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Interview with British Surgeon Recently Returned from Gaza Nick Maynard; Interview with "Afghan Star" Host and Grammy Award-Winning Musician John Legend; Interview with Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President and CEO Austan Goolsbee. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 30, 2024 - 13:00   ET



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


NICK MAYNARD, BRITISH SURGEON RECENTLY RETURNED FROM GAZA: I saw things at Al Aqsa Hospital, which I still wake up at night thinking about.


AMANPOUR: An eyewitness to war. I speak to Dr. Nick Maynard, a British surgeon just back from Rafah, about the healthcare collapse in Gaza.

Then --


JOHN LEGEND, HOST, "AFGHAN STAR" AND GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING MUSICIAN: Music is not dead in Afghanistan right now, even though the Taliban's back in



AMANPOUR: -- John Legend shines his light on the music of Afghanistan, why the Grammy winner is looking back at Kabul's version of "American Idol,"

"Afghan Star."

Plus --


AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF CHICAGO: I'm struck by the resilience on the job market, the strongest part of the

economy, by far.


AMANPOUR: -- facts over feelings. Austan Goolsbee, president of Chicago's Federal Reserve Bank, gives an economic reality check with Walter Isaacson.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. Smoke rises over Rafah in the face of mounting international criticism, Israel's

operations there continue. With the IDF announcing they've taken over the border between Egypt and Gaza. And in the occupied West Bank, a fire ripped

through a market in Ramallah following an incursion by Israeli troops overnight, according to local authorities.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed earlier near Nablus, and amid reports of Hamas gunfire near the town of Tulkarem, Israel's far-right finance

minister, Smotrich, issued this threat, if the terror continues, we'll turn Tulkarem into ruins like in the Gaza Strip.

In a moment, we'll get a firsthand account from a British surgeon just back from Gaza. But first, Correspondent Jeremy Diamond has the latest on the

controversial military operation in Rafah.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a hilltop in Western Rafah, Israeli tanks overlook Gaza's border with Egypt. The Israeli

military's latest prize. Three weeks into its Rafah offensive, Israel says it now controls the strategic Philadelphi Corridor spending the length of

that seven-and-a-half-mile long border, which the Israeli military says Hamas has used to smuggle weapons into Gaza. Egypt denies these tunnels


REAR ADM. DANIEL HAGARISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON (through translator): The Philadelphi Corridor served as Hamas' oxygen pipeline

through which Hamas regularly smuggled weapons into the Gaza Strip. So far, our forces have located about 20 tunnels in the Philadelphi Corridor area.

We investigate these tunnels and neutralize them.

DIAMOND (VOICE-OVER): This is the human toll of that military offensive. United Nations says more than 940,000 people have been forced to flee the

city in recent weeks. For many, this is not the first time.

There is no safety, Al-Mawasi is hit, the U.N. warehouses are hit, the U.N. schools are hit, there is no safety, Taisir al-Ja (PH) says. You might die

at any moment anywhere.

Multiple Israeli strikes on camps for displaced Palestinians in recent days have made that point with deadly clarity. None more so than this strike in

northwestern Rafah on Sunday night, which killed at least 45 people and injured hundreds more, according to Gaza's Ministry of Health. The Israeli

military has said it did not expect civilians to die and has launched an investigation into the strike, which killed two senior Hamas militants.

But at least three people can be seen on the road outside those structures moments before the strike. The Israeli military targeted these two

container-like structures, just steps away from structures housing displaced civilians, which were also destroyed in the blast or the

subsequent fire.

Four weapons experts tell CNN the weapons used in the strike were U.S.-made bombs. They say these remnants found at the site of the attack are pieces

of a GBU-39 small-diameter bomb carrying a relatively small payload intended to minimize civilian casualties, but dropping them in densely

populated areas can still have devastating consequences.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: If they go into Rafah, I'm not going to supply the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah.

DIAMOND (VOICE-OVER): But for now, the U.S. doesn't plan to stop providing those weapons with the White House insisting Israel hasn't crossed that red



JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESPERSON: We don't want to see a major ground operation. We haven't seen that at this point.

DIAMOND (VOICE-OVER): Major or not, the Israeli military is now deep in Rafah where Palestinian rescuers are struggling to safely reach the

wounded, as the dangers are mounting for so many.


AMANPOUR: Jeremy Diamond reporting from Jerusalem. Now on Wednesday, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said two of its medics were killed near

Rafah when their ambulance was hit. Israel says it fired on a "suspicious vehicle" that was approaching troops, and the incident is under review.

British surgeon Dr. Nick Maynard is just back from Gaza where he saw the collapsing healthcare system with his own eyes. He left Rafah just before

Israel's offensive began. And he's joining me here now in the studio. Dr. Maynard, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: You left, and I'm just going to read what you said, because you left just as the Israeli incursion began. You told Reuters that you heard

bombs and gunfire all over, driving through Rafah. The tension was palpable, with people evacuating as rapidly as they could. You saw some of

that attempt to evacuate in Jeremy's package there.

