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Who's Talking to Chris Wallace

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Says, Age Is A Factor In Politics; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Says, There Will Be Negotiations With GOP; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Calls Out American Oligarchs; Chris Wallace Interviews Carol Burnett; Chris Wallace Interviews Stephen Breyer. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired April 28, 2023 - 22:00   ET



FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yendry (ph) and her mother, Maria, last told us they were in Southern Mexico and were out of money. We don't know if Wilson made it to a Miami swimming pool. It is sadly fitting their stories will soon be replaced with those of others also enduring agony, limbo, even deportation to the start, an infinite cycle endlessly fed with willing new souls, fleeing limitless misery and throwing themselves head-long into a place where they will find great courage and sacrifice.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: More than 87,000 people tried to cross through the Darien Gap in the first three months of this year, according to the Panamanian government. Just last week, the U.S., Colombia and Panama announced they would launch a two-month campaign to try and stop people from making the dangerous journey and try to open up other ways for people to migrate.

Next week, we will bring you around the globe to meet some extraordinary people who are helping the Earth with ways to cut down on carbon, including a new technology that relies on the behavior and habits of whales. I'll see you next Sunday.


CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST (voice over): Tonight, the showdown in Washington.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The president can no longer put this economy in jeopardy.

WALLACE: Republicans and Democrats battle over raising the debt ceiling.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): This MAGA wish list has no chance of moving forward in the Senate.

WALLACE: Just as President Biden announces he is running for a second term.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Let's finish the job.

WALLACE: We will talk with one-time opponent and now supporter Bernie Sanders about Biden's chances, the issue of his age.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Is age a factor? Yes. Is it the only factor?

WALLACE: And the looming economic crisis.

Would you be willing to let the country go into default?

And later this hour, comedy legend Carol Burnett --

CAROL BURNETT, ACTRESS AND COMEDIAN: I am honored to be here. Thank you, Chris.

WALLACE: -- she's just turned 90 but she's still making people laugh.

BURNETT: I still feel like maybe I'm 11.


WALLACE (on camera): Good evening and welcome back to Who's Talking.

Tonight, we begin a new chapter of our show, a new time slot, Friday night, here on CNN, and a renewed focus on what you will be talking about in the coming days.

Right now, Washington is headed for a showdown over raising the nation's debt ceiling with the real possibility the government may default on its debt for the first time in history. President Biden will have to deal with Republicans just as he announces he is running for a second term. The political and economic stakes could not be higher.

And our first guest has a unique perspective on both, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.


WALLACE: President Biden announced this week that he is running for re-election, you have already endorsed him. Why is it that not a single leading Democrat is willing to contest that nomination in the primaries? Why do you think that is?

SANDERS: I suspect that it has to do with a fear of the growth of right-wing extremism in this country, and that is the Republican Party over the last number of years, accelerated by Trumpism, has not become not a conservative party but a right-wing extremist party. And this is a part that -- not all, by any means, but you have many of the leaders who actually don't believe in democracy anymore. You have many Republicans maintaining the lie that Trump actually won the election. You have Republicans working overtime to deny low-income people, people of color, young people the right to vote, people defended the insurrection in January 6th.

So, the first answer to your question, Chris, is that I think there's a great fear in this country about attacks on democracy. We want to maintain democracy. WALLACE: So, you are saying it's more fear of Donald Trump and MAGA than it is enthusiasm for Joe Biden?

SANDERS: Well, I think that's half of it. But the other half is a recognition, I think, that while Biden has not done everything I would like to have seen done, let's talk about what he has accomplished, which is no small thing.

We forget -- as Americans, we have short memory spans. We passed the American rescue plan, which as you'll recall, made sure every working family in the country had $1,400 for husband, wife and kids. We got money to hospitals. We extended unemployment benefits. Bottom line is that colossal piece of legislation, which I helped work on, helped pull this country out of the economic downturn faster than I think in any time in American history when we faced similar economic crises.


That's a big deal.

WALLACE: You say that Joe Biden is a more progressive president than he was a U.S. senator, and you talk some credit along with other progressives in pushing him more to the left. What is it that you think he has done that shows him being more progressive than he was as a senator? Where did he move?

