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Interview with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH); Interview with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE); Interview with Stanford Internet Observatory Director and Facebook Former Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos; Interview with Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL). Aired 2-3p ET
Aired November 03, 2022 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to "Amanpour" live from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Here's what's
coming up. Ukrainians doing battle with power and water outages now, as key infrastructure remains Russia's latest target. I'm joined here in Kyiv by a
bipartisan U.S. Congressional delegation. I asked Senators Rob Portman and Chris Coons what support this country can expect during the harsh winter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ITAMAR BEN-GVIR, JEWISH POWER PARTY LEADER (through translator): The time has come that we go back to being in charge of our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A special report on Israel. Who is the country's hard right kingmaker bringing Netanyahu back to power? Plus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELON MUSK, OWNER AND CEO, TWITTER: Having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the
future of civilization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Elon Musk makes his mark at Twitter. Sarah Sidner speaks to the former Facebook executive, Alex Stamos, about what is next for the social
media giant, also ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): This has been a huge honor of my life to serve in Congress, but it hasn't come without a price, a personal sacrifice
and a personal price.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The Democratic rising star who is leaving Congress. Representative Stephanie Murphy tells Michel Martin why she is calling it
quits, and why Democratic messaging is failing.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Kyiv.
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Sara Sidner in Washington.
AMANPOUR: But first, to the latest here and Ukraine, which continues to struggle with rolling emergency power outages as Russia shells key civilian
infrastructure across this country. Including now the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. The Ukrainian government says its forces are also making
progress on the front lines. Of course, they're aiming to retake the major city of Kherson.
Meantime, U.S. midterm elections take place and just under a week and there are concerns that a shift in Washington could impact the battlefield here.
So, I am joined now by two members of the U.S. bipartisan Congressional delegation who have been meeting here with President Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
Democratic Senator from Delaware, Chris Coons, and the Republican senator from Ohio, Rob Portman.
Gentlemen, welcome to the program.
SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): Christiane, Thanks for having us.
AMANPOUR: So, can I ask you first and foremost -- look, we're looking out here, it's pretty bleak. There's spotty lights and as we know, there is
rolling different neighborhoods get lights at different times. But what did the president say to you about the effect this is having on morale of the
government, first and foremost and the war effort?
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): So, the most positive thing out of our meeting today with President Zelenskyy was clarity. That with each increasing
Russian act of aggression, each Russian atrocity, Ukrainian determination and resolve to fight and win strengthens.
But normally tonight, behind us, you would see beautiful St. Michael's cathedral lit up. The Russians are now delivering hundreds of strikes with
missiles, with Iranian provided drones. Trying to destroy Ukraine's ability to survive the winter. They are literally going after the most vulnerable
Ukrainians by attacking the civilian power infrastructure.
AMANPOUR: And Senator Portman, I talked about support and the potential shift in the balance of power in Washington with the midterms. President
Zelenskyy tweeted, you know, U.S. support forever, and he was very happy, you know, to see you gentlemen here and to continue receiving American
support. But you've heard the minority leader in Congress, Kevin McCarthy, already talk about an inflationary world, no blank check for Ukraine.
Now, the "Wall Street Journal", I'm going to read this for you has put out a new poll which basically says, that opposition amongst your party is
growing. 48 percent of Republicans say the U.S. is doing too much. Only six percent said that previously, and only 35 percent of Republican support and
additional financial aid. What is your response to that?
PORTMAN: Christiane, first let me respond briefly to the point about what's going on here right now. The atrocities that Russia is committing is
leading to more, not less support. So, every time there is an atrocity, like the attack on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant you mentioned, the
largest power plant in Europe.
PORTMAN: The reaction is resolved on behalf of the Ukrainians. And from my point of view, that should be our response as well. That this is not the
time for us to back off.
In fact, it's the time for us to redouble our efforts because the Ukrainians have shown through their bravery, their courage on the
battlefield that they are making progress, have made tremendous progress in the last two and a half months. It's because of that, out of desperation,
that Vladimir Putin is doing what we see behind us here tonight.
He can't win on the battlefield, so instead he's turning to attacks on the civilian population, and specifically going after these infrastructure
targets. We saw that today here in Kyiv where he has attacked the public utility, specifically, to knock out the power we're seeing behind us today.
But it's not resulting in the Ukrainian people questioning what's going on here. They understand it even better and even more supported, that's what
we should be doing as well.
AMANPOUR: OK. You say that. The two of you Senators have worked closely together. You tell me you've bother been elected to the Senate in the same
year. You both are head of very important elements regarding Ukraine. appropriations, funding, and support for Ukraine.
What do you do, though? Because you are not sitting for reelection, and if somebody like you leaves, what do you do to help convince the Republicans
that they need to keep up the support? And what about the Democrats? We saw what happened with the progressive -- the progressives who suggested it
might be time to actually cry uncle -- I'm going to paraphrase and have a negotiation. I mean, they pulled that letter.
COONS: They pulled the letter --
AMANPOUR: But nonetheless --
COONS: -- within a day.
AMANPOUR: -- nonetheless, there are -- people are getting a bit wobbly across Europe as well.
COONS: There are voices at the ends of both parties actively saying we should push the Ukrainians to negotiate. But I think the overwhelming
bipartisan majority of members of Congress respect that the Ukrainians have fought fiercely, have fought bravely. Americans have stood for freedom at
home and abroad for decades and decades. And I find it hard to believe that we would abandon the Ukrainian people right now, as they are facing, in
some ways, the most challenging test of this war.
