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Interview With "The Wall Street Journal's" Editor-In-Chief Emma Tucker; Interview With Daughter Of Rached Ghannouchi And Founder Of Tunisia's Ennahda Party Yusra Ghannouchi; Interview With The Washington Post Business Reporter Jacob Bogage. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 27, 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. Welcome to AMANPOUR. Here is what is coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMA TUCKER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: It was simply outrageous that he got picked up doing his job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: As America's biggest newspapers call for the release of journalist Evan Gershkovich, jailed by Russia, I asked his boss, Emma
Tucker, editor-in-chief of "The Wall Street Journal," what it will take to free him.
Then, democracy on life support in Tunisia, birthplace of the Arab Spring. I speak to Yusra Ghannouchi, daughter of the movements imprisoned leader.
Also, ahead --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB BOGAGE, BUSINESS REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: These are kids who are in meatpacking plants.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- putting children to work. Hari Sreenivasan asked "The Washington Post's" Jacob Bogage why conservatives want to relax America's
child labor laws.
And finally, how panda sharing has now become a symbol of diplomatic decay between China and the United States.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
Americas largest newspapers, "The Wall Street Journal," "The Washington Post", and "The New York Times," are dedicating their pages to the
journalist, Evan Gershkovich, as he spends his fourth week behind bars in a Russian prison facing the trumped-up charge of espionage.
The papers are running this four-page letter in their print editions where they write, as editors and publishers of some of America's largest news
organizations, we are united in calling for his immediate release. Reporting is not a crime.
His arrest is one of the latest flash points in a world where autocratic leaders increasingly feel free to lock up anybody who can be used as a
political pawn and anyone they perceive as a threat to their rule. Well, this week, I sat down with "The Wall Street Journal's" editor-in-chief,
Emma Tucker, to discuss all of this and what she and the paper are doing to help bring Evan home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Emma Tucker, welcome to the program.
EMMA TUCKER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: It must be incredibly difficult. You are really a very new editor-in-chief of "The Wall Street Journal" and this massive human crisis
is flung in your face. How do you deal with that, first and foremost? I know we are talking about a guy who is in prison, but how does the boss
deal with trying to get him out?
TUCKER: Well, there are many different strands. I mean, initially, obviously, there's the -- instinct kicks in, right? One of our reporters
has been snatched up the street in Russia, what are we going to do about this? This is not a phone call, any of the likes to get (ph) as you well
So, initially, it's like, we need to get the story out. We need to inform the staff. The staff needs to knows what's happening and we need to make
sure we articulate what our plan is. Then, there's the whole alerting the government, you know, making sure that we were talking openly to the U.S.
government, and I have to say, they kicked into action pretty quickly.
Then, of course, perhaps the most important element of all, was making contact with the family. So, we made contact with the family as soon as we
knew that -- as soon as Evan didn't check in. We have the system, obviously, for foreign correspondents, where when they are covering
dangerous -- operating in dangerous countries, we have a system of check- ins.
Now, he missed his first check-in. And at that point, we informed his mother, but we weren't unduly worried. It's not completely uncommon for
someone to miss an initial check-in. Then, when he missed the second one, that was the more painful phone call. And of course, then by 4:00 in the
morning, New York time, we heard that he had been arrested.
AMANPOUR: How did you hear? Who said? Who confirmed it?
TUCKER: The -- I think we got -- I think a statement went out on Russian media. And I then got the managing editor who had been up all-night
waiting, she then rang me. I said to her, don't ring me if it's good or no news, only ring me if it's bad news. So, when my phone rang at 4:00 in the
AMANPOUR: You knew?
TUCKER: -- I knew. And of course, so, obviously then, we -- it was talking to the mother, the father and the sister, that was very important. So,
there's communication with the family, communication with the newsroom and communication with the wider world.
AMANPOUR: So, the communication with the wider world is a tricky one because generally, in past cases, the U.S. administration has advised
families to be shtum, to be quiet so that they don't somehow, you know, upset any kind of potential negotiation or talks. That's not what you did.
TUCKER: No, it isn't. And that was partially instinctive because it was so outrageous, you know, this was a reporter who had accreditation from the
Russian Foreign Ministry to operate in Russia as a reporter. He had been there many times before. He knew the country well. It was simply outrageous
that he got picked up doing his job.
So, part of the noise was instinctive. Part of it was also, you know, we -- the advice we got was make as much noise as you can. You know, we need to
make sure that people know that this outrage has been committed.
AMANPOUR: How did you feel? We all felt a particular knot in our stomach. How did you feel you're your "Wall Street Journal" family when Evan was in
that famous glass cage in the courtroom in Moscow, in what is obviously a sham process, trying to be released on bail while the process is
investigated and being denied, when you saw him behind bars, so to speak?
TUCKER: It was horrible. It was really horrible. I happen to have lunch with our foreign editor that day in London, and he's been following -- I
mean, he's been, you know, busy with this and following it right from the word go and he said to me, he said, I thought I was -- not in (INAUDIBLE),
that's the wrong word, but he thought he was -- he had seen everything.
