Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics; Interview With WFP Palestine Country Director Matthew Hollingworth; 2,000 People Feared Buried Alive In Papua New Guinea Landslide; Interview With Columbia Journalism School Dean And The New Yorker Staff Writer Jelani Cobb. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 27, 2024 - 13:00   ET



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


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Please show your leadership in advancing the peace, real peace, not just a pause between the strikes.


AMANPOUR: And Spain steps up with more aid to get Ukraine onto the front foot again. Latvia's president joins me in the studio.

Plus, dozens of civilians killed, utter devastation as Israel strikes Rafah. We'll have the latest.

Then, grief and pain in Papua New Guinea. As many as 2,000 feared buried in a landslide. We'll have a report.

And --


JELANI COBB, DEAN, COLUMBIA JOURNALISM SCHOOL: We have not quite figured out the formula that we need in order to address how we operate in a

disinformation ecosystem.


AMANPOUR: -- a critical moment for American democracy. Dean of Columbia Journalism School Jelani Cobb tells me how journalists should be rising to

this occasion.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. A brutal attack. That's how the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

described a deadly strike that killed at least 18 people in a busy shopping center in Kharkiv this weekend. Russian troops continue their advance in

the east, stepping up their bombing campaign and leaving a trail of destruction. It is a critical time for Kyiv, facing the double threat of

exhausted forces and bans on how it can use the weapons given by its western allies.

Today, the Ukrainian president is in Madrid meeting his Spanish counterpart, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, and signing another security

agreement worth a billion dollars. And NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg gave his most pointed critique yet of the United States denying Ukraine the ability

to strike inside Russia.

My first guest tonight, Edgars Rinkevics, is the president of Latvia, which shares a border with Russia. He's here with me in London. Welcome to the

program, Mr. President.

EDGARS RINKEVICS, LATVIAN PRESIDENT: Thank you very much for having me.

AMANPOUR: You're welcome. And I just want to start by asking you, why is it so fundamental and so important for you? What about your knowledge of the

area you're positioning?

RINKEVICS: About Ukraine, I think that, for us, it's a matter of security because we believe that if Ukraine loses, then our security is going to be

impacted in a very negative way. I think that has been repeated many times.

But also, it's about international law. It's about international order. And I think that we don't want to see the repetition of the darkest moments of

history, and my country has experienced those.

AMANPOUR: What do you make of not just the deadly attacks on Kharkiv with all those civilians killed, but actually the incremental serious moves that

Russia is making to advance around there?

RINKEVICS: I think that what we see is actually the consequence of our inability to provide Ukraine with weapons, and then also putting

restrictions to use those weapons to strike military targets in Russia. We are not talking about cities or civilians. We are talking about legitimate

military targets.

And of course, after two years and some four months of fighting that we are seeing Ukraine is seeing also serious issues, and nobody should be

surprised. But I think that, unfortunately, Russia currently has been able to advance. And partly, this responsibility is not only on the Russian

ability to mobilize, to mobilize its economy, people, but also on our collective western or liberal democracies inability to fight back and to

support the country that is at war.

AMANPOUR: So, over the weekend, Jens Stoltenberg, head of NATO, gave an interview to "The Economist" in which he made his most -- you know, most

open calls yet to change this dynamic, and I'm going to play a little bit of it.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: I think the time has come for allies to consider whether they should lift some of the restrictions they

have put on the use of weapons they have donated to Ukraine because -- especially now when a lot of the fighting is going on in Kharkiv, close to

the border, to deny Ukraine the possibility of using these weapons against legitimate military targets on Russian territory, it makes it very hard for

them to defend themselves.



AMANPOUR: So, he's really sounding very urgent. And without calling out the United States, he's definitely pointing at the United States. There are

others who have also have, if you like, tied Ukraine's hand behind its back. What -- do you agree with what Stoltenberg said?

RINKEVICS: I absolutely agree with secretary general of NATO. I think that he's right. This is quite a critical moment and I think that there is not

any rational or pragmatic reason not to allow Ukraine to use those weapons against Russia in a way that is the most efficient.

And all those discussions that Russia may escalate, I think they are not grounded in very sound assessment of the reality. Why? Because Russia is

already escalating, and I think that, in this respect, those countries that have put restrictions to use their weapons, they should reconsider that

decision as soon as possible.

AMANPOUR: You know, a lot of people might not realize that there are these restrictions. I mean, a lot of citizens of countries which believe in

supporting Ukraine. And Ukraine has received a lot of weapons, massive, you know, gap of weapons -- seven months or so, which is showing up on the

frontline now.

