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Interview With Russian Economist And Sciences Professor Of Economics Sergei Guriev; Interview With "Painkiller" Executive Producer Eric Newman; Interview With "Sound Of The Police" Co-Director Stanley Nelson; Interview With "Sound Of The Police" Co-Director Valerie Scoon. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired August 17, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what is coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Many have died to take each kilometer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Ukraine makes gains in its grueling counteroffensive. Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh reports from the outskirts of a newly-
liberated Ukrainian village.
Then, Russia's ruble tumbles. What's behind the squeeze on its wartime economy? I ask economics professor, Sergei Guterres.
Also, ahead --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can something legally prescribed be killing so many people?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: -- the story of those who won and lost in the opioid crisis told in a new Netflix drama, "Painkiller." I speak to executive producer
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How were these cops operate in this country has been Americas dirty secret.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: -- an unflinching look at the relationship between black people and law enforcement. Hari Sreenivasan speaks to directors Stanley Nelson
and Valerie Scoon about their new documentary "Sound of The Police."
Welcome to program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
Ukraine has been pleading for over a year for a coveted American F-16 fighter jets to help defend its skies. But today, Kyiv says that it does
not expect any deliveries in 2023, and that's according to a spokesperson for Ukrainian air force.
Training for Ukrainian pilots on the much-anticipated planes was supposed to begin this month, but U.S. officials previously said that they were
still waiting for a final plan from their European counterparts before that could begin. This as Ukraine continues to defend itself against Russian
missile attacks. One in the east of the country today temporarily leaving 10,000 people without power.
Now, despite all of that, the Ukrainian counteroffensive continues, advancing for the second time in two weeks to the southeast with the
recapture the village of Urozhaine. That's 60 miles from Russian occupied Donetsk City.
Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh has been if the Ukrainian Brigade involved in that fight and has this report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): There may be ruined around them, but their direction is
forwards. We are with the 35th Ukrainian marines, the first reporters to get to the outskirts of Urozhaine, yet another village announced liberated
Wednesday. The victories may be small but are constant.
WALSH: So, just down here, Urozhaine, yet another town taken as the counteroffensive does move forwards. We are just seeing the neighboring
village taken last week, but they keep moving.
With that march incoming, we're getting out of here as quick as we can. While they control Urozhaine, the Russians do everything they can to make
it a nightmare for the Ukrainians to be there.
WALSH (voiceover): The unit showed us the intense fight captured by drone. This, their tank advancing, dropping a string of anti-mine explosives
behind it, they said, which then once it turned, detonated. The unit released a video of them in the town on Wednesday of how they turned their
firepower on what was once a Russian stronghold that shelled them. The company commander recalls many more Russians hidden there than he expected.
Very many died, he says, especially when they started to run. And when they held houses, lots of them died there. But they were caught as they fled,
the smoke around Russians, likely made by cluster munitions. Ukraine has said it is already using some rounds controversially supplied by the United
We could not confirm if this fight here were the new American cluster bombs, but the losses suffered were clear. And they say that the use is
less of an ethical dilemma when you're in this brutal fight.
I don't understand it, he says. That side is using whatever they want. Our people are dying from all this and it is OK, when the other side die, it's
not. I don't understand.
His footage shows how young some in the assault were. He has no time for western analysts who say this should be moving faster.
I would say, they can always come to me as a guest and fight with me, he says. If someone believes that you can fly over the mine field on a broom
like in "Harry Potter," it doesn't happen in a real fight. If you don't understand that, you can sit in your armchair and eat your popcorn.
WALSH: Yes, I smell it.
WALSH (voiceover): Out here, the last month of advances feel both empty and grueling, littered now with Russian dead. They haven't moved perhaps as
far as it is felt.
WALSH: These just empty farm fields in which many have died to take each kilometer.
WALSH (voiceover): The Russians mined so hard here, they use this machine to do it. So much damage done, it's hard to imagine what plans Moscow had
for here at all had they kept it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Nick Paton Walsh reporting there. Well, away from the frontlines, back in Russia, there is damage of a different kind. The
country's currency, the ruble, has fallen to a 17-month low against the dollar. Russia's central bank is stepping in to try to halt the slide,
raising interest rates by 3.5 percent.
So, what's at play here and what does it mean for Russia and the war in Ukraine? Joining me now to discuss is Russian economist and professor of
economics at Sciences Po, Sergei Guriev. Sergei, it's good to see you.
So, as noted, Russia's central bank has really stepped in here, raising rates in hopes of propping up this declining ruble. The country is dealing
with ballooning deficits in its efforts to try to pay for this war. And it's seen a drop in export revenues. But -- and there's a big but here,
Russia's economy is still expected to grow, albeit slowly, but it hasn't contracted yet. And many analysts, including yourself, had predicted that
at this point in the war, we would see that. So, give us a sense of where Russia's economy stands right now?