But when he saw even in that box, it hit him really hard, and it did all of us. You know, it -- there is something very inhumane, almost animal like
about putting somebody in a glass box. And, you know, Evan was pacing up and down. I mean, he looked healthy, that was good, but it was -- yes, a
really unpleasant business having to see him like that.
AMANPOUR: "The Washington Post," Jason Rezaian, wrote the following. Of course, he had his own experience --
AMANPOUR: -- being in jail in Iran, about Evan at that moment, instead of cowering from the glare, instead of looking confused or giving his captors
the satisfaction of appearing scared, trapped, or even frustrated, Gershkovich stood there with his head held high.
What do you know about his demeanor and his psychology now that he's been captured for several weeks?
TUCKER: Yes. It's -- he's -- Jason is absolutely right, that he was very defiant. I mean, listen, what we know about Evan is he is a very sociable
young man. He speaks the language and I think he is very resilient.
AMANPOUR: He speaks Russian?
TUCKER: Yes. He speaks Russian fluently. He grew up in speaking Russian even though he's a 100 percent American but his parents were immigrants
from the Soviet Union. His sister said to me, I know he will be making friends in prison. He's that kind of guy, you know.
And so, I think, he's -- I mean, perhaps he was doing that as well to show the world, look, I'm OK. I'm sure there was an element of wanting to
reassure his parents. But yes, I think he will be talking to people, he will be using his deep knowledge of the people in the country to sort of,
you know, show the world that he won't be cowed and that he is innocent.
AMANPOUR: So, now, what do you do? He's in -- is it in the Lefortovo Prison?
AMANPOUR: It's one of the worst.
AMANPOUR: He is the first American journalist to be accused of espionage since the Cold War. And the Russian foreign minister has been in New York
addressing, of all things, the U.N. Security Council because they hold the rotating presidency right now. What would you have said to Sergey Lavrov
had you been able to infiltrate or storm that meeting?
TUCKER: Well, I think I would have said, release him now. It's completely outrageous. You gave this guy accreditation to report from your country.
Everything -- he never wrote -- you know, he was -- he's a very, very good reporter. What are you doing? What is your game? You know, let him go. Come
-- you know, show us -- there is no evidence that he is not a spy because he isn't. And I would have said, what -- you know, what kind of message are
you sending out to the world here, Russia? Seriously, what are you saying to the world that you think it is OK to behave like this?
AMANPOUR: I mean, it's almost like a redundant question because the message they have been sending out to the world, A, by the imprisonment of
Evan and B, by the inhumane and illegal war that they are waging in Ukraine is that we don't care.
AMANPOUR: We don't care about the rules of the road.
AMANPOUR: So, how do you feel that this is going to unravel? And do you think it is a political gesture that they are taking him as a pawn, like so
many other, you know, rogue regimes do, just because they have a U.S. passport and they know that's worth a lot?
TUCKER: I think you've hit the nail on the head. I think our biggest challenge is the fact that they don't care. They are -- Russia is becoming
increasingly isolated from the rest of the world and they're not playing by the rules of the game.
So, I think, you know, ironically, probably the back channels were probably more robust during the Cold War than they are right. And, you know, look at
America, it's supporting the Ukrainians in the war. It's -- they are maxed out as it were on the levers that they can pull in terms of sanctions and
things. So, I think the big challenge for us is, how do you negotiate with a regime or how do you influence a regime that has so clearly set itself
apart from the rules of the game?
AMANPOUR: Do you know whether there's any conversation, actual conversation, let's say, between Secretary of State Blinken and the Foreign
Secretary Lavrov while he was in this hemisphere? Is there -- are there any diplomatic channels between the United States and Russia right now?
TUCKER: I mean, I don't know.
AMANPOUR: On this?
TUCKER: On this, I think there are always some diplomatic channels. I don't know the details. At that level, it takes place behind closed doors.
I think, you know, we've had a lot of offers of help. The conversations are going on, and who knows. But as I say, it is a difficult time, you know,
considering the poor level of relations between Russia and the West.
AMANPOUR: You've had a huge amount of support from the entire journalistic community, your counterpart at "The New York Times," Joe Kahn, has said,
Emma has also done one of the most important things an editor can do in a terrible situation like this, using good journalism and a powerful platform
to keep the injustice front and center in people's minds.
And, you know, more than 300 correspondents who have worked in Moscow, who have written to the Russian government to call for Evan's release. So, that
is a big support.
TUCKER: Yes, yes. It has been amazing. I think the level of support has been really, really heartening. And I think there are two things driving
that. One is there's genuine concern for Evan. You know, clearly, you know, for those who knew him, much loved reporter. So, there's concern for his
well-being and the preposterousness of the way he was taken.
But I think there's something else happening here, which is, I think other publishers and other news providers around the world are thinking, we
cannot allow this to go unchallenged. You know, we do not want to cross the line and for this to become the new norm, that it's OK for autocratic
regimes to simply take journalists off the streets.
