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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company .” And here’s what’s coming up.
The FBI investigates sexual assault allegations in the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. What happens when the irresistible force
of the #MeToo Movement runs into the immovable object of partisan politics. I speak to #MeToo founder, Tarana Burke, and to Ana Maria Archila, whose
confrontation with Senator Jeff Flake helped him to press the pause button.
Also, ahead, here in Britain, tempest flare over Brexit. As my guest, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt compares the European Union to the
Plus, even the most powerful women maybe treated unfairly in the workplace. Our Hari Srinivasan speaks Reddit co-founder and tech visionary, Alex
Welcome the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
The first Monday in October every year is the start of a new term for the United State Supreme Court. Republicans in Congress had hoped to see Brett
Kavanaugh long confirm by now and sitting on the bench. But as they say, even the best laid plans can go array.
After dramatic testimony from Kavanaugh and his accuser last week and an even more dramatic display of people power against a key senator, the FBI
has now begun a limited investigation of accusations against Kavanaugh.
Here are the two sexual assault survivors, Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher confronting Republican Jeff Flake after he had said that he would
vote for Kavanaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANA MARIA ARCHILA: What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit in the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And now, Flake has said this affect his decision to call for more investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I just knew that we couldn’t move forward, that I couldn’t move forward without hitting the pause button. Because
what I was seeing, experiencing in an elevator and watching it in committee and just thinking this is ripping our country apart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: As we’ve seen so| often this past year, a grassroots movement powered by the personal stories of abuse survivor is having an impact at
the highest level. So, is this actually a decisive moment now for the #MeToo Movement?
My guest, Ana Marie Achila was one of the women who forced Senator Flake to hear her own story on Friday and she’s joining me from New York. Also,
joining me Munich is Tarana Burke. She founded the #MeToo Movement back in 2006.
Ladies, thank you both very, very much for joining me. I cannot imagine two better positioned people to take this discussion further as the FBI
So, let me first ask you, Tarana Burke, since you have been pressing for this kind of accountability ever since you founded the #MeToo Movement. Do
you believe in your heart that this FBI investigation will deliver what you all hope it will deliver?
TARANA BURKE, FOUNDER, #METOO MOVEMENT: I can only hope it will deliver it. I don’t know what the limitations that have been put on the
investigation if they can get an accurate — come to an accurate conclusion or deliver enough information to come to an accurate conclusion.
I’m glad that it was opened up but I wish it was given the proper amount of time it deserves to really investigate a 36-year-old claim.
AMANPOUR: So, just briefly before I turn to Ana Maria and her intervention, what would you like to see happen given the circumstances?
BURKE: Given the circumstances and the amount of detail that Dr. Blasey ford gave in her testimony and even given the calendars and the things
Judge Kavanaugh have submitted, I love to see a thorough investigation happen of all three claims that have been laid against Judge Kavanaugh, I
like to see it given the proper amount of time it deserves, meaning the FBI dictates how long it takes for the investigation to take place, not given
week to turn it around so that they could — so they could dig in and talk to witnesses, talk to character witnesses, you know, really accumulate the
kind the information they need so that the Senate Judiciary Committee can come to an accurate conclusion or more accurate.
AMANPOUR: So, Ana Maria, you know, I think the whole world was transfixed by that moment, in the elevator so to speak. What made you — just
describe for me and for the audience the process of knowing that Senator Flake had said that he was going to vote for Kavanaugh, having been around
and watching these hearings and then just shoving your face in his?
ARCHILA: So, I had been in Washington D.C. for days. I had actually seen Tarana a few days before, the day that I shared my story of — as a
survivor for the first time in public, actually, in front Senator Flake’s office on Monday of that week.
And I was, I think, moved to do that by the courage of Dr. Blasey Ford, but really by the road and the courage that Tarana has paid, the road that she
has picked for so many of us. I went on Friday, the day of the Judiciary Committee vote, early in the morning to gather with many of the people that
had been protesting the nomination of Kavanaugh. And I met these young women, Maria Gallagher, who was there for the first time. She wanted to be
part of this moment, she wanted to — she said at some point, “I thought I would show up and like hold the sign in the back of a rally,” but she said
— someone said, “We should go to Senator Flake’s office.” And I said, “Well, we have time. There is half an hour before the hearing is about to
start, let’s do it.”
And we went together and kind of — she was asking what — how do I talk to an elected official, I’ve never done this. And we talked a little bit
about that experience.
As we were waiting for Senator Flake’s office, not knowing if he was in fact there, we saw the statement that he released, saying that he was ready
to support the nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. And a minute or two after, he walked out from his office and we were able to — the
press that had gathered around him, followed him and we followed right behind. And we were — what the world saw and what we experienced was a
total release of emotion that so many of us have been holding for weeks and weeks as we’ve watched this nomination happen.
AMANPOUR: And in your case —
ARCHILA: Pure outrage and pain.
AMANPOUR: In your case, outrage and pain that you had been holding in for years. I mean, apparently, you said what had happened to you and your
parents didn’t even know that. Can you share with us what happened to you in your sexual abuse?