It is possible, without western support, that Putin could succeed in knocking out heat and power to the entire country. That's why we are going
to work hard when we return to Washington to make sure we deliver an additional round of support before the end of this year. And I will count
on Rob's voice, Senator Portman has been an incredible and effective voice in the Senate in helping those who are elected in the elections next week
to recognize what they may not yet know, because if you haven't been to Ukraine, sometimes it's hard to see how much this is literally the front
line of freedom globally.
PORTMAN: And it's clearly in our national security efforts. So, perhaps we haven't done as good a job of explaining that recently. And, you know,
people have a short memory of, you know, the importance of this.
AMANPOUR: People met something with inflation and cost of living.
PORTMAN: Exactly. We've got our economic problems at home. But think about what would happen if we did not help. And by the way, it's not just us, and
shouldn't be. And by the way, it shouldn't be a blank check, there should be accountability that goes with it.
AMANPOUR: And are you convinced, by the way? Because you come here, presumably also to check on the accountability.
PORTMAN: Yes, absolutely. We had some oversight.
COONS: We did today. That was part of our meetings today.
PORTMAN: We have to be sure that there is induced (ph) monitoring of the military equipment we are providing. We've being told by our military that
there is an unprecedented project that they are undertaking right now to ensure it goes in the right hands. And there is no example, no example, in
the past several months of a single piece of American artillery or other weapon getting into the wrong hands.
Now, it may happen. But the point is the oversight is a good thing --
AMANPOUR: Which is quite an achievement, actually.
PORTMAN: It is quite --
AMANPOUR: Because on the battlefield, you can see weapons passing -- it's usually now Russian weapons passing to Ukraine.
PORTMAN: Almost all Russian weapons, yes.
COONS: Being captured by the Ukrainians.
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes.
PORTMAN: But there are 50 other countries who are supporting Ukraine militarily.
PORTMAN: It's not just, you know -- as I say, it shouldn't be just the United States. So, look, you know, I understand people's concerns. But I
think with more accountability, some guardrails, and the assurance that if we continue to provide this assistance, then the Ukrainians will do their
part, which they are certainly doing. Their courage and bravery is unmatched and, you know, they are actually winning on the battlefield.
AMANPOUR: Did the president tell you -- because we don't quite know what the picture is and Kherson. On the one hand it looks like they say they
should -- the Russians are pulling back to the, you know, to the east side of the river. On the other hand, Ukrainians say there is no mass
demobilization. Do you -- did you get a better picture of the Kherson battlefield?
COONS: That's probably not details we should go into on television. But the determination of the Ukrainians to fight and to take back one of the more
important cities that the Russians captured, strikes me as unmatched. And I think -- I am optimistic that the success the Ukrainians have had on the
battlefield in the last couple months will continue.
But they were perfectly clear that they are grateful, President Zelenskyy, members of the Rada, the parliament, who we met with tonight, his senior
advisers. They are perfectly grateful to the United States, to our European allies, to allies around the world who've provided material support. But
they need more air defense. They need to be able to have --
AMANPOUR: I was going to say that.
COONS: -- better security --
COONS: -- from missiles and from drones.
AMANPOUR: And are you all prepared to step that up? Because they've been asking for a long time, in these last two weeks of hundreds of cruise
missiles and kamikaze drones, simply highlights the need for that.
PORTMAN: They are probably knocking out of the sky. Intercepting 60 to 65 percent of the missiles now. Some areas more where there is more
protection, but it's not enough, as we see behind us. So, yes, we think that this is a cause, you know, worth pushing when we get back home to say,
at a minimum, the United States ought to be helping them defensively to help provide for a better missile defense.
And these kamikaze drones, the drones that are coming from Iran to Crimea, apparently, and public reporting indicates that there are Iranian trainers
in Crimea, which is in Ukraine, and then sending those drones here to attack some of these sites behind us. So, you know, this is what's
happening. And the Ukrainians need some help in pushing back.
AMANPOUR: And it's clear that the only thing that can stop the effectiveness of this extra weaponry coming, you know, from Iran and North
Korea, apparently, according to U.S. intelligence, is, you know, extra defense, as you just said. Because I wonder what you all think -- I mean,
Iran is sanctioned within an inch of its life. North Korea is sanctioned with an inch of its life. Russia has been heavily sanctioned. And, yet the
stuff keeps going on. And Russia is making out like a bandit because of the sanctions which have pushed the price of oil up, and it's making record
profits. How does that work in terms of deterrence?
COONS: Well, I think one of President Biden's greatest successes has been rallying NATO, the E.U., the western world to confront Russia. That wasn't
the -- the initial response when Russia invaded and occupied and then later illegally annexed Crimea was not as forceful, it was not as unified of
western responses that needed to be.
Now, I think we have produced that unified response. Imposing sanctions and enforcing them is a challenge that we are continuing to work on with our
allies and partners. And that effort, by our president, has had bipartisan support in the Senate. Republican Leader McConnell and Democratic Leader
Schumer, and many members, including Senator Portman and others, have been vocal in supporting that effort.
Enforcing those sanctions is a challenge. But back to the earlier point about air defense, one of our most advanced air defense systems, the NASAMS
system, is about to arrive here within the next coming days. and we are deploying a significant number of those. I think there's more we can do.
But it's important for folks to know that the United States is delivering critical and timely military hardware.
AMANPOUR: Do you think your chief ally, Israel, who has American helped Iron Dome technology, which is incredibly useful, should actually, you
know, put up and send that here to?
