Return to Transcripts main page
Quest Means Business
Debt Stalemate at Home Looms Over Biden Talks Abroad; Twitter Found Not Liable for Hosting ISIS Content; Montana Governor Bans TikTok; Former United CEO Reflects on Early Challenges. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired May 18, 2023 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: So the markets had their trading with one hour to go before the end of the trading day, and we've recovered
most of the losses over the course of the day, but the market is uneasy, and we will discuss the reasons why, what they are waiting for particularly
on the government on the debt ceiling.
The markets and the main events that I'm bringing to your attention. The threat of a US default is overshadowing President Biden's trip to the G7 in
The governor of Montana has signed a bill that's banning TikTok. It is the first US state to so do.
And the former United chief executive, Oscar Munoz tells me listening is the key to the corporate turnaround.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSCAR MUNOZ, FORMER UNITED CHIEF EXECUTIVE: In a turnaround situation, there are many things that are broken, which one you begin with first, that
you use as a platform for the subsequent changes that are there is very critical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Live from New York on Thursday, May the 18th. I am Richard Quest, and I mean business.
President Biden is touting the unity of Western allies, whilst at the same time he is facing difficult debt ceiling talks back at home. The President
has now arrived in Japan ahead of this weekend's G7 Summit. The other leaders might have questions about the risk of a US default, the group is
set to discuss China's growing influence and ambitions.
And President Biden told Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, it is important for them to remain united.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The bottom line, Mr. Prime Minister is that when our countries stand together, we stand stronger, and
I believe the whole world is safer when we do.
So thank you again for having me here today and look forward to the next several days.
REPORTER: Mr. President, can you guarantee allies that the US won't default?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Back in Washington, the Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen is holding meeting with the country's top bankers right now. JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon
and Bank of America's chief executive, Brian Moynihan are to attend. It is part of the annual gathering of the Bank Policy Institute.
The meeting is also to include some heads of regional banks, which have been dealing with investor turmoil.
Matt Egan is with me.
Look, I get sort of a bit weary, because everybody says we're not going to default, and nobody intends for the default, and there has never been a
default. So, defaults will happen, sort of by accident, if it does.
MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Richard, I think that is exactly the risks that keeps Janet Yellen awake at night. She has spoken a lot about how it is
very risky if Congress waits until the last minute to address this, because you've got to remember, I mean, Treasury processes millions of payments
every single day and they are also getting, you know, billions of dollars in terms of revenue, and there's a lot of moving pieces there.
And so there is always the risk that they end up getting it wrong if there is a miscalculation, and instead of this intentional default, where maybe
some House Republicans are sort of willing to talk about a default, you get an accidental default, and intentional or not, I mean, it would still be
really, really bad.
So yes, I do think that that's a risk and during this meeting, going on between Secretary Yellen and the bank CEOs, I think it's clear that, you
know, they all understand the stakes here. Certainly Yellen, but also to the bank leaders and this group includes Jamie Dimon and Jane Fraser and
Brian Moynihan and Richard, Jamie Dimon, he has been very outspoken about just how terrible a default would be.
QUEST: Right. But I guess the other danger is the technical default, where I mean, everybody knows that it will all be sorted out afterwards, but by
some reason, there is a technical default, which has the awful effects, but it is still -- everybody knows that the US is not going to default, long-
EGAN: Right. It sounds like you're referring to kind of a brief default, one that gets corrected very quickly.
EGAN: But you know, the White House has put out their own economic projections saying that, even if it was just a brief default, you're still
talking about the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, you're still talking about turbulence in the stock market. So yes, hopefully, if there
is somehow a default, they would remedy the situation very quickly.
And you know, you would be sort of like a 2008 TARP moment where if you'll recall, the House initially voted down that very controversial Wall Street
bailout. Markets went haywire, and then a couple of days later, they corrected the vote, and everything was fine, at least as far as getting
So there is that risk, and I just think all of this speaks to the really enormous stakes here. And hopefully, Richard, they get this resolved,
QUEST: Showing your age and when we remember the TARP, I forgot about that.
EGAN: I didn't say how old I was when it happened.
QUEST: And in fact, I have the newspaper of the day, on my wall -- my sort of Wall of Fame, if you like, of famous newspaper headlines on the day that
they decided not to TARP and the market crashed.