What did you see, and what is the status of people who just want to get out of the way?

DR. MAYNARD: So, they issued the initial evacuation orders about two hours before we left for the crossing and we saw hundreds of people rushing out

of their -- I was going to say houses. They're not houses. Of course, these people have been displaced many times. But they were leaving their very

temporary shelters, their makeshift tents, their tarpaulin shelters, gathering their belongings together, going in cars, some of them walking,

some of them going on a cart with donkeys and rushing out.

And it was very distressing to see them leaving so urgently because that -- this -- for some of them, this is the fifth, sixth, seventh time they'd

done that in in the last six months.

AMANPOUR: Well, you were leaving as well. What was it like for you? Was it -- I mean, did you get you -- you're obviously out safely, but was it

dangerous as you were trying to get out?

DR. MAYNARD: So, we didn't think we were going to get out. We were initially turned away. So, we went back to the temporary --


DR. MAYNARD: Well, we were advised to leave. So, there was ongoing discussions between the Medical Aid of Palestinian ground staff and COGAT,

the liaison part of the IDF. And so, they initially decided, for security reasons, we should go back to the house.

But then we left again late morning. Got to the crossing as the bombings were intensifying. So, we were surrounded by bombs going off really

virtually nonstop. And there was very difficult decisions to be made about whether we should carry on with our planned departure or whether we should

turn around because it was getting too dangerous. But we did stay and we managed to get out.

AMANPOUR: You warned in March actually, before the Rafah operation started, certainly before -- you know, that if a ground invasion happened,

a ground incursion of some sort, it would be apocalyptic. And Gaza's health ministry said in a statement, now, particularly after the Sunday attack,

there is no hospital in Rafah with enough capacity to take this number of killed and injured, causing confusion amongst ambulance teams on where to

transfer them.

Give us a layout of what hospitals remain, what don't, anywhere nearby these places that are, you know, under IDF attack.

DR. MAYNARD: So, Rafah is a small town. It has a population of 100,000 to 200,000 people normally. It has two hospitals, one government hospital and

a larger hospital, which normally has a capacity of about 60 beds. And a small hospital called the Kuwaiti Hospital, which has been in the news a

lot in the last few days, which has a capacity normally of 15, one, five beds. So, they have very limited beds there.

They've got a bigger hospital, between Rafah and Khan Younis, called the European Gaza Hospital, which I've worked in a lot over the years, which is

surrounded by the Israeli ground forces, so it's very difficult for patients to get to that. So, effectively, there are no hospitals for these

patients to go to. There are some field hospitals that have been set up, but the number of acute beds available to take these patients is very, very


AMANPOUR: And have you been in touch with any colleagues in the medical profession or anybody in Rafah since you've left, particularly in the last

few days?

DR. MAYNARD: Yes. I mean I spoke yesterday to a dear friend of mine who's an operating theater nurse who almost, to the day, a year ago, I was

operating with in theaters, in European Gaza Hospital, she stayed in Rafah. She and her husband are living there. They don't want to leave. And she

said to me yesterday she would rather die and she expects to die in her home. And she's not going to leave. I haven't been able to get hold of her

today. And she hasn't answered any messages. So, I don't know what's happened to her. Half her family have been killed in the last few months.


I've got a close friend who's a doctor who's out there and I've been speaking to them regularly. But the words we used a few weeks ago of this

being apocalyptic, it absolutely is. There are many people being killed there. Those that have been evacuated have been forced to go to Al-Mawasi,

which is an area I know well. There are already hundreds of thousands of people there. They've had to accommodate nearly a million-extra people. And

there is nothing there.

Al-Mawasi is a thin stretch of sAnd wasteland divided by a road with no facilities at all. So, the idea they can accommodate in any sort of safe

way another million people is fanciful.

AMANPOUR: You're a doctor, you're a surgeon, and you've worked in Gaza for some 10 years, you've been going back and forth, through other wars

presumably. I want to ask you this, because you saw in Jeremy Diamond's report there, they saw the weapons. They were described as slightly less

huge and powerful, perhaps to try to mitigate civilian damage. These are American-made weapons.

But from a doctor's point of view, particularly as he said, Jeremy, in a densely populated zone, a light weapon -- a light bomb or heavy bomb is

going to create a huge amount of civilian destruction. What do you -- what can you say about the weapons that are used?

DR. MAYNARD: So, Gaza's got a population of 2.2 million. It is the most densely populated place in the world. I was there last May operating on --

I'm a cancer surgeon. I was operating on cancer patients as part of the MAP program. And it was the last big bombardment before October the 7th,

beginning of May. And I was stuck there. They closed the borders and we had to be evacuated eventually.

But I witnessed for four days, this nonstop bombardment. And it was an incredible demonstration of how precise the bombing can be when the Israeli

defense force want to do that. They were targeting specific rooms in buildings, specific floors, and there was collateral damage, but minimal

collateral damage at that time.

