Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Haitian Journalist Monique Clesca; Interview with Former U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Pamela White; Interview with Pediatric Surgeon and "The Sky Was Falling" Author Dr. Cornelia Griggs; Interview with The Washington Post Artificial Intelligence Columnist Josh Tyrangiel. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired March 12, 2024 - 13:00:00   ET



MADELEINE DEAN, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: You read a portion of it for me. Your words, it is page 11, starting on line 3. Beginning with the words, unlike

the evidence involving Mr. Biden, would you read the next few sentences.

ROBERT HUR, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Unlike the evidence involving Mr. Biden, the allegations set forth in the indictment

of Mr. Trump, if proven, would present serious aggravating facts.

DEAN: Keep going.

HUR: Congresswoman, I'm happy to have you read the words of my report.

DEAN: Well, it's your report. So, I think it actually is more fitting that you read those.

HUR: Most notably, after being given multiple chances to return classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite.

DEAN: Keep going.

HUR: According to the indictment, he not only refused to return the documents for many months but he also obstructed justice by enlisting

others to destroy evidence and then to lie about it.

DEAN: You may stop there. Thank you. You mentioned the indictment against Mr. Trump for mishandling sensitive classified national security

information. That indictment says at the end of his presidency, Mr. Trump - -

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You've been listening to Special Counsel Robert Hur's testimony on the Biden classified documents

probe who found no criminal charges were warranted. Unlike in the case of Former President Trump, he found President Biden and the administration

cooperative. And in his report, Hur also noted that Trump allegedly "obstructed justice by enlisting others to destroy evidence and then to lie

about it."

The former president, Trump, is facing a total of 40 counts in Special Counsel Jack Smith's indictment on this issue. We'll be right back.

Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I watch so many people get killed and then I have to set their bodies on fire.


AMANPOUR: Correspondent David Culver on the fallout amongst children in Haiti as Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigns amidst mounting chaos and takes

shelter on a American soil. Former U.S. Ambassador Pamela White and pro- democracy advocate Monique Clesca join us.

Then --


DR. CORNELIA GRIGGS, PEDIATRIC SURGEON AND AUTHOR, "THE SKY WAS FALLING": I think of myself as someone who thrives in a crisis, but this is



AMANPOUR: -- when "The Sky Was Falling," a new book from pediatric surgeon Dr. Cornelia Griggs revisits the panic of COVID's first wave and warns

about future pandemics.

Plus --


JOSH TYRANGIEL, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: A.I. is a technical subject. People have natural fear and confusion around

it. We need to set a really, really big goal and see if we can accomplish it.


AMANPOUR: -- Journalist Josh Tyrangiel tells Walter Isaacson how government can harness A.I. to make lives better.

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

In Haiti, a crisis that seemed like it couldn't get any worse is in fact getting worse by the minute. Prime Minister Ariel Henry has announced that

he'll resign once a transitional council is in place to run the country. At the moment, he's stranded outside in Puerto Rico. The United States and

criminal gangs at home had pressured him to step down. And they control about 80 percent of the capital Port-au-Prince, including prisons and the

port, according to the United Nations.

Here's gang leader, the one nicknamed Barbecue, giving Henry an ultimatum earlier this month.


JIMMI "BARBECUE" CHERIZIER, HAITIAN GANG LEADER: If Ariel Henry doesn't step down, if the International Community continues to support Ariel Henry,

they will lead us directly into a civil war that will end in genocide.


AMANPOUR: And today, Barbecue refused to recognize any government not democratically elected by Haitians themselves.

Anarchy in Haiti makes for a special sort of hell for the children there, as correspondent David Culver now reports.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On an abandoned airfield turned makeshift campsite, we step into this cramped space. The Kado (ph)

family's home. Lying on her family's only bed, we meet eight-year-old Wugina Kado (ph) looking at us with eyes that have seen the torment and

suffering that is engulfing Haiti.

CULVER: Do you remember where you were when the bullet hit you? When you got shot?

CULVER (voice-over): With her four-year-old sister keeping close watch, Wugina tells me she was playing with friends when they were caught in the

crossfire of a gang shootout. She and her friends hid, but not quickly enough, a bullet tearing through her back and out her abdomen. Her dad

frustrated by life.

CULVER: And he says they'd been here about a year-and-a-half. Before that, they were in their own home. But they said because of the gang violence, it

was overtaken. Their home was burned down. So here, they are hoping to have found what would have been a safe refuge, but he says, not this is safe.

Feel better, OK?


CULVER (voice-over): Chaos now grips much of Haiti, especially the capital, Port-au-Prince. For the first time, a Haitian security source

tells us rival gangs are now working together launching a wide-scale series of attacks against the government, going after the airport, police

stations, and prisons. The terrible toll of the violence felt nearly everywhere, even here behind the high walls of Kizito Families Home for


Run by Sister Paesie, the rules here posted on the wall.

CULVER: Children must be friends.

SISTER PAESIE PHILIPPE, FAMILIE KIZITO FOUNDER: They must be friends. They must get along with each other.

CULVER (voice-over): Getting along, that's the challenge here. Sister Paesie has lived in Port-au-Prince for 25 years, the last five of which

she's dedicated to creating safe spaces for children, many of those here orphaned because of the deadly gang violence.

SISTER PHILIPPE: I never could have thought that things could become worse, but it did. It did. It did. Year after year, more corruption, more

violence. More weapons.

