Of course, we do, Walter. Because, look, what is happened in the world? You have economic cycles. Every seven years on average, we have an
economic recession. And we know how to identify it, we have the playbook, it's monetary, it's fiscal tools. You know, we're probably heading into a
global recession right now, hopefully no deep one, and then, we'll come out of it.
The interesting thing is that there are geopolitical boom and bust cycles too. And the world is, right now, in a geopolitical recession. And the
reason you get your geopolitical bust cycles is because the institutions that you create around the world, when you create them, they're very
aligned with the balance of power in the world at that point and the values and preferences, priorities of the countries that are most important in the
And overtime, that balance of power changes. But the institutions are sticky. They don't change. And when the gap between the institutions and
the balance of power becomes great, the institution starts to break down. They become obsolete. They become delegitimized. And then, you need new
institutions. You have to either reform dramatically or you have to create new ones.
ISAACSON: Give me an example of a new institution with a new ideology you would start right now.
BREMMER: We do not have globally any institutions that deal with the proliferation of disruptive technologies. We need one. For climate change,
we have an inter-governmental panel for climate change. And every year, all of these scientists and public policy people come together and they say,
what is the state of challenge that we have a climate change? And as a consequence, we all agree that there is climate change, It's 1.2 degrees
centigrade so far. It's man-made. It's not natural circumstance. And here are the implications. We have not yet done that at all for destructive
So, it's very clear that we need and inter-governmental panel on artificial intelligence. Where you'd put together public policy experts,
technologists, scientists from the private sector and from the public sector globally to identify first what the state of play, the state of
danger is with lethal autonomous weapons. The state of play with bioweapons. The state of play with dangerous algorithms. Because you can't
fix a problem until you, at least, agree on what the problem is.
And the reason we're responding so effectively to Russia as the West is because everyone agrees that what Putin did wrong. Well, it took us decades
to agree that climate change was real, that the science wasn't fake and that we had to respond to it. Now, we are there. And as a consequence,
we're making a hell of a lot of progress. You need architecture to do that. You need institutions to do that. And that's what has to come in response
to disruptive technology.
ISAACSON: Ian Bremmer, thanks for joining us.
BREMMER: Thank you, Walter.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, we end the show with an act of solidarity. You may remember just a few days ago I visited the TOLOnews Headquarters in
Kabul, Afghanistan. The independent station was reeling from a Taliban order for female presenters to cover their faces. Here is what one anchor
told me that she feared might happen next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KHATERA, TOLONEWS ANCHOR (through translator): It's not clear, even if we appear with the burqa, maybe they will say the women's voices are
forbidden. They want women to be removed from the screen, they are afraid of an educated woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Despite an attempt to hold the line, the order came into effect over the weekend. But to support TOLO's female journalists, male colleagues
also have been masking up as they are taking to the airwaves. It's a movement spreading across borders too and around the world thanks to the
That's it for now. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.