So, I've witnessed firsthand how precise their targeting can be. Move forward to post-October the 7th, I was there over Christmas and New Year,

and I witnessed -- I watched the indiscriminate bombing of large. populations in the surrounding camps in Deir al Balah, where I was staying

for two weeks.

So, I've witnessed two extremes. I've seen how precision -- how precise their targeting can be, and I've seen how indiscriminate it can be. And

there's no doubt in my mind that what we've seen since October the 7th is indiscriminate killing of large population civilian -- of large population


AMANPOUR: You know they deny that every time and they say over and over again that we are doing our best to minimize civilian. And they say, what

do you expect? If the Hamas terrorist organization, as they say, they're fighting is using human shields, is using Gazans to shield themselves from

any kind of retaliation or action. What do you say about that?

DR. MAYNARD: Well, I've not witnessed that. I think if -- it's difficult for me to understand how anyone can claim that killing 35 civilians is a

proportionate response to events earlier. But --

AMANPOUR: You mean 35,000?

DR. MAYNARD: 35,000 people. I've not witnessed what they're describing. And perhaps more importantly than that, my friends and colleagues who I

have spoken to daily since October the 7th have lived out there with them for several weeks since then, do not provide any evidence to support that.

AMANPOUR: They would say that they're there. They live in these, whatever, the underground or in buildings or whatever. That's what they would say.

But it's interesting what you said about witnessing very targeted and witnessing something that's much less targeted. I want to ask you specific

specifically, in your -- you know, your domain about the health system.

I mean, I can just read you, and you'll tell me much more. I mean, Kamal Adwan hospital. You know, dozens of medical staff has taken to an

undisclosed location, that was in December last year. The IDF says it takes all feasible precautions to mitigate harm, et cetera. Nasser Hospital,

February of this year, 70 healthcare workers in the medical complex arrested by Israeli forces, 80 patients transferred out. They said they had

apprehended hundreds of Hamas militants. Al-Shifa Hospital, well, we know what's happened there, it's completely ruined. They said they were going

after Hamas targets underneath in tunnels.

Did you ever come across anything suspicious? Did you ever ask any of your -- actually the directors of the hospitals, the people who would be there

when you're not there, whether there was any threat from, you know, a militant group using their premises?


DR. MAYNARD: I did. And I can only really vouch for what I have witnessed and what close friends and colleagues have said. I've been in these

hospitals on many occasions before October the 7th, but also since then, I have never witnessed, I've never seen any evidence of Hamas militants in

these hospitals. And my close friends and colleagues, some of whom I've known for nearly 15 years, I've asked them repeatedly and they've never

witnessed any of this.

Now, clearly, I cannot provide any evidence for what goes on in any tunnels underneath, I've never seen them, but if you take Shifa Hospital as an

example, which I know very well, I've been to every square inch of that hospital, I have never seen any restricted access at all to any part of the

hospital. So, I've seen no evidence of what they describe.

AMANPOUR: Meantime, what injuries were you seeing? I mean, as you say, you've been there many, many times. You're a cancer surgeon. You're not --

necessarily, your profession is not to do traumatic surgeries.

DR. MAYNARD: No, absolutely.

AMANPOUR: So, what have you been doing since you've been there, and what have you seen?

DR. MAYNARD: So, when I was there for two weeks over Christmas and New Year, we saw a huge amount of trauma, and that was really major blast

injuries from bombs affecting the abdomen and the chest with severe shrapnel injuries. We spent the whole time operating on major chest

injuries, major abdominal injuries with the local surgeons.

My most recent trip, from which I returned just three weeks ago, we saw a different pattern of illnesses. We did see some blast injuries, but the

amount of bombings were much less. But what we did see and what kept us really busy in the operating theatre were the problems with malnutrition.

And we highlighted this when were there over Christmas and New Year and it's got much, much worse.

We know the IPC has designated Northern Gaza as a famine area. The malnutrition in Middle Gaza and Southern Gaza is now extreme. And we saw

the consequences of that. And it's not just that they're losing weight, but they become immunosuppressed if they're malnourished, and they don't heal.

So, we saw many patients who'd had surgery for war injuries, for blast injuries, for gunshot wounds, whose wounds were falling to pieces. And

their internal organ repairs, the bowel repairs, the liver repairs, the pancreas repairs, they were all disintegrating, falling to pieces. And the

consequences of that are devastating.

And I had patients -- I'll talk about two patients in particular, 16-year- old Tala (ph) and 18-year-old Lama (ph), both young ladies, both of whom had blast injuries from bombs, both of whom had major surgery to repair,

both of whom was severely malnourished before they came, and both of whom died under our care as a direct result of malnutrition. So, the effects of

malnutrition now going to cause far, far more excess deaths than we have seen so far.

AMANPOUR: And how do you live with this? How do you sleep at night?

