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The Amanpour Hour
GOP Snatches Defeat from Jaws of victory as Border Bill Tanks; The Remarkable Resilience of Ukraine's War-Weary Children; Fact vs. Fiction: What the Polls Aren't Telling You; 45th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution; Kim's Convenience Truth. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired February 10, 2024 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LULU GARCIA NAVARRO, NEW YORK TIMES JOURNALIST: First of all, Happy Valentine's Day.
Secondly, I found this very depressing story about good-bye pies. Pizza Hut has started this Valentine's Day promotion in which if you want to say good-bye to the person that you don't want to spend Valentine's Day with, you will send them a pizza pie and with it, they give you a version of why you don't want to be with them anymore.
And the reason that they decided to do this is because actually 40 percent of people break up with their significant other before Valentine's Day.
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: Wow, a pizza pie as a good-bye.
WALLACE: And thank you all for being here on that really bad note.
Thank you for spending part of your day with us. And we'll see you right back here next week.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to THE AMANPOUR HOUR.
Here is where we're headed this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Playing politics or playing with fire? The Republican party tanks a border security deal that it had spent months demanding.
WILL HURD, FORMER TEXAS CONGRESSMAN: That is the kind of chaos that Donald Trump instills.
AMANPOUR: Then competency test.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have voter I.D. to buy a loaf of bread. You have I.D. to buy a loaf of bread.
AMANPOUR: What the polls aren't telling you about Donald Trump's re- election chances.
Also ahead -- the remarkable resilience of Ukraine's war-weary children, still forced into subterranean schools.
And then from my archive, the Islamic Revolution came to Iran 45 years ago this weekend. 20 years later, there was hope for reform.
Democracy in Iran is literally being born in these newspapers.
The struggle continues today.
And finally, the edgy little play that could. "Kim's Convenience" comes full circle as it lights up London with its slice of Asian life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The world is once again watching a Congress in disarray, with literally life and death at stake on supporting Ukraine's battle for democracy and independence. Republicans from the House and the Senate rejected a bipartisan deal to significantly toughen U.S. immigration laws and send aid to Ukraine and Israel.
Many are doing so at the behest of former president Donald Trump, while the current president told them to get a grip and a backbone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every day between now and November, the American people are going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends.
It's time for Republicans in the Congress to show a little courage, to show a little spine, to make it clear to the American people that you work for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: As allied leaders come to Washington to appeal for common sense in Congress, with Poland's new prime minister Donald Tusk saying Ronald Reagan must be, quote, "turning in his grave" over all of this.
So what is the future of the Grand Old Party and how will that impact America's priorities and security at home and abroad?
Will Hurd, the former Republican congressman from Texas and a former CIA operative, joins me now.
Welcome back to our program, Will Hurd. I'm assuming that you think as a Republican that the Congress should give the aid to Ukraine to defend what everybody has said is not just democracy in Ukraine, but around the world. HURD: I've been connected to national security for 22 years,
Christiane. And I've learned something very simple. Your friends should love you and your enemies should fear you. It is very clear.
Despite what nuts like Tucker Carlson may say, Vladimir Putin is an adversary, he's an enemy, and he's focused on one thing. And that is taking back Ukraine and re-discovering the USSR -- or reestablishing the borders of the USSR. He's not going to stop at Ukraine.
And the United States of America for less than 5 percent of our entire DOD budget, we've been able to help an ally, Ukraine, dismantle the Russian military. And the United States of America has been able to do that without having to send, you know, our sons and daughters and spouses to this conflict.
So we should absolutely be supporting Ukraine because this is a sign to the rest of the world that America can support our friends. And if we don't do this, our friends in Europe are going to question our commitments and they're going to start -- instead of standing with us against some of the authoritarian activities of the Chinese government, they're going to start working with the Chinese government. And that's going to hurt America's position in the world.
So absolutely we should be helping Ukraine, and to me, the goal in Ukraine is the removal of all Russian troops, to include in Crimea and the Donbas.
HURD: That should be our goal, that should be our effort and we should be showing and standing with the Ukrainian people.
AMANPOUR: Everybody watching abroad is just left wondering what on earth is going on. And I just want to quote something from Donald Trump. He said, "This border bill would be a death wish for the Republican Party." "The Wall Street Journal" editorial even said, what, this is perhaps the best deal you're ever going to get right now and you've tanked it.
