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Interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy; Interview with Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska; Interview with "Uphill" Author Jemele Hill. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired November 10, 2022 - 13:00:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to "Amanpour" live in Ukraine's capital Kyiv. Here's what's coming



VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We did not start the war. But Ukrainian society united and showed that it was ready

for what, unfortunately, was such a tragedy.


AMANPOUR: The toll of war. In a global exclusive in Kyiv, I sit down with president Zelenskyy and the first lady as they lay their country through

Russia's brutal invasion.

Then, Ukraine's woman on the front lines. We look at the behind-the-scenes effort supporting the countries fighting females. Plus.


JEMELE HILL, AUTHOR, "UPHILL": So, the more I saw these collisions between race, politics, gender, with sports, the more I understood that part of my

mission was to write about these messy intersections.


AMANPOUR: Sports and culture journalist, Jemele Hill on her "Uphill" battle as a black woman in a white man's world.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Kyiv where the country is bracing itself for what could be the decisive battle in this

brutal war, that's the battle for Kherson. Russia's defense minister is ordered the withdrawal of its troops from parts of the region, as Ukrainian

forces advance towards the city.

It seems to be a major setback for Putin's war aims, but Ukrainian officials are expressing skepticism and caution. Especially as the

Kremlin's top security adviser visits Iran, where western officials say he is seeking more advanced weapons. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants to

ensure international support for his country's defense continues, particularly from the United States after these midterm elections.

And at this pivotal time, I sat down with the president and his wife, first lady Olena Zelenska, for a global exclusive. Their leadership and courage

have driven this story and Ukraine's remarkable resistance. But it is clear, the war is taking its toll. They were tired but determined. Here is

our conversation.


AMANPOUR: President Zelenskyy, First Lady, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: Mr. President, it has been nearly nine months of this war now, did you expect it to last this long? Do you have any idea of how long it

might last?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): Thank you for the question and thank you for the meeting. You asked whether I thought this war would last so long.

No, because I didn't start this war, and I'm sure there isn't a single Ukrainian who knew what this will be and what tragedy this would bring to

every home in our country. Because, I repeat, we did not start this war. But Ukrainian society united and showed that it was ready for what,

unfortunately, was such a tragedy showed that it was ready for these challenges.

I was really impressed by the power of one nation. And was impressed by the swiftness of the response of Europe, the whole world, and the whole

International Community that rallied around Ukraine for this challenge.

AMANPOUR: First lady, what motivates you to get up in the morning? How do you feel that you have endured this war?

OLENA ZELENSKA, UKRAINIAN FIRST LADY (through translator): Well, thank you. It's a big question. It covers many spheres of my life. And what helps

me get up in the morning, surely as you said, is my husband's example. I know that if he endures then I have to endure. If the day has begun, then

we have to keep fighting. That keeps me going.

It's not easy every day but, you know, you need to keep running. You cannot stop. As Allister (ph) said, in order to stay in place, you have to run

even faster. That is why we run and I get some inspiration from the kids, from the children.

First and foremost, there are some ordinary things that every family is doing. You need to get your son ready for school, you need to make sure he

has had breakfast. Well, unfortunately I don't have the assurance that my child would go to school every day because of those strikes with missiles

and drones.


There is a lot of work. A lot of humanitarian projects that we will continue after the war. That helps a lot.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, I wanted to ask you how you react. And I know that you all monitor Russian casualties and Russian activity on the

Ukrainian battlefield. But the Pentagon, actually, its very senior defense official said, and I'm going to quote to get it right, that "Russia has

probably lost half of its main battle tanks. Used up most of its precision guided weapons in this war. That 80 percent of their land force is bogged

down here, is stuck here in Ukraine." Does that match your figures? And what is your answer to that?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): I think this, more or less, corresponds to reality. Although, frankly speaking, nobody knows the full reality,

especially as regards personnel. Because nobody can tell you precisely how many people died. Nevertheless, we clearly understand that the artillery

that was provided as assistance to us for the United States and Europe, it definitely had to break this initiative which Russia launched to us 24th of


And we did break this military initiative. We stopped them. We de-occupied a large part of our territory. And, this indeed, was helped by the

artillery and the new technologies. We never resorted to any of the lies that the Russian Federation produces about dirty bombs or nuclear

challenges, and so on.

And I'm very pleased that we're working jointly and responding quickly to that. Straight after Russia's allegations we invited the IAEA and they

verified everything and said it is just another lie from Russia. So, I cannot confirm those numbers for sure. But I can say for sure that it is a

stunning number, both in terms of heavy weapons and personnel.

AMANPOUR: Their loss is heavier than your losses?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): Yes, 10 times. I think so. Approximately. I can't give you the exact numbers but there's a very significant

difference. Because our war tactic is not to throw people. Because people are most important. Not to use people as cannon fodder. And that's why it

is very important to us. Whenever we asked our partners for artillery or armored vehicles, that it is not just about the weapons but first of all

protection for our military.