They -- you know, journalists who work, journalists should be and must be allowed to do their job safely. And I think the outpouring of support that
we've had is largely because, you know, people feel we need to defend. You know, independent journalism is really important in -- as a tenant of
democracy. And so, I think people are speaking out because they don't want this to become something that rogue regimes think is acceptable.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, that obviously, leads me into asking you a question about your own company, given all the ructions that we have experienced and
witnessed over the last few weeks. Here you have an excellent reporting staff of which you are the chief. You have a foreign correspondent who
really did some unbelievable work to show the Russian side, very few people are doing that --
AMANPOUR: -- during this war. And yet, in the United States, you have -- I don't know whether it's a double headed monster, but you have exactly the
opposite in one arm of your company, in the Fox News company, right? And you got the firing of Tucker Carlson. We almost had a major trial,
whatever, it cost Fox and News Corp., the parent company, nearly $800 million for defamation.
How do you navigate being a real journalist and leaving real teams of journalists with this essential disinformation arm of your company?
TUCKER: It's very simple. "The Wall Street Journal" operates completely separately. We have our own newsroom. We have our own set up. The -- we may
have common ownership, but the two entities are completely separate. And "The Journal" is very committed to free and fair reporting.
You know, we have -- the -- I have been really impressed at the integrity of the newsroom at "The Journal," it's truly phenomenal. And journalists
really believe it. And, you know, I am there to uphold it.
AMANPOUR: Does it give you sleepless nights, ever? I mean, do you sometimes wonder, who am I actually working for?
TUCKER: No, I don't. We -- genuinely, I don't. You know, I have plenty to worry about without worrying about the wider picture.
AMANPOUR: And to be fair, you have come from "The Sunday Times," which is also Rupert Murdoch entity and very -- in the U.K. and was quite different
from his tabloid and other, you know, rather more dubious entities there. But do you still have full confidence in Rupert Murdoch?
TUCKER: Listen, Rupert is a newspaper man himself. He loves news and he loves newspapers. He loves "The Wall Street Journal." And, you know, he
understands that the value -- where the value of "The Journal" lies, which is that we're independent to cover the news as, you know, free of
interference. And so, he therefore doesn't interfere. He's -- he understands where the value lies.
And we are an independent newsroom and we cover the news as we see fit. It was the same when I was at "The Sunday Times."
AMANPOUR: Back to Evan, it is extraordinary that very few organizations have actually got -- have sent correspondents to cover Russia under this --
in this circumstance. What do you think his value added was in terms of telling that side of the story?
TUCKER: Well, the great thing about Evan is he's -- I said before, he is a Russian speaker. And he grew up -- his parents left the Soviet Union in the
1970s. So, he grew up in America. Absolutely fascinated by his heritage. So, he would ask his parents about the food and the culture and the TV
shows and all the rest of it.
So, when -- he chose to go to Russia to be a reporter. And one of the things that he portrait (ph) was this great curiosity coupled with being a
native speaker and an ability to make friends with people and talk to them. He travelled all over. He brought a kind of nuance to the reporting, which
I think is probably sometimes lacking, because, you know, Russia is often presented as either thing or, you know, it's very simple picture that we
give readers or Russia. But Evan brought a nuance and subtlety to that.
You know, there are many Russias, just like there are many U.S.s, you know, it's one homogenous story. So, he -- I think what he brought to it was this
great curiosity and this love of the people, absolute love of the people and culture, which he was able to combine with, you know, very
perspicacious reporting on the economy and what was going on there.
AMANPOUR: And I guess finally, do you think it is about -- I don't know whether you can speculate, but is it about a prisoner swap? Is it about --
what do you think when you figure out how to get him out?
TUCKER: Listen, we don't know. There has been some speculation that this is -- that this will end with some kind of prisoner swap. I mean, again, we
don't know. But that would seem to be a possible trajectory. Obviously, that can't happen or is unlikely to happen until he's been tried and
AMANPOUR: So, you're ready for that?
TUCKER: Yes. We are ready for that. I think we all know that we are in this for the long haul, which is not something that fills me or anybody
with anything other than slight -- you know, very -- you know, sadness, really. But I think, listen, we don't know. Anything could happen. But I
think that's the likely outcome.
AMANPOUR: Emma Tucker, thank you very much. And, you know, the whole community is wishing you, especially Evan well.
TUCKER: Thank you. Thanks very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the whole community also endorses his immediate release.
Next, we drill down into one of the bright lights of Arab democracy, Tunisia, at least it was. Just over a decade ago, the country triggered the
chain of uprisings known as the Arab Spring. And efforts to consolidate its hard-won democracy even claimed the Nobel Peace Prize. It is a very
different story now.
One of Tunisia's most prominent opposition voices, Rached Ghannouchi, has been arrested and jailed. The 81-year-old led the Ennahda Party before the
government was dissolved in 2021. His detention follows a spate of political arrests this year. As President Kais Saied strengthens his grip
Rached Ghannouchi's daughter, Yusra, is joining me now from a Geneva, Switzerland to talk about her father and the prospects for reviving
Yusra Ghannouchi, welcome to the program.
YUSRA GHANNOUCHI, DAUGHTER OF RACHED GHANNOUCHI AND FOUNDER OF TUNISIA'S ENNAHDA PARTY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Can I start by asking you whether you have been in touch, whether you have any knowledge of your father's condition firsthand? 81-
year-old. He was taken last week. What do you know?