PORTMAN: I think the Israelis can help in a number of ways, and one is to deal with the Iranian drones that are actually here now, attacking. There's
also a rumor out there, public sources, that there are Iranian missiles being sold to Russia as well. And as you can imagine, we believe the
Israelis have the ability to counter those missiles, so that could be very helpful. So, I would love to see that. I mean, I think that kind of
technology including --
AMANPOUR: Would you tell them?
PORTMAN: I've been clear on it. Including electronic --
COONS: Counter measures.
PORTMAN: -- means to jam some of this equipment, including the drones. It could be very, very helpful. Back to your point on oil and gas, so, you're
right, this has been one of the real frustrations, is that while Russia has the sanctions tightened in many areas, they still have customers for their
oil and gas and the price has gone up.
One answer to that, as you know, is for us to produce more at home. And particularly provide liquified natural gas to places like Europe, so that
they aren't buying the Russian product but rather can rely on, you know, a relatively inexpensive, compared to their alternatives, source of fuel that
is reliable. And we have the ability to do that now in -- particularly with regard to natural gas, you know, there are some good arguments to expand
that. So, that would help.
AMANPOUR: And it's all very confusing now, obviously, because we're all trying to, you know, decrease our reliance on fossil fuels, but I realized
that takes a little bit time, particularly in this instance.
PORTMAN: Yes, it's a transition.
AMANPOUR: Yes. In terms of tactical nukes, which is just the most horrendous conversation that Vladimir Putin has raised in our public
debate. The U.S. intelligence says that they picked up Russian military potentially talking about it but notes that Vladimir Putin, himself, last
week said that they would never use. That it's not the plan.
I spoke to the Russian ambassador in London. He told me absolutely out of the question. No Russian nukes will be used in this case. Are you convinced
of that? Is intelligence convincing that they are not making any plans to use any of that stuff?
PORTMAN: It would be a terrible mistake on behalf of Vladimir Putin and I think he realizes that. For two reasons, one, the consequences would be
catastrophic for them. And I do commend the administration for being very clear about that, including comments that they have made about what would
happen. And that they have communicated that privately, but even publicly they've been very strong about it.
Second, it would affect everybody. It would be a catastrophe for Europe, catastrophe for Russia. The fallout would not just be contained in Ukraine.
And it would start something that, I think, Vladimir Putin would deeply regret.
AMANPOUR: Do you think he's got a message?
COONS: I do. I think President Biden's been forceful and clear with our allies, with the Russians directly, and with those countries that are
sitting on the fence. Countries like India and China, that currently are not taking signs and are buying a lot of Russian oil.
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes, yes. I mean, just switched its market.
COONS: I think they're clear that the global consequences for Russia should be strong and severe.
AMANPOUR: Now, we talked about the midterms coming up. We are going to be hearing later in the program from a Democratic Congresswoman, Stephanie
Murray, who's actually leaving partly because she can't take this anymore and she complains about Democratic messaging and the effectiveness of
For instance, this whole business of -- as you've heard, a lot of Democrats, a lot of people feel that they haven't put the economy in the
pain front and center. But on your side as well, there is a huge kerfuffle. I mean, the majority of -- including the person who you've supported -- who
you are supporting to run against, or in your seat, J.D. Vance in Ohio, these are election deniers.
I mean, these are people who do not support American democracy while you are out here supporting democracy at large and particularly America putting
its money where its mouth is to support international world order and democracy, in a place like Ukraine. And yet, in the United States -- I
mean, the guy who you are backing doesn't believe in American democracy. How do we fix this?
PORTMAN: I wouldn't put it like that.
AMANPOUR: OK. He doesn't believe the president won the election.
PORTMAN: Well, I don't know that. You should ask him that question, that's not what I heard him say.
AMANPOUR: I will if he would agree to an interview.
PORTMAN: Yes, that's what I'm saying.
AMANPOUR: But you're backing him.
PORTMAN: Well, I believe he's right on the key issues. And the key issues are inflation and the economy, by far the topics on American's mind. But
also, it's just a critically important issue for all of what we're talking about. We can't afford, you know, to help in terms of these global efforts
if our economy is further weakened. So, that's really important. Energy, we talked about that a moment ago.
PORTMAN: I believe that the administration has taken a wrong turn there. And then immigration and the border and crime. Those are the issues that I
hear back home about all the time. And he has a very different position on those issues than the Democrat who's running. So, I'm supporting him. I
believe that those are the issues he would focus on. And again, you should ask him about that other question because I don't think that's where he
AMANPOUR: Love to, maybe you can help us get an interview with him.
PORTMAN: And I've been very clear about those. He knows, you know, long before --
AMANPOUR: Yes, for sure.
PORTMAN: -- January 6th, And, you know, after the election saying that Senator -- Vice President Biden won the election and then, you know, the
election was over. And we need to look ahead. In particular, look ahead to the '22 election and to these issues that the American people care most
AMANPOUR: That's it for us tonight. Senator Coons, Senator Portman, thank you so much indeed for joining us. And now back to Sara Sidner, who have
the rest of the day's news from Washington.
SIDNER: Thank you so much, Christiane.
And now to the dramatic outcome of Israel's elections. Opposition leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is poised to make a stunning come back to the
premiership just less than a year and a half after leaving it. Outgoing prime minister, Yair Lapid, called Netanyahu to congratulate him on his
victory after the final results were published.
If successful in forming a coalition, Netanyahu will lead what may be the most far-right government in Israeli history. This, as his Likud Party,
together with Jewish ultra-Orthodox parties and extreme right-wing allies, took 64 seats in the 120-seat parliament.
