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Interview with Qatari LGBTQ Qatari Activist Dr. Nasser Mohamed; Interview with Men in Blazers Media Network Founder Roger Bennett; Interview with Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA); Interview with Philadelphia Inquire Commentary and Ideas Editor and "1001 Voices on Climate Change" Author Devi Lockwood; Interview with Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired November 18, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here is what is coming up.
The Qatar World Cup kicks off, dogged by controversy. I peak with soccer savant Roger Bennett and Dr. Nasser Mohamed. Then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): For me, the hours come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: House Democrats move into the majority without Nancy Pelosi's leadership. I speak with her friend and colleague, Representative Jackie
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you do in Kazakhstan?
DEVI LOCKWOOD, COMMENTARY AND IDEAS EDITOR, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRE, AND AUTHOR, "1001 VOICES ON CLIMATE CHANGE": Listening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listening. Listen.
LOCKWOOD: Yes, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Author Devi Lockwood collects stories about climate change across five years and six continents.
Plus, Yale Law School pulls out of U.S. News and World Reports Rankings. Dean Heather Gerken calls out the system's bias against poor and working-
class applicants. And finally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Why do they keep coming for us?
MELINDA FRENCH GATES, CO-CHAIR, BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: Because they are afraid of more power.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Girl's empowerment. We hear from my exclusive conversation with Michelle Obama, Amal Clooney, and Melinda French Gates.
Welcome to the program. I'm Sara Sidner in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
Football's 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar, Sunday. The championship, the first to be held in an Arab country, is clouded by controversy even before
the games ever began. First, there have long been allegations of corruption around to the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar by FIFA, football's
governing body, with an FBI probe of leaders implicated in a bribery scandal.
Then, reports of exploitation of Qatar's migrant workers. Amnesty International links thousands of deaths to extreme heat and unsafe
conditions there. And also, protests against other human rights abuses particularly of Qatar's LGBTQ population. Homosexuality is still illegal
Now, just days before the first game, FIFA announces no alcohol will be sold at the matches, a last-minute U-turn that caught organizers and
sponsors off-guard. Here to talk about the contest and the controversies, Dr. Nasser Mohamed. He is a prominent Qatari LGBTQ activist.
Welcome to the program, sir.
DR. NASSER MOHAMED, QATARI LGBTQ ACTIVIST: Hi. Thank you for having me.
SIDNER: So, you have heard the list of things that people around the world are concerned about. And I just wanted to ask you first, when did you come
out and why and what consequences were there for you because of it?
DR. MOHAMED: So, coming out for an LGBT first comes in phases. I came out to my best friend when I was still in Qatar. When I moved to Connecticut to
do my residency in 2011, I've been an out person and living in the United States. And I haven't been out as an LGBTQ Qatari till this May when I came
out in BBC News because we did not have any public voice.
A lot of us live in the shadows. And those of us that leave Qatar where -- that nobody will ever find us. So, this year, it was really important to
share our truth and to share all of the abuse that happens to us in the shadows because I felt like the path I had to get out and seek asylum in
the United States was being challenged by the false marketing and PR around the World Cup.
SIDNER: So, you decided to speak out, then you decided you had to seek asylum because homosexuality is illegal still in Qatar. I guess the
question to you is, as a member of the LGBTQ community who is now outspoken, should the games be held there? Should this World Cup be held in
DR. MOHAMED: You know, I don't think it should have been awarded without considerations around the human rights issues and without being thoughtful
about could be impacted by having the competition there. But we're here. And unfortunately, all the efforts, including mine to shed light on the
issues and try to bid and summon resources, so that we held the community that are impacted by this competition have all been lot -- you know, we
still haven't been able to summon enough help.
SIDNER: I want to talk to you a little bit about what FIFA has said, and Qatar itself. FIFA has written to the 32 teams competing at the World Cup,
telling them -- and I'm quoting now, "Now, focus on the football." It said, football should not be, "Dragged into ideological or political battles or
handout moral lessons." And in response, 10 European football association said that human rights are universal and should apply everywhere. What do
you make of the response from FIFA?
DR. MOHAMED: You know, I've been trying to get hold of them as, literally, the only publicly out voice -- LGBT voice from Qatar, and they know of me.
They're choosing not to engage. And what I want to tell them is that I am not an ideological battle. I'm human, that's different.
And I had my challenges where I grew up and I had a lot of economic, social, religious, and political challenges and -- to navigate to be where
I am today. And that path I took is being challenged by them. And I wish that they could meet this message with empathy than just say, let's play
football. And they're literally playing football over our graves in Qatar, basically.
SIDNER: You know, there were -- there are a lot of comments when there were things going down in basketball here and people were saying, just shut up
and dribble. And this is, sort of, the equivalent of that coming out of the FIFA officials.
I do want to ask you about something that's a little lighter but also it has caused a bit of a stir. This is Qatar's last-minute U-turn on whether
to sell alcohol. The organizers today decided that no alcohol will be sold at the World Cup stadiums. And one of their major sponsors is Budweiser,
you know, the beer company.
And so, when Budweiser found out about this --
DR. MOHAMED: I saw the news, yes.
