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Interview with The Spectator Chairman and Former Editor Murdoch- owned "The Sunday Times" Andrew Neil; Interview with Columbia University School of Journalism Dean Jelani Cobb; Interview with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg; Interview with "The Battle for Your Brain" Author Nita Farahany. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 18, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
The billion-dollar defamation suit against Fox News gets underway. I discussed the impact with Jelani Cobb, dean of the Columbia Journalism
School, and veteran British news executive Andrew Neil, who ran parts of Rupert Murdoch's media empire.
Then, dueling presidents, dueling visits, Zelenskyy and Putin in Eastern Ukraine. The latest on what those leaks say about the battlefield with NATO
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Also, ahead --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NITA FARAHANY, AUTHOR, "THE BATTLE FOR YOUR BRAIN": I worry that there will be a chilling of even our inner thoughts and ways that could be, I
think, devastating to humanity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- the battle for our brains. Author and Duke University professor Nita Farahany tells Walter Isaacson that we need to protect our
right to think as neuroscience advances.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London today.
Today, Fox News Corporation and Dominion Voting Systems go head-to-head in what is said to be one of the most important media trials in more than half
a century. Truth telling and disinformation are now in the dock as jury selection is completed and opening arguments get underway in Delaware.
Dominion is suing Fox for defamation and $1.6 billion in damages, accusing Rupert Murdoch's right-wing Fox News channel of knowingly spreading lies
about the 2020 election and about Dominion Voting machines. The judge has already ruled that Fox add lies about the company and the election. But
Dominion must prove that Fox did so intentionally and with actual malice. Fox has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and argues the lawsuit is a three
threat to the First Amendment.
So, what's at stake and how could it impact law, politics and, of course, the press? Few know the inside of Murdoch's media empire better than
veteran British journalist Andrew Neil. He ran Murdoch's "Sunday Times" in the U.K. for over a decade, and he's now host of the "Andrew Neil Show" on
Britain's Channel 4. He's joining me from Dubai. And from New York, Jelani Cobb, dean of the Columbia School of Journalism. Welcome, gentlemen, both
of you to the program.
Andrew Neil, can I start by asking you because you are already, as well, managing "Sky News," and I mean, you were really an insider. And yet, I
think you believe that it's a good thing that this comes to trial and that it wasn't settled out of court. Why is that?
ANDREW NEIL, CHAIRMAN, THE SPECTATOR AND FORMER EDITOR MURDOCH-OWNED "THE SUNDAY TIMES": Well, the first thing I would say is this is the biggest
crisis for the Murdoch organization since the phone hacking scandal in Britain over a decade ago, that was a big crisis. This is just as big, if
not bigger. The journalist in me, of course, wanted to go to trial. It's a great story. It's going to be six weeks of a great story, but not just the
journalists. I think there's a public interest in it going to court, going to trial as well.
This isn't just Fox News that is on trial, it isn't just the group of Murdoch organization that's on trial, it's fake news and disinformation
that's on trial. It is America's defamation laws may be on trial. Is the bar too high to defame someone in the United States? And if Dominion was to
lose this, well, what would the constraints be on fake news and disinformation? Frankly, I would think there would be none. So, the stakes
are very high.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you, because again, it is extraordinary that you as a -- I guess, I don't know, are you still an insider? Certainly, a
former insider. You say that the stakes are so high, but it's --
NEIL: Oh, no, no, no.
NEIL: I'm not an insider.
AMANPOUR: OK. All right.
NEIL: I've been outside for a long, long time.
AMANPOUR: OK. But did you ever feel uncomfortable when you were inside about the very things that you want to be brought out in trial,
disinformation, the spread of lies, corruption of the public space?
NEIL: I felt uncomfortable about a lot of the time, tabloid journalism, which I live next to, but I never felt uncomfortable editing "The Sunday
Times" or running "Sky News" in these days. I was allowed to get on and produce highly reputable news organizations. There is a kind of
schizophrenia about the Murdoch organization. Some things are highly laudable, some journalism is excellent, and there are other things, well,
we know what these other things are, and they're very different.
AMANPOUR: And so, let me turn to you, Jelani Cobb, because mostly that is in the Murdoch purview in the United States, because there are different
rules here in the U.K. And so, Fox News and his other whatever organizations in the U.S. are under the spotlight right now. So, react then
to what I'm Andrew has just said, because we want to know what does this mean for the First Amendment and is American, you know, libel laws and
defamation laws, are they too strict?
JELANI COBB, DEAN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM: So, that's really the question and, you know, how you view it will depend on large
measure on how you see these kinds of matters or where you stand politically.
If you recall at the very beginning of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, one of the things that he said that, you know, start to raise
alarm, certainly among people in media circles was that he wanted to "loosen up the libel laws." And that is likely a reference to kind of the
biggest law that we have around media freedom and the First Amendment or the biggest ruling, which is "The New York Times" versus Sullivan case from
1964, which established a doctrine that an outlet can publish information and information can be false as long as that information was not
intentionally false or a result of malice, a malicious attempt to defame the person or so grossly negligent that the newspaper or the news
organization should have known better.