One of those allies, the religious Zionism Jewish power alliance, includes leaders such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, once convicted for inciting racism and
supporting terrorism. And now he has his eyes set on being Israel's next public secretary security minister. Correspondent Hadas Gold has more on
who Ben-Gvir is and what his ascent could mean for Israel and the region.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Until recently, this man, Itamar Ben-Gvir was considered a fringe far-right activist settler
lawyer. His signature white kippah, almost always a skew on his head. Now, a leader of the projected third largest block in the Israeli parliament.
Set to be a key component of Benjamin Netanyahu's now likely come back as prime minister.
The 46-year-old has been a provocateur since his youth. Once a supporter of the Jewish nationalist Kach Party, deemed a foreign terrorist organization
by the United States, and ultimately outlawed by Israel. He was once filmed holding a hood emblem he claimed was from a car of former Israeli prime
minister, Yitzhak Rabin, an architect of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Vowing, we got to his car and we will get to him to. A Jewish
extremist assassinated Rabin three weeks later.
Exempted from the military draft, he says he was denied for his political views. Ben-Gvir became a lawyer, often representing Jewish extremist
And famously hung a portrait in his home of Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli doctor who massacred 29 Palestinians in a mosque in the West Bank in 1994
before being killed himself. Ben-Gvir later tweeted he would take the portrait down. In 2007, he told CNN, the holiest most contested site in
Jerusalem, third holiest site in Islam is for Jews only.
ITAMAR BEN-GVIR, JEWISH POWER PARTY LEADER: Temple mount is for Israel, for the Jewish people. Not for the Islamic people. They have Mecca, Medina, we
have the temple mount --
GOLD (voiceover): That same year, he was convicted for inciting anti-Arab racism and supporting terrorism. In 2020, his sights turned to politics,
winning a seat in the Knesset in 2021 on a platform that included annexing the West Bank. Relaxing the Israeli military opened fire policy against
Palestinian rioters and pushed for the death penalty for terrorists.
He spent his time in parliament attracting the spotlight. From stunts like pulling a gun during a clash between Israelis and Palestinians in East
Jerusalem, telling police to shoot Arabs who throw stones. Being forcibly removed from the floor of the Israeli parliament for calling a fellow
member, the leader of the Arab movement party, who is also an Israeli citizen a terrorist. Saying, he didn't belong in Israel.
Just last year, Netanyahu himself dismissed the idea of Ben-Gvir leading a government ministry. Saying, a minister, no. Not in my government. But this
year, his tune changed. Asked again if Ben-Gvir would be a minister. He answered, of course, he can be.
Now, vying to be put in charge of the police as a minister, Ben-Gvir, that could affect Israel's relationship with this most important ally, the
NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: And we hope that all Israeli government officials will continue to share the values of an open
democratic society, including tolerance and respect for all in civil society, particularly for minority groups.
GOLD (voiceover): The experience once shunned from Israeli politics, now a top figure, appearing on cooking shows and possibly soon the Israeli
BEN-GVIR: (Speaking in a foreign language).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: That was Hadas Gold reporting for us there.
Well, one of the first thing Ben-Gvir did after the election result was to take to Twitter. Sending out this message, hello, world. He put out there.
It's a sign of just how important it's become for leaders to have a presence on that platform.
But change is on the horizon for Twitter as Elon Musk takes the helm. Already, he's fired the entire board, suggested a subscription plan that
could cost users $8 a month for a blue check. And there are reports that he will cut the workforce there by half.
But why does this all matter? Well, joining me with answers is Alex Stamos, the former CSO at Facebook. He's now the director of Stanford University's
internet observatory, a project at Stanford that studies and tries to understand the role the internet plays in modern society.
Welcome to the program.
ALEX STAMOS, DIRECTOR, STANDFORD INTERNET OBSERVATORY AND FORMER CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER, FACEBOOK: Thanks for having me.
SIDNER: All right, let's start with this. I'm going to start with your tweet and I know that is a little bit ironic. But after, you know, Elon
Musk was official that he had taken over the country, you tweeted this out. You said, I think Elon Musk has made a huge mistake making himself the
global face of content moderation at a critical moment of struggle with governments, while maintaining massive personal exposure to challenging
countries. Why do you make the statement? What are you trying to say here?
STAMOS: So, there's a couple of things going on here. One, Musk picked a really challenging time to throw himself into the social media world. Ever
since the revelations of Russian interference in 2016, which is something that I personally had a hand in writing up and exploring, there has been a
push by governments to understand how their adversaries are using the internet to manipulate geopolitics to their benefit.
Since I came to Stanford in 2018, our team has worked hand in hand with Twitter and Facebook, especially, as well as some other platforms, to try
to study these campaigns. And what we find is on a regular basis. We will find that the People's Republic of China, Vietnam, India, Saudi Arabia,
Iran, and even in some cases the United States and the U.S.'s allies, will run secret campaigns on platforms to try to change the global conversation.
Since 2017, Twitter and Facebook, especially, have really invested in trying to stop that kind of thing. But as a result of all the criticism of
the platforms, at the same time that this conflict is happening below the surface, you also have governments trying to regulate the speech that is on
these platforms for the first time really in their history.
The same day that Elon closed his transaction to Twitter, the final version of the digital services act in Europe was published, which is going to be a
key landmark law controlling what platform speech can be allowed in Europe and what the responsibilities of the companies are.