ARCHILA: I shared for the first-time last week that — in public, I had shared it with a few friends and with my mother when I was around 16 or so,
that I had been sexually abused as a child, as a five-year-old, by a young man who was 15 at the time.
And I knew even as a five-year-old that that moment — that — if I shared these with my parents, they would feel pain. I didn’t share it with them.
I was confused and ashamed and thought maybe it was my fault. But it was really my desire to not cause pain to my parents that motivated me to hold
that information. And I think that’s why — it’s one of the many reasons why so many survivors choose not to share. Because when you share, it’s
not just painful for you, it’s painful for the people who love you.
AMANPOUR: Tarana, you’re listening to this unfold. Of course, you yourself were in the hearings when Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh
testified. Just — because you’ve been at this for so long and you founded this movement back in 2006, I just want to know what you thought and how
you assess that moment when Ana Maria and Maria confronted Flake and — but it did actually cause him to push that pause button.
BURKE: That moment was gripping. I think there’s no survivor of sexual violence who could watch that without tears and without such a feeling, one
of pride. And I just want to say thank you so much, while I have you here in earshot for what the both of you did. I was so brave and it was so
And on the one hand watching it, my heart goes out to survivors who continuously have to put ourselves on the line and put our stories out
there and be vulnerable in order for people to see us as fully human beings and to see us as people who deserve to have — to be believed and to be
heard and to be seen.
And so, in that part is painful. But on the other hand, to know that it stood for something, it meant something and that it — there was an end
result that was what we were looking for.
So, you know, I see this happen so many times. Sexual — survivors of sexual violence have to carry our burden around with us and we have to show
people evidence in our pain of how serious this issue is. They don’t make other people do that, they don’t make survivors of other crimes do that.
But survivors of sexual violence continuously have to carry this burden around like it’s ours to bear and it’s not our burden to bear.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me just put this to you then, because in that interview, a little of which we played from Jeff Flake and his colleague,
Senator Chris Coons, he was asked whether he thought Kavanaugh’s opening statement last week was partisan and political as certainly it had been
accused and been criticized for.
I want to play this because it speaks exactly to the point that you’re just making. I get both of you to comment on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D) DE.: But, boy, I have to put myself in that spot and you can understand why he was angry. And, you know, I think gave a little
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, the little at the top was he said it was partisan, but, boy, you’ve got to understand him. I mean, you know, Tarana, so what’s changed?
ARCHILA: I mean, I think that, you know, women —
BURKE: (INAUDIBLE) we have to understand him —
AMANPOUR: Go ahead. Tarana first and then —
ARCHILA: No, no, no. Go ahead, Tarana.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Go ahead.
BURKE: Yes. I’m saying, to hear him say that we have to give him some leeway and we have to understand why he’s angry, what do you have to
understand for Dr. Blasey Ford? When we — when the world listened to her describe in detail about being pushed in a room, pinned to a bed clothes
being tried — having her clothed ripped at and her mouth covered to muffle her screams and to carry that inside of her for 36 years, what do we give
She can come to that hearing and be poise and fully present and not angry and not, you know, overly emotional in ways that Kavanaugh was and then we
have to put up with him who is in an interview for the highest court of the land, not being able control his emotions, would he allow anybody to come
in his courtroom and act the way he acted? So, we have to give him some leeway? That is the epidemy of White male privilege. He doesn’t deserve
leeway because he’s angry, because he has to stand in front of these accusations. I reject that notion.
AMANPOUR: And, Ana Maria, I want to know what you think because, again, you confronted Flake on this and that’s why we have an FBI investigation
impart, in great part I would say. But, you know, what do you make of the fact that — well, what do make of that soundbite we just played?
ARCHILA: I agree completely with Tarana, that in many, the burden has been placed on survivors to educate everyone else, including the abusers and the
victimizers, in this case, Kavanaugh.
And I think that we cannot continue to do that. We cannot continue to drag survivors through the experience of having to revive and relive some the
traumatic moments in order for someone else to benefit from our learning and our experience.
And if we are going to do that, which is, in fact, what is happening in this country and across the world, I would say, then we have to actually,
as a society, be willing to embrace the pain and use it to build something new.
ARCHILA: I think so many survivors are bringing a new world into existence —
BURKE: That’s right.
ARCHILA: –and we have to be able to receive it.
AMANPOUR: So that’s what I was going to ask you next, because one of Dianne Feinstein’s comments, the ranking minority member on the Senate
Judiciary comment — Committee was that, in the 27 years this is what she said, “Since Anita Hill, the Republicans, she said, had change their
strategy from blaming the victim to ignoring the victim.
But actually, in this case, the victim isn’t being ignored because the ball has been moved. You’ve all done it. You’ve succeeded in moving this ball.
There is a background investigation going on right now despite what you consider as limitations.
So, Tarana, what does this mean for the #MeToo Movement? Are we — are you, are we in a critical, critical moment right now?