AMANPOUR: Madam First Lady, you just returned from a major tech conference in Lisbon. And I think the world has noted that Ukraine has used technology

in a really innovative and effective way. What was your message there and what do you want the tech world to do for this country?

ZELENSKA (through translator): Well, my message was pretty simple and I hope it was heard. The people gathered there were people who pushed

technology forward. These people have an impact on which direction technology and the whole world will move in the future.

So, my appeal to them is to choose a side what technology they will invent or design. Will this be a technology that kills or a technology that

defends? Because we have a wonderful and vivid example. For example, Bellingcat recently conducted their latest investigation and they found a

group of I.T. experts from Russia, young people aged 23, 25. Before the war they worked in private 90 companies. And now, they're targeting missiles at

our buildings.

And this is a choice. A conscious choice made by people who know this technology, who have the expertise, are narrow specialists. They chose to

be murderers and terrorists. So, my appeal to all those thousands of people gathered at the web summit was to make their choice from a moral and

ethical standpoint as to what they will do in the future. And really the technologies help.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, what is the status of Kherson and the impending battle to retake Kherson?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): You know, that's a very serious question. And I will be frank with you. I'll try to answer in a way that doesn't give

you an answer, to be honest. Because these planned military actions, they're discussed in a small circle. But then they're executed in silence.

And I really want to have an unpleasant surprise for the enemy and not something they're prepared.

So, I'd like to apologize. But at any rate, our people and your public needs to know that we are working on some very serious steps with a

positive outcome for the citizens of Ukraine and for all those communities that support peace and Ukraine.


AMANPOUR: The Russians are observed as digging in the very, very hard, some three to four layers all the way down to the south, to the port, to

the sea. Do you believe that they're mounting a more serious defense of Kherson then perhaps the other areas that you have liberated?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): That's right, they have a very powerful defense. And not only me, but our military headquarters we met. And at

first, we didn't believe that they would be running away from Kherson. I believe that this was just an attempt to draw more Ukrainian troops in that


AMANPOUR: First Lady, we've heard of many Ukrainian children being taken over to Russia. We don't know really what's happening to them. Here in Kyiv

and in the area, I've met and watched over the last few days, kids who've been obviously traumatized by the war, the air raid siren frighten the

little ones.

Kids who've been told to be quiet and hide quietly. Have difficulty speaking and communicating. Some kids have seen horrible things happen

under occupation, their mothers raped for instance. Obviously, you're a mother but you're very involved in the mental health aspect. And with your

foundation also with women and children.

ZELENSKA (through translator): First of all, it's a big tragedy that our children are being taken away to Russia. There is a large number of

children who our social services lost connection with and we can't find them. Sometime in summer, the Russians relax their adoption legislation.

They simplified the procedure to adopt Ukrainian children, which is horrible. And we understand, we'll have to fight for them. And we keep

talking about it at all international forums.

Currently, we have an agreement on the evacuation of two children's homes from the Odessa region. And there's already an agreement reached with

Turkey. We're trying to save them in advance. But just two days ago, I heard the news that a children's home has we move from the occupied

territories in Kherson region. We cannot reach them, unfortunately. We cannot save them. But hopefully the International Community will help us

return our children.

Now, as regards to helping those children who suffered psychologically from the horrors of war, now there are hundreds of these children already. And

we cannot even imagine what those children suffered. Who had to bury their own mother in the yards of their homes. Who saw their relatives murdered.

Who stayed in the basements of Mariupol. We can only observe them and try to help.

And for that purpose, we are establishing a national program on mental health and psychosocial supports, which I hope will have a lot of projects

for kids. I can give you an example. Once, fairly successful, I believe, we organized a camp together with Ukrainian psychologists and donors. There

were 20 kids with psychological issues. We took them to a special camp where the tutors were psychologists. They spent 20 days in Spain under

constant 24-hour psychological monitoring.

And this therapy had wonderful results. The children who did not speak started speaking. The children who had eating disorders or didn't eat at

all -- and there was a boy who never slept. The tutors had to sleep beside him because he could only sleep if there were somebody next to him.

And indeed, we saw wonderful results. We want to scale up this project. We are supported by experts from Israel and Belgium. The next training

destination for our specialist will be in the U.K. Very soon this month, we will be sending our psychologists and psychotherapists for training there.

We choose the world's best practices for coping with PTSD.

AMANPOUR: I can see makes a very sad, both of you. I can see listening to your wife and this assault on the children is difficult to take.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): It is difficult to live with this. I believe the main thing is not to get used to living with it but to fight

it. As Olena said, with various programs.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, you've obviously heard there are all these articles being written. There are these foreign policy analysts who are

saying isn't enough already for you? Do you -- should you go to the negotiating table? Some of these countries with economic pressures on their

own who are supporting you now. Are they -- are you feeling any pressure to go to the negotiation table?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): Look, they don't want this warp to be finished. Now, before having any fatigue, everyone has to understand that

it's only the Kremlin, and only one person, the head of the Russian Federation, who's not tired of the war. He might be tired of life, in

principle because of his age but he's definitely not tired of the war. Now, this person and the Russian political and military leadership need a pause.