SANDERS: Well, first of all, I think what Biden -- it's not that I pushed him or others pushed him. He ran for president. And he saw millions of people saying, hey, you know what, we want structural changes in this country. We are tired are half measures. The country is in trouble. Let's have the courage to take on big money. He saw that. His staff saw that and said, okay.

So, the ARP program, to my mind, the American rescue plan, was enormously significant. We passed the largest infrastructure bill in modern American history. We put a whole lot of people to work doing meaningful, important work. We finally, in a small way in the Inflation Reduction Act, made -- we got to do more taking on the pharmaceutical industry and beginning to lower prescription drug costs. So, those are not small things.

WALLACE: But, Senator, as Joe Biden gears up for 2024, he has done a number of things that seem to move back towards the center or even to the right. He's approved a massive drilling program in Alaska. He is cracking down on immigration. He opposes criminal justice reform in Washington, D.C. What's going on?

SANDERS: Well, I don't know what's going on. I think I truly disagree with him in terms of that project in Alaska, absolutely. You cannot say, as he does, that climate change is the existential threat to this planet, which it is, and then approve massive oil exploration.

WALLACE: So, is he triangulating? Do you think he's making a move --

SANDERS: I don't want to -- he has his reason. I don't know why. What I can tell you is I strongly oppose that. WALLACE: Let me bring you on to another subject, which is age. The president is 80. You are 81. And according to the polls, most Democrats do not want to see him run again and most of them, it's because of the issue of age. Is that a legitimate concern given the fact the president would be 86 years old at the end of a second term?

SANDERS: Obviously, I have a conflict of interest here. I think we should only elect old people. Look, I think it totally depends on the individual. You know, I'm sure you know, people in their 80s and 90s, who are sharp as a tack and people who are 50, maybe not so much, it depends on the individual. Is age a factor? Yes. Is it the only factor? Obviously not.

WALLACE: But you agree it's a factor?

SANDERS: It's factor but it depends on the individual. Of course, it's a factor.

WALLACE: But you often don't know about the individual. In other words, somebody is 80 years old, he's doing fine, maybe not so great at 82 or 86.

SANDERS: That's a fair point.

WALLACE: Governor Nikki Haley, who is running for the Republican nomination for president, said that she thinks that anybody over the age of 75 who wants to run for president should have to take a mental competency test. When you went after her and accused her --

SANDERS: I didn't go after her. I was asked the question. I think it's kind of an absurd idea.

WALLACE: Okay. And you accused her of ageism. She fired back. Take a look.

NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to have mental competency tests for everyone over the age of 75. That's not personal. We have got seniors who can do many things. The reason why I'm saying that we need that is you should have transparency. Government is supposed to work for the people, not the other way around. Bernie Sanders lost his mind because I asked for that. He is exactly the reason why we need it.

SANDERS: Lost my mind?

WALLACE: I have to say, you were growling as you were listening to that sound bite.

SANDERS: I don't think I lost my mind. Somebody asked me a question. I think what she said -- look, think back. Nikki Haley is a former governor and a woman. How many years ago did people say, well, you know, women can't be presidents. What happens if there's an attack during their period? Do you remember that? Women are just emotionally incapable. They are too emotional. That's the crap that we heard 40 or 50 years ago. So, I didn't quite lose my mind because she made that statement. I think it's unconstitutional. I think it's a dumb statement. And, obviously, I don't support it.

WALLACE: But, Senator, there is a difference. There's nothing inherent about the color of your skin or your gender -- let me just finish -- that nothing inherent about those that raises questions about your competence. And an age, by itself, a number, doesn't either. But candidates routinely share their medical tests.

Public health scientists say that it is common for seniors to experience some decline.


Not all but it's a real thing. So, why is it so outrageous the idea that somebody who is 80 years old and is going to run for president that he should have to share a cognitive test?

SANDERS: Look, all that I'm saying, it is in our country, theoretically, it is the people make a decision, if you think that President Biden is too old and you can't vote for him, fine, that's your view. I would suggest you look at the totality of the person. Take a look at the job that he or she does and make a decision.