BURKE: We’re definitely in a critical moment. The one thing about this hearing and this moment as it pertains to Judge Kavanaugh is that I think
that the shift that needed to happen around the #MeToo Movement and the focus of it has finally happened and that shift is to focus on the
We have a groundswell of survivor leadership happening right now, where people around the country who are survivors of sexual violence and are
allies are pushing back, we’re standing up, we’re telling the country, we’re telling people to understand that we will not be silent and we won’t
I think Dr. Blasey Ford represented a tipping point and it gave us the opportunity to stand up for somebody who represented so many of us, and
that is going to change the trajectory of this movement in terms of how the media frames it. I hope, at least, it does. That it is no longer framed
in reference to taking down powerful men but it’s framed looking at the survivors of sexual violence and what our needs are and when o demand are.
AMANPOUR: You know, you just said about being framed in taking down powerful men. I do want to play this little bit of a speech that you gave
earlier this year at Varieties Power of Women Event. It’s about this and then I’ll ask you both to talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURKE: Even in these gloomy untenable political times, I still feel like anything is possible. That’s why I’m so desperate to change the narrative
about the #MeToo Movement before it’s too late. Right now, the conversation is mired in misconceptions. Postings that this is about
naming and shaming, they think it’s about taking down powerful men but they’re wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, they’re wrong. So, what do you both think should actually be the direction that women and men take this in going forward? Let me
just you, Ana Maria, and then I’ll ask Tarana. Comment on what Tarana just said in that clip.
ARCHILA: I mean, I think that we are — we have a tremendous opportunity now that we’re reckoning with the pain that is so shared by so many to
build a new thing. I think that we cannot rely on an investigation by a law enforcement agency to do that for us. We have to seize this moment and
keep sharing our voices and being and leading the country.
I think the Supreme Court belongs to us, the FBI should not be deciding that. And it is by really transforming the pain into power and by changing
who tells the story and how we build a new culture that we move from these dynamics where people understand these movements as shaming and blaming and
trying to take down men, when in reality what we’re trying to do is build a world where we can all live with dignity.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you both, because as you now watch, there is a pushback from many of the men or several of the men who have been accused
over this last year. And some of the tone of that pushback is almost like, Oh, woe is me. Look how my life has been destroyed.
So, you can take John Hockenberry, you can take Jian Ghomeshi, you can take Louis C.K. who came back to a standing ovation without mentioning his
issues, and Aziz Ansari. So, let’s just take those four.
Two questions. One, how do you deal with that if there’s not even a sort of an acknowledgement in public? Two, is there a spectrum that we should
be acknowledging and internalizing now that not every male, you know, misconduct amounts to sexual assault, sexual abuse or anything in the
Tarana, you’ve been doing this for a long time. What do you think about this sliding scale, so to speak?
BURKE: Well, I’ve said from the beginning, that sexual violence happens on a spectrum and so, accountability has to happen on a spectrum. And I
think, largely, if you talk to survivors of sexual violence, we ‘t don’t think punitively. There’s always a space for restoration.
I think the problem is and why you see such a visceral reaction from survivors when these people come back into the spotlight without any
accountability, is that people — that represents what we’ve always seen and what we’ve experienced in our private lives, that people are allowed to
harm us and they don’t have to account for that harm.
Accounting for that harm doesn’t always look like going to jail or even losing your job but there has to be some accountability. If these men
would come back and start off with talking about what they learned in the last year, what they’ve done in the last year to be restored, what they’ve
done to restore the survivor or the person who was victimized or the person who was done wrong as a result of their behavior, then we can talk about
space for coming back.
The problem is that there is so much more conversation about how these men come back than there is about how we make the survivors whole. I think
it’s deeply problematic that in the last year we can name a list of all 200 or however many men who have lost their jobs or lost positions, but how
many stories have we heard about what happened to the women? How have their lives been restored or destroyed? How would they be made whole
again? What are their needs?
We started off this year with #MeToo going viral. An within 24 hours — within 48 hours, we had multiple millions of people who engaged with the
hashtag via social media.
AMANPOUR: Well, I say —
BURKE: There would be no #MeToo Movement if those people did not stand up to be accounted for, and yet we don’t talk about them. We continue to
pivot and talk about how do men come back or who the men are or how their lives are affected, and that’s the problem.
AMANPOUR: I think you’re right. It’s a major sort of point of departure right now to not just focus on, what you say, punitive in every case but
acknowledging and accountable and the rest of it.
But I also want to ask you, Ana Maria, you know, what hope do you have when even the, you know, credible allegation of sexual abuse, sexual assault,
are now reduced to the level of a political football? We’ve seen that happen at this has played out, but we also see it in the polls where both
parties, men and women, have diametrically opposed views on this issue, even people who watch the same film about a sexual encounter will have
different views on whether it was with consent or without consent, whether it was abuse or whether it was, well, consensual? How do you get past
that, Ana Maria?
ARCHILA: You know what, I was trying — one of the points that I was trying to convey to Senator Flake in that elevator was that we have to have
a definition of justice that starts by recognizing harm, taking responsibility, and only then beginning to repair it.