SERGEI GURIEV, RUSSIAN ECONOMIST AND PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, SCIENCES PO: Thank you very much, Bianna, for inviting me. Indeed, we finally see some
effects of the sanctions that were announced about a year ago and in (INAUDIBLE) in December and February.
As you rightly mentioned, the revenues Russian budget it's getting from oil and gas are hit. And in the first months of 2023, the Russian oil and gas
revenues were down by half, which, of course, created the budget deficit as you mentioned.
Now, this is not a macroeconomic disaster or a meltdown, but indeed, it constrains the capacity of Russian government to finance military spending
and also support -- also sure the support for the war. Mr. Putin, of course, says that this war is hugely popular and he has 80 or 90 percent
Russian household supporting him and his war, but this is not the case as we saw during Mr. Prigozhin's mutiny that nobody spoke for Mr. Putin,
nobody took it to the street to support Mr. Putin.
And in that sense, we see how sanctions create tensions within Russia. As I said, there many different dimensions of that. One of the things you
mentioned, if we just look at top line GDP numbers, they look better than Russian households would feel because, of course, GDP numbers during
wartime also include military production.
So, whenever the Russian industry produces a tank or a rocket or ammunition, it looks like it produces fairly (ph) added, but of course,
this is something that has been destroyed in Ukraine in order to kill Ukrainians and destroy Ukrainian citizens and does not add to quality of
life of ordinary Russians. Their living standards have come down much more than GDP numbers would suggest.
GOLODRYGA: We know that much of Russia's revenue comes from the sale of oil and in hopes of not wanting to de-stable (ph) the global oil supply,
but also not to see windfall profits for Russia, the leaders of the G7 came up with a price cap at $60 a barrel last year, in hopes of retaining
Russian revenue flow, but at the same time keeping prices relatively stable for the global market supply.
That was recently breached with oil revenue now at an eight-month high and many accuse Russia as well as Saudi Arabia of tightening supplies in order
to increase the price of oil. So, are these efforts not as effective as they may have looked initially on paper?
GURIEV: It is true that the strategy undertaken by some Saudi Arabia hesitantly will lead to higher oil prices. On the other hand, oil price cap
seems to be working. And I strongly support this policy. I think this is a very innovative and bold strategy to reduce oil and gas revenues for the
I think more has to be done, and there are several things that the western coalition could have done in the months to come. One is to actually reduce
oil price cap from $60 to say $55 or $50 to further tighten the impact of the oil price cap. And also, to clamp down, to intensify the fight against
loopholes. You mentioned that other countries, not just Saudi Arabia, but third countries help Russia to circumvent sanctions both the import of
sensitive technology but also circumventing the oil price cap constraints. So, this has to be tightened.
GURIEV: The West should work more on not just on using sanctions, but enforcing them to limit the resources Russia has to continue this war.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. They circumventing largely done by way of China and in India, specifically in terms of oil. I want to get you to respond to what
Alex Gabuev, somebody who you know well, a Russian expert and director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center wrote recently in a piece about Putin
looking for a bigger war in his view and not for an offramp in Ukraine. And here's what he said. He wrote, the Kremlin believes that it can afford a
long war. The Russian economy is forecast to record growth this year, mostly thanks to military factories working around the clock. Critical
component such as microchips needed for the defense ministry are arriving from China and other sources. Despite sanctions, the Kremlin's war chest is
still overflowing with cash, thanks to windfall energy profits last year.
So, this is sort of summing up what you and I have already been discussing, and I think for the majority of yours, a lot of them are sort of scratching
their heads saying, wait a minute, we were talking about unprecedented sanctions leveled against Russia, virtually all big international western
companies having left Russia and stop doing business there. And yet, from this point of view, it seems Putin is still doing rather well and can
afford to keep this were going for much longer than many had expected. Would you agree with that sentiment?
GURIEV: So, we don't really know because we don't know how much of yuan Putin has. For example, a recent reporting suggested he sold so much oil to
India, but now, he doesn't know what to do with $14 billion of rupees, worth of rupees. Rupees is not a convertible currency. So, he doesn't know
what to do with Indian currency stocked in Indian banks.
And to what extent he has resources to continue this war for many more years, we don't really know. But so far, he seems to be confident and yet,
I would just make two arguments suggesting that sanctions are important. First, imagine the world without the sanctions, Bianna. If you think about
the world where Putin has many more sources of revenue, if he continues to sell his oil and gas all over the world without oil price cap and European
oil embargo, if he gets -- easily gets this technology semiconductor, not just from China, but from Europe and Taiwan, that would be a very different
outcome in the battlefield. And I think sanctions have already made an impact making sure that Putin has not won this war.
