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Interview with Democratic Political Strategist Joe Trippi; Interview with New York Magazine Writer-at-Large Rebecca Traister; Interview with Move Forward Party Leader Pita Limjaroenrat; Interview with "The League" Director Sam Pollard. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired July 25, 2023 - 13:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here is what's coming up.

A campaign of lies. What RFK Jr.'s ramblings tell us about this era of post pandemic conspiracy politics with writer Rebecca Traister and strategist

Joe Trippi.

Then --


PITA LIMJAROENRAT, LEADER, MOVE FORWARD PARTY: I am ready to be the prime minister for all, whether you agree with me or disagree with me.


AMANPOUR: -- the man blocked from becoming Thailand's next prime minister after he won the election. I speak to Pita Limjaroenrat about the old guard

parliament standing in his way and the protests erupting in the streets.

Plus, --


SAM POLLARD, DIRECTOR, "THE LEAGUE": They were negro players to me back then. So, it was important to see them on the field.


AMANPOUR: -- the rich and complicated history of black baseball. Director Sam Pollard talks to Walter Isaacson about a man whose new film, "The

League," and how this sport is a metaphor for America.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

In the heat of the American summer, presidential candidates are focused on the dead of winter, that's when the primaries start, just a short six

months from now. It is a crowded Republican field, and it's becoming clear that the culture wars will be front and center.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis still waging his battle against "wokeness" and his latest legislation raises race to a whole new and shocking level,

like requiring school children to be taught that slavery actually equipped slaves with beneficial personal skills.

On the Democrat side, there is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., using his name to spread COVID conspiracy theories, hoping to challenge his own party's

president for the nomination. RFK's campaign, much like Donald Trump's, is an undeniable manifestation of a post pandemic conspiracy laden political

landscape. That is the view of writer Rebecca Traister. And she is joining me now, alongside Democratic Strategist Joe Trippi. Welcome, both of you,

to the program.

Before I dive into the theory and the deep reporting that Rebecca has done, I want to ask you, as a Democratic strategist, Joe Trippi, that given both

principled candidates, you know, sort of favorabilities are quite low, is it actually time or an opportunity for a viable third-party candidate right

now, or even one to -- you know, to question his own party?

JOE TRIPPI, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL STRATEGIST: I think it's a very reckless time to do that. I'm sure there will be people who do it, as Robert Kennedy

Jr. is doing. But this is not -- we're not in -- I don't believe we are in an era where there's actually -- you know, it's Republican versus Democrat

or ideological fight between right and left, there's -- it's autocratic Trumpism versus democracy.

And the Trump vote is not -- there is no way to have a -- there's no one who is going to take moderate Trump votes away from him. They don't exist.

There are no moderate centrist voters who are with Trump. So, if you put forth as no labels is trying to do a third-party that would be centrist and

moderate, there's only one campaign -- it's just the pro-democracy side of that equation that is going to get diluted.

And I think the same is true with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in that -- I think all of this is working towards helping Trump get reelected, including

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. I think it would be not surprising to me at all if there is a dark money, independent expenditure campaign launched on his

behalf to attack Biden.


TRIPPI: All of this is, in my view, an effort to help Donald Trump win reelection.

AMANPOUR: So, Rebecca, you did the deep dive onto Robert F. Kennedy's candidacy and all that's going around. Does Joe Trippi have a point? I

mean, one could say, that's a little conspiracy laden, that he is being funded by the other side to damage Biden? Did you find any evidence of



REBECCA TRAISTER, WRITER-AT-LARGE, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, I wasn't -- my reporting did not focus on the funding behind Kennedy's campaign. It is

certainly true -- that a couple of things are true. First of all, Kennedy is certainly -- he's running as a Democrat, right? So, to be clear, he is

not running, at the moment, as an independent or as a third-party candidate and he is drawing on a lot of recollections of his forebearers, of his

uncle and his father, John Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy, Sr. in his campaign and saying he's a true Democrat.

But a lot of what he's talking about has a really strong appeal to those on the right, and a lot of the networks that are promoting him, and I mean,

the podcast networks, are people with right word leanings. A lot of the people who -- and he crows about this -- are excited about him are people

who are also excited about Donald Trump. And he views this as a point of pride.

I would argue that it is creating a lot of chaos. And I think that Joe is right that the peril here is that his candidacy draws more enthusiasm and

weakens Biden, but I want to say that part of the reason that his candidacy, I think, is getting some of the attention it's getting is

because there is a lot of ambivalence about Biden on the left and amongst Democrats, and there are worries he is an older candidate. He had promised

that he would be a bridge candidate to the future, but has not necessarily worked to empower a future generation of Democrats.

And one of the things that I think -- it's interesting, Joe was talking about, you know, this is not right, this is not left, there is a major

generational shift happening in both parties right now.


TRAISTER: And there is a lot of confusion and chaos about who is going to lead us into the future. And I think that candidate -- chaos candidate,

including Kennedy, are taking advantage of a lot of that conclusion.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me turn to you, Joe, then. The idea of this, you know, chaotic landscape, obviously, Robert F. Kennedy does have an

unbelievable pedigree, and yet, he is peddling the kind of paranoid politics that Trump has been peddling.