GHANNOUCHI: Yes, my father has been in prison for 10 days now. For the first 48 hours, he was not allowed any access to lawyers or family, after
which, he was subjected to a nine-hour interrogation for preposterous charges of conspiracy against state security, during which the lawyers
prove that his statements had been distorted and the prosecution had presented a doctored video of his statements. But the judge decided to
press the charges and sent to prison, pending trial. Since then, my mother and my sister were not able to visit him.
AMANPOUR: So, you don't have any firsthand knowledge? Do you -- has -- you said you talked about the court case. Has his lawyer seen him? Has anyone
been able to tell you and your family how he is?
GHANNOUCHI: Yes. Lawyers have been able to see him. He is held at the prison of Mornaguia. He has also,l at the same time, been summoned back for
interrogation as part of another case. As you may know, my father has been summoned for interrogation since the coup 10 times by Kais Saied's purged
judiciary for equally politically motivated and fabricated charges. So, there is a will to continue to harass him even though he is held in prison.
AMANPOUR: Yusra, what is this all about?
GHANNOUCHI: My father's arrest is part of Kais Saied's crackdown on the opposition, as the opposition tries to build a diverse and broad coalition
against Kais Saied's destruction of Tunisia's democracy and against his disastrous mismanagement of the economy. Kais Saied is responding not by
listening to any calls for dialogue but by arresting arbitrarily by using the purged judiciary and by using the security forces to try and intimidate
and harass, and he continues to demonize the opposition, demonize -- as he has recently, despicably demonized black African migrants in Tunisia
because it is his only way to distract from his growing failure and growing popular dissatisfaction.
AMANPOUR: I just want to read a little bit from "The Washington Post" column that your father wrote shortly before his arrest, which I guess it
meant maybe he thought that he might be hold in. And you had published it this week. I'm going to quote a little bit of it. Your father, Rached
Ghannouchi, writes, "I have always tried to live up to Pericles's principle, that freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the
courage to defend it. Having spent a considerable amount of time in the dungeons of dictators, I have firsthand knowledge of how precious democracy
is and why it must be defended at all costs."
So, he is doing his thing and he continues to defend and refuses to accept these bogus charges against him. Can you explain to us what went wrong? I
think many people may have forgotten a few years ago when President Kais Saied essentially -- basically suspended government as usual.
When he came into power, he was considered somebody who would move the democratic ball along. What happened?
GHANNOUCHI: Kais Saied has used and exploited the difficulties of the transition, Tunisia's transition of democracy from decades of dictatorship
and corruption and mismanagement, it has not been easy and it was never going to be easy or quick. But there has been significant progress made. We
have had a progressive constitution promulgated, successive free and fair elections held. We have established the freedom of the press, a free and
However, Kais Saied has exploited the economic shortcomings of the transition followed by the difficulties of the pandemic to destroy and
dismantle all of the hard-won gains of the revolution, because all he is concerned about is establishing his own utopian so-called direct democracy,
but in fact, one-man rule.
And now, he is -- he has nothing to offer other than demonize and scapegoat all those who criticize him. But we should not rush to mourn the last
democracy of the Arab Spring because my father's arrest and that of others, not only in Ennahda, but from across the political spectrum, journalists,
judges, civil society, activists, trade unionists, they are not accepting Kais Saied's destruction of Tunisian democracy. They are continuing to risk
their lives and defend democracy, to being democracy back to Tunisia.
And anyone who shares the values of freedom and respect for human rights and democracy must denounce what Kais Saied is doing and must stand by
those defending democracy in Tunisia.
AMANPOUR: So, do you think then, sort of paradoxically, sort of a lacking, a waning interest or faith in Tunisian democracy maybe reignited? Because
the figures are not great. You know, the last election in 2022, of course, it was in the middle of this crisis, had a very low turnout, roughly 10
But you're saying that there is still an appetite and people are determined to bring it back, I mean, amid, as you report, the very, very difficult
economic situation that everybody is caught up in now.
GHANNOUCHI: Indeed. The very low turnout, Kais Saied's so-called elections based on his own constitution that he had written, which we all reject as
illegal and unconstitutional proves that he has no popular support and that people may have been, you know, attracted to his promises and his, you
know, railing against politicians and promises to bring back, you know, efficient dominance that will get rid of all problems and bring prosperity
But what people have come to realize, and that is why they are not turning out to vote in Kais Saied's sham elections, is they have seen that Kais
Saied has not only dismantled one after the other, all of the institutions of democracy that we have worked hard to build after the revolution, but he
has also led to the first deterioration of the economy and bringing Tunisia close to bankruptcy.
Tunisians now are experiencing unprecedented problems of water and electricity cuts, high inflation, the absence of basic goods from
supermarkets, and this is what is leading to a widespread hopelessness, which is reflected in the tens of Tunisians or hundreds of Tunisians who
are trying to leave Tunisia, because Kais Saied is the cause of all these problems. And anyone who supports democracy all cares about stability in
Tunisia, which is important for the country and the region and beyond must denounce Kais Saied is doing in terms of violating human rights,
prosecuting the opposition, destroying democracy, and also, leading to the collapse of the Tunisian economy and the state as a whole.