And the second thing I would mention is, if you think about Mr. Prigozhin's mutiny, his mutiny actually originated from Mr. Progression Prigozhin that
he doesn't get enough munitions to advance in the Ukrainian battle. And so, those complaints and his mutiny eventually are an implication of the
sanctions. Sanctions limited Putin's ability to pay for the ammunitions and tanks and rockets and second, to be able to produce those things.
I think more has to be done. And here, I fully agree with you and Alex, we need to close down the loopholes for circumventing the sanctions, including
getting semiconductors from China.
GOLODRYGA: Ironically, you know, it's interesting, you bring up that failed mutiny by Yevgeny Prigozhin because it really took that failed
mutiny to get Vladimir Putin to admit what most people already knew, and that is that Russia itself, the Russian military was funding the Wagner
Group, and it wasn't some independent mercenary group for plausible deniability's sake that the Kremlin had largely -- had long said that it
You mentioned China, and I'm curious what impact at all China's rather surprising economic decline recently will have in terms of Russia's
economic stability given the ties between the two countries.
GURIEV: That's a great question. And basically, China is another wild card. If you think China wants Mr. Putin to win this war, China can. China
can provide the funds to pay for Putin's budget deficit. China can provide all components it needs to build more weapons. So, China can help Putin in
a decisive way.
So, far China was sitting on the fence. Given Putin something, but not everything. And now, as you rightly said, the slowdown in Chinese economy
may change this balance, China can actually start thinking about its own economic prosperity.
Recently, one of the things that Putin has already done, China only started to do, China is still publishing data about youth unemployment, it's a big
signal that things are not going well.
GURIEV: Youth unemployment was at a record high. We saw that Putin last year and this year has stopped publishing a lot of economic indicators. And
that's also a sign that things are not going well. So, if China stops supporting Putin, I think that will save a lot of the Ukrainian lives
GOLODRYGA: Something worth noting is that the governor of the Russian Central Bank, Elvira Nabiullina, has been quite crafty in maintaining her
ability to keep the Russian economy afloat. She is a well-respected technocrat, and there had been reports in the past that when the war began,
she had wanted to leave the country and Vladimir Putin said she can't.
She had also told people previously that if there was any sort of currency manipulation pressed of her, she would resign. That hasn't happened. She
has been done what has been asked of her, but there is this question about whether the Central Bank and her role there in the Kremlin are headed
towards a collision course. We know what will happen if that's the fact, the Kremlin will be in charge of fiscal policy in Russia.
Without someone like Elvira steering the ship, where do you think that could take the country economically?
GURIEV: Well, I'm pretty sure Mr. Putin highly appreciates what the Central Bank chair, Elvira Nabiullina, and minister of finance, Anton
Siluanov, are doing for macroeconomic stability. And so, he will not appoint KGB, (INAUDIBLE). Mr. Putin is smarter than that. He has complete
trust in those loyal individuals, as we said, very capable and competent technocrats.
So, I don't think Mr. Putin is that crazy. I think he will steer the ship in terms of military and geopolitical strategy, but he will leave
macroeconomic policy to professionals, which, of course, is not good.
I would just mentioned that some of Elvira's deputies have left the ship in some capacity. But so far, unfortunately, the critical mass of the team is
still there. And when you mentioned that ruble is becoming weaker, it's actually part of the game because of Russian economy slowing down and being
hit by sanctions. And again, oil revenue is being hit by sanctions. And Putin's ability to keep buy more stuff through third country, creates a
difficult agreement in the ruble market.
So, he has fewer petrodollars and he needs more dollars to buy for imported components, that's a normal market force that pressures on ruble to go
weaker, and Elvira lets ruble go weaker, and that's completely normal. So, this is actually quite a competent decision.
GURIEV: Sergei, in the final seconds that we have here, you were one of the first to suggest that the $300 billion of the Russian Central Bank
assets that had been frozen in the early days of the war should go to help rebuilding Ukraine. They still remain frozen. No decision has been made on
that front. Are you disappointed that we haven't seen any movement in that direction yet?
GURIEV: I think nobody has any doubt that Russia will eventually pay for this war. And I should say that every single Russian opposition,
politician, whether (INAUDIBLE) has confirmed that that has to be done. And eventually, there will be a court decision and Russia will be liable for
all this horror and harm that it has inflicted on Ukrainians.
And so, Ukraine will sue Russia. And Ukraine will come with a court warrant to get the money, and eventually will get it. This money, and probably
more, and probably more if the war continues, unfortunately.