WALLACE: Wouldn't it be good to have more information in making that judgment?

SANDERS: I don't think you go around giving cognitive tests to all the candidates, just starring at people at 75, no.

WALLACE: All right. House Republicans want to link raising the debt ceiling to serious cuts and spending, repealing some of the climate reforms that were part of the earlier legislation and new work requirements for people on federal aid. I know you oppose all of that, but we are $31 trillion in debt. Don't we have to do something about government spending?

SANDERS: We do. But, Chris, the hypocrisy really stinks to high heaven on the part of the Republicans. While they are talking about their deep concern about the national debt, which is an issue, and the deficit, which is an issue, you know what else they want to do? They want to repeal the estate tax. The estate tax, if they got their way, would be a $1.8 trillion tax break to the top one-tenth of 1 percent. And they are staying up nights worrying so much about government spending. It's hypocrisy.

Look, these guys are consistent. They take their money from big money interests and they continue their war against working families and low-income people. So, we will do what we can to fight that.

WALLACE: Would you be willing to let the country go into default --


WALLACE: -- rather than negotiate with the Republicans on -- I'm not saying you have to buy -- on some spending cuts?

SANDERS: Well, they control the House. Democrats control the Senate. There will be negotiations. But this issue of holding --

WALLACE: Wait. You say there will be negotiations. The president says no negotiations on the debt limit.

SANDERS: That's right, no negotiations over whether or not we are going to pay our bills. And, by the way, a significant part of that debt was accumulated under, oh, Donald Trump. They voted for it. And Trump among others, Reagan among others, said, of course, you have got to pay your debt. You can't default. You understand, I know what you do, what a default would mean to the American economy and the world's economy. We cannot allow that. That's what the president means when he says it's not negotiable. Can we negotiate budgets? Of course, we are going to have to do that.


WALLACE: Coming up, we dig into Bernie Sanders' solutions for the economy, including getting rid of all the billionaires.


WALLACE: Are you basically saying once you get to $999 million, that the government should confiscate all the rest?


WALLACE: Bernie Sanders has spent decades in Congress fighting for his Democratic socialist agenda, essentially taking on the wealthiest Americans. Now, he has got a new book out called It's Okay to be Angry About Capitalism, where he says oligarchs run America much as they do in Russia. I wanted to know, who are these American oligarchs.


SANDERS: You know who they are. They are people like Elon Musk. It's the billionaire class that has enormous power. Let's just take a look at what's going on. Today, the people on top are doing phenomenally well and we have more income and wealth inequality we have ever had in the history of the country. You got three people who own more wealth than the bottom half of the American society. That is bad from a moral perspective and it's bad from an economic perspective.

WALLACE: But Russian oligarchs are close associates of the central government who took over state-run industries.


WALLACE: The people you are talking about, the so-called American oligarchs, are self-made entrepreneurs who created big businesses that employ millions of Americans.

SANDERS: All right. The point is I'm not suggesting that oligarchy in the United States is like it is in Russia. I'm not suggesting that we are an authoritarian country like Russia is. But what I am suggesting, I'm not only suggesting what I believe to be true, and the facts back it up, is you have got a small number of people in this country, Chris, who have enormous power over our political life and our economy.

And the result is massive income and wealth inequality. Over 60 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, people on top doing phenomenally well, then you have concentration of ownership. You want to talk about oligarchy? You have got three Wall Street firms, Blackstone, State Street and Vanguard, that control assets of $20 trillion. They are the major stockholders in over 90 percent of the S&P 500 companies.

WALLACE: Wait, wait. But when you are talking about Blackstone, for instance, and I happen to know about them because my son works there, they are investing the money of the teachers funds or public employees funds. Those are real people who getting are getting their pension from the process.

SANDERS: You asked me about oligarchy. I'm talking about power. If you have three Wall Street firms that combined are major stockholders in over 90 percent of the major corporations in America, determine who is on the board of directors.


I think that that is real power. WALLACE: But let me pick up on this. Because in your book you say

flatly, billionaires should not exist.