AMANPOUR: Yusra Ghannouchi, your father's experience and what he did and what he decided to do at the beginning of being a leader of the opposition
and then, I think he was parliament speaker, he took a moderate Islamist party, Ennahda, and turned it into, essentially, Muslim democrats. He was
the first in the history, as far as I can tell, of an Islamic Party, an Islamic politics to try to separate religion from actual governance. This
is what he told me about when he actually made that decision about the party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHED GHANNOUCHI, LEADER, ENNAHDA PARTY (through translator): Because it is about time. This is one of the stages of development which our movement
has been ready to -- and the country has been ready to. And the constitution now -- the constitution that governs the country is a
revolutionary constitution and it requires certain type of specialization. People have to be specialized in every field that they engage in. And the
religious affairs have also to be exercised by religious people, while politics by exercised by politicians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It really was fascinating, back in 2016, when he made that decision. Because you remember, of course, you are living right next door,
that Egypt had an, you know, Islamist government after the fall of Mubarak back then, but that led to a backlash, which now has brought back a
military dictatorship to Egypt. So, the idea of Islamic-ism in your part of the world was very, very sensitive.
Does that moderate now, you know, political party, the Ennahda Party, your party, does it still have deep roots? Are you worried that that might
itself be banned?
GHANNOUCHI: Indeed, it is worrying that alongside the arrest of my father one week ago, there was a decision to close the party, the Ennahda Party
headquarters, and to ban all meetings throughout Tunisia as well as activities and meetings of the National Salvation Front, which brings
together parties and figures and organizations from across the political spectrum.
So, Kais Saied is not only -- he is not only targeting Ennahda, which is the largest party in Tunisia, but targeting any party that criticizes him.
And we should all call for the respect of the freedom of expression and association in Tunisia and must respect -- you know, protect all the hard-
won gains that we have made in Tunisia.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you just to broaden the lens just a little bit? Because Sudan is having the most unbelievably violent reaction, its
democracy is basically, you know, on its deathbed. And I want you to know what you think the West and your other partners should be doing. You're in
Geneva to try to make your case.
I just want to read to you the U.S. envoy for Sudan and what he said the West had done wrong. We avoided exacting consequences for repeated acts of
impunity that might have otherwise forced to change in calculus. Instead, we reflexively appeased and accommodated the two warlords. We considered
ourselves pragmatic. Hindsight suggests wishful thinking to be a more accurate description.
Do you think that is correct in general about Sudan and other, you know, sort of western engagement and how do you think the U.S. and other partners
have engaged? Because they kept backing Kais Saied even after his suspensions of the constitution and government is normal in your country.
GHANNOUCHI: Yes. I mean, there was -- there were expressions of concern since Kais Saied began his dismantling of all of Tunisia's democracy.
However, that has proven to not be enough. Kais Saied is not listening.
AMANPOUR: We may have just lost our connection. But, Yusra Ghannouchi, thank you so much indeed for talking to us. It's really important to keep
the spotlight on Tunisia. As I said, the birthplace of the Arab Spring. There you are again. And, of course, we will -- we do extend, as we always
do, an invitation to the president, Kais Saied, to come and explain this state of affairs and do an interview with us on this program.
Thank you very much indeed.
Now, an extraordinary development here in the labor laws of the United States. But not for the average worker, for children. The Foundation for
Government Accountability of a Florida-based conservative think tank has been convincing Republicans to allow kids as young as 14 to work longer
hours and in arguably more dangerous conditions. And a number of states like Iowa and Arkansas are getting on board.
In his recent article, "Washington Post" reporter, Jacob Bogage, highlights how campaigners are cloaking these rollbacks as parental rights. And he
joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss why they appear willing to put children at risk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christian, thanks. Jacob Bogage, thanks so much for joining us.
Your recent piece in "The Washington Post" was titled "The conservative campaign to the rewrite child labor laws. And we are going to unpack that
in this conversation. But give us an overview of what you found during your investigations?
JACOB BOGAGE, BUSINESS REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: So, when we looked into this issue, this was a piece that started months ago when we saw some
bills popping up in the state legislators, rolling back child labor laws and they were eerily similar, a bill that's become law in Arkansas is a
carbon copy of a bill that's moving through Missouri that is similar to a bill moving through Georgia that has similar elements to something in Ohio,
to Iowa, and we wanted to get a sense of kind of what the origin was behind all of these things and why are bills relaxing child labor laws coming back
And so, we started looking into that and what we found is that only origin of a lot of legislation comes from a think tank and lobbying group in
Florida called the Foundation for Government Accountability that has been active in Arkansas, Missouri and Iowa, even to the extent of sending
lawmakers sample bill text, here is a bill, please introduce it. And those went through almost zero vetting process.
SREENIVASAN: So, for people who might not be familiar, what is now the state at play in Arkansas or Iowa? What's kind of at stake here?
BOGAGE: Sure. So, let's talk about Arkansas, because that bill has become law. Before this law, if a child, you know, wanted to get a job in
Arkansas, they needed to get their age verified by the state. They needed to get some sort of verification. That's gone now, and that's really
important because the way child labor laws in this country are enforced is a collaboration between federal and state officials.