GOLODRYGA: All right.
GURIEV: The bill is just growing larger.
GOLODRYGA: Sergei Guriev --
GURIEV: But indeed, I'm disappointed. Sorry.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. No, clearly, that money could go to good use right now because we've seen a huge decline in Ukraine's economy. No surprise, given
the war. Sergei Guriev, thank you so much for your time. It's really good to see you.
Well, turning now to an issue which has devastated the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Americans, the opioid crisis. Between 1999 and
2020, more than half a million people died from an opioid overdose in the U.S. That's according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It's a drama that's now playing out in the courtroom.
Just last week, the Supreme Court blocked OxyContin manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, from going forward with bankruptcy proceedings, an agreement which
would have offered the Sackler family broad protection from opioid -related civil claims in exchange for a $6 billion settlement.
One of the fictionalized Netflix drama, "Painkiller," is telling the story of the crisis. Here's a clip from the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could you tell me everything you know but OxyContin?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You will be convincing doctors to take pain seriously.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OxyContin is that one to start with and the one to stay with. The more you prescribe, the more you'll help
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is now the number one opioid in the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This drug is permeating every part of our community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Eric Newman is the show's executive producer, and he spoke to me from New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Eric Newman, thank you so much for joining us and discussing this gripping six-part series, "Painkiller." You know, the Sackler family
and Purdue Pharma and Oxy have been in the news as of late. But you've worked on drug related series and shows before, including narcos.
ERIC NEWMAN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "PAINKILLER": Yes.
GOLODRYGA: I'm just curious, what draws you to this subject matter?
NEWMAN: I think it's a confluence of a number of things. Greed is always sort of fascinating to me. Drugs as a health care crisis, as opposed to law
enforcement crisis. With the drug war and with narcos, it was very much the mishandling of this effort to try to stop the flow of drugs. You know, you
can never address a drug issue by attacking the supply, you have to work on the demand.
And what I noticed with the Sacklers and Purdue Pharma and the OxyContin epidemic, is that unlike the traffickers who are pretty honest about who
they are and what they're doing, these people were doctors and pharmaceutical executives and health care providers. And so, the conspiracy
took on a whole insidious edge that I didn't find even in all of my, you know, many years chronicling the illegal narcotics trade.
GOLODRYGA: And we should note for legal purposes, the Sackler family has denied any wrongdoing, any criminal wrongdoing but agreed to pay about $6
billion to address opioid crisis in exchange for immunity from future civil lawsuits. This is a deal that is still pending in the courts, as you know.
You know, what's really powerful about each episode, you know, there's some fictional characters, but obviously, there are characters based on real-
life people, including the Sackler family members, and Matthew Broderick playing Richard Sackler. But what's so powerful in terms of the real-life
families are those who have been impacted by the loss of a loved one, a family member, to the opioid crisis. And you introduce each new episode
with someone who has lost a loved one.
GOLODRYGA: What made you decide to do that?
NEWMAN: At the beginning of every TV show that purports to be nonfiction, at least to an extent, you're obligated legally to put a disclaimer up that
says that, despite this being based on real events, there is an element of dramatization. There is a fictional element to it. And it was very
important to us, to Pete Berg and to myself and the rest the team that this disclaimer doesn't become a -- you know, an out, and easy out for the
people who perpetrated this thing.
And so, without avoiding the legal responsibility to state it, we came up with, I think, an incredibly powerful way to show that there is, despite
the fiction, the liberties, we might have to take just tell us story, this is real and it happened, and the loss that these parents experienced, which
is staggering and so broad and far-reaching.
You know, we found six families when we could've found 6,000. 60,000. There's so many of these parents who lost children, and we thought it was a
very moving and appropriate way to remind people that this is real and that it happened, which is always been kind of our intent, is to make sure that
people, in the most digestible way possible with our show, watch and learn about what happened, why it happened in the hopes that it doesn't happen
GOLODRYGA: Well, according to a new survey conducted by KFF, that's a health policy research group, roughly three in 10 adults have been addicted
to opioids or have a family member who has been, and less than half of those with a substance use disorder have received treatment.
GOLODRYGA: This is a subject matter that's personal to you as well. I know that you've recently lost a loved one.
NEWMAN: Yes, I did. I -- my stepbrother who struggled for, you know, decades with it finally lost his battle. And, you know, the sad truth of it
is that no one was surprised, which, you know, has its own sort of tragedy to it that getting off opioids is really hard if you're hooked. The relapse
rate is really significant.
