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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
Zero-hour, U.S. senators have the FBI’s new report on Brett Kavanaugh. But what crucial information does it no contain. My guest who have been doing
the deep research on the Supreme Court nominee’s conduct in high school and at college.
Also, will we soon stop choosing our Supreme Court altogether and let computers make the decisions for us. The super thinker, Yuval Noah Harari,
author of “Sapiens” tells me why that future is closer than we think.
Plus, when nearly dying open up your life. The actress and Jackie of all trades, Jameela Jamil, explains how getting hit by a car was the best thing
that ever happened to her.
Welcome to the program. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
Key Republican senators are praising a last-minute FBI Brett Kavanaugh after at least three women accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexual
Supposedly fence-sitters, Susan Collins of Maine, says the report was “very thorough” and Jeff Flake of Arizona, who called for this investigation,
along with a Democratic colleague says it did not provide any additional corroborating information.
Republican and Democratic leaders are back in their political corners.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MITCH MCCONNELL, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER: The fact is these allegations have not been corroborated by the seventh FBI investigation.
Not in the new FBI investigation, not anywhere.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: The most notable part of this report is what’s not in it. It looks to be a
product of an incomplete investigation that was limited perhaps by the White House. I don’t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The FBI conducted nine interviews and that did not include Kavanaugh himself or his main accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. Another
accuser, Deborah Ramirez, who did speak with the FBI says the agency did not talk to corroborating witnesses and she says she feels like she is
What did the FBI investigation leave out? Critics say a deep dive into the truth about Kavanaugh’s drinking, the judge’s college roommate says
Kavanaugh’s claim of never blacking out is false.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES ROCHE, KAVANAUGH’S ROOMMATE: No, I knew he was lying because he was my roommate. You know, we were in a room together, our beds were 10 feet
apart for a couple of months. And what struck me and made me more interested in speaking out about it is not only did I know that he wasn’t
telling, you know, truth, I knew that he knew that he wasn’t telling the truth. And I can tell you that he would come home and he was incoherent,
stumbling, yes, I saw him both what I would consider blackout drunk and also dealing with the repercussions of that in the morning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: As we know, Kavanaugh denies all of that. My guests tonight went where the FBI apparently did not. Normally, they are culture and
business reporters for “The New York Times.” Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly were put on this story for very personal reasons as you’ll hear and are
joining me from New York.
Robin and Kate, welcome program.
ROBIN POGREBIN, WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask because I did point out that this is not your usual beat. So just explain to me first, Kate and then Robin, what you were
doing and why you were pulled on to this story.
KATE KELLY, WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTER: Sure, Christiane. So, I grew up in the Washington area. I attended an all-girl’s school there, not one of
the ones that’s been central to the Kavanaugh discussion, but one that was very much in that same region and, you know, had some cross-pollination in
terms of friends and activities.
I was given some documents a couple of weeks ago, by someone I knew from the Washington area who though that we should delve into one oddity in the
yearbook page of Brett Kavanaugh and some of his friends, which specifically dealt with a young woman they all knew named Renate.
Now, I can get into more of that later. But suffice it to say I started making phone calls about Renate and what the yearbook references meant and
kind of getting back in touch with friends of friends from that period of time. I’m about 10 years younger than Kavanaugh and his classmates but
there were enough connections that I was able to kind of piece together a picture of what that class of ’83 at his high school, Georgetown Prep, was
like and what the sort of culture around drinking and also girls was.
AMANPOUR: And you were actually — Kate, you were — Robin rather, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s, correct, at Yale?
POGREBIN: Yes, was a classmate of Brett Kavanaugh at Yale, class of 1987. And I was originally drawn into this because I started hearing questions
around the name Deborah Ramirez and it turned out other reporters were hearing the same.
And so, we pooled our resources, I brought in my yearbook from Yale, which prove to be a helpful resource in many ways, not least of which were the
photographs. And then, I become sort of a part of this team, investigating the story and really kind of just digging down as deep as we could into his
classmates about what their memories were and experiences with Brett Kavanaugh that might shed light on this entire process.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, now, fast-forward to today. Given all of the investigation and reporting you have done for “The New York Times” over the
last couple of weeks, as you describe, what is your impression of what this FBI report contains? We understand that the White House sent selective
interviews of the FBI’s investigation over the last two days to the Senate somewhere around midnight last night.