And I think everyone has to participate in the repair, including those who did the harm. That — and this is a tremendous opportunity. I so wish
that we could have a conversation about all of us have had the experience of being harmed in some way, every single human being.
AMANPOUR: Let me —
ARCHILA: And all of us have had the experience of being hugged by the person who yelled at us. You know, we have experiences that allow us to
understand what these could look like. And I think this is what we need to be doing as a society.
AMANPOUR: So, last work to you, Tarana, we got about 50 seconds left. This is a world, not just a nation, a world where all the laws are made by
men. I mean, this whole next wave clearly, I don’t know whether you agree, needs to redress that playing field.
BURKE: Oh, yes. We have opportunity particularly in the United States but certainly around the world. But we have an opportunity now to shift that.
I think that we — that the world needs to be ready for survivors to emerge as a constituency. And that means that we are now people to just be
pitied, we are power base that vote along our needs and vote along the things that we want to see change in policy. And so, that means more women
being voted in, but not just women, who believe the same things we believe. Women who are able to be — to see us and hear us and believe us.
And so, whether it’s a woman, a man or however they’re identified in the gender spectrum, we are poised to us our survivorship as a means of
galvanizing people to organize to get what we want to see in politics.
AMANPOUR: It is a new day dawning. We’ll see how it ends up. Tarana Burke and Ana Maria Archila, thank you both so much for joining me.
So, over here, Britain is also in the midst of a bitter partisan warfare but over Brexit. The 2016 referendum to split from the rest of Europe.
Within Theresa May’s own conservative party, it’s dividing this country as well and that government. She is desperately trying to get a new trade
deal from President Trump.
Meanwhile, European leaders are warning that she cannot cherry-pick a new deal with the E.U. and her own Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, added fuel
to the fire when he compared the E.U. to a Soviet Gulag holding Britain prisoner.
I spoke with Hunt during the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, as his government pushed a post-Brexit free trade deal with the
Trump administration. While also, at the same time, trying to pressure that administration to save the Iran nuclear deal. It’s complicated to say
Foreign Secretary Hunt, welcome to the program.
JEREMY HUNT, FOREIGN SECRETARY, BRITAIN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: I want to know first and foremost, are you, the U.K., still trying to save the Iran nuclear deal from President Trump’s withdrawal?
HUNT: Yes, we are. We have lots of things with respect to Iran where we totally agree with the administration. We are very concerned about the
malign activity of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in places like Yemen, Syria, (INAUDIBLE) activities and so on.
But we do believe that this agreement, which was originally signed with the United States as a partner is the best way to prevent Iran re-nuclearizing.
And we are very concerned of the potential of a very, very serious conflict in that part of the world if Iran does restart its nuclear ambitions. And
that’ why we are committed to it.
AMANPOUR: It’s not brain surgery, it does actually seem like if, as the president says and you all say, including in the Security Council meeting,
that nonproliferation and keeping the worst most dangerous weapons out of certain people’s hand, it must be hard to imagine how you can ensure that
by pulling out of this deal. What do you say to President Trump when you try to persuade him diplomatically that what is the option?
HUNT: Well, we have exactly the same destination as the U.S. Now, President Trump’s view is the way to do that is to renegotiate, get a new
deal, a different deal to the nuclear deal. We want to be very careful to make sure that we don’t throw the baby out with the bottle.
So, lots of people said President Trump was going to be an isolation as president. Far from it, he is very, very involved and he has, as we can
see, very strong views about how to get there. What we want to do I to make sure that as that situation evolves we don’t see Iran restarting its
AMANPOUR: So, Federica Mogherini, the U.S. Foreign Policy Chief, said that you all are trying to figure out other, as she put it, mechanism to enable
Iran to benefit from the economic pledges in return for its abiding by the Iran nuclear deal. And that if it doesn’t feel like, and certainly the
Iranian president told me this week that they would have to pull out. We’re just going to play a quick soundbite, part of my interview with
Federica Mogherini on this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FEDERICA MOGHERINI, E.U. HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: We are putting in place mechanisms together with the Europeans but also with the
Russians, with the Chinese, with others in the world, from all over the world, to create the channels to keep trad within them that would guaranty
that trade can continue, regardless of the secondary sanctions that United States have put.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What kind of mechanisms could you all put in place to save the economic part of this deal? Because you’re all pulling your own companies
out because of secondary sanction threats.
HUNT: Well, it’s very important not to characterize what European nations are doing as being soft on Iran. I sat in a meeting with Iranian Foreign
Minister Zarif this week at the U.N. General Assembly when country after country that was a signatory to the Iran nuclear deal was being extremely
tough with the Iranians. And they were saying, “If you diverge from this treaty in way at all, even the smallest way and you start your nuclear
ambitions again, then we’re out of this deal.”
And so, this is a very tough situation for Iran because they aren’t getting the full benefit of the deal that they were getting when the United States
was part of it. But they’re getting Europeans saying, you know, “You so much as blink on your commitments and we’ll pull right out.”