CULVER (voice-over): This place is now at capacity and then some. The children keep coming, she tells me. Sister says she also gets prayer

requests from those you might not expect.

SISTER PHILIPPE: Sister pray for us. Don't you see we are in danger? Pray for us. I am hearing that every day from the gang members.

CULVER: The gang members are asking you to pray for them.

SISTER PHILIPPE: Yes, yes, yes, yes.

CULVER (voice-over): Some of the gang members themselves just kids. This 14-year-old says he was recruited at 11.

I can't go to school, he tells me, wishing he could escape the gang's control. I watched so many people get killed and then I have to set their

bodies on fire, he says.

Outside of Haiti's capital, it's more often the anti-government protests rather than the gangs paralyzing cities. In Jeremie, we drive with members

of the World Food Programme to a local school.

JEAN-MARTIN BAUER, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME COUNTRY DIRECTOR: Now, these kids have not been in school since early January, they'll tell you why.

CULVER (voice-over): The Catholic priest who runs it shows us around.

CULVER: Just noticing on the chalkboard here, the last date, January 11th is the last time kids are actually inside this classroom, since it's been


CULVER (voice-over): Violent protests erupted in January making it too dangerous for the school's 234 students to travel to. For the staff here,

it is heartbreaking.

CULVER: Do you think about them in what's been now more than a month that they haven't been here? Do you think about their situations?

FATHER LOUIS JEAN ANTOINE, ST. JOHN BOSCO SCHOOL FOUNDER: It's really sad for them, for us also, because I know --

CULVER (voice-over): He knows it's about more than missing out on an education.

FATHER ANTOINE: I know they are hungry. They have nothing. They are children. They have to eat.

CULVER (voice-over): Hunger is what drove this young teen to go out at night alone in gang-controlled territory last year hoping to find food.

Instead, she tells us she was attacked and raped, giving birth in January to a baby boy, the son of a likely gang member she thinks.

I can't abandon him, she tells me. My mother struggled a lot with me so I have to do the same for him. Even if it is a child raising another child,

she says.

Children bearing the brunt of a broken country that is spiraling further into chaos with each passing day.


AMANPOUR: David Culver reporting from Haiti on the viciousness, the poverty and the violence that afflicts all those people there, deeply

dysfunctional even before this current crisis.

So, can a new government somehow get the country back on track? Joining me now is Pamela White, who is America's ambassador to Haiti under President

Barack Obama and Monique Clesca, she is a former U.N. official and a pro- democracy advocate inside Haiti. Welcome both of you to the program.

Monique, you are in Haiti, I want to start with you. I just cannot get out of my head how one of those gang boys, young boys that our correspondent

spoke to, said that he also had to burn people's bodies. And the fact that the U.N. says 80 percent of Port-au-Prince is under the influence of gangs.

Where does that -- where is there even the hope of getting out of that, Monique?

MONIQUE CLESCA, HAITIAN JOURNALIST: Well, there is the hope, you have to have hope. It is a dire situation, but we have to have hope. There are

countries that have gone through worst. For example, Sierra Leone, Liberia, they have gone through worst crises. So, we must have hope. And we are

working tirelessly so that the situation like this cannot be done.


I worked for 15 years for UNICEF and I know this kind of situation in terms of the children, what they are going through, and I think it is the worst

part of all of it, it is what the children are going through. The atrocities that they have to go through, the atrocities they are made to

carry out, and the trauma that they are going through.

There's a lot of them are not going to school, as the report heavily says. And since the last two weeks, a lot of children in Haiti, in general,

whether they are in gang-held areas or not. And when I talk about gang-held areas, practically 80 percent of the Port-au-Prince area.

But be careful about that. The rest of the country is also suffering, because some families have managed to set their children in the rest of the

country. And the rest of the country is not accessible, as it could be, so that we could get some respite, because the gangs cut off parts of the

country to the north and part of the country to the south. And this was done practically even at the time, Jovenel Moise, the former president, was

alive. The southern road was cut off. So, four departments were cut off.

So, when we're talking about control of the country, we are talking about much more than that. The ones outside in the rural areas and in the cities,

in the other areas, are functioning more or less, but the economic and the psychological and the emotional toll is absolutely overbearing, and it is

totally heartbreaking for us who are here, who are wondering when the gangs are going to get to us, because they threaten to come up the mountains,

they threaten to go even to the hotels to pull people out so that they can deal with them.


CLESCA: So, this is catastrophic.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me just read something that, again, is totally shocking to me, and I'll ask you both about it, because you're --

obviously, you Monique and -- are very concerned about if the -- the gangs have stormed prisons, seized control of the port, lit fire to police

stations, stores, attack the airports, et cetera.

Doctors Without Borders says that, you know, it had to close a clinic where you are in Port-au-Prince. It closed months ago because gang members,

listen to this, took patients out of an ambulance and then killed them in front of the staff.

So, I just want to ask first, I'm going to go to Pamela White for a minute, but I'll ask you both. Pamela White, as a former U.S. ambassador, Ariel

Henry is stuck in Puerto Rico right now, the prime minister, which is U.S. territory. He has been pressured by the U.S. and neighboring countries and

these violent gang members to resign. How on earth do this kind of violent, you know, killers get to have that kind of say in the political future of

the country?


AMANPOUR: I am, yes. Because your country has also told him to step down.