POGREBIN: That’s right. And my focus has been basically the people around the Deborah Ramirez story because that was sort of the purview of Yale.
And basically, there’s just a critical mass of classmates who are feeling deeply frustrated today about how this FBI process has played out.
They had high hopes that when it was postponed and Jeff Flake kind of spoke up to sort of delay matters, that there really would be a very thorough
effort to turn over every stone. And many of them were essentially waiting by the phone to hear from the FBI, and then days just went by one after the
other and they finally started to realize the FBI would not be calling.
In many cases, they took it upon themselves to reach out on their own and that process itself was very frustrating, many were put on hold or sent to
their local offices or directed to their local senators. And to this day, most of them have not been interviewed as far as we know. And so, there
was real sense that this process was not conducted d in good faith.
AMANPOUR: So, you mentioned Deborah Ramirez, she was the second accuser, she is the one who accuses Brett Kavanaugh of exposing himself during a
drinking game during the out of residence hall freshman year at Yale.
But there’s also a James Roche who I’m not sure whether you guys spoke to, but he also was a college — he was also a collegemate of Kavanaugh’s and
he, as you just heard, said a few things, as we just played in our introduction, and he said further about his recollections. Let’s just play
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROCHE: I would tell the FBI that I knew Debby, that I knew her to be an honest person, that I have no memory of any kind of her ever misleading or
lying. I would say that I saw Brett Kavanaugh drink to excess with frequency. And that beyond that, it would be conjecture.
My only point in this was not to say that this happened, that he is wrong and she is wrong, I don’t. And I can’t know that. I wasn’t there. And
the people that were there seemed to be too afraid to come out or seem to be aligned with him in some way.
So, I can’t say that to the FBI, honestly. What I can say is that he drank and he drank a lot. And that is inconsistent with what he’s saying now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Kate, you know, you were at that Washington private school, in that sort of, you know, time and you have — well, not in that time, but
you have a lot of sort of contacts from there. What specifically were they telling you that you picked up on and how do you react to, for instance,
what James Roche would have said.?
KELLY: So, I’ve heard similar accounts of classmates of Judge Kavanaugh’s from Georgetown Prep ’83. That it was a very much a heavy-drinking
culture. And it’s interesting here too, I think you heard this in the Jamie Roche statement and I certainly heard this among alumni I talked to,
they’re not putting themselves on pedestals relative to Judge Kavanaugh and the drinking at least. They’re saying, “We were heavy drinkers too. A lot
of us blacked out. A lot of us vomit at parties. A lot of us engaged in some sort of excessive drinking,” but they’re bothered because they feel as
though Judge Kavanaugh has not been honest or at least wasn’t during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on these questions about the extent of
Now, he did say he drank too much. He did say he sometimes cringed thinking back on his behavior but he ruled the out the idea that he was
ever blackout drunk. And that’s at odds with what a lot these classmates have said. They said it was a culture of going to Jesuit school during the
week, a rigorous Jesuit Catholic boy’s school and working very hard, as Kavanaugh indisputably did on academics and sports as well. He captain of
the basketball, he played varsity football among other things. And on the weekends, partying really hard.
And I recall from my own era, 10 years later, what they have described from the early ’80s, house parties, parents not in town, lots of alcohol, some
underage drinking. In Kavanaugh’s class, there was a mix, some were just old enough to be legally drinking beer or others not. But in any case, it
both decades, there was underage drinking and a lot of unsupervised activity and a lot of sexual activity that may or not have been fully
AMANPOUR: I just want to, in fact, going back to the period that you’re investigating, and you mentioned the yearbook of course, the copy of his
yearbook that has the — you mentioned before, the Renate aluminous remark, and I’ll get to that in a second. But there’s also a letter from him from
1983, “p.s. It would probably be a good idea on Saturday, the 18th, to warn the neighbors that we’re loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers
amongst us.” I mean, you know — I mean, that’s from the horse’s mouth.