And we have a very conservative senator who you know very well, James Lankford, speaking on the Senate floor this week. Let me just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): I had a popular commentator four weeks ago that I talked to that told me flat out, before they knew any of the contents of the bill -- any of the contents. Nothing was out at that point.
Nothing was out at that point, that told me flat out, if you try to move a bill that solves the border crisis during this presidential year, I will do whatever I can to destroy you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean he's basically saying it. Here is a Republican saying that he's being threatened with that and they don't want it solved.
Can you bring yourself to admit that, Congressman Hurd, you know, obviously you're a Texan.
HURD: I've admitted it -- I've admitted it before, right? Donald Trump has flat out said that he doesn't want this problem solved because he wants to use it as a political tool on the campaign.
And when it comes to this specific legislation, when you look at the head of the border patrol union, you know, when I look at these issues, I look at the people on the ground, how do they view it.
And the head of the Border Patrol Union who endorsed Donald Trump said that he was ultimately supportive of this bill because it helped get the tools to the men and women in border patrol.
Again, there were some flaws in the legislation, but ultimately not doing something because you want to have this as a political tool is a problem.
And that is the kind of chaos that Donald Trump instills. That's the kind of chaos he follows. And he's pressuring members in Congress to follow the same kind of chaos. We're going to probably lose the House because of this kind of dysfunction.
And this is one reason why I'm, you know, supporting Ambassador Nikki Haley to be the Republican nominee, because she's focused on results and not politics.
AMANPOUR: According to all the primaries and caucus so far, she doesn't have a chance in hell or a snowball's chance in hell. Really, are you still, or you just don't want to vote for Trump?
HURD: Look Christiane, Christiane, we do not have coronations in the United States of America. Is the path forward hard? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean that we stop.
Ambassador Haley raised more money in January than she had done in any of the previous competitions, any of the previous quarters, excuse me.
So there's a pathway when -- you know, she's won twice in her home state of South Carolina. she knows how to do things when the deck is stacked against her.
And on Super Tuesday, there are a number of states that have open primaries. So there's a pathway on how to do this and people are starting to recognize that there's only one woman standing in between a rematch from hell that nobody wants, between two grumpy old men, that rematch from 2020.
And Republicans are realizing that Nikki Haley head-to-head with Joe Biden beats Joe Biden by double digits.
AMANPOUR: Ok, there's a lot to unpack, and I'm going to get to it. But first, you mentioned Nikki Haley, Grumpy Old Men. She has also questioned Trump's competence and she has called him confused, describes him as ranting and raving and warns that his mental stability is going to continue to decline.
We wanted to just put to you a mash-up and I'm going to ask you about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Nikki Haley is in charge of security. We offered her 10,000 people. We are an institute and a powerful death penalty.
You have voter I.D. to buy a loaf of bread. You have I.D. to buy a loaf of bread.
We won world wars out of forts (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, look, yes, we chose those clips, but they're pretty incomprehensible. So the whole idea of Biden being an old man, you know, is offset by Trump being an old man.
But I want to ask you about that and about self-inflicted wounds. And I wonder what you think as a devoted Republican. The wish of one man is almost bigger than the wish of the health of the party. It could really damage the party.
HURD: I agree long term, when you look at, you know, the last election, the 2022 election, everybody was predicting a red wave and we all know what ultimately happened.
The reason the red wave didn't come forward is because of the drama of Donald Trump. I've made it very clear that Donald Trump is not running for president to make America great again. Donald Trump is running for president to stay out of prison.
HURD: So if you have questions about Joe Biden's competency, then you should be having the same questions about Donald Trump's competency. We're living in a dangerous world, at a time when you have wars in the Middle East, in Europe; you have a growing conflict with China.
These are the questions we should be having and debating and making sure that we're working with our allies to solve these problems, not dealing with the baggage from previous elections.
AMANPOUR: Congressman Will Hurd, thank you so much for joining us.
HURD: Always a pleasure. Thanks for what you do.
AMANPOUR: Now, still to come, "Kim's Convenience" returns to the stage. That history-making play and Netflix hit comes full circle.
But first, resilience and sorrow. The children of Ukraine adapting to life underground. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For many children here in Kharkiv, this is the reality of their school day. They go down into the subway, because everywhere else in the city is simply unsafe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Welcome back.