Believe me, they can feel it.


They've begun to feel the effect of the sanctions. They have begun to feel dissatisfaction in their society. This person and all of them are afraid

only of our society. These people, unfortunately, have no voice. Because if they weren't afraid of going to the streets, they would exert pressure. And

this is what the Russian leadership is afraid of.

And then for our part, we say, please respect our principles of the U.N. charter. Please respect our territorial integrity. Please respect our

people, our rights, our freedom, our land, and our choice. That's it. So, this word fatigue is a big word. You can't get fatigued. So, it's too early

for all of us to get fatigued. But when Russia truly wants peace, we will definitely feel it and see it.

But you know, you can't wish for peace with words alone. Words are not enough. Stop the war, withdraw from the territory, stop killing people.

Start reimbursing the damages inflicted on our country. Criminals must be prosecuted. So, words are not enough.

AMANPOUR: Do you still stand by what you said a few months ago that you would not negotiate with Vladimir Putin?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): His proposal has no substance with regards of ending the war. Other than the ultimatums, I've not heard anything from

the current president of the Russian Federation. Starting for the 24th of February, there have been only ultimatums. Denazification,

denationalization. Every issue they raise starts with a D. They always want to deprive us of something violently on our own land.

So, I said that I'm not going to talk to this person if this person conducts these sham referendums and recognizes all of those sham

authorities that they set up as legal. We said this clearly. And I said that if they do that, then this means they don't respect our people, our

sovereignty, our rights, and our freedoms. What is there to talk to them about?

But I haven't closed the door. I said, we would be ready to talk to Russia, but with a different Russia. One that is truly ready for peace. One that is

ready to recognize that they are occupiers. Ready to reimburse our people. That's not about money. They need to return everything, land, rights,

freedom, money, and most importantly justice.

To parents who lost their children. Money is not enough. It's not a priority. Bring back justice. And so far, I have not heard statements like

that from the Russian Federation, either from Putin or from anyone else.

AMANPOUR: The issue of NATO is very -- you know, charged one. I'm assuming you're putting NATO to the future. But are you trying to get and are you

confident that you will get security guarantees?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): Ukraine needs security guarantees. The world needs security guarantees for Ukraine because stability depends on

it. And this relates to the fatigue you mentioned. After our victory, after peace, we don't want to come back to the same situation. And it might

happen, as I've told you. The current military and political leadership of Russia needs a pause in one form or another, just like with Minsk

agreement, or some other agreements. They needed a pause.

They would gather up their strength, money, weapons. They would get ready. They would lay out the information for their own society. And when all of

that has been prepared, they start their offensive. Because there is only one goal, to destroy our independence. There's no other goal in place.

That's why we need security guarantees. Absolutely, we want it. And we believe we have already demonstrated our forces capability to the world by

the level of training, by the resilience of our defense system. I believe that we're at the same level as NATO member countries, at least. And I

think it would be fair if we were in the same security circle and same security alliance, because there are no wars among NATO countries, inside

NATO. So, for us, this is the most secure construct.

But if that part is longer than we would want it to be, unfortunately, through to some personal attitudes of the leaders of some countries. Again,

I'd like to stress the leaders, not societies, because all the societies definitely support us.


If that path is longer than we can afford, then while on this path we would need security guarantees to be able to reach NATO membership. Because

everyone keeps saying that the doors to NATO are open, but you need to reach these doors.

AMANPOUR: I'm going to ask you this, because you went not so many months ago to the Congress, actually. You also met with President Biden. You met

with the first lady. And you actually said, we need weapons. Send us the weapons. Do you feel that you have the weapons now to actually win? Do you

feel that NATO is here to help you win or just to stop you from losing?

ZELENSKA (through translator): I think the president knows better how much more we need. I'm sure we need much more. But as a citizen of Ukraine, as a

mother and wife, I can feel that we need it because the missiles keep coming. When they stop coming, when our people stop dying in their beds in

the morning, I will feel OK, maybe that's enough.

But we can't wait for Russians to run out of their supplies. It would be wonderful for them to run out, but I guess that's fantasy. That's why I

asked to protect our children, to protect all of us. It's hard to live under this burden every day when you don't know what will happen tomorrow.

When missiles hit the crossroads while people are driving to work and get killed on the way.

The other part of that missile hit a children's playground in Shevchenko Park. I literally walked there with my children when they were young. I'm

really happy that it was 8:00 a.m. and there were no children yet. And I'm happy that my children are older and we weren't there. But this brings it

closer and closer. So, the question of weapons is a question of our survival. The survival of us and our children.

