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Christiane Amanpour One-On-One Interview With Armando Iannucci; Interview With Investigative Reporter Jodi Kantor; Hari Sreenivasan Interviews Comedian Hasan Minhaj. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 01, 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 ANCHOR: Hello everyone and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
ARMANDO IANNUCCI, CREATOR, "AVENUE 5": I want politics to work. That's why I spent a lot of time doing things like the think of it and think, because,
you know, I want to show where has it gone wrong.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Where has politics gone wrong? I speak to the inimitable satirist Armando Iannucci, about using his art to support
democracy, and his latest hit "Avenue 5." Then --
JODI KANTOR, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Part of the surprise of the reporting is how widespread this is.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Is your boss spying on you? Journalist Jodi Kantor reveals how a growing number of companies are using secret technology to
track employees, keystroke by keystroke. Plus --
HASAN MINHAJ, COMEDIAN: This is a personal attack. When he dropped this photo, he low key tagged every brown dude in this room, do you understand?
AMANPOUR: The King's Jester, fertility, fatherhood and freedom of speech. Comedian Hasan Minhaj gets into it all in his new stand up special.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London, where this country has been swept up in a week of economic and
political turmoil. Liz Truss' conservative government is coming under increasing pressure over its controversial tax cut plan. Financial markets
are roiled, the British Pound has tanked, and it has earned a rare rebuke from the IMF. All this from just a three-week old government.
Meanwhile, in Italy, the election of Giorgia Meloni marks a lurch to the far right that will see a party with roots in Neo-fascism and to power for
the first time since World War II, alarming some European leaders. And in the United States, the latest congressional hearing into the January 6
attack on the Capitol had to be postponed. A political storm delayed by a real one Hurricane Ian.
Now political chaos often acts as inspiration for my next guest's work. He is beloved for his comedies looking at the absurdity of politics like in
"The Thick of It", "Veep" and "The Death of Stalin." Armando Iannucci's latest work "Avenue 5" is a sitcom about a tourist spaceship thrown off
course. When he joined me here on set, I was surprised to find that his satirical skewer rings are all about supporting democracy.
Armando Iannucci, welcome back to the program.
IANNUCCI: Good to be back.
AMANPOUR: Your finger is on every pulse all the time and it has been a very dramatic week, shall we say, in Britain --
AMANPOUR: -- even in Italy, around the world.
AMANPOUR: What do you make of the pound crashing, the new prime minister, and I'm going to ask you that because, you know --
IANNUCCI: There's a lot, there's a lot going on.
AMANPOUR: -- there's a lot going on.
IANNUCCI: That -- it is like things are happening faster than in the last season of "Game of Thrones." I mean, it's -- and that was hard to keep up.
IANNUCCI: This is just non-stop. You know, we haven't really worked out who Liz Truss is. But already was saying but she must go.
AMANPOUR: And you obviously made your name with satirizing British politics.
AMANPOUR: In "The Thick of It" but also, also the day to day and we have a very, very apt clip regarding money. Here we're going to play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Bank of England is in chaos following the discovery that the pound has been stolen. As the news broke, trading rooms were
plunged into chaos. Even seasoned campaigners known for grace under pressure reduced to squawking the days panicked cry --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's happening?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- what's happening? The pound was stolen at 1:30 this afternoon by thieves dressed as cleaners. They drove a white Montego.
Helicopter police gave chase. But despite the shunt, the men escaped making good with their legs across open ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
IANNUCCI: We made that about 30 years ago.
AMANPOUR: Did you ever imagine that actually the pound would literally be stolen 30 years later? I mean, it's slumped.
IANNUCCI: And then we do -- I mean, we did things like "The Thick of It" where you try and picture the worst that could happen. And then it's
depressing after you've betrayed it that someone rings up from my home and says, how did you find that out? And you realize, oh, it did happen. You
know, we're trying to project the fantastical. But when beyond fantasy actually happens in real life, I think it's time to stop?
AMANPOUR: Well, your portrayals have been pretty skewering of politicians and spin doctors, but there's an earnestness to a lot of your characters. I
do feel this slot is earnest?
IANNUCCI: No, I mean, I want politics to work. That's why I spent a lot of time doing things like "The Thick of It" and "Veep" because, you know, I
want to show where is it gone wrong? Where are the frustrations? And what can we do about it? I mean, I'm always asking the viewer, what would you do
if you were in that position?
I think at the moment though, we now have a generation of politicians who have grown up kind of cost playing politics. You know, I'm sure Liz Truss
wants to be Prime Minister since the age of six, probably had a poster of Margaret Thatcher up on her wall, and practiced speeches, you know, into a
kind of (INAUDIBLE).
AMANPOUR: They say she was a Liberal Democrat?
IANNUCCI: She was a -- yes, yes.
IANNUCCI: Until about 20 or 21. So yes, she's run the whole gamut of center-right policy initiatives over the decades. But I think they grew up
wanting to fulfill that role of Prime Minister the way some people say they want to be a celebrity when they grew up. They don't quite know what it
means. It just looks interesting. And I think it's a performance towards that. So on the way there, they don't actually pick up the knowledge,
wisdom, skill and experience that's required for a job.
AMANPOUR: Well, actually even worse, because from their own mouths, remember during Brexit, the actual idea was to these experts.
AMANPOUR: Remember Michael Gove, the British people have had enough of experts.
IANNUCCI: Well, I think we've now had enough of non-experts, really, because what's happened is the sort of the amateur dramatic version of
politicians are now in power. And they don't quite -- they can't quite handle the script had been given.