SIDNER: -- they tweeted something that actually made us all giggle. Budweiser tweeted, well, this is awkward. And there you see it on your
screen. I think that is the most poignant response to the decision. What do you make of this? I mean, do you think that, you know, Qatar will take --
start doing some other things, sort of, relinquishing some of its -- some of the other decisions that's made?
DR. MOHAMED: You know, what I think that's even more awkward is that they have to take that tweet down. Because it just highlights that if you're
doing any deals with Qatar, you can come out and criticize Qatar the same time. And it feels, to me, like it's a power move in some ways, right?
But at -- it could be power move but at the same time what Qatar is doing right now is that they have this PR filter to the outside world to the
extreme conservative views that they have internally. And I don't know, it sounds like the conservatives there did get the little win with this one.
SIDNER: Money talks, I think, is what you are getting it. I do want to ask you, just ultimately, what are your hopes for people in the LGBTQ community
there in Qatar. Do you think there will ever be a change there in the laws and in the attitudes?
DR. MOHAMED: Well, I'm going to tell you over just like a couple of minutes, like, what has been happening. So, we -- the reality is that we
live in an authoritative dictatorship, geopolitical bubble. And the way we have to navigate our safety and the way we live our life is very different
than other people.
So, since coming out, I've have been trying to put reports out that have some evidence with them. and there are some because I got connected to the
larger LGBTQ community that found me since (INAUDIBLE). And we connect people to documentaries in Germany, documentary in London. We put the Human
Rights Watch report after they interview with people themselves.
So, the reason we are putting this out there is just to continue to support people to plea for asylum if they're safe at home and get out. So, that
channel, first of all, need to continue. The second thing that really is important is to continue like the evidence-based reporting on the country's
conditions because that's what's really going to continue to bring us resources.
And then, a lot of people have been having conversations with the Qatari governments behind closed doors, but all these efforts are fragmented. So,
I just started an initiative called Alwan Foundation, which is our first LGBTQ nonprofit, which I hope will give us a voice and the ability, because
after the FIFA World Cup, the cameras will look the other way. And that's when I think we would really need the most help. And that is really what
the Proud Maroons project that I have going on, which is my active protest around the World Cup is focused on.
It is focused on bringing resources now when everybody is looking at Qatar's so that the LGBT community that are at most risk of suffering the
consequences of this World Cup can continue to have a platform and can continue to get support after this year.
SIDNER: Dr. Nasser Mohamed, thank you so much for coming on and congratulations for coming out and speaking up. I appreciate your time.
DR. MOHAMED: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
SIDNER: Let's turn now to Roger Bennett who has reported extensively on the run up to this World Cup. He is the co-author of "Gods of Soccer" and
founder of the Men in Blazers Media Network. Thank you for joining the show.
ROGER BENNETT, FOUNDER, MEN IN BLAZERS MEDIA NETWORK: Sara, it is good to be with me.
SIDNER: Just so you, know I was there when Qatar received word that it was getting the World Cup. It was a random place for me to be at the time. I
wasn't supposed to be there, but I flew in a couple days before, and I must say, my jaw dropped and I think a lot of people's jobs dropped,
considering, well, a lot of people were looking at this and said, something doesn't seem right. Something didn't go right. And there are allegations of
corruption and investigations.
Do you think that the World Cup should be played in Qatar, considering some of the things we have just spoken about?
BENNETT: Yes. I think the World Cup should be played in the Middle East, and that's a wonderful, wonderful thing. But you were there in 2010 in
Switzerland when the World Cup was announced, that it was going to be big given to first Russia, Vladimir Putin's Russia and then, Qatar. Hey,
everybody's haw dropped, to be honest. It was meant to come to the United States of America.
I did a series, a podcast series called "World Corrupt" where we interviewed the spokesperson for the Department of Justice, Matthew Miller,
who was also there on that day. And he said, what he saw in the 48 hours that he was in Switzerland, he said, was the most corrupt thing I've ever
seen in my life. And then, he added, and I came through in New Jersey politics.
So, while Tony Soprano will be rolling in his grave to hear that, he is not alone in believing that. Sepp Blatter, who was then the FIFA president,
came out last week. And he said, this whole thing was a mistake. And he talked about how the French vote, which ultimately was the swing vote in
all of this, was switched after a meeting with Sarkozy, and know, Emir of Qatar, in which the French vote was changed for $15.4 billion worth of
French jet plane purchases by Qatar.
So, you have the corruption. Qatar not fit for purpose. More than in Connecticut (ph). It's like picking up March Madness and dumping it into
Saudi Arabia, it is really the fire festival of World Cups. Lay it out in the human rights abuses of which you've just discussed and the fact that
six and a half thousand people, six and a half thousand people were reported by "The Guardian" to have lost their lives in getting Qatar World
Cup ready and what we have is a World Cup that is truly soaked in blood.
SIDNER: You know, those numbers have been disputed, as you know, by a -- in a couple of different places, including the Qatari government, which has
said that the figures on migrant workers have been "misleading and sensational headlines." But there is an issue there, according to all of
the human rights organizations who have been looking at what has happened to workers there.
I do want to go back and talk to you about, you know, the -- Macron and France. Macron had said that the sport should not be politicized, but here
we are. I want to let us all listen to what French President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday in Doha.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): I think sports should not be politicized. These questions need to be raised when events
are attributed, when Olympic Games, World Cups are attributed, that's when these questions need to be raised with all honesty. Whether the issue is on
the climate or whether it is about human rights, you should not ask yourself these questions when the event is happening but when it is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: So, you heard those comments there. Were you surprised at the comments by Macron?