And so, that is what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to make sure that in a very difficult situation, the one thing we don’t lose is a nonnuclear
AMANPOUR: Federica Mogherini specifically said that the United Kingdom and others were trying to figure out almost a way around, like mechanism, she
said, that you or the Chinese, Russians, the others, could continue your business obligations to Iran as long as it kept its obligations under the
Can you tell us what those mechanism might be? How might you be able to actually have your businesses working with Iran?
HUNT: Well, as detail were going on into the precise nature of those mechanisms. But what I would say on the win-win issue is that, of course,
this is a deal and there has to be enough of a win for Iran to stop them at restarting their nuclear program. But we don’t want there to be so much of
a win that they are not deterred from the very malign activities that are destabilizing the whole of that region.
AMANPOUR: You once said about President Trump, you said, “The traditional Western Foreign-Policy has been that if we disapprove of something somebody
has done, we just don’t take action but we stop the engagement as well. Donald Trump takes a view that actually you need to engage with people. I
think it’s a business mentality. He’s always looking for a way to recast the deal.”
Do you still feel that way about Trump? I mean, do you think there is method to madness, as some people might describe?
HUNT: I do think that he does look at the world in terms of the various deals that America signed up to. And rather than want to tear down the
firmament and abandon the whole international rural space system, he’s basically saying, “Look, I accept the need for deals but they need to be
deals that work for America.”
And I think if you look at, for example, his approach to the NATO summit that we had this July, he arrived in a very competent mood because
actually, this is something we agree with him on, European allies are not contributing as much as they should to the NATO budget. The U.S. is
spending far more as a proportion its GDP.
He left the NATO summit a very happy, very committed to NATO because he had secured some commitment for extra funding from the European side. So I
think it’s important to understand his methods which is the method to start by making people sweat and think about the possibility of American
withdrawal. But fundamentally, in the end, I think he does understand the importance of some of the really important alliances that underpin the
AMANPOUR: I wonder what you make about his speech at the United Nations. He was very clear that this was about a sovereign America. And that he
rejected the idea as he said of globalism and embrace the idea of a national doctrine of patriotism and he noted that on everybody. As if
there were sort of mutually exclusive, you can’t be patriotic if you are globalist or whatever.
And, of course, Europe sovereignty is being breached if he says that he’s going to threaten you with secondary sanctions for doing business under an
internationally recognized deal. So I just wonder how you can stand up for yourself, how does Europe stand up for itself. And perhaps even your
reaction to some of these books that have come out about his policy like you talked about NATO. His national security advisor came over and had all
this stuff signed up before the president who comes and have a different view and maybe method ups so to speak.
HUNT: Well, I think we have to understand the reasons why President Trump is saying what he is saying. And it’s connected to the reasons why he was
elected which is that he has a base and we have similar possible place the U.K. and Europe as well that feel disoriented and worried by globalization.
And that was probably something that was a contributor to the Brexit in the U.K. and indeed to some of the political turbulence in other parts of
Europe. And he’s saying people need to know that their political leaders are standing up for their country’s interests and this isn’t — and their
identity isn’t being compromised by some of the winds of change.
And so I think it is very important to recognize there is a role for multinational institutions but also to recognize that they do need to be
reformed. And the U.K. certainly stands with the U.S. on reform of the U.N., reform of the WTO, reform of NATO. These institutions have got to
work for the big players who operate within them and that was one of the insights when the U.N. was set up with its rather — with the structure of
the Security Council, the permanent members of vetoes that recognize the difference between bigger countries and smaller countries.
AMANPOUR: Since you mentioned Brexit, I wanted to ask you to react. I mean I’m sure that when you come here, the majority of your counterparts
look at you still as if you put a gun to your head and, you know, embarked on a journey to who knows where at this moment. None of us know exactly
where it’s going because there still isn’t a deal.
But I wonder how you react to several recent developments. In the latest meeting with the E.U., Donald Tusk famously offered promise to Mason Cakes
and then tweeted that there won’t be any cherries, no cherry picking. And then President Macron went even further and he was actually very blunt
about the Brexiters and the policies that he said they had sold to the voters. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): The Brexit teaches us something — and I completely respect British sovereignty when I say
that. It showed that those who say that we can easily leave without Europe, that everything is going to be all right, and that it’s going to
bring in a lot of money are liars. And it is even more true since they left the day after so they wouldn’t have to deal with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean he has a point, right? There are a lot of things that Brexit promised, the Brexiters promised, that are just pie in the sky.
HUNT: I think the first thing to say is that we need some perspective here. It’s a very big decision when a country decides to leave an
organization like the European Union that was always going to be a very difficult negotiation. We’re coming to the crunch periods now and what I
see behind the scenes is that there is a tremendous desire on both sides to actually come to an agreement because not coming to an agreement will be
damaging all around. And so that is the first point to make. But I think some of those comments are really based on a misunderstanding of why the
British people voted for Brexit.
