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Interview with Northwestern University President Michael Schill; Interview with Committee to Protect Journalist CEO Jodie Ginsberg; Interview with "The Defenders" Author and Photographer Platon; Interview with University of Virginia Professor of Sociology and "Get Married" Author Brad Wilcox. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 03, 2024 - 13:00:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.

As protests ripple through universities across the globe, I asked Northwestern's President Michael Schill about how he engaged with students

and struck a deal.

Then, the rising threat to reporters. We mark World Press Freedom Day with the Committee to Protect Journalists CEO, Jodie Ginsberg.

And --


BRAD WILCOX, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA AND AUTHOR, "GET MARRIED": We're social animals, and our friendships, and especially

our family relationships, especially our marriages, end up being especially important for us.


GOLODRYGA: -- can getting hitched make you happy? Professor Brad Wilcox makes the case for marriage to Michel Martin.

Plus --


PLATON, AUTHOR, "THE DEFENDERS" AND PHOTOGRAPHER: Two story high security walls, snipers everywhere. I'm led into the building at gunpoint.


GOLODRYGA: -- famed photographer, Platon, reveals the stories behind his images of the most influential figures of our era.

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

Well, from Paris to Sydney, students across the world are joining protests over the war in Gaza. The movement, as we know, started at Columbia's

campus here in New York, before spreading to other American universities. Tense scenes as some schools called in the police.

With protesters demanding a ceasefire plus divestment from Israel and Jewish students worried about their safety, it's no doubt a challenging

time to be a university president. Police crackdowns have raised concerns for free speech and the right to protest over the war in Gaza, which has

killed tens of thousands.

At the same time, the U.S. education secretary wrote to college and university presidents condemning abhorrent incidents of antisemitism.

Northwestern's leader, Michael Schill, is one of the few college leaders who engaged with the students and managed to strike a deal. Demonstrators

agree to take down their encampment after the university committed to more transparency about its financial holdings. The agreement is being hailed as

a success by some, but also facing stiff backlash.

Michael Schill, president of Northwestern University, joins us now. Thank you so much for joining us. Before we get to the deal that was ultimately

struck, can you just paint a picture for us of what the scenes were on campus? I believe that the first encampment appeared in late April. Tell us

what you saw, what students experienced, and were they mostly students or were there outsiders participating as well?

MICHAEL SCHILL, PRESIDENT, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY: Well, we had -- it's good to be on. We had several tents on our Deering Meadow, which is our

front porch to the university, and it was a situation that was peaceful, but nonetheless deeply troubling to many of our community, particularly our

Jewish students.

And so, I set out with three principles in mind. The first was whatever I did had to protect the health and the safety of our students, all of our

students, Jewish students, Muslim students, our police, our staff, and our faculty. That was job number one.

The second is I needed to bring that protest into compliance with our policies and have consequences for people that violate it. And I'm

delighted to say, as you said, the tents are down, the students are in compliance.

And the last is I have a fervent belief in the free expression and so does the university, but we have no tolerance, no tolerance at all for

antisemitic behavior or anti-Islamic behavior, right? This is not acceptable and we needed to make that very clear to people.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. And so, where do you draw the line on that front? In terms of a hostile learning environment, from the perspective specifically of

Jewish students who were there to learn, who didn't feel, as many have reported, comfortable walking through this encampment in some of what

they'd experienced, some of what they heard. We heard from President Biden really condemn any form of antisemitism.

And in this latest report now, and the letter from the secretary of education, he stressed that antisemitism is aggressively followed and

closely watched. And it is under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act that the university leaders should be following. Are you confident that you are

indeed implementing that?


SCHILL: Absolutely. We have a disciplinary process. And as we -- if we get a complaint of antisemitism, we will discipline, we will have the

disciplinary process, and then we will accord discipline if that's what it takes.

We have to show people there is no tolerance for antisemitism on this campus. My job is to protect our students. Some things are clearly

antisemitic. During the past week, I've seen a Magen David with an X on it. That's the Jewish star of David. I've seen me on -- in a picture with

devil's horns and a noted antisemitic trope. And I've heard students call each other -- or call other students dirty Jews, which is a horrible thing,

and there's no ambiguity there. We need to make sure that sort of thing doesn't happen, and it's my job to articulate that principle.

GOLODRYGA: Is speaking out against Zionism antisemitic?

SCHILL: Certainly, I believe calling for the destruction of Israel is antisemitic. That's where one half of the world's Jewish population lives.

So, calling for the destruction of Israel. Yes, antisemitic. Criticizing the policies of Israel is not anti -- not necessarily antisemitic.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, fair game. Yes, fair game. So, let's talk about the agreement that you ultimately settled on. You allowed continued peaceful

demonstrations and permit one tent to remain on the Meadow, that's a central gathering place on campus. That's a medical tent. You agree to

reestablish the advisory committee on investment, responsibility to provide transparency and representation on university holdings. I want to get back

to that provision in just a moment.

But you also pledge financial and other support for Arab and Muslim students and faculty while ensuring additional support for Jewish and

Muslim students. To the specific issue on providing transparency and representation on university holdings, can you give us more details as to

what that encompasses, because there had been some confusion about whether that meant divestment or opening conversation, at least with regards to

divesting from Israel. You said that is not the case, but there seems to be some ambiguity about that.