And, you know, that's been a pretty high standard, but it's also allowed newspapers to take risks, it's allowed newspapers to break stories, it's
allowed newspapers to do investigations and those kinds of things. On the other side of it there are lots of people who are on the left politically
who would just love nothing more than to see Fox News get its comeuppance in this case.
The other side of it is that if that happens, that could unintentionally have the ripple effect of giving Donald Trump what exactly he wanted in
2015 when he said that he wanted to "loosen up the libel laws." A precedent could ricochet, depending on what happens in this decision, it could
ricochet around and become a principle that makes it generally more difficult for the media to report on kinds of things.
And what will determine this, like at issue, at the center of this is whether or not Fox News is reporting on Dominion was an honest mistake,
something that, you know, came up that turned out to not pan out or if it was a result of gross negligence and if they intentionally misled the
COBB: And --
AMANPOUR: So, that's the point.
COBB: And that will be -
COBB: -- how this is resolved.
AMANPOUR: That is the point. So, the judge, as I said, has already ruled in this case in the in the pretrial hearings and discovery and all the rest
of it, that all the Fox statements on Dominion with regard to the 2020 election, all of them were lies. So, that's -- that bar has already been
cleared for the plaintiffs, but they have to prove actual malice.
Andrew, clearly the laws are really different. It's much, much easier for plaintiffs to win here in the U.K. than it is in the USA. Given what Jelani
said about the permissive potential of a win by Dominion, do you believe, like many legal scholars, that actually Dominion has a good case here, that
they can prove, from everything that's in the public sphere that we've seen, that there was actual malice?
NEIL: Well, if Dominion can't win, if Dominion can't meet the high hurdle of recklessly telling untruths with malice because the evidence is already
there that we know that many leading figures, both executives and anchors, at Fox News knew that the claims -- that the election had been stolen, that
it was an election which had been swung illegally Biden's way, they knew that was nonsense, yet, they still went ahead and broadcast it. Well, if
that's not reckless, I don't know what is.
So, I would say that if Dominion can't meet that hurdle, then nobody could meet that hurdle. Now, whether they get the $1.6 billion that they're
demanding, that's another matter. But the hurdle of did they recklessly know, we know that some of the leading anchors thought that Trump was
talking nonsense, that the election had not been fiddled.
The judge has ruled, they can't even claim they were merely reporting newsworthy stories. They can't even claim that. The only thing that is left
that Fox has to not down is that they weren't -- that they don't meet the Supreme Court ruling of 1964, that high hurdle. And as I say, if Dominion
can't meet that hurdle, I don't know who can.
AMANPOUR: OK. Well, just for laughs, and I'm just saying that, because there's been -- I'm going to play this first, Jelani. I'll come back to you
because this is important. We're going to play one of these exerts of what the judge has said, you know, clearly shows that it's all a load of, you
know, untruths. We're going to play this and then come out of it the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU DOBBS, ANCHOR, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: You say these four individuals led the effort to rig this election. How did they do it?
SIDNEY POWELL, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, Lou, they designed and developed the Smartmatic and Dominion programs and machines that include a
controller module that allows people to log in and manipulate the vote even as it's happening. We're finding more and more evidence of this. We now
have rains and rains of actual documents from Smartmatic and Dominion, including evidence that they planned and executed all of this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: We know from the judge that he, you know, has said all that's nonsense. But we all also know from Rupert Murdoch that he claimed -- he
said claims like this a really crazy stuff, terrible stuff, damaging everybody, I fear.
Jelani Cobb, you were about to say something, but I want to know what your view is on the fact that let's say, let's say Dominion wins this, do you
think it would have a chilling effect or the reverse on the ability of journalists to do an honest day's work?
COBB: So, I mean, I think that people -- there has been a concern. It depends on what this ruling -- you know, what's in this ruling. But I tend
to think that the case here is so egregious, it's about behavior that is so far to the other side, at least, the accusations are so far to the other
side of journalistic ethics that it really doesn't -- that it need not have a chilling effect.
And I will say, the thing I was going to say that connects to this is that the most damning part of this is the backlash against Fox News' own
journalists who were reporting that, in fact, Joe Biden won the election fair and square. And you know, they were certainly, you know, journalists
who felt that there was an internal backlash against them for that, not all of them are even still working at Fox as a result, you know, and kind of
unceremoniously, a few people left in the immediate aftermath.
If you have those people saying, we told the truth and we were punished for it, then that really changes the calculus. To Andrew's point, it makes it
hard to see how you would not be able to meet -- how Dominion but not be able to meet that bar from 1964.
AMANPOUR: I think it's really important at this point to say that the Fox News' actual fact-checking team, whatever they call it, the brain center or
whatever, on election night did fact-check everything and did say that, you know, they they're the first ones who called the Arizona result and they
were absolutely honest. So, again, the opinion makers or the executives knew that, they knew that their own journalists have fact-checked that it
was a fair election.