Why though? I mean, you talked a little bit about fears of escalation. Can you just walk me through how this decision came? You know, you're a NATO,

to forbid Ukraine from actually doing what it needs to do with those weapons.

RINKEVICS: In essence, that's not a decision taken by NATO. NATO is not directly providing weapons. Member states are. And that actually is

decision by each and every government.

For instance, when Latvian government provides weapons or military assistance to Ukraine, we don't put any restrictions. There are countries

within NATO or European Union, some are not members of NATO, that decide that for that or another reason Ukraine should not use those weapons to

strike targets in Russia. So, it's a national decision. It's not the decision by the alliance.

AMANPOUR: And you said you think the fears of escalation might be overblown. What rational reason is -- I mean, what's the point of giving

all these great weapon systems and paying all this amount of money and, you know, spending all these years, like, supporting Ukraine if they're

actually not allowed to take the fight to the enemy?

RINKEVICS: This is a very good question. I don't have a good answer, because I do believe that, remember, we had great expectations last year

about Ukrainian counteroffensive. The problem was that, again, we were not providing enough weapons. And then, everyone was kind of surprised that

counteroffensive was not as efficient as one could expect.

This year we see just the opposite. Russians are advancing, slowly. Brave Ukrainians are fighting, and they are fighting really hard. We see what

happened in Kharkiv, that strike against one of supermarkets. Unfortunately, I think that there is probably fear, and I think it's

groundless that Russia could use tactical nuclear weapons.

I think this is blackmail by Russia, very well calculated, but some governments are buying in, and this is not something that I could advise.

If our strategy, and that's another point, is Ukraine winning, we should help Ukraine in any way we can. The problem is that Ukraine winning is not

a clear strategy by all of us. And that's where the problem --

AMANPOUR: Even still, it is extraordinary to me to understand that, because even still, they're not saying that, or if they're saying it, I mean, the

majority of NATO. And if they are, they're not producing the weapons and the ability for Ukraine to be able to win.

What is the option? I mean, Putin, you've probably read this exclusive report by Reuters, which they quote people around Putin as saying that he

might be ready to freeze the conflict. Do you think that's real? Is that credible?

RINKEVICS: No, I think this is, again, one part of the Russian propaganda war instrument or element. I think that what they try to do, they try to

send a signal to the western public, some leaders, let's continue the way you do. Do not support Ukraine 100 percent. Let's think or dream about some

kind of ceasefire or stopping this war.

But the problem is that, first of all, Russia does not have any good reason to stop today. They see that we are not as efficient as we want. They see

that -- and I think that they are also expecting for electoral results here in Europe, European parliament, election results in June. And then, of

course, November U.S. election.


So, I don't believe this year is where Russia wants to have any political process. And the problem with any ceasefire, with any political solution,

and I very much believe, and the history probably is on my side in this, that when Russia stops, when there is a ceasefire or whatever political

settlement, Russia will simply regroup, remobilize. They will learn from their mistakes and they will continue attacks after two, three years. And I

think that this could be the greatest mistake to believe that Russians are really up to the peace process.

AMANPOUR: But in the meantime, we do have this weapons shortfall. We do have this troop shortfall in Ukraine. There's been a huge amount of talk

about whether NATO troops would go to Ukraine. Now, everybody's saying no, but the French president indicated that it might and that everybody had to

be flexible.

It seems that what they might mean is to train forces. And the new chairman of the joint chiefs of the United States, General Charles Q. Brown, he has

basically said, we'll get there eventually over time. You know, troops -- sending NATO troops to train forces inside Ukraine.

Do you think that's true? Will NATO or various countries do that eventually? And if so, why don't they just hurry up?

RINKEVICS: Well, this has been discussed more in public than it has been discussed within government or at the table of NATO. That's a very

interesting thing. But I think that President Macron is right when he's saying that this option needs to be put on the table and discussed.

AMANPOUR: Maybe at the summit in July?

RINKEVICS: I'm not so sure is it going to be discussed in Washington in July, but we are still working and we will see how situation is going to


But another thing that is very important, that we do not create our own self-imposed red lines. We should have this kind of strategic initiative.

Russia should understand that all options are on the table and eventually, yes, it may be discussed. But even my own government, my own parliament in

Latvia, have not discussed this yet.

There has not been a kind of decision or discussion on this. I would put it in a way that we already train Ukrainian soldiers. For instance --

AMANPOUR: In my own countries?