While Republicans in Congress risk bringing U.S. aid for Ukraine to a grinding halt, Putin is watching closely and waiting out this election, while his bombs and missiles keep falling on civilians. In the eastern city of Kharkiv, there is a building boom now as Ukraine's littlest citizens are being forced to live and learn underground, nearly two years into this war.
Our Fred Pleitgen went down to meet them.
PLEITGEN: Extra special braids is what 6-year-old Elmira wants for school, because simply going to school is special here in Kharkiv. And it's dangerous. So dangerous they had to move classes underground.
For many children here in Kharkiv, this is the reality of their school day. They go down into the subway because everywhere else in the city is simply unsafe. The city built classrooms here, the call it the metro school.
How are you this morning?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm fine, sir. How are you?
PLEITGEN: "Here we won't hear anything," she says.
"Hear what," I ask.
"The bangs," she says.
Bangs happen nearly every day here in Kharkiv. Russia's army shelling the city, killing and wounding hundreds since the beginning of the invasion.
But down here kids can be kids. The classrooms are soundproof, blocking out not just the noise of the subway that's still running, but also the thunder of the war that has already affected these youngsters so much.
"On my birthday, for some reason, a war broke out," Elmira tells me. February 24th, 2022 all Elmira wanted was to celebrate her 5th birthday.
But Vladimir Putin's troops were already storming Kharkiv.
Firing from Russian territory toward the territory, I would say around Kharkiv.
Reporting from the Russian side of the border, I saw the invasion firsthand.
On the receiving end, instead of the birthday party, Elmira and her friends had to go to the bomb shelter.
"I even started crying," she tells me. "I thought it would be the end."
They try not to talk too much about the war in the subway school, but the children coming back here now have been scarred for life, the teacher says.
"They had the look of adults who had already experienced hardships," she says, "experienced the hard days and months of this war."
There are no regular functioning schools in Kharkiv. It's either the subway or online classes. And the city doesn't believe that will change soon. They're building bunker schools because children here wouldn't even have enough time to get to an air raid shelter, the mayor tells me.
"The S-300 missiles reach Kharkiv in about 35 to 40 seconds," he says. "Therefore, no air alarm can work and the only way out is to build such underground facilities, real underground schools."
Back at the subway school, every day a minute of silence for those killed by Vladimir Putin's war against Ukraine.
But then the kids sing their national anthem, showing the Russians and their leader that no matter how many missiles they fire, Ukraine is growing stronger, its future brighter every day.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN -- Kharkiv, Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: Well, Elmira there shows that they have a lot of heart.
Coming up on the program, Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg says don't believe the hype or the polls about that red wave in November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON ROSENBERG, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good luck trying to run on that platform in this country at this point.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
Now, if you look at the polls, America's political landscape appears to be a balancing act, right on the knife's edge. In some, Trump is more popular, in others Biden is. In some, democracy is top of voters' minds, others say it isn't.
My next guest is waving a red flag, warning all the naysayers to just hold on a second. Simon Rosenberg is a veteran war room strategist for the Democrats but he tells me it's because from the economy to crime and now the border, the Democratic Party is much stronger than people think.
AMANPOUR: Simon Rosenberg, welcome to the program.
SIMON ROSENBERG, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's good to be here.
AMANPOUR: You know, I'm watching this and everybody overseas is watching this, and you can imagine America's allies, for all sorts of policy reasons, are very keen to know that President Biden will be reelected for all sorts of rules of the international world order.
What do you say to them when they look at polls, for instance?
ROSENBERG: Sure. I mean, I think, look, my basic take on the election is that Joe Biden is a good president. The country is better off. The Democratic Party is strong and been winning elections all across the country.
And the Republicans are fielding the most unfit candidate in our history, who has -- and so, I feel good about where things are.
There has been a lot of overestimation of Republican strength and underestimation of Democratic strength in recent elections. And so, when I put all this together, and I was very accurate about what happened in 2022, I would much rather be us than them. And I think it's far more likely that we win than the Republicans this year.
AMANPOUR: Tell us again about 2022.
ROSENBERG: Sure. So, here's the way to think about this. Since Trump became clearly MAGA in the 2017, 2018, you know Congress, Republicans have struggled terribly in elections.