Thank you, sir. Grateful.
The Supreme Court has ruled that Twitter is not liable for terrorist content hosted on its platform. The court said that while the material in
tweets by terrorist groups, ISIS was illegal, the company did not provide substantial aid to terror attacks.
In a separate decision, the court ruled against the late Andy Warhol Foundation in a copyright dispute over a Prince portrait. It says his
artwork was not sufficiently different from the photograph's original.
Supreme Court reporter, Ariane de Vogue is with me.
Well, two very different things. Let's deal with the first one, even though maybe the Andy Warhol is slightly more interesting, but let's deal with the
first one. So, they're not liable for terrorist material per se, but it is not giving a greenlight to the social media companies.
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, I'll tell you one thing. They are breathing a big sigh of relief here today, because what was at
issue is whether or not they could be held liable for the content put on their sites by third parties. They are very grateful today that the Supreme
Court ruled in their favor.
Both of these cases were brought by families of victims of terrorism and those families said that content, third party content both on Google and
Twitter had helped the terrorists and they wanted to hold Twitter and Google liable.
The Twitter case, what the court basically said is that the families hadn't reached the bar, high enough bar to show that Twitter somehow aided and
abetted through this terrorism law. And in the Google case, which was a separate case, it had to do with this federal law that gives these internet
companies this broad immunity from these kinds of challenges.
Here, the Supreme Court avoided that question altogether, so that means that that law that the internet companies say is crucial to keep them from
being sued repeatedly, that remains in effect for right now.
QUEST: Right now, let's talk about knowing the political and conceptual construction of the court. Did that play into it? Did conservative politics
play into that decision in a sense, that's what you would have expected?
DE VOGUE: Well, here is what is interesting. At oral arguments, you could see that the justices took up this case, but then when it was before them,
and they were looking at this gigantic question about what to do with these internet companies, it was almost as if they felt like, we can't go there
yet. We'll do that limited ruling in Twitter and in the Google case, it's just not ready for us to weigh in.
That means they're going to be more challenges, but for right now, those companies are okay.
QUEST: So the Andy Warhol one, whether or not the picture is similar enough. Now, they've said that it is, and you know, there is liability.
Many photographers and publishers are very concerned that a Pandora's Box has just been opened.
DE VOGUE: Absolutely right, right? Because the art community was very much on edge here, because what they feared was that if they ruled against Andy
Warhol here, that would mean it would really chill other artists, artists who through history have always looked at pre-existing works in order to
inspire them. It would chill their ability to move forward with this art and indeed, the Supreme Court today ruled against Andy Warhol and basically
he said that he violated the copyright rights of this photographer when he used her photo as a basis, an inspiration for his silkscreen of Prince.
And the court said, look, these two, the photograph and the Andy Warhol silkscreen, they had the same commercial purpose. They were both used for
magazines. Therefore, Andy Warhol violated the copyright, her copyright based on this commercial purpose.
But Justice Elena Kagan, who is a really beautiful writer on the court, she's a liberal, she really went after this. And she said, this is going to
chill artists across the country. Artists who for all history have always looked at pre-existing works.
She says that the majority here, they used the wrong test. They shouldn't have looked at the commercial purpose. Instead, they should have compare
the two pieces of art, and that is what happened here. So really, the art world is going to be watching this closely.
QUEST: It'll be some months, I suspect before you get it, but Montana and TikTok will probably end up in the Supreme Court in some shape or form and
we will talk about that in the future.
Thank you for joining us on this one.
What I'm talking about of course, is TikTok is facing its first US statewide ban. We'll be speaking to TikTok's senior director of Public
Policy in just a moment.
Walmart sales are soaring as people shop for bargains. The largest US retailer is navigating tough economic times and seemingly doing it well.
QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
QUEST: Disney is cancelling plans to expand in Florida amid a political feud with the state's governor. A company memo says Disney no longer plans
to build a new campus that would have brought 2,000 jobs to the state, and Disney says, changing business conditions is the reason.
Natasha Chen has the details.
Natasha, let's be clear and blunt on this, Disney is tying it to the feud with DeSantis.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Richard, they didn't specifically state that in the letter I received, but we all know what
context is going on in the state of Florida right now.