SANDERS: That's right.

WALLACE: And one of the targets that you go after is Walton family. Sam Walton had $25 billion net worth when he died. And, obviously, you would be upset about that. On the other hand, Sam Walton built Walmart -- Let me finish --

SANDERS: I know.

WALLACE: -- built Walmart, which is the biggest single private employer in the United States. It employs 1.5 billion Americans. Are you saying the country would be better off without people like Sam Walton and businesses like Walmart?

SANDERS: Chris, what I'm saying is, you are asking me to be critical and attack these people. I'm not doing that.

WALLACE: Well, you said billionaires shouldn't exist. You call them American oligarchs.

SANDERS: I do. But it's not a personal attack on the Walton family or Musk or anybody else. It is an attack upon a system. You can have a vibrant economy without three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of American society.

Do I think people who work hard, create new businesses should become rich? I do. Do I think they should have $50 billion or $100 billion when you have got a half a million people who are homeless in America today, when you have 85 million people who can't afford health insurance? No, I don't. WALLACE: In your book, you ask the question, how much is enough? So, let me get an answer from you. How much is enough?

SANDERS: I think we should go back to the tax policies, the radical tax policies that exist under that communist president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. What do you think about that? That if you make a lot of money, you are going to pay a lot of taxes.

WALLACE: I think I may be wrong, but I think back in the Eisenhower days, the top marginal tax rate was around 90 percent.

SANDERS: That's right.

WALLACE: So, basically, you're saying, we should go back at a certain point, you get $1 and 90 cents goes to the government?

SANDERS: No. You know that's quite the way it works. It means that your top dollar at a certain level. It's not 90 percent of your entire income.

WALLACE: Well, by the time you make $20 or $50 billion --

SANDERS: It's the top dollar. And people like Theodore Roosevelt -- you know why Theodore Roosevelt established the estate tax way back when, because he was worried precisely about concentration of ownership, of the rich becoming much richer.

WALLACE: But, sir, you are saying that billionaires should not exist. Are you basically saying that once you get to $999 million, the government should confiscate all the rest?

SANDERS: I'm saying we should go back to a very progressive tax policy like what we had under Dwight D. Eisenhower.

WALLACE: Which would mean that all these billion dollars, basically, it all goes to the government?

SANDERS: You may disagree me but --

WALLACE: I'm just asking.

SANDERS: Fine, yes, I think people can make it on $999 million. I think that they can survive just fine. Look, when I talk about oligarchy, it's not only the power of the people on top, it's what's happening to working people, and we've got to talk about that. It's not only that so many of our people are struggling. It's that so many of our people can't afford health care, they can't afford prescription drugs, they can't afford childcare, they can't afford to go to college. Is that really what the United States of America should be about?

WALLACE: But you can do a lot of that and not basically upend capitalism.

SANDERS: It's not upending capitalism. There are countries around the world that are vibrant capitalist societies that provide health care to all of their people, but make sure you have a minimum wage which is a livable wage.

WALLACE: I'm not arguing with you about that.

SANDERS: Okay. Don't hear me saying, and I'm not, you read the book, I'm not saying that the government should be nationalizing every Mom and Pop store in the country. Of course, I'm not saying that. You want vibrant entrepreneurs. You want small and medium-sized and large businesses to succeed. But we need to create a culture in this country which says that, you know what, it's not so great and not a good idea that some people have $150 billion, a family has $200 billion, when so many people are struggling. We can do better.

WALLACE: Finally, I want to ask you a couple of questions about Bernie Sanders. You showed up at Joe Biden's inauguration in 2021, and you can look at the picture there, famously --

SANDERS: Why have I seen that picture before?

WALLACE: -- famously wearing a mask and mittens and it became a meme with you appearing at (INAUDIBLE), with you appearing on the starship and with you even appearing -- and you are a nice Jewish boy -- at the last supper.

So, here is my question. What do you think of that?

SANDERS: We were blown away. I mean, I came back and so that everybody understands it, it's not as weird as it looks. I was there because there was a pandemic. We were sitting apart from each other. And I come from Vermont.