AMANPOUR: What about the script in your other land? Italy, your party Italian as well? You tweeted on Sunday that you weren't thrilled with the
Italian result, so how concerned are you? You said, "I started the weekend a depressed Brit and now I ended a depressed Italian. Can't wait for
AMANPOUR: You know, some people can't say these times are just way too ridiculous even to satirize, or way too serious, even to saturate.
IANNUCCI: Yes, that's right. I think we've got to not see it as ridiculous, we've got to start seeing it as worrying, you know. And that's not to say
that people are wrong to vote the way they do. I think it's about asking ourselves, why are more and more people feeling so frustrated, so
frustrated with the, you know, mainstream politics, that they feel the only way they can vent their anger and frustration is by going to, you know,
certain load or colorful extremes?
The reason I made "The Death of Stalin" was I thought, we grew up thinking that democracy is fixed and preserved, you know, and it will stay there
forever. It is -- it has to be defended, and renewed all the time. You have to encourage more and more people to participate in democracy.
AMANPOUR: I don't know how you would describe Putin, but given that you did that film then, and all the hallmarks of bowing to a dictator seem to be on
display right now in Russia around Putin.
IANNUCCI: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: Not telling him the truth, again, it's really prescient.
IANNUCCI: And it's like very soviet. It's like, you know, the announcement of the results of referendum, you know, they -- were back in the days of 93
percent of the population faulting to go with Russia. Even in areas where Russian doesn't fully control, somehow a magical 93 percent were persuaded
at the very last minute of the argument to vote.
It's -- and I mean, "The Death of Stalin" was, you know, it was about events in 1953. I actually shot quite a bit of it in Kyiv, in Ukraine. And
one of the saddest things was we shot a scene where people are getting on the train to try and get to Stalin's funeral. And that was shot at the
station in Kyiv where I then watched on the news on CNN, people at the station in Kyiv trying to get on the train to get out of Kyiv.
And I just thought, this shouldn't be happening now. This was a film we made trying to remind people of what happened 70 years ago.
AMANPOUR: So I wanted to pick up on that because you said all your satire is about trying to defend democracy --
AMANPOUR: -- and try to promote it. How? I mean for those who think you're just ridiculing it, for instance, let me just do a for instance for you. So
in "Veep," Selina Meyer's campaign slogan of continuity with change was later used by the Australian politician Malcolm Turnbull, who became prime
minister, continuity and change.
AMANPOUR: Was that an accident or do you think you took it from that?
IANNUCCI: It was an unfortunate --
AMANPOUR: And what does it mean even?
IANNUCCI: It was an unfortunate accident. I mean, that's the thing that -- you know, if people maybe criticized me for denigrating politics, my answer
to that is always look, I want it to work. You know, the fact that politician's copier phrases is not my fault, you know. It'd be different if
I was copying their phrases in our shows.
The fact that we come up with something stupid and yet someone there arbitrarily and randomly decides to use that seriously, then that's on
them, that's not on me.
One of the reasons I stopped doing "The Thick of It" was because phrases that we started turning up in Parliament. We had this phrase omnishambles.
IANNUCCI: Is used about the budgets and various other things. So, I am no reaching that point where I think I don't want to be doing a kind of
perpetual joke about politics as it was. I actually much more and much more serious about wanting to persuade people to take a good hard look at
politics and ask themselves what is going wrong? What are we fighting (ph) for? Why do politicians not connect with us?
AMANPOUR: You said you kind of had enough maybe of ridiculing politics and making that a joke?
IANNUCCI: Well, on a sort of day-to-day detail basis.
AMANPOUR: Yes. But now you've changed to putting your joke lens on space travel.
AMANPOUR: "Avenue 5."
IANNUCCI: "Avenue 5" ascent in the near future, it's a space tourism is taken off, there's a cruise liner 6,000 people. The journey is meant to
take eight weeks. Something goes wrong. If you just get knocked off course by just 0.1 of a degree, it can make a huge difference. That's stuck for
So suddenly, you're stuck in a very pleasant large, you know, floating hotel with 6,000 other people but for a long time. So what do you do? Who's
in charge? How to structure work? What's the class system? Does the economy class coach class, first class disaster? You know, can he pull all the
branding of your hotel room because you're going to be living in it the next day? You know, who comes up with the rules? It's the law and order.
Who are the police?
AMANPOUR: And what about conspiracy theories? I want to play a --
AMANPOUR: -- clip from Season --
AMANPOUR: -- 1.
AMANPOUR: Which is this one, and it's really very, very, very good.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mike? It's VFX guys, visual effects. It's a projection. It's not even very good ones. That guy is going to be headed to
the greenroom any minute now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, the green room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you talking about?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's going to go the green room this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's desiccated man. We just saw a man become desiccated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That's Hugh Laurie, obviously --
AMANPOUR: -- as the captain of the ship. But that's again, the relationship of people to truth into conspiracies.
IANNUCCI: Yes. I mean, that was made, in fact, went out just before the pandemic reached that point where people were starting to say there is no
pandemic. I did not --
AMANPOUR: Has people started saying that already when you made that?
IANNUCCI: Not when we made it --
IANNUCCI: -- but when it was going out, demanded to be for shops to open up so that they could go shopping and tear off their masks. And, you know,
it's all, you know, there's no -- there's -- it's, you know, it's all been made up. It's a conspiracy to do as though. What gives us the idea? I mean,
we just life, you know, it's -- you see these habits forming, you see patterns forming.