RINKEVICS: In my own country, we have 4,000 Ukrainian soldiers per year. And for the country size of Latvia, that's quite a number. And we will

continue doing that. And we are ready to work with our allies around the table, and we are ready also to discuss this option. I don't know when.

But also, the issue that one should not forget is, that at this point Ukraine, is asking more for weapons, use of them, rather than for our

troops. And if we really want to avoid NATO troops on the soil, then let's provide more weapons to Ukrainians who are able and ready to fight on their


AMANPOUR: Which is what they keep saying, send us the weapons, we don't want your soldiers, we can take care of this job. But as you say, Putin has

looked at all your red lines, he's looked at all the confusion, he's been very clever in the sowing of disinformation, and actually real attacks.

There's been also -- I mean, Latvia, Poland, England, various countries have experienced actual attacks in various ways that they trace back to

Russia. Can you tell me how -- what you -- what you're seeing?

RINKEVICS: Well, so far, we have one very clear case and that was the attempt to burn occupation museum in Latvia. That's a very symbolic place

for each and every Latvian remembering the Soviet occupation and Nazi occupation. We see some activities. Our security services are detaining

many people and questioning them.

But I think that this is also a very interesting pattern. We are talking a lot about the potential military attack of Russia against any of NATO

country. I do believe that currently they do that kind of hybrid warfare. Their main aim is to make sure that they are heard and visible to create

some nervousness in societies, to create headlines, to also inflict some damage, and to show that they are omnipotent.

AMANPOUR: And dissuade countries from helping Ukraine?


RINKEVICS: And dissuade the public and the leadership of many countries. I don't think that they are going to dissuade the Baltic States, Latvia,

Poland. We know what's at stake. But definitely both E.U. and NATO need to understand that actually, if we don't stop them, if that test continues,

they will be pushing order. And it's not only then Ukraine, it's about not only Baltic States, it's about Germany, the United Kingdom, or Spain.

We have seen such kind of subversive activities throughout the alliance and throughout the European Union.

AMANPOUR: President Edgars Rinkevics, thank you very much. And I know you're going to be taking this message to the king while you're here, to

the experts at various think tanks. So, it's an important message and a vital time. Thank you so much.

And coming up, scenes of utter devastation in Rafah as Israel strikes a tent camp, killing dozens, including children. The latest after a break.


AMANPOUR: A horrifying picture has been emerging from Gaza, where at least 45 people have been killed after Israeli warplanes struck a camp for

displaced people in Rafah. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, described it as a tragic mistake, adding that it will be investigated.

It comes just days after the International Court of Justice ordered him to halt the offensive in Rafah, and a week since the International Criminal

Court sought arrest warrants for Netanyahu, his defense minister, and senior Hamas leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Gaza's health ministry said no hospital in Rafah had capacity to take the number of casualties. Over a million Palestinians had been sheltering there

before Israel began its offensive. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has this report, and, of course, some of it is very difficult to see.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their blood curdling screams tell the story of the unfolding horror more than words ever could.

But it is only as bodies are pulled out of the inferno that the scale of this attack becomes clear.

At least 45 people were killed after an Israeli airstrike targeted this camp for displaced Palestinians in Western Rafah, according to the

Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Plastic tarps engulfed in flames. Sheet metal walls crushed by the blast. A block of makeshift shelters flattened in an instant. The Israeli military

says the strike killed two senior Hamas militants who commanded Hamas' West Bank operations, Yassin Rabia and Khaled Nagar.

In a rare move, the Israeli military's top lawyer launching an investigation into the strike, saying civilian casualties had not been


It was assessed that there would be no expected harm to uninvolved civilians. The IDF regrets any harm to uninvolved civilians during combat.


Mohammed Abu Ataiwi (ph) is one of those civilians, so badly burned that he cannot even open his eyes. But there are so many more. So many children

writhing in pain. And then there are the parents, desperate to save babies whose cries have been silenced, perhaps forever. For those who survived,

whatever thin sense of safety they still had has now been completely shattered.

We were sitting and suddenly there was a big blast and fire. People started screaming, Ranin (ph) says, describing how they spent the whole night

pulling charred bodies out of the embers.

While hundreds of thousands have fled Eastern Rafah after the military ordered its evacuation, many others, like this man displaced from Central

Gaza, came here to Western Rafah told the area would be safe.

And then there are the mourners. The occupation army is a liar. There is no security in Gaza, says this man, whose brother was killed in the strike.

Here he is with his wife. They were martyred. They are gone.

For one man, a brother. For another, his sister.

She was the only one, he says. She was the only one, and she is gone.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Jerusalem.