So, he's just kind of picked a, kind of, crazy time to step in when Twitter is being used for conflicts in geopolitics around the world, including,
very importantly, in Russia and Ukraine.
SIDNER: I do want to ask you about sort of the bigger picture here. Twitter is far from the most popular social media platform. It gets about half --
SIDNER: -- or less than half the number of users that, say, Facebook or Instagram, or TikTok have, I think they all have, like, a billion users or
more. If you look at the screen there, Facebook having almost three billion users, Instagram 1.5, and TikTok, a billion. And Twitter, that -- the
number looks miniscule in comparison. It is a lot of, you know, people.
STAMOS: That's right.
SIDNER: Why should the average person -- a lot of people I know aren't on Twitter anymore. They got off a long time ago. They used to say Twitter is
for haters. I mean, there's a lot of discourse on Twitter that's different from some of the other places like TikTok or Instagram. Why should people
care about this, even if they're not on Twitter?
STAMOS: So, the reason why you continue to find Russian and Chinese and other trolls on Twitter trying to affect the conversation is, like -- you
are right, Twitter has about one tenth of the user base as Facebook. But in the United States, and Europe, and some key developed economies, Twitter is
the key mechanism for elite conversation. Journalists are on it, politicians are on it, professors, experts.
And so, it has an outside impact on conversation in the United States because if something goes big on Twitter, you will see it on cable news
that night. Kind of famously on the right, you see a lot of Fox News content come from random people on Twitter who will find something, will
post a video, that will get raised up through a network of conservative influencers and could very well end up with within hours on a Sean Hannity
or Tucker Carlson.
And so, Twitter, while by itself is not hugely influential, it is a really big deal in its ability to set the stage which is why we see continued
efforts. Just this week, Twitter took down six campaigns by China and Russia, most of which were actually attacking Republicans. One of the
campaigns was specifically attacking Marco Rubio.
And the reason why that is effective is because it reached -- reaches the activist class, the media class, the journalist class, and politicians.
They see that stuff and see that that is reflective of real conversation online, when it could turn out to actually be a foreign adversary of the
United States running an influence operation.
SIDNER: It's interesting that you put it that way. And we should be clear and be fair that Americans are doing this, too. The misinformation is
coming from all different places.
SIDNER: It's not just China and Russia. Americans are in it as well in a very big way. I do want to ask you, you know, about the, sort of, what's
happened since Elon Musk has taken over. And I'm going to go through a couple things here because you start looking at the message that he is
sending. He has tweeted when he first took over that Twitter cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences.
But then he later tweeted, you know, the bird is free. Then that could be taken in many different ways, good, bad, or sideways. He announced the
formation of a content moderation council which -- you know, at least it makes it seem like he's interested in trying to deal with some of the
hatred that's being spewed.
But then this happens, he tweets a conspiracy theory about Paul Pelosi and the attack on Paul Pelosi that was an absolute lie and later deletes this.
What in the world is Elon Musk playing at here?
STAMOS: Yes -- I mean, if you expect me to be able to get on Elon Musk said, I'm sorry. I can't help too much. What I can say is, he's clearly
changed his mind a lot. You know, when he first announced that he wanted to buy Twitter, he talked a lot about free speech, free speech. About how he
wanted to allow any speech on the platform that was legal. That has a lot of issues.
In the United States, there's lots of stuff that is legal that could make a platform like Twitter unusable. Most spam is legal. Most porn is legal. And
so, you know, having your rules be that only the law is important means that you can end up with a platform that's completely dominated by fake
sunglasses and pornographic ads and such.
And so, he's started to -- I think, once he took over, he really started to get briefings from people inside of Twitter of the reality is that the
couple of political issues that he was really spun up about, such as the Hunter Biden laptop story, which Twitter did not allow to be posted for a
couple of hours. The deplatforming of the Babylon Bee, which is a conservative humor site that had an anti-trans joke.
Those kinds of, like, highly political decisions are a tiny, tiny fractions of the hundreds of millions of content moderation decisions that have to be
made just to make the platform usable by normal people.
So, I think one, he is progressing. There's no evidence that Twitter's policies have actually changed at all. There is empirical evidence that
hate speech has increased, and I think mostly that is people who are emboldened by his statements that even though Twitter hasn't actually
changed anything yet, they believe it has. They believe they can now go harass people, and say things they weren't allowed before.
I think, from my perspective, the thing I'm really afraid of is going forward as government interference. Because having a CEO of a company like
Twitter, who most of his money comes from an outside company is unprecedented. This would be like if Mark Zuckerberg had most of his wealth
in a Chinese pharmaceutical company.
Tesla, which is how Musk is the world's richest man, gets a quarter of its revenue from China and weigh more of its stock price is based upon the
future of Tesla in China. Twitter is blocked in China, but as I said, the People's Republic of China is extremely active in trying to manipulate the
conversation on Twitter. And the -- we've never had a situation where the final decider, a CEO of one of these companies, has authoritarians have so
much leverage over him and over his personal wealth.
And I think that's one of the things we have to really keep an eye on is not just the kind of domestic content moderation decisions, but whether or
not the fact that Musk wants to be able to sell cars around the world. He needs to get rare metals from places like China and Brazil to build his
batteries. Whether that gives those countries influence on him that they don't have on any other American platform.