SCHILL: Thank you. Thank you for asking the question because there has been some -- it's not -- there's nothing ambiguous about it. We are not

divesting. That was a nonstarter. The students obviously asked for that. They're asking for that all around the country. We said no. There were

three other asks. We said no. And then we entered into a dialogue with the students to address the real needs in a way that we can make our university


So, we are not divesting. What we are doing is providing more transparency with regard to our investments. In the program with regard to scholarships

is part of an existing program. It's the Scholars at Risk program. A lot of universities do this, which is if an area of the country is devastated,

Ukraine, for example, we will provide scholarships to students in scholars to come here and study, and that's just an existing program.

GOLODRYGA: Right. President Schill, as you know, seven members of the college's Advisory Committee on antisemitism resigned after this deal was

reached. And one of the complaints they had was that they had not been consulted during these negotiations. Were they? And if not, why not?

SCHILL: Not -- certainly not all of the members were consulted on it.

GOLODRYGA: Was anyone?

SCHILL: We have a big committee.

GOLODRYGA: Was anyone consulted?

SCHILL: Pardon me?

GOLODRYGA: Was anyone consulted on it?

SCHILL: There was some consultation on individual pieces of it. But the thing is, this was a negotiation that took place over three or four days

and nights. And one can't work with a committee when you're talking to students and trying to come to a resolution.

This was never part of the committee's agenda and focus. And I really -- I'm disappointed that the committee members resigned, but I'm also grateful

for the great work that they did. And their stepping down is not going to stop my commitment and the school's commitment to fighting discrimination,

fighting antisemitism. And the work will continue. And indeed, I'm already speaking with some of the members informally rather than through a

committee structure.


GOLODRYGA: Yes, because as you know, there have been calls for your resignation from the ADL, as well as other Jewish groups in the country.

And I just want to quote one of the students who had resigned from this Antisemitism Committee, and she said, it appears as though breaking the

rules gets you somewhere, and trying to do things respectively -- respectfully, and by the books, does not.

How do you address that point in the sense that it appears, at least, to some optically that you gave into demands from students who were not

abiding by campus policy?

SCHILL: So, two things. One is, as you said, the ADL has asked for my resignation. I'm Jewish. I actually -- I practice. I grew up and still do,

hold the place in my heart for Israel. So, obviously, it hurts. But I'm also the president of the university, and I'm not going to let my personal

feelings affect how I handle this. My job is to take care of the health, safety, and great educational mission of Northwestern.

And in terms of meeting the students, we tell our students, we teach our students that dialogue is important. That we should try to bridge the

differences in our community. And I am going to do that. I am going to engage with our students. This is both a learning process for them as well

as an important part of process in the university's values. So, I don't view it as capitulation.

The things that we agreed to were a process of dialogue. And then, all the things that we agreed to make this university stronger.

GOLODRYGA: In terms of going forward, I mean, it's -- we're approaching the summer months. It was interesting to see that while other university

campus newspapers are covering these protests on their own campus yours was talking about, on the front page, the headline is Lacrosse, number one,

Northwestern grinds semifinal victory. So, the conversation has shifted.

SCHILL: We have an amazing Lacrosse team.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. Congratulations. But my question is, going forward, is your decision that you made, this agreement, is that a stopgap or is that

something that you see that permanently puts an end to this issue? Because I do have to say there had been some accounts, an Instagram account that

read from someone who was on this divestment coalition that said, this is just the beginning. We consider this to be a prime moment to take stock,

recharge, plan, and build power, but we have much more work ahead of us and we will not stop now.

SCHILL: So, we believe that we have a sustainable de-escalation that we are working with the students. We are meeting the students' needs. And I am

hoping that this will be something that will continue through the summer, but we should also recognize that we're not -- we're on a quarter system

here. So, we're going to be in classes for at least another month and then exams. So, we'll be around.

GOLODRYGA: Quickly. The door to divestment is shut though, under your leadership?

SCHILL: I would never recommend divestment, period. But I also don't control divestment. It's a decision of the board.

GOLODRYGA: Michael Schill, thank you so much for the time. We appreciate you joining us today.

SCHILL: Thank you. Appreciate it.

GOLODRYGA: Well, we want to remind our viewers that today is World Press Freedom Day. Across the globe, journalists are facing growing attacks for

doing their jobs. That's it. Just doing their jobs. Some are put behind bars, like Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter detained in

Russia, and others have died while reporting.

At least 97 journalists and media workers killed since October 7th. That is according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. CEO of the CPJ Jodie

Ginsberg knows all about this worrying reality and she joins me live from Washington, D.C.

Jodie, you know, we throw around a lot of statistics, numbers here. And at some point, sadly, we grow numb to them or you can grow numb to them. And

it's so important to put names to these numbers and faces and the important work that these journalists are doing and have been doing. At least 97

journalists have been killed since October. 92 of them were Palestinian, according to your organization.

Talk to us and tell our viewers about what life is like for journalists trying to work in Gaza and give viewers around the world a sense of the

reality there.

JODIE GINSBERG, CEO, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: Thank you for having me on this really important day. And thank you also for pointing out

that these aren't numbers, these are individuals, these are people with families, with friends, with colleagues, and we mourn the loss of every

single one of them. And with them, we lose not just an individual, but the stories that they are trying to tell.