We had a great election in 2018. We had a great election in 2020. We unseated an incumbent president and won the Senate, which is hard to do in our system.
And then, something very unusual has happened. And in our system, when the party -- the party in power always loses seats when they're -- when they have the presidency. They lose congressional seats. They lose Senate seats. They lose state legislative chambers all across the country.
And in the last two years, the exact opposite has happened. Something historic. We've defied history.
We had an extraordinary midterm where we actually gained a Senate seat. We gained governorships. We gained state legislative chambers all across the country.
And then, in 2023, we actually did better than we did in 2022. And we won in places like Ohio and Wisconsin that are difficult places for Democrats to win.
And so, since Dobbs -- and it's my view that something really broke inside the Republican Party in the spring of 2022. And that since Dobbs happened, the decision to end Roe v Wade there's been a basic fundamental dynamic in our politics that's played out again and again in election after election, which is that Democrats are overperforming expectations and polls and Republicans are underperforming. And you're even seeing that start to play out here in early 2024.
AMANPOUR: One of the main things you say, Trump is a less attractive character --
AMANPOUR: -- and candidate today than he was in 2016.
Now, one of those things that Democrats feel is unattractive, but his supporters do not feel, is the 91 counts and the four indictments that he has leveled against him.
And now, that the federal appeals court has denied his desire to be given presidential immunity, saying that he is not immune and that he can be prosecuted with all the rights of a defendant --
AMANPOUR: -- that he's just Citizen Trump. Do you think that will impact, you know, whoever needs to be impacted?
AMANPOUR: Obviously, it's potentially MAGA voters will, you know, come out for him as they have done in the past.
ROSENBERG: I think that Donald Trump is a far weaker candidate today than he was in 2016 or 2020 for a whole host of reasons, right? His performance is diminished.
But importantly, getting to what you were asking, Christiane, I'll do this quickly, is that there's going to be six things that voters know about him in this election that they didn't know about him in 2020.
One, that he raped a woman in a department store dressing room. That's been litigated and decided by a jury of his peers.
Second is he committed massive financial fraud, which is about to be, you know, finalized here.
Third is that he led an insurrection and he's promised now to end American democracy for all time.
Fourth, that he stole America's secrets, lied about it to the FBI and shared those secrets with other people.
Fifth, that his family's taken more money from foreign governments than any political family in American history.
And finally, he singularly was responsible for ending Roe.
We have six disqualifying events that have happened that we're going to be able to use as people in politics to be able to push him further and further away from the electorate, which is why I'm so optimistic that we can win this election this year.
AMANPOUR: So, with all that data that you've just given us --
AMANPOUR: -- would you explain then for people who are completely confused about the polls? Why then do polls give him such a lead sometimes, a little bit of a lead other times, Biden a little? I mean, it's really difficult to understand what the lay of the land is.
ROSENBERG: I agree with that. And I don't envy anybody trying to figure out our crazy system from abroad. This is a hard thing for those of us in the system every day to make sense of.
But the way to think about it is, the polling is showing today, to be fair, a close competitive election.
Trump is not definitively ahead. I mean, if you -- just in the last 10 days, there have been four major national polls showing Biden actually gaining significantly. In three of them, he's actually substantially ahead.
So, the way I view it is we're looking at a close competitive election today, which is not surprising, because one party is having a real primary, the other party -- our party, isn't really having a real primary.
It's not surprising that Republican voters are showing up more in the polling. That there's more intensity for Republicans in the polling, which is, I think, making the polling a little bit more Republican than it would be -- than it will be in let's say three or four months when Democratic voters recognize that it's going to be Trump and Biden, and it's going to be time to engage.
Joe Biden has a very strong argument to make for reelection. The country is clearly better off than when he came to office. And Republicans have the most unfit disgraced person to run for president in our history. I think we should be able to win this election.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about the debacle in Congress over the Democrats agreeing to a very far-reaching immigration in order to have the aid to Ukraine and Israel unblocked.
ROSENBERG: Yes. I think it's really important for political observers abroad to understand that the Republicans are not necessarily operating in a place based on polling and strategy.
Their leader is an impulsive, out of control, you know, diminished figure. And I think what you're seeing is that this is a sign of desperation for them.
They know they're -- they know that he's damaged goods. They haven't been performing well in the elections. Their party is broke and out of money. They're having enormous issues with the operations of the party. He's getting crushed in the courts right now.