SIDNER: Let me about ask you about the disinformation and the abuse because you brought it up. And I can do -- anecdotally I went on and I typed in the
N word I was hearing a lot of people coming at me saying, this is all over Twitter. And indeed, it was. I mean, I -- you saw it --
SIDNER: -- in so many different people. It was like they were testing it but it says something about society and what society is willing to do and
the damage and harm society. Whether it is ours, China, Russia, whomever, is willing to put out there just to see what they can, you know, what they
can do and whether they're going to be blocked.
But this is a really critical time in America right now. We are -- the midterms are next week. And so, we're going to see the presidential
campaign kickoff not long after that. I know that you led the investigation into Facebook and how disinformation was weaponized in 2016. Can we agree
that Facebook influenced the 2016 election and elections beyond that?
STAMOS: Well, I think Facebook has definitely been a key influence in elections. Whether the Russian campaign on Facebook in 2016 was
determinative. There's no good empirical evidence for that. If there's anything on Facebook that was really effective in 2016, it was the
political advertising from the political parties and related groups. That continues to be an area for which there's been effectively no changes in
the law. There have been changes in how the platforms treat political ads and some of the rules.
Pretty famously, Twitter, itself, declined to run political ads in 2020 and in 2022 because it's such a pain. And so, that will be one of the
interesting questions, will be whether Twitter will get back into that business side by side with Facebook and some of the other platforms that
still allow political ads.
SIDNER: And I ask you that because the next thing -- and you've answered it, but is Twitter in the same position even though it does have fewer
people to be able to have some serious influence on upcoming elections and elections in the future.
I want to also ask you something that Elon Musk has said as well. He, sort of, put out there that, look, in his dream world, Twitter would be some
kind of de facto Town Square. And, you know, he put this out in a TED talk interview. Do you think that is even possible at this point in time?
Because right now, a lot of people are looking at it as a broken way to communicate.
STAMOS: Yes, I think -- the truth is, a number of people have pointed out that Twitter is much less like a Town Square and much more like the
coliseum. That it's where thousands and thousands of people can watch intellectual gladiators tear each other apart, and then get eaten by lions
and pay for their blood.
The dynamics of Twitter really pushed people to be kind of their worst selves, in some ways. And that's, I think, one of the things we've seen
accelerate since Musk took over. Again, not because he's actually changed anything, but just coming in and talking about the bird is free and free
speech and you can see what you want, has kind of released the whatever bounds of proprietary used to be left on individuals of their interactions
with each other, especially people who try to have some kind of professional comportment on Twitter.
I don't think there will be -- it's too late now for Twitter to have a big impact on the 2022 election. I think for 2024, it's going to be a big deal.
And my real fear is if Twitter drops its guard on the international side, you will have both hyperpolarized actors inside the United States pushing
their side, pushing their election disinformation, trying to convince people that the election is going to be stolen.
And Russia or China, other and American adversaries, looking for an opportunity to weaken America fatally, will do everything they can to
amplify that. And so, I think for 2022, the die is cast, but for 2024, that's something we have to look out for.
SIDNER: Let me just quickly ask you, because I can't let you go without asking about the blue check that everyone seems to be freaking out about.
SIDNER: Why is that a -- is that a big deal? I mean, for a lot of people it's like, it's a check. Like, what does that mean to the average person?
SIDNER: But why is the blue check or charging for the blue check that authenticates who you are, why is that a big deal, or is it?
STAMOS: Yes, so I am less critical of Musk here. There has been a bunch of arguments here about the blue check. One, Twitter has never properly
defined what a check mark means. A check mark is supposed to say that the person who has the well-established real-life identity for this person that
they have control their Twitter account. In full disclosure, I have a blue check mark. I've had it for a while. I did not pay for it. I got it based
upon some of the work I did in security. And they've never really been transparent about who gets it. People have posted stories about texting
friends inside of Twitter and they can get a blue check mark.
So, I don't think it's some kind of -- there's -- this is not a temple that is being defiled by Musk. It's -- the blue check marks had a lot of
problems in the past. Going forward, I think part of Musk's argument is, he probably experiences more spam than any other person on the platform. Just
based upon his personality, his flirtation with cryptocurrencies. Anytime Musk posts anything, you will see a bunch of replies that are mostly
And so, that totally warps his idea of what the normal use of the platform is. And so, he's big on integrity and verifying who people are. Doing that
doesn't cost money. It is not cheap to have somebody upload their drivers' license or their passport and to verify that that's real and not a fake
STAMOS: And so, I think it is reasonable to charge for that service. The big question will be, will those check marks be available to people who are
acting pseudonymously? In the U.S., I can operate as @alexstamos. I am free to do so. If I was an activist in Egypt, it would not be safe for me to do
STAMOS: And so, if blue check marks are going to become more and more powerful in the raking algorithm, then he really has to consider in sub-
Saharan Africa, in the developing world, in Russia, in Ukraine, in China, can people speak --
SIDNER: Yes, this is such a --
STAMOS: -- can people get a blue check mark without putting themselves at risk?
SIDNER: Yes, Alex Stamos, thank you so much.
SIDNER: It is a big platform and I guess it is an important platform for a lot of people. So, I appreciate you coming on and delving into this with
us. We appreciate it.
In America's battle for democracy, the January 6th Committee has highlighted the danger and threats posed by the far-right and former
President Donald Trump. But many of the Committee's members are not seeking reelection. One of them, Representative Stephanie Murphy announced last
year she would be retiring after just three terms and serving as Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic majority. To reflect on her time in
Congress, she joins Michel Martin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Sara. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, thank you so much for talking with us.
REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): It's great to be with you.