How do you see -- you know, because you've been there, you know, certainly, in the Kennedy era, certainly Edward Kennedy and all the rest of it. How do

you see Robert F. Kennedy, who is polling quite significantly, you know, continuing this quixotic campaign?

TRIPPI: Well, I would say, first of all, the first precincts I ever walked in my life were in California for Robert F. Kennedy, Sr. And then, I did

(INAUDIBLE) work -- going to work for Ted Kennedy in the '80s. So, I know the -- you know, I've worked with this family. I know them. They all -- the

entire family is against this. And Robert Kennedy is trading on the name, which I think is benefiting him right now. I think there are a lot of

voters out there who just here Robert Kennedy Jr. and, you know, consider it. And -- but I think every day that he is out there and his conspiracy

theories are getting more daylight, the worse things will be for him.

I am not worried at all about his -- you know, his sort of tilting at windmill campaign for notoriety or relevance, he's been doing that for some

time and his campaign is just another part of that. What concerns me is the funding. The one thing we do know now, because the filing deadline for

contributions just passed, and so it is starting to trickle out, I mean, the reporting is now out there, a large number of his donations come from

Trump, from people who've only given to Trump and Robert Kennedy Jr.

And so -- and that is, you know, a problem. But the bigger problem will be if -- in my view, if you see an independent expenditure, you know, dark

money committee, start expanding funds, attacking Biden on behalf of Kennedy -- I mean, has the excuse to do that.

And I think, you know, I would not be surprised if that happens, given where Kennedy's money is coming from and the stuff he's exposing (ph),

along with some other third-party candidacies that are out there that I think all of it -- and, you know, there are a lot of years where I would

probably not have problems with any of this, everybody has the right to run, you know, primaries. Let's have a debate. I think this year, 2024,

with Donald Trump threatening to get -- you know, for him to return to the White House has got to be the most dangerous thing, not just to the

American democracy, but to democracy around the globe.


AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you this then, because clearly, it is, you know, worrying quite a few Americans, and certainly, many people around the world

who, you know, watched what happened on January 6th and many other issues. I mean, I'm talking about you know, firmly Democratic countries, and they

are concerned.

But to Rebecca's point, Joe, do you think that the Democrats fumbled, Biden fumbled, by not being a bridge to a new generation?

TRIPPI: Well, first of all, he's doing extremely well with generation Z voters. I mean, he's doing very, very well. The other thing is, at this

point, in every election that we've seen -- you know, I mean, not just for Trump years, but going back, you -- everybody was bemoaning who the two

candidates were going to be. It's always been that case.

I think Biden has done a remarkable job. You look at the job numbers, inflation coming down, you look at -- with amazing, you know, tough

Republican opposition on everything, the bipartisan bills, the infrastructure and other things, the way the economy is moving, this -- the

big recession that was coming is now like the big red wave that never happened in 2022.

I just think that Democrats are better served by -- which -- and I think they are, they're pretty much unified behind Biden. I think the threats of

Trump will again -- in the contrast, between Trump and Biden, which is what one in 2020 and what stopped the red wave from materializing in 2022 is --

that contrast is really important.

That's why Trump cannot win. He has only gotten to 46 percent in both 2016, we've got the 20 to 46. In 2020, he got that 46.8. He cannot win if there's

only two candidates.

AMANPOUR: All right.

TRIPPI: He's never -- but Biden got 51 percent of the votes. There's only one way Trump wins, that's to erode Biden and to have a third-party

candidate. That's why no labels is such a threat as well.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me bring in Rebecca in then, because I see you wanting to, you know, put a different point of view across.

TRAISTER: Well, I want to say first that I absolutely agree with Joe that it is democracy. Democracy is absolutely in the balance. And I probably

agree with him that given that Biden is going to be the candidate, that he is the best hope for democracy, there is no question. And so, I want to say

that up front.

But I also want to say that democracy was also in the balance in this point of incredible precarity for our Democratic institutions, for the globe, for

the planet, that was also true in 2020, it was also true in 2016. It's going to be true in every election moving forward that what is in the

balance is democracy itself, is the health of the planet and its people, and that these decisions are crucial. But the Democratic Party also has to

acknowledge it has to find a way forward that is not going to be Joe Biden for the rest of the future, right?

And so, the questions -- I mentioned earlier that there are these generational shifts. Of course, that was going to happen. A generation of

leaders who came to power in the second half of the 20th century are aging out of power. And you can see how the different parties are approaching

those shifts, right? What is the two-party system going to look like moving forward?

I would argue the right has been quite hospitable to takeover by its hard right extremist flank. You saw that from the rise of the Tea Party onto

this -- the Freedom Caucus, you know. I would say that the left has been much more ambivalent to hostile about its younger generation, many of whom

lean to the left of what leadership has been for the past few decades. This is part of what we are looking at moving forward in these moments of real

risk, calamity and peril that Joe is accurately describing.