The federal investigator from the Department of Labor or the Occupational Health and Safety Administration wants to come down to the state to do a
child labor investigation, and their first stop is going to be the State Employment Office, and they're going to say, hey, give me all of your work
permits for, you know, the children who have jobs in this state. And I'm going to check that paper trail and then, we can go to employers and make
sure that kids are working in safe environments, not doing jobs they're not supposed to do, working the proper hours they're allowed to work. That
paper trail is gone now.
And so, we're seeing that rollback in a lot of states. The same bill in Missouri and Iowa, it goes a little bit further, it rolls back prohibitions
on jobs that children were previously not allowed to work, in meatpacking plants, unloading heavy objects from vehicles, in giant freezers. So, this
is the kind of regulatory rollback we are looking at in a lot of the states and that conforms with the foundation for government accountability's
longer-term goals, which are, if you can build or shake up the status quo in the regulatory schemes in a lot of states that gives conservatives
national policy openings to try to deconstruct other regulations.
SREENIVASAN: So, tell me a little bit about the think tank here, The Foundation for Government Accountability.
BOGAGE: This is a group that founded by a gentleman named Tarren Bragdon who was a state legislator in Maine. And he moved to Florida in around --
you know, in the early 2010s, and started this group because that was kind of the high-water mark of the conservative rallying cry around organizing a
state level. And that is what he wanted to focus on.
And he started with $50,000 in seed funding. Three years in, he was up to $4 million in revenue. He is going to get about $12 million in revenue this
year. They have a separate lobbying arm, The Opportunity Solutions Project. In the past handful of years, they have 115 lobbyists in 22 states. I mean,
this is not a secret. These guys are all over the place and they are very successful.
They file amicus (ph) groups in front of the Supreme Court, they sued the Justice Department in the freedom of information lawsuit recently and won.
You know, they are on Fox News all the time. I mean, this is a successful group.
They practice what we call the Ikea model of policy making, which is what we are seeing here. You know, when you get Ikea and you go, oh, that looks
really neat. Then you go down to the warehouse and you pull the box out and it has cute little how to guide on how to put everything together with an
Allen wrench, that's basically what FGA does. Here is a bill about child labor, and we'll give you how to guide and the advocacy and research
support so that you can pass it with an Allen wrench.
SREENIVASAN: Did they speak to you?
BOGAGE: The group itself did not. We made repeated attempts to reach out, and they very kindly provided a statement and directed us to some other
resources, including an op-ed written for Fox but wouldn't grant us an interview. One of their lobbyists in Missouri, James Harris, did speak to
me. And when I approached him after that conversation and said, you know, we've obtained some records via Open Records Laws that show that the
Opportunity Solutions Project and FGA draft and revise this legislation, that was then introduced. He chose not to comment further.
SREENIVASAN: When I was a kid, I had a paper route. I worked in a video store. These -- are there exceptions for the type of work that, you know,
the legislation is asking for? A summer job working in an ice cream parlor, or is this just kind of a blanket law now that can go all the way up to a
BOGAGE: I want to answer your first question about exceptions first. And when we talk about child labor laws in this country, there is really one
big exemption, and that's for agricultural work. I think, Hari, what's really important is that we focus on the effect that these laws are going
to have on specific types of kids, they're not going to affect somebody who had a middle-class upbringing like I did, who bus tables in a restaurant
over the weekend or scooped ice scream over the summers or even worked at the camp as a camp counselor.
You know, we're talking about families who are in economic distress already, who lean on their children to help pay the bills and are in work
environments that are not what we would consider, you know, traditional jobs for kids. You know, these are kids who are in meatpacking plants.
These are kids who are working, you know, nearly full-time hours in fast food places, who are on assembly lines, who are doing not agricultural work
but mainly landscaping work and long hours and that can be dangerous as well.
So, when we talk about who is most affected by laws like this, it's not the kid in the suburbs who is picking up a job so he can take a date to the
movies or, you know, a kid that has money to buy Starbucks with their friends.
BOGAGE: We're talking about kids who are already vulnerable.
SREENIVASAN: You mentioned that some of these pieces of legislation even make it possible for a child to work night shifts?
BOGAGE: That's right. Yes. in Iowa this would allow a 14-year-old to work a six-hour night shift, would allow a 15-year-old on assembly lines where
they previously weren't able to. I think a huge part of these bills and something that, I think, our reporting needs to keep diving into is the
conflict between state law and federal law.
Federal law governs a bare minimum for workplace safety requirements for kids. These states and the state laws, in a lot of cases, directly conflict
with that and allow children into jobs that the federal government would not necessarily allow them to do. Allows employers to pay a subminimum
wage, in some cases, where federal law has a shorter window open that's allowed. It expands the amount of hours kids can work in these jobs.
And so, that is another -- I think Arkansas is a great example, I think Iowa is a great example of that, with two governors, Ken Reynolds in Iowa,
and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, of course, in Arkansas, who have made part of their policy portfolios to draw distinctions between the regulations and
laws in their states and the protections enshrined by the federal government. This is another example of that.