It was a cold day. And you know what we do in Vermont when it's cold? We dress appropriately, not fashionably, but appropriately.

What ended up happening, this thing went crazy, but I will tell you the happy ending to it, is that my campaign, in a non-political way, put our T-shirts and sweatshirts. We ended making millions of dollars from that meme for low income organizations, Meals on Wheels and other groups in Vermont.

WALLACE: Finally, as we have mentioned, you are 81 years old, you are up for re-election in 2024, have you decided whether or not you are going to run again?

SANDERS: No, I have not. And one of the concerns that I do have, and I think it's kind of pushed by the media, is we have never-ending elections. Like three days after the election, people are like, what are you going to do? You know what, I have a radical and crazy idea, I think elected officials should actually work for the people. I'm chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, Pension Committee. I've got a lot of work to do. So, instead of talking about running for office and campaigning 24 hours a day, maybe we should do some work for the American people. So, I will make that decision at the appropriate time, much too early.

WALLACE: Senator Sanders, thank you. This was a pleasure.

SANDERS: Thank you very much, Chris.

WALLACE: I always enjoy the conversation. It's stimulating.

SANDERS: Even if you are too old to understand what I was saying, I enjoyed it as well.


WALLACE: Coming up, we go from Congress to comedy. Legendary entertainer Carol Burnett joins us to share how she's still making people laugh, just days after turning 90.


BURNETT: I feel good. I've got all my parts.

WALLACE: You mean elbows, knees.

BURNETT: My hips, my shins (ph), all of that. I think I'm still pretty hip in here.





UNKNOWN (voice-over): From her iconic Tarzan yell --


-- to the hilarious (INAUDIBLE).

CAROL BURNETT, ACTRESS: I saw it in the window, and I just couldn't resist it.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Carol Burnett has been making people laugh for generation.

BURNETT: Do I get nervous when (INAUDIBLE). No.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Especially when she starts laughing herself.

BURNETT: You're playing hockey with a warped puck!


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Her groundbreaking variety show was must-see T.V.

BURNETT: Just so I can have some fun with this impossible old woman!


UNKNOWN (voice-over): She even branched off into movie.

BURNETT: What do we say, Annie?

UNKNOWN: I love you, Ms. Hannigan.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): In recent years, she has taken on more serious role.

BURNETT: Sometimes, I think my real talent is in attracting bad men.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Now, at age 90, the comedy legend reflects on her love affair with her audience.



WALLACE: Carol Burnett, welcome. I am honored to get the chance to sit down and talk with you.

BURNETT: I am honored to be here. Thank you, Chris.

WALLACE: Well, that's awfully sweet of you. I have to say I'll take that home. How does it feel to reach this milestone and -- and find out that so many people want to celebrate with you?

BURNETT: Oh, well, I can't wrap my head around being 90 years old. I still feel like maybe I'm 11.


And I just -- but -- and boy, it went fast. Let me tell you that. But I feel good. I've got all my parts.

WALLACE: You mean elbows, knees --

BURNETT: My hips, my teeth (ph), all of that, sir. And I think I'm still pretty (INAUDIBLE) in ears, so that -- I'm grateful for all of that, yeah.

WALLACE: Whether you acknowledge it or not, my guess is you're going to push back when I say this. You are national treasure.


WALLACE: Over the years, you have won six Emmys, you've won a Tony, you've won a Grammy, you've won the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But I think the real price is that you've kept people laughing for 60 years.

BURNETT: That is -- that makes me very happy. I -- I get fan mail, and I answer all of the fan mail that I get. And so many of the letters say that our show was appointment television for the family, that they would all gather around, you know, on Saturday night at 10:00 when we aired, and that it was a one time that they were all together. And sometimes say, I'll get a letter that said I felt really down and then I watched Tim and Harvey do something and I laughed and I felt better.

WALLACE: In 1962, you did a live special at Carnegie Hall with Julie Andrews, the original "My Fair Lady," and it was such a hit.


WALLACE: It is such a sensation that you did another special with her in the 70s --


WALLACE: -- and another one in the 80s.


WALLACE: Take a look.