And there isn't enough treatment and too often users are stigmatized, and that was a strategy that Purdue Pharma used and other makers of opioids
used to hammer the abusers and blame them for their addiction, and it's not fair. And so, yes, it's -- I join a number of people on our crew who lost
people to opioid overdose.
GOLODRYGA: I'm so sorry for your loss. And I'm sure you know that the type of work that you're doing is helpful to so many families, to not only know
that others have gone through something similar in the past and have lost loved ones, but to address this issue that really is an epidemic in this
GOLODRYGA: I want to get back to the characters in this series, namely Richard Sackler, because he is the one in your show who strategize this new
way of marketing this drug. And he's portrayed by Matthew Broderick. Let's just show you our viewers a clip of him in the series.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW BRODERICK, ACTOR, "PAINKILLER": We understand pain. I understand pain. All of human behavior is essentially comprised of two things, they
are running away from pain and toward pleasure. It's a cycle. Pain, pleasure. Pain, pleasure. Again and again. Well, this circle is our
existence. It is the very essence of what it means to be human, to be alive. But if we placed ourselves right there, between pain and pleasure,
then we have changed the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Obviously, you've taken some creative liberties in describing him and portraying him, but talk to us a bit about the Sackler family
member who comes across as a bit odd and quirky and clearly driven by power and money.
NEWMAN: I don't believe -- and I think it's a mistake that is made sometimes, that monsters are spring forth from the womb, you know, they're
created. And sometimes people who do monstrous things have a reason that they can share. This is why I did what I did.
Famously, Richard Sackler doesn't speak publicly. In fact, the only time I've ever seen him speak is in a deposition. It was our goal to show that
the greed and lack of accountability began in the inception of the idea. And there's no other way to look at mass marketing an opioid that can kill
you, that is highly addictive, and obscuring the truth about it, in the way that when you're selling something you play down its downside. The problem
here is that the downside is fatal, potentially fatal.
In casting Matthew, who is a, you know, beloved American actor, our goal was to try to humanize this character as best that we can -- we could. We
don't have a tremendous amount of information about him as a person, and I think that's by design. What we hope to show was that this greed and lack
of accountability and, you know, an ingenious approach to selling a product, again, without any accountability, is at the center of this thing.
This epidemic began because a company, a group of companies, decided that if they expanded the reach of this medication, which was designed for
chronic pain and end-of-life care, could be expanded to include aches and pains, and be prescribed at a rate that I don't think another drug has ever
quite been prescribed. And at the same time, make a fortune that comes back to those individuals, including Richard Sackler. I mean, it has to.
GOLODRYGA: So, there's a difference between the strategy in the idea and concept itself and marketing to the masses.
GOLODRYGA: And there is an army behind Oxy, willing and able, again following the money trail, to do just that and promote and introduce this
medication, these pills, to doctors across the country, and these are often young female pharma reps who charm their way into these doctors' offices
and clinics. You also portray these women in the series. Let's show clip of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't prescribe oxycodone or opioids like it to my patients unless it's for cancer or they're dying, or the dying of cancer,
because it's addicting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, do I have some good news for you, sir, because OxyContin is actually a whole lot less addictive than all the other
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you kidding me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. The rate of addiction is less than one percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you just make that up?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that is a flat out lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: So, fortunate for that clinic, that doctor knew wrong from right and right from wrong, and understood that what that sales rep was
saying just wasn't true, but many doctors sadly didn't, and they fell for this and they continue to supply Oxy to their patients. It's frustrating
just watching this, these people aren't selling girl scout cookies, they are selling, you know, potentially fatal pills. How is this legal, I guess,
is my question?
NEWMAN: You know, it's an important aspect of telling the story was to approach it from a number of different angles, the people who perpetrated
it, the people who looked the other way, the people who helped to sell it, and the people who were victimized by it, of course, and then people who
blew the whistle.
I felt very much that Shannon Schaeffer, who is this -- you know, played by West Duchovny, who's one of the pharma reps in the story, is another victim
of this in some ways. You know, and her addiction was to money and, you know, to success and this was a very clear path. And again, I think a lot
of people were misled, including many doctors. I don't believe that someone who chooses to devote their life to caring for people would willingly put
them at risk, but the absence of information, the obfuscation, the failure to disclose the true properties of this are very much to blame.
And so, this army of young people were programed with bad information and sent out into the world to sell the stuff. And, you know, it's one of a
number of tragedies around this. And then, there's so much money that made it all OK for a while, and money has a way of doing that. You know, people
in politics, both sides of the aisle, people in -- the regulators who were supposed to keep an eye out for this kind of thing, everyone was swayed by
it. And was the -- that spoke to the staggering amount of money this business generates -- continues to generate.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. It was promoted and sold as a non-addictive wonder pill.