SREENIVASAN: When we think of child labor laws, and I'm going back into my sort of middle school history here, I remember reading Upton Sinclair --
SREENIVASAN: --and I remember reading "The Jungle," right? And there were these horrible accidents and that's what we got these protections for, that
Children wouldn't have to work in factories, and that was what, 1930s? And here we are, almost 100 years later and you're saying that there's a
concerted effort to enable children to work in factories.
And I understand that factories are safer today than they were 100 years ago. I'm not saying that they're the same, but it just seems like a giant
step in the opposite direction for sure.
BOGAGE: Well, let's paint a large economic picture here in which we can kind of identify child labor. The Fair Labor Standards Act, which among
other things, codifies bear minimum protections for child labor is passed a 1938. The reason for it is because during in the immediate aftermath of The
Great Depression, employers need to cut costs, they do not want to work with unionized work forces. And so, who doesn't unionize? Children. Who can
you pay less? Children. Who doesn't complain? Children. Who won't question authority if they have to do a dangerous job that maybe an adult would
identify as dangerous? Children.
And so, that was driven, that legislation was driven in a reaction to corporate America seeing opportunities to cut cost through their workforce,
if their workforce was significantly younger.
What are we seeing today? We're seeing a historically low unemployment, historic inflammation, thought that was starting to cool a little bit.
We're seeing another environment where business across the country need to cut costs.
SREENIVASAN: Besides the economic reality of a tight labor force, what else is playing into this movement? I mean, is there kind of any residual
effect from the pandemic?
BOGAGE: Yes, absolutely. That's a great question and I think we see that directly in the Foundation for Government Accountability, this think tank
and lobbying group that we wrote about, that's pushing a lot of legislation directly ties government regulation around the public health emergency and
the backlash, the conservative backlash to those regulations to wanting to rollback other regulations, especially around children.
I think you can place this in the same universe, and not necessarily from FGA's perspective, but from the perspective of state legislators who in
hearing speak out about this, to other activists who speak out about this. You can place this in the same universe as bans on books and library
funding and whether children can be around folks who dress in drag. You know, this is all part of that same universe.
You know, school openings and school closures during the pandemic, raise conscious curricula in primary school and even in secondary schools, this
is all part of that same ecosystem of arguments that I think is in direct response to the government regulation that we know now likely saved untold
number of lives during the pandemic.
SREENIVASAN: So, Jacob, how are these pieces of legislation kind of marketed or wrapped (ph)? Because when you mention, you know, I could call
it book bans and somebody would call it parental rights, right?
BOGAGE: Yes. Entirely packaged as parental rights down from the FGA's white papers that say, parents -- this is a parent's rights issue to the
way state legislators talk about it. The talking points around this are the government should not be in the middle of the decisions about whether your
child is allowed to take a job, what job that is and how long they can work.
I think it important to point out that that is a disingenuous argument and that's not a matter of interpretation, that's looking at the bills that are
In Missouri, the bill that the FGA submitted to the bill sponsor, who is the chair of the Education and Workforce Committee in the Missouri Senate,
did not include language that required parental permission for a child to take a job. That bill went in front of a hearing, you know, in front of a
hearing in the committee. Lawmakers talked about it and heard testimony and they said, you know what's missing here? A parental right provision. So,
they added the section.
Arkansas totally stripped it out. And then, added an optional provision. Iowa, same thing. The idea that these were originally intended to be
parent's rights issues is disingenuous.
SREENIVASAN: What are kind of regulatory muscle is in terms of maybe the Department of Labor having an inspector who can go out and look at a plan
and say, look, you clearly have children here. I don't know what their I.D. says, but this is a 12-year-old not an 18-year-old.
BOGAGE: The Department of Labor is severely outgunned here. Between state labor inspectors and federal labor inspectors, they're about 1,800 of them
across the country. There are tens of millions of businesses across the country. It would take about a decade to inspect every single business
across this country for all sorts of labor violations, not just child labor violations, which are extremely difficult to police because you're dealing
with children who don't necessarily know what their rights are, who maybe don't realize they're being exploited. And many of them, even so, even in
those circumstances want the job because they need the wages.
So, the Labor Department and the regulatory framework is just severely outgunned and under resourced. How often that incidents is happening? Too
often. Between 2018 and 2022, the Department of Labor has reported a 69 percent increase in child labor violations. There were something like 3,800
children employed in violation of federal child labor law in 2022. That is almost certainly an undercount.
SREENIVASAN: What's been the response as this piece of legislation work their way through state legislatures? Is there an effort? I guess is there
a concerted effort trying to oppose this?
BOGAGE: There is. It's -- not to cast dispersion, but it's not very robust. And I say that because look at the states where this legislation is
making considerable in roads (ph). It is Iowa, which Republicans hold the super majority in both houses of the legislature plus the governor's
mansion. It is Arkansas, same thing. It is Missouri, same think. Those are -- you know, the FGA in their annual report lists, what they call their
super states, which are states where they see the biggest opportunity to make policy in roads, those have consistently been states with Republican
super majorities. And so, that is where their efforts have been.