WALLACE: As they used to say back in the day, Carol, those were some dance the two of you have.


BURNETT: I think I still have them. The legs are the last thing to go.


WALLACE: Memory before (INAUDIBLE). I'll try to remember that. Is it true that your home network, CBS, was not so sure about this and wasn't going to put this on and that you actually said, well, we could go to NBC and they're broadcasting at this point in 1962 in color and you guys aren't?

BURNETT: Right. So, they said, well, you're on television every week. Everyone sees you on "The Garry Moore Show." I was --


BURNETT: -- regular on that.


And nobody knows who Julie Andrews is except on Broadway because she had only done "My Fair Lady" --


BURNETT: -- but hadn't done any movies yet. So, they weren't that interested. So, I did. I said, well, we'll go to NBC there in color and they laughed. We were at a luncheon, a CBS affiliate luncheon, and it was pouring down rain. And the two vice presidents that I was having lunch with walked me out and said, we will help you get a cab, and I said, oh, don't worry, somebody will come over, drive up and offer a lift.

Again, a truck, a beer truck pulled up. The guy was, like, hey, Carol, you want to lift? I said, thank you. And the two vice presidents were like -- and they hoisted me up into the cab. The guy drove me home to my apartment at Central Park South. (INAUDIBLE). It was Oscar Katz, who was one of the vice presidents, that said, you got your show.


WALLACE: If the beer truck drivers know you --

BURNETT: They know me and all of that. You've got your show. And that's how we sold Carnegie Hall.

WALLACE: And then your big breakthrough in 1967. How much resistance did you meet from CBS at the idea of a woman hosting a comedy variety show?

BURNETT: Well, I had a contract that said that I -- if I push the button, CBS would have to put me on for one-hour variety show. Thirty shows. One-hour comedy variety show. So, I push the button. They've forgotten about this clause in that contract. And they called me back the next day and they said, well, Carol, that's great.

But comedy variety is a man's game. It's (INAUDIBLE), it's Milton Berle, it's Jackie Gleason, (INAUDIBLE) and all. It's not a little bit -- it's for you, gals. I said, well, this gal really wants to do. They had to put us on.

WALLACE: Because it was in the contract?

BURNETT: That's right. Yeah. They wanted me to do a sitcom called "Here's Agnes." Can you picture it?


WALLACE: That's catchy.

BURNETT: "Here's Agnes."


BURNETT: Anyway -- so, Agnes bet the dust. I said, I don't want to be the same person every week. I want to do sketches. I want to do musical comedy. I want to have guest stars, a (INAUDIBLE) company, dancers, the whole -- I want to do a musical comedy review every week. And they had to put us on. I said, well, at least we have 30 shows. At least we got 30. Well, we round up almost 276 or something like that.

WALLACE: Yeah, over 10 years.

BURNETT: Over 11 years, yeah.

WALLACE: One of the things that you used to do, you talk about sketches, is take offs on movies.

BURNETT: Oh, yes.

WALLACE: And here is one of the classics that you guys called "Went with the Wind."



UNKNOWN: Starlet, I love you. The gown is gorgeous.


BURNETT: Thank you. I saw it in the window, and I just couldn't resist it.


UNKNOWN: Jump out of the way, woman. This is between us men.

UNKNOWN: Oh, perhaps I ought to get out of the way.




WALLACE: Did you get hurt doing that?

BURNETT: I did it -- no. I taught myself how to do it. I realized that doing that, don't stiffen up. Be really, really loose going down the stairs.


WALLACE: I will remember that next time I fall down the stairs.


BURNETT: Don't do that.


WALLACE: Then there was the famous Tarzan yell --


-- and here's a case of you and somebody named (INAUDIBLE).


BURNETT: I can do a Tarzan yell.

UNKNOWN: She does the greatest Tarzan yell. Go ahead.






WALLACE: Where did that come from?

BURNETT: I was about nine years old. I had a beautiful cousin. Her name was Janice Vance. She looked like a baby Lana Turner. I mean, that's how gorgeous she was. We were first cousins. We would go to the movies. We were nine, 10 years old. So, Tarzan in Jane, she would be Jane and I would be Tarzan. So, I taught myself the yell.