WHITE: Yes. I don't know. We've been dealing with the gang takeover now for at least two years. It's gotten worse and worse and worse. Those of us

who love Haiti have seen it to degenerate into total, total chaos. There's no government in Haiti. There's no elected government or legitimate

government in Haiti. There are just people roaming the streets in total chaos.

It is a failed state. It is not going to be a failed state, it is a failed state. And the children are suffering. The women are being raped and

kidnapped. And we keep saying, oh, well, Henry has to step down. Well, I agree. He did not have the confidence of the people. I've read -- I've

talked to people way down and way up and pretty much all up and down the line, he had lost any confidence to get anything done. He's had two and a

half years to do something and it just gotten worse and worse and worse and worse. So, Henry was never the answer.

Now, do I have a silver bullet? God, I wish I did. But I do know that there are certain things that have to be done. And the -- one of the solutions

that is on the table is these thousand numbers of Kenyan soldiers to come in with a multi-nation security force of some sort. And frankly, I don't

see that helping at all.


WHITE: But today, this morning, the Kenyan said they're not going to do it anyway.


AMANPOUR: Well, yes, because the gangs --

WHITE: So, that option --

AMANPOUR: The Barbecue -- the guy nicknamed Barbecue, he has said, forget about it. We don't want these people here. We don't even want a

transitional council, which is what the U.S. and the Caribbean nations just suggested could be a transitional leadership.

So, let me just move back to Monique quickly. So, your gangs have said, the gangs who control the capitol have said no to a -- what might or might not

be a U.N. stabilization force and no to a transitional political council ahead of some kind of, you know, Haitian democratic process. In that case,

Monique, what do you think is going to happen?

CLESCA: OK. I think it's important to know that the gangs did not happen just like that. The gangs were -- a lot of them were constructed or created

by people who were in power. And Ambassador White knows about this because some of it happened while she was ambassador. And the United States knows

this. The other countries knows this.

So, it is not our gangs. No, there are gangs everywhere. But what has happened here is that the gangs were empowered a lot by politicians. That

is one aspect. The second aspect is knowing these foreign countries validated this. They said, OK, you can stay in power. And we stayed in

power for 30 months while we were saying, no, this should not happen.

Now, the Montana Accord that came about in August 2021 proposed then a government that was a transition government. And we tried to push that

before things got to that state, but it did not happen.

Now, what is it that needs to be done? We need to be able to convince the International Community that has held power, and it must be said, they have

held power in Haiti through our Ariel Henry and through the others. They put them there, and they held power.

What we need to do is try to get a transitional government that can send a clear signal that they are not in cahoots with the gangs. They are not

gangs in white ties. It is of the utmost importance that this be done. And once this government is in power, then to discuss with the gangs, because

they must talk to the gangs once they are in power.

It is not the ones who are not in power who must talk to the gangs. It is the transitional council that will come, that will have the responsibility,

whether or not they lay their arms down. Some of them have apologized. Do they -- must they be taken seriously? I do not know. But perhaps at this

stage, we do not have a choice. But it is the new government that will have to do this because the past governments have not done this.


CLESCA: Now, in terms of the Kenyans or not, I never believed that the Kenyans, the thousand Kenyans were going to make a difference in Haiti

because there is a larger problem that we're not talking about. It is the massive inequality that feeds this.

So, you have leaders who go and talk to the gangs and leaders who are creating gangs, arming gangs. And you have the massive inequality, the

poverty that must be attacked. And I think it is important. Let's not only talk about repression by armed people who are coming whether from Kenya or

elsewhere, let us talk about what are we going to do about the social justice agenda that people have been asking about. People have been dying

for in Haiti.


CLESCA: And those are the things that systematically will change in terms of not going to gangs, but going to school, going to jobs and having health

care, having education. I think these are the things that are needed.

AMANPOUR: Of course -- Monique, of course they are. That's what people have a right to a decent living. But again, turning to the United States,

which has had a huge amount of influence in Haiti over the years.

Ambassador, you probably remember the '90s. I covered the last U.S. intervention when they brought back Father Aristide and actual U.S. forces

landed. And they spent millions, maybe billions, I don't know, in trying to stabilize, pouring millions, hundreds of millions into a so-called security

force. And they're proposing to spend another 100, 200, if you believe Tony Blinken, secretary of state, right now. But it did absolutely nothing.


So where do you see? I mean, literally, here we are all these years later. And I mean to me, it's the same as it was in 1994 when we covered it back

then. So, how do see any possibility of working with the Haitians to get this back on track?

WHITE: Yes. Well, number one, you said exactly the right thing, we've got to work with the Haitian. We keep pretending or saying we're working with

the Haitians, but they just had this big CARICOM meeting two days ago, yesterday. And, you know, there wasn't a Haitian in the room.

The Haitans -- they've done the Montana Accord. They came out with a March 9th Accord. They proposed five different groups of people who will be

represented. You have to take a Haitian solution and put them in running what's going to be a response to this horrific humanitarian crisis.

Right now, I don't care about elections. I think elections are something nice that we talk about. We don't have that -- right -- that is not in the

future of Haiti for at least two years. We have to get in there and get the women and the children fed. People are dying. There are 5 million Haitians

that are near starvation.

So, how are we going to do that? I think one we're going have do, we do not like doing this, but I do think too bad we are going do it. We're going to

have to start negotiating or talking to the bad guys. And we in the United States, although we like to say we don't, we have negotiated with bad guys

all over the world for years and years.