And again, I want to state for the record that I agree, Joe Biden as the candidate, and I've been a critic of him from the left and I also have a

lot of good things to say about his presidency and many progressive economic policies he has put into place, I want to give him a lot of

credit. But I also want to say that the fact that there are questions about what happens next within the Democratic Party are very real and very



TRAISTER: And that those are the kinds of questions that I think that candidates -- all kinds of candidates who are coming in as critics of Biden

are taking advantage of right now, in part, because the party isn't doing a great job of addressing them.


TRAISTER: What's going to happen next? Who's going to lead us forward? What's that going to look like?


AMANPOUR: Yes. Let's get to that in a second because let's -- we obviously know that Joe Biden is not going to be forever leader. He's only got one

more term possible. So, there will have to be some kind of changing of the guard at some point.

Now, in the Republican Party, they look to the young man, relatively, obviously, young man, Governor DeSantis of Florida. And before what we are

seeing and what we've seen unfold as a little -- sort of stumbly rocky campaign, he was considered a very legitimate and major threat to the


But they -- and I want to ask you to weigh in on this, Rebecca, and then I will get Joe Trippi's, they have gone full woke, because as you pointed

out, the economy is pretty good, employment is pretty good, the legislation has been pretty successful, but they've gone full woke, anti-women, all the

reproductive issues, and this unbelievable legislation of trying to teach Floridian children that actually slavery had beneficial fallout for slaves.

I mean, can you even -- I don't know. It seems like you can't make this stuff up. Is that really campaign material, Rebecca?

TRAISTER: Well, I think that's an open question. I think they are banking very hard on that, and I think there's a lot of evidence that voters aren't

necessarily going to respond to it, but we don't know. I mean, we shall see.

I mean, this is one of the open questions, is how much electoral success can they gain from rolling back the enlightenment, basically. And, I mean,

there's a lot of evidence, by the way, so far, just because of the timeline, that some of the hard right rights rollbacks that they have

enacted, for example, around abortion in the wake of Dobbs, are actually producing resounding electoral defeats, that's something I wrote about

earlier this year that some of this very hard right turn is ending very badly for them, and we have the evidence for that over the past year around

abortion, Republicans consistently are losing every time abortion is on the ballot, post-Dobbs.

So, these questions remain open, I think, for some of these other extremist, cruel, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic laws that are being

passed in states like Florida and Texas, and elsewhere. But this is clearly their only strategy moving forward, and they are leaning into it hard.

AMANPOUR: And, Joe, obviously, from your point of view as a strategist, I mean, everything Rebecca is saying is true, and that it has not been an

electoral winner, these hardline culture issues if you look at the last several nationwide elections over the last couple of years.

So, where do you see the Republican campaign going, no matter who it might be, and who do you think might break out of the current pact, if at all?

People talk a lot about Tim Scott. You know, he is black, he's a senator, he's from the south, he's got a great life story.

TRIPPI: Look, I don't think -- look, I think what Rebecca just listed is why the Republican Party right now is on the verge of losing a generation,

a generation forever. I mean, people tend in their first formative political moments where they align and vote one way, they tend to lean that

way, even if they're independents the rest of their lives.

I witnessed this in the '80s with Reagan. The Reagan revolution captured an entire generation for the Republican Party that gave them the path to

victory. These anti-woke, you know, whatever you want to call it, move to - - where Trump and DeSantis are trying to out-extreme each other and DeSantis is winning right now on the -- going to the even further extreme

than Trump, but losing votes while he does it, that's taking -- it's losing this younger generation, whether it was Joe Biden in his age or Gavin

Newsom or whoever you would have -- you would think about the nominee on the Democratic side, that generation is not voting for homophobia or racism

for -- and to take away women's rights, it's not going to happen, not this younger gen Z. So, one, there.

The second thing I don't understand about any of this, and I will put it out there, is, OK, tell me who wins, who beats Trump. Pick one, give it to

me, DeSantis, Tim Scott, whoever, OK, let's -- we wave our wand, it happens. Are you telling me that for the first time in his life Donald

Trump will be gracious, will go to the convention, hold his hands up in the air with the person who defeated him, tell them that it's a great thing and

urge all his MAGA supporters to join with him in supporting the Republican nominee? It isn't going to happen.


So, it is futile. OK. So, you beat him and then what? You get crushed in the general election because he will tell his folks to stay home and stand

on their hands because it was stolen. DeSantis, you know, pulled a hoax on you, whatever is going to happen.

I just think in the end, this is a fight between, I think, Trumpism and democracy, and I think, again, as I said earlier, I wouldn't begrudge any

of this potential candidacy. So, I just think it's a reckless time to do it --

AMANPOUR: Right. OK. Yes.

TRIPPI: -- even if they aren't happy about Biden's age. It's --

AMANPOUR: The stakes are so high. Joe Trippi, Rebecca Traister , thank you so much, indeed, for being with us today.

Now, Russia's war on Ukraine will, of course, via top priority for whoever is president. In latest reports from the Russian front, at least 15,000

prison recruits are believed to have been sent to fight Ukraine, and their fatality rate is staggering. Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh has obtained

rare and exclusive testimony from those who have been swept up into Putin's brutal war machine. Their names have been changed for their safety.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Russia is often cruelest to its own. The bleakest fate, prisoners recruited

by the ministry of defense, basically as cannon fodder.