WALLACE: And then there was your goodbye song.


WALLACE: The little tug on the ear which I have to say always made me a little teary.



WALLACE: Here it is.





WALLACE: The tug was for your grandma.

BURNETT: Yup. She raised me, my grandmother. The first I got it in New York, and I called nanny, and I said I'm going to be on television, nanny, on Saturday morning on (INAUDIBLE), she said, well, say hello to me. I said, I don't think they're going to let me say hi, nanny. So, we worked it out that I would pull my ear, which meant hi, nanny, I love you, I'm fine.

And later on, when I got a little successful, it was hi, nanny, I love you, I'm fine, your check is on the way.


WALLACE: And then page two. It would go on for a while.


WALLACE: Well, you know, it is a piece of showbiz lore. It really is. How you and your sister were brought up by your grandmother in kind of tight circumstances right here in Hollywood --


WALLACE: -- and that she would take you guys several times a week --

BURNETT: To the movies.

WALLACE: -- to the movies. Oftentimes a double feature.


WALLACE: And the question I have is, was it fantasy? Was it an escapism or did you at any point kind of see a place for yourself up there on the screen?

BURNETT: Uh, I never ever thought I would ever be a performer. I wanted to be a journalist.

WALLACE: Oh, my Lord.

BURNETT: Uh-huh. I was a manager of my junior high school paper. Hollywood High School News, I was editor. And that was kind of when I thought I would be -- I feel like maybe I will interview famous people someday, you know.

WALLACE: Who would do that?


WALLACE: To make a living.

BURNETT: I know.


WALLACE: You know what? You had a better gig. But this isn't a bad gig either.


WALLACE: But Carol Burnett's life has not all been laughs. When we come back, she opens up about her darkest day and share us one thing she learned that have me making this promise.

You know what? I'm going to say that tomorrow.


WALLACE: All right. Everybody --

BURNETT: Every day.

WALLACE: It's a blessing.

BURNETT: Absolutely.




WALLACE: Carol Burnett broke all sorts of barriers in the world of comedy. Now, at age 90, she is still acting and still making us laugh. But it is the more serious and tragic moments of her life where we pick up our conversation.

I want to turn serious for a moment because even in a life as blessed as yours, no one gets out unscathed. And for you, it was your blessed daughter, Carrie --


WALLACE: -- who had a drug addiction and then later died of cancer when she was 38 years old. Um, I know it from my own family. I don't know if you know this, but my brother, Peter, was killed in a mountain climbing accident when he was 19 years old.

BURNETT: I didn't know that.

WALLACE: And I think that then, I certainly feel and I'm sure you do, too, is that it never heals.


WALLACE: That the wound is always there.

BURNETT: Well, Carrie, you know, we had a rough time when she was a teenager with drugs. And then she got sober, and she has had a great career going for herself. She was a performer. She was a writer. She was a musician. She was in a few movies. She had a running role on "Fame," a television show.

WALLACE: Uh-hmm.

BURNETT: And then we decided she wanted to write a play based on a book that I wrote about going up with my grandmother and mother. And so, we want the distance. We went to Broadway with it. It was all wonderful. And then got cancer, you know. But she was amazing. She was a wonderful -- she never met a stranger. Everybody loved her. She was just open and she was interested in everyone.

And I remember when she was in the hospital, I was walking down the hall towards her room, this one visit. And the nurse came up. She said, I have to talk to you about Carrie. And I said, what? She said, she cheers us up when we go into her room. And she said, I asked her the other day, Carrie, why are you so -- because she had no hair, you know. It was bad. And she said to the nurse, every day I wake up and decide, and there is the key word, decide, today I'm going to love my life. That was her mantra.

WALLACE: Wow, that's pretty good advice.


WALLACE: That's pretty good advice.

BURNETT: Wake up every day and just say, today, I'm going to decide to love my life.

WALLACE: You know what? I'm going to say that tomorrow.


WALLACE: All right. Everybody --

BURNETT: Every day.

WALLACE: It's a blessing.

BURNETT: Absolutely.