The conflict -- the war in Gaza is the deadliest conflict for journalists that the Committee to Protect Journalists has ever documented, and we've

been doing this work for more than 30 years. Journalists are living the war and trying to report on the war. They are themselves being subject to

bombardments. They're working without shelter, often without food, without fuel. It's now been, obviously, seven months. Equipment is degrading, and

people are often having to report on the loss of their own friends and family going to cover, incredibly challenging events, themselves at

hospitals at refugee camps.

So, it is unimaginably difficult, and they're doing it by themselves. No international journalists have been allowed in, except on very tightly

controlled press tours by Israel. And so, these really are the ears and eyes for us of the war and its effect in Gaza.

GOLODRYGA: Can you tell us just some examples of some of these brave journalists?

GINSBERG: Of course. Well, there's the example of Issam Abdallah, the Reuters journalist who was killed on the Lebanese border by Israeli fire

very early on in the conflict in the October. He was in a group that was clearly wearing press insignia, working from an area that was -- an area

known to be somewhere where press operated.

We think also of Mustafa Thraya and Hamza Dahdouh, whose vehicle was targeted with them. In it, Hamza, also the son of Wael Dahdouh, the Gaza

City bureau chief for Al Jazeera, who also lost many of his own family in this war. Those are the kinds of individuals who have been trying to bring

us information about the war and help us see the reality of it. The human cost of this war day in day out.

GOLODRYGA: You wrote a piece on this point for "The New York Times" earlier last month, and I want to quote from it. You said, "Without

independent witnesses to war, atrocities can be enacted with impunity on all sides. Israel must open Gaza to journalists and Israel's allies must

insist on it. Justice and democracy depend on it."

There have been calls now for months for Israel to allow access, and we should note Egypt as well to allow access for journalists to enter Gaza.

I'm just curious, what is the reaction, the response from, as you note, Israel's allies, who you were also reaching out and pleading to

specifically the United States?

GINSBERG: Well, Israel's allies, like the United States, continue to insist that they hold press freedom in the highest regard and yet, we have

seen no movement. We have seen no foreign access. No independent foreign access being allowed in Gaza since the start of the war.

And it's absolutely crucial that we are able to bring relief to those journalists who are there, but also that we have other individuals who are

able also to corroborate what's been happening there and provide other images, other witnesses who can help support the work of the journalists

who have courageously been documenting this war for such a long period of time.

GOLODRYGA: And sadly, you know, we've spent this time, thus far, just talking about one horrific part of the world now in war. We've been

covering the war in Ukraine as well, and other instances around the world. CPJ documented 320 journalists that have been behind bars as of December

1st of last year. That's the second highest on record for the organization, by the way.

And we noted in the introduction, Evan Gershkovich still remains behind bars over a year now in Russia. And no -- this is pretrial detention, and

that keeps getting postponed. Obviously, this is Russia. We know how they view rule of law.

But in terms of where he stands, in terms of any sort of prospect of a prisoner swap, where are things right now? Because Russia has yet to prove

one shred of evidence of what he's being accused of.

GINSBERG: There's no evidence he's being held hostage for his work as a journalist and to send a clear message to other journalists that their work

is not welcome in Russia. Independent domestic journalists have been struggling for years to report freely, foreign correspondents had been able

to report freely, and Evan's arrest sent a clear message to foreign journalists and foreign media operations that they should operate very

carefully and cautiously.

It seems somewhat stuck at the moment, Evan's situation. I was just at an event with his sister, Danielle here. She continues and his family

continues and we continue to advocate very strongly for him. But of course, this does result -- reside ultimately with the governments, and we're

seeing no -- very little movement from Russia on this.


And what I would stress, and you made this point just now, is globally we are seeing a decline in press freedom, and not just in the war zones that

you mentioned or the countries that you might expect journalists to be unwelcome, the kinds of authoritarian regimes like Russia, like China.

Democracy is declining globally, and the first indicators of that decline, the canaries in the coal mine, if you like, are often journalists, the

first to be targeted when democracies decline. And that's something that's happening, not just in Russia, not just in China, but here in the United

States and elsewhere. And something that we really want to stress as we celebrate the importance of a free press today.

GOLODRYGA: And highlight the importance of a free press, because it's not a guarantee around the world, as you note, and it's a somber note to end

on. But we should say, for the first time in two decades, there are more closed autocracies than liberal democracies in the world, that is according

to V-Dem Institute, and once again highlights the importance of a free and safe press.

Jodie Ginzburg, thank you so much for the work that you're doing. We really appreciate it.

GINSBERG: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, we turn now to one of the world's best-known photographers, whose portraits have defined the pages of time in "The

Rolling Stone" and "The New Yorker." He goes by one name, and that is Platon. And for more than two decades, he's been up close and personal with

the most influential figures of our era, from Muhammad Ali to Vladimir Putin.

Well, now his new book, "The Defenders," highlights the ordinary people standing up for human rights. And he joined Christiane on the London set to





AMANPOUR: Your latest book is called "Defenders." What do you mean by that title?