What I can share with you is the letter that was written by Disney's chairman of parks experiences and products, Josh D'amaro. It was an
internal letter shared with me by Disney spokesperson and I'd like to read part of that to you.
It says: "Given the considerable changes that have occurred since the announcement of this project including new leadership and changing business
conditions, we have decided not to move forward with the construction of the campus. This was not an easy decision to make, but I believe it is the
D'amaro continues on to say that they will no longer be asking the rest of the employees to move over to Florida. This was going to be 2,000 jobs
moving from here in Southern California, to Central Florida.
And Disney had purchased this land in the Lake Nona region and this is just east of Walt Disney World theme parks, and you know that this was,
according to the "Orlando Business Journal," approximately going to be a 1.8 million square foot office complex.
So this is a huge pivot for the company in the midst of their squabbles with the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis. We have not yet heard from his
office, but I did hear from the local Orange County mayor's office, the local leadership will be issuing a statement soon and I'm on the lookout
for that. Just checking my e-mail one more time to make sure they didn't just send it to me. But again, a huge pivot for the company -- Richard.
QUEST: And yet they do say that they have still got $17 billion worth of investment that they are hoping to do in southern Florida or Central
Florida, I should say.
CHEN: Right. Let me go back to the letter here. He says that: "I remain optimistic about the direction of our Walt Disney World Business," and that
is in Florida, correct.
And so they do have plans to invest $17 billion there and create 13,000 jobs in the next 10 years, D'amaro says. So, they are not pulling the plug
entirely on, you know, their flagship resort here in the United States, but they certainly are pulling the plug on that office complex.
You know, this move was going to take years and they had offered flexibility for people who were not quite ready to move or who were
hesitant to go from the West Coast to East Coast. Now, they say for those employees who already did move to Florida. They'll work with them on an
individual basis on what to do, including the possibility of moving them back here to Southern California.
QUEST: Natasha, grateful for you. Thank you.
QUEST: Walmart is raising its sales outlook as more shoppers search for bargains. The company says same store sales were up 7.4 percent in the last
quarter, and it came from grocery shoppers.
The largest US retailer says people are pulling back on things like electronics because of inflation.
Walmart shares are at one percent on the latest guidance.
Nathaniel Meyersohn is with me.
So as we look at -- you were telling me a moment ago about grocery shopping. I guess, living in New York where the Walmart's aren't
necessarily around the corner, one doesn't really see that. But elsewhere, it is a fundamental part of American retailing.
NATHANIEL MEYERSOHN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: It is, Richard. Walmart is the largest grocery chain in the United States. It makes up about 25 percent of
the country's groceries, and as prices rise, we've seen food prices rise double digits over the past year, more people are looking to save and so
they're heading to Walmart and other discount stores even Dollar Stores as well.
And so that's benefiting Walmart. Same store sales up 7.4 percent last quarter from a year ago, and the company is also raising its guidance. So
even though we see other retailers slowing down, Walmart is still doing very well.
QUEST: The major competitors -- what? You've got Target, Walmart, who else would you put -- Home Depot, perhaps. Who else did you put into that
MEYERSOHN: Costco, membership clubs like Costco. Walmart also does get squeezed from Dollar Stores -- Dollar Tree and Dollar General. Dollar
General has about 17,000 stores in the US. It is opening a thousand stores a year, and they've pressured Walmart to lower their prices.
So you know, this is the competition that Walmart faces and of course, Amazon, but Amazon isn't as strong with groceries.
QUEST: Okay, so the thing about Walmart that I always find fascinating is despite its size, or perhaps because of its size, it has still maintained
the downward cost pressure and it is still managing to keep that advantage, which I understand how it gets, but it has never been tempted to get
arrogant, if you like and stop pushing up the prices.
MEYERSOHN: I mean, the prices are going up a little bit at Walmart, but because they have this enormous scale, they are really able to drive the
prices down and maintain some of these price gaps with their competitors, and so that is pushing more people to Walmart instead of higher-end
grocers, Albertsons, Kroger, even Whole Foods as well.
So, this is kind of Walmart's sweet spot right now. Walmart also said that it has seen how higher income customers trying to save on groceries trading
down into its stores, so not only lower income shoppers heading to Walmart, but middle income and wealthier shoppers as well.