KELLY: Right. So, and this has been interesting to look at, both the yearbook page that he personally, you know, designed and wrote the text for
with very limited faculty oversight, from everything we understand, and the handwritten letter which he acknowledges he wrote in 1983.
To put that up again his testimony, you see interesting contrasts. I do want to talk about Renate but maybe I’ll save that for your next question.
But in terms of the drinking, when asked by the Senate Judiciary Committee, “Did you — were you in the Ralph club? Was that a reference to you
vomiting from excessive drinking?” He said, “I’m known to have a weak stomach. I get affected,” I’m paraphrasing obviously but, “I get affected
by spicy food, by beer.”
I mean, it was a very round-about way of confirming that he vomited regularly or on multiple occasions from excessive drinking. It wasn’t
really a confirmation, but I guess you couldn’t argue that it was a complete untruth either.
But in this case, “prolific pukers” is the word. So, that’s one example. Another thing you didn’t mention but it’s in there is the signature is
FFFF, Bart. And the FFFF, Bart is yet another point of controversy because he was nicknamed Bart in high school.
One of the elderly teachers at the school once garbled his name or maybe on more than one occasion garbled the name Brett and Bart is what came out and
became attached to him as a nickname, and that’s been like universally acknowledged in terms of the people I’ve talked to.
The FFFF is yet another matter. It seems to be a reference to a friend of Judge Kavanaugh’s in the class who had a stutter and the stutter was
apparent — when he trying to use the F-word, this is also what Judge Kavanaugh testified it to be. However, during that era, it was also a
vulgar sexual reference. And not saying that he was being dishonest, but it may very well have been double entendre that referred to the stutter
initially, but also had these other implications.
AMANPOUR: And Robin, you know, a lot of what people are saying is, some of the sexual allegations, you know, it could be he said she said and it could
be that they haven’t gone right to the depth of this. And of course, as I say, he keeps, obviously, denying it.
But the matter of the truthfulness over the drinking is something that others have brought up. The matter of just plain truth, whether it’s
drinking or allegations that he didn’t tell the truth in other hearings, and of course the matter of temperament.
So, again, from your reporting, what are you hearing from people who involved and came to you? What do they most want to get out? What do they
most want known in public?
POGREBIN: I think that is the key question, Christiane, that all of the classmates that I’m speaking to are not trying to sort of arbitrate the
degree of his drinking and the level of its appropriateness. They all, as Kate said, said, you know, they too drank and sometimes even more so at
The real question is about his veracity. Many of these people were reluctant to speak initially because they didn’t feel like they really had
something contribute. What moved them sort of off the dime was seeing Brett, you know, sort of portray himself both on the Fox interview with his
wife where he was kind of just very much portraying himself as kind of a choir boy.
And then in the hearings itself, they really feel like he misrepresented himself, he wasn’t honest, and that goes to the core of his capacity and
fitness to be a judge on the highest court, and that’s what’s making them speaker, that’s what’s giving them a sense of outrage and that’s what’s
motivating them to sort of aggressively and proactively try to get to the FBI with their version of the Brett Kavanaugh they remember.
AMANPOUR: So, let us just play a selection ever sound bites from that very famous opening statement and Q&A with the senators during that day of
hearing, exactly — I think it was exactly a week ago. Let’s just listen to what he said about his drinking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I drank beer with my friends, almost everyone did. Sometime I had too many beers. I liked
beer. I still like beer. But I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out. We drank beer, my friends and I, boys and girls, yes, we
drank beer. I liked beer. Still like beer. I like beer. I like beer. I don’t know if you do. You like beer, Senator, or not. What do you like to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next one is —
KAVANAUGH: Senator, what do you like to drink?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I think he even challenged one senator and asked her whether she had blacked out. He ahd to apologize for that afterwards.
POGREBIN: Right. Senator Klobuchar.
AMANPOUR: You know, this sound is being dissected over and over again. I’m sure psychologists would have a field day with it, maybe even
forensics. But just tell us from your reporting, because I think this is quite important.
The FBI is going to be, by the critics, blamed for not doing a full and thorough job, as everybody, you’re saying and others are saying, they have
not been contacted. What is the parameter of an FBI investigation in this case compared to in a criminal case?