PLATON: Well, it's a superhero title, but the people who are defenders of human rights do -- they're ordinary people but they do extraordinary

things. And we often think of human rights defenders and activists, we always talk about them in a certain way.

Many of them have been victimized by history and by society and faced horrendous hardships but they've -- with all those challenges they do

extraordinary things. So, I thought we should change -- start to change the narrative and see them as a new set of cultural heroes.

AMANPOUR: You like very much your image of Muhammad Ali who's by no means an ordinary person but he captured the imagination of ordinary people all

over the world. So, explain to me this picture, how did this come about?

PLATON: He was very frail when I took this. I believe it's one of his last -- maybe even the last big photo shoot he did. And he'd lost control of his

once most powerful arms and fists.

AMANPOUR: Because of the Parkinson's.

PLATON: Yes. But when he felt me drape the American flag over his shoulders, you can just see a bit of it here, he was compelled to hold up

his hands in that defiant pose. And it was really moving. His wife actually started to cry a little bit. And he was trembling, trying to keep his hands

in that position.

So, I said to him, Muhammad, you are the greatest. Please teach me to be great. How can my generation be as great as your generation had to be

during the civil rights era in America?

Well, I had to get close to him and he whispered in my ear and he said, I have a confession to make. I said, what is it? And he said, I wasn't as

great as I said I was. I'll tell you what was great, and it wasn't me. It was that people saw themselves in my struggle and my story.

AMANPOUR: Let's go now to the pictures of world leaders. I mean, he's obviously a leader, Muhammad Ali. But in terms of this kind of leader. So,

this was for the "Time Magazine" cover "Person of the Year" of 2008. You know, it is an extraordinary picture of him. You have two pictures. One is

just a face on. I chose this one. Everything you want to know about Putin is summed up in that picture as far as I'm concerned.

PLATON: I mean, he's performing power.

AMANPOUR: Exactly.

PLATON: It's a whole process of intimidation when you come into contact with power. You know, I was told that it should be in the halls of the

Kremlin and I was picked up, driven to the gates by a former KGB BMW. And then you get to the gates and the cars turns, goes out of Moscow into a

dark, bleak, gothic forest. It's really intimidating.

You have no idea what's going on. I'm led into a building at gunpoint and - -

AMANPOUR: Literally?

PLATON: Yes. And then the entourage comes in and he has two translators who whisper into his ear, a whole team of advisers and a gang of body

guards. And I nervously said, Mr. President, before we capture a moment of history, I have a question to ask you. I said, I was brought up by my mom

and dad listening to the Beatles. And I'd like to know if you ever listened to the Beatles. And then Putin turns to me and in perfect English he says,

I love the Beatles.


So, I said, I didn't know you spoke English. He said, I speak perfect English. So, I said, Who is your favorite Beatle? He said, Paul. I said,

Interesting. What's your favorite song? And I said, is it "Back in the USSR"? I don't know what made me do that, but --


PLATON: Very cheeky. He gave me a very stern look.

AMANPOUR: And was it?

PLATON: This was done a few seconds after. So, the mood is there. And then he said, no, my favorite song is "Yesterday." Think about it.

AMANPOUR: Yes, I'm thinking about it.

PLATON: And I thought about it and I thought, I'm being sent a subliminal message about the old days of power and authority of the Soviet Union

through a Paul McCartney song.

And here's the thing, that human connection allowed me in. I think after that, he realized that I'd tuned into his frequency or something. So, I

ended up an inch and a half away from his nose from the closeup picture I took.

AMANPOUR: Literally, literally --

PLATON: I could feel his breath on my hand. It's in intimate. And in this picture, he's performing power, but this is how I got what I believe is a

true moment. This is the face of power in Russia.

AMANPOUR: So, this was taken in 2007. That is before I think he made his big speech, you know, warning the West that he wouldn't tolerate any

expansion before he invaded and annexed Crimea, before obviously the second full-scale invasion, and before he became a pariah.

And in those intervening years, you also took pictures of the opposition notably Pussy Riot. And this these were taken at the same time?

PLATON: Yes, this is the same session. You -- everyone probably knows them like this, you know, hardcore feminist punk rock group who speak truth to

power against Putin's excessive nationalism. But what happens if you remove those aggressive masks? You see something different. And this is Nadya and

Marsha after they were released from prison. They paid a heavy price for their support of women's rights and LGBTQ rights in their country.

And if you look at their faces here, you see something different. You see vulnerability. You see humanity, they have compassion for each other as

fellow activists. Now --

AMANPOUR: They're defenders?

PLATON: They're defenders.

AMANPOUR: And how did you think about that when you were talking about the compassion, the activism, in light of the boss man, Putin, and the power

and the intimidation, who you had photographed years before?

PLATON: They came to my studio to do this. So, I had a picture of Putin on the wall. Over the --

AMANPOUR: What was their reaction when they walked in, fresh out of jail, that Putin had put them in and was greeted, you know, by a great big

portrait of Putin?

PLATON: Empowerment. Because they sit on the same apple box that he sat on.

AMANPOUR: So, another current wartime leader is Benjamin Netanyahu. And you photographed him twice, a few years between these two. I believe that

was first and that was second.


AMANPOUR: He looks a little older and grimmer there. What about power did you sense from him? And what kind of human connection did you make?