QUEST: As the British retailer, Tesco is very fond of saying every little helps. Nathaniel, thank you.
Now the high cost of living is the issue that's weighing on Gen Z and millennial workers according to the latest survey from Deloitte. Half of
those surveyed said they live from paycheck to paycheck. Many say they're taking on a second job.
But interestingly, workplace appears to improve just before the pandemic. Both millennials and Gen Z'ers say they are happier with their work-life
balance, and they feel they have more flexibility.
Michele Parmelee is the Deloitte's global deputy chief. She is with me from New Orleans.
You know, I sort of read the survey and I looked at it, and I thought, oh, here we go. The whining Gen Z'ers again, they're wanting everything their
own way in one way or the other. But actually, they seem to be worried about costs, but happier at work.
MICHELE PARMELEE, GLOBAL DEPUTY CEO AND CHIEF PEOPLE AND PURPOSE OFFICER, DELOITTE: Yes, that's right. Hi, Richard. It's great to be here today and
speak to you about Deloitte's 12th Annual Gen Z and Millennial Survey.
You're right that they have acknowledged that they are more satisfied in the workplace. They've seen progress with respect to work-life balance and
flexibility. They've seen that their employers have taken actions in areas important to them, like diversity and inclusion, and sustainability, and
societal impact and mental health support.
They're concerned, though, that if the economy doesn't improve that setbacks will occur, and as you've said, cost of living is their top
QUEST: You know, I mean, there is not much they can do about cost of living except cut back or ask for a raise, but let's look at the others, climate
I've heard numerous CEOs say that their employees are telling them, they want the company to do the right thing. They want the company to be a
leader and that seems to be borne out by what your survey shows.
PARMELEE: Yes. Correct. The other two top societal concerns are unemployment and climate change and climate change has consistently been in
the top three for years.
They want to see action from their employers, more than 50 percent of them tell us that they're asking their employers for action. And not only do
they want to see action, they want to be empowered to be involved in making a difference with regard to climate change. So that means subsidies so they
can afford more sustainable products and services, but also the ability to influence the sustainability agenda, as well as be educated about what they
can do in their personal lives to positively impact the planet.
QUEST: I guess the most important aspect of your survey is how companies use it to attract knowing what their younger staff are going to want to
Now this work-life balance. I mean, besides Elon Musk saying it's morally wrong to work from home, but this work-life balance. It is a fascinating
one because they wanted to work from home, and then they didn't want to work from home. Now they sometimes want to work from home.
PARMELEE: Well, you're right. The top thing they want is flexibility, right? Flexibility in terms of when and where they work. So the idea of
(when to work from) office, as well as when to work remotely is important to them because they see pros and cons of each, right?
Working from home gives them greater flexibility, they feel they're more productive, it reduced their costs. You don't have commuting costs. They
don't have to procure this work wardrobe, dry cleaner work wardrobe, but they also see the benefits of being in the office in terms of
collaboration, learning, and acclimating to their organization's culture and just connecting with each other.
QUEST: Michele, it's a fascinating one. Thank you. We'll talk more about it in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you.
QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight from New York.
Montana is targeting TikTok. Now, Montana has become the first US state to slap an outright ban on TikTok.
The TikTok social media senior policy director will join me to discuss basically the practicalities of this. Is it even practical to do it? In a
QUEST: Montana has become the first US state to adopt an outright ban on TikTok. Governor Greg Gianforte said the move will protect people's
personal and private data from China's Communist Party. You see there, "to protect the personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party."
Montana's attorney general says he hopes that other states will follow. The lawmaker who introduced a bill said TikTok was endangering the safety of
Montanans and Americans at large.
It's expected the ban will take effect on January 1st. App Stores could be fined $10,000.00 a day if they don't comply. TikTok's senior director of
public policy is Eric Ebenstein. He joins me now.
Well, Eric, I mean, is it your fear this is the floodgates? We know that we've had variety of bans on work, in federal government, in state
government, but this is the first outright ban.
ERIC EBENSTEIN, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, TIKTOK: Richard, thank you for having me here today.
I want to first note that there is no other state in the United States that currently has this type of legislation under consideration. This is a
QUEST: Yet, yet.
EBENSTEIN: The states have been in session for months, and we'll be continuing for another couple of weeks. There are a couple of reasons for
it we think.