BENNETT: Sports is political and it is incredibly political as soon as FIFA decides to award its crown jewels of a tournament to Qatar. You cannot turn
around as the FIDA president try to do two weeks ago and essentially say to the athlete, just shut up and dribble. Do not speak about it. Because FIFA
itself -- if you actually Google FIFA and world change, it's all they've talked about for the past two decades. And they took the World Cup to South
Africa. Mandela showed the world an incredible face of his nation. That was all about football creating change. It was about football creating change
when it went to South Korea and Japan and opening up Asia.
Just this week, the president of FIFA, Infantino, sat down at the G20. I mean, what he was doing there, I don't know. And urged an immediate
ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia because the World Cup was about to start. The World Cup being political and not being political is not a
switch flick on and off. When you want to be political, it is. When it is not, shut up and dribble. And the joy of the World Cup, Sara, is that when
two teams take the field, their nation's histories, their nation's politics take the field alongside of them.
I've always thought as of as a kid, that is an incredible thing, a thing of wonder to witness that football holds a mirror up to the world that
surrounds it. It always has done and still does. And even the reflection in our world of chaos and challenge is fairly grotesque, it's now holding up a
dark reflection that we don't particularly love.
SIDNER: Well, you are getting a call and we are out of time. So, this is all working out just perfectly. But thank you for your comments. I think
they are heartfelt. I know you've been following this for very long time. And as you said, sports is inherently political. We have seen it over many
decades, the black power movement, you know, there's been Colin Kaepernick. It has a voice and the athletes have a voice and they have a platform. So,
it will always be political. Thank you so much for joining us.
BENNETT: Thank, you Sara. Courage.
SIDNER: As Republicans prepare to lead the next Congress, Democrats are looking to a new generation now that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is stepping down
from her party's leadership after two decades. New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries announced his bid to replace her as Democratic head. Also
stepping up for leadership roles, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and California's Peter Aguilar.
As Pelosi bid her speakership goodbye, she spoke about the historic impact of Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: In this room, our colleagues across history have abolished slavery, granted women the right to vote,
established social security and Medicare, offered a hand to the week, care to the stick, education to the young and hope to the many. Indeed, it is
here under the gaze of our patriarch, George Washington, and the people's house, that we have done the people's work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: So, with all of the changes coming, how will the people's work get done now? Representative Jackie Speier knows Nancy Pelosi very well. After
almost 20 years in Congress, she is stepping down at the end of this term. Thank you and welcome to this show.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Thank you, Sara. Great to be with you.
SIDNER: Can you just give me a sense of how big of a moment this is, that the first female speaker of the house in the United States is stepping down
SPEIER: It is a big moment. And, you know, for many of us, a sad moment. She not only broke the glass ceiling or the marble ceiling, she smashed it.
And the issues that she brought to the fore around women and children are profound. You know, she came to feminism as a mature woman. And it was
really wonderful to watch her become this icon for women, not just of, you know, over this age of 50 but for those over the age of 20.
And she has really paved a path for women who will follow her that would suggest, we don't take guff from no one. You can point your finger at the
president of the United States if he's making a falsehood. You can walk out of the White House in an orange coat and sunglasses with the determination
that you are going to represent the people of this country come hell or high water.
SIDNER: Yes. No matter if you are a detractor or a fan, she certainly had style and was a very strong voice. I do want go to -- speaking of her
voice, Nancy Pelosi, January 2010, here's what she said on working to get the Affordable Care Act in place, which a lot of people say it was her
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: We go to the gate, the gate is closed. We'll go over the fence, the fence is too high. We will pole vault in. If that doesn't work, we'll
parachute in, but we're going to get health care reform passed for the American people, for their own personal health and economic security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Jumping fences, going over gates, pole vaulting. I mean, she used all the possibilities. But for you, what is, you know, Ms. Pelosi's
greatest contribution or legacy?
SPEIER: Well, that is certainly is one of them. You know, it was the president at the time who was willing to step back and say, all right. If
we can't get the votes, let's just to kitty care. And she said, no, I'm not going to do kitty care.
So, her absolutes conviction to make sure that we got to the votes. And, you know, the president couldn't get some of the Democratic members to vote
for her. She finally had to twist their arms in the very gentle way that she does to get the Democrats to vote for it. It is now beloved by people
of both parties. And, you know, even the Republicans, 65 times, tried to nullify it, they recognize now that it is, in fact, important for the
SIDNER: I do want to talk to you about the attacks that have come her way and have been there for a very long time. But recently, they have been
really severe. Republicans, for the most part, are the ones doing the bulk of the attacking. They spent tens of millions of dollars on ads vilifying
Pelosi over the years and those ads have gotten -- you know, one of them was quite violent.
And then, this year, her husband, Paul Pelosi, was attacked with a hammer in his home and the attacker said he was there to find Nancy Pelosi. What
do you make of the political discourse that this happening and particularly appointed at women?
SPEIER: Well, it is untenable and it has to stop. And it requires Kevin McCarthy as the soon to be speaker of the house, and the leader of his
caucus, to make his members lower the heat. The rhetoric has got to get softer and gentler. Because otherwise, you are going to encourage people to
do violent things. This man was radicalized online. He really had no other affiliation, but for the fact that he would follow Donald Trump and the
Oath Keepers and other groups, and it was on that basis that he was coming after the speaker of the house.