WALLACE: All right, back to movies. Because you did make a few movies and one of your (INAUDIBLE) parts was as Miss Hannigan --


-- in "Annie." And here you are being mean to those sweet little orphans.



BURNETT: Clean up this mess! Get dressed! This room had better be regulation before breakfast, my little pig droppings, or kill, kill, kill.


UNKNOWN: But it's in the middle of the night. But it's in the middle of the night.

BURNETT: And if this floor don't shine like the top of Chrysler Building, your backsides will. Understand?

CHILDREN: Yes, Miss Hannigan.


WALLACE: I got to say --


You're a little scary there. You say there's a trick to playing a villain.

BURNETT: Yeah. No villain ever thinks they're evil. They're the victims.


BURNETT: Those little brats were terrible to her.


BURNETT: That's the way you have to play it.


BURNETT: Yeah. You know, I'm a good person. It's the world that's against me.

WALLACE: I want to ask you a couple of big questions about the sweep of your career. Back in the 70s, when you are doing "The Carol Burnett Show" and preceded by "Mash" and "All of the Family" and "The Mary Tyler Moore" and "The Bob Newhart," 30 million people used to watch CBS on Saturday nights.


WALLACE: And now, you don't get 30 million people for the Oscars. You don't get 30 million people for the World Series. I guess my question is, what do you think has happened to television and the way that we get our entertainment now?

BURNETT: Well, there's just so much. There's just -- you can't decide what to watch. Also, again, we were talking about appointment television, I don't think that exists that much anymore. People are not going to say, oh, we got to be here. Also, when we were on, people stayed home on that Saturday night because you couldn't tape them. You couldn't tape it or anything.


BURNETT: So, they had -- they had to be at home. That has all changed now. You can -- and streaming and this in that and so forth.

WALLACE: And what do you make of comedy and what we get on television -- the comedy today as compared to what you guys used to do back in the 70s?

BURNETT: Well, it's a lot more edgy. You know, I'm not a prude. I can take edgy if it's warranted. But if somebody just uses four-letter words and talks about their bodily functions just of the blue, I'm not interested. Also, there's not that many belly laughs anymore. You watch -- I dare anybody to watch "The Dentist" sketch with Harvey and Tim and not lose it.


UNKNOWN: Doctor, it's going to hurt. Please give me something to kill the pain.

UNKNOWN: Yeah. Okay, well, that's Novocain right here. Just -- hold on, let me see how this works here. Okay, Novocain. Here we are, Novocain. Take a firm hold of the hypodermic needle, right.


Uh, there will be a little bit of pain and then numbness will set in.



BURNETT: It still holds up. It's hysterically funny to this day. And it's about 50 years old. And forget it. And lot of our -- what I did -- wanted with our show was I didn't want to be that topical. I wanted it to be let's go for the laughs. Let's go for human foibles --


BURNETT: -- and stuff like that, you know, rather than tackling today's headlines. And so, as a result, we're still viable. I mean, we've got shows on "Shout," TV (ph), and we are all over YouTube.

WALLACE: It's timeless.

BURNETT: It is. It is.

WALLACE: This has been such a delight, and I have one final request for you --


WALLACE: -- Which you can't say no to.


WALLACE: Would you sing a little bit of your good-bye song to wrap this up?




WALLACE: If you love her as much as I do, you can catch a two-hour special, "Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter and Love," airing Sunday night on NBC and streaming on peacock.

And when we come back, an exclusive take on the ongoing legal battle over the abortion pill.



WALLACE: Finally, tonight, a surprise victory for abortion rights advocates. Two conservative states, South Carolina and Nebraska, both failed to pass abortion bans last night. The most come just days after the Supreme Court handed another victory to abortion rights advocates.

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled the abortion pill mifepristone should remain available while a case to restrict it plays out in lower courts. It is likely the Supreme Court will take up the case again in its (INAUDIBLE).

Last fall, in his first television interview after retiring, I spoke with former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer about the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.


WALLACE: How damaging, do you think, the decision to say that women no longer have a right to abortion?


How damaging, do you think, it has been to the court and to the country?