GOLODRYGA: I should note, again, for legal purposes, Purdue has pleaded guilty to charges related to its opioid marketing, while its owners have
expressed no wrongdoing, denied wrongdoing, though they have expressed regret.
I'm curious, in these final moments, do you think given the magnitude of this crisis and how it really has permeated throughout all sectors of the
country now, especially the heartland, which you focus a lot on in this series, do you think that it's getting the attention and the response that
it has so long deserved, finally, today?
NEWMAN: I think collectively, and there have been a number of shows, documentaries, amazing books, including the two that -- you know, the two
authors, Patrick Radden Keefe and, of course, Barry Meier, who wrote "Painkiller."
I think collectively we've done a -- the beginnings of good job of getting this out there to as many people as possible. You know, Netflix has a
quarter of a billion subscribers, and we're doing everything we can to reach as many of them as possible, and we're off to a great start.
I think it's a story that needs to be told again and again, and as loudly as possible. And I believe, it's my hope that there will be more shows and
stories about this, because there is the North American opioid crisis, but it's spread. It's all over. And so, to reach as many people as possible, to
get the story out in as big a way as possible, became, to us, and I think to the makers of these other programs and authors, it becomes something of
a mission. And it's so important.
GOLODRYGA: It is so important. And, Eric Newman, so grateful that you have a platform where so many viewers get the opportunity to see just the
devastation caused by this epidemic and this crisis. And as you said, it's touched so many homes and lives and families, including your own. And
again, our condolences for the loss of your stepbrother as well.
NEWMAN: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Thank you so much for joining us today.
NEWMAN: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And just to note, the Sacklers say they were unaware of any wrongdoing by Purdue Pharma.
Well, now, to another crisis facing America, a new documentary called "Sound of the Police," examines the history between black Americans and law
enforcement. Here's a clip from the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How these cops operate in this country has been America's dirty secret.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in a country of fearing black people, rooted all the way back into slavery.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There seems to be two forms of policing in America, one for white America and another for black America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: The film's director, Stanley Nelson and Valerie Scoon, join Hari Sreenivasan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bianna, thanks. Stanley Nerlson and Valerie Scoon, thank you both for joining us.
First, Stanley, I want to ask, you have a body of work that has looked into so many different facets of African American history and life. Your most
recent documentary, "Sound of The Police," why did you want to tackle this now?
STANLEY NELSON, CO-DIRECTOR, "SOUND OF THE POLICE": Well, I think that why I want to tackle it now as we started kind of right after the George Floyd
movement, and so many people were thinking about the police, I was thinking about the police. But I think that it wasn't clear the historic nature of
the role of the police in African Americans lives.
And so, we wanted to try to make a film that talk about history, that this was not George Floyd, it's not new, Eric Garner, it's not new, the Black
Panthers, you know, all of those things, all those the confrontations with the policemen, for our relationship with African American often have with
the police is not something new. It's almost -- like it was baked into the cake of the United States. And so, we wanted to detail but also, talk about
the present, but also talk about the past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine if you had an institution where it was almost impossible to be held accountable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened to the police made me scared of them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No mother should have to bury their child.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amir Locke was killed in a botched no knock warrant situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw the body cam footage. He's snuffing this man out as he slept.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: Valerie, this story is poignantly bookended from a funeral service in the comments of parents who have lost their son to police
violence. But really, it is, as Stanley mentioned, a historical dive. Why take it all the way back and why do those dots start at slavery?
VALERIE SCOON, CO-DIRECTOR, "SOUND OF THE POLICE": Well, as our interviewees, you know, point out that, you know, law enforcement in the
south was intertwined with slave patrols. And from that, some of the methods, methodology or mechanisms, you know, became part of -- like
Stanley mention, sort of baked in the cake of law enforcement.
So, the reason why we started in the past because that's where, you know, the relationship between law enforcement and black people, you know,
commenced. And so, the idea would be to sort of trace it through the decades or centuries to sort of see how those patterns, you know, persist
in the system of law enforcement, where they do, if they do, and that was part of what we are looking at. So, to answer to the question of, how do we
SREENIVASAN: You know, Stanley, what's interesting is, I think people and the audience might just assume, well, that slavery was kind of the problem
in the south, when black people voted with their feet, so to speak, and left and went to the north that things clearly must have been better. But
what your film points out is how police in the north were also complicit and enforcement of a different kind of segregation.
NELSON: Yes. I mean, it's part of the role of the police earlier around in the north was to keep African Americans in their place. So, African
Americans had to live in ghettos. And, you know, if you stepped out of the ghetto, then you would be suspect, and the police would enforce that.