AMANPOUR: Mr. president, after all of your powerful calls to the world for help, weaponry most especially, training, all that kind of intelligence

help you've needed. Are they finally delivering what you need to win? And do you feel that you're getting enough to win or just not to lose?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): I think my wife answered it very well. But the answer is fairly simple. It's enough when you can no longer hear

explosions. It's enough when the air defense system ensure no missiles hit the ground or buildings. It's enough when you are not being fired at and no

missiles are launched against you because Russia is working together with its partner, if I may call it that, with Iran.

Since the 10th of October, we've seen them use around 450 kamikaze drones, attack drones, air reconnaissance, attack drones, kamikaze drones,

missiles. Over this time, we've had over 2,500 hits, that's without artillery. 2,500 hits by drones, explosives, or missiles, that is a large


Do we have enough defenses? No, I don't think we have enough at all. Is it enough to make 100 or 1,000 calls, probably not enough either. Too few. But

I'm ready to make 1,000 calls if every call I make results in more air defense systems. I'm ready to stay on the phone and just do that. It's


A joint decision on the protection of Ukraine and Ukrainian airspace will definitely help us. And all the answers are there. I'm sorry, it's not even

like the start of the COVID epidemic. When people didn't know what to do about it. When we needed to create a vaccine and it didn't exist. There is

a vaccine against Russian strikes and we know it. There is a vaccine against Russia and we know exactly which countries have it and in what


And I would say frankly, there are even countries that have a surplus amount, from my point of view. So, I guess an answer to your question,

there is not enough willingness, I would say.

AMANPOUR: What strength do you get from each other?

ZELENSKA: (Speaking in a foreign language).

ZELENSKYY: No, not together. Not together. It means, how we help each other.

AMANPOUR: Yes, and what strength do you get from each other?

ZELENSKYY: What I have from you and what you have from me.


ZELENSKYY: I know what you have from me.

ZELENSKA: Exactly, you know.




ZELENSKYY (through translator): That is my love and that is my best friend. So, that is my energy. I wanted to answer your question at the very

beginning when Olena told you like, she prepared breakfast for the children in the morning, and prepare clothes, and et cetera. And what I wanted to

tell you that -- but I have no such possibilities. So, nobody gives me breakfast in the morning. I mean, that it's such a difficult period.

AMANPOUR: Because you're living apart?


AMANPOUR: Is it true that you said to President Biden when they offered to evacuate you at the beginning, that you said, I don't need a ride. I need


ZELENSKYY: Yes, that's right. Nothing changed. You know, my answer is still the same.

AMANPOUR: And I want to ask you another question, because I've noticed that Ukrainians are not afraid to poke the bear. So, the bear is the

Russian bear. And you guys are constantly poking on the ground, in the battle, in the airwaves, in the Twitter accounts of the ministry of

defense, all over. A lot of people outside are afraid of Russia and what Russia might do. Where did this come from?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): You know, I think that Russia feeds on these fears. And I think this is a big mistake over the last few decades.

Russia feels it has this power. The more you give it, the more it fuels your fear. It lives by it.

ZELENSKA (through translator): I think historically, we've been under pressure for so long, it's no longer scary. It's not even interesting. We

just want it to stop. It's more of an emotion rather than a fear. Centuries of Russian empire, then dozens of years of Soviet Union, with all of these

famines, with all the repressions, with all the expulsions of Ukrainians to Siberia and Kazakhstan. We've suffered so much from them that if we don't

put an end to this now, there may be no chance in the future. This is our last stand.

And when it is a last stand, we've all seen it in the movies, there is only one winner. And of course, our soul desire is to be that winner. Otherwise,

we will have no future for this nation because everything that's happening is elimination on ethnic grounds.

All this calls for denazification, this is all about the Ukrainian nation being wrong. Not having a right of -- to exist. The Ukrainian language is

not a real language, it's just bad Russian. It's all about losing the values -- there are no values for humanity. This is something we can never

put up with really because it would mean rejecting ourselves. Therefore, there is no fear. There is resilience. There is bravery. All we need is

swifter and more powerful support than we are getting now.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): And this dignity, this Ukrainian dignity, is very important. And that's why we have this resilience. Russia keeps

wondering, what's happening here? I don't understand why they're so keen to know what we're up to. I think there should be more interested in their own

country, in their own history, in their own culture to preserve it if they still have it.

AMANPOUR: Do you think the women are getting enough support? Tell me what this says about your country, that there's a huge level of women

comparative to other NATO countries in the military and actually on the front line.

ZELENSKA (through translator): I think that the number of women who volunteered to join the armed forces, there's almost 40,000, that speaks

for itself. These are the women who chose the path of the military in wartime, not in peacetime when it would be more of a military romantic

idea. There is a shortage of purely female things, in the uniform, there's only male underwear in the army.