Andrew, Rupert Murdoch, though, said in e-mails that were revealed to his own CEO, Suzanne Scott, getting creamed by CNN. Guess our viewers don't
want to watch it. Watch, what I was referring to, the accurate result as Fox was reporting it.
You know -- well, I don't know how close you still are. But you've known Rupert Murdoch. You must have read the Gabriel Sherman "Vanity Fair" piece
on him. What's happening? Is he losing it or is he playing the game? Well, what's happening? What's happening internally to Rupert Murdoch, do you
NEIL: What happened was to use one of Rupert Murdoch's favorite phrases, his wallet did the talking. I mean, in the immediate aftermath of the 2020
election, Fox News actually told the truth about the election that Mr. Biden had won fair and square. But he did that and also because they've
been the first network to call Arizona for Mr. Biden, which didn't go down well with Fox News viewers. When they started to tell the truth, their
ratings started to fall.
They moved to other right-wing channels, news channels like Newsmax. And they began to worry as the ratings tanked what this would do to profits.
Tucker Carlson, one of his e-mails or text messages, he says, hey, are you seeing what's happened to the share price here? It's a disaster.
So, because it wasn't good financially, and here are their shades of the hacking scandal as well, don't forget that kind of tabloid journalism made
a lot of money for the Murdoch organization, so there was a danger that Fox News, which is the cash cow of the operation now, was going to start to
make a lot less money. So, they changed the journalism. They moved on to disinformation to boost the ratings. That was the reason. There's nothing
about good journalism or correcting the record, it was to protect the share price and the money they were making. It made more sense to tell lies.
Now, if the First Amendment protects that, let me say this which Americans are going to say, the First Amendment is wrong. But I don't believe it is
wrong because I don't think the founding fathers ever intended it to be a blank check to lie. And when you do get something wrong in journalism, as
we do all the time, reputable journalists correct the record. We've got that wrong. We put our hands up and we've corrected the record. None of
that is happening in this particular case, and that is why I think it is a test case.
It will, I think, whoever wins in Delaware, I suspect it will end up at the Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court will have to look again at that 1964
ruling as your other guests so accurately mentioned, Sullivan versus "The New York Times," and whether the bar for defamation, it may be too low in
some countries, but is it now too high in America in an age of disinformation and fake news? Does it allow you to get over the bad actors
to get away with far too much?
AMANPOUR: Can I ask both of you whether you believe, you know, Fox's position is, hey, we were just reporting stuff that was swirling around in
the stratosphere, we were just reporting, we weren't endorsing? And then, their other, you know, claim is, oh, my goodness. This is, you know,
privileged under the First Amendment, and all of that.
Jelani, does that run at all? Is that a decent defense?
COBB: Yes. I mean, it's hard to see how that how that flies. So, first, you have a news gathering -- and to Andrew's point about this is the kind
of dichotomy with Fox, which has a fairly straightforward news gathering entity -- element of it that operates in the same way that any of us who
have been in a news room or in a news organization, you know, operates along those same sorts of standards and they're very different, you know,
opinion side of it.
It's hard to see how you get around reporting or taking seriously or taking incredibly arguments that go to the contrary of the very kind of fact-
finding mission that, at least, in theory, is at the heart of your news organization. And so, there's that.
I will say one thing too in response to Andrew's point, there is good reason -- even if Fox News gets creamed in this settlement, there would be
good reason for them to not appeal to the Supreme Court about this because it's like -- you know, it's bad to have an apartment fire, but if you open
the door, you now have a building fire. And so, if you appeal this up to the Supreme Court, you could actually -- this could be a onetime loss, you
know, in a circuit court. If you go to the Supreme Court, you could actually codify this as a bigger loss.
And if they change the libel laws, there are a lot of conservative news outlets that will be vulnerable as a result of that, too, which is part of
AMANPOUR: Andrew, again, this profile of Rupert Murdoch in "Vanity Fair" claims that Murdoch, 92 years old, in somewhat failing health, is "a shell
of what he used to be." And I wonder whether you believe that and I wonder whether you reflect a little bit on the Leveson Inquiry.
Remember, Murdoch turned up very polite to the judges. He's sort of played the doddering old man who wasn't really, you know, aware of all the stuff
that was going on, and I wonder -- what is -- I know you said, the real Murdoch is the one whose wallet is doing the talking. But is he at the
height of his powers still?
NEIL: At 92, he certainly isn't at the height of his powers. Look, his remit doesn't run through the empire nearly as much as it used to. "The
Times" of London, "The Sunday Times," even "The Sun" is -- a big tabloid there, do not reflect many of Rupert Murdoch's views anymore, or even in
some KGs (ph), a toll.
But what has come out in this case is that not only is Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of the holding company, Fox Corporation, he's executive chairman
of Fox News. Now, that information was actually held from the judge at the beginning, and the judge was very angry when he discovered that he is
executive chairman of Fox News, and what we've already seen in depositions and in documents that have been made available is that he was pretty hands-
on on this.