POGREBIN: I mean, I think what’s been difficult here I nobody was entirely clear on what the brief was from the president originally and then we
reported that it was only four people they were interviewing, there was considerable kind of public outcry about that, they expected a thorough
investigation. I think there is some dynamic of sort of Republicans in the Senate feeling like they — the Democrats are going to complain no matter
what form this investigation takes. But there was then, presumably, a little bit of a broader circle on the part of the FBI in terms of who they
spoke to. Now, all of the people I’ve spoken to have not heard from the FBI.
And I think to your other point, Christiane, what is also relevant that has motivated a lot of these classmates is the issue of temperament, having
seen how Brett performed, you know, under pressure and under frequent criticism in the Senate testimony, that it was very unjudicial. You have
1,000 attorneys out there who have now sort of said they don’t feel comfortable moving forward, and I think that is a whole movement now that
resonates with these classmates’ memory of him as an angry drunk. He was very different when he was not inebriated. But when he was, they saw this
side of kind of a belligerent Brett Kavanaugh, and that is troubling.
KELLY: My understanding, Christiane, in terms of the FBI investigation is that in a case like this, and this was considered to be yet another round
of what was essentially a background, it’s performed on the White House’s behalf in order to help the White House vet and consider its own nominees
to positions, which is why you saw White House input in terms of people that they might want to talk to and maybe even White House limitations on
who they talk to.
It was interesting by Sunday or Monday, White House officials like Kellyanne Conway and ultimately, the preside, were saying, the FBI should
be able to talk to whomever they want. But is seems they kept the focus quite narrow to simply the people that were said to be at the event that
Christine Blasey Ford described, a group of five known people and a sixth that is unknown in terms of identity, and then Deborah Ramirez, and really
quite a small circle.
Not these additional people that the likes of whom Robin and I have spoken to who could kind of corroborate the behavior at the time, what went on
socially, what kind of context Judge Kavanaugh was operating in back then. That sort of input has not been sought to the best of our knowledge.
AMANPOUR: And, Robin, as briefly as you can, do you think once the — I guess, the FBI investigation is not going to be de public, maybe it will be
leaked more and more. But once the vote happens, depending on which way it goes, will you keep reporting this story?
POGREBIN: That’s a very good question. I mean, we are — we have very much felt like we’re sort of up against the clock in terms of trying to
shake out every possible piece of information that might be relevant here. But I think there is the feeling, a sinking feeling now that, to some
extent, this is a fait accompli, and the door has closed.
And I’m just not sure barring some, you know, more sort of drastic revelation that this will just kind of fade in memory ultimately and it
KELLY: I smiled when were you asking the question, Christiane, because Robin and I were talking about that before we came on air. I think there’s
some leads we’ll continue to pursue. I mean, a lot, obviously, depends on the next couple of days and what happens and where we are left after all
that. But I think there’s some important questions that have been raised here.
And this whole situation has been difficult for all sides. If there is an upside, it is increased awareness about sexual assault and drinking. And
I’m sure, there will be plenty of reporting to do on those topics in the future.
AMANPOUR: Robin, Kate, thank you so much for joining us. A really remarkable moment.
POGREBIN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Thank you very much.
And as we read the next bit of our report tonight, we just want to put up this amazing, strong picture from “TIME” magazine, which has an image of
Christine Blasey Ford and the words of her testimony emblazed all across her face. You can look at it.
So much of Washington politics has become about competing narratives as we have just seen, and that’s more important than we might think because
storytelling might just be what separate us from the apes. These are the thoughts of Yuval Noah Harari, a global intellectual superstar who has sold
millions of books like “Sapiens” and “Homo Deus,” which is about creation and it’s future.
When we met in New York, we spoke about his latest work “21 Lessons for the 21st Century,” which shifts his fascinating focus to the present day.
So, welcome, Yuval Noah Harari. You have made a career now out of charting our existence, the existence of our species. First and foremost, so I want
to know where do you come down, are we Homo sapiens or sapiens?
YUVAL NOAH HARARI, AUTHOR, “SAPIENS” AND “21 LESSONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY”: Well, good questions. I say sapiens usually.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I’m going to stick with sapiens.