Groupthink is becoming such a thing. You know, we saw it in the rise of not just Trump but Bolsonaro in Brazil, Erdogan in Turkey, the populist leader
who can whip people up, and we can see, you know, and it's reminiscent of the 1930s in Europe. They, you know, people who are desperate after
depression, want someone to come along and say, I have the magic solution.
AMANPOUR: But it's also about truth and I think that's one of the --
AMANPOUR: -- most serious victims this anything these days.
IANNUCCI: I mean, this is the most serious thing, which is where we are now. We're in a position where what we believe is equated with what we
know. So evidence is just one part of the whole equation really. You know what you feel. And if you feel something is true, then that's as valid as
it being true. That's -- which then means it's very difficult to know what is true and what isn't.
AMANPOUR: So now Series 2 --
AMANPOUR: -- is Season 2 is out?
IANNUCCI: In Season 2, we discovered that there's no a TV show back on Earth, trying to imagine what life must be like up in space. And then
people start believing the TV show more than and behavior in space is affected by how they're portrayed on Earth. And the TV show on earth is
affected by, you know, how people are. So it's the whole business of like, what is true, what is real? Are we just absorbing. The thing we did in the
pandemic was absorb itself in streaming content, just to kind of take a might, you know, are we just drowning in our own entertainment rig?
AMANPOUR: Do you think that people got may be more susceptible to all of this sort of conspiracy theories and questioning the truth during the
pandemic because of what you're saying --
IANNUCCI: There's an anatomy (ph) of that. The fact that we're all --
AMANPOUR: -- in vibe (ph) so much?
IANNUCCI: Yes, we're all isolated and yet strangely connected in that we're going through the same experience. We're all watching to take our minds off
it. We're watching dramas and comedies and music and wherever. But also, we have a lot of time on our hands.
AMANPOUR: You mentioned your mother, and you mentioned COVID. And I know that she passed away during COVID?
IANNUCCI: Yes, COVID days -- yes. Not because of that.
IANNUCCI: But like a lot of people who were suffering from dementia, she was in a -- she was 93.
IANNUCCI: As soon as things shut down, that social interaction was gone. And I think a lot of people switched off. I think that was a fairly common
event early on in the days of the pandemic.
AMANPOUR: Were you able to see her? Were you able to say goodbye?
IANNUCCI: I was -- we had to say goodbye on FaceTime, you know? I had an inkling as things were about to shut, that I might not see her again. So I
went to see her and we had a long, long very good chat. But I think, you know, I'm not bitter about it, because I think she had a long --
IANNUCCI: -- healthy life.
AMANPOUR: 93 years.
IANNUCCI: I'd rather she hadn't gone through, you know, what was about to happen. I think a lot of people had far more terrible experiences, they had
loved ones taken from them very early, that they couldn't be with, you know? And I think there's that -- and I don't think we have yet reached the
point where we can process that, because it's still ongoing.
I think we will process it. And I think, you know, what happened in the U.K. with Boris Johnson and his parties, I think that will not be
forgotten, irrespective of who the Conservative Prime Minister is going into the next election. I think that's something that still launched in a
lot of us. Yes.
AMANPOUR: I was going to ask you what impact if any, your mother had well, what influence on your work, on your life?
IANNUCCI: Well, I mean, my father was -- you know, he died in his 50s. But he was actually a partisan in the -- in Italy, at a young age. He was 16,
17. And I remember him saying that, you know, two things are important, education and democracy, are the most important things in life, you know?
And there was someone who had a very early age had to decide. Had to make some tough decisions about what he was going to do, you know? And again, go
back to what I was saying earlier, we expected the 2020s, those huge moral decisions are not ones that we have to face, like the, you know, the
generation, my mom's generation, who lived through the Second World War, and then had to, you know, deal with the after effects of that.
We think we don't have to deal with that. But we look at what's happening in Ukraine. And --
IANNUCCI: -- it's certainly at our doorstep and say it's happening now, because we haven't -- we're not being loud enough.
AMANPOUR: We haven't attended it correctly.
IANNUCCI: In nurturing and renewing democracy.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you one thing actually, one more. There's a whole brouhaha going on in the U.S. and elsewhere about "woke casting."
IANNUCCI: Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: So we talked about it I think when you cast Dev Patel in David Copperfield.
IANNUCCI: That's right. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And now we see the black actress Halle Bailey who's in Little Mermaid, she's getting attacked online. Non-white elves being cast
in Lord of the Rings also got hit. Did you get hit by the way for David Copperfield?
AMANPOUR: And how do you explain this?
IANNUCCI: Not that I know of. I'm sure if I explored the comments section - -
IANNUCCI: -- on various, you know, online websites. But I don't understand. You know, a mermaid is a mermaid. A mermaid's breaking news. Mermaids don't
exist. The fictional. There are no rules as to what a mermaid looks like other than it has a big fin. That's it.
For me, I decided that David Copperfield was a universal story but it's about our hero, David Copperfield, who feels slightly marginalized all the
time. Now, it was about class, but I just thought, there's so much that resonates with a lot of us today. Me, being a, you know, an Italian in
Scotland. A Scott who works in England, a Brit who worked in America, always that thing of, you know, am I in? Am I out? Where am I?
I think that just resonated with me and resonates with lots of people. So I wanted to make a costume drama that felt like it was talking to the
audience out there today, rather than it looked like a historical artifact.
IANNUCCI: Other people will want to do historical accuracy, whatever, that's fine. But to have a golden rule for how mermaids should look or how
elves -- elves also, spoiler, don't exist.
AMANPOUR: Are you sure of that conspiracy theory?