AMANPOUR: But you did say — you used to be health secretary and you did say some of the Brexit slogans were lies and even your side says that 350
million whatever it was pounds or euros to the NHS was not true and not a deliverable promise.
HUNT: Well, we’re a democracy. And when you have a referendum campaign, just like when you have an election campaign, there are lots of claims made
on both sides. In the case of the funding for the NHS, there were lots of voices saying that’s not the whole picture. And people listened to those
voices and they made their decision and that’s what happens in a democracy.
But the most important thing is this was not a decision by the British people to reject Europe, to be un-European to be anti-European. We have a
country that just shed more blood in Europe, has sacrificed more than perhaps anyone else for peace, prosperity, and stability in Europe but we
do want our sovereignty back. We want a different legal relationship but we want to carry on the friendship with European partners and colleagues.
AMANPOUR: Do you think the Prime Minister’s seen off a leadership challenge for now?
HUNT: She is very secure. I mean, of course, newspapers will write the articles they want to write. But people understand that she’s someone of
enormous tenacity resilience. She’s had a very very difficult few years with the Brexit situation but she has brought us forward and she’s brought
us to the point where a deal is possible and now we just need to see it through.
AMANPOUR: One of the issues on your agenda, you’ve been tweeting about it, is some of the British citizens who are held by Iran. For instance,
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. You’ve again said that you’ve been talking about it. Prime Minister May said that she spoke to the president of Iran
about it. I asked the president of Iran yesterday, this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): Well, I’m not aware of the details of any detainees’ files but I have heard that new
charges were brought against her and the judiciary was awaiting the response from the defense. So these are actions that are taking place in
But if efforts of foreign governments can be beneficial with this — for example, when we talk about our citizens being imprisoned in other
countries, in Western countries, when we talk about those to the government officials, they tell us, “Well, there’s not much we can do because they’re
under the guise of the judiciary in our country.” So we must all bring a constant concerted effort to their house so that all prisoners must be
free, they’re returned to their families but it must be a path that travels both ways.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That’s their view. What is your hope? And have you made any progress with trying to make sure that this British citizen who’s done
nothing wrong as a civilian gets released and was going to get out? We thought last Christmas she was going to come out.
HUNT: It is not acceptable for Iran — by the way, it isn’t just Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. There are others as well in the same situation. We
don’t mention names and the families are happy with that. But it is not acceptable to detain innocent people as a tool of diplomatic leverage. And
that is what is happening and it’s just not acceptable. And I made that very clear to her Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif.
We need this situation to be resolved. We need these people to be able to come home. And Britain is not a country that is just going to stand by and
allow this kind of injustice to continue so we need to see progress.
AMANPOUR: You’re still tweeting about your gas, your faux pas, about your wife. You said that she was Japanese instead of Chinese and you just said
it — you tweeted humorously about it in Japan. Are you going to limit down?
HUNT: I don’t know. Certainly great to have a discussion within the hundred (ph) family. The truth is — I’m not sure I’ve said this on
broadcast before but I speak Japanese and I spoke — the last time I met the Chinese foreign minister, we’ve spoken in Japanese and that’s —
AMANPOUR: With the Chinese foreign minister?
HUNT: With the Chinese foreign minister because he used to be the ambassador in Tokyo. And so I was just muddling up my small talk but
luckily I have a wife who has a great sense of humor.
AMANPOUR: Luckily. Foreign Secretary, thank you very much indeed.
HUNT: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Sense of humor is vitally important at all times.
Turning now to one of the most successful investors in big tech and innovation Alexis Ohanian, a self-made millionaire. He started making
waves as the co-founder of the social media platform Reddit, one of the most visited websites in the United States. And most recently, with his
venture capital firm Initialized Capital which makes early bets on startups like the grocery delivery service into the cart and the cryptocurrency
exchange platform Coinbase.
But his celebrity status soared after marrying tennis champ Serena Williams last year, three months after welcoming their baby daughter Olympia.
Alexis recently sat down with our Hari Sreenivasan for a masterclass in business and parenthood.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CONTRIBUTOR: All right. First, let’s talk about the big money part of it. Initialized Capital. You look at your website. You’ve
got 125 plus companies. So how do you figure, out of your 120 plus bets, how many of them need to become super successful?
ALEXIS OHANIAN: Yes. I mean there are, you know, for every one Coinbase or Instacart, there are 20, 30, 40 that won’t survive. And that’s the math
that at this kind of early stage of investing actually still works. It really is a power law where the returns from these one or two big bets that
are successful makeup for all the others that aren’t. The upside of that is it lets us be a little bit more aggressive and be able to take sort of
bigger bets or bolder bets on ideas that are a little further out there.
SREENIVASAN: You’ve also made a bet in the driverless car space.
SREENIVASAN: That’s been on Cruise. That would be a partner that was acquired by G.M.
OHANIAN: That’s right. So we grew the first investors in Cruise. It was just — at that point, it was basically a research project because no
startup back in 2012 really thought that they could compete with the likes of Google or Uber, these others. And then we went back a second time
actually, invested in another self-driving car company called Voyage.