AMANPOUR: Let's get the latest now from World Food Programme country director Matthew Hollingsworth, and he's joining me from Jerusalem. Welcome

to the program.

You're in Jerusalem, but a week ago you were in Rafah. Do you know that area that was, that was hit?

MATTHEW HOLLINGWORTH, WFP PALESTINE COUNTRY DIRECTOR: I know it very well. It's very close to the main United Nations logistics base. So, it's a place

that we know extraordinarily well and we visit all the time.

AMANPOUR: And as far as you know, the Israelis say they were going after high-level Hamas targets, who they got. And as you know, before this

airstrike, there had been some rocket fire from Rafah into Israel towards Tel Aviv

What are the people who you're talking, to your colleagues in Rafah saying? Did this happen right after that? Why did it happen?

HOLLINGWORTH: It was a few hours after sort of the indiscriminate targeting of rockets by Hamas. It's not clear if it was retaliation. It's not clear

why and whether they were connected. But what is very clear is it went into a heavily populated area, into an area of tented camps of very basic

shelter, predominantly made up of tarpaulins and plastic sheeting, all very flammable, and resulted in what you've seen as hideous deaths due to

shrapnel, due to burns, and smoke inhalation that has affected fairly young people, old people civilians alike. Absolutely horrific.

AMANPOUR: Matthew Hollingsworth, you heard our Jeremy Diamond show that the IDF lawyer said that there would be an investigation. The prime minister

calling it a tragic mistake that would be investigated. This is quite quick of them to come out and say that at such a high-level.

Do you expect, A, there to be an investigation? But more to the point, is there any way civilians cannot be caught up in this war on Hamas?

HOLLINGWORTH: This is a war taking place in a heavily populated area, a very small strip of land. There are no safe havens across the entirety of

the Gaza Strip. Wherever people go, there has still been kinetic activity, military activity.

People go to sleep scared. They wake up scared. People are traumatized. There isn't a family that doesn't have a family member that they've lost or

injured. And, you know, people are at their wits end with exhaustion, with hunger, with sheer fear and trauma.

So, it's -- this is why, you know, consistently, the United Nations, the secretary general, these humanitarians, writ large, are calling for a

ceasefire. Too many civilians are being caught up, civilians are dying and we, as humanitarians, are unable to do our jobs as well as we could and

should be doing because of issues related to poor access and working with operating conditions that we would probably not expect or live with

anywhere else in the world.


AMANPOUR: And, Matthew Hollingworth, there's a huge public battle over how much aid is getting into Gaza. And in the wake of the ICC announcing a

search for -- arrest warrants. whether food has been used as a weapon of war. And so, the head of your own U.N. World Food Programme, Cindy McCain,

had called it a full-blown famine in Northern Gaza, which was moving its way south.

Earlier last week, Benjamin Netanyahu told American television that actually they had let in, you know, tens of thousands of tons of aid. Could

you please tell us what actually is the situation? Firstly, let me ask you about Southern Gaza and Rafah, because we know that the Kerem Shalom has

been, I believe, closed. Rafah is closed. What is going into the people who are trying to seek shelter there?

HOLLINGWORTH: So, the south and central areas of Gaza Strip have been fed and supplied through the southern corridors, as you mentioned, from Rafah,

from Egypt, since the beginning of the war after the horrible events in October last year.

The majority of all aid were using those corridors. Since the 7th of May, those corridors have essentially been closed. Rafah is entirely closed

between Egypt and Gaza. And Kerem Shalom has only had a trickle of humanitarian assistance coming in.

What's important there is -- when I say humanitarian assistance, there has been concerted effort by the Israeli authorities to push commercial cargo

through Kerem Shalom into the Gaza Strip. The issue there is, even though you find bananas and apples and oranges and chocolate spread available on

the markets, people cannot afford it. They have no money. There is no liquidity in Gaza. The banking system doesn't work. The communication

system doesn't work or don't work. So, you can't afford to buy or you don't have the means to buy what's available.

And free, unconditional aid has been coming in in two small volumes. So, we've closed down bakeries in Rafah, we've been unable to distribute any

free food in Rafah for some weeks now, and we are able only to provide some support through Hot Meals programs, helping around 50,000 people a day.

In the center, it is not quite so bad because we have easier access. There's less kinetic activity, less warfare, and we are supporting around

400,000 people a day with hot meals. But their supply chains from the south are precarious, as I say. We've also not been able to get to our warehouses

in Rafah because of the fighting since the 7th of May.