I think she was mortified by it. I think it hit her in her soul. And, you know, being a victim, so to speak, of survivor's guilt as well, I know that
that has laid heavily on her. It should never have happened. And I think that the weak response by the Republicans is totally unacceptable. We have
got to turn the heat down on our discourse. Otherwise, there is going to be danger in our futures.
SIDNER: I've heard that from so many people that we are in trouble with this violent rhetoric. I do want to -- you just mentioned something about
being a survivor and having survivor's guilt. And this is the 44th anniversary of Jonestown. I hadn't realized that until one of your aides
had brought it up.
Can you give me a sense of where you are now in your life after surviving that? You went on a fact-finding mission to Jonestown in 1978 and came
under fire and saw the horrific things there.
SPEIER: It was, obviously, a turning point in my life. I was shot five times, left for dead for 22 hours. My mentor was assassinated, Congressman
Leo Ryan. There were members of the press that were killed. There were 900 people that lost their lives under the spell of Jim Jones, a cult leader.
And for all of us who think that that was an aberration, look at what we have been doing over the last few years.
It was a point in my life where I told myself, if I survived, I'd dedicate the rest of my life to public service and I'll never take another day for
granted. So, today is always, you know, a day of reflection for me. I'm very lucky to be alive. I'm grateful for the 44 more years of life that's
been given to me.
And while I'm leaving Congress, I am not losing my voice and I intend to continue to work on the issues that I've worked on in Congress and find
ways to continue to contribute.
SIDNER: Your story and the story of Jonestown has always fascinated me. You probably don't know that about me, but it has always fascinated me how you
came out of that. You are leaving. Ms. Pelosi is leaving leadership. Dems are losing a lot of experience. I'd like to know from if you have a
favorite for who will lead the party next?
SPEIER: I am not going to speak to a favorite because there are some great talents in the caucus. It looks like everyone is gelling around the
triumvirate of individuals, Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark and Peter Aguilar. They are very representative of our caucus. Our caucus is very
diverse. They are very talented people. They will serve us well. I'm just grateful that Speaker Pelosi will continue to stay in Congress because she
is -- she can provide them the master class on how to lead.
There will never be a speaker of the house more talented, more sophisticated, more capable and more successful than Speaker Pelosi. She
will go down in history as the greatest speaker ever.
SIDNER: Jackie Speier, thank you so much for joining us on the program and sharing your insights. We appreciate you.
SPEIER: Thank you, Sara.
SIDNER: COP27, the global climate conference in Egypt, was supposed to end today. But negotiations are now running on into Saturday with a host of
issues still unresolved, including the sensitive question of loss and damage. Asking rich countries who pump out to the lion's share of
greenhouse gases to support poorer countries devastated by climate disasters.
My next guest knows this reality all too well. Devi Lockwood spent five years traveling in 20 countries documenting personal stories of drought,
wildfires and disappearing coastlines. She wrote a book about her experiences called "1001 Voices on Climate Change." And Devi Lockwood joins
us now. Welcome to the program.
DEVI LOCKWOOD, COMMENTARY AND IDEAS EDITOR, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRE AND AUTHOR, "1001 VOICES ON CLIMATE CHANGE": Thank you so much for having me.
SIDNER: Would you mind sharing one of the stories that you heard from people who are experiencing the devastating effects of climate change?
LOCKWOOD: Absolutely. So, I spent about a month in 2013 in a country called Tuvalu, which is an island nation where about 10,000 people live in the
South Pacific. While I was there, I met a woman my age named Angelina Anderson and she has three kids. She told me the story about how a drought
impacted her community because climate change impacts people's access to water, really intimately in Tuvalu.
There used to be a freshwater lens under the islands that people could drill a shallow well and have access to for all the things that we use
water in everyday lives for, but that water, because of climate change in the last couple of decades, has become salty and contaminated. And she told
me that this has made -- it is a very difficult situation in her daily life where she has to make a decision, when there is a drought, between having
water to bathe her child and having water to drink and cook with.
SIDNER: I want to ask you about COP27 and the "Washington Post" called it the most disorganized or just wild one that we have seen. And this is a
time when everyone thought that perhaps people would finally come together because we have all, in every country, seen the effects of climate change.
LOCKWOOD: Absolutely. I mean, that's a really great question. This COP has been particularly dire and chaotic. We all know that climate change is a
reality and there is this growing sense of urgency. And yet, this COP, which is supposed to be a vehicle for addressing the problem, is dominated
by the fossil fuel industry and companies that are interested in guarding their own corporate interests. And they're also just aren't enough women,
the way I see it, at the negotiating tables.
It is easy to be pessimistic about this, but I think that there is a value and people from around the world coming together to share stories about
climate change and listen deeply to one another. And there is a value in being heard.
SIDNER: And you've been listening to these stories from -- you know, from the people that are directly affected and that don't have the means to deal
with it. There are so many things going on though when it comes to fossil fuels and the use of fossil fuels. One of the big issues that's left
unaddressed is the first draft of the COP27 agreement in the phasing out of those fossil fuels.