DR. MAYNARD: It's very difficult. I mean, I say to my friends and family, the part of my therapy is actually coming to talk about it and -- to people

like you, because I -- this is not being reported adequately. We need -- those of us that are witnesses need to tell everyone what's going on, need

to make sure our governments understand the appalling consequences of the ongoing military assault in Gaza.

AMANPOUR: Dr. Nick Maynard, thank you very much indeed for being with us.

DR. MAYNARD: Thank you very much for asking me.

AMANPOUR: And we turn now to another tragic war-ravaged place, and that is Afghanistan. The Taliban controls everything again since the U.S. pulled

out three years ago, even snuffing out the joys of music. A far cry from the early 2000s when the Taliban was driven out. And a TV talent show

gripped the nation. It was "Afghan Star," Kabul's equivalent of "American Idol."

Superstar John Legend is making it the focus of his new podcast. And I saw it close up myself back in 2009.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Eight years ago, when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, what this young woman is doing might have cost her her life.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): But now, she's one of the top contenders on the country's most popular TV show.


AMANPOUR: Are you surprised that you can actually sing? You're a woman and you can sing pop rock here in Afghanistan?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (through translator): I'm happy things have changed for the better and that a woman like me can finally perform.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): "Afghan Star" is this country's version of "American Idol." It's a mad fusion of traditional Afghan music and western

style pop.


Backstage, I watched the procession of talent, drummers, dancers, acrobats, child jugglers. The audience and the country loved it. The show's producers

say 80 percent of TV viewers tuned in and cast their votes by mobile phone.


AMANPOUR (on camera): It seems a lifetime ago. There was so much hope then, and things like "Afghan Star" pointed people to believe and hope that

things would eventually change in Afghanistan. No longer, as I said, since 2021 when the United States pulled out and the Taliban took over again.

Now, John Legend is no stranger to the TV talent show format. He's been a coach on the popular American program, "The Voice." And he's one of the

world's few EGOT winners, having brought home an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award. He tells me why he was drawn to this project.


AMANPOUR: John Legend, welcome to our program.


AMANPOUR: Listen, we are really pleased to be doing this with you, because it's amazing that you've decided to take on, in a new audio series,

something that happened in Afghanistan. And I really want to know why. What was it about "Afghan Star" that moved you to explain it and rekindle it in

your podcast?

LEGEND: Well, I think it's just a beautiful story of the power of music, the power of the people's resilience and really remarkable show that was

pretty revolutionary for its time. People in Afghanistan at that time, as you very well know, were coming out of years of the Taliban being in charge

and during the Taliban's reign, prior to the U.S. and the allies' invasion, music was banned.

So, there were instruments being burned on the streets, records were contraband, CDs were contraband, cassette tapes were contraband, any

musical instruments were contraband. So, all of that stuff if, you got caught with them, would get destroyed, burned, and you may get in trouble

during the rule of the Taliban prior to the ally invasion.

And so, there was a lot of pent up demAnd desire for people to engage with music again, and when they were able to, in Afghanistan, "Afghan Star"

eventually was developed as a show very similar to "American Idol" or "The Voice," which I'm a coach on. And people were able to vote on their

favorite singer. They were so engaged. It really captured the attention of the nation. And it was quite a remarkable show.

And we thought it was a great story to talk about it, what happened during that time. And I find the story inspiring, but also, you know, it really

shows you the power of music and the power of the human spirit.

AMANPOUR: Yes. And I think now, of course, with the Taliban back, since the U.S. pulled out in '21, of course it's gone. I mean, they don't allow

that anymore. Women aren't even allowed to work. And on Afghanistan, and when I was there, and you mentioned it as well, I think one of the main

judges was a woman. There was a lot of women being able to do things in public that they hadn't been allowed to.

But did you know anything about music? Because it's quite a musical, lyrical country. They have their own instruments and things. Just in

general, did Afghan music grip you or grab you in any way?

LEGEND: Well, I learned more about Afghan music during the making of this podcast. I was able to listen to some of the iconic artists in Afghan

musical history. And some of those artists were the artists that the "Afghan Star" artists were covering. And of course, Aryana Sayeed, who you

mentioned, is one of the judges who was on "Afghan Star" and she was a pop star herself. And it was quite revolutionary that she was a judge because

she was the only woman judge.

And then it took a while for women to actually win "Afghan Star." But the fact that they were even competing on the show, that they were singing,

that they were dancing, that they may even show a little bit of their hair on the show, all of that was quite revolutionary for women in Afghanistan

at the time.

AMANPOUR: And your podcast does talk a lot about -- your show delves into the creator of "Afghan Star." His name is Dawood Siddique. And he had -- he

has a remarkable story. Tell us a little bit about him.


LEGEND: Well, he was the creator and the host of the show. And then, Saad Mohseni was the founder of Tolo TV and was an important, you know,

broadcaster and founder of, you know, really groundbreaking entertainment for Afghanistan during this time of increased freedom. He was there to, you

know, provide the entertainment and the connection to the rest of the world. And, you know, all of that had to be gotten rid of once the Taliban

came back into power.