These so-called Storm Z battalions surrendering here have death rates hard to fathom. Here are two rare stories, one of incredible survival and

another of a young and quick death told to CNN a great risk from inside Russia.

Ex-con Sergei barely made it back. Now, he works two jobs and can't sleep because his ears still ring from shell shock. We first talked when he had

been shot for the second time, but he was still sent back, injured. From 600 prisoners recruited with him in October, he says, only 170 are alive

and only two of them without injury. Sent again and again in waves to attack Ukrainian positions.

SERGEI, RUSSIAN PRISONER RECRUIT (through translator): I remember most clearly the last of the nine concussions I had, we attacked, RPGs, drone

flew at us. Our commander yells on the radio, I don't care, go ahead. Don't come back until you take this position. Two of us found a small hole and

dived in there. A drone threw a grenade at us and it landed in the 30- centimeter gap between us. My friend was covered with shrapnel all over, yet I was untouched somehow. But I lost my sight for five hours.

WALSH (voiceover): He only stayed in hospital that times and got home, as doctors made him an orderly. He has nightmares that he is told to be first

out of the trench again, but daily life in the trench was a nightmare too, the frostbite, hunger, and thirst.

SERGEI (through translator): Sometimes, we didn't eat for several days. We didn't drink for several days. It was a four-kilometer walk to water and

thank God it was winter. We were drinking the snow.

WALSH: If a person didn't want to fight, what happened?

SERGEI (through translator): Sometimes the commander reset people. He zeroed them out, killed them. I only saw it once, a fight with a man who

stole and killed his own people. I didn't see who of the four people around him shot, but when he tried to escape, a bullet hit him in the back of the

head. I saw the head wound. They carried him away.

WALSH (voiceover): For some, it never got that far. Andre (ph) was 20 when he was jailed on drugs offenses and 23 when he was sent from prison to the


This training was fleeting. His mother, Yulia, said he had yet to grow into a man. Still kidding about.

ANDRE, RUSSIAN PRISONER RECRUIT (PH) (through translator): Really it's sea, sun and sand here, sunburn, then the wind chaps your face, and --, it


WALSH (voiceover): Like with many prison recruits, he just disappeared. But it was on May the 9th, Victory Day in Russia, when presidential pomp in

Moscow marked Nazi's defeat. Andre (ph) called her the night before to say his unit would attack at dawn.

YULIA, MOTHER OF RUSSIAN PRISONER RECRUIT (through translator): We were arguing. It is horrible to say, but I already thought of him like he was

dead. He left knowing everything. Every day I told him no, no, no. And he didn't listen to me. When he said, we're going to storm, I wrote him, run,

Forest, run.

WALSH (voiceover): We think these ruins are near where he died, up to 60 others, Yulia heard, died in the same assault that day. Yulia got nothing,

no body. Just a letter from the military saying Andre (ph) had died the very day he left jail.


YULIA (through translator): The hardest part was that I was afraid he would kill someone. Because I can live with my son as a drug addict, but

with my son as a murderer, it was difficult for me to accept it.

WALSH (voiceover): The horror Russia inflicts on Ukraine, it seems, matched nearly by that done at home.


AMANPOUR: Nick Paton Walsh there. It is an ugly, ugly story this illegal Russian war on Ukraine.

Now, imagine winning a general election but being blocked by parliament from becoming prime minister. That is what's just happened in Thailand. 42-

year-old Pita Limjaroenrat sailed to victory in May only to be stymied by the military and the royalists who see the Harvard educated reformer as a

threat to the monarchy. His supporters flooded the streets. And now, it's unclear what will happen next.

Pita Limjaroenrat is joining me loud now live from Bangkok. And welcome to the program.

So, we've been discussing, in this program --


AMANPOUR: Welcome, welcome. -- the idea of a younger generations, the need and the demand for reform, wherever it might be, in the West, in Asia or in

-- all over. What is going to happen to your supporters, to the protesters who are in the streets, to the very idea of democracy in Thailand if

somebody who won the election is simply barred from taking his seat?

LIMJAROENRAT: I think what the protesters are demanding is that in any functioning democracy whoever wins the election should become the prime

minister and have both the authority and the legitimacy to lead.

However, the current situation in Thailand -- just to give some context to the viewer -- is to clash between the politics of elected and appointed,

you know. The lower house is through election, which I won. The upper house, the senators, are appointed by the military Junta after the coup.

So, because of that, you know, to choose a prime minister you have to have the consensus of both the elected officials as well as the appointed

officials. So, that's basically Thai political landscape in a nutshell.

AMANPOUR: So, what is your --

LIMJAROENRAT: So, that's what's going on, on an official level.

AMANPOUR: What is your recourse, then? Because your opponents have accused you of essentially disqualifying yourself because of holding shares in a

media company. What is that all about?

LIMJAROENRAT: It's a made-up case against my prime ministerial candidacy. The fact is, I don't even own the shares. My late father owned it. It's a

defunct media company that closed down 17 years ago and I can never get any political gains from holding those shares as an inheritance management.