MARTIN: So, Congresswoman, we are -- obviously, we're speaking to you for a number of reasons. You had a very consequential year. You're serving on the
Congressional Committee investigating the January 6th mob attack on the Capitol. And you also made the decision to retire after three terms, or at
least to retire from Congress.
So, I want to dig into all of those things. But I thought it would be helpful if we just started with why you decided to run for Congress to
MURPHY: Well, I really do believe in a citizen Congress and I came from a place that did not have democracy. And my family and I are refugees and
immigrants from communist Vietnam. And so, I've always appreciated the opportunities I've had here in the United States to live in a democracy. To
be able to vote for my leadership.
And in June of 2016, a gunman walked into a nightclub in my community and took the lives of 49 innocent individuals. And the person representing me
in the house of representatives took a check from the NRA two days later. You know, our community was still in mourning. We hadn't yet buried the
loved ones, and that representation did not seem consistent with what this community wanted.
And so, having never run for public office, I decided that, you know, even if I didn't win, it was worth having a public conversation about community
safety and gun safety. So, I ran a campaign on job security and equality. And I ran a four-month campaign and unseated a 24-year incumbent.
MARTIN: As we're speaking now, it's a couple days before the end of the election season. And the fact of the matter is, it's a midterm and midterm
elections generally have, you know, headwinds for whichever party, you know, holds the White House, right?
And so, since Democrats hold the White House it's, you know, the historical trend is that, you know, that's the party that's going to struggle in this
midterm. But even having said that, Democrats seem to be struggling more than they think they should be given, as they see it, how radical the
Republican Party has become in certain spheres. So, why do you think Democrats are struggling?
MURPHY: Our party has struggled to articulate the economic policies that have helped the American people that we have been able to pass into law.
And sometimes, some of the voices within our party tend to focus on issues that don't resonate as much at that kitchen table of your average American.
But the reality is that we really had a great legislative record to have run on. We passed historic infrastructure investments. We passed historic
climate change investments. We passed a historic gun violence, gun safety bill. We also invested in Americas manufacturing by passing the CHIPS bill.
And in the moment of America's greatest need, where we were at the height of the pandemic, the Democratic Party made sure that there were shots in
arms and checks in pockets, to get people through that pandemic.
It's hard though to remind voters sometimes about what happened 18 months to two years ago. And instead, what they are going to the polls with is
what they are feeling in this moment. And I think the candidates that will prevail are the ones that are able to convince the voters that they not
only have delivered for them in the past, but will continue to deliver for them.
MARTIN: So, why are you leaving? I mean, it seems as though you are a person who has found a way to articulate that message. And I also want to
point out that you have a reputation as being one of the so-called centrist Democrats. I mean, you're one of the co-chairs of a group called the Blue
Dog Democrats, which is explicitly intended to kind of create a centrist voice on issues of concern to the American people, you know, trade,
economic policy, and so forth. You have a very interesting, sort of, background. And you, obviously, have succeeded. So, why are you leaving?
MURPHY: I'm leaving for personal reasons. You know, I think every working parent has to balance their personal responsibilities with their
professional aspirations. And I have an 11-year-old and an eight-year-old who need a little more of my time these days.
And I've said, you know, this has been a huge honor of my life to serve in Congress. But it hasn't come without a price -- a personal sacrifice and a
personal price. And I think those decisions and the fact that I have had careers and passions outside of the world of politics led me to making a
decision that, you know, this is the right moment for my family and I, for me to pursue other avenues that allow me to spend a bit more time with
MARTIN: Obviously, the January 6th Committee is very focused on what were the motivating factors that lead thousands of Americans to assault the
Capitol for the purpose of interfering with the peaceful transfer of power. But part of what you are investigating here is whether this sort of fever
has taken hold, this kind of cultic belief in the election being fraudulently decided.
And so, I guess I sort of wonder whether you still believe that you could prevail in a district, given that these beliefs have taken hold amongst
such a large swath of the party, of the opposition party.
MURPHY: I believe I could have. I've always run on some formula of job security and opportunity. Opportunity for a shot at the American dream and
talking about very local issues. But let's talk a bit about what the January 6th Committee has found.
I think you have to be able to do both, right? Deliver for every day Americans on the issues that matter most to them, but also seek to preserve
our democracy. And I think having worked on failed democracies while I was at the department of defense, you know, working with foreign partners and
seeing how democracies are functioning until they are not, I find it very dangerous that powerful people are using misinformation and exploiting the,
you know, weaknesses within our ever-evolving democracy to retain power, to hold on for their own good.
That's the antithesis of what a democracy is. It's not about one person. It's about all of us. And so, while I wish that were on the ballot, I also
am realistic about what is on the ballot. So, you run your races on what is on the ballot and then you do the best you can to defend the democracy that
enables you to continue to deliver legislation and bills that help support peoples' livelihoods.
MARTIN: Can I ask you, why did you agree to serve on the January 6th Committee? What do you think you've gotten from it or learned from it or
what do you take away from it?
MURPHY: So, on January 6th, 2021, near -- just over 40 years from the day that my family and I escaped communist Vietnam in the dead of night, I
found myself fleeing from my fellow Americans. And that impacted me deeply. I have always been so grateful for the opportunity that America provided my
family. To live in a place where there was a rule of law, that there was an orderly transition of power, that democracy was vibrant and, you know,
while we had our disagreements, there was a process by which the American people were able to make their feelings about their elected officials
known. And for a couple of centuries, that didn't include violent acts.