And though there is resistance to these bills, it's nowhere near the scale that has been able to stop them in the legislative process. We should, note
there's only been one that's been signed into law right now. We have eyes, you know, we'll continue reporting on the other.
Hari, you know this and I'm sure your viewers know this, that the success of some of these bills is not necessarily getting signed into law. We are
getting past the first year or even a second year they're introduced. It's moving overturn (ph) window on these issues and FGA has clearly been very
successful in doing that
SREENIVASAN: Jacob Bogage from the "The Washington Post," thanks you so much.
BOGAGE: Thanks for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, how panda diplomacy has become a barometer of U.S. and China relationships. Ya Ya, the giant panda has gone from being
a symbol of cuddly cooperation to a sign of deepening tensions between the two rival behemoths. She is now back in Shanghai, after being loaned to the
Memphis Zoo here in the United States for the last 20 years.
Selina Wang explains how Ya Ya's story was hijacked by Chinese nationalists who then supercharged it all on social media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Ya Ya the panda has left Memphis, Tennessee. She's headed back to China in a FedEx truck,
then flight. And for many in the country, Ya Ya couldn't be coming home soon enough.
She arrived in America with her playmate, Le Le, two decades ago as an emblem of growing U.S.-China friendship. But recent videos show the once
fluffy panda now looking skinny, with scraggly fur, has sparked outrage in China. Many Chinese people and some animal advocates accused the zoo of
Videos on Chinese social media claim the pandas are being abused quickly went viral against the backdrop of growing anti-American sentiment. The
rumors, often fanned by state propaganda. And meanwhile, Chinese social media users are praising these viral videos of this panda in Russia, Wu Yi
(ph), claiming videos of the active and playful panda prove Russia is taking excellent care of the Chinese bear. State TV saying the pandas are
helping the Russia-China relationship.
Chinese and American scientists launched a joint investigation, concluding that Ya Ya has a genetic fur and skin condition that does not impact her
quality of life, and has received excellent care. But that message is not getting through.
Outside the panda exhibit at the Beijing Zoo, I asked people if they've heard of Ya Ya the panda.
This man says, yes, she is abused in America. An 11-year-old boy tells me, I heard the U.S. is treating the panda poorly. This man says, isn't Russia
taking good care pandas? Pandas are happy over there, not like in the U.S. And this man, with his granddaughter, tells me pandas in Russia are very
happy. Why? Russians and Chinese are friends. At least Russia is not sanctioning China.
WANG (on camera): Ya Ya will soon settle in this Beijing Zoo. Now, China has long used its pandas as a diplomatic tool. Currently, it's pandas are
on loan to about 20 countries. The United States has not received one since Ya Ya and Le Le 20 years ago. Now, these pandas are normally loaned on
these tenure leases, and they cost a million dollars annually.
WANG (voiceover): The Memphis Zoo had already planned to send Ya Ya and Le Le back to Beijing this spring because their lease is expiring. But Le Le
died of heart disease two months ago at the age of 24. The average lifespan for pandas is usually under 30 years. Yet, that didn't stop rampant
speculation and led to an explosion of accusations about Ya Ya's treatment too, exhilarating calls to bring Ya Ya back to China. The message even
featured on billboards from New York City to major cities across China.
In 1972, during U.S. President Richard Nixon's historic trip to China, his wife visited pandas in Beijing.
PAT NIXON, FORMER U.S. FIRST LADY: On behalf of the people of the United States, I am pleased to be here and accept the precious gift.
WANG (voiceover): Months later, China sent a pair of pandas to the national zoo in Washington, D.C. Now, decades later, these pandas return
from the U.S. to China symbolic, not of growing friendship, but growing animosity between two global superpowers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's a very important example and a microcosm of just how disinformation can work in any small case and be used to poison the bigger
picture. We should then add that the Chinese government itself has hasten to protect a very -- project rather, a very different line public, finally
admitting that, yes, Ya Ya was under good care throughout her stay here in America.
That is it for now. But don't miss my conversation tomorrow with the former chief medical adviser to the president of the United States, Dr. Anthony
Fauci. I ask him what keeps him up at night about the next pandemic? and why he's making a passionate appeal for evidence based public health.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, FORMER CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We are living in an arena now, which is very troubling, and that
is what I call the normalization of untruths where there is so much distortion of reality, and as you mentioned, outright lies going on that
the public gets inurned to it, it's kind of like it's normal, it's natural, no problem, you know, people are just saying that, that's a very dangerous
situation to get into, because when you do accept the normalization of untruths, and you don't have pushback from people who actually are using
evidence-based and data-based statements, then reality gets totally distorted.
So, I think that's dangerous, not only in the arena of public health, I actually think, and not to get too melodramatic about it, that it really is
sort of erodes at the foundations of democracy when you have no truth there and people can say anything they want to say based on distortions,
egregious distortions, we've got a pushback on that. We can't accept that that, well, that's the way it is. It is what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's a very important point. And tomorrow I will also be speaking with Jemima Khan, about her multi-cultural rom-com, "What's Love
Got to Do with It?," which challenges conventional wisdom on marriage, that's a head of its release here in the U.S. next week.
Thank you for watching and goodbye from New York.