However, with the coincidence, the case against me was decided two hours before my prime ministerial election in the parliament, you know. So,

that's the kind of coincidence that begs skepticism from both the Thai media as well as international media that follows Thai politics pretty


AMANPOUR: But could it -- I mean, what is your resource going to be or your resort going to be? Because, you know, they say you might be

suspended. You -- not only won't to become prime minister, you might not even have the opportunity to continue in parliament. Can you use this

accusation to your benefit? Do you think you can win a case and somehow revive your political career?

LIMJAROENRAT: Well, first things first, my renomination as the prime minister of Thailand is still possible. A lot of cases that was done

against me if -- as per your question, what can I do? At the very minimum, the right to appeal, you know, the right to argue my case, the right to

tell my side of the story. That is just the minimum that I could ask for.

But currently, I don't get any of those chances to testify nor appeal the cases that were made up against me, and against my prime ministerial

candidacy. But that continues to be seen. If there was a call from the constitutional court for me to argue my case and explain my rationales for

holding those shares from my late father, as the inheritance manager, hopefully, that will clear things up and hopefully, my candidacy is back on



AMANPOUR: So, there's a lot of hope for you going on there and let's see what is most likely. Your own -- some of your own supporters say that

perhaps you may have dug yourself your own hole to an extent, because it appears that a lot of this push back against you is that -- is around the

law that's called Lese-majete, which in Thailand, forbids, under punishment of 15 years or so in prison, any mocking, any opposition, any public

criticism of the royalty.

And you, in your campaign, had tried to mitigate that. In other words, you had wanted -- you know, you didn't talk about getting rid of it, you

actually talked about perhaps reducing, you know, the harsh response and sentences. Do you regret that?

LIMJAROENRAT: Not at all. I think in a nutshell, I think for Thailand to remain a constitutional monarchy is the goal of everyone here in Thailand.

There's no alternative way of governance. However, the assessment of how to reach that goal for Thailand to remain a constitutional monarchy is

different. Some of the people that were against my attempt to modify the Lese-majete might say that it allows criticism of the monarchy. But for us,

I think if you modify Lese-majete law to be on the international par that allows, you know, people -- that does not permit or does not allow

political opponents to bring monarchy down to the level of politics and use the monarchy to destroy the political opponents using Article 112 or the

Royal Defamation Law.

So, what we are trying to do is to remain a constitutional monarchy and keep the monarchy above the politics, where monarchy is supposed to be in

any country that is governed by constitutional monarchy. But apparently, people use that as a weapon against us to destroy us, which is not the

first time in Thai history. I mean, if you follow Thai politics closely in every decade, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, monarchy would be

used for political advantage, which is what we are trying to stop, so that we can get out of the political conflict, have the concentration to be an

active member of the International Community. That's what we are trying to do.

AMANPOUR: And as you mentioned, Thailand, your country, has been ruled by Military Junta since the coup in 2014, struck down the previous democratic

government. Is it just that that they are concerned about, your critics, or what other reforms were you trying and did you campaign on that obviously

got the opponents and the ruling opponents to basically just stop you?

LIMJAROENRAT: I think the reason for existence of my party, Move Forward Party, can be summarized in a sentence, that's three D's, to the

demonopolize, to decentralize, and demilitarize Thailand. Obviously, it requires a lot of hard-headed reforms to take military out of Thai

politics, to make sure that the military is professional and up-to-date with the current challenges of the 21st century. Also, to demonopolize the

economic structure of Thailand, as well as the governance and the public service, to decentralize various parts of Thailand. Bangkok is not Thailand

and Thailand is not Bangkok.

So, obviously, as you can imagine, there would be some resistance from the military, from -- resistance from khaki capitalism, and the resistance from

public servants here in Thailand. But I think if I have enough time to persuade them and to explain and to convince them it's really a win-win

situation and is really a way out for Thailand to move forward, given the current challenges in the global arena and how we can become an active

member of the International Community and get back to the current state of the world.

AMANPOUR: So, finally, first, the message to your supporters, I want to know what you're going to tell them because they're still on the street.

And secondly, what do you endorse, if it came to it, the pro-democracy party that got the second number of votes, Pheu Thai? It got the second

largest votes in this region -- recent election. Would you endorse them?

LIMJAROENRAT: OK. There are three steps to your question. So, let me --

AMANPOUR: All right. We've got 90 seconds. We've got 90 seconds.


LIMJAROENRAT: Yes. First of all, to the supporters, we will win definitely, if not immediately. So, hopefully, we will be able to collect

small victories, so that we can move the country forward.

Yes. I endorse this party, second victorious party, Pheu Thai Party, and (INAUDIBLE) Party to form a coalition, because it's not just about a

personal goal for me to become prime minister, but I think it's to stop Thailand from vicious cycle of military dictatorship.

And I think to the supporters that are protesting, I think the right of freedom of assembly, in a peaceful manner, I think that's really an

essential part in any democratic countries, not just the elections --


LIMJAROENRAT: -- but as of freedom of the press and also, the right of assembly as well.

AMANPOUR: Well, Limjaroenrat --

LIMJAROENRAT: I think I did in 90 seconds.