One of which is, it doesn't seem that there is a clear plan on how they would enact or operationalize this piece of legislation, and there's a
reason for that and that is that, you can't -- there is no playbook for censoring the internet and that is what Montana seems to be trying to do
QUEST: Okay, but do we have for example, cases where sport betting is not allowed in one state? So there are cases where states have banned something
that is legal in another state, and the technology has had to be adapted accordingly.
EBENSTEIN: The difference here is the constitution and the First Amendment and we're seeing quite a lot of civil liberty groups, digital literacy
groups, digital liberty groups coming out on both sides of the political spectrum noting the many, many faults with this legislation, including most
notably the ACLU who point out the First Amendment of the constitution.
QUEST: The problem here is TikTok has been saying from beginning that it's not an arm of the Chinese, it doesn't hand over the data, there are no
privacy issues, and no one believes it. That's your problem.
EBENSTEIN: There's a reason why we continue to say that and that is because it's true. There's never been evidence, proof that we've done as we told
everyone that we would not do it and we haven't done it.
We are taking things one step further. We agree there are serious, legitimate concerns about national security writ large across the industry.
Project Texas is a multibillion dollar investment in the United States to secure U.S. user data in a way that I think no other similarly placed
company can do.
QUEST: The growth and the importance of TikTok now in the social arena is so huge. I guess the onus on you to prove otherwise in the terms of this
case is high. And in the eyes of Montana, you failed.
Why do you think that Montana have done this?
Do you think it is a personal grudge against TikTok?
EBENSTEIN: We have 150 million users in the United States and over 5 million businesses that make a living on our platform, that find community
and enjoy their experience on TikTok. It is a really fun, enjoyable experience.
And we continue to support our users going forward. We think that whatever issues Montana might have, we are confident our users will continue to seek
our community and we will be there to support them.
QUEST: The big problem with your position is so many other countries are taking the same view, at least in terms of allowing TikTok, the app, to be
on work phones or federal phones.
Australians, the British, various European countries have all done -- the Italians particularly -- have all done the same thing.
So you do end up with a position, eventually, where I have to say to you, why are they right?
Or rather, why are they all wrong when you're right?
EBENSTEIN: That is a great question. It's one I get a lot. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation out about TikTok. If the question is
about data security, national security, let's have an industry wide solution.
Putting out a ban on one app or one class of app does nothing for the overall situation. If you want to talk about data security in the United
States, let's talk about having a national privacy law.
QUEST: But nobody, but nobody wants you part of that conversation.
EBENSTEIN: We will continue to have that conversation. We will continue to make sure that everyone can see that, here in the United States, we have
Project Texas, an unprecedented effort, $1.5 billion in the United States to have safe and secure U.S. user data stored by an American company here
on their cloud.
QUEST: I'm glad you came on today to talk about it. Thank you. It is a tricky subject. I'm not even sure how it'll work, as you say, logistically.
What happens if you have TikTok with VPNs. Not entirely sure how it would work but that is a problem for another day. We will talk about it then.
Thank you, sir.
EBENSTEIN: Thank you very much, appreciate it.
QUEST: A former chief executive of United Airlines is telling me his first steps were critical in turning around the airline. Oscar Munoz faced no
shortage of issues when he took over United in 2015. Now he's written a book, "Turnaround Time." We spoke about the biggest challenges he faced.
QUEST (voice-over): Oscar Munoz is used to managing turbulence. When he took over as chief executive of United, the airline was struggling after
its 2010 merger with Continental.
The two cultures had failed to come together and passengers completed about long lines and poor service.
OSCAR MUNOZ, FORMER CEO, UNITED AIRLINES: All good relationships are built on trust. We know that and we know that we have to earn yours.
QUEST (voice-over): The new United, ranked last by JD Power among major U.S. carriers in customer satisfaction. And his predecessor was forced out
amid a federal investigation into his dealings with the head of New York's Airport Authority, although he was never charged.
Then, just over a month into Oscar's tenure, he found himself in the hospital.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
The reports are from "The Wall Street Journal," it was a result of a heart attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: How close to death for you?
MUNOZ: I will explain it this way. To this day, when I go in for checkups, there is always someone there, who was there the day I arrived. People will
come up and just hug you, hold you for an inordinate amount of time. And I always know what it means.