And this defense that we were just reporting stuff that was newsworthy, the judge has already said, that ain't going to wash, given the way you handle
the news. You showed Sidney Powell earlier, that clip of Sidney Powell, she's a total wacko. If you have her on, which I think in the first place,
you shouldn't, but if you have her on, you don't let her just talk nonsense, lie, talk about things that are completely made up and fables,
you give her a really hard time. That's our job. That's what would happen if she came on the "Andrew Neil Show."
NEIL: Fox didn't do its job. They gave her a free run to tell nonsense.
AMANPOUR: And I know she would get a run for her money on your show. But even the Texas -- I believe she's a Texan lawyer, they haven't even
disbarred her. She hasn't had a reprimand, according to the research that I've read.
Very finally and briefly to you, Jelani, because it is about everything that's here. You've written that this is also a test case for democracy and
the relationship of the press, a free press with, you know, a democracy.
COBB: Sure. And so, you know, when we have a First Amendment, when we look at, you know, what the First Amendment is supposed to do, it is literally
supposed to be external bulwark that props up the machinery of democracy in element outside of government that is supposed to keep government
accountable and therefore, make democracy viable. What's being accused here would have Fox News doing the exact opposite of that.
COBB: If you have any doubt about the consequences of the false idea that Joe Biden had somehow stolen the election, we saw what those consequences
were on January 6, 2021, where hundreds of police officers were assaulted, multiple people died, you know, and that scene of bedlam. And so, very
serious issues here.
COBB: And fundamentally, the question about what role the press is supposed to play in upholding democracy.
AMANPOUR: OK. Jelani Cobb, Andrew Neil, thank you both so much. And we will be back with you as this trial proceeds.
Now, truth and lies and the press are all at play in Russia's war in Ukraine, where Vladimir Putin has made only his second visit to occupy
territories there. These pictures from the Kremlin State Media show President Putin meeting Russian troops in Kherson in the south.
His trip comes amid all the speculation about spring offensives, atop Ukrainian commander says that Russia is "unsuccessful along most of the
frontline." But the leaked Pentagon documents also reveal just how quickly Kyiv is running out of important weapons and ammunition and that the U.S.
is pessimistic that they can actually bring a quick end to this war.
So, now, this information is public knowledge. Will it put pressure on the allies to speed up the supply of direly needed military aid? NATO Secretary
General Jens Stoltenberg is joining me from HQ in Brussels.
Welcome back to our program, Secretary General.
What do you think? Will these leaks do what Ukraine hopes they will do and speed up western NATO aid that it desperately needs right now?
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Well, first of all, I think it's important to remember that we have all this scene that some of these
leakages are incorrect and are manipulated. So, this incident, I don't think will actually impact what NATO allies are doing when it comes to
What matters is that NATO allies have for a long time, and especially the last weeks and months, provided unprecedented support to Ukraine with more
heavy equipment, with more ammunition, with battle tanks, with armored vehicles and also fighter jets to enable Ukraine and Ukrainian forces to
continue what they've done to liberate more land and to ensure that President Putin doesn't win the war in Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you say it's been manipulated, maybe some of it has, but on the ammunition and on the weapons systems, there seems to be a lot of
accuracy. This is what President Zelenskyy has said about that issue. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Is very important to understand this, every time we hear that the promise supply of
weapons is delayed, every time there are doubts about the type of weapons for Ukraine, about the range or other quality characteristics, every time
it means that Ukrainian soldiers are giving their lives so that we have this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Secretary General, is it not true then that by the end -- by May, their air defense ammunition and systems will run out? That's what the
leaks say. Can you confirm that? Do they have enough?
STOLTENBERG: Again, without commenting on the specifics of this incident and the leakages, let me just say that it has been a message from me, from
many other leaders that we need to provide Ukraine with more air defenses. That has been, for instance, a message every time we met in this U.S.-led
contact group for Ukraine.
We'll meet again this week in Ramstein on Friday. And I'm absolutely certain that the main message there will be that, yes, we recognize the
enormous amount of weapons, ammunition supplies that have already been provided to Ukraine, but we need to do even more because we need to ensure
that Ukrainians are in the position where they can punch through the Russian lines and also, cross the minefields and be in a position where
they can liberate, to take back territory which is now currently illegally occupied by Russia.
So, this is something we discussed with Ukrainians every time we meet them. We will meet again later this week. Absolutely, the needs they still have
will be on the top of our agenda.
AMANPOUR: So, I hear you very, you know, forthrightly saying what they need and we must get it to them. So, you then must be frustrated by what
appears to be quite a sort of incremental buildup of what they need, at least that's what the Ukrainians say and that's what's been out in the open
for a long time.
And for instance, even the European attempt to get them a million shells, artillery shells by the end of the year is apparently not going to be
fulfilled. The capability is not there. Is that right?
STOLTENBERG: Well, I will not call it incremental. It is unprecedented, the level of support NATO allies and partners have delivered and are
delivering, including a lot of modern systems, the HIMARS, the advanced air defense system, the Patriot batteries but also, the heavy modern battle
tanks, the Leopards and the and the Challengers from the United Kingdom and also, advanced systems, of course, from the United States. But about -- and
then, also now, fighter jets from several allies. MiG-29s from several allies.