But what I find is interesting, and I've gotten to speak with Saad since we made the podcast, is that even though the Taliban's back in charge it's

hard to put the genie back in the bottle once people have access to music and access to all of this entertainment, they find a way to get to it,

especially with the internet and mobile devices and all these other things. Music is not dead in Afghanistan right now, even though the Taliban is back

in charge.

I think the spirit that was awakened and revived in Afghanistan by shows like "Afghan Star" and other connections with music and entertainment, it's

hard to put that back in the bottle.

AMANPOUR: You know, it's great that you just bring that up because we're going to play a little clip from one of the episodes when Dawood Siddique

is talking exactly about that, listening to music even under the first Taliban reign.


DAWOOD SIDDIQUE: We have this area in Kabul called Macroyan, they are apartment buildings. Sixth floor, seventh floor, eighth floor.

LEGEND: A lot of these apartments are empty since residents fled the country to escape the Mujahideen. So, it's a good spot for a clubhouse.

Plus, the apartments are so high up that you can blast music without fear of getting caught.

SIDDIQUE: I listened to live music a lot. I partied a lot. We went to this building and were -- have live music. We have -- preparing a food for us.

That was party. Have I tell you that I listen to more live music during the Taliban than my entire life, you will laugh.


AMANPOUR: I mean, it is funny and I can see you laughing. The idea that they listen to more music in sort of underground cells, so to speak, is

quite indicative of the resistance that Afghans have.

LEGEND: Yes. And I -- like I said before, I really think it shows the power of the human spirit and the power of music and people will find a way

to connect to music no matter what the regime might say.

AMANPOUR: You have -- as you mentioned, you had on "The Voice." You've worked alongside people like Ariana Grande, Christina Aguilera, Reba

McEntire, Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani. I mean, just so many, many people. Translate that or transpose what you've learned there and what you know

there and what that kind of show gives to people and can do for people and was probably doing the same in Afghanistan while it was allowed.

LEGEND: Well, I think people love the idea that that these artists who have a dream of being heard and being seen, artists who are unknown and

become known to the public, that they can come on these kinds of shows, on our show, "The Voice," or on a show like "Afghan Star" or like "American

Idol." They can come on "The Voice" because of their talent and be heard and seen and get an opportunity to amplify their dreams and their desires

to make music.

And it's a powerful concept. People love that concept, and that's why these kinds of shows do so well all around the world. And what made it

particularly interesting in Afghanistan was there were folks in Afghanistan, most of them, didn't grow up voting for anything. So, the idea

of them being able to vote for their favorite singer on this show was quite invigorating for the people of Afghanistan. And it really captured the

intention of the whole nation, you know, at a time when there was so much division, tribal conflict and, you know, conflicts between different

regions and ethnicities. But "Afghan Star" brought everyone together.

And of course, you know, as much fun as we have on "The Voice," as much inspiration as we get from the artists on "The Voice," the stakes were much

higher in "Afghan Star" because not only were these performances groundbreaking and the fact that women were involved, groundbreaking, but,

you know, at a certain point, it started to become risky for the show to even happen because the Taliban was starting to regain some power,

particularly outside of the cities.

And so, there was some risk involved in even putting on the show, as long as they did. And so, the stakes were incredibly high. And just the fact

that this show was made for this many years was quite remarkable.


AMANPOUR: John Legend, you know, you're obviously known very much also for your social activism through your music in many, many areas, and we're

going to talk about them. If Afghanistan is now emblematic of anything, it is of the absolute abuse and restrictions they put on women.

And I want to ask you about looking inside for a little bit, back in the United States. There seems to be a lot now in your industry trying to look

inwards to how women are treated. And I'm talking specifically about the latest about Sean Diddy Coombs, his new -- on his last album. Are you also

feeling that the idea of the -- you know, the abuse of women, domestic partner abuse, it needs to be really handled once and for all, and not

swept under the carpet as it has been for so long, let's just say in your industry?

LEGEND: Oh, well, you know, I was horrified by the allegations that I heard about Mr. Combs and, of course, horrified by the video evidence that

was released after that, but I was horrified by the descriptions that I read before the video evidence came out, and absolutely is something that

needs to be brought to light when it happens.

And my default stance is to believe women when they make these accusations, and to make sure that we do whatever we can to support women who are making

these allegations. And make sure that they're heard and that any kind of accountability and reparations can be made to make these women whole again.

It's shameful what Mr. Combs has been accused of. And, you know, I only want the best for Cassie, but also for all the other victims that have

alleged that he's abused them. And it's really tough to see those descriptions and to see those videos. It's quite a shame. And I really just

want accountability and hopefully some healing for all of his victims.

AMANPOUR: You know, as I said, you're very vocal about a lot of things, about prison reform in the United States. You wrote the song "Glory" for

"Selma," the film about Martin Luther King, the march for civil rights. You're an EGOT. You know, you won an Oscar for that. And you said in your

acceptance speech, the struggle for justice is right now.