Because people that are seasoned, nurses who have been there, said, we've seen people come and go. We've never seen someone come in as serious as you
were and still make it out.
QUEST: I'm impressed at the speed that you get back to work even after you've had the first heart treatment and then you have the heart
QUEST: Were you surprised?
MUNOZ: I was not at all. Actually, I think the support from my United family, letters, flowers and food that poured in every day, that my kids
were bringing to the hospital and literally read every morning from a bag of mail gave me the understanding and confirmation that the people I had
just been asked to lead 1.5 months before were the real deal.
QUEST (voice-over): The most damaging incident during Oscar's tenure was in April 2017, when Dr. David Tao was violently dragged off of a United flight
to make room for commuting crew members. The incident was captured on cell phone video, sparking outrage.
Oscar faced criticism for his tepid initial response. Later though, he realized his mistake. He issued a full apology, a mea culpa. When United
settled with Dr. Tao, it was for an undisclosed sum. Tao's lawyers even praised Oscar for taking responsibility when they put out their
MUNOZ: It is common today to spin and move the great divide and create headlines that service that. Again, my maternal grandmother was a great
inspiration for me. And I never saw complain. I certainly never saw her blame anyone else. I think the lesson in that section of the book is, at
the end of the day, I had to own the whole thing.
QUEST: Did your internal people say, don't say that?
Don't say that, Oscar.
MUNOZ: The audible gasps brought from the producers in my interviewer's ear and my team sitting behind me -- I think, wait, he's not supposed to say
that. I think I find that now amusing. But again, it is never too late to do the right thing is what I always like to say. It was broken and it got
out there. The hole was dug. There was no getting out of it.
And it was just the practical thing to do but also the right thing to do. We screwed up, I screwed up in what I said. I didn't handle it well. So
let's own it, tell them how we are going to fix it and then move on.
Knowing that I could repeat exactly the words I said eight years later is an important part of --
QUEST: So let's turn to United. It truly was a basket case. But you turned it around. I know you didn't turn around single-handedly.
But what was the core of what you did?
MUNOZ: In a turnaround situation, a mess as you determine it, what I've learned over many years of work experiences that, in a turnaround
situation, there are many things that are broken. Which one you begin with first, which you use as a platform for the subsequent changes that are
there, is very critical.
I had no shortage of things that people wanted me to do. And my instinct, based on a little bit of my heritage and background and things I've
experienced before was to -- I could see and feel when I met our employees that there was some level of disconnect there.
So I felt the need to go out and to listen and learn from them before I led us into the next chapter.
QUEST: There is one area we have to talk about, of course, which is your background.
MUNOZ: Yes, yes.
QUEST: How -- you are the classic. I mean, you are the poster boy, in a sense, for an immigrant entering the United States under difficult
circumstances, you made it here to the very top.
How concerned are you, now, over what you see with the issues of immigration?
MUNOZ: It's not just immigration. It is a combination of all the big social issues that -- we have grown into a country -- there is a saying that I
learned a long time ago from a movie. It said all great civilizations first implode from within.
And even as a young child, for some reason that hit me. And I fear that we are doing the same thing in the great states of America. Because every
issue is politicized, polarized. And my solution -- this always sounds like I'm running for office but I'm not -- is we have to jointly decide that we
want to not only come together but move forward.
We don't want to just stand on opposite end and fight like hell with very loose facts and we do not make any progress. So whether it is immigration,
women's rights, et cetera.
QUEST: Why aren't you running for office?
Not will you because you said no several times. But the more important question is, why aren't you?
I mean, what is your next thing?
QUEST: I've had in my life, back a long time ago, certain parties, the powers that be, kingmakers approach you, they have a dinner and start
suggesting that. And I've always avoided it only from the standpoint of, again, I think my style can work better from the private sector.
But again, you never say never.
QUEST: Never say never. He might live to regret it saying it.
Coming up, some may view them as pets. A wildlife veterinarian in Mexico City wants to see more bugs. What she is doing to set it forward.
QUEST: Agriculture and urbanization are threatening delicate ecosystems worldwide. Mexico City's metro area is aimed at more than 21 million
people. And they have got a serious insect problem although it is not what you think.