So, instead of being too focused on the platforms, I think it's as important to focus on the need to sustain these platforms, because all
these weapons systems they need ammunition, they need maintenance, they need spare parts, they need all the support they require to be operational
and to deliver the effect that they are supposed to do. And that's exactly what we have done over the last weeks, is enormous amount of equipment,
which is now transported into Ukraine.
And on top of that, NATO allies are providing training. This has enabled, actually, Ukrainians to make a lot of progress already, pushing back around
Kyiv, in the beginning of the war, not least because of training and support given by NATO allies since 2014. And then, liberating in the in the
east around Kharkiv and then, the suffering around Kherson.
But now, they're moving into another phase and it's where Ukrainians to decide, under operational issue, our responsibility is to enable them to
retake, to liberate occupied land.
AMANPOUR: So, I want you to then tell me your assessment of that the battlefield, of what you think about a counter offensive in terms of do
they have the capability to do it? You know, the papers suggest, and it looks like Ukraine is very upset, that the U.S. is pessimistic about its
ability in any counter offensive to gain -- to make any serious territorial gains for a long, long time.
What is your assessment of what's happening, for instance, around Bakhmut, that's one thing, but about a counter offensive when it comes? It's meant
to be coming this spring.
STOLTENBERG: I think we should always be careful when it comes to predicting how a war evolves, because wars are by nature unpredictable.
Having said that, we are enabling the Ukrainians to make more progress to retake more land. Then, of course, it is always a dilemma because the more
time we spend the more we can deliver to them when it comes to ammunition, sustainment of the systems and also, more weapons systems.
But of course, the more time we spend -- or the Ukrainians spend before they launch new military offensive operations, the more time also the
Russians have to build defensive positions, to establish more minefields, to dig more trenches. So, there is a dilemma. And the only people that are
able to actually make that difficult decision on when to launch any new operations is the Ukrainians.
Our responsibility is to get in as much support as possible, as quickly as possible, and also, to provide the training, and that's exactly what we're
doing. It will be the main issue to be discussed later on this week in the Ramstein.
Then what we see around Bakhmut is that Russia is trying to compensate what they lack in quality with quantity.
STOLTENBERG: They are pushing in offensive -- thousands of troops having very high casualties. But of course, this is also a big challenge for the
Ukrainians because they also pay a price to protect Bakhmut. So, this is becoming a war of attrition, and that's exactly what the Ukrainians want to
change by launching new offensive operations.
AMANPOUR: And the figures are catastrophic, estimates of 120,000 Ukrainian dead and wounded, which is a lot for a country who is outnumbered by three
times by Russia. 97 percent of Ukrainian, Secretary General, according to a Ukrainian survey, say they believe they will win the war. 97 percent say
that. 74 percent believe they can regain lost territory. So, their spirit is still high.
But I spoke to Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair just yesterday, along with President Clinton, as they were reflecting on what it took to
get the Good Friday Accord, the peace in Northern Ireland. It took courage, it took commitment, and it took patience and time. And they, especially,
Blair said, you know, if the West is going to achieve the goals that you've all laid out, you can't get fatigue and you can't give up now. This is what
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: One principle is the same, which is, if once you've determined what is the right outcome, and in my
view, the right outcome is the aggression in Ukraine does not succeed, then you don't give up. I mean, the one thing I think that was very clear about
the Northern Ireland Peace Process, for whatever reasons, is that none of us were prepared to give up on it at any point in time. We never really
resile, even though it points -- it did look absolutely impossible.
And so, I think if you want to resolve anything, you've got to decide, first of all, what is the just and the fair outcome. And then, you've got
to keep committed no matter what the obstacles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, reflect on that, that observation and also, at what point do you think there might be the conditions for negotiation?
STOLTENBERG: So, first, I totally agree with Tony Blair that we should not give up, and that's exactly what the NATO allies are stating again and
again, that we will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes. And the courage, the determination, the bravery that the Ukrainian armed forces,
but also the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian political leadership with President Zelenskyy have demonstrated over the last months since the
invasion have inspired the whole world, and actually inspire us to continue to support them.
It will be a tragedy for the Ukrainians if President Putin wins. So, it's the morally right thing to help them defend themselves, the right for self-
defense is enshrined in the U.N. charter. But it's also in our own interest to support Ukraine to not give up, because if Russia wins, then the message
to all authoritarian leaders, and, of course, also to President Putin is that when they use military force, when they violate international law,
then they get what they want, and that will make the world more dangerous and us more vulnerable. So, it's in our own security interest to support
And then, lastly, I really feel that when I travel around in NATO countries and important countries, I actually see that people care. They care when
they see civilians killed, when they see women raped or when they see children forcibly abducted, taken away from their parents. So, therefore,
it's a strong support across the alliance. It varies a bit. It goes a bit up and down. But the main message, from what they tell us (ph), and the
people in our countries is that, we will stand by Ukraine because this matters also for us.