IANNUCCI: I am absolutely sure. No, I am absolutely sure. I've looked at it, I've Googled it. They don't exist.
AMANPOUR: Armando Iannucci, thank you very much indeed.
And Season 2 of "Avenue 5" debuts in the United States on October 10 on HBO, and it will stream on HBO Max.
Now imagine working at your computer, and suddenly it takes a picture of your face. This is just one of the many alarming ways that employers are
tracking their workers to try to see how productive they really are. But these new measures are raising concerns about our privacy and humanity both
in the U.S. and in Europe, which has much stricter privacy laws.
Pulitzer Prize Winning Investigative Reporter Jody Kantor digs into all of this in an eye-opening piece for The New York Times called, "The Rise of
the Worker Productivity Score." I reached her in New York recently to talk about her findings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Jody Kantor, welcome to the program.
KANTOR: Great to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Well, I should say welcome back, because we always love delving into your investigative reports and so much news has been broken by you. So
this surveillance, intense workplace surveillance, I mean, we might have been able to say, oh, yes, or what else is new, but the detail you come up
with is truly scary for working staff, like myself, anyway. Tell me in -- how bad it is.
KANTOR: You know, I think the reason it's so powerful is that this has real impact. When we say surveillance, sometimes it feels very abstract like,
well, of course, we know that our employers are watching us. Of course, we know that they have the right to look at our email. But in this story, we
were able to chronicle real impact on things like what you get paid, and whether you get fired.
The basic idea is that there's a kind of rise of an employee productivity score, in which your boss in various forms, and this manifests in lots of
different ways can see what you're doing at any given time. And I think that part of the surprise of the reporting is how widespread this is. We
determined that eight out of the 10 of the largest U.S. private employers are doing some sort of productivity monitoring, individual productivity
monitoring, in many cases, in real time.
And we also found that this had spread up the income ladder. We're used to thinking of monitoring as something that pertains to say, workers in an
Amazon warehouse. Well, in this case, we're also talking about accountants. We're talking about social workers. We're even talking about hospice
chaplains who are attending to the dying.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to get to those details because it is truly, I mean, it really makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. But I want to talk
to you about the accountant you profiled. Because you talk about a woman who said that she had a great job, some $200 an hour, but then noticed a
pay shortfall. And tell me what happened. She know -- she's meant to be getting $200 now, but she actually doesn't. Why?
KANTOR: So she describes herself as like a really seasoned employee, somebody who had been around the block, seen it all in her business career,
she had an MBA, she was very experienced at finance, keeping the bucks for various organizations. So she signs up with this new remote work
organization, the job sounds interesting, maybe a little bit unusual.
She understands that to some extent, she's going to be surveilled. But again, surveillance can feel like an abstract concept, until she starts
looking at her pay stub. And what she realizes is that her pay is lower than she had expected. Because the company has been doing two kinds of
photographs of her. Every 10 minutes, there's a photograph of her face showing whether she's working or not, and of her screen.
And for periods during which she looks derelict, she's not at her keyboard, she's getting a cup of tea, she's not paid for those 10 minutes, unless she
makes kind of a special entreaty. And part of the reason it was so disturbing to her was not just the sort of lack of freedom and the paradox
that in a home office, you can actually have less agency and freedom than you can in a traditional office.
But also the idea that she says she was actually working for part of that time, that she was doing math problems on paper, that she was talking to
colleagues, but because that wasn't digitally registering as part of her keyboard activity, determining her productivity score, she wasn't paid for
those chunks of time.
AMANPOUR: I mean, it is extraordinary. We all know that in any work day, we have to get up and do this, we have to get up and do that. We have to talk
to our colleagues, we have to brainstorm, we have to do the kind of unquantifiable tasks that enable us to be highly productive.
She apparently says, according to your story, that she has to be at a computer 55 to 60 hours a week in order to rack up that prescribed 40 hours
of productivity. But can I ask you this, is it legal? I mean, can you take pictures of an employee and pictures of their face, their fingers on the
KANTOR: You know, because this technology is relatively new, it's really risen up in the last 10 years and then, of course, was sort of strengthened
by the pandemic. People aren't even clear on whether it's happening or not. You know, the disclosure laws in the U.S. are very uneven. And so there is
not yet a kind of robust, robust legal discussion about whether this should be permitted or not.
A couple of states in the U.S. have laws that, you know, say you have to disclose this, or you can't use this for firing decisions. But on the
whole, you know, our labor laws were written about 100 years ago, before anybody could imagine a bottom performer dashboard that tells a boss, you
know, who at the organization appears to be doing the least.
AMANPOUR: I want to quote also, from your article, you talk, you know, to a former vice president for the -- for Microsoft. "We're in this era of
measurement, he says, but we don't know what we should be measuring." This is Ryan Fuller. And you just discussed and mentioned to me, you know, in
the introduction, that it's across the board, including hospice chaplains.
So what the heck is being measured for these people whose old job is to minister to people verbally, you know, holding their hand, or whatever it
might be? How is that measured?
KANTOR: So through sort of working the phones. What we came to understand is that some hospice chaplains are coming under a lot of productivity
pressure. And we wrote about a group of these people in Minnesota. And actually, they work for a nonprofit. So they work for a very mission-driven
organization. But during the pandemic, they decided that they had to get more serious about productivity.
And the system they came up with is that the chaplains needed to earn so many productivity points a day, a higher total than before. And in the
morning, they had to kind of register these predictions. You know, this is how many points I expect to earn today. And then at the end of the day,
they would tally what they did digitally. And the software would compute how many productivity points that actually earned.