Women in the armed forces are still unique, but it's not unique in Ukraine anymore. And this whole war continues our path towards gender equality. And

we've already made great strides in this. So, this war is as equal as Ukrainian society. I'm certain that after this war, women's rights will be

even stronger. We've already made strides and we already have women generals.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): Bravery has no gender.

AMANPOUR: Thank you very much indeed.

ZELENSKYY: Thank you so much.

AMANPOUR: Really, really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

ZELENSKYY: Thank you so much.


AMANPOUR: Bravery has no gender indeed. And as you just heard the first lady say, many of those females fighting for Ukraine are lacking the right

stuff. When we visited a small hub here in Kyiv that has already delivered a million dollars worth of kit just for women to the front lines.


The NGO, says its entire effort comes from crowd funding and grants.


AMANPOUR (voiceover): At a nondescript storefront in Kyiv covered with plastic against prying eyes, a major war effort is underway. Boxes of kit

reveal a first of its kind, fatigues designed for a mother to be.

AMANPOUR (on camera): So, was there never, Andrii, anything for pregnant women before?


AMANPOUR: And how many pregnant women are fighting the Russians?

KOLESNYK: I'm not sure there's a lot, but there are.

AMANPOUR (voiceover): Andrii and Casena (ph) are married TV journalist in real-life who now do this work. A female friend turned front line sniper

told them that she was pregnant and needed a new uniform. They are also sending female soldiers smaller boots, lighter Kevlar plates for their flak


On this day, Roksalana (ph) comes in for a new uniform. She's in an intelligence unit near the front and joined up in March totally unprepared.

It's so valuable to have these people who understand that we are tired of wearing clothes that are three sizes too big, she tells me. We had no

helmets. We had old flak jackets. We wore tracksuits and sneakers. Now, we feel that we are humans.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense says there are more than 50,000 women under arms. More than 5,000 of them are on the front line. Amongst them,

Andrii's sister.

KOLESNYK: She received a men's uniform, men's underwear, everything that is designed for men.

AMANPOUR (voiceover): Females also need customized sanitary, medical, and humanitarian supplies. Casena (ph) and Andrii have sent out 3,000 of these

care packages. They have produced 300 uniforms, and planned for at least another 2,000, all winterized. And then, there is this vital tool.

AMANPOUR (on camera): Oh, my god. I have never seen that. A feminine urinary director for women of all ages. Basically, they pee in that, right,

if there's no toilet?

KOLESNYK: No, not in. They pee like men.

AMANPOUR: Look at that. Oh, my God. If only I had known that in all the years I was in the field.

AMANPOUR (voiceover): And as a parting gift, they throw in this book on resilience and courage amid battle and in captivity. Which is what happened

to Alina Palina (ph) five months ago after the fall of Mariupol. She's part of a canine border guard unit and, like so many of the port cities

defenders, she had been hunkering down in the giant Azovstal Steel Plant. She was recently released as part of an all-female prisoner exchange with

Russia. We meet at this pizza bar run by veterans.

AMANPOUR (on camera): Were you prepared for life as a POW?

No, I was not, she says. And we discussed this a lot with the other women prisoners, that life hasn't trained us for such an ordeal. While in

captivity though, I said, I will continue my service, and I have no plans to stop.

Back at their private procurement center, Andrii says he wishes he could join his sister, father and brother-in-law all at the front. But a physical

disability means that he's not eligible.

KOLESNYK: For a man, it's kind of hard to understand that you can't go there and your sister is there. So, I'm trying to do my best here to help

not only my family, but the whole army.

AMANPOUR (voiceover): And the reviews from the battlefield are in. It's just amazing, says Anastasia, I'm happy as a child. The uniform is ideal,

it looks great, and the fabric is very sturdy.

Meantime, Roksalana's (ph) new boots are made for marching all the way back to the front.


AMANPOUR (on camera): So, this is important progress indeed. And just another note, in my interview with President Zelenskyy, you heard him call

for more air defense systems. Well, the United States has just announced another security package for Ukraine that includes just that.

Now, to another pressing issue on President Biden's agenda, China. He will meet with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, on Monday at the G20 Summit in

Bali. Their first face-to-face meeting since Biden took office, and it comes as the relationship between the world's two largest economies has

been increasingly strained. And Biden's climate envoy John Kerry, the former secretary of state, sat down with Correspondent David McKenzie at

COP 27, the summit in Egypt. He says, climate should be an area of cooperation between the two countries.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. CLIMATE ENVOY: We are not formerly negotiating at this point, but our hope is that, in a short span of time, it will become

possible for us to really get together again in full measure and do the things we need to be doing as the two leading emitters in the world, and as

the two largest economies in the world.

China and the United States really need to cooperate on this, and without China, even if the U.S. is, as we are, moving towards a 1.5-degree program,

which we are, if we don't have China, nobody else can make that goal. And we blow through 1.5, and it will cost citizens around the world trillions

of more dollars.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Politically, there is a sense that the U.S. and China will be competing in the years ahead, and some hawkish

attitudes towards China. Do you think the cooperation on climate change will be accepted?