The north, however, is since Erez Corridor and West Erez, also known as Zikim, opened up at the beginning of this month, we've seen a change in

reality. So, as the south and the center have started to deteriorate significantly, the north has actually started to improve, and that's quite

important because those were the areas where we saw the epicenter of the very worst of hunger, where we are concerned the famine was going to spread

and were not going to be able to prevent it.

So, over the past 27 days, we've managed to get almost 8,000 tons of food just into the north. So -- but now we're seeing the opposite impact. So, as

the war is beginning, and it's not done yet, we're far from it, it's beginning to improve, the center itself are deteriorating quickly as almost

a million people have been displaced. Every time people are displaced, their vulnerability grows, their resilience wavers and waves.

And we are very concerned of how a huge and sustained ability get aid into the south and the central region that we don't -- we're not able to do

today, those areas would deteriorate, just as we saw in the first six months of this war.


AMANPOUR: So, Mr. Hollingworth, I'm still staggered by what you say. Why would they be pushing commercial aid, or rather commercial goods, into a

poverty-stricken place that you described and not allow all these, you know, hundreds of trucks that are waiting to go through? What -- why? Why

is that?

HOLLINGWORTH: I mean, in terms of the trucks that were waiting, we have to recall that the majority of them. Just for the World Food Programme, almost

700 trucks stuck in Egypt. And the crossing between Egypt and Gaza Strip has closed since the 7th of May and still closed. And there remains to be a

political agreement -- or there was not a political agreement to have that cargo cross through Israel into the Strip.

That now is starting to be resolved, and we are seeing some glint of hope that the cargo that has been stuck, literally tens of thousands of tons of

aid stuck in Egypt, will start to move into the Strip again. But where it moves in, there is an active frontline. And so, even if we start to see an

opening for aid to enter the Gaza Strip from the south, it -- the difficulty is having it cross and move around in those areas when there's

tank fire and battles and missiles being fired and airstrikes, it's a very dangerous place to work.

AMANPOUR: Matthew Hollingworth, you've described a very dangerous place to work. Country director for the World Food Programme, thank you very much

for joining us.

And still to come, combating the hose of disinformation in the U.S. presidential election campaign. I've been speaking to the dean of Columbia

University's Journalism School, Jelani Cobb. That's up next.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back. In Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific, as many as 2,000 people have been buried alive after a massive landslide hit the

north of the country, according to emergency officials. The death toll apparently far worse than was initially feared.

The landslide hit a remote region of the country in the middle of the night on Friday and swallowed more than 150 homes, as CNN's Ivan Watson now



IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An outpouring of grief in a village community, where the government says more

than 2,000 residents could be trapped under deep rock. Many of the people in these highland villages buried as they slept when a massive landslide

hit overnight Friday.


Satellite pictures from before and after showed the sheer size of the landslide. The rubble so deep that few victims have been recovered.

EVIT KAMBU, VICTIM'S FAMILY (through translator): I have 18 of my family members buried under the debris and the soil that I am standing on. And a

lot more family members in the village I cannot count.

I am the landowner here. Thank you to all those who came to help us. But I cannot retrieve the bodies. So, I'm standing here helplessly.

WATSON (voice-over): Yambali Village in Enga Province is an extremely remote part of Papua New Guinea. Help has been slow to arrive through

mountainous terrain thick with jungle. The terrain unstable even for rescue workers. Without heavy lift equipment, desperate people have done what they


SERHAN AKTOPRAK, IOM CHIEF OF MISSION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA: They are using digging sticks, spades, agricultural forks, and their hands of course.

WATSON (voice-over): A small amount of aid has arrived, but the landslide has destroyed the main road into the village, and aid workers say violence

between local tribes has made the journey even more dangerous. Over the weekend, eight people were killed and houses and shops burned along the

road to the disaster site.

JUSTINE MCMAHON, CARE INTERNATIONAL PNG COUNTRY DIRECTOR: An evacuation area has been established. Two emergency medical centers have also been

established. And the defense force plans to bring in heavy equipment tomorrow.

WATSON (voice-over): Papua New Guinea has called for help as it comes to terms with the scale of the disaster. The United States and close neighbor

Australia have offered support. But in this stricken community, hope for rescue is dwindling with every passing hour.

Ivan Watson, CNN.


AMANPOUR: An ongoing emergency there. Now, as we heard earlier, the Ukrainian president, Zelenskyy, was in Spain to receive more military

support from NATO allies, which Russia is undermining through false headlines and misinformation.