Nearly a decade later, with such contentious election on the -- you know, on the horizon with -- you know, in many ways, step backwards for justice,

for voting rights, for women's rights in the United States. How do you feel about the struggle?

LEGEND: Well, I -- when I stood on the stage accepting the Academy Award and talking about mass incarceration and the struggle for justice, we were

just in the beginning of thinking about the kind of work we wanted to do and organize around ending mass incarceration. And we founded Free America

10 years ago. And I'm really proud of the work we've been able to do.

We've worked with organizers all around the country, with activists all around the country, and we've reduced significantly, through all of these

efforts, the level of incarceration in the United States. We've helped get some more progressive district attorneys elected, and we've changed a lot

of laws that affect a lot of people all around the country, including getting voting rights restored for a lot of folks and making sure that the

punishments and sentences were more just and more fitting for the crimes that people were committing.

And so, a lot of that work has been kind of in the trenches, working with activists, working with organizers, working with state legislators all

around the country. But it's really paid off in actually affecting a lot of people's lives and having -- and getting more freedom for more people. And

so, I'm pleased to have been involved with that, and I'm going to continue to work on those issues.

AMANPOUR: And I want to take you all the way back to the beginning for our final question. Your very first music credit was on the "Miseducation of

Lauryn Hill," and it's back in the news right --


AMANPOUR: Yes. And I just wondered, it's back in the news, and I just wondered, you know, how did that all come about? How did you get to work on

that, and what are your reflections now, all these years later?

LEGEND: Well, you know, I was a student. I was at the University of Pennsylvania at the time. And on the weekends, I would drive up to a place

called Scranton, Pennsylvania, which is where the president is from, actually. And so, I would drive up there and I would play at a church on

the weekend. And one of my choir members had gone to high school with Lauryn Hill. And she was like, you got to meet Lauryn. She's working on her

solo album.


And so, I would be driving back and forth to Scranton from Philadelphia. But this weekend, I drove over with her to New Jersey to see Lauryn Hill

working on this iconic, you know, groundbreaking album, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill." And I got to sit in on a session where they were working

on a song called "Everything is Everything."

And eventually, after they had been writing for a while, they were taking a break and I got to sit down at the piano and play and sing a couple songs

for Lauryn and the rest of the folks who were gathered there and she invited me to play piano on the track they were working on at the time,

"Everything is everything." And so, I got to be part of this groundbreaking, influential, iconic album, which has now been named the

greatest album of all time.


LEGEND: And I'm happy that that was my first chance to be a part of any album, was being on that album. That's pretty cool.


AMANPOUR: John Legend, thank you so much. And your new podcast series about "Afghan Star." Thanks a lot for joining us.

LEGEND: Thank you, Christiane. And great to speak with you.


AMANPOUR: Lots going on there. Now, as Americans prepare for the presidential election in November, the economy is the biggest driver for

voters, but there still appears to be a disconnect between how people feel and the actual facts.

Austan Goolsbee is president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. It's part of the United States Central Bank and it's responsible

for managing monetary policy and regulating the financial system, from the labor market to the housing market. He updates Walter Isaacson on the

actual state of America's finances.


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


ISAACSON: You know, ever since 1977, the Federal Reserve has had a dual mandate, it's called, of keeping inflation low but keeping employment high.

It's sometimes seen as a tradeoff. To what extent -- how do you see that tradeoff playing out over the rest of this year when it comes to figuring

out should interest rates come down?

GOOLSBEE: Yes. Look, that's the hardest thing and that's the rub. Sometimes it is a tradeoff, but other times, like last year, in 2023, it

wasn't a tradeoff at all. Inflation -- the inflation rate fell almost as much as it's ever fallen. And for the -- really the first time in modern

memory, there was no big recession when inflation was falling that much.

I think what everybody's trying to wrap their head around now, as we're finishing out this year and going into next year, is the beneficial things

that we experience, the healing of the supply chain, the return of labor force participation and workers going back to into their jobs. Is that

going to continue or are we back to the traditional tradeoff between employment and inflation?

I -- for me, I still think there is some benefit that's coming down the pipe, if only because those improvements take some time to work their way

through the economy. But that's the sort of the central question as we think about the macro economy.

ISAACSON: The Fed has always been considered independent, nonpartisan. And yet, in an election year, if the Fed, for example, lowered interest rates

right before the election, there'd probably be people accusing it of playing politics for Biden, or the other way. To what extent can you assure

people that -- I mean, institutions like even the Supreme Court have become partisan. To what extent can you assure people that the Fed is not partisan

in making such a decision?

GOOLSBEE: Yes. Look, the Fed is not in the elections business. And the most important thing is to just reiterate that commitment, that the thing

that determines what the Fed chooses to do, and what the individual members of the Federal Open Market Committee vote to do are these dual mandate

goals that come from the Federal Reserve Act of stabilize the prices and maximize employment. And that's really what we're looking at.