The war in Ukraine has certainly made a dent and sort of maybe slowed the idea of stopping using fossil fuels. In your book, you spoke to a Norwegian
politician and she said, the country is addicted to oil and the wealth it brings. She told you -- and I want to quote here because I think it is
pretty significant, "We are one of the richest countries in the world. And I really don't think that we do enough for the rest of the world. In
Norway, I think that it is easy to close our eyes. The same could potentially be said for the United States and other nations."
So, what do you make of that? What do you think is the fairest thing that could happen?
LOCKWOOD: I mean, I think that is politicians like a Katrina, who are my age, are recognizing that we have a responsibility to the rest of the
world. Climate change is one of the only certainties in terms of -- it is something that everybody on this planet is going to experience. The only
other thing I think we can say that about is death, right?
And so, having those -- that certainty in mind, I think that our countries do have a responsibility to do better by the nations that are most
impacted. But also, that impact is felt around the world in many different ways. And that is one thing that I learned in doing these interviews on
every inhabitant in the continent.
SIDNER: In the end, do you think there will be some movement? I mean, this is going into Saturday now. And this was kind of supposed to be a time when
everyone was listening to each other. Do you think that we will see something concrete come out of COP24 -- 27, excuse me?
LOCKWOOD: You know, we can hope so. And yet, I think that my hope is more so in the actions of cities and the actions of individuals. Because if you
look at the people who are sitting at the negotiation table, within their lifetimes they are not necessarily going to be the people who are almost
entirely impacted by this. And so, while I think it is important to pay attention to these issues, I'm even more energized by what I have heard
from people who are taking action locally. And that is what really gives me hope for the future.
SIDNER: I am also really curious, because, as a journalist, you look at all facets of this. And you talked to some folks who are climate change
deniers. What did they say to you? How do they justify that?
LOCKWOOD: Yes. SO, I remember I met a couple named Julie and Bill in New Zealand. Wonderful people. I was traveling on a bicycle and it was a
national holiday. So, I didn't have someone to stay and they ended up taking me in for the night.
And we got to talking over tea and cookies about climate change. And they told me that the way they saw it, they were constantly seeing the same
image of the same iceberg calving into the ocean, or the same polar bear floating on a piece of ice. And they did not trust that imagery and they
also didn't fully understand the way that the science was being communicated. So, I think that it's really a communication problem.
And it is hard to understand, I think, for anybody what a degree of temperate change or a foot of sea level rise even means for someone's
everyday life or even an inch of sea level change. And so, what I was really trying to do in this work is put a human face, just humanize the
issue and so, that we can have stories, because humans are storytelling creatures, right? Stories that are sticky, they'd be able to understand how
climate change is impacting people's everyday lives. Because when I think about people like Bill and Julie, they just weren't connecting with the way
that the issues were being discussed.
SIDNER: Devi Lockwood, I am so glad that you wrote this book, that you took the time, that you went to all the places that you went to. And that you
are sharing it with us here on "Amanpour." I appreciate you coming on the program.
LOCKWOOD: Thank you so much for having me. It has been a pleasure.
SIDNER: And next, Yale and Harvard Law Schools have withdrawn their participation from the key university ranking system by the U.S News and
World Report, saying that it undermines the commitments of the legal profession. Now, despite taking the top spot every year, Yale was the first
to announce this change.
Heather Gerken is the dean of Yale Law School and joins Michel Martin to discuss their decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Sara. Dean Gerken, thank you so much for joining us.
HEATHER GERKEN, DEAN, YALE LAW SCHOOL: Thank you for having, me. Michel.
MARTIN: So, as dean of Yale's law school, you just announced that the school will pulling out from the U.S. News and World Report rankings. You
are followed by Harvard Law School and Berkeley Law. And we understand that the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford and Northwestern Law Schools say
that they are also considering this move as well.
And you announced this in an open letter where you explained your reasoning. You say that these rankings, which are for -- from a -- for
profit entity, it has to be said, you said that they are profoundly flawed and they discourage law schools from doing what is best for legal
education. And I want to mention that you wrote an open letter about this and people can read in its entirety.
As briefly as you can though, tell us why you say that.
GERKEN: Sure. The trouble with the U.S News rankings is that over the last number of years they've started to create a set of metrics that are
fundamentally against the basic commitments of this profession. And I will just focus on two of them. One, service is a touchstone of this profession
and yet, U.S. News systematically undermines the ability of law schools to support students who want to do public interest work.
Let me just give you one tiny example. We create these amazing fellowships for students. We have more than anybody else does at any law school. And
so, those fellowships let our students work for one year, on our dime, at a public interest organization. They are just amazing. So, guess what happens
to those students? They are counted as if they were functionally unemployed. So, just imagine that for a second. If you are a law school at
any other place and you are thinking about, do you want to create one of a program like this, there's no way you are going to do it because it's going
to make you look like a low employment school. So, it just sends a false signal out to students.
The other thing that is really damaging about the rankings is what they do for low-income students. So, this is a moment when equity is at the center
of conversations about universities. And yet, U.S. News undermines the incentives of law schools to do many things that support low-income
students, even admitting low-income students becomes a risk under the rankings.
MARTIN: Tell me, in what way do the rankings undermine? Is it that they discourage lower income students from applying or tell me how you think it
works in that way?