And you know, I was in Liberia ahead of USAID right after -- two years after the Civil War. Linda Thomas-Greenfield was the ambassador, I was head

of AID. Sirleaf -- Ellen Sirleaf was president. And somehow, we managed together -- to come together with all kinds of help around the world to

take this disastrous situation and make it better.

So, it can be done. We've seen it be done. But first of all, first and foremost, we've got to get food, medical supplies, they're running out of

water, and the inability to move at all anywhere without being shot in the streets. First and for most, we've got to get them supplies in there. And

if we have to do that by negotiating with the bad guys, with negotiating Guy Philippe with who is back in Haiti and has a very strong voice, whether

you like it or not, he is a player now. Barbecue is player.

We need to figure out how we can work with them to start getting humanitarian supplies in there. I think we should start that today.


WHITE: And by the way, this seven-person council that was dreamt up in a CARICOM meeting, I'm not hearing any support for that either.

AMANPOUR: Yes. And finally, to you, Monique, we only have 30 seconds. Do you agree that actual democracy, i.e., running for elections, should be

postponed until the stability of the country is reached, until people are basically fed and secure?

CLESCA: Christian, I can't even go to the bank because the banks are closed. Children cannot go school because schools are close. We cannot to

go the supermarket because a lot of them are close or open up for a limited amount of time. We cannot go to see people who are sick. We cannot take

medicine to them. So, we cannot be talking about elections right now.

Once elections would be decided, it takes about 18 months to do this. We need now to secure the population so we could go about our business, and we

need to have humanitarian help in terms of people that have been violated and feed people.


CLESCA: These are the two main priorities. Peace and security, and food and so people can go to bed at night thinking that they will wake up



CLESCA: Right now, I do not know if I will be alive tonight. And these are kinds of things that we are dealing with.

AMANPOUR: Wow. Monique Clesca, that is just so dramatic and I really appreciate both of you being here to talk from your very important

perspectives. And you know, Haiti definitely is on life support, as you say right now. We wish you good luck.

Next, a day that actually did change the world. Cast your minds back four years, on March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization declared the

coronavirus a global pandemic. Governments could no longer ignore it and began to impose lockdowns country by country one by one while millions were

getting sick and many were dying. Doctors on the front lines were sounding the alarm as hospitals became overwhelmed and medical supplies ran dry.

One of those doctors is my next guest. She is Cornelia Griggs. Here's what she told me in March 2020.


DR. CORNELIA GRIGGS, PEDIATRIC SURGEON AND AUTHOR, "THE SKY WAS FALLING": I'm not afraid if in a few weeks people call me an alarmist or if they say

we overreacted, because if in a few weeks this turns out to have been an overreaction, it means we all did the right thing. And no one in my life

has ever called me an alarmist before. I am trained to be cool in an emergency. In fact, I think of myself as someone who thrives in a crisis.


But this is different. And I think myself and a lot of doctors across the country are scared to go to work in a way that we've never been scared



AMANPOUR: And COVID was different indeed. It's now killed millions of people around the world. And the United States carries one of the highest

holes. Dr. Griggs has now written a new memoir called "The Sky Was Falling." And she's joining me from Boston. Welcome back to the program.

You look a lot different than you did in that little excerpt that we brought out from four years ago. Can you even believe that it was four

years ago and the stress you and everybody else and the whole world was under?

DR. GRIGGS: It's hard to believe that that was four years ago. And we are fortunately in very different circumstances today. But like me, I think a

lot of people around the world, around the country have some pretty heavy anniversaries and pretty heavy memories from this week, four years ago. And

that is one of the reasons I wrote this book.

AMANPOUR: And of course, we mentioned you had written a piece for "The New York Times" called "The Sky Is Falling." And now your book is called "The

Sky Was Falling." Did you -- is that because you still didn't think that people, you know, actually realized and actually acted, particularly the

U.S. government at the time, to really understand the gravity of what was happening?

DR. GRIGGS: Absolutely. At the time that I wrote that op-ed, which for lack of a better word went viral, I deeply felt that people in the U.S.,

people all around me, even some of my colleagues in the hospital were not taking the pandemic seriously.

And every day, as I showed up to work, I could see the lines outside of our emergency rooms expanding. And I just knew we were going to get demolished,

and we did. And I am glad that I wrote that piece in retrospect. In retrospect, the sky was falling. That is all I could think to myself that

week -- this week, four years ago. And I think I wrote everything down because I knew that I was living through the black swan of my medical


AMANPOUR: And, you know, I'm just -- I'm taking in all your descriptions, the black swan of your medical generation. And the way you actually wrote

almost a goodbye letter to your kids and your family, your husband also is a doctor, but you needed to keep distant in case you got the virus and took

it home. What did you write to your kids?

DR. GRIGGS: I wrote a short message after a really hard day in the hospital and a really hard case taking care of a critically ill child with

COVID, and I wrote that my kids would hardly recognize me in all of my gear and personal protective equipment, but I just want them to know, if they

lose me to COVID, that I tried really hard to do my job.

And I think that was a sentiment shared by many health care workers, especially those of us in New York, in Boston, in cities around the globe

that got hit really hard by the COVID pandemic, that so many health care workers were terrified.

It's hard to remember how little we knew four years ago because we've had to spend so much of our lives in the interim thinking about COVID, how to

keep ourselves safe, how to keep our children safe, how to keep our elderly relatives safe, our immunocompromised friends.