So first of all, you know, I think when the article was published, many people felt that the idea of earning productivity points, as you tend to
the dying is just inherently questionable. These chaplains explained that they went into this field. Precisely, they wanted to have the sensitive
conversations. They wanted to have the kind of deep reckonings with patients that people have in the very final days of life.
And then the other question was, how to make this work in real life? Because they said, OK, so in the morning, I would try to predict how many
productivity points I would earn, but dying is just inherently unpredictable. They would say my patients would have emotional breakdowns
and need me for longer, they would cancel appointments, because they didn't feel up to it. Or they would actually pass away in the middle of the day.
So I would have to redo my schedule. And in redoing my schedule, I felt this enormous conflict between, you know, do I see the patients who I
really feel need to be seen based on my experience and judgment? Or do I see the patients who will earn the productivity points?
AMANPOUR: It's truly like some horrible sci-fi. It's very dystopian, and it's very disturbing. How much backlash is there to this? The people who
invented this software or whatever it is, or this idea? Are they going to carry on despite the reporting and presumably, despite, I guess, maybe the
complaints that they're getting?
KANTOR: Well, there's a real debate and that's part of why this was so interesting to work on. Listen, many people have reacted to this exactly as
you are. It's horrible. It's dystopian, it -- you know, we're losing agency at work. We're losing our humanity at work. You know, we -- both the people
we reported on and the readers who read the story, I think, had that reaction.
But that is why one of the most interesting parts of the reporting was listening to all the people who truly believe in these systems. You know,
in the business world, among corporations that do this, among the software makers that develop these metrics.
And even among some workers, they make real arguments for these kinds of systems. They say, first of all, it's inevitable, get real. We live in an
era of measurement.
The idea that your work is not going to be quantified at this point is simply unrealistic. They say it's more fair. They say, listen, the way
people were traditionally evaluated in human resources was too soft and impressionistic. People who were showboats or schmoozed with the right
people got rewards. And people who were kind of quiet workhorses got ignored.
And we spoke to many workers, including, interestingly, many women who liked the software because they said, it makes me feel seen in the
workplace. I'm a real contributor and I want that to be shown.
AMANPOUR: Gosh, those --
KANTOR: Oh and then the last thing I should --
KANTOR: -- the last thing I should tell you is that I have to be honest, employers have used this to catch a lot of cheating. I mean, in the era of
remote work, I think that there are people, I don't think there are the majority, but there are certainly instances of workers being derelict. And
I think we just have to be realistic about that.
There were people who were two-timing their remote jobs, they were taking jobs for two different organizations at the same time, and really doing
work for neither. There were people who were sub-contracting, remote work to people who were paid less, and then they would take the difference. And
then there were a significant number of people who were just watching Netflix, or playing video games, or watching porn.
AMANPOUR: So there will always be violators. I guess the question, I mean, look, you're a journalist, I'm a journalist, you're a Pulitzer Prize
winner, you've done nothing but productivity. Could you actually operate under these restrictions, if you had to be measured and paid based on, you
know, your visual images and your fingers on the dashboard?
KANTOR: I think it would be really hard. And this is part of the question of the piece. Because you and I both work in a business where the work they
-- we deal with the information we gather is hard to quantify. You know, with the work I do, I could make phone calls for a week on something and
get nothing and then all of a sudden, in one phone call, have a real advance, you know, to what I'm doing.
We both work in jobs in which, you know, sometimes it's necessary to clear your head for 20 minutes and take a walk in the park to sort of think more
clearly about the project ahead of you. Again, that's not going to be registered on digital software. And that was part of why we wanted to
chronicle this change. Because what is happening right now is that this software is going beyond kind of quantifiable work that's easier to
You know, this originated in places like call centers that really had that rat to tat rhythm where maybe you thought it was right, maybe you thought
it was wrong, but the work could be quantified. And I think the worry now is that this is migrating to the kinds of jobs that just can't be
quantified, like the work of those hospice chaplains. And that when the software tries to do it, the software just ends up being wrong. I mean, we
talked to social workers who were marked idle for lack of keyboard activity, when in fact, what they were really doing was having sensitive
conversations with patients.
AMANPOUR: So we're going to see where this goes in terms of does it expand, how will the law keep up with the software? But I did say that you're a
Pulitzer Prize winner, and so much productivity. Everybody knows that you and your colleague, Megan Twohey, you know, broke the Harvey Weinstein
story. And now there is going to be a film based on your reporting and on your book, she said, Let's just play a quick clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is it exactly that we're looking at here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These young women walked into what they all had reason to believe were business meetings.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can still see it, the hotel room, the floor plan. He kept trying to touch me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I asked him to leave me alone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Instead, they say he met them with threats and sexual demands.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was young, scared.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Apart from the New York time, I believe he used to work for Harvey Weinstein?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the door is slammed in your face. So Zoe Kazan plays you, Carey Mulligan plays your colleague Megan Twohey, and we also know that
Harvey Weinstein faces trial in Los Angeles as well. Tell me about the film, what it's like to see, you know, this portrayal in celluloid so to
speak, and where you think the case is going to go.
KANTOR: Well, so your question is an interesting one, because there's a lot of art and a lot of life, I think layered on your question. So let's just
separate those two things a little bit. You know, I think on the film, all -- Megan, I would say at this point is that we're, you know, incredibly
honored by this tribute to journalism. And we want to, you know, we want to give people a chance to see it and react to it for themselves.