Today on Call to Earth, we meet a wildlife veterinarian, working to help the city's bug and bird populations flourish.
MONICA YADEUN DE ANTUNANO, FOUNDER, URBAN BIRD SANCTUARIES (voice-over): The amount of insects needed by birds is insane, especially needed for the
chicks. Without insects, we don't have the next generation of birds.
My name is Monica Yadeun de Antunano. I am a wildlife veterinarian and I am the founder of a project called Urban Bird Sanctuaries.
Right now we are experiencing a huge loss in insect populations. It has been talked about, the apocalypse of insects, which sounds scary. But I
think it is a huge opportunity to actually get involved in nature conservation and actually have a huge impact.
YADEUN (voice-over): It is really important that we start working with cities because there are places that are really fertile. They have good
weather. It is why we humans pick to live here.
As cities grow, only taking into account what we need, birds can no longer find food, they can no longer find water, they can no longer find places to
hide from predators, they can no longer find safe spaces where to put their nests.
When we think in regenerating species, we often think of large species, I don't know, eagles, jaguars, cougars. And you need a lot of hectares to do
that. Insects are really easy to help.
So we have this online program that is eight modules of pre-recorded video tutorials where each participant can see the tutorials and then they
understand their space, because each space is different. Some will work better for butterflies, some for bees, some for hummingbirds.
So each one has to take the modules and apply it in their space.
YADEUN (voice-over): We have we more caterpillars in this space.
YADEUN (voice-over): Not only because we plant the right species but also because we change what people perceive what a nice space it is. When you
have caterpillars, your plants are going to look all eaten. Right now, our aesthetic criteria is like, oh, no, your plants look perfect and you have
to kill whatever is eating your plant because it will not look nice.
But in reality, the plant is not being eaten by anybody. It doesn't play a role in the ecosystem, so it is not helping anybody.
YADEUN (voice-over): So the program seeks to transform cities (INAUDIBLE) for birds and pollinators but more than that, the main goal of the project
is to try to transform the way in which we relate to nature, to know that we're not the species that is only here to (INAUDIBLE) and the only way to
help nature is by damaging less, not using that or this or picking this instead of these.
It is really possible to relate to nature in a different way in which we can start to really restoring different ecosystems from our spaces without
even leaving our homes. But we in spaces like this, can also have a massive impact, because we are not reinventing the wheel.
What we are doing is reproducing what nature has done for millions of years, which is making sure that the connections that every species needs
with everything (INAUDIBLE) are there. So all we are doing is bringing those connections back. So biodiversity can thrive.
What we have to do is look back at nature. Nature knows what it is doing. Nature knows best. All we need to do is just look at it.
QUEST: I am not a huge fan of insects until I saw that. Now they are welcome in my garden anytime. Let us know what you're doing, #CalltoEarth.
QUEST: The operator of New York City's subways says readership (sic) has now hit a post pandemic record. The Metropolitan Transit Authority said on
Wednesday that there were 4 million fares, hasn't happened since March of 2020.
In February, subway ridership was two thirds of '19 levels. They are trying to make up for the lost revenue. It is putting in new turnstiles to
discourage fare evasion. It's the first turnstile redesign in modern history.
QUEST: The MTA estimate that it lost $690 million to those turnstile jumpers. You may wonder why it is taking them so long to put something in.
The changes follow behind another major milestone. The opening of the new Grand Central Madison terminal. Its two new tunnels have increased train
capacity to and from New York City by 50 percent. You remember last summer it was all still under construction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: I'm now about 150 feet beneath the street level. This is one of the tracks and major concourses. And so I asked to builders, what was here
before all this was built? Solid bedrock. They literally blasted the whole thing to create this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: The Grand Central Madison terminal is where the MTA's chief executive, Janno Lieber, joins me now.
I'll tell you that I am still gob smacked from seeing what you did there and just how -- you know, public procurement and public agencies often have
a terrible reputation managing to deliver on time. That was a really tremendous project. Now it seems ridership is back.
JANNO LIEBER, CEO, MTA: Welcome back to Grand Central Terminal, Richard. You saw when it was in process. It is open now and both of our commuter
railroads, Metro North and Long Island now connect here and are both hitting ridership records every day.