If you go back and look at the transcripts or the minutes from the meetings, they are recorded, elections are not the subject of discussion.

What the subject of discussion and decision-making is the economy. And we just have to reiterate that at every juncture.


And you saw Chair Powell give public interviews where he said that. And we've been saying that sufficiently that now as we get up to the election,

our data dependence and that we're just looking at the economic conditions to make the economic decisions, that's by far the paramount thing on our


ISAACSON: "The Wall Street Journal" a few weeks ago reported on Donald Trump's inner circle saying they want to change the Fed, that he wants to

make it less independent, he wants to have presidential control over it. Is there a general consensus of people in the Fed and the economists that

that's a bad thing and will people push back on that?

GOOLSBEE: I mean it, I read that article. I don't have any insight. And like I say, I'm out of the elections business. It looked like there was

pushback immediately, even within the article. All I know, as I say, is that, A, the Fed -- my observation of how the Fed operates is they take the

dual mandate extremely seriously. And the people that I know on the Federal Open Market Committee, it's not -- elections are not the subject of the

FOMC decisions. It is absolutely the economy and looking at unemployment and inflation and trying to fulfill what the law requires us to do.

If you look at the economic research, as I say, it's quite clear across countries and across time, even in the United States, that where

administrations put their thumb on the scale and try to order around the monetary policy decisions, the economic outcomes are worse. That's how the

Fed and the other central banks around the world move to this independence position.

It's not to say the president appoints and the Senate confirms members to the board of governors, the chair and the other governors, so that there is

oversight, but it just -- it's a bad idea for economic performance if a sitting administration is in the business of the Fed telling them how they

want the monetary policy to be conducted, it's just not a good idea.

And you can look in episodes of U.S. history where that happens, it's problematic, it leads to higher inflation and more persistent inflation if

you do that.

ISAACSON: The Fed has set a general target of 2 percent for inflation. What's so magic about that number? And if you're doing the tradeoff, do we

have to get down to 2 percent?

GOOLSBEE: Yes. Well, it's magic and it in a way, you got me when they first announced a literal 2.0 percent target, which I think was in 2012. I

was publicly a little critical because I thought it was overly precise. I don't think that inflation is a kind of a noisy series. So, could you

really hit 2.0 percent? How would you know if it was 2.1 percent?

That said, it's important to center our expectations in both in markets and in businesses around some number. And once you commit to a target, I think

it's extremely important that you remain committed to that target.

So, you've had some people publicly saying, oh, well, this seems difficult. Let's just declare that the target was 3.2 percent and then we won. I don't

think you can do that. You got to do your job before you can go looking for a new job. And so, I think it's -- we said 2 percent is what we're going to

get it to and we're going to get it to 2 percent. And so, I think that's where we are.

ISAACSON: When you measure inflation, you tend not to put in some things, including food and energy prices. And yet, most of us, when we look at

prices, it's like, OK, eggs and gallon of gas at the station. Why do you all do that?

GOOLSBEE: Yes. Look, that drives my mom crazy. She's like, what do you mean you don't pay attention to energy and food prices? The reason why we

look at the so-called core inflation is because energy and food in particular are extremely noisy and variable. So, they go up, they go way

down. And the history suggests they don't give as fulsome a picture of what's the underlying core inflation rate in the economy. So that's why we

kind of exclude those.


And to get even more into the weeds, people are most familiar with the consumer price index as a measure of inflation. But actually, we use a

different measure, the personal consumption expenditure measure. It's just a different measure of inflation that is a little bit better and more

representative of the economy. But that's why we do that. We want the thing that is the most representative of what's the underlying trend. And that's

why we don't think about the energy and the food in the short run.

ISAACSON: The unemployment rate is about, what, 3.9 percent now. And that seems pretty good. But we're in really weird times. And it would seem to

me, just from the sidelines, that the things are difficult to measure. People haven't really returned to work, or people are working remotely, or

have jobs in the gig economy.

Is there some fundamental changes in how employment is happening? And how do you factor that in when you're in the Fed?

GOOLSBEE: Yes, there have been fundamental changes. Partly over time, longer trends, demographic trends, the aging of the workforce, labor force

participation, and then the short run, COVID, things went crazy. We've never seen anything like that. Now, we've rebounded to look something more

like normal, but we still are grappling with these issues of working from home and hybrid work. And as you raise, the gig economy.

I'm struck by the resilience on the job market. The strongest part of the economy, by far, is the strength of the job market. Beyond what we even

would have predicted. Before there was ever was COVID, they were making projections of what would be labor force participation in 2024, and we're

above what they thought it would be here before COVID ever came. So, that's the strongest part.

And the weakest part, everyone knows, is that the price level is higher and inflation got well up above what were comfortable with. And so, we're just

still trying to grapple with these issues. It's not just in the labor market where some weird things happened, it's also in different sectors of

the economy.