I think on the Weinstein story, you know, we're approaching the five-year mark, of Megan and I, having broken that story, and the Me Too movement,
which was founded years before becoming kind of a global phenomenon. And so I think the continuing saga of the Weinstein trial, both in Los Angeles,
and also, you know, he's still appealing his case in New York, and that appeal is being heard by the kind of highest level of criminal court in New
York, I think, speaks to the fact that, you know, these questions are still so alive.
We continue, you know, to see new Me Too stories every day. And the question, I think of accountability, and sort of, you know, how this
enormous body of complaints is going to be resolved is, you know, is one that is a story that we're still telling.
AMANPOUR: It's really remarkable, great work. Jodi Kantor, thank you so much, indeed.
KANTOR: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Such important reporting. Time now for some light relief from my next guest. Hasan Minhaj is a two-time Peabody award-winning comedian,
known for his political satire show "Patriot Act," and his break up, stand up special "Homecoming King." Now he's back with a second special, "The
King's Jester," and that premieres October 4 on Netflix.
He speaks to Hari Sreenivasan about comedy, privacy, and what he calls his vision for a new brown America.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
HARI SREENIVASAN, ANCHOR OF PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND: Christiane, thanks. Hasan Minhaj, thanks so much for joining us. So, you know, this has been what,
five years since "Homecoming King," you won Peabody award for that.
HASAN MINHAJ, COMEDIAN, "HASAN MINHAJ: THE KING'S JESTER": Yes.
SREENIVASAN: But you hadn't really been on tour or doing stand-up material for quite a time in between. So what do you do, just hang out in your
basement during the pandemic and crank this out?
MINHAJ: You know, I was I was the host of "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj."
SREENIVASAN: Yes, yes, that was that.
MINHAJ: And then, yes, so I was hosting a show. So I do go to work and write material. And then during the pandemic, you know, had our second and,
you know, life was really happening. And to me, great comedy comes from your real life. And it is the public act of confession and so fatherhood,
fertility, freedom of speech, all that stuff I wanted to talk about, because those are the themes and the things that were happening in my life
for the -- over the past five years.
SREENIVASAN: You know, when you mentioned confession, there's something so compelling about that format of comedy, but how is it that you guys are
able to share something that is so personal and intimate --
SREENIVASAN: -- that most of us have a tough time sharing it with our best friend, but there you are doing it in front of literally thousands of
people that will be broadcast forever?
MINHAJ: Yes, I mean, to me, the art form itself of comedy has a long tradition of the public act of confession, whether it's Richard Pryor
getting on stage and talking about literally catching his own hair on fire during a drug induced bender, or even the great Spalding Gray. Even great
satirical writers like David Sedaris, really kind of bleed on the page.
And so when I was working with our Director Prashanth Venkataramanujam, Prashanth, really told me, hey, man, if you're going to do something, if
you're going to take the time to go on tour and ask people to buy tickets, I'm going to need you to bleed on the page, and I need you to confess
things that you're not even willing to share with your friends on iMessage or WhatsApp, you know?
And one of the big challenges that I wanted to do is kind of interrogate myself. And to me, that really is the beginnings of what I think or what I
hope to be a special that will resonate with people.
SREENIVASAN: Yes, because it seemed like "Homecoming King," we got an idea of what made you who you are --
SREENIVASAN: -- and design a spotlight on your world. And now, we're almost it's like, we're, you know, that "Being John Malkovich" we're in Hasan's
SREENIVASAN: -- or for a while.
SREENIVASAN: And we're just trying to -- we're almost going through near real time, how you're processing what you believe about things.
MINHAJ: Yes, for sure. I mean, so I think you hit it right on its head. "Homecoming King" really was my introduction to the world, and I'm
introducing the world to this idea of new brown America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MINHAJ: My dad's from that generation, like a lot of immigrants, where he feels like if you come to this country, you're going to endure some racism.
But for me, like a lot of us, I was born here. So I actually had the audacity of equality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MINHAJ: You know, everybody knows you as Hari, I know that you're Hari. And it was my job to distill that to people and explain that to people, the
idea of loci (ph) I can't get, what will people think. That is the thing that looms over all our heads.
This special really was, OK, cool people know who you are. Why do you believe what you believe? You get to say whatever you want on stage, but
why are you saying it? And that interrogation of myself, and how far I'm willing to take a joke, that was -- what's really important to me.
If I were to summarize the special and kind of why I wanted to talk about it during this period of time and release it now, so much of what's
happening right now with discourse around comedy and freedom of speeches, comedians and satirists should push the envelope. But I'm also here to say
that sometimes the envelope pushes back. And you have to determine, at least me, and I was writing this to myself, I have to determine what my
lines are vis-a-vis my family being on my kids. And --
MINHAJ: -- and that's really where we open the show with family and we end with family.
SREENIVASAN: You know, you have this arc in there about how basically comedy helped, in one way, save your life.
SREENIVASAN: And where it was actually comedy that put your family in danger.
SREENIVASAN: That giving away too much of the joke of the story. How did you and your wife kind of sort through when the envelope pushes back?
MINHAJ: Yes. So, there's a big difference between doing the right thing for the right reasons and then doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. So
whether it's needling Jared Kushner or dictators or autocrats or Randall Smith and Alden Global Capital, you can do that for the right reasons. You
could also do that for clout.
And I'm sure you know this is a journalist. One of the things you probably have to check yourself on Twitter is, am I doing this because I really
believe it? This is a value to society and value to discourse. Or am I, quote, tweeting somebody right now for the algorithm? Am I refining crude
oil for the tech companies, so I get the dopamine hit?