KERRY: Well, there's -- I mean, competition is a pretty normal thing in the world of business. Businesses always compete for market share, for

product lines, and so forth. What President Biden has said is, we can compete, but we don't have to be confrontational. We don't have to be in

conflict. And I think that is what is critical here, it that we deal with the issues, and there are real differences between our countries,

obviously, but climate should not fit into that bilateral pattern of those issues.


AMANPOUR: The U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry there with David McKenzies.

Now, to a woman who is not afraid of speaking her mind. Sports and cultural journalist Jemele Hill, she is no stranger to the challenges that come with

being opinionated, black and female. From taking on President Trump to the NFL, she hasn't not shied away from controversy. And she candidly relieves

those experiences in a new memoir called "Uphill." Here she tells Michel Martin about her difficult upbringing and the comments that nearly ended

her career.


MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Jemele Hill, thank you so much for talking with us.

JEMELE HILL, AUTHOR, "UPHILL": Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

MARTIN: You became a household name, at least among people who follow politics and sports, because of your outspokenness and I guess what we will

probably call politics, OK? But this memoir is very personal. You describe some truly painful episodes, not just in your life, but in the lives of the

people closest to you like, your mother and your dad's year's long struggles with substance abuse disorder. Your grandma and some of the ways

in which she clearly stood up for you, and some of the ways when she frankly, you know, failed your mom, and by extension, failed you.

And so, I'm wondering, for you, like, what was it like to sort of cross that bridge and decide, I'm not just going to just tell it, but I'm going

to tell it all?

HILL: I've always been able to have a level of vulnerability and honesty in my writing that, frankly, it was hard for me to have in -- you know,

sort of in speaking to people, if you will. And so, you know, writing was always this place that was very safe for me. And I thought it was

important, especially with very -- with certain, like, very serious issues that you take the layer of shame off of it.

As you know, there's a lot of shame in families, especially where sexual abuse has been pervasive or has occurred in these families. There's a lot

of shame, a lot of hiding, a lot of secrecy. And as we have seen, that does no one any good. It is hard to heal when you can't even speak to it or

speak about it or speak honestly about it, any of those things.

And, you know, the reason I disclosed I had an abortion is not just about the moment that we are in here in America, in this country, when it comes

to how we discuss abortion, but because I knew that there were a lot of women who were like me, who made the decision simply because it was just

best for our lives. It wasn't associated with any trauma. It wasn't associated to a medical emergency. Made the decision because this is why

that access is important and this is what they felt like was best for their lives.

And even when it comes to, you know, navigating addiction within your own family or even people who have even suffered from addiction, there are

people who, you know, really feel as if they have disappointed themselves, their families and, you know, really have been unable to recover

psychologically from what this abuse has done.

And so, my way of talking about how my mother and father's drug abuse has impacted me was to talk about it in such an honest way that those people

who have been through those situations, they can relate to them and they understand not only just the mental space that I was in, it helps them

understand this space that they're in, whether they're trying to figure out how to heal, whether they're still carrying resentment and anger. And I

just think it's important to bring those issues to the surface because that is the only way that we can communally heal.


And so, for me, it was just about, you know, showing people where the transparency and the honesty, just that how it could get you to a such a

much, much better place than you are in or think you are in.

MARTIN: A lot of people seem to want to think about sports as this kind of world unto itself. In fact, a lot of people will say it, look this is my

escape. But your work, whether you knowingly intentionally chose that or not has always been identified with bringing those worlds together. The

things that people are experiencing in their real lives become part of their sporting life. And similarly, sports, and the way as a commentary on

the rest of life. Was there a line that you sort of felt you had to cross yourself to give yourself permission or was it just you couldn't think of

any other way to do it?

HILL: I think it became a point where you just sort of can't think of any other way to have the conversation in sports. And your right, is that,

people act like sports in the world are happening in two different universes and they are in the same universe. And so, therefore, everything

that is going on in the world impacts what has happened in sports or what does happen in sports.

And so, the more I saw these collisions between race, politics, gender, with sports, the more I understood that part of my mission was to write

about these messy intersections because it was actually a way of getting people to understand those issues much differently. We are a very

segregated country. We do not do a lot of things together. We do not intermix a lot of times. But the one place we do is in sports. Because you

can have people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, different nationalities, different genders, all be Laker fans. OK? And they are not a

lot of things in this country that force us into that bubble with one another. And so, why not use that opportunity to speak about issues a

little differently or to write about them with that sense of awareness?

It is why in some -- in many cases, sports has been ahead of the rest of society in terms of seeing advancement. Jackie Robinson integrated Major

League Baseball in 1947. That was almost 20 years before there was a Civil Rights Act and a Voting Rights Act, before, you know, we saw the crumbling

of segregation in certain parts of our country, that had already started to happen in sports. And because people saw it in sports, I'm not saying it

made them more open to it necessarily, but it had least provided a model that it could be done.