Their approach is a little different. What they found was an opportunity where they’re able to get their cars on the roads today by using retirement
communities. These are large swaths of land that have many many miles of roads that look and train the computers just like any other road. It’s
contained, it’s private land, and so they can work with these retirement communities and offer an amazing service to people who are otherwise pretty
limited in mobility, right.
The idea that your grandparents can have a self-driving taxi service to help take them to the store, gives them mobility and freedom they didn’t
have before. And in fact, the cars only go like 25 miles an hour is actually a feature. That’s actually probably how fast most of those cars
would be going if the elderly were behind the wheel anyway.
OHANIAN: And it’s finding a way to use this technology that is practical and valuable and safe but also collecting data now in real time regularly
on real roads. And I think long term, that’s where the value is going to be. These cars will get smarter the more hours they spend on the roads
because these cameras, this AI is constantly learning and absorbing and improving.
SREENIVASAN: Let’s talk a little bit about the content struggles a lot of these platforms are having to deal with right now. I mean the kind of the
enforce (ph) conundrum. The president recently weighed in and he is warning people about the power of the platforms, their political influence,
they don’t like me in the first place. But is their concern that they are so powerful now that they are players in the political process?
OHANIAN: So interesting because now it’s coming — so it’s coming from the left and the right. I think these platforms are trying very very hard to
maintain a neutrality and —
SREENIVASAN: Is that possible?
OHANIAN: — the reality is — ultimately I don’t think that’s possible. I think with Google, Facebook and these others haven’t done so well though is
entrenched themselves in our lives in such a fundamental way for so long that I do believe — I mean part of what we do is look for an early stage
investor who wants to do something as audacious as topple Google or topple Facebook one day or build a competitor to them. But admittedly, the impact
that they’ve been able to have and build up is wide-reaching and it affects many many parts of our life.
SREENIVASAN: Reddit in a way has become, as you guys call it, the front page of the Internet, right. But beyond the front page, behind it, there
are also places where you find incredibly distasteful speech. I mean you can find it on forums that support the president right now, really racist
memes that would attack you for being Armenian or your wife for being African-American, right. I mean so what is — how do you solve for that?
OHANIAN: Well, it is reprehensible. And I do remember, this was many years ago, the first time I had an Armenian genocide denial posed at me.
On the one hand, I thought, “OK. Well, you know, this is despicable and obviously, I hate it.” And at the same time, I thought, “OK. Well, I
guess like we’re at a scale now where this is a real — this is the reality. We’re now a global enough platform that we’re seeing these
worldviews that are so awful and so offensive.”
The solution for how do we fix it is a bigger — this is a bigger global one I think. I do think that through more exposure and through more
communication, we do get to more empathy and understanding. Through more conversation, we get there and I’ve seen it in glimpses on Reddit. I’ve
seen and I do believe that long-term, sunlight and truth wins.
SREENIVASAN: But that’s a really long term. I mean very long. Theologically, irrational people who hold despicable points of view are not
often convinced by facts. They’re not convinced by —
OHANIAN: We have a flat earth theory going around right now that’s picking up steam. Like a flat earth theory in 2018. You know I remember reading
about The Enlightenment. And I think when I was — I think when I was studying it in history, I just sort of assumed that like there was this
enlightenment. And then after that, like everyone was like cool, rational thought, scientific method. Like, great world’s fixed, it started, it’s
done. And I pretty — I guess I really naively sort of thought that.
And this is surfacing now, this reality that like no actually there are a lot of people for whom this — like just sort of miss or who even today
just don’t care, and would rather see things that reinforce their world. Like explicitly, would rather see things that reinforce their worldview
than challenge it with data.
SREENIVASAN: Is there a rule for regulation then?
OHANIAN: I can imagine that coming from this president given his history of being very anti-regulation. I think there is still — I mean I think
there is still real competition. I do — I mean actually we have — one of our big thesis is around the like anti-Amazon thesis where because of
Amazon’s place in the market, when they decide to go into something, it creates an amazing opportunity for startups to basically arm their
And so we saw this most recently with comical standard cognition which does self-checkout. When Amazon launched, it was Amazon Go to Self-Checkout
Store, just pick up the peanuts and walk out. Every retailer realized, “Oh no. I’m going to bring more. I don’t have this work. What do I do?”
And because they know they can’t build it themselves, they come to a startup like Standard Cognition and then started with customers. So I do
see that actually serving as a tremendous boon for competition. But the reality is the incumbents themselves have neglected technology so much,
they can’t build it themselves. They can’t go to their CTO and say, “OK. We need a solution in eight months.” Just the engineering talent isn’t
there. There’s just — they’re unable to build it. They have to partner with these startups.
SREENIVASAN: Let’s talk a little bit about your much longer-term investments.
OHANIAN: My family.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. So you’re married to Serena Williams. Is she as competitive off the court as she is on the court?
SREENIVASAN: Have you ever beat her on anything?