And I masquerading that as virtue, or I'm doing something good, or I'm raising awareness. For me, as a human being as a Muslim, checking your
intention, checking your heart is something that like is very important to me. And if I'm going to maintain the relationship that I have with my
family, and Beena, my wife, and the audience, I want to be honest, and I want to kind of check myself and interrogate myself in front of everybody.
And so it was a -- it was really tough on our relationship, on our family. We made it through. Shout out to Beena, and she's also kind of a co-writer
of the special. There's certain lines in the special that she's like, no, you better put that in. There's a line in the special where she says if you
ever put our kids in danger again, I will leave you in a second.
And I remember showing her that piece of paper. I go, should I do this on stage? She goes, you better put that on stage. Sorry, I know this PBS, I
shouldn't have said that.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. It's like, you know --
MINHAJ: But she was like, you better say that, like I said that, like you need to say that. And giving her that respect and that agency and the
editorial right over what I say is important, because they matter to me more than the career.
SREENIVASAN: The fourth half, I guess I'd say besides fertility, freedom, speech, fatherhood would be fame. And it seemed like --
SREENIVASAN: -- there's a point there, at least on stage where you sort of turned into Gollum with the, you know, Lord of the Rings, with the --
MINHAJ: Yes, Clout Monster, yes. I call them Cloud Monster. Yes.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. And so, when did you get to realize that, hey, maybe I'm turning into something that I don't like, because a lot of people just sort
of get swept up in it. And they're rewarded for it, right?
SREENIVASAN: And society says, well, you're more famous, and you're more special because of this little signal.
SREENIVASAN: And when did you have to kind of fall back and say, I got to rethink this?
MINHAJ: I think, for me, personally, that moment where we got a letter, and it was filled with Anthrax, that was just a sobering moment of, quite
literally an envelope pushing back for us and for my family. And when you're holding that thing, and you're putting your family in danger, or
when your HUDs (ph) visa is denied and you can't make your pilgrimage., you're starting to understand, oh, there's real-world consequences that are
happening towards yourself and your loved ones who, by the way, don't have a say, on what happens to them.
That the algorithm will never care about. People will forget about your problems with the flick of a wrist. Man, Twitter's going to move on. It's
already moved on to nine other stories. But Beena, Najme, Seema, Aisha and my kids, they have to live with the consequences of what I say. So that
moment to me was a sobering moment where I'm like, man, I got to do it for the fam, I cannot do this for the gram because this thing matters to me
more than that.
And I hope and I pray, man, sincerely like every day that I maintain that as my true north star because I'm still, you know, pretty young in this
game, and I hope that the game doesn't change me. I've stayed true to who I really am and what I believe in the way my parents raised me.
SREENIVASAN: Given that, you know, all the things that you have said about the Saudi monarchy, and here you are facing a real consequence, which is
that, you know, part of Muslim life is to make that pilgrimage, if you can.
SREENIVASAN: And you might never be able to do that.
MINHAJ: Yes. So, look, I think you're cornering me here. I just want to apologize to the kingdom. I built for this. I'm 165 pounds weight. You win,
I lose. I will never run into an embassy ever again. I sincerely apologize. If I was a golfer, would I take the money? Sure.
Look, again, I don't want to be the Tupac of comedy. I want to be the Puff Daddy of comedy. I want to live while more talented people die around me.
So, I don't want the smoke. Yes. So that is my answer. That is my answer. And I would love, I would love to make my pilgrimage to the holy city,
Mecca. That would be beautiful.
SREENIVASAN: You know, I watched "Homecoming King" and one of the things is a brown guy. I was wondering, where did he get this swagger? Or did you
ever have kind of almost an imposter syndrome or --
MINHAJ: Are you saying I shouldn't be this confident?
MINHAJ: I carry these 65 pounds very well, Hari. Don't -- how dare you? And by the way, you carry that -- well, that 40 regular, what -- I see you. I
see you, Hari.
SREENIVASAN: It's good to be seen. I mean, I wonder, you know, sometimes when especially kind of in minority households --
SREENIVASAN: -- we're always kind of told to not boast about ourselves, or don't be to sort of, you know, stay humble.
SREENIVASAN: And it's not -- it's a weird kind of mixed signal that you get, so many mixed signals that you get from Asian parents, right?
SREENIVASAN: And American parents. But when did you kind of step into your own shoes and realize that like, hey, you know what, I've got this skill, I
have to be confident with it. And I got to take what's mine.
MINHAJ: Yes, I think it's important not to conflate confidence with arrogance. And our parents did an amazing job teaching us respect and
decorum and how to how to be polite in good representatives of our family. But actually having, you know, the audacity to say, no, I deserve this. I
deserve to be on the stage and I deserve to have my own show and have my own specials.
I think my job is to be my grandmother's wildest dreams. And I want my children to be proud of what daddy said. And yes, that was my dad. And
hopefully, he opened the door so they could take it even further. So our generation, we're just introducing ourselves to the country and to the
world, and to popular culture at large. But I can't wait for them to take the torch and not to have to introduce themselves to anybody. That to me is
So I'm always checking myself on two fronts. It's would 2004, 18-year-old Hasan, be so proud of the material that he's doing. And then would 47-year-
old Hasan 10 years in the future look back and be like, yes, you did the right thing. You weren't just a petulant child. You said something honest,
you didn't burn the building down. You weren't being a provocateur just for the sake of being a provocateur.
MINHAJ: You stood true in your truth and you were super funny. And to me, those are the -- I'm always looking at future Hasan and past Hasan in that
SREENIVASAN: You know, we've both got grandmothers in India, and I saw you have --
SREENIVASAN: -- some pictures with yours recently. And --
SREENIVASAN: -- I'm wondering, like, what are those conversations? Like, does she know what you do and who you are? Or, I mean, you know, you were
looking over some photos in an Instagram picture, but what's that like (INAUDIBLE)?