HARARI: But sapiens is OK.
AMANPOUR: Some people say sapiens. How did our species, the sapiens, it’s the title of your first book, how do we come to be dominant?
HARARI: We are the only social mammals that can cooperate in very, very large numbers and in flexible ways. This is the of our success, very
simply. Individual level, it’s the collective level. If you look at any large-scale human achievement, whether it’s flying to the moon or splitting
of the atom of building the pyramids, this is the results of large-scale cooperation.
And we are the only mammals that can cooperate on a very large scale because we are the only ones that can create and believe in fictional
AMANPOUR: What do you mean? Because we are in this era of fact, fiction, fake. When you say our civilization and fiction and cooperation, what do
you mean by that?
HARARI: I mean, the most obvious example is religion. That even religious people will agree that all religions except one are based on fictional
AMANPOUR: You mean, expect their own.
HARARI: (INAUDIBLE). I mean, ask a Jew in Christianity, this is fake news. Ask a Christian and they will say Islam is fake news. And so, this
true of all religions. It’s also true of nations. Nations exist only in our own imagination. And it’s also true of money and cooperations. The
only place Google and Toyota exist is in the stories that our shamans, called lawyers, invent and spread around.
And I don’t mean to belittle them, they are the most important thing in the world. If you can get millions of people to believe in the same fiction,
it becomes the most powerful thing in the world because it enables them to cooperate effectively.
AMANPOUR: We live, it seems, in an era now of increasing discooperation, uncooperation. Our politics are very polarized in every country, not just
in the usual suspects. Is that part of what will contribute to the demise of our species?
AMANPOUR: That depends. I mean, we are now gaining really divine abilities of creation. We are gaining the ability to reengineer and create
life. And the big question is what will we do with the immense powers. And the only effective way to regulate our immense new powers, especially
artificial intelligence and bioengineering, is through global cooperation.
You cannot regulate A.I. or biotechnology on the level of a single country. If you’re afraid of some dangerous potential, let’s say, the creation of
autonomous weapon systems, killer robots or of bioengineering human babies. And you ban these technologies, let’s say, in the U.S., it won’t help if
the Chinese and the Russians and the Israelis and whatever are doing it.
Very soon the Americans too will be tempted to break their own ban because they wouldn’t like to stay behind. The only way to regulate our immense
new powers is through global cooperation. And if we don’t have global cooperation, then the future of humankind does not look very promising.
AMANPOUR: We live in the era of global disruption, at least, that is what President Trump is doing, openly overtly that is his agenda, of disruption
and chaos. What happens then to this cooperation you say is vital?
HARARI: It breaks down. It’s very simple.
AMANPOUR: But if it breaks down, what happens to our species?
HARARI: Well, we have three big problems as a species that we need to confront and confront it now, not in some distant future. We need to
confront nuclear war, we need to confront climate change and we need to confront the technological disruptions caused by A.I. and bioengineering.
Even if we prevent nuclear war and climate change, A.I. and bioengineering are still going to completely disrupt the job market, the global economy,
our bodies and brains are going really to be disrupted. So — and we need the global cooperation to deal with that.
With all the talk of nationalism and isolationism. Nationalism has many good ideas about how to deal with the issues of a particular country, how
to run the U.S., how to run Russia, how to run India. But the question to ask any nationalist is how are your country by itself going to prevent
nuclear war. to stop climate change and to regulate the disruptive technology. And the answer — the obvious answer, you can’t.
AMANPOUR: So, it’s a little disheartening because wherever we look, we don’t see that kind of cooperation, we see the opposite.
HARARI: Oh, there is still more cooperation than almost ever before.
HARARI: We still live in the most connected world that ever existed, we still live in the most peaceful world. There are still wars in many
places. I come from the Middle East, I know this perfectly well. But compared to any previous time in history, we are in better situation. Far
more people die today from obesity than from violence.
AMANPOUR: Is that true?
HARARI: Yes. Sugar is a greater danger to your life statistically than gun powder. Now everything is lost. The global order has taken quite a
few hits over the last few years but it is still in far better shape than, let’s say, 50 years ago, in 1968 or 100 years ago in 1918. And we can
AMANPOUR: We’re obviously living through this disruptive dynamic regarding, as we’ve said, you know, globalization, the liberal world order,
because too many people have felt left behind. And you say and other economists say the obvious, that this can only work if there is sustained
global economic growth, and that is not a given.