The subways' new ridership record, it is the best spring weather in New York in generations. New York is rocking. Welcome back.
QUEST: So now you know as a New Yorker says, what have you done for me lately?
How are you going to tackle the fare jumpers?
It has become almost acceptable by sections of the community that would never dream of stealing from a shop to then jump the turnstile or just
shimmy on through when somebody else opens the gate. It is everywhere.
LIEBER: You are right. Definitely during COVID-19, a lot of normal public space behavior broke down. On the buses, we actually could protect the
drivers, were telling people to get on the back and don't pay. So we have to reestablish the norms of behavior in New York.
Part of that is changing the physical environment. You talked about it a few moments ago. The turnstiles that we have, which are a little outdated,
are way too easy to get through without paying.
Then for fire code reasons, we have an exit door that people just pop open and walk in. We are in the process of changing that. We had a really good
report from a major panel yesterday. And people are starting to recognize it is time to deal with this issue.
But I just want to emphasize, it is not keeping us from bringing everybody back to work, to the theater, to shopping and everything that makes New
QUEST: What I think people don't realize is the level of fare revenue is a major part of your operating budget. It is not like it is -- you get a vast
subsidy that makes up the difference.
LIEBER: You are absolutely right. More than in Europe and Asia, we depend on fare revenue in the United States, especially in New York. And it was
always a fare box driven economic system. But we've lost fare revenue.
The governor of New York state led the state legislature to stand up and solve the problem just a few weeks ago because she recognized, in New York,
transit is like air and water. We need it to survive. So we adjusted the new model, we solved our deficit problem for now. It is a big moment.
QUEST: Comparisons are odious, but they are useful in a sense. I was in London last week and you can't really compare the tube and the subway
because the tube is more expensive and the public private partnership that they put in place for the tube.
But it does feel cleaner, and it does feel smoother in a sense as a more polished product. But at a much higher price.
LIEBER: Yes. Every place is different. In New York, the transit is one of the few things that makes New York City affordable. And we really value it.
People can get from one end to another. And that creates opportunity, in job, for education, health care and everything.
We value it as one of the things that makes for equality and affordability in New York.
QUEST: I am not a fair interviewer in this sense because I do use the subway every day and I am a huge fan, as you know, of the subway.
What is the next big thing that you will put there?
LIEBER: Listen, the thing that we are so excited about is that there is an opportunity to take abandoned train lines around the city and turn them
into new routes for our subway system. Those are the kinds of things that we like to do, to take -- we don't have to build brand new subways.
We could get more transit out of our existing infrastructure. We are taking old lines and putting new tracks on them and now running commuter rail
service. So we are going to get more transit out of our system. That is what I love.
QUEST: I thought you were going to say that you're going to take the old stations and old lines and turn them into bars or shopping centers. Sir, we
will talk more before the year is done. I look forward to seeing you then. Thank you.
LIEBER: Thanks, Richard.
QUEST: We will take a Profitable Moment after the break.
QUEST: Tonight's Profitable Moment: I read Oscar Munoz's book about turnaround at United with great interest. I'll declare the conflict of
interest here. I am a United flier. I fly all the other airlines but when I intend to fly across the Atlantic, it is United that usually gets most of
Just historical reasons why. So I suffered through the years pre-Oscar, when the service was dreadful and the food was bad and the planes were late
and dirty. To see the way the airline has turned around, yes, through teamwork. But it was Oscar that did it. Oscar led the way.
That is not an exaggeration. I would get on the plane and ask about what they thought about the CEO -- I do that frequently when I'm flying. I want
to know what the flight attendants think about their managers and their owners and their bosses.
Well, there was never a good word for the predecessor. But Oscar and now Scott is lauded because he gave them back something of pride, something of
dignity. He listened to them. He went -- it sounds so silly, so simple. But that is what it took.
But of course, it was much harder than that. He listened to what was wrong and what was the problems and how he could address them. As he says, he is
an expert at turnarounds, complicated companies like railroads and airlines.
But he had to decide what to go for first, where was going to be the impetus and he chose right: the employees. There are many others who could
do well to learn the same lesson.
And that is it for tonight. I am Richard Quest in New York. Having a long weekend this weekend so I will see you all Monday and I wish you until
then, whatever you are up to in the hours ahead, I hope it is profitable.