OHANIAN: Oh, yes. It’s just — I mean there’s a few video games. Actually, there’s a few that she’ll still — she’ll wash me in the
classics, the classic NES games she’s better at but it’s less about competition with someone else. It’s more about her own — almost like a
competition with herself. She is one of the sort of hardest people on themselves who I know and that’s what makes her great.
SREENIVASAN: And a humbling experience? I mean you said at one point that you thought you worked hard.
OHANIAN: Oh, yes. I thought I worked so hard. Tech is full of these myths around, you know, nonstop working in the grind, in the hassle and all
this stuff and I really believed I was like, “OK. Well, I’m in the hardest working industry. They’re working all the time. Your doors never close.
It’s 24/7 Internet blah blah blah.” And yes, I was so wrong, very very wrong.
I think what I didn’t really appreciate, what I didn’t really understand until I saw it first hand was what a pressure it is and what an intensity
it is to do your job in front of so many people, but there is so much on you when you are out there. I used to hate tennis. I thought tennis was a
boring sport. I would change the channel. It was — I was so wrong. And to see what she’s been able to do at the level she’s done it in a sport
where it’s just you, it’s just you out there, is just amazing. It’s absolutely amazing.
SREENIVASAN: One of the things that she did which was surprising and startling to a lot of people was she was very open about going through
postpartum depression. It’s just not something that a lot of women share, much less women of her fame and fortune so to speak. But it’s also not
something that men talk about.
OHANIAN: I mean, look, as a husband, I just want to be there. I want to be the rock. I want to be supportive. And it is already so much to carry
a child, to have a child, to do all of that. Not to mention all the complications that she had to go through and endure. Yes. I mean I was so
— I was very proud of her for speaking about it publicly.
She realizes the platform she has in the world. And I think what’s so special is she’s always been very unfiltered. And when you combine her
level of success with this unfiltered nature, I think there’s a hunger for this realness because there’s a lot that isn’t that —
SREENIVASAN: That so much is just polished and part of the presentations of the vacation that you had and whatever but —
OHANIAN: Our Instagram culture. And look, I’m guilty of it too. Like it is the rose-tinted sort of best version of yourself that you want to
present to the world. And I think that’s fine and that’s something we as humans want but that creates a hunger for that real talk. And, you know,
I’ve had so many people just randomly come up to me, and mothers in particular, just walking down the street now who will thank me for — and
I’m like why are you thanking me, it’s just sent along to your wife because of what she said and what she’s talked about and how much it means to them.
And I’m happy, very happy, to deliver that thanks.
SREENIVASAN: You got a one-year-old, what is she teaching you?
OHANIAN: That everything I’ve done up until this point, not that cool, not that great. As proud as I was of all the things I’ve done in my career, I
just — I look at that little baby and I’m just like this is my legacy.
SREENIVASAN: Recently, an associate on Instagram criticized you for taking what he called family vacation and response resonated with a lot of
SREENIVASAN: Was the vacation wild?
OHANIAN: That was wild. It’s like a week with my fam and yes. An associate in another V.C. firm had made some note about being — implying
that I wasn’t working hard. And I was on vacation but I think this kind of goes back to that the same notion that tech has in our little bubble that
we are this — we have to be this hardest working 24/7, got to grind mentality which is just — it’s not true but it’s also dangerous.
I worry because there is so much, especially in masculinity tied up in the grind and the hassle and work, and especially when it comes to family where
there had been a huge proponent for paid family leave because I want men to be taking time off. I want women to be able to take time off.
I mean right now we have, I think one in four American women, are back at work two weeks later after having a kid. I think that’s insane. To be the
last developed country to not have any kind of policy is insane. And I’ve spoken about it. I took four months leave.
SREENIVASAN: And you’re fortunate to be able to do that.
OHANIAN: And I was very lucky to do that. And that is something I will give the tech industry credit for. It is a pretty standard thing to have
generous parental leave policies intact and I hope it can be a standard for other industries but I want it to be a standard for the country. And if
there is that policy in place, taking advantage of it is another level because so many men still don’t.
And this provides a sort of double advantage because one, it means men get to spend time with their families during these early days which are really
important. But it also gives more air cover to women in the organization to take time off and help to start to change a lot of those cultural and
systemic problems that exist in tech and in business around women in the workforce. And so I was proud to take all my time off. And I’m happy to
be speaking out about it because it is very hard to try and balance it all.
And actually, for the first time, it was like a month ago at the Commonwealth Club, actually got asked the question my wife’s been asked
plenty of times which was how do you balance at all work and family. And I was happy to be asked it because I hadn’t gotten asked it and I know she
gets asked it in so many working women, moms who get asked it all the time. And I would like us all to get asked that enough that we just never – it
never even becomes an issue anymore, it just becomes a question.
SREENIVASAN: All right. Alexis Ohanian, thanks for joining us.
OHANIAN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, in the wake of Serena’s very public outburst at the U.S. Open Final over a dispute with the umpire, Ohanian dismissed the New York
Times article that claimed men are more penalized than women in tennis saying it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges.
That is it for our program. Thanks for watching and tune in again tomorrow night.