GERKEN: Yes. There are a couple of examples I can give you. So, the U.S. News quite brightly recognizes that debt load really matters for students
with low-income. So, they are absolutely right about that. And it is admirable that they've tried to helped by measuring it. Unfortunately, the
metrics they use are so crude that they end up sending students the wrong signal.
So, let me give you couple examples. So, first, loan forgiveness programs are one of the best things the law schools do. They both support public
interest and they really help low-income students. So, for example, we have a loan forgiveness program. If a student works at an organization that
doesn't pay lot of money, we'll just forgive their loans, zero them out over 10 years. But in calculating debt load, that's not included in the
debt load calculation.
Just give you another example. If you have a choice in your law school that's worried about your rankings, and you are choosing between a low-
income student and somebody who isn't, you'd think, well, if I bring that low-income student in, they are going to have higher needs, higher that
needs. And so, it is a risk if I bring that student in because it is going to increase my debt load ranking. Now, you could solve that problem by just
talking about how much financial aid do you give to students, but that receives much less weight in the ranking.
And then, the last piece of it, I'll just say, is that U.S. News really emphasizes LSATs and GPAs. And LSATs and GPAs are obviously important in
evaluating a candidate, but they are not the full measure of a person and, again, particularly for a low-income student who cannot afford to spend
thousands of dollars on courses and prep.
And so, when you have a student that you know has enormous promise, you want to admit that student and you want to support them. What happens
instead with the ranking that U.S. News has created is that, one, people are nervous about taking those students because it might lower their LSAT
score. But, two, and far more importantly, and this one is just a killer, all the -- many, many of our peers are using financial aid to bring
students with high scores to campus. They are called merit scholarships. And the reason deans are doing them is to keep their rankings up.
So, what does that mean? Millions and millions of dollars, millions of millions of dollars are going into the hands of students who may be able to
pull -- pay full freight. They may plenty of money to pay tuition but they are getting tuition discounts and merit scholarships. Meanwhile, that is
pulling money away from financial aid for the students who need it the most.
Now, we have done just the opposite. We have never given out scholarship based on scores. We are entirely needs based. And more importantly, we were
the first law school in the country, just last year, to create full tuition scholarships for the many students at our school who come from families
below the poverty line. That is something that law schools should feel free to do but the U.S. News rankings make it much harder to do it.
MARTIN: Well, one of the reasons that your decision in this stand out or the decisions like Yale Law School to stand out is that Yale has been
ranked number one for, what, the entirety of the time that these rankings have been taking place. So, your decision to do all of these things hasn't
damaged or rankings. So, it might -- some might argue then, that what is the beef, because it is not discouraging Yale from doing these things.
GERKEN: This is not about Yale Law School. This is about legal education and the legal profession. I mean, just sit back for a second and imagine
what we are doing. If you said to every law school dean in the country, we want you to give data solely, not data for everybody, data solely to a
four-profit commercial entity so that they can rank based on that formula, no one would join that ranking. It just does not make any sense.
And so, what -- we decided, you know, to take a step back. This is my second term as dean. I want Yale Law School to drive the conversation about
the future of legal education. We've never set our sights by the ranking. We've never advertised our ranking. We've never allowed it to form our
policy. But we are part of a system that is undermining the core values of legal education. We just don't want to be part of that system anymore.
MARTIN: People have complained about these rankings for years and they have talked about how biased they are, how they advantage certain people over
others, how they are not really relevant to the purpose of higher education. So, I am just curious, like, why now
GERKEN: Yes. No, it's a really good question. I mean, I believe in data. I believe in transparency. I wrote a book on rankings. So, I'm not afraid of
the way that rankings work when they are done well. You know, a ranking is only as good as the methodology on which it relies. I also understand that
students, particularly, again, low-income students, first gen-ers (ph), they need some means of trying to sort of measure the differences among law
So, the -- but over the last five years, U.S. News has added one metric after another that has just further undermined the goals of the legal
profession. So, that debt metric is a new one. And I should also just say, I really believe in trying to give people a chance to change and working
inside of the institution. So, for the last few years, the deans have been working really hard to get U.S. News to change its metrics.
When I first became dean, I worked with a bunch of other deans to write a letter just on that question, of those public interest fellowships. Nothing
has changed. So, we gave them a chance to do better and to do right by the legal profession, and they did not. And so, if felt like now is a time to
take a step back and reflect and think about what we are doing.
MARTIN: You know, it's interesting because U.S. News, what they've said in response is the following, I'll just read. It says, "U.S. News and World
Reports will continue to rank all fully accredited law schools, regardless of whether schools agree to submit their data. They say, they respect each
school decision, and that the rankings are designed for students seeking to make the best decisions for the legal education. We will continue to pursue
our journalistic mission of ensuring that students can rely on the best and most accurate information using the rankings as one factor in their law
How do you read that? What do you think they're saying here?
GERKEN: Yes. I mean, U.S. News is welcome to do whatever it wants. It will be doing it with about -- missing about half the data that is has ranked
before. So, it's completely its decision, but it is not the best and most accurate data, and they have package this as what the best law schools are.
The trouble is that they are trying to talk to too many constituencies, thinking about too many things and measuring things that can't be measured
in the way that they measure them.