So, very early on, the police became feared for the African American community, and they weren't there to kind of serve and protect African
Americans, they were there really to control African Americans. And the role for African American citizens -- you know, from beginning, from the
1860s until now, the role of the police for African Americans has been very different from the role for many other Americans.
SREENIVASAN: Valerie, you point out in the film that there were so many horrendous lynchings throughout the south and another parts the country
where in the photographs you can see that it is with the assistance of police officers who would essentially either participate in crowd control
or would be spectators themselves, or certain times, would be unlocking the jail cell before the trial even started.
SCOON: Yes. I think that that was an important thing to include as it shows -- it sort of speaks to the relationship with back people and law
enforcement that in that time period with sort of obviously sets out the idea that they're not there to sort of protect and serve black people if
they're standing by or allowing these lynchings to take place.
So, I think that that sowed seeds of some distrust, which I think is important to look at and to sort of see how that plays a role in the
relationship today in terms of how black people and law enforcement are engaging today.
SREENIVASAN: So, Stanley, tell me, how does it translate from these moments of history that we in your film to, let's say, your life when you
were growing up as a young black man, what did your parents, what do your grandparents tell you about how to be with the police?
SCOON: Yes. I grew up in New York City. And my parents told me to avoid the police, you know. The best way that you can deal with police was to
avoid them. And I think there's a real parallel in that film, when they talk about the future of slave law 1850, and there were posters put up in
the north that said, you know, black people, do not trust the police. Do not talk to the police. Avoid the police. Because they are deputized as
slave catchers. And part of their job is to assist slave catchers in catching runaway slaves.
SREENIVASAN: Valerie, what's interesting also is here's the kind message that Stanleys of the world would be getting from their parents and
grandparents, but the dominant narrative, as you point out, and you have this amazing montage of so many different kind of cop shows, so to speak,
over the decades, and how police are painted, and what we are told their role is in society.
SCOON: Yes. We have, you know, sort of a contrasting view as some of our experts would point out, you know, we have all these TV shows where
everything works out, that there is, you know, fairness, no bias. And if black people are in their -- you know, the -- as they say, in dragnet, in
the dragnet episode, where we have, you know, an active goal to sort of have black people in the show who sort of like will validate the
perspective of all is well between -- in the relationship between black people and law enforcement, but one of the very writers of that episode,
you know, acknowledges that, in reality, that's not what black people were experiencing. So, a sanitize version of what black people were
experiencing, which was not what was depicted on television.
NELSON: Yes. I also was going to add that, you know, something is fundamentally wrong if white folks can say to their kids, you know, the
police are your friends. If you're in trouble, go to the police. You know, Officer Friendly will help you.
And at the same time, a black parent of a kid of the same age is saying, you know, avoid the police at all cost. You know, nothing good can happen
if you, you know, talk to a police officer. I used to tell my son, you know, if the police are walking down the block towards you and you can
calmly cross the street to get (INAUDIBLE) in the street without raising their attention, you should do that. Because just by any kind of contact,
something negative might happen. And there's something really fundamentally wrong with policing, you know, with our country if those two things exist
SCOON: Actually, if I can add just that, it was -- that was one the reasons why I decided to work on the project, because when Stanley first
offered it, I hesitated because it's such a large and difficult project and topic. But he pointed out, he asked me, like, well, don't you have a son?
And I was like, oh, yes, I do. And do I worry about him -- he didn't ask me this but I reflected on the idea that I worry about him walking home, I'm
like, do you have your I.D.? And I'm trying not to infantilize him, but that fear of him being out in the world, you know, was part of the reason
why I wanted to work on this documentary, for the sake of all the other parents and the kids, every law enforcement itself to improve the scenario.
SREENIVASAN: Stanley, there's a psychologist in your film that talks about how often these scenes are now being played in front of us. And I wonder,
is this kind of just becoming background noise, where 20 years ago, 25 years ago, maybe before Rodney King, it was not so common to see video of
it, now, everyone has a cell phone in their hand, and they're shooting video of these things? I wonder what is happening to us when we see this
tragedy unfold, I mean, are we becoming numb to it?
NELSON: Well, you know, I think in the opposite. I think that for us to solve the problem we have to recognize that there is a problem. And I think
that if you look at where we are today, with where we were five years ago, before George Floyd and before some of the other murders, I think many more
people in the United States would say, yes, there's a problem, right?
You know, as somebody says in the film, before when you would talk to your white friends, and they would say, well, what are you talking about? You
know? And now, nobody says what are you talking about. You know, it's very clear that there is a problem.
Now, have we gone as far as we need to go or probably should have been at this point in solving the problem? I don't think so. But I just think, as
horrible as it is, at least we recognize, at least some people are recognizing, or more and more people are recognizing that there's a
problem. And I think that's the first step for change.