AMANPOUR: So, Russia does still have powerful allies. Certainly, China is a powerful ally. And the league suggested that China had decided to send
lethal aid -- or had considered sending lethal aid wrapped -- or had taken that decision and wrapped it up a civilian aid. Have you seen -- you know,
seen any evidence of any lethal aid going from China to Russia?
STOLTENBERG: We are watching very closely. And so far, we haven't seen any evidence that China is providing lethal military aid to Russia. And our
message is very clear, it will be a big mistake and to support President Putin's illegal war. And we are calling on Russia to state clearly that
they also condemn the invasion of Ukraine.
What is of concern is, of course, that we see that Russia and China are working more and more closer together in general. Just weeks before the
invasion of the Ukraine, Russia -- President Putin and President Xi signed a joint declaration where they promised each other partnership with no
limits, and we see how they operate more together, also with the joint military exercises, joint naval and air patrols. So, we are watching this
And the message to China is that they should not provide military support to President Putin's illegal war against Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: And just yesterday, the Chinese defense minister told Putin that he wanted to "strengthened strategic communication between the two
militaries and multilateral coordination." He was in Moscow. Well, we'll keep an eye on it. Secretary General, thank you so much for joining us.
Now, it is no secret that technology is getting smarter, faster, especially with the controversy over the safety of A.I., artificial intelligence. Our
next guest is particularly concerned about how tech's rapid expansion could ramp up the assault on our privacy and effectively read our minds. In her
new book, "The Battle for Your Brain," author Nita Farahany warns of the threats of emerging neurotechnology on your freedom of thought, our freedom
of thoughts. She joins Walter Isaacson to discuss how governments can protect cognitive liberty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And Nita Farahany, welcome to the show.
NITA FARAHANY, AUTHOR, "THE BATTLE FOR YOUR BRAIN": Thanks for having me.
ISAACSON: So, you have this great book, "The Battle for Your Brain." What is the battle for our brain? Who's battling us?
FARAHANY: Well, I think the battle is underway to really gain access to our brain activity and get to a world of greater brain transparency, that
is being able to peer into our brains, collect the data that there, commodify the data that's there, and really change our brains and mental
ISAACSON: But wait, wait. Who's doing this?
FARAHANY: Well, fair enough. So, the battle that I'm referring to is really the broader battle by corporations and governments to gain access to
the brain. So, this is everything from the coming age of brain wearables and neurotechnology, which we can talk about what that means, to government
attempts to access the brain, whether that's through interrogating criminal suspects or the development of brain biometric programs or even purported
brain control weaponry that's maybe underway in other countries.
ISAACSON: Well, let's start with that technology. You talk about neuro technology. That means that somebody, perhaps without permission, because
we decided to buy some device, will sort of read our brain waves. Is that approximately right?
FARAHANY: That's approximately right. So, people are already accustomed to having sensors that pick up their heart rates or their breaths or even
their sleep patterns. The idea is that brain sensors have already been put into devices right now, they're largely niche applications with headbands
worn across the forehead, but companies from Meta, Snap, Microsoft and even Apple are starting to embed brain centers that can pick up the electrical
activity in our brain into everyday devices like earbuds or headphones, the soft cups around them with brain sensors, watches that could pick up brain
activity as it goes from your brain down your arm to your wrist.
And the hope of these technologies is to really open the brain up for ways for people to be able to track their own brain activity, reduce their
stress levels, improve their focus, navigate through augmented reality and virtual reality or even become the way in which we interface with the rest
of our technology.
ISAACSON: So, tell me what information could it read?
FARAHANY: So, right now, the advances that had been made have been pretty startling, largely because of improvements and artificial intelligence in
pattern recognition, plus, the miniaturization of sensors that can start to pick up electrical activity. These aren't mind reading devices. They're not
literally decoding the thoughts in a person's mind. What they can do is pick up different brain staves that reflect emotions. So, are you happy or
sad, or are you bored? Is your mind wandering? Are you paying attention? Are you focused? Are you tired?
With additional probes in the environment, so, for example, if you're playing a game and something is embedded into the game platform, like a
subliminal message, researchers have shown it's possible to even probe the brain for information like a pin number or an address or your political
preferences or beliefs or desires.
ISAACSON: But if I'm wearing one of these things, it's because I chose to, it's because I want to have a better interaction with the machines around
me or maybe with the game I play, maybe it's an Oculus Rift, maybe it's some virtual reality thing. You talk about cognitive liberty, isn't that
part of my liberty to say, hey, I want these things?
FARAHANY: Absolutely. So, I talk about cognitive liberty as the right to self-determination, that includes both a right to access the technology and
learn what's happening there or enhance your brain or change it, but also, a right from interference.
So, Walter, you say you intentionally would make the choice if you wanted to, to use the devices, that won't be true for everyone. And already in
workplaces worldwide employees have been required to wear brain sensors to track their fatigue levels, to track their attention or their focus or even
their emotional levels in the workplace.
And in China, there are reports that people have even been sent home for work based on what their brain activity reveals. Similarly, students and
classrooms in China and other countries have had their brain activity monitored by mandate to have to wear these brain wearables. It's happening
in criminal justice systems worldwide where police are interrogating people's brains to see if there's recognition of crime scene details.