So, I want to be completely transparent about data. I want to provide information our students need, but they are not doing it right now. They
are sending a false signal to students who care about public interest work. They are sending a false signal to low-income students. So, we are going to
provide data for those students, but we're going to provide it in a form that is accurate and that truly captures the kinds of concerns these
MARTIN: Like what are they? What are you going to do instead? You know, Yale doesn't need to advertise itself nor does Harvard, nor does Stanford.
What will you do instead?
GERKEN: So, I will just tell you. I -- right now, privately for just Yale, we are going to create Yale by the number. A set of information for
students. And so, it's going to say, are you interested in public interest? What kinds of information do you need to know? And we're going to just --
we're going to disclose all of our data on that front.
But I'd also -- I'm also, right now, in conversations with experts in higher education. I am really hoping that Yale Law School will lead on this
front too. And help figuring out how to provide the best, most useful data to students across the country no matter what they are seeking. From a law
school, we want students to come here not because we are number one, not because of our reputation, we want them to come here because it's the right
place for them.
MARTIN: This is what I'm kind of confused about. Who is this designed to serve? I mean, it seems, in a way, that what this really does is generate a
lot of applications from the students all over the world who are never going to get into these schools so that your yield can be, you know, super
low and that becomes its own kind of metric of success. And I'm just trying to figure out who this serves?
GERKEN: Well, Michel, I actually think it's worse than that. I actually think the real problem is, is that they are preventing law schools for
doing right by their first gen-ers (ph), from doing right by their low- income students, from doing right by student who want to go back and serve their communities. They are undermining the incentives for the law schools
to help exactly those students.
And let me just give you the really crucial example it is these scholarships that are designed to pull in high scoring students rather than
put money in the hands of the students who need it most. You know, law school deans have every reason, if they want to create those scholarships
on their own, they are, of course, welcome to do it and they should. But they are not all doing it for that reason, they are doing it because they
feel the pressure of U.S. News rankings.
They are afraid to slip. And so, they are taking millions of dollars and putting it in the hands of students who may have the capacity to pay.
Whereas the students who really needs that money, the students who come from low-income backgrounds, that is 10 percent, roughly, of our class. 10
percent of our students come from below the poverty line, that is where our financial aid is going.
MARTIN: But how do you know that that is where that scholarship money is going? I think there are those who would argue that that's -- those are
diamonds in the rough, as it were, that these students, they might be high scoring but low-income and those are the diamonds in the rough and that
that's where the financial aid should go. I mean, how do you know that it's actually going to students who could afford to pay but just aren't, or
they've just -- they have invested in these, as you pointed out, expensive test prep programs, which have now become a standard practice for people of
means? But how do you know that that's what's -- that the reality?
GERKEN: Because it's not awarded based on financial aid and financial need. That is the core of it. And the diamonds in the rough are at Yale Law
School. These students are the most entrepreneurial students on the planet. I mean, just imagine, they got to Yale despite all the obstacles put in
their way. And yet -- and, you know, $26,000 for a family of four, that's the poverty line. And those students have nonetheless made it to Yale Law
School. We want to lift the burden of the cost of going to law school from their shoulders.
And, you know, I -- this comes -- this is personal for me. So, I'll just tell you, Michel, when I was -- these many years ago when I was a law
student, my parents weren't paying for my legal education and I was given one of those merit scholarships. I turned down Yale Law School in order to
go to Michigan Law School. It was a great education. It meant an enormous amount to me to be able to be tuition-free. But, you know, now, that I'm
dean and I'm seeing where our students are coming from, especially those students from below the poverty line, the thing that haunts me is that I am
sure I was not the neediest kid in that class. I was not the neediest kid in the class, and that's where, as dean of Yale Law School, I want that
financial aid need to go.
MARTIN: There are those -- OK. Here's the other side of this, of course, is that Yale, Harvard, Stanford or Northwestern Michigan, you know, these
rankings aren't relevant. You are so well known around the world that people are going to apply no matter what. I think the argument seems to be
with those schools that aren't as well known, that these rankings are a way for them to advertise themselves, their way to persuade students to give
them a look who might not otherwise do so. Is there any merit to that argument?
GERKEN: You know, that's actually why I believe in data transparency and better rankings. I don't want to downplay the importance of providing
information, but I just want to say, this is not a good one. And, you know, one of the things that the Department of Education has been really leading
on in recent years has been thinking about how do you provide data in a way that really helps the students who need it the most? And we want to follow
that lead. It's time for legal education to do the same.
MARTIN: And I recognize that you just said and you've said several times, this is not about Yale Law School, it's about legal education more broadly.
But what about higher education? I mean, by implication, are you suggesting that the colleges and universities, overall, should consider this step?
GERKEN: You know, so, I've not enough in -- you know, when you are a dean, you are in the weeds before you make a decision like this. You really think
it through. I'm not enough in the weeds to know how well all these other rankings work. But I just -- I will say, when I think about the mission of
legal education, our students are inheriting an impossible set of problems to solve. And our job is to teach them to solve them, because they are all
going to lead, they are all going to do important work in the world.
And so, in order to do that, there's two things you've got to do. One, is you've got to think about how to train them for their jobs, and we are
working on that inside the school cool as well. But the others, you have to have everyone at the table to solve those problems. And to me, stepping
away from the rankings is part of our efforts to make sure that we have everyone at the table for the conversation and that we're launching them to
make sure that they're at the table of the conversation going forward.