The ultimate target for this propaganda is democracy itself. An Atlantic writer, Anne Applebaum, wrote recently that it's working. In the United

States, Donald Trump is regularly caught distorting the truth, including about Russia and Ukraine, including every day after his court session ends.

I've been speaking with the dean of the Columbia Journalism School, Jelani Cobb, about how the press can cut through. He joined me here in the studio.


AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program.

COBB: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, what do you make of the challenge for all of us, and for you, as the dean of the major journalism school of what's happening right

now, as I said, this avalanche of disinformation right around yet another important election?

COBB: Yes. So, I think this is not a new problem.


COBB: No, obviously --

AMANPOUR: But it's getting worse.

COBB: It's getting worse. And the problem that I think we really confront is the learning curve for us, you know, socially, you know, as democratic

societies and professionally, particularly in the journalism world, we have not quite figured out the formula that we need in order to address how we

operate in a disinformation ecosystem.

And all these things are coming to a head as we see this wave of elections around the world and this is going to be a defining issue in the coming --

AMANPOUR: And you're in London and you're meeting with a lot of likeminded people.

COBB: Sure.

AMANPOUR: And from here, you can really see the rest of the world and all the elections that are going on. But my question, Jelani, is you're also a

journalist. We're not quite up to it, but it's been -- how long has it been since Trump was first elected?

COBB: Sure, yes.

AMANPOUR: And we still haven't got it right. How would you think the mainstream media, let's just say television since we're on television, is

covering Trump in a -- now, you know, taking everything that he says live and all the rest of it?

COBB: So, I mean, I think that we see things like still treating him as if he were a normal candidate. Still reporting on him, you know, and the kinds

of protocols you would use for a normal candidacy. Not kind of drilling down on facts. Being susceptible to the distractions.

If he says or does something outrageous and, you know, we chase after it like a pet chasing a shiny toy as opposed to drilling down on fact after

fact after fact, doing the things that are boring, quite frankly, the things that are less spectacular, but the things that really go to the

heart of saying who this person is, what he actually stands for, what the threats, the potential threats to -- in the United States, our democratic

system and the -- by implication, the threats globally, that could be a product of his presidency if he were to be elected again.

Like that's the work that I think that we have to really emphasize.

AMANPOUR: I mean, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I saw a headline that -- I'm paraphrasing -- Trump declares the FBI was locked and

loaded ready to kill him when they were searching Mar-a-Lago for these, you know, classified documents that shouldn't have been in his possession and

that he was actually not forthcoming about. So, that's the kind of craziness that we're dealing with.


And yet, most journalists, most -- I guess, mainstream media would say, it's not our job to tell people how to vote. Are those two connected?

COBB: Yes. I don't think that we have to be in the business of telling people how to vote. But at the same time, we really should be in the

business of pointing out things that are exceedingly dangerous.

You know, we don't tell you what to wear in the morning, but we do tell you that it's going to rain. And so, you know, these are the things that we

have to, you know, really seriously, you know, foreground in our work. And we've seen some of it, you know, the eight years since this threat emerged,

but I still don't think we're necessarily where we should be as an industry and as a profession.

AMANPOUR: Are there historic examples that you teach at the Journalism School or that we should be aware of? I mean, I remember reading, and I'm

just going to get this a little fuzzy, but I think it was one of the main national newspapers back at the height of McCarthy's lies, basically.

COBB: That's right.

AMANPOUR: And his red scares and his blacklists and destroying the lives of people. They decided that they would not any longer print stuff that did

not, what, reach the level that could be defended in a court, right?

COBB: And so, here's the amazing thing about this, the parallels with the Joe McCarthy era and in American history are astounding. One of the things

that began to happen as a result, and McCarthy would say outrageous things and newspapers would just print them or put them on the headlines, they had

a built-in conflict of interest because if you said something outrageous, you knew that people were going to pick up the paper and buy it.

But over the time, as people began to see the corrosive effects of what they were doing, they began to correct him in headlines, parenthetically,

McCarthy accuses a congressman of being a communist, parentheses, no evidence this is true. And so, there was a learning curve where they

recognized the real danger of what they had been doing.

AMANPOUR: And what did that do to his -- the potency of his lies and his red baiting?

COBB: Well, it certainly made it more difficult for him to be able to do that. And the other part of it was that, just as he had been a product of

the news media, it was television media that brought him down. You know, and so, it was a kind of almost immune response.

AMANPOUR: People like Edward R. Murrow.

COBB: Edward R. Murrow, that's right.

AMANPOUR: And his forensic digging into it all.