HARARI: No, absolutely not.
AMANPOUR: And that may peter out. And the whole dream of the world, it’s not just the American dream, that my children will do better than I’m
doing, it may come crashing down.
HARARI: Maybe the bigger issue is one of inequality but not incoming inequality but future, the inequality of the future, that we tend to speak
in terms of we but maybe there are no we. Maybe homo sapiens, this one species that took over the world is in the process of splitting is in the
process of speciation really.
And different people in different parts of the world have a different future. If you live in one part of the world, the best is investment is to
learn how to quote. If you live in a different part of the world, the best investment is to learn how to shoot a Kalashnikov. And this whole talk
about our future, this is the biggest problem, there is no our future.
And this is ever true of particular countries like the U.S. One of the interpretations of what we are seeing with the rise of populism and the
rise of Trump and so forth is that in essence, a lot of people are sensing correctly that they are being left behind, that the future doesn’t include
them, the future doesn’t need them.
The big struggle in the 21st century might be against irrelevance. You know, in the 20th century, the big struggle, the big conflict was about
exploitation. Some people exploiting other people. But in the 21st century, maybe the biggest conflict of all will be about irrelevance.
Nobody is exploiting you, they just don’t need you, and that’s far, far worse.
AMANPOUR: Far worse. It’s a really existential angst on a massive level.
HARARI: Yes. And it’s also just much harder to struggle against it. Because if you are exploited, it means they need you. But if you’re
irrelevant, what do you do?
AMANPOUR: So, you know, this is something that, you know, I try to get my head around often because, you know, we talk about, what we just said,
populism, anger, worry, fear, you know, alienation, left behind, all of that, and people point to globalization or this or that or the other. But
they don’t point to the very thing you’re talking about as kind of the savior, and that is technology.
So, technology has disrupted people’s jobs and disrupted their human relevance. And then, you’re saying that, I think, biotech and infotech and
technology have to be harnessed to continue into solving these problems.
HARARI: Yes. Technology — one thing which is absolutely crucial about technology, it’s never deterministic. You can use the same technology to
create completely different kinds of societies. In the 20th Century, you could use radio and electricity and trains to build communistic leaderships
or fascist regimes or evil democracies. It was the same electricity for the same trains. It’s just people use them in different ways.
And it’s the same with AI and bioengineering. You can create — you can use them to create paradise on earth or to create the hell and it’s every
AMANPOUR: So where are we going, towards hell or paradise?
HARARI: Presently, we still need to wait.
AMANPOUR: We are undecided.
HARARI: And again, some parts of the world may become hell while other parts of the world may become paradise at the same time.
AMANPOUR: You’ve mentioned something called “Digital Dictatorships”. Tell us what that means in terms of North Korea or Russia or whatever.
HARARI: Well, in essence, it means that we are reaching the point when you can hack human beings. There is a lot of talk about hacking computers, e-
mails, bank accounts but that’s nothing. The real story is the ability to hack human beings. To hack a human being, you need two things. You need a
lot of data, especially biometric data and good understanding of what’s happening inside the body, inside the brain. And you need a lot of control
computing power to make sense of all this data.
Until today in history, nobody had the biological understanding and nobody had the computing power necessary to hack humans. So if you lived in the
Soviet Union and the KGB followed you around 24 hours a day, still the KGB couldn’t really understand what was happening inside you.
AMANPOUR: They couldn’t read your mind.
HARARI: They couldn’t read your mind. But in 20 years, maybe they could. If not the KGB, somebody else.
AMANPOUR: What would that look like in the world’s, you know, biggest dictatorship right now which is in North Korea?
HARARI: Well, it means, for example, that everybody has to wear a biometric bracelet 24 hours a day. And if you go into a room and there is
a picture of Kim Jung Un on the wall and there is anger rising in your body, in your brain, they know it and you will be in the gulag (ph)
tomorrow morning. Now, we are reaching a point when the privileged access, somebody has privileged access to your brain and it’s not you because —
AMANPOUR: It’s not you? Right.