And so, I think I was stunned by what happened on January 6th. But also committed to ensuring that I was somebody who, in history, as people look
back, have stood up and sought to defend our democracy. I also recognize that the January 6th effort had to be a political effort.
And I'm probably one of the most apolitical people in Congress. I am often named one of the most bipartisan members, one of the most effective
members, because I don't really consider whether somebody's a Democrat or a Republican when I work with them. I work with them to achieve a goal that
advances this country and is good from for the constituents. And I know that that's my reputation on the hill. I thought that this committee needed
those voices. People who were willing to step up and defend our democracy, and to do so in an apolitical way.
MARTIN: You said several times that you are particularly proud of your ability to work with people across the aisle. Did that change after January
6th? Did you notice that -- did your relationships with people change after January 6th?
MURPHY: It did -- January 6th definitely put a pause on the relationship. I think it took a lot of really honest conversations with my colleagues to
try to understand why after the horrific events of January 6th that we had all just survived together. They would still come to the house floor and
vote to object.
And I realized that there were two types of people. There are people who did it because that -- they had concerns about either the way the -- they
had concerns about systemic process things. And it came from an earnest concern and a feeling that they had a responsibility to at least mark that
concern. And then there were people who came cynically. Who were hopeful that their vote would somehow lead to a delay or a change in the outcome.
And I think you have to, kind of, be able to distinguish between the two. There were people who voted not to certify certain states, who still
believe the president -- that President Biden is rightfully and fairly elected. But they registered their concern about a particular state. And
then there are others who not only voted against certification on January - - in the wee hours of, I guess, January 7th, but who continue to, this day, to press the narrative that the president was not fairly elected. And I
think that those people makes it a lot harder to work with those.
MARTIN: Did you -- you said there were some honest conversations, can I just ask, like, what was that like?
MURPHY: They came in a number of forms. Not always comfortable. There was a conversation as a part of a larger group, and I was a member of the problem
solvers caucus, and that's a group of Democrats and Republicans that are supposed to be committed to getting things done on behalf of the American
And there were a handful of them who had voted not to certify. So, we had a fairly -- a group discussion about that. And then I also had one-on-one
conversations, where people who said, hey, it feels different between us. You know, the -- can we talk about this? Can I explain to you what my
thought process was? You know, how I got there on that day.
And so, it was a variety of conversations. And I think my constituents sent me to Washington to get things done on behalf of them and the American
people. And I couldn't not work with -- I don't know, what is it, two- thirds of the Republican caucus. I couldn't just decide not to speak to them anymore over this issue.
MARTIN: One of the things that we've observed this year, and also increasingly, is that the Republican Party is making an effort to reach out
to immigrant communities, refugee communities, in a way that they had not before. And one of their avenues for reaching out is saying that the
Democrats are communists, basically. The Democrats are socialist or that the Democrats are opening the door to socialism. I mean, there have been
campaign ads that basically come right out and call people, Democrats, you know, socialists. Do you think these messages are resonating? And if so,
MURPHY: They are resonating and I don't think my party takes those attacks seriously enough. In fact, in the 2020 election, I cut and ran an ad
pushing back on that narrative that run in South Florida. Not even my district. But I felt so strongly that it was a weakness that the party was
not addressing, that I went out and did it myself.
It is resonating. And it's resonating not just with the Vietnamese community, in the Cuban community. But it's resonating with other Latin
American communities who either flirted with communism or are impacted by the migration of people out of countries where that failed system is
driving people's departure.
And so, I think it strikes very close to home. Once you have fled socialism or communism, you don't want to have anything to do with it ever again. And
if there's even a hint at that, I think, you know, people will pick the other choice. And because the Republicans narrative is going unanswered,
really. by the Democratic party, it's been a potent hit on Democrats.
I will also note that I think many in my party are afraid to talk about the kind of capitalist system that we would like to see. And for me, it has to
be a Democratic capitalist system. Those are the two pillars that make this country so strong, our form of governance and our economic system. And what
that means is proper guardrails on our, you know, economic actors so that there's equal opportunity for everyone and no one is exploited. But I think
a lot of people in the Democratic Party are shy to admit that they support our capitalist economy.
MARTIN: So, before we let you go, Congresswoman, I just want to just ask you to reflect on something. Because, you know, as we are speaking now, we
are days away from the -- an attack -- a vicious, violent attack on the husband of the speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi. And I think people are
horrified by this. A lot of people are horrified by this. But more than that, it does make you wonder whether people -- it gives people a sense of
whether this kind of public service is worth it or not.
And so, what would you say to someone like you, who's looking at that and thinking, why is it worth it?
MURPHY: I would encourage anybody into public service because I believe that is what will keep and hold this country's future and our democracies,
good people willing to serve. But I also would say that, you know, be a little wide eyed about and understand that there are personal sacrifices
that come with the job, but that the -- that it is worth it.
What I would say also though to my fellow Americans and to my colleagues is that we have a responsibility to turn down the political rhetoric and the
tone and tenor of our public debates, and return a level of civility to our conversations. We can disagree on policy, but we should never make it
And if we can't turn it down -- turn down the volume and create a space for it to be safe, to be a public official, we are going to leave our
government in the hands of the maniacally ambitious or just the weird. Because normal people who have families and opportunities to create a
living in other ways and other passions will make the calculus that that's not worth it. And I would hate to see that because that is really the
beginning of the unraveling for our country.
MARTIN: Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, Democrat from Florida, thank you so much for talking with us today.
MURPHY: Thanks so much for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: And finally, I want you to have a wonderful rest of your day. Find some joy. Goodbye from Washington.