COBB: And that is exactly the case study that we used. Yes.

AMANPOUR: OK. But we know that we're not there anymore. We've got multiple television organizations. We've got multiple, multiple online silos and

social media platforms. How is anybody meant to know which has the so- called good housekeeping seal of approval in terms of journalism?

COBB: Well, I think one of the problems is that, you know, we on, you know, the broader kind of regulatory side, you know, that's an environment that

was infinitely more complicated than it was in the 1950s in the United States.

But we haven't come to any real conclusions about what should be done with disinformation, about whether protected speech includes lies. You know,

that's a really complicated area of American law. So, some of this is in the realm of what journalists have to be, you know, thinking about.

Some of this is in the realm of governments and policy and judiciary and legislatures. You know, this is really a multifaceted, layered problem that

we're trying to grapple with all at once.

AMANPOUR: And you are, as I said, the dean of Columbia Journalism School and a practicing journalist. How did you grapple with what was happening on

your campus, the protests, calling in the police, essentially the struggle between protest and speech?

COBB: Sure. So, you know, at the Journalism School, we kind of looked at this in a slight -- I think maybe slightly differently from other -- some

of the other institutions at Columbia, because this is something we would report on. And so, we followed the protocols of any news organization. You

know, we were proponents of the free press, proponents of free speech, and went out and covered the story. And it was a really amazing moment to see,

you know, our faculty and people who were literally in their classes out working shoulder to shoulder and reporting on what was going on.

And so, you know, there were complicated kind of issues around, you know, whether there were threats, you know, there were some people who were

legitimately dangerous who found their way onto campus, you know, who --

AMANPOUR: Outsiders, as the police said?

COBB: Well, some far-right groups, actually, you know, who were Proud Boys and they we're kind of a presence there. And so, those are things that

complicated the scenario. But for us, you know, we err on the side of free speech and free press at every turn.

AMANPOUR: What do you think the lasting fallout will be? Because it really was an upheaval on American campuses and in this -- the domain of free

speech versus hate speech, or intimidating speech, or even acts of violence. Because I read that UCLA, which called in the police to stop,

actually, a pro-Israel group attacking the pro-peace group.


COBB: Sure, sure.

AMANPOUR: Now, the -- UCLA has dismissed some of those -- their own law enforcement officers and things. So, what do you think the fallout is going

to be on campus?

COBB: It's hard to say. Honestly, we can't predict. The one thing that I can say is that this story seems to have abated because, you know, schools

are in recess and graduation has taken place. By no means should we presume that that means the story is over. That the implications and ramifications

of this will likely continue into the next academic year, if not beyond.

AMANPOUR: And globally, where do you see journalism as a defender of democracy? Obviously, truth, but that's a pillar of democracy.

COBB: Well, it's really disturbing because, at the same time, we talked about all these threats of misinformation and authoritarianism and so on.

It is disturbing to see that we have had -- even if we exclude, you know, Gaza and Israel, we have had an astounding number of journalists die in the

course of conducting their work. Certainly, in Ukraine, in Latin America, in Africa, the Committee to Protect Journalists has been all over this

story and pointing out the tremendous uptick.

And so, I think the general climate of anti-democracy has translated into very real dangers for us as we go about doing this work. And the

fundamental reality of it is, is that we believe, optimistically, that the world is a better place when we know what is going on around it, so much so

that we're willing to risk our lives to provide people with information. If nothing else, that's a banner an indicator of how important democracy is.

AMANPOUR: Jelani Cobb, dean of the Columbia Journalism School. Thank you.

COBB: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: Important indeed. And after the break, South Africans are set to go to the polls amid growing discontent. What can we expect? A report when

we come back.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back. South Africa holds its critical election this week. One of some 60 nations headed to the ballot box this year. The African

National Congress, Nelson Mandela's once revered party, find itself under pressure like never before.

It's been the dominant force since winning the first democratic elections ever back in 1994. But decades after bringing an end to apartheid, the

nation faces widespread anger over power cuts, unemployment, crime, and corruption. And now, the party is at risk of losing its majority. CNN's

David McKenzie reports on an election that could usher in a new era in South Africa's political history.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): IT worker Mmeli Mbatha knows how to gin up a crowd. He's volunteered for the

ANC since he was just 15. But now, it's crunch time.


MMELI MBATHA, ANC YOUTH LEAGUE: We want to show the support to the ANC because NC has been supporting us.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): The party of Nelson Mandela needs their voices and it really needs their votes.

30 years in power and the party that has defined South African politics faces its strongest challenge yet.