But I really meant every word, and it was the first time in my life that I was showing up to the hospital every day afraid for my own life. And I

really think that is a sentiment that was shared by many health care workers at the time. And I hope those health care workers, those essential

workers of 2020, find a piece of their story in my book.

AMANPOUR: And actually, just to go over what you wrote about your children, my babies are too young to read this now, and they barely

recognize me in my gear. But if they lose me to COVID, I want them to know that mommy tried very -- really hard to do her job.

And of course, at the time, half a million people liked it, 100,000 retweeted it. You know, give us a sense of how desperate it was in the

emergency rooms. I mean, running out of just masks and PPE gear, not to mention ventilators and spaces. And I remember the morgues in New York that

were -- and you obviously remember, that were set up outside and in refrigerated trucks and tents.

DR. GRIGGS: Yes, it was a truly dystopian time. And there were days that I felt that I was living through a real horror movie. And my husband is also

a surgeon. We made the gut-wrenching decision to move our children out of New York City away from us.


We were very lucky to be able to have the flexibility to them go live with my parents, but we were separated from them for just over two months, and

they were just four and two at the time.

And I think like me, so many parents, so many mothers were devastated and frantic about how to keep their children safe in that first wave, the

spring of 2020. We were frantic and parents were just trying to keep some shred of sanity while doing their jobs.

AMANPOUR: I want to ask you to sort of fast forward a little bit, because a year into this, the most incredible technological, scientific, medical

development happened in a record and unprecedented time and that was a vaccine. And it was truly life-saving and game-changing of course to those

who could afford to have it, and we know so many people in the developing world did not get it despite promises, certainly in the -- you know, under

the Trump administration and with the E.U.

What did -- now, when you look back and you see the actual graphs that show blue states there were higher -- you know, there was a higher survival --

sorry, in the Republican leaning states, there were higher deaths because people didn't want to get vaccinated. In the blue, more Democratic leaning

states, there was lesser deaths because people did get vaccinated. When you think about the fear and the politics around even the cure, how do you

reflect on that now?

DR. GRIGGS: It still kind of fills me with rage to think about how many people deny that COVID is serious and that the pandemic took a really

traumatic toll on all of us, and that there's so much denial of science now to this day.

I am so glad that I wrote this book for this reason because it is a living testament to the reality of what we lived through in 2020. I wrote

everything down because I couldn't face the idea that people were denying that what was going down in our hospitals, which looked like a true horror

movie, was actually happening.

I still meet patients to this day, unfortunately, who are COVID deniers who want to believe that it was all a hoax. And that's why I think it's more

important than ever for physicians like me to have their voices in the arena, arguing on behalf of science, arguing for keeping people safe.

I think it's a really hard time. People have a hard time knowing what authorities to believe. But I'm really grateful in the power of science. I

think the arrival of the COVID vaccine was a testament to the fact that there are a lot of parts of the COVID story that are actually a story of

redemption. And my book is ultimately a story of redemption as well.

It's a hard topic to think about. I'm not going to deny that. It was hard for me even to finish writing parts of this book because it was emotional

to go back to those early days when we knew so little. But ultimately, this is a story of redemption, and I hope people find a piece of that in this


AMANPOUR: So, I am going get to, you know, warnings about future pandemics in a minute, but first, we have to go through this, because the most

important doctor, the convener, you know, Dr. Fauci who is a special White House, you know -- he was obviously the former director of the National

Institute, but he was the main face at the White House briefings alongside President Trump. And I spoke to him, you know, a year or so ago about

certain reflections, and this is what he said to me.



learned. What went right, what went wrong, how can we better prepare for and respond to future pandemics. And unfortunately, I think, as everyone

realizes, there's been a lot of politicization that has gone on over these last three years of things that should have been purely public health


There's a been lot misinformation and disinformation and distortion of truth and reality. And my plea to them was that we really needed the

serious academic scholarly approach to an analysis of what went on, rather than giving way to some of the obvious politicization that goes on.


AMANPOUR: So, that must be music to your ears. That was almost exactly a year ago. But I -- you know, I want to ask you a political medical question

because it erupted under President Trump, and it continued under President Biden, coronavirus.

Did you notice as a doctor, as a practicing physician, a difference in direction, in, you know, just dealing with the coronavirus under the two

different administrations?


DR. GRIGGS: Absolutely, I noticed a difference. And it felt like a breath of fresh air when the Biden administration took over and started to take

COVID really seriously. Obviously, there are things that we could have done better. As Dr. Fauci said, there are lessons learned from the past

pandemic. But I think the handling of vaccine dissemination, encouraging Americans to protect themselves and their family members through science,

through evidence-based recommendations, was extremely meaningful to me as a healthcare provider and so many of my colleagues as well. Absolutely, there

was a difference.

And I think it's important to remember that because my friends who are infectious disease specialists and a lot of experts around the country have

warned us, it's not fun to think about and I certainly hope it doesn't happen, but there is absolutely the opportunity for another pandemic in our


AMANPOUR: Well, that's what I was going to ask you, Cornelia.

DR. GRIGGS: This --

AMANPOUR: Particularly -- no, no. Seriously. But we've got 30 seconds left. But health experts met in Davos just this last couple of months and

talked about a future disease X. Are we ready?