MARTIN: There was a saying, you can't be what you can't see. You have often been one of the few, if not, the only, black women in the position

that you have been in covering the sports the way you do. Did you always feel conspicuous?

HILL: Yes. I mean, I was always aware. And I think when I was younger in my career and breaking certain barriers then, it felt more like a burden as

opposed to a responsibility. My very first college job I got when I was 28 years old at the Orlando Sentinel. I was the only black female sports

columnist at the daily newspaper in North America. There are 405 daily newspapers in the USA, Canada and Mexico, and I was the only one.

And that was a lot for me to take in. I felt a lot of pressure. I felt a lot of scrutiny. And it -- I think it showed up in my writing, like the

first -- I write about this in the memoir, the first few months I did the job, I wasn't very good because I was thinking too much about what other

people were thinking about the fact that I had this job. And once I was able to kind of get rid of that, it allowed me to, you know, find my voice

and write to my standard.

Once I got into broadcasting and saw that I was one of the few black women in a visible position, and the distinction of, by the way, being a black

woman in commentary, I was not an anchor. So, that means I was driving shows with my actual opinion. And that was not seen hardly anywhere. And,

yes, I also was aware it then too, like this comes with a lot of responsibility, but it was a responsibility I embraced, because in my

presence, being on ESPN, inspired other women that they could be in the same place and to do it in the way that I was doing it, they did not have

to follow my exact career path, but they knew there was more value to them than just being a sideline reporter or being a host and teeing up other

people and us hearing their opinions, that there was a place for their actual voice.

MARTIN: You know, you talk a lot about -- you've kind of alluded to this, but I want to kind of go right at this. Let's sort of fast forward to this

idea of what happened when you criticize the former president, Donald Trump, in a series of tweets in 2017 where you referred to him as a white

supremacist who has largely surrounded himself with other white supremacists.

Now, people think of this as a situation where you were suspended, but that was actually only a couple of hours and you went on the air that day as per

usual. What actually got you suspended were some comments that you made about the NFL, you know, subsequently, that's kind of what led to your

leaving ESPN.


On the one hand, these kind of major media outlets offer a lot of money, a big platform. On the other hand, it does come with, you know, guardrails.

And they get to decide what the guardrails are. And so, when you think about that, like how do you think about this now that you've got some

distance from it?

HILL: I do think that when you are in traditional media, you understand the assignment and you understand what you've signed up for. And ESPN is

very visible, it's the most dominant sports media brand in America, but some version of that had been happening throughout my whole career. I don't

mean just their response to it or, you know, me finding out there are guardrails, they -- traditional media has always those throughout my


You know, if you work at a newspaper, they tell you, you can't put up any political science on your yard, whether you are covering politics or not,

right? There are certain rules you have to abide by in order to work for this place. And that is the trade-off that you make because you feel as if

it's worth it, because you get to tell stories, you get to cover things, you get to impact the world with the content that you are creating.

And eventually, you get to a point where you have more lived experience, more leverage, more savvy, where that trade-off is no longer worth it. And

they -- one of the biggest lessons that I learned from leaving ESPN, which, by the way, is the best job I've ever had. I mean, I was there 12 years.

It's the longest job that I have ever had. And for 90 percent of it, that relationship was good and it was fruitful, but it taught me a very

important lesson about networks and about working in traditional media in general. And that is, is a conditional relationship. There will come a

moment where you are going to need a level of support, a level of bravery and courageousness from the employers that you worked for.

Especially if you are in my line of work where you give your opinion and sometimes that opinion is going to rub certain people in power the wrong

way. And you hope that you have their support to count on. In my case, I didn't. And so, I learned a very important lesson in that, like regardless

of how good that you think you may have it somewhere, the bottom line is always the bottom line. And the fact is what I said about the NFL was going

to impact the bottom line.

They are in a billion-dollar partnership with the NFL, and me suggesting that if the fans were so upset at the NFL for how they treated Colin

Kaepernick, that they should think about maybe not watching the NFL instead of putting all the onus on the players and activist and other people. Like

you have the power to change this yourself. You realize this, right? Instead of -- I understood what comes with that statement. And I never

complained about being suspended. I knew what it was. I've been in the business long enough to know you don't hit them. You don't mess around with

the church's money.

MARTIN: There are some prominent African American women in media who have lost their jobs because they said things that their employers did not

appreciate or that they felt went too far. But they felt they had to say it or they felt that it was important for them to say. And I just -- I don't

know. I'm wondering kind of what -- is there some overarching lesson here about people like yourself who feel like you are acting out of conviction,

there's something you feel is truthful and correct and needs to be said, but you are saying it in a place that -- where the audience doesn't want to

hear it?