AMANPOUR: Yes, I know. It's good, it's good, it's good. Limjaroenrat, thank you so much indeed. And for putting, you know, this generation of

Thai politics on the map for our viewers.

And turning back to America now, and its favorite pastime, baseball. Major League Baseball, of course, banned African American athletes at the end of

the 19th century. They created their own league. Its success and popularity is the focus of a new documentary called, "The League," and here is a clip

from the trailer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A few entrepreneurs sees that a black club can be a successful business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rube Foster, light years ahead of its time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first lady of black baseball.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Negro Leagues players who made the game more up tempo, bat and run, base stealing. This incredibly acrobatic catches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Major Leaguer's would say that the Negro Leagues didn't play the game the right way. Really, that was a -- they didn't play

the game the white way.


And the critically acclaimed director, Sam Pollard is joining Walter Isaacson to discuss how these players changed the game and transformed the



WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Sam Pollard, welcome to the show. Congratulations on this great documentary, "The League."

SAM POLLARD, DIRECTOR, "THE LEAGUE": Thank you, Walter. Great being here.

ISAACSON: Like me, you are St. Louis Cardinals fan growing up. And I want to take you back to the year 1964. An amazing year when they come from

behind to win the pennant. They've got Bill White and, you know, a great first baseman, defensive player, winds the Golden Glove. Curt Flood, who

led the national league in hits, and traded to them in the middle of the season's Lou Brock, who steals all these bases. One of the things about

them is they are all African Americans.

When you are watching that pennant race, did you think about the fact they were African Americans and did you realize that just 20 years before they

wouldn't have been able to play?

POLLARD: You know, I knew a little bit about Jackie Robinson into creating Major League Baseball in '47 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. And my dad was a

huge St. Louis Cardinals fan, I became a Cardinals fan. And it was just the idea of Lou Brock and Curt Flood and Bill White and Bob Gibson on the field

made it so special for me.

So, I didn't -- I don't know if I was really thinking about this, I mean, these were African American players, but, you know, they were negro players

to me back then. So, it was important just to see them on the field. And I watch it on television. You know, we have that little black and white TV,

and we saw the games.

So, when I got the opportunity to work on this documentary about the Negro Leagues, it's really dig into not only understanding who Satchel Paige was

and Josh Gibson was, who I knew about when I was 14 and 15, now, I got to learn about, you know, Rube Foster and Effa Manley and Gus Greenlee, you

know, and Cum Posey and all the other phenomenal players and managers and owners who made the Negro Leagues, you know, so important in the '20s,

'30s, and '40s.

ISAACSON: You know, the thing that struck me, I didn't know this, is that in the late 1800s there were a lot of African American players who played

on mostly white teams. Let's look at a clip from your documentary that talks about that.


ANDREA WILLIAMS, JOURNALIST: African Americans have been playing baseball for as long as white people have been playing baseball. As the sport begins

to take hold in popularity, post-civil war, black people where there always. There were organized black teams and they barnstormed, they played

against other black teams, they played against white teams.

GERALD EARLY, CULTURAL CRITIC: There were blacks who did play with whites on teams. The team was majority white, they may have one or two black

players on it. And that seemed to be something that was more acceptable to the white paying public, if they only had one or two black players as

opposed to a team that might have majority black players and one or two white players.

WILLIAMS: But as we move forward through history, we see that segregation starts to tighten its hold.



ISAACSON: Tell me about these players and in the late 1800s.

POLLARD: But we always -- you know, I was always under the assumption when I was in my teens that it was Jackie Robinson who was the first African

American who played -- integrated -- was integrated into the Major League Baseball. But in doing the research, we learned that there was a gentleman

named Moses Fleetwood Walker in the late 1880s who was one of the African Americans to play on these white teams. And there were other black players

playing on these teams in the 1880s, 1890s, until the beginning of the 20th century.

But then, there was a gentleman's agreement that was really started by a Hall of Famer, Cap Anson, who basically didn't want to play with black

players. And that sort of just really permeated all the Major League teams when they decided not to have any black players on those teams, you know.

So, that's what led to people like Rube Foster in 1920 with a bunch of other owners, Negro League owners, saying in Kansas City, Missouri, let's

put together our own national league of black teams, and they created in 1920 the Negro National League, which really flourished for about 10 years

until the untimely death of Rube Foster around 1929, 1930.

And then, there was another sort of major upheaval in the '30s out of Pittsburgh, you know, which was a wonderful hub, you know, they had the

factories and they had a lot of black people in the community. And two men basically started the second integration of negro baseball, and that was a

gentleman named Cum Posey, who owned a Homestead Grays, and Gus Greenlee, who owned the Pittsburgh Crawfords.

And those teams and those players and those teams were the things I really got to know about as a young man, and those are people like Satchel Paige,

the wonderful pitcher, Satchel Paige, the great home run hitter, Josh Gibson, you know, the player, Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard, Oscar

Charleston, there was such phenomenal players. And they were so good that they created what was sort of like what we just saw this past couple of

days, the all-star game, they called it the East-West Classic. Where the best players from the eastern teams and the western teams would come to the

other and they would play baseball.