MCKENZIE: This could be the most closely contested election since the dawn of South Africa's democracy. And many believe that the ruling ANC could

lose its majority. But their supporters say, don't count them out yet.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): The ANC can fill stadiums, yes, but it also has a formidable ground game. Spending vast sums on this campaign, getting right

into neighborhoods with senior leaders.

THULI GWALA, ANC SUPPORTER: Voting for ANC until now.

MCKENZIE: Why do you still want to vote for the ANC?

GWALA: I want to vote because my ANC works for me.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Millions of South Africans, like Thuli Gwala, depend on modest government social grants to survive.

For decades, these grants have been the party's trump card. But South Africans want more. Breathtaking unemployment, sustained electricity

blackouts and stark inequalities have left many feeling betrayed by the promises of the ANC.

Once loyal supporters are abandoning the ANC, even forming their own parties. There are more than 50 on the national ballot.

HERMAN MASHABA, LEADER, ACTIONSA PARTY: I voted for the ANC twice. All these people here before, majority of them used to vote for the ANC. Look

at the ANC's electoral support, every year it's going down.

MCKENZIE: The ANC government has presided over huge allegations of corruption, and there is a very significant problem with unemployment. Why

should people this time vote for this party given that record?

FIKILE MBALULA, ANC SECRETARY-GENERAL: We are a party that have made strides in terms of renewal and fighting the stigma, so to say, of being

associated with corruption.

MCKENZIE: Is it enough to win the selection? Are you feeling confident?

MBALULA: The elections will be won on the basis of the work we do among our people. And as we -- you can see, we are not idling.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Never idle, not during campaign seasons. But on election day, will voters be singing a different tune?

David McKenzie, CNN, Soweto, South Africa.


AMANPOUR: Now, all the elections this year will affect the climate and how governments decide to combat dangers like the race to save our oceans. As

the world's seas hit record high temperatures, coral reefs are facing the worst planet wide bleaching in history. Lynda Kinkade reports on the

fishing communities in Thailand that are bearing the brunt of this underwater world in decline.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST (voice-over): It's yet another beautiful day on the water in Chao Lao Beach, Thailand. But it's what lies beneath the surface

that's been left unrecognizable where this fisherman used to make up to 10,000 baht or U.S. $276 a day. He says now he's lucky to earn a fifth of


As the coral below him dies off, the marine animals who inhabit it and feed off it disappear.

SOMMAY SINGSURA, LOCAL FISHERMAN (through translator): The coral reef is my heart and soul when it isn't bleached, healthy and abundant and you can go

out fishing at night. You can easily catch a squid in a fishnet on the coral reef, earning a living was nice and easy.

KINKADE (voice-over): The third-generation fisherman is among some 200 who live and fish on this beach. The fisherman here help provide seafood like

blue swimming crabs and other small fish to Bangkok, Vietnam, and China.

But with 50 percent of coral in the gulf of Thailand already bleaching according to Thai government scientists, they regular catch is dwindling.

Without healthy coral typical marine life is forced to migrate.


rising of the sea water's temperature. When I got into the water just now, I immediately felt that the water was warm, very warm.

KINKADE (voice-over): To some scientists, the term global warming doesn't do the situation justice. Global boiling is a better fit. As atmospheric

temperatures rise, so do ocean temperatures. The heat stresses the corals, causing them to lose their algae and pigment. What's left is a colorless


SINGSURA: The coral bleaching is happening so quickly this year. It's unusual. Look, all of it has turned white. It's never been this bleached

before. All very white this year. All of it is bleached.


KINKADE (voice-over): Unless the world drastically cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions, 90 percent of living corals could decrease by 2050, an

ominous threat not just to our reefs, but to the marine life they sustain and the fishermen whose livelihoods depend on them.

Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, the French President Emmanuel Macron paid solemn tribute at Berlin's Holocaust Memorial during his state visit to

Germany, the first between the two nations in 24 years.

The three-day trip is a chance to show unity between the E.U.'s leading powers at a time of major challenges, from the existential struggle for

democracy in Ukraine, to the possible re-election of former U.S. President Donald Trump, to the rise of the far-right, as polls suggest, ahead of

European Parliament elections next month.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): To be on the side of peace today means giving strength to the law. Peace, but not

capitulation. Peace is not the abandonment of principles. We have too often seen this confusion in collective debates. Peace means enabling a country

to defend its borders and sovereignty. International law to build a lasting peace is the camp we have chosen.


AMANPOUR: And that is it for us. Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.