PLATON: This is really interesting for me as a process of connecting with people. This picture was done at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. And

he is here in full politician mode. He's an extraordinary storyteller. He's great with communication with media, you know this.

He kept whispering to me as I took this picture, Platon, make me look good. And you can see it in his face. He's connecting with the camera. He wants

to reach out to the audience and say what he wants to say. But his father had just died when I did this.

So, he invited me to his home. It's no longer at the General Assembly. It's no longer a performance. Now, I'm seeing raw emotion. He's devastated. He's

even volatile emotionally. One minute he was charming, vulnerable, the next minute he was aggressive, difficult. And I saw the other side of him. The

side that's built on rage, volatility. And it's --

AMANPOUR: What made him volatile and rageful?


PLATON: Emotion. This is emotionally charged. This is professionally charged.

AMANPOUR: We were talking about the American flag with Muhammad Ali. This is a man who's been president, who wants to be president again, Donald

Trump, who's under criminal trial as we speak. What was that set up?

PLATON: This is, I've been told, one of his favorite rooms. It's the boardroom in Trump Tower, where everyone would get fired in his TV show.

This is where he exercised power, as a rehearsal, I think, for the presidency. I remember saying to him, Donald, let's just be human.

AMANPOUR: When was this?

PLATON: This is before he was president, before even the election campaign started properly. And I said, let's be human together. I said, we've all

followed your career. No one can doubt it's an extraordinary career path you've had. But there's always something about you. There's always an air

of tension and controversy about things you say and do in public, and I'm sure it's intentional on your part, but it feels to me as if you're in the

middle of an emotional storm.

And I said, I can't live with that anxiety all the time. As a fellow human being, I'd like to know how you weather the storm. He calmly looked at me

and he said, I am the storm.

AMANPOUR: Even then.

PLATON: I had those words ringing out in my brain, through the election campaign, through his presidency, through his post presidency, and now

we're in another cycle again. And I keep thinking to myself, there's only one person who can navigate perfectly through the storm, and that's the

creator of the storm.

So, these people are very powerful, formidable, and they're much smarter than we make them out to be. And they are not to be underestimated. And I

think we always seem to do that.

AMANPOUR: One of the big issues that he brought to the fore, others have, but he really made it a campaign issue, is immigration. Here's a picture of

a mother with a picture of her boy.

PLATON: This is a difficult story. Her name is Femina (ph). She's from Guatemala, a country ravaged by conflict. abject poverty, corruption, gang

violence. Her parents were killed, grandparents were killed. She had trouble feeding her son, even, who was, I think, eight years old at the

time. His name was Omar.

So, she made the most difficult decision a mother could make, which is to leave your son behind with family members, cross over borders, into the

dangerous, deadly Sonoran Desert. But she underestimated that her boy would miss her that much. And every day, he would call her crying.

After about a year, she couldn't take it anymore. A local neighbor called Donna Therese (ph), a woman in her 50s, agreed to escort the boy. But what

people don't under understand is that the Sonoran Desert is so deadly it reaches well over 100 degrees some days and people are ill prepared.

So, the lady, the neighbor who was looking after the boy started to feel heat exhaustion and she couldn't keep up. The boy didn't want to leave his

friend, so he stayed to keep her company. A day went by, a year went by, two years went by, no news, and Femina (ph) is devastated. So, after all

that time, one day she received news from a local medical examiner in a morgue in Arizona.

AMANPOUR: Because we also have a big picture of the morgue you took in Tucson.

PLATON: Yes, and they found out -- they informed her that two skeletal remains had been found commingled against a rock. It was actually her son.

She found this out the day I was to photograph her. Now, no one should sit for a story, for a photograph under these traumatic circumstances. So, I

did what my heart told me to do. I put down my camera and I gave her a hug.

Christiane, I still remember the feeling of her pain going through my body like vibrations. And eventually, after a few seconds, she pushes me away.

She was making the sound of a wounded animal and she grabs the picture of her son that's framed and she says, take my picture now. I want the world

to see my pain. So I took this picture.


AMANPOUR: Such a great example of defenders and your work on human rights. I wonder whether you have a thought, just to finish up, on, do you feel a

threat to what you do and to the integrity of photography from A.I.? You remember Sony Award, this photograph won, and then the winner admitted that

it was, you know, a fake. It was A.I. and obviously refused the award. But it was a big lesson.

Have you had time to think and process and figure out how to defend against that?

PLATON: Well, there's always been advances in technology. And storytellers have always had to adapt. And I'm an optimist. I'm not naive after the

things I've experienced, but I believe in the human condition. I've seen it survive under the worst circumstances as you have. That means there is hope

here. And that means we will do terrible things in history, and we will get things wrong, but it's in our nature also to swing to the positive side of

history and the human condition, and try and come together and build bridges, not walls.

AMANPOUR: Platon, "The Defenders," thank you so much indeed.

PLATON: Thank you.


GOLODRYGA: And an important message of hope there in these fractured times and a reminder of the resilience of the human condition as we continue to

cover war and division across the globe. And "The Defenders" by Platon is on sale now.

Well, we turn to what role does marriage play in an American society? Well, our next guest says it is essential in maintaining happiness and

prosperity. "Get Married," That is the advice of sociology professor and director of the National Marriage Project Brad Wilcox. And he joins Michel

Martin to discuss why he thinks it's so important for policymakers to continue backing this 4,000-year-old institution as it becomes less common

in our modern world.


MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Professor Brad Wilcox, thank you so much for joining us.


MARTIN: Your new book is called "Get Married: Why Americans Must Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families, and Save Civilization." No big thing right

there. So, why should people get married? Well, really the question is, like, why you're very clear about your prescription here? Why?

WILCOX: Well, you know, we've been hearing a lot of voices lately, Michel, both kind of from the mainstream left and now from the online right, kind

of encouraging young adults to steer clear of marriage, even steer clear of family life, you know, all the sacrifices, stresses, you know, difficulties

that follow from marriage and family are kind of being, you know, put into the foreground of our conversation, but the data tell a very different


And so, the book is about in part kind of educating adults today and adults more generally about kind of all the benefits that flow from marriage,

including, generally speaking, more prosperity and also, generally speaking, you know, more happiness. That's a big part of the story that's

coming in the book.

MARTIN: What made you think about marriage as not just a sort of a thing that has always existed but as something that we need to really think

about, not just from a personal standpoint, from a policy standpoint? How'd you get started with that?

WILCOX: Yes, I was raised by a single mom in Connecticut, you know, back in the '70s and '80s and was surrounded by a lot of other kids, you know,

who were raised by single parents or his parents got divorced. And so, that's kind of part of my -- you know, my life. And then, when I went to

college, just had kind of this insight that -- you know, that dads were important and that, you know, in general, the way that societies tend to

connect dads to their kids was through marriage.

So, my kind of interest in this topic was, in part, given my own personal experience as a child growing up without a father, you know, in my own

life. And as I've been kind of doing this work, though, more recent, I begun to sort of focus more on adults and less on kids, because as I talked

to students at the University of Virginia, just getting a lot of sorts of expressions of concern, particularly from younger women about their

prospects for dating, finding guys who are, you know, worthy of commitment, interested in commitment, and they're also kind of beginning to worry about

their prospects for marriage.

So, this book focuses much more on kind of the benefits of marriage for adults, where my previous work focused more on sort of marriage and the

kids' story.

MARTIN: One of the points that you make in the book is that for the first time in this country's history, less than half of American adults are

married. So, let's talk about that. You know, why do you think that is?

WILCOX: Well, I think there are a couple of big factors that are kind of influencing that this retreat from marriage and American life. So, one of

them is that we are actually a much more affluent society than we were in, you know, previous generations. And so, people depend less practically,

economically on marriage.

And then when they once did, we are a more secular society too. And because religion tends to invest marriage with a lot more meaning and purpose than

other more secular institutions, that's part of the story. We're more individualistic. We tend to prioritize our freedom and our choices, and

that's part of the story,


But I would also kind of point the finger to it shifts in the economy. We've seen kind of our economy shift in ways that have disadvantaged men

who don't have college degrees. They're much less likely to be working on a full-time basis today than say 40 years ago. And because it's still the

case that women like to marry guys who have a decent job, the fact that a lot of men are seeing their economic fortunes kind of decline in this era

is one factor that also explains, you know, why I think marriage is in retreat.

And then, finally, I would say, in terms of public policies, a lot of our policies aren't particularly helpful. We have marriage penalties, for

instance, in programs like Medicaid that are also part and parcel of, you know, why we're seeing marriage, particularly in working-class communities

now, I think, is also retreating as well.

So, there are a lot of cultural and economic factors that are kind of acting in concert, albeit unintentionally to make marriage less central to

our society.

MARTIN: So, give it to us straight here. Why should people get married?

WILCOX: The big picture here, right, is Aristotle said, we're social animals, you know, that was his term. And I think he was right. So, I mean,

a lot of people think what matters is money or your work or your -- you know, your status or something like that. And what I would say, no, we're

social animals and our friendships and especially our family relations, especially our marriages end up being especially important for us and kind

of giving our lives direction, meaning, purpose, and even more kind of concrete. The opportunities both to receive care.

But even more important, is true also for men, I would say, opportunities to care for others, you know, to care for your spouse and often to care for

kids. And when we have these, you know, relationships of care and concern that are kind of driving and animating our lives, we're just -- we're

better off. We're -- again, we're less lonely. We report their lives are more meaningful. We're generally happier.

And then, also on the economic side, there's just no question that both men and women are financially better off. And again, this goes against,

unfortunately, you know, a lot of contemporary media commentary. There was a piece in "Bloomberg" that said that, "Women who stay single are getting

richer." And they're relying upon a study of just single adults. So, I don't know what was happening there. But there's a lot of misinformation

out there.

Unfortunately, today, when it comes to marriage, a lot of young adults, particularly younger women today, think that marriage and motherhood are

going to make them less happy. But the data point, Michel, in a very different direction that is that for most women and most men, both marriage

and parenthood are linked to better outcomes emotionally. And then financially, there's just no question that stably married women and men are

in a much better place, even controlling for their background, you know, characteristics, than their peers who are never married or who are divorced

and not remarried.

MARTIN: One of the points that you make in the book is that a lot of American elites, like well-educated people, people with advanced degrees

and a lot of money, or people with college degrees or more -- and money tend to, what you say, they talk left and live right and -- or walk right,

which is to say that people who are in this sort of positions of authority live these traditionalist values, but they don't stand up for them.