SREENIVASAN: Valerie, you also spoke with members of current and former law enforcement, why was it important in this?
SCOON: Well, it's important to get their perspective on this -- on the relationship and the perspective and their perspectives on the problem with
law enforcement and black people. I think it -- and we could sort of see that there is an intersection, you know, that they understand that black
people do want law enforcement -- many black do in law enforcement in the communities, they just want a law enforcement that makes them feel more
protected and served, and I think that that was important to get their perspective on that.
SREENIVASAN: Stanley, in the film, you've got interviews with police officers who talk about their experience patrolling black neighborhoods
versus non-black neighborhoods. What is the logic behind their approach in doing things differently?
NELSON: I don't know if there's a clear logic. You know, it's more that police departments traditionally have seen African American as more suspect
and have to be policed, you know, in a stronger way, have to policed -- have to be policed with more force, and that carries over to police
SREENIVASAN: One of the things that we see, Valerie, is just the perception of how we feel about police kind of playing out in day-to-day
life. And you have multiple examples of videos that have now become kind of famous or infamous of women that we kind of, you know, shorthand as Karens,
calling the police. And you kind of get a little bit into the psychology of how or why it's important to see that there's a group of people in society
that feel the police work for them to try to work on their behalf automatically.
SCOON: Yes. I think we -- that comes in the section where we're talking about the fugitive slave law. And during that period of time, and even
before the fugitive slave law, you know, enslaved people, white people it was almost their legal responsibility, and in fact, it was their legal
responsibility to report on any black person that they felt was out of place. So, they could -- they would see be seen as suspicious or guilty
before being proven innocent. And it was their responsibility to constantly report on black people and to feel that the police and they were allied in
that or the law enforcement at that time were (INAUDIBLE) with white people in doing that.
And so, when we look at the section on Karens, we're tracing the idea that -- this idea that that's their police, that -- you know, that these women,
you know, feel like the police are their police, and they can call them when they have a doubt about you or they are questioning why you should be
there. And that trend, the feeling like the police are their police, and they can call them to call you to account is part of what we're addressing
in that section.
SREENIVASAN: Stanley, of all the thousand plus police homicides that happen or police murders that happen every year, disproportionately
affecting black men or men of color, that 98 percent of the cases, police officers are not charged with a crime. And you have a section in there
about how the role of unions continues that cycle.
NELSON: Yes. And that was really important to me, to talk about unions. Because I think, you know, when we think of the problem with policing and
how they can get better, we don't think about the unions as much as we should. And we have a section where we see the unions defending the murder
of Eric Garner, one of the things that the union representatives says in New York, you know, is, if you can cry for help, then you can breathe.
And, you know, it's just like really a callusy (ph) to say this man was choked to death. What the unions are -- part of what they're supposed to
do, part of their duty is to defend the police, and they defend the police no matter what. And they defend the police and they have not only
statistics, they have the (INAUDIBLE) murdered their record and their families record, they have money and they are crops, and they're elite.
And so, it was really important that we talk a little bit in this film about the unions, and the power of the unions, and the power of the unions
to shape public's opinion when this come (ph).
SREENIVASAN: Stanley, what's your hope for people watching this film?
NELSON: My hope that they'll -- that the door will be opened just a little bit wider, and that they will see the warrant (ph) or the problems and they
will understand that change is necessary, and the change is possible. You know, that there's a way that we could have law enforcement and it not be
such a fraught relationship, but that we understand that certain things, again, were baked into the cake. We understand how we can get that out of
SCOON: Yes. I want people to sort of see that, you know, out of discomfort can come change. That change could come. You know, obviously, it's
difficult to look at this relationship, but the reason why we want to look at it is to improve it and to -- and I believe that -- you know, that's my
hope, that by looking at this, that this would be a part of a conversation starter, that people could sort of move forward to improve that
SREENIVASAN: "Sound of The Police" is now streaming on Hulu, co-directors Stanley Nelson and Valerie Scoon, thank you for both joining us.
SCOON: Thank you.
NELSON: Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Really interesting conversation. And finally, if you were looking for answers in the stars, you may be out of luck. NASA's James Webb
Space Telescope has provided us with some astonishing images of the universe for over a year now. Remember this one? But a new picture is
raising even more questions than usual. Take a look. It appears to show a giant going question mark.
Scientists think it could be the merging into galaxies, but no one is completely sure. Once again, we ask questions of the universe, and it
answers with just shrug. We'll keep asking anyway.
Well, that is it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. And remember, you can
always catch us online, on our website, and all-over social media. Thank you so much for watching and goodbye from New York.