So, cognitive liberty is about both your rights to make a choice to navigate through a game, to be able to swipe with your mind or type on
virtual keyboards, but also to not have both the devices mandated nor interference or collection of your brain data or manipulation of your
brains, which can happen too. These aren't just read devices, many of them are also right devices to the human brain.
ISAACSON: So, you're talking about it happening in China, where it's mandated that people have these wearables, is that done at all in the
United States or in the West?
FARAHANY: So, I am not familiar in the U.S. of any mandated case of it specifically, except for one, which is, there's a company that is called
SMART kapp, who have been selling their lifespan device that's embedded with electrodes, with sensors, that pick-up brain activity. They've used
this product with enterprises, with companies worldwide who used it to track fatigue levels of employees. It's not that different from driver
assist technology, which is in some trucks and cars, the differences it's being trained on the brain to pick up that electrical activity that signals
a person's fatigue level.
They've reported that they've partnered for a trial with the North American Trucking Company to test out SMART kapp, and I suspect there will be
increasingly more examples of employers starting to integrate that. Employers during the COVID pandemic, especially during work from home,
started to introduce a significantly more number of productivity tracking software programs on employees work from home devices. I don't think it's a
far stretch to imagine in a world where surveillance in the workplace is increased significantly, that certain kinds of sensors might be integrated,
at least, in limited context here, even here in the United States.
ISAACSON: Well, let me ask you about the SMART kapps that could be put on truckers to see if they're getting to fatigue. Once again. That sounds like
a pretty good idea to me. Am I wrong?
FARAHANY: So, I actually think that done well, at least, for something like long haul truck drivers or pilots or miners, that the balance of the
interest of the individual in that case for their mental privacy relative to the societal risk of somebody barreling down the highway while they're
asleep may favor tracking the individual's sleep.
The right to cognitive liberty looks at the balance between societal and individual interest. And one thing that's SMART kapp is doing really well
is they're minimizing the data that they're collecting? You could collect a lot more information from the brain and mine it if you're an employer.
SMART kapp overrides all of that data on the device itself, they provide only an algorithmic interpretation of a score one to five as to whether or
not the person is wide awake or falling asleep, and those kinds of practices start to get to the responsible use of this technology.
If you're going to have it in a setting where, for example, a truck driver has their brain activity monitored for fatigue levels, implementing those
kinds of safeguards, I think, decreases the intrusion into their mental privacy.
ISAACSON: The fundamental notion in your book seems to be freedom of thought. I mean, that's what the cognitive liberty, I think, is aiming at,
right? Why is it so important that we guard freedom of thought?
FARAHANY: So, I think freedom of thought is really, as you say, foundational to this concept of cognitive liberty. I interpret it more
narrowly than the concept of mental privacy, which is why I include mental privacy as part of it. There's a lot that happens in our brains from
automatic responses to emotions, to basic brain states that mental privacy would cover.
Freedom of thought gets it, that inner monologue, our thought, that space for private reprieve, which I think is so fundamental to human flourishing.
It's what gives us that space to decide who we are, develop our own self- identity, choose what will share and won't share with other people, define our own terms of vulnerability, have a place where you think daring
thoughts or thoughts that might go against the green, if you're in a tyrannical or not an authoritarian regime, dreaming a dream of resistance
and rising up against injustice.
All of that requires that we have a space in which your thoughts are not accessed, your thoughts aren't manipulated and you aren't being punished
for what you're thinking. And I worry when we breach that final domain of privacy, that space for private reprieve, that it will be very difficult
for people to be able to continue to cultivate that kind of inner monologue. I worry that there will be a chilling of even our inner thoughts
and ways that could be, I think, devastating to humanity.
ISAACSON: It really is the stuff of science fiction or that we've been warned about by the great science fiction writers, obviously, Orwell, above
all. But so much of this is what happens when machines can read our brains?
FARAHANY: I think that's right. And, you know, it's an anxiety you see repeated, not just with neuro technologies, but increasingly with
generative A.I. People worry a lot about our ability, for example, to resist manipulation.
Take for example, the cognitive biases or the shortcuts that our brains views, to be able to have selective attention to different things in our
environment, or to be able to tell like, of all the things the threats that are coming at me, that one is the tiger to which I need to pay attention
When technologies are designed to take advantage of those brain shortcuts and heuristics, it can be very difficult for us to resist, difficult to not
return to our phones over and again, to platforms or you say, like, OK, I'll watch one more episode. And cognitive liberty is about that too, which
is to try to define the line between persuasion and manipulation to try to enable us to think freely in a world in which technologies are being
designed to try to compete for if not dominates and take over our attention.
ISAACSON: Well, you call it neuromarketing in your book, which is this notion that, you know, companies could sort of manipulate your thinking as
it goes along. And this has -- it's ever been thus, I mean, I think it was John Kenneth Galbraith who writes about how advertising is doing that
subliminally. Why is this much worse and what are the technologies that's going to do this?