And so, I think this is a sign of desperation because the biggest challenge the Republicans have right now is that all their major talking points against Joe Biden, the economy was terrible, that's not true. Inflation is too high, that's no longer true. Crime is rising, that's not true. He's waged a war on energy, that's not true, right?
The core of their indictments of Biden have all evaporated because of Biden's success as president. So, what they were left with was this border stuff.
And now, they've actually done something that I think is incredible, which is they're going to be campaigning on this idea that they want more immigrants to come into the country, the border being chaos, and they want Putin to win in Russia. Good luck trying to run on that platform in this country at this point. It's an absurdity.
So, this area where they had an advantage over us, I think they're blowing it and they're now giving us the ability to bludgeon them with not solving a problem that they have argued aggressively is a huge crisis.
AMANPOUR: You said work has got to be done and Biden has said work has got to be done.
ROSENBERG: So, I will just say that I think the Biden campaign is not as far along as I think many of us would like. And that, you know, given the gravity of this election and given Trump's capacity to create noise and distraction and dictate the daily discourse in the United States, we're going to have to be very loud and very aggressive.
And I worked in the Clinton war room in '92 and, you know, I was, you know, trained as a young information warrior, as we call it in our politics, and we're going to -- we've got -- we're up against a very loud and noisy machine on the other side.
And we've got to start getting loud and being aggressive. And I think the Biden campaign is slowly, you know, getting to the point where it needs to be. I don't think they're going to be fully up and running for another six to eight weeks, which in our system is a long time. I know for many countries, the entire election is six to eight weeks.
But I think you're going to start to see -- by March, you're going to start to see really the full general election campaign.
AMANPOUR: Really interesting perspective. Simon Rosenberg, Democratic strategist, thank you so much.
ROSENBERG: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, all of this political maneuvering in the United States causes a good deal of palpitations amongst allies and others here overseas.
Up next on the program, from my archive, on this weekend's 45th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution, the people's struggle for democracy and freedom continues to this day.
Then, my conversation with the cast of the hit comedy drama "Kim's Convenience" as it lands here in a London theatre.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILES MITCHELL, ACTOR: I think it write-in navigates a really warped and edgy logic in a really smart way.
AMANPOUR: This week from my archive, a look at Iran, the homeland I grew up in and then left after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which took place 45 years ago this Sunday, and the theocracy survived, despite decades of harsh American sanctions.
At the turn of the millennium though, I reported from Iran amid the first ever period of reform with the election of Muhammad Khatami. I met people hungry and hopeful for change as the country wrestled with the question, would it remain a strict theocracy or become a democracy.
And as a journalist, of course, I was fascinated by the role Iranian journalists had played in leading the reform movement.
AMANPOUR: The busiest place in Tehran each morning is the local newsstand.
Aren't you amazed about all of these -- all of these newspapers?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's great. Everybody can get a piece of the action.
AMANPOUR: Get a piece of the action. What is the action? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The action is just reading and enjoy what's going
on in society.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it was not possible before.
AMANPOUR: It wasn't possible before?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't possible before.
AMANPOUR: In fact, that's the point. Ever since I've come here, people keep telling me that they simply cannot believe what they're reading in the newspapers today.
There's literally an explosion. Look at all of these papers that have emerged since Khatami's election. And it's a battleground, these here are aligned with the hardline conservatives. And these in the front support Khatami's reforms.
Democracy in Iran is literally being born in these newspapers.
But of course, democracy is coming at a very high price.
Journalist Hamidreza Jalaipur (ph) has been arrested, imprisoned, even threatened for criticizing the hardline conservatives, his opponents in the fight for freedom.
HAMIDREZA JALAIPUR, JOURNALIST: One month ago they stop our newspaper (INAUDIBLE). After that, we opened two newspapers. And maybe if they stop our newspaper again, maybe in near future there will be four newspapers, I think.
AMANPOUR: When I asked the conservatives why they closed down the newspapers, they say that you lie, that you write falsehoods, basically that you're a bunch of criminals. Do you think you're a criminal?
JALAIPUR: No. I'm educated.
AMANPOUR: Even the most religious Iranians feel the pressure mounting. Psychology student Fatimeh Haira Ju (ph) says the conservatives are misreading the Koran because she says the holy book guarantees personal liberties.