And you know and I know that back then, when we were young then, baseball was the American pastime. Everybody loved baseball. Now, it's not the case

so much anymore, but back then, that was everything everybody talked about, you know, baseball, baseball, baseball.

ISAACSON: Let's talk about some of the people in this documentary. Rube Foster, fascinated me.

POLLARD: Rube Foster is a phenomenal person. First of all, he was a great pitcher and he became a wonderful owner of the Chicago American Giants.

Then he decided, I'm going to bring together not only my team but other Negro League teams and owners to create the Negro National League. So, he

is the father Negro League baseball. He had untimely death in 1929, 1930, but his legacy has stood the test of time, and he is in the Hall of Fame.

And then his mantle -- that mantle has passed on to two other great owners, Cum Posey, who own the Homestead Grays and Gus Greenlee, who owned the

Pittsburgh Crawfords. And those two men along in the '30s really reignited Negro League Baseball, and they had wonderful players, Satchel Paige,

phenomenal picture, Josh Gibson, great hitter, Cool Papa Bell, who could run the bases with lightning speed, Oscar Charleston, Buck Leonard, you

know, they had great players.

And then, you saw, after World War II, there was another group of players who would be the first group to ever go into the Major Leagues, Monte

Irvine who went to the New York Giants after Willie Mays. Jackie Robinson, who we all know went to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larry Doby from the Newark

Eagles, who was the first African American playing in the American league with the Cleveland Indians. You know, Willie Mays, Roy Campanella, Don

Newcombe, the list goes on and on and on.

So, you know, you could see that this history was extremely impactful. And the other thing I always want to say that when I'm doing these

documentaries about the African American experience, I want people to clearly understand it is a part of American history.

ISAACSON: Yes. Let's talk about that part of American history because starting with Plessy v. Ferguson, that's where the segregation happens in

baseball. But you also see in the 1920s, even 1930s, during the depression, when the Negro League came up, it's connected with the newspapers like "The

Chicago Defender" is connected with black-owned businesses. So -- and it's even feels like a movement in your documentary, like almost a civil rights

movement. Tell me how it's connected to history.

POLLARD: Well, here's the important thing to remember that black communities, which were basically segregated because we've been seen as

second-class citizens, we had to figure out how to survive both, you know, culturally and economically. You know, we had to have our own businesses,

we had to have her own doctors, we had to have her own lawyers.


And the Negro League teams and the Negro League owners was a part of that economic engine in those communities, you know. Black people could go to

baseball games on the weekend, they could buy stuff from the concession stands, they could buy -- you know, they could see the players play who got

paid. You know, so, the money that was generated by the Negro League owners and the teams went back into the black community, and that's how these

communities were able to survive, you know, and flourish, you know, because we weren't being given anything. We were treated as second-class citizens.

So, it was important that these teams came about because, like the funeral parlors, like the dentists, like the doctors, like the stores, it was

another way economically for the communities to flourish.

ISAACSON: You talk about Rube foster being a great pitcher, but then helps form the Negro Leagues. Compare him as a pitcher to Satchel Paige, the most

famous coming out of the Negro League.

POLLARD: The thing about Satchel Paige, historically and legend wise, he was considered the greatest Negro League pitcher ever. I mean, in the film,

we tell a story about he had the infield sit down, the outfield come in, and he struck out nine straight batters. You know, that shows you -- you

know, not -- he struck out three pitches -- he took out three batters with nine pitchers, you know, that shows you how great a player he was.

ISAACSON: It also shows you what a showman he was. Tell me about that barnstorming time in the '30s with Dizzy and Daffy Dean playing Satchel

Paige's team, what was that all about?

POLLARD: Well, it was about making some extra money. It was the off-season and these teams -- you know, it wasn't like the baseball players today who

makes millions and millions of dollars. When the season was over and baseball players need to survive, they would go around the country and they

would play local teams, they would play black teams, they would play white teams to make some extra money, to generate some crowds.

And this was an opportunity when they had the white teams playing black teams for white people to see how talented the black Negro League players

were, you know. And this led to the white press understanding, maybe there should be some talks about integration. And we had black newspapers like

"The Chicago Defenders" -- "Chicago Defender" and "The Pittsburgh Courier" basically titling the same thing, the importance of maybe integrating Major

League Baseball.

ISAACSON: We always think of Jackie Robinson up there with Satchel Paige, first person to be brought in, to be integrating the Brooklyn Dodgers.

First, let's look at a clip involving Jackie Robinson.


LLOYD BROWN, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: One of the very first day -- times that I went to see the game at Ebbets Field, first of all, going on the subway,

you know, thought all of Harlem was heading there. Everybody I see, they're bringing along baskets, they've got chicken. It's like a big picnic. All of

Harlem when I going Ebbets Field, and so, you know where they're going and you know why they're going. Jackie, everybody talking about Jackie


ISAACSON: So, tell me about the importance of Jackie Robinson and the owner, Branch Rickey, who brought him in. I always thought Branch Rickey

was a hero, but not quite so in your documentary.