FARAHANY: So, neuromarketing is one on a spectrum that I discuss right in my chapter on mental manipulation in the book, and neuromarketing is really
designed to try to figure out what people's actual responses are there, their Actual preferences are or their biases well beyond what their self-
But this idea of trying to figure out what people actually want or desire, bypassing what they're conscious preferences and desires are it's not
inherently different than what most other forms of marketing have done, except for its precision and its possibility for misuse.
So, for example, one of the techniques that I talked about is a technique called dream incubation. This is another form of neuromarketing, but what
it does is it tries to find the moment at which people are in the most suggestible state to market to them, when blood flow hasn't fully restored
to all parts of their brain after being asleep, and then to use that moment to try to create positive associations with brands.
This idea of trying to get to the brain when the conscious awareness isn't there, again, when used just to sell us products that we may want or that
are consistent with our preferences or desires, it's not that different than what marketers have done in the past. What's different is when it's
used for purposes that may harm us or it's used to try to intentionally overcome our ability to act otherwise, then we need to draw a line and say,
this actually falls on the line of manipulation.
And they're going to be a lot of technologies in this world of generative A.I. that we're going to need to look and see whether they're being
designed to do exactly that, to bypass our conscious decision making.
ISAACSON: Let's talk about some of the upsides maybe of this technology. How might it help us with mental health issues, for example?
FARAHANY: So, I think that's one of the biggest reasons and drivers, Walter, the reason why I think people will embrace the technology is
because it does have extraordinary potential for our mental health and wellbeing.
I think it's pretty stunning that, you know, people are able to tell you everything down to their cholesterol levels or the number of steps that
they've taken each day, but they know virtually nothing about what's happening in their own brains. And that's true whether it's a person who
suffers from epilepsy where they can't know in advance that they're going to have an epileptic seizure to a person studying depression or someone
like me with chronic migraines, where I have some indications that it's coming on, but not many until I have a full-blown headache.
ISAACSON: Well, let me ask you on that. Suppose you're fighting migraines, would you voluntarily start using a wearable device where people --
FARAHANY: I have.
ISAACSON: -- could pull up the medical data?
FARAHANY: I have, very much so. So, I've used neurofeedback devices to try to decrease my stress levels, which is one of the triggers that I have. I
have used wearables that are neurostimulation devices that instead of needing to take medication, I can use instead to try to modulate and
decreased my pain or interrupt my migraines.
And for people with epileptic seizures, for example, the ability to longitudinal, like overtime, where brain wearables where they can get a
real-time and potentially lifesaving alert sent to a mobile device or someone who is suffering from depression and able to interrupt the patterns
of electrical activity that make them the most symptomatic, or even just the majority of us who have a difficult time paying attention during the
day or are increasingly distracted, as we've just talked about, by all of the different stimuli in our environment to use these devices to be able to
train or reclaim our focus and to bring down our stress levels and cognitive load, I think the promise is really extraordinary.
It's the reason that I think most people will be excited about it and the reason why it's so urgent that we actually changed the terms of service for
this brand-new category of technology in favor of individual rights, in favor of being able to keep the data private and use it for our own
personal wellbeing, rather than introducing a new form of surveillance, neural surveillance of the masses.
ISAACSON: You were on President Obama's Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, right?
ISAACSON: President Biden doesn't have one of those. What would you do if there were one right now? Do you think government can actually play in this
field or is it something beyond the scope of our current politics?
FARAHANY: I think they can. So, first of all, I think it's really unfortunate that since our bioethics commission there has not been another
presidential bioethics commission. There was one going back all the way to President Carter under different titles and names, and it had the effect of
being able to kind of these major technological and scientific advances to be able to bring it to the forefront of public discussion, to convene
experts to come up with specific recommendations, everything from, you know, the basics of what funding we need for different programs and making
recommendations to funding agencies to, you know, what kind of expertise and oversight or adaptive regulation would help us get out ahead of these
different products and technologies.
I think we need something like that. We need something at the presidential level, at the executive level that helps to both identify and flush out
those kinds of recommendations and builds a broader societal conversation and consensus around the pathway forward. Because, you know, whether it's
Metaverse or A.I. or neurotechnology, all of these in combination are changing fundamentally our brains and mental experiences, and it's really
important that we come up with a federal approach to how we're going to govern and think about and enable people to have cognitive liberty in this
ISAACSON: Nita Farahany, thank you so much for joining us.
FARAHANY: Thank you so much for your time. I really enjoyed the conversation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, from those tech threats of tomorrow to one that's already here and facing the art world. What do you see when you look
at this image? Do you admire the lighting? The composition? How about its subjects that span generations? It's called "The Electrician" by the German
artist Boris Eldagsen.
It just became one of the lucky winners of the Sony World Photography Awards. There's just one problem. It is not a real photograph. Declining
the award, Eldagsen revealed that he used artificial intelligence to create that image. Saying in a statement, I applied as a cheeky monkey, to find
out, if the competitions are prepared for A.I. images to enter. They are not.
That's it for now. Remember, you can always catch us online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and on our podcast, of course. Thank for watching and
goodbye from London.