FATIMEH HAIRA JU, STUDENT: The Koran gives us freedom of choice. If the conservatives want to disagree with the idea of personal freedom, then they are against the essence of the Koran.
But unfortunately, the conservatives are doing this in order to maintain their own power.
Somebody in the West looking at you with the chardor on your face, obviously very religious, they might be surprised to hear what you're saying about the freedoms and the reforms that you want. Should they be surprised?
JU: No, they shouldn't be surprised, the fact that I wear a hijab or some people wear a hijab should not imply that we do not want freedom, that we want restrictions.
AMANPOUR: But those reforms are running up against a wall of resistance, for men like Movahedi Zavoji (ph), a member of parliament and one of the hardest of all the hard-liners.
I've been talking to many, many Iranians since I've been here. I've talked to religious people, I've talked to more secular people, I've talked to young people, to old people, village people, city people.
They say they want freedom of expression, freedom of political expression, they want political reform, and they say they've had enough of hard line conservatives like yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our people have been free since the revolution. Of course I believe that Miss Amanpour has spoken to a limited number of people.
AMANPOUR: Sir, every time I ask a hard-liner, a conservative, the same question, they tell me that I'm asking and talking to the wrong people. 80 percent of the people of Iran voted twice in presidential elections and in municipal elections for reform and for freedom.
So are you saying that 80 percent of the people of Iran don't know what they're talking about?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They voted for Khatami because they hoped it could solve the economic problems, in other words, they didn't vote for Khatami so that he would bring political changes.
AMANPOUR: To me, you sound slightly out of touch. Everybody we talked to say they want freedom. If they don't get their freedom, there's going to be an explosion in Iran. There's too much pressure building. Do you accept that?
AMANPOUR: And so for the record, back then in 2000, that hard-line mullah I was talking to , lost he lost his seat in parliament and the young woman in that report won a seat as reformists swept the (INAUDIBLE) elections that year.
Meantime though successive hard-liners have been in power, and in 2022 the current president would not sit with me at the United Nations in New York unless I wore a veil, as I sought to ask him about the woman- like freedom movement and Massah Amini who died in the custody of his morality police.
That struggle, that movement was all about women's freedom, including their choice to not wear the veil anymore. And the struggle continues.
When we come back, in my letter from London, what the hit comedy drama "Kim's Convenience" can teach us about immigration and family life. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It has a really identifiable and accessible story of a generation gap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Welcome back. In this week's "Letter from London", I paid a visit to "Kim's Convenience" the comedy about a Korean-Canadian family began on the fringes of Toronto's theatre scene. The country's first Asian-led show that later bloomed into a five-season sitcom which launched the career of Marvel and "Barbie" superstar Simu Liu.
Well now "Kim's Convenience" has come to London performing to sell-out crowds and hoping to extend its run to the world-famous West End.
And I got to sit down in the middle of their convenience store with show creator Ins Choi and cast members.
AMANPOUR: Ins Choi, Jennifer, Miles, welcome to the program.
So you did the play in Canada first on the fringe, and --
INS CHOI, "KIM'S CONVENIENCE": Yes.
AMANPOUR: -- you two are not Canadian.
AMANPOUR: What did you guys know about this story or even about the Korean immigrant experience before you took on these roles? Janet -- not Janet -- Jennifer. You did a good job.
JENNIFER KIM, ACTOR, KIM'S CONVENIENCE: I am Korean-American. So, I come from -- so I was born in Korea, and I moved to California with my parents.
And so, they've become sort of first-generation immigrants. And I sort of became a Janet for them, because, because they had, you know, language barriers that they were working through as they were starting their business. And you know, even if they wanted to make an appointment for hospital, you know, doctor's visit, like then they would have to go through me.
And so, I very much understand sort of that immigrant Korean life kind of firsthand. The story is quite personal to me, actually. Yes.
My parents also had small family business, me and my brother were child laborers. Retired laborers.
AMANPOUR: This is in the United States.
KIM: Yes, yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: Do you think Canada was more receptive to some of the, you know, fun -- funny, but edgy jokes that you made. For instance in the Netflix series, the very first opening episode has a joke about a gay couple and the gay pride.
CHOI: There is a lot of humor, and some of the humor is -- kind of walks that line of -- in my opinion, it's being real. It's being real.