WILCOX: Right.

MARTIN: And you see quite annoyed about that. And why is that?

WILCOX: Yes. I'm kind of a passionate about this because I think that they are not using their authority to influence their power to kind of advance

the common good. And we can obviously talk about that in terms of a variety of topics, like you mentioned the environment, but when it comes to

marriage and family, I think it's clearly the case that our kids, our adults, and our communities are more likely to be flourishing when they are

anchored in strong and stable marriages.

And so, our elites are generally benefiting themselves personally, they, their spouse, their kids, and their neighborhoods, even from stable

marriages. I mean, my neighborhood is a neighborhood that's dominated by stably married folks, you know, who are doing well professionally in


And yet, the kinds of people who are in my neighborhood, you know, are not likely in public to advocate for marriage or advocate for the importance of

stable families as -- you know, as professors or as school superintendents or as executives or as journalists.

MARTIN: Well, why should they? Why should -- what should they be doing that they're not doing? In your view.

WILCOX: Yes. So, I think, for instance, you know, when it comes to journalism, we've talked briefly about this fact. But, you know, there was

this, you know, an article in "The New York Times," you know, not too long ago, it said, married motherhood in America is a game no one wins. OK. And

this was an article that was frankly, you know, not really based any strong kind of empirical research and yet, you know, prominent placement in "The

New York Times." I mentioned the "Bloomberg" piece that was wrong.


So, people are getting these messages, for instance, from, you know, some journalistic outlets that are -- you know, that are not telling them the

truth and I think can kind of lead them down, you know, the wrong path, so to speak.

MARTIN: One of the arguments that you make in the book is that people have it backwards. They think that people who are more socially adept and who

are happier to begin with are more likely to be married. And -- or who have more money, frankly.

WILCOX: Right.

MARTIN: And you say it's actually the other way, that being married means you're more likely to be socially adept and happier and to get -- have more

money. So, talk about it. I mean, it's not as simple as I'm making it, but what is that relationship?

Because you can see where a lot of people would say, listen, certain groups in this society have been historically disadvantaged for centuries. Like

African-Americans as a group have a low marriage rate relative to other groups. So, why isn't it the economics?

WILCOX: Well, I do think that the economy is part and parcel of the story playing out. And I do -- you know, I mentioned obviously earlier that we're

seeing particularly working-class and poor men who are struggling more when it comes to getting married and also staying married as well. So, there's

certainly an economic dimension to what's happened to marriage in America.

So, it is the case that working-class and poor Americans have been especially hit hard by both the economic shifts we've been touching on a

little bit and the broader cultural shifts. But I think it's also the case too, that there are, you know, a lot of cultural factors that have made

marriage less important and less attainable too for folks.

But your question was really about this issue of kind of, is it marriage that sort of makes the man and the woman, or is it certain kinds of men and

women who are more likely to select into marriage?


WILCOX: And I think it's both, you know. It's certainly a case, and I talk about in the book, the sort of the masters of marriage are Asian-Americans,

religious Americans, conservative Americans, and college educated Americans. They're the ones who today are more likely to get married in the

first place and to be either happily or stably married in the second place.

There is an economic piece, it's also kind of just an endowment story where certain kinds of people have endowments that make them more likely to

flourish in relationships and in life more generally. But even when you kind of control for those factors, you still see that there is a way in

which people who are married are more likely to be flourishing net of their background characteristics.

So, I can -- you know, I can basically point out that African-Americans, for instance, who are married are markedly happier and better off, you

know, than their African-American peers who are not married. So, I would say it's both a selection story to some extent, but also in which marriage

itself changes people on average for the better.

MARTIN: You seem so irritated with people that you call elites for not espousing the values of marriage. It's almost like you see it as like a

failing of leadership on their part. But I wonder, is it more a matter of courtesy that they don't want other people who have not experienced this to

feel bad?

WILCOX: That's a fair point, Michel. But what I want to suggest to you is that we're now in a culture where it's extremely hard for our young adults

to navigate relationships successfully and to find a spouse successfully, and by kind of, you know, not prioritizing in some greater way than we are

currently the value of marriage and also the kinds of virtues that would help people become better boyfriends and girlfriends and then spouses down

the road, you know, it's -- we're making it harder for them to kind of realize this, from my perspective, fundamental good.

So, you know, we have new work from Jonathan Rothwell at Brookings, and he's looking at deaths of despair across America and finds that from a

regional perspective, you know, one of the top factors explains why some people are likely to end up, you know, dying in these regions across

America is they're not married.

We see another study from Chicago that tells us that the number one factor that explains why happiness in America is down is because fewer Americans

are married. We know from Mike Chey's (ph) work that the top factor predicting mobility for poor kids is the share of kids being raised in a

community in two-parent families.

So, I'm just saying like this is kind of a -- you know, a fundamental value and we don't have to be kind of approaching marriage and family in a kind

of scolding way. But I think we can and should kind of paint a -- not just a rosy picture, so much as, I think, a true picture of the value of

marriage for most people and to help people kind of realize, you know, their dreams of having a good marriage.