DR. GRIGGS: Yes. I find it hard to believe that we are ready. But if anything, I hope that my book can be a roadmap to people who are not just

healthcare workers about how to survive a future pandemic and how to find bravery in those terrifying moments.

I don't know if we're ready, but I think we learned lessons from the COVID pandemic that we can carry forward to face another one in the future,

should we have to. And God, I hope not.

AMANPOUR: Yes. Dr. Cornelia Griggs, thank you very much. Author of "The Sky Was Falling."

Now, the historic rapid response on the vaccine, as we said, was the game changer. Our next guest says that it also shows a perfect example of

governments using artificial intelligence to help their citizens.

Now, Josh Tyrangiel is The Washington Post A.I. columnist, and he explores its untapped potential by government for his latest article. And he's

joining Walter Isaacson now to discuss the benefits.


WALTER ISAACSON, CO-HOST, AMANPOUR AND CO.: Thank you, Christiane. And Josh Tyrangiel, welcome to the show.


ISAACSON: You've been writing these columns on artificial intelligence for "The Washington Post," and your latest talks about the ability of A.I. to

revolutionize the relationship between government and citizens. Give me an example of that.

TYRANGIEL: Sure. I mean, we have this sort of foundational example that was Operation Warp Speed. So, as people may not recall, even though it was

quite recent, the entire reason that we were able to produce and distribute vaccines to all 50 states at the same time was that there was a general

named Gus Perna, who was appointed to oversee Operation Warp Speed. He shows up in Washington with no -- really nothing. No plan, no money, he has

three colonels, and he does these series of conversations to try and figure out how he's going to operationalize it. And it turns out the answer is

A.I.-driven software. OK.

And what A.I.-driven software is able to do at its best is operationalize excellence by creating and ingesting data from lots of different places.

So, the challenge for Warp Speed was not just to be connected to all the pharmaceutical makers, but to the truckers, to all the state level

agencies, all the healthcare providers, all the pharmaceuticals. So, you're talking about thousands of different data inputs.

And so Perna sits down, and ultimately, he needs A.I.-driven software to ingest and integrate all that data in a clean way, and then turn it into an

app, so you can actually make decisions based on information. And now, that is a very complicated thing. I'm going to reduce it just for a second.

Think about plastic, right? So -- and you're trying to get vaccines to everybody. Well, you can make the vaccine, but what is the national state

of the output and production of plastic, right? So, just that alone, to put the vaccine into vials requires a whole vision of a cosmos. And so, we did

it, and it worked. But our politics have kind of buried that effort in the rearview mirror. And what I took away from that is, what if you could

operation Warp Speed entire government functions?

ISAACSON: But since Operation Warp Speed, we've had a major advance in A.I., which is large language models and generative A.I. that can answer

questions, do things. How will that help affect what you're talking about?

TYRANGIEL: I think A.I. has had some of the worst P.R. you could possibly imagine for technology. And there's a reason for that, which is that the

stakes are incredibly high financially for the companies that are driving it. And nobody sort of stopped to explain at its basics.


A.I. is math. It is large amounts of probability driven around language and structured data. And it turns out that while, yes, some large language

models will hallucinate and deliver weird math, if you have structured data, for instance, around the IRS, which is just a series of codes, and

you can talk to the IRS about whether you deserve an exemption for this or that, an LLM is perfect for it.

If you get SNAP benefits and you have questions about their delivery, what to do with them, again, structured data turned into language is perfect.

And so, there's this communications layer that private industry has begun to figure out, which is 24/7, it's never shut down, you can do it in any

language, and it provides a level of service and interaction that is really good.

And we don't really want to talk about that at the government level, and there's a couple reasons. One is, you know, on the Democratic side, it

means there might not be as many people working for the federal government in the future, and that is a sacred cow for Democrats, for obvious

political reasons.

On the Republican side, you know, unfortunately, it seems like a lot of Republicans are invested in proving the illegitimacy of government, and

they don't want to make it stronger and restore it. But yes, this revolution in LLMs is perfect for these kinds of agencies and these kinds

of benefit providers.

ISAACSON: You talk about how sometimes these LLMs, this artificial intelligence, will hallucinate and make mistakes, and you mentioned SNAP

benefits, basically supplemental nutrition benefits, like food stamps.

I was stunned to read in your piece that nowadays, humans get it wrong 44 percent of the time when they're trying to figure out SNAP benefits. Do we

just have to show that A.I. will be much better than humans, rather than showing it'll be perfect?

TYRANGIEL: Yes, I think that there's this sort of fundamental thing that we need to embrace, which is we are defending a status quo that is not

worth defending, right? And so, for all sorts of emotional reasons, we defend the status quo.

It's not great, when 44 percent of human-driven decisions end up in the wrong decision for SNAP eligibility, and that's food, right? There are

people who are going hungry or are getting benefits that don't deserve them.

Do we think an LLM or an A.I.-driven system can do better than that? For sure, and what I'm talking about is not having A.I. make the decisions, but

operationalize the information so that humans can make better decisions.

ISAACSON: I was on the Defense Innovation Board with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Code for America had Jennifer Pahlka, and you're right

about that, which is that it's not just A.I., it's government can't do software. Explain why government has problems procuring software.

TYRANGIEL: The thing about software is that software starts as a sort of abstract idea, which is we're going to create something that will be fluid

and respond to user demand and user services. And in the software industry, there's a saying, software is never done, right?