MARTIN: Where does the whole question of legacy fits into this? Because this is -- you know, as we know, part of this conversation around
affirmative action, you know, the book in conversation is around legacy, right? That people whose parents attended these institutions, their
offspring tend to have a leg up. But we also know that the alumni of these institutions tend to be, you know, consistent supporters of the school,
financially. And that is partly why this sort of cycle perpetuates itself.
You are obviously saying that there is a whole range of activities like, you know, public interest law, there's a whole range of professions that we
need people to go into that aren't going to necessarily be remunerative but are going to do a lot for the society. And I am just interested in how you
are thinking about those two things in tandem, right?
GERKEN: Sure. I have a very simple answer to that one, Michel, and it is completely consistent with our values. We have no legacy preference. Zero.
There is none. And in fact, you know, one of the things that we've done during my deanship is we've really focused on students who come with
families who haven't gone to college, who come from family members who haven't gone to graduate and professional school. That number has increased
by 100 percent for one group and 80 percent for another.
There's a reason for that. We have really focused in our admission process, not on how far students have gone but how far they have come. And so,
that's why we have this absolutely radical change in the makeup of our student body. When I started, we are roughly 32 percent students of color.
Steady state for 10 years, it's 54 percent. This year, we've -- in the six -- most of our classes in our history have been under my deanship, and
we've dramatically increased the number of students from below the poverty line and the first gen-ers (ph), the first (INAUDIBLE) college. We are
looking to what we understand at the law school to be merits, and that is a measure for how far you've come.
MARTIN: How will you know whether you are -- this move has succeeded in what you hoped that it would? When -- you know, what metric should we use
to evaluate whether you and the other deans have accomplished what you hoped to here?
GERKEN: You know, for me, the metric would be if five years from now, law school deans feel like they are free to do right by the values of the
profession and right by their students, we will have succeeded. That's what I hope to do.
MARTIN: Dean Gerken, thanks so much for talking us today.
GERKEN: Thank you for having me, Michel. It's been a pleasure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: And finally, empowering girls around the world. Michelle Obama's latest campaign, Get Her There, is a global call to action to empower and
educate girls and young women. In a CNN special, I sat down with the former first lady, Amal Clooney, and Melinda French Gates to discuss their shared
mission. Here's some of that conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Because you do work all around the world, where in the world are you most concerned about what is happening to girls and women right now?
AMAL CLOONEY, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: Everywhere. It's unfortunately -- I, mean, you know, at the moment, I'm working on with our foundation,
gathering evidence of crimes being committed against women and girls amongst others in Ukraine. You know, I've spent seven years working on
cases where I represent women who were victims of enslavement and sexual violence committed by ISIS. So, that's women from Syria and Iraq.
We know one in three girls in the world has suffered sexual agenda-based violence. That is a huge number. And the problem is, it's going to keep
happening if we don't have accountability.
SIDNER: Melinda, can I ask you about the impact that COVID-19 has had on girls, in general, just across the world? Has it been a huge setback?
MELINDA FRENCH GATES, CO-CHAIR, BILL & MELDING GATES FOUNDATION: The number of children that are out of school today is in the hundreds of millions. We
know today, around the world, nine out of 10 children will not be, to their most literate selves, that they should be by tenth grade. That includes
kids in our own country of the United States, and it include middle and low-income countries. So, that is huge.
I am tired of meeting with presidents and prime ministers and finance ministers. And let's be honest, most of them are guys, who keep saying, oh,
that's the nice to do issue. We'll get to the women's and girls' issues when there's time. No, no, no. This is the central issue of our time. If
you put a girl or a woman at the center of the agenda, what I know and I have seen and what I have researched, we all do now, is she will change not
just her family, but her community, her society, and her economy around her. And it is the issue of our lifetime.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER U.S. FIRST LADY: We cannot be complacent on this issue. This isn't a soft issue. There is a connection between what's going
on in the rest of the world and what we are suffering through what we are seeing in the backsliding of rights here in this country. These same
challenges are facing girls here in the U.S. We've lost tens of thousands of girls in cities because of COVID, and among those numbers are girls who
are suffering through God knows what because they are outside of the systems, the-limited systems of support that were already there for them.
They don't have access. No one knows where they are in the United States of America.
We have lost children. Children are illiterate. Children are living in poverty. Children are being subjected to violence in the United States of
America. This is our issue. This is not just a global issue. This is not just a women's issue. And if we sit on the sidelines and continue to say
that is not my problem, whether it's on women's issues, child marriage, of voting, any rights, we will continue to see the backslide.
This is the agenda of leaders to somehow oppress us under some notion that that's going to give them more power and control.
SIDNER: Why do they coming for us?
GATES: Because they're afraid of our power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: That is just some of the conversation. We talked about so many things. Michelle Obama's mission, empowering girls, premiers on CNN Sunday
at 8:00 p.m. in New York, Monday at 1:00 a.m. in Paris. We talk about personal issues. We talk about self-doubt. And believe it or not, all three
of those powerful women have it and fight against it. We also have some tips and some things that they would have told their younger selves. It is
a very impactful conversation. I hope you can join us.
And that is it for now. You can always catch us online and on our podcast and across social media. Thank you so much for watching and goodbye from