MARTIN: I do want to say something about same sex relationships, because you do speak about this in the book. You say that the reason you don't talk

more about same sex marriage per se is that you don't think the sample size is large enough to draw conclusions.

WILCOX: We're looking at kind of -- you know, in my sample at about 2,000 couples. And, you know, when you kind of -- they're less than 1 percent or

1 percent depending upon the survey of married couples who are same sex. And so, I didn't have enough couples to look at to sort of draw conclusions

about in the book.

MARTIN: One of the other points you make in the book is that the marriage rate has fallen, yes. But you also say that there has been a 40 percent

decline in the divorce rate since 1980. How do you understand that?


WILCOX: So, there's sort of good news and bad news in the book. And so, the bad news is I'm saying is a kind of closing of the American heart

unfolding where fewer adults are dating, you know, marrying and having children. So, fewer adults are kind of getting in the family way, so to

speak. But that also means that the folks who are getting married, having kids are more selective, like we've talked about before. They're more

educated, relatively. They're more affluent, relatively. They're more religious as well, typically. And so, that's, I think, translating in part

to less divorce and more stable families for kids.

MARTIN: You know, for centuries, the onus of keeping marriages together has been on women, partly because women didn't have independent sources of

income. And there was a powerful incentive for women to stay in relationships that were unhealthy, emotionally unhealthy, or physically

abusive, if they were.

WILCOX: Right.

MARTIN: What do we do differently so that that isn't the case?

WILCOX: Yes. And so, I think that the sort of response there basically is to sort of acknowledge that there have been big mistakes made in the past,

but we're kind of in a new moment today where a lot of young men and young women as well are expressing real concerns about their inability to enter

into relationships and to sort of see marriage as, you know, a real option for them.

And I talked about some of these women in my book. You know, women who are in their 30s and they're talking about how hard it is to find a guy who is

seems like he's interested in a long-term commitment. And they're worried about their prospects, not just for marriage, but for motherhood as well.

And so, yes, we've made mistakes in the past, but I think the new challenges facing us are more about not giving enough access to marriage

for not just men, but also for women. And that's why I think talking more about marriage and being more honest about its value in high school, in

college and in the pop culture, social media would be helpful.

And one thing that I talk about with one of the respondents in my book is she kind of talks about how in her 20s, she was sort of encouraged to sort

of sideline love and marriage and focus just on her career. Now, that she's 34, has no prospects for a husband and kids, she's like, I wish someone had

told me basically differently, had encouraged me a decade ago to be a lot more intentional about finding a spouse. And so, that's kind of message

that I want to offer to the to the broader population, you know.

MARTIN: Let's talk about policy as we sort of -- what would policy -- a pro-marriage policies look like?

WILCOX: So, in my book, I talk about a couple of things. One is in kind of getting rid of the marriage penalty that affects a lot of working-class

couples now, especially in things like Medicaid, for instance.

So, what a lot of couples that I spoke to reported is that they had make a choice between kind of getting married and keeping the mom and the kids on

Medicaid, to kind of just keep their finances in good order. So, that's an example that we could address in public policy.

I think talking about what's called the success sequence in public schools, this is this idea that if you get at least a high school degree, you work

full-time and get married before having kids, you're more likely to be flourishing financially. I think also trying to address the fact that a lot

of guys who are not on that more college track are floundering today in our high schools and doing more to kind of beef up, you know, vocational

education high school, so they have a better shot at good jobs that are more likely to endow them with a sense of confidence, but also going to

make them more marriageable.

MARTIN: What response are you getting to the book? It's been out for a little bit now.

WILCOX: I'm struck by how generally positive the media coverage has been. I think there's an openness. There's a recognition too that marriage is in

trouble in terms of just kind of a trajectory. And so, maybe that's, I think, making people across the spectrum rethink some of their -- you know,

their assumptions or commitments. So, that's good.

But it's also the case, in all honesty, if you read the comments in the two recent "New York Times" pieces on my work, a lot of commentators,

particularly women, are, you know, talking down marriage and they're expressing a lot of concerns about how women are treated in marriage and

they think it's not a good deal for them.

MARTIN: What do you say to them?

WILCOX: Obviously, there are plenty of women who have had a terrible experience with love and marriage and I don't want to kind of deny or

discount that reality. If I was to go on to YouTube, I can get literally and have gotten literally tens of thousands of comments from men that are

extremely negative about women.

So, I'm just saying that there's a lot of anger out there on the part of both, you know, women and men about the opposite sex. And so, we need to

think about ways to kind of try to bring us back together, to bridge the gender divide, if you will, and that's part of what my book is aiming to


MARTIN: Brad Wilcox, thanks so much for talking with us.

WILCOX: Thanks, Michel. It's been a pleasure.


GOLODRYGA: And finally, some monkey business to end our show on. This Indonesian orangutan has been caught self-medicating, indigenously using --

ingeniously using a special leaf to treat his wounded face. Rakus is a male Sumatran orangutan, and researchers witnessed him chewing up the plant and

applying it as a paste. As a result, his injury cleared up in less than a month. Look at that.


It's a wild leaf.

Look at that. It's a wild leap first and huge leap forward. And what we know about these clever primates and more than ever proves that these great

apes really aren't so different from us. How ingenious. Way to go, Rakus. Hope you're feeling better.

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.