So, try telling a civil servant who is going to get raked over the coals that, no, no, no, we need you to approve appropriations and procurement for

this product that will never be done, right? And so, it's a real challenge.

And on top of it, of course, you know, look, our system has only gotten more complicated. We have more people, more spending, and we insert rules

and regulations. We never take them out, ever, because that's really dull and unglamorous work. And it's hard to do.

And so, what we end up with -- and Jennifer Pahlka, who's brilliant, sort of taught me through this in her mind, you get this kind of loop of

absurdity and dysfunction. And it starts with procurement rules that are torturous and absurd. Then you hold public servants accountable for their

ability to enforce absurd procurement rules.

So, what ends up happening is you either get absurd and bad software, right, really bad software, or they take a chance, and then they end up in

front of Congress. And each cycle of this drives more good, smart people out of government, and then you rinse and repeat. And so, that's why -- you

know, as Eric Schmidt sort of said to me, he's like, basically, software -- you know, government is the perfect enemy of software.

And so, we have to find a way, given that software is basically the most important noun in the American budget, we have to find a way to get the

government to accept its role in providing software. And it means there's some risk. And as you've seen right now, politics and risk don't go very

well together.

ISAACSON: One of the things that jumped out in your piece for me was the V.A., the Veterans Administration, and its hospitals. And there was a

statistic that made my head snap, which is 18 veterans per day commit suicide. And you were talking about how A.I. could maybe help that process.

But explain to me, isn't something like psychological issues, something we really want humans, the empathy of humans to do, is that something A.I. can

help deal with?


TYRANGIEL: So, 100 percent. We want to free human beings to actually solve human problems. I mean, I think everybody would agree with that, but

there's a corollary to that stat, which, you know, ProPublica did some incredible work looking at the V.A.'s own inspector general reports, and it

turns out that human beings were frequently misdiagnosing or ignoring signs of mental distress in veterans.

I mean, to a really -- if you're an American who has any sort of patriotism, just a gut-wrenching degree. And the reasons, again, are that

the system is incredibly complicated. You're losing track of who has what condition. So much of the work they're doing is still manual, let alone the

stuff that's digital not being functional.

And so, we have to get to a place. If we really value our veterans and their service, you know, they deserve a god view of their own care. They

deserve to be able to log in and look at where they are, and someone on the other end deserves to have that same functionality, so they can see, oh,

this is a person who has severe PTSD. How frequently are we checking in?

And I would say that at the first level, an automated LLM that says, how are you feeling today, is not a bad thing, because any sort of even

parasocial engagement that can ladder up immediately to a human when you detect distress is a positive. I'm not suggesting that that becomes the

counselor by any means, but the system is so broken that just instituting some sort of basic check-in, some sort of order, can get that number down.

And what I ultimately suggest in the piece, you know, steal from software, right? So, as I said, software isn't built all at once. You start with one

small use case, and you learn from it. And we owe veterans the opportunity to learn and work with them first. And so, let's solve that problem.

You know, if Joe Biden was going to give a State of the Union about A.I., and we wanted to sort of take our moonshot, why don't we reduce that number

of suicides by half in one year? Could we do it? I mean, we manufactured and distributed vaccines in six months. So, I think we could.

But we -- you know, Americans respond to big challenges and it's complicated. A.I. is very technical subject. People have natural fear and

confusion around it. We need to set a really, really big goal and see if we can accomplish it. And then I think people will understand the value of

what A.I. can deliver in operational excellence.

ISAACSON: One of the things large language models could do is could answer your questions about taxes, if you called up since you can't get an IRS

person on the phone, it could do food nutrition benefits, it could do Social Security, and it could even make the judgments probably better than

humans could of do you deserve this? What should be the resolution of things?

Do you think people would accept a machine making those decisions rather than having a human talk to them?

TYRANGIEL: I think they will for sure. I think we're a couple of years away from that happening everywhere. And taxes is a really good example

because it's math, right? It's a series of inputs There's a limited amount of data, and you have on the other side of it a corresponding sort of

regime of rules that is incredibly complicated.

I promise you, your taxes in the next three years, if you're using any of the big services, they're going to be done by A.I. They just will be. The

private firms are going to move to it. And so, the idea that the government would take part in it makes no sense.

And so, if you've got all of these individuals using A.I. to file taxes, maybe what we should do is centralize A.I. around that tax regime so that

we don't all have to go with our independent, very expensive A.I.s to figure out what we owe.

ISAACSON: Let me ask you the really big question on A.I. If it's going to increase productivity enormously, does that mean it ends up destroying more

jobs or creating more jobs?

TYRANGIEL: It's a really good question. I think in the short-term, most of the economists I talk to say, we're in a -- in a three-to-five-year period,

there's probably not going to be dramatic change. And so, even the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the jobs you would think would be most affected

immediately, which are things like translators and transcription, they don't show a great reduction in those job categories. But five to 10 years

out, they do show those categories being eroded tremendously.

Now, a lot of the most optimistic economists will tell you, that's great. We have been through this many, many times where a massive new canonical

kind of technology comes along, and it eliminates job categories and new jobs are created, right? And every single time we go through the same

crisis of faith. Well, what if this time is different?

I'm very sensitive to the fact that we don't know the answer. But if we look back at previous changes, industrialization, even things like

tractors, what you'll find is that, yes, we end up leveling out. We create new job categories with each thing. I think a lot of people's confusion and

worry about A.I. is grounded in that, right? And I am very aware.