POLLARD: We complicated Branch Rickey is. I mean, listen, when I was 14 years old, Jackie Robinson was their cats' pajamas man. We all said he was

a greatest thing to happen to Major League Baseball when he integrated to Brooklyn Dodgers. And we all know the classic picture of the footage of

Jackie Robinson signing the contract, sitting next up Branch Rickey. And Branch Rickey is -- in terms of mythologies, look, there's this wonderful

human being who basically says to Jackie Robinson, we want you to integrate Major League Baseball, but you've got to be able to deal with all of the,

you know, obscenities and racism, and keep it all contained, you know, because it's going to be good for the sport, it's going to be good for your


Now, what we didn't know about Mr. Rickey that we learned in this documentary was that he didn't want to compensate the Negro League for the

players he signed, specifically Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Don Newcombe. And one of the owners, one of the Negro League owners, a woman

named Effa Manley, who was a co-owner of the Newark Eagles, challenged this, in print, you know. How come Branch Rickey is not compensating Negro

League owners for the players he is signing?

And she was able to get Bill Deck, who is a wonderful showman for the Cleveland Indians to compensate her for signing -- for him signing Larry

Doby, who became the first African American to play in the American Leagues in 1948. So, you know, it's always -- for me, it's always interesting when

you do these documentaries to be able to, you know, dig into a story and see the levels of complexity and see that it's a different way than you --

the way you originally told the story.


ISAACSON: Jackie Robinson also becomes an early leader of the civil rights movement, an early face of the civil rights movement. Was that because of

his experiences becoming the first black player in the Major Leagues and how did that affect him?

POLLARD: I think Jackie Robinson, you know, becoming a voice in the civil rights movement goes back to even before he became a ball player. If you

remember, he was court-martialed, you know, in the '40s when he was a soldier -- officer for not refusing to sit in the back of the bus, on a bus

that he was on. You know, so he always -- had a certain level of pro activism about who he was as a man of color, as a black man, you know. But

he just became much more ferocious and much more -- and had a bigger voice about it as his career evolved as a baseball player.

ISAACSON: Tell me what the integration of Major League Baseball did to the Negro Leagues.

POLLARD: Well, with players like Willie Mays and Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks and Jackie Robinson --

ISAACSON: All of whom came from the Negro Leagues.

POLLARD: They all came from the Negro Leagues. And, you know, it had of (ph) the fans, the fans wanted to see these players. So, now, they had an

opportunity to go to Major League, you know, Baseball stadiums to see these players, which meant they didn't go to many Negro League games. And the

Negro League team started to suffer, they lost some of their best players, they were losing their crowds, you know.

So, by 1960, it became diminished and it was lost forever. But it's sort of like, you know, a metaphor for what happens with integration. I mean, we

all know the importance of brown people in the education in 1954, we all know the importance of Montgomery bus boycott, you know. But, you know,

integration is a very tricky thing in American. There's an upside and a downside to.

And even today-- and you know this, Walter, (INAUDIBLE), there's communities all across America, you know, that supposedly integrated, but

they're not, you know, because of, you know, economics, because of, you know, community locations.

You know, so, this notion of integration, in some ways, was the downside to communities because those who were professionals, the doctors and the

lawyers who had been forced to live within one type of community now had the opportunity to move out of those communities. And if you lost those

kinds of people out of your communities, then the communities would suffer from an economic perspective.

ISAACSON: That's fascinating and that really struck me at the end of your documentary, which talks about baseball, but it's also about society,

America as a whole, and about civil rights in America, that double-edged sword of integration. Tell me about your probably complex emotions on that.

POLLARD: Well, here I am as a young black man in the '60s, Walter, and what was I told as a young African American in '64 or '65? Forget about who

you are, where you come from, become a part of the American melting pot and everything will be fine, right?

Now, I bought that wholeheartedly. I bought it completely. It was only until my 20s that I realized that being American is very complicated. The

history and the genesis of this country, which is based on enslaved people, based on the decimation of native people, it's a long and complicated

history. And as an African American who basically wants -- as Sherman Hemsley would say, move on up, you know, and the Jeffersons, I had the same

philosophy. But at what price?

Everything is with the price. You know, so, it's always complicated feelings when it's like, you know, I live in Baltimore and I'm living in a

part of the community that isn't completely the black community and even though it's close by. And it's always a challenge to understand where you

want to be and how you want to be and how you're seeing yourself in this all American -- in this notion of being an American.

ISAACSON: And so, baseball is always a metaphor for America?

POLLARD: For me, it is.

ISAACSON: Sam Pollard, thank you so much for joining us.

POLLARD: My pleasure, Walter. My pleasure.


AMANPOUR: An amazing piece of history. And "The League" is now available to stream on demand.

And finally, tonight, honoring Emmett Till on what would've been his 82nd birthday. President Biden has announced a new national monument to remember

Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley.

In 1995, Emmett Till was abducted, shot, and dumped in the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white women. His mother

insisted on an open casket funeral so the world could witness the horrific brutality that mutilated her son beyond recognition. And as we reported at

the start of this program, this memorial is being dedicated just as some states are restricting how race is taught in American schools.


That's it for now. Thank you for watching. Goodbye from London.