We had a recession that was driven by a bunch of industries that we normally think of as being recession proof, like services and healthcare

and things like that. And now, as we come out of COVID, those services are, in a way, booming back and housing, consumer durables, the kind of cyclical

industries that normally make up the bread and butter of the business cycle are in a way not in the driver's seat. And so, we're still trying to

grapple with that a little bit.

ISAACSON: Coming out of the pandemic and the post-pandemic recession, U.S. growth has been like twice as good as a lot of its -- most of its peers.

And inflation has been bad, but not nearly as bad as some other places. Our economy, is it fundamentally really in good shape now or are people right

when they worry about the economy?

GOOLSBEE: Well, kind of both. But I think, overall, for sure, normed by how the experience has been around the world, we've had a strong recovery

post-COVID. And I think one of the lesser sung, I won't say unsung, but lesser sung elements of that has been an incredible increase of business

dynamism of people starting new firms that had been declining over some time. And you have really seen post-COVID, a rebound of that

entrepreneurial spirit, let's call it, of the American economy. I think that's been a big part of why the growth rate has been higher.

But there's no question that there's -- it's not paradise and there are definitely, in both industries, geographies, and individual people who are

hurting. And the price was being as high as what they have been, you see that in people's sentiments and in the vibes, dissatisfaction with some

parts of the economy.

ISAACSON: One of the statistics that struck me is that the average wage now, hourly wage in the U.S. after the pandemic is up 22 percent. Is that a

large number and is that a sense that maybe that'll ripple through and things are getting better or is that an inflationary problem?

GOOLSBEE: Yes. Yes. Some of all of that. I kind of think of the question of, if the inflation rate comes down, which is to say, in prices continue

to grow but they are growing at a slower rate than they were before, is that enough or should the Fed be aiming to get the price level back down to

what it was in 2019?


Now, the one thing is that's not the Fed's target. The Fed's target is 2 percent inflation growth of prices. And if you are going to try to have

deflation to get the price level target, you would really have to crush the economy to try to get that kind of deflation. Even in the depths of the

great recession, we -- you don't see widespread deflation. It's really only in the great depression that you see that kind of deflation.

So, the normal way that we would be viewing a healthy economy would be to compare the wage growth, like you say, to how much the prices are up. And

if we're seeing real wage growth, that is wage growth faster than prices, that's a positive. That's where real incomes are getting higher. And if you

back through the chain, how much real income growth can you have without generating more inflation? The answer depends very much on the growth of


And we have for about a year, very robust productivity growth, which made a lot of people more optimistic. Maybe this is a scenario back like what we

had at the -- in the late '90s or something like that. But it's a noisy series and things go up and things go down. And in the last one, the

productivity growth rate slowed a lot. So, we're just going to have to keep an eye on that one to see how much it can go up.

ISAACSON: When people look at inflation there in the food prices, but it's also in housing. How do you get housing prices down?

GOOLSBEE: You know, look, there's two parts to the housing. It's not even a puzzle. There's two parts of the housing problem, that is with the Fed

has a 2 percent inflation target, but it's important to remember that didn't mean that the price in the inflation of everything was 2 percent.

Before there was COVID, housing was about 3.5 percent, services were about 2.5 percent, and physical goods were about minus 1 percent. And combined,

that was -- it got us to two percent. We then go through a strange period of COVID. All of those inflation rates go way up. And what we've seen is

goods inflation back down to something like minus 1 percent as it was before. Services still elevated but approaching the levels they were

before. And the big outlier has been housing inflation, as you raise. And it's down from its peaks, but it's still well elevated compared to where it

was pre-COVID.

And I've been saying, I think if we don't get that inflation rate back down to something like what it was before, we're going to have a hard time

getting to 2 percent. Now, there's a mechanical way in which market rents flow through with a lag into the official measures of inflation. And it

hasn't done that as fast as we thought it would. I'm still optimistic that it's going to, but there's one in the mechanical.

But then there's the deeper issue, which it sounded like is kind of the premise of your question, which if you raise rates a lot in a short period

of time, and you had basically 0 percent interest rates for a long period, people got mortgages very low, and now mortgage rates are much higher.

And so, there is an -- it's not just demand that goes down when you raise the interest rate, it's also a bunch of people say, well, I don't want to

sell my house because I have a cheap mortgage and if I move to a new house, I'm going to have an expensive mortgage. So, I'm going to just wait. And

you have kind of seen over an extended period the willingness of existing homeowners to put their houses on the market having a strange impact on

prices and on supply in the housing market. So, the Fed is having to balance that out a little bit as well.

ISAACSON: Austan Goolsbee, thank you so much for joining us.

GOOLSBEE: Great to see you again, Walter.


AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, there's one more happy humpback whale swimming in the wild, thanks to a rescue crew in Western Australia who

successfully completed a complex two-day mission to free the distressed whale, which was all tangled up in a fishing net wrapped around its body.

The team managed to track the movements of the 12-meter-long mammal before taking a small raft to its location and cutting through the net, leading

the humpback safely to freedom.


That is a good story. That's 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 for watching, and goodbye from London.