When you talk about, oh, well, A.I. can eliminate drudgery, you know, that sounds great unless you put food on your table through the act of drudgery.

And so, this is why -- you know, my whole thing is really, we're not having the appropriate conversations around what this technology can do, because

unfortunately, we're not in a place where mature conversation is what our politics provide, but we really need it because this stuff is moving very


And it is going to start impacting people's lives, you know, it already has, but it's going to impact what they bring home in the next six months,

next two years, next five years.

ISAACSON: A lot of people, even in the A.I. industry, and certainly a lot of politicians keep calling for more regulation of A.I. Is that something

that we should be frightened of, government trying to regulate it, or is that something that makes some sense? And if so, what type of regulations

would you suggest?

TYRANGIEL: So, we have no regulation of it to this point. So, I wouldn't be frightened of some regulation. And by the way, this is not strictly

about A.I. You know, we don't have a federal digital privacy. It's state by state. And so, we've been way behind the eight ball on this.

Private industry is obviously -- while some people are outwardly saying, please regulate us, there are a lot of people who behind the scenes will

say, well, for as long as they don't, let's move as fast as we can.

I've heard a couple different ideas about regulation, some of which is about training data and what are people using to train their A.I. and how

can we make sure it's not discriminatory and it's not stolen from creators. So, that's one area. Another area which is super ambitious is that in order

to do large-scale artificial intelligence work, you need very expensive chips.

And so, there's some people who talk about, well, should we have a kind of atomic energy sort of regime that actually knows how many chips each

company has and how many chips each individual has, because if you're going to do something nasty with A.I., you're going to need a massive amount of

computing power, and chips are physical, right? So, in the same way that uranium or plutonium is a physical item, there are people out there

suggesting that we regulate the amount of chips people hold.

As always, the European Union goes first. They are very good at going first, and American companies will tell you they're too draconian. My

question is, what are we waiting for, right? And I don't really know why we haven't seen the first steps on this.

ISAACSON: But wait, you say, what are we waiting for? And you say, we're behind the eight ball on regulation. Maybe that's why we're ahead of every

other country on developing A.I.

TYRANGIEL: It could be, although I'm not sure we are ahead of every other country. You know, we do -- I believe in private enterprise, and I believe

that it does. Competition is great. At the same time, you look at some of the state-run regimes. You know, China is doing very well on A.I. Abu Dhabi

has a state-run LLM. They're also surprisingly competitive.

So, I don't think what we're talking about is putting a handbrake on A.I. development, but there's literally no regulation on it right now. And I

think we do need to at least get something on the board, particularly around privacy. There has to be -- you know, you look at deep fakes, you

look at all of these things that can be corrosive to people's lives and to the trust of the technology, you'd think we could get something basic on

the board before the end of the year.

ISAACSON: What do you think of President Biden's executive order on A.I. and just in general, how the Biden administration is doing?

TYRANGIEL: You know, I think they've done a really good job on the facts that are in front of them. I think that, you know, there's this multi-

hundred-page executive order that they delivered and it's really smart. It's really comprehensive and it's smart about the sort of activating the

federal government to begin to understand how A.I. is going to affect each department.

The other thing that's really smart about it is it doesn't treat all departments and all department heads equally. A lot of the most important

stuff has been delegated to Gina Raimondo, who's the secretary of commerce, who really understands these issues, has a ton of faith and trust from

private industry, but also really, she just understands this stuff.

And so, I do think that they've done well to engage. I think the president himself, you know, has done a nice job of calling out the compromises to

election security and privacy that A.I. is capable of. What they haven't done, and what really nobody in politics has done is sketch out the big

vision of what A.I. is going to mean for society and what it's going to mean for the government itself.

ISAACSON: Josh Tyrangiel, thank you so much for joining us.

TYRANGIEL: My pleasure. Thank you, Walter.


AMANPOUR: And finally, whether in tech or any other sector, if you are a woman in the United States, congratulations. You have finally earned as

much as your male counterpart did in all of 2023. That's right, today, three months into 2024, is Equal Pay Day in the United States. And women

are several months behind men in this measure.


In general, equal pay is a long way from happening because from the humblest of jobs all the way up to the White House, women just earn less.

Right now, woman working full-time earn 84 cents for every dollar a man makes. And impact is very, very drastic for women of color.

It is, of course, a global phenomenon. And when I spoke to Jennifer Siebel Newsom from this year's World Forum in Davos, she told me why she and her

partner, California Governor Gavin Newsom, think equity should and would transform society.


JENNIFER SIEBEL NEWSOM, FIRST PARTNER, CALIFORNIA: If we think about what's happening in our world with geopolitical instability, a political

divides, mental health, climate crisis, extreme wealth inequality, part of that I strongly believe and I have, you know, data to back it up is that we

haven't had diverse enough folks, in particular women, seated at the tables of power, making decisions when it comes to both the private and public


And so, if we can move more women into leadership, more of a care orientation into leadership, we will fix some of these seemingly

insurmountable global problems that we're all confronted with today.


AMANPOUR: And the data shows that gender pay equity would add 20 percent GDP on those countries that have it. So, it's a no-brainer. However,

according to data from the Economic Forum, it'll take another 131 years for the gender-pay gap to fully close.

And on that very upbeat note, that's it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episodes shortly after it airs on our podcast. And

remember, you can always catch us online, on our website and all-across social media.

Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.