I think there is a tendency for like mainstream to see a Korean family or an Asian family and want to imbue them with all wholesome good morals, the, you know, the model minority, the -- you know.
But from the inside, we're full of warts and faults. And there's a lot of racism within cultures, amongst Asians even.
AMANPOUR: Miles, let me ask you, I don't know whether there was a sharp intake of breath at any of the performances when one of your scenes -- when you're, you're playing a guy coming in you know, bomber jacket, want to buy something. And --
CHOI: Jean jackets.
AMANPOUR: Jean jacket.
CHOI: That is crucial.
AMANPOUR: Sorry. Ok, tell me why?
CHOI: Because Mr. Kim has a theory. And if you can't see the play, then you'll find out what you're --
AMANPOUR: You're going to have to say because I'm --
CHOI: It's not a bomber jacket.
AMANPOUR: I'm very glad you corrected me.
Miles: Steal, no steal.
AMANPOUR: So basically, the grocery owner, nice guy.
AMANPOUR: He's basically saying to his daughter, Janet, who's helping in the store. Look at that. MITCHELL: Yes.
AMANPOUR: You know, here comes -- and he doesn't say black. She says because, because --
AMANPOUR: -- he's black? And steal, no steal. He's asking her to judge whether your character is going to steal. That is edgy. Did you feel that?
MITCHELL Yes, I think, I think the write-in (ph) navigates a really warped and edgy logic in a really smart way. And I just -- just burst out laughing when I first read it.
And I've had, you know, lots of friends and had a really diverse audience here at Park theatre, that I've just found that scene is like the memorable highlight because of its like genius writing.
AMANPOUR: It has a really identifiable and accessible story of generation gap. That is a -- that's universal, isn't it? I mean, that really --
CHOI: When I first wrote it, I knew that Korean -- second-generation Koreans like my sisters and my cousins would love it, because kind of like making fun of Appa and Umma, like, you know, a little bit.
And then I knew the parents would love it. And I knew that Asians would love it. But then it just kept like, black families would come, Asian family, South Asia -- Southeast Asian families would, even white families would be like, that's like my dad.
You know, this is like a Romanian family or a Jewish family and they'd be like, that's just like my mom and I had that exact conversation with her. But you know, in a different language.
AMANPOUR: In this -- in this play, Mr. Kim says, the store my story, right? So, he identifies the store with himself. And because neither of his kids where you've written them want to become store owners, want to take over from him, he's kind of worried about what's going to happen to him. What's his legacy? What does he have to show in the world?
But I don't know whether it's a spoiler alert or what but does the son -- does the son come back and take over?
CHOI: I think it is a question for many immigrant parents who take up and do well, they come to another country and they do well. They -- and then they want better for their kids.
CHOI: But in this family, the kids don't actually live up to the expectation of their parents. And so it's, ok, what --
AMANPOUR: But they're good kids.
CHOI: They're good kids. But career wise.
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes.
CHOI: A photographer, and they work at a car rental shop, which is fine, but they're not a doctor or a lawyer.
AMANPOUR: So what is it like for you being the writer, the creator, the actor, and multiple generation actor?
CHOI: I studied acting, I never studied writing.
CHOI: Writing was always like a hobby, like a secret that I just did on the side, didn't want to share with anyone because it's too vulnerable to share your writing.
I mean, ever since I wrote (INAUDIBLE) play, I had two kids. And I got old. And I always wanted my kids to call me Appa.
AMANPOUR: That's great.
CHOI: So as soon as they were born, Appa. Now, they call me Appa. And now I play Appa.
AMANPOUR: Thank you very much indeed.
MITCHELL: You're welcome.
KIM: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And it really hit a chord that slice of life.
When we come back, more of your questions and my answers. "Ask Amanpour" is next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back. Let's now find out what is on your mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi Christiane, I work at a marketing agency and we're already using A.I. But I want to know how we can educate clients and other agencies on how A.I. isn't scary. It is actually something that can be leveraged. (END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Ok. It is a good question. And when I had Mustafa Suleyman on the program last week, the A.I. pioneer, he told me that it is all about productivity and choice and remembering that A.I. can make everybody all smarter, but it is really, as he said, our slave.
AMANPOUR: It is a tool. We are in control. And that is your challenge.
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I'm Christiane Amanpour in London, thank you for watching.
And I'll see you all again next week.