MINHAJ: Yes. So, you know, my grandmother, my nanny, she is 94.5 years old. And, you know, does she know who I am? I mean, Hari, I'm just -- I'm her
SREENIVASAN: That's right.
MINHAJ: So, she's not on Instagram or YouTube or Twitter. And I'm really there to just give her a hug, give her a kiss. She looks great for 94.
She's sharpest attack, she roasts me. You know, the moment I walked in, she's like, it's been a while. And I'm like, I know, I know, I know. There
was there was an airborne virus in the air, but I'm here to catch a blessing, man, that's all.
MINHAJ: So for me to get a poem, you know, we call it (INAUDIBLE), she gives me a poem. And she, you know, wrote on an envelope to both my kids.
She gave them some money. And, you know, I was so proud to be like, your great grandmother gave you this, you know?
MINHAJ: And --
SREENIVASAN: So, this funny run in your family? Are your kids funny?
MINHAJ: Oh, my kids are funny for kids. But yes, funny is in my family. My dad is very funny. And my cousins are hilarious. So shout out to my cousin
Sahil (ph), he's the comedian of the family.
I'm actually the least funny person in my family. I got real funny people in my family. So I'm just good at distilling what they say and do and
putting it on stage. So I got some real comedians in the Minhaj family.
SREENIVASAN: There's a bit that you have in there about the queen.
SREENIVASAN: And, you know, and the U.K. and Indians --
MINHAJ: Of course.
SREENIVASAN: -- have this sort of strange, reverence/connection to the monarchy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MINHAJ: Only people that love non-Indians more than the Saudis or the Brits. The only difference is we love when the Brits on us. Their Indian
uncles here tonight that are like, wow, London (INAUDIBLE). Look at London, man.
My cousin lives in London. Look at the queen. I'm like -- the queen. What are you talking about? This is insane. In my mom's bedroom, this is true,
in my mom's bedroom. She has a wedding photo of me and Beena on our wedding day, directly next to that photo. It's a photo of Princess Diana.
She's been dead since 1997. I'm your son. How are we the same? She's like Hasan. You don't know Princess die? I'm like, do you, Ma? She was so
beautiful. And her mother-in-law was me. And her husband was cold. I'm like. Ma? Are you describing your marriage?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: What was the conversation like at your household when the queen passed away?
MINHAJ: Cool. Exactly (INAUDIBLE). Come on, man.
SREENIVASAN: Exactly. So, you know --
MINHAJ: I'm going to say this -- I'm going to do this on PBS but I'm going to say it in Hindi and this is a bar, OK? (Speaking Foreign Language).
Who is she? Is she your mother? Is she your grandmother? Is she your father? Then why do you care?
MINHAJ: But so when people are like, that's someone's grandmother. Yes, I got a grandma too. Nobody's like, wow, husband's grandma in Bangalore. Like
MINHAJ: -- you know, this was, you know, let's pour some out for her. No. So, look, we have a very complicated relationship, obviously, with the
Brits in the U.K.
MINHAJ: And I'm not going to lie, like when I had a show in London, and maybe we can start calling it even when we can walk into the Museum of
Natural History and start taking some things from the Indian portion of the exhibit. So let's just put it that.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. You know, speaking of partition, it's always a transition I wanted to say.
MINHAJ: Oh that's not a good (INAUDIBLE).
SREENIVASAN: Good trend.
MINHAJ: That's OK. We're going to hard pivot in 1947 right now?
SREENIVASAN: Tough, tough. No, I was watching Ms. Marvel the other day and there's a couple of --
SREENIVASAN: -- really fascinating episodes. I mean --
SREENIVASAN: -- you know, on the one hand, I'm sitting here going, how cool is this, that we have a brown girls superhero?
SREENIVASAN: And that it's just a whole new audience that is bringing, you know, kind of awareness to history and culture and everything else. And
then -- and also, so great to see so many brown names in the credits, which I know is something that you worked on, on your show as well.
MINHAJ: Yes, I think, you know, and I couldn't agree more, man. And one of the things I'm sure you feel, as somebody who works in news and in
journalism is the power of framing in media.
MINHAJ: And if the medium is the message, media, quite literally controls the message. And art has a way to frame the narrative. And what I love most
about Ms. Marvel and Iman and shout out to Sama Amanat, is that they're able to frame our story. And a lot of times the framing of stories is being
written, produced and narrated by people who don't know the story intimately. So the fact that we're living during a period of time where
we're framing our story, man, that's really powerful because it's important that we're the protagonists and narrators of our own story.
SREENIVASAN: Thank you.
SREENIVASAN: Hasan Minhaj, thanks so much for joining us.
MINHAJ: Thanks, Hari.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: And finally, as Iranians continue their street protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, others around the world are showing their solidarity
this week in sport, a footballer for the Iranian national team hoping to play in the World Cup in just a few weeks, spoke out on social media.
Sardar Azmoun said, "Bottom line is I risk being eliminated from the national team, that is worth sacrificing for one strand of Iranian woman's
hair. Shame on you who kill people so easily. Long live Iranian women"
And in the U.K., Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, who spent six years in detention Iran has cut her hair in solidarity with those doing the same
back home. And even in Kabul, women who protested outside the Iranian embassy holding up signs that say, Iran rose up, now it's our turn.
That is it for now, thank you for watching and goodbye from London.