HILL: The lesson is not necessarily for me. The lesson is for a lot of the corporations who say they want black people, you know, as in commentators.

They want the faces. They don't want the voices. And the lesson, to me, is for them.

And, you know, just recently, we've seen this example with a friend of mine, Tiffany Cross, who is no longer at MSNBC. She had the highest rated

show on the weekend. And they unceremoniously showed her the door because she responded to a text by Tucker Carlson and Megyn Kelly. And they felt

like her response was not up to standard.

Meanwhile, Megyn Kelly is allowed to call Tiffany Cross out by name. Tucker Carlson is allowed to put together a complete races monologue for several

minutes on his air, and it's totally fine. But when Tiffany responds to these attacks, which are not the first time, she has had to face them,

suddenly, she's held to a different standard.

MARTIN: But they work for different networks. I mean, Tucker Carlson --

HILL: They do. So, you can't --

MARTIN: -- works for a conservative -- which is identified with the conservative movement. And Megyn Kelly used to work there, is identified

with, you know, the most conservative audiences and political affiliations in the United States today. They were work for different people.


HILL: Yes. And they work for different people and different networks have different standards. All fine and well. But what I find to be the case is

that on the same breath, if we go back just a few years ago, to 2020, and these same corporations are talking to black people about what could we do

to better support you? What could we do to, you know, strengthen the relationship? How can we amplify black creators and black commentators and

hopes and all of this? And we are all telling the same thing, which is, that support means that when I go after an establishment, a hierarchy,

people who are clearly in the wrong but who might, as I said, mess up the church's money, are you going to be there or not? Because that's what it

comes down to.

Like, they are fine with, you know, sort of attacking things where there could be a great swell of public support behind, where they feel, you know,

it's the only reason why in 2020 so many of these corporations who wouldn't say black lives matter at the Ferguson suddenly were saying it in

statements, nothing changed about the condition of black people in America. What changed was they felt more empowered to take that stance because they

saw other people on the same bus with them.

If the only time you are going to be with me is if when you feel comfortable and the level of support that is around, then you are not

really with me. You know what I'm saying? You are doing this because it's popular. You are not doing this because it's right. Because sometimes what

is right is not popular.

MARTIN: As we are speaking now, we are in the closing days of the midterm elections. What strikes you about this election season? What are you


HILL: What strikes me most is how many people are comfortable voting for cruelty. Comfortable voting just because they don't want other people to

have something. I'm aware that Herschel Walker is one of the greatest college football players in history, and just a tremendous athlete overall,

but probably the most unqualified political candidate I've ever seen.

And so, to think that it would be that many people that would consider him to be a qualified, competent candidate, you know, you're asking yourself,

well, why? You know, why would you subject yourself to voting for somebody like him who has right with this many issues? And then, you realize what it

is. It's that, oh, as long as he has pledged to go after these specific people who they don't like, or vote against these people that they don't

like, then it's perfectly acceptable to have a certain amount of incompetence.

So, unlike a lot of times where I went to vote where there was a sense of optimism and, you know, hope and, like, oh, OK, let's see where this lands

us, you know, I was kind of depressed going to the voting booth this time around because I realized that some of the staining of our democracy that

has occurred in the last seven or eight years is permanent. It's not going away. And, you know, that every time that we go to the ballot box, I don't

think this is for everybody, but I think it certainly applies to a lot of people in marginalized communities, we are going to be voting for our life

the rest of our lifetimes. Every single time. And that is very difficult to take.

MARTIN: So, I want to conclude where we started. Is there something that you wish you could say to that girl who started this book, that high school

girl who saw her mom with crack her hand or whose dad couldn't take care of her when she needed someplace else to go? Is there something you would tell

that girl?

HILL: Well, I would tell her something that is simplistic in nature, but it turned out to be really, really true, and that was to keep fighting for

the life that you feel like you deserve. Because I know that was one of the main things that kept me going during those very tumultuous times, is that

I always thought I deserved better, even my mother, in the worst throws of her addiction, always told me I deserved better. And I fought for better.

And I got better.

And that's why it's -- I'm really blessed and fortunate to have broken some really awful legacies of trauma in my family because I just -- I knew there

was something else out there. I may not have been able to define it, but I knew it was there. And as long as I knew it was there, then it was going to

be all the engine I needed to keep going.

MARTIN: Jemele Hill, thank you so much for talking with us today.

HILL: Thank you. I appreciate you having me.


AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, another young woman fighting for the life she deserves. Ukraine's Post Office has released an official holiday stamp.

It features a painting by an 11th grade girl here who was forced to flee after Russia's invasion.


Her painting, chosen by popular vote, is called "Separated by War." The head of Ukraine's Postal Service says, he hopes this image serves as a

reminder that Ukrainians will stand against all odds with or without electricity, he says.

That's it for now. Thanks for watching and goodbye from Kyiv.