HARARI: It’s not you that have the privileged access. To take something which — simple but very important like sexual orientation, I was I think
21 when I finally realized that I was gay. But an algorithm could have told this when I was 14 or 15 just by tracking my eye movement.
AMANPOUR: Eye movement?
HARARI: Yes. I mean if you look — if you see — if you walk on the beach in Tel Aviv and you see a shirtless guy and a shirtless girl walking
together, whom are you focusing on? This is something —
AMANPOUR: So if you’re focusing on the guy, it’s a dead giveaway.
HARARI: I mean almost dead giveaway, yes. And this is the kind of power we are dealing with. You know, people don’t want to believe that this is
possible. They have this fantasy or free will. Nobody can understand me. Nobody can manipulate me because I have free will. I have the human spirit
and this is unhackable. But the easiest people to manipulate are the people who believe in free will and they don’t believe that somebody can do
it to them.
AMANPOUR: You say in a mere two decades, billions have come to entrust the Google search algorithm with one of the most important tasks of all,
searching for relevant and trustworthy information. As we increasingly rely on Google so our ability to search for information by ourselves
HARARI: Yes. We just trust the algorithms more than we trust our own ability to instincts, and very often for a good reason. I mean this is not
all some big cerebral conspiracy. In many cases, there are excellent reasons to trust Google or Amazon or the government or whatever to make
better choices on our behalf. But this is happening in more and more fields.
And, you know, this view of human life is a big drum of decision making which you find in like every novel, every Hollywood comedy is about some
big decision the hero or the heroine needs to make. And it’s the same in religion in which you have this big drum of what do I choose, good or evil?
But what happens if increasingly, not just about buying things or just about finding your way around town, but the really big stuff, what to study
in university, where to live, whom to marry, whom to vote for, what happens if you learn by experience that Google makes better decisions on average?
Not always. It makes mistakes, yes, but I’m also making mistakes —
AMANPOUR: I remember we’re speaking — [13:35:00] we’re giving them a lot of credit in this time where the whole Google, Facebook effect is being
really hauled over the coals. And even inventors and investors in the original technology are beginning to say, “What have we created? What have
we done?” Because they know that they’ve been moving and manipulating people’s minds in a way that none of us knew or gave permission for. Not
to mention data.
HARARI: But again, much of the story is that we are giving permission because they are making better choices. I mean you have this basic science
fiction dystopia that we created a technology we think it’s good. But actually, it’s terrible, it’s evil, and we have to fight against it and
destroy it. But actually, the worst scenario in some philosophical — for some philosophical perspective, the worst scenario is that if it’s actually
making a better decision than us.
AMANPOUR: Well, the world is becoming too complicated you said for our basic hunt together brains. You yourself seem to step off and step away
for about 60 days per year, right?
AMANPOUR: You take an absolute vacation somehow for 60 days a year. That’s amazing. Why do you do that?
HARARI: I go every year for a long meditation which — you know, I talk so much for the rest of the year and I travel and I — it’s a wonderful thing
to just be able to stop completely everything for two months. And just being the present moment without e-mails, without tweets, without
computers, smartphones, anything and just focus on reality.
You have these thousands of years of traditions of telling people, know yourself. It’s the most important thing in the world is to know yourself.
And to know yourself, you need to really observe yourself. If you outsource knowing yourself through an algorithm, you don’t need to do it.
You can just trust Google to get to know you better. But if you want to know yourself better, you have to observe yourself. You have to spend time
with your mind, with your body.
And it’s an amazing experience and sometimes can be a shocking experience to just be there with your mind with no distractions. Something comes up
and you cannot run to the television, to the smartphone, to the computer, you just have to continue being there with whatever comes up in your mind.
And, you know —
AMANPOUR: That’s being human.
HARARI: That’s being human and that’s — there are so many things but my worst worry about where technology is taking us is that we will change and
upgrade. We’ll try to upgrade homo sapiens before we really understood the full capacity of homo sapiens. We actually know so little about ourselves
and it’s a very bad idea to start upgrading something which you don’t really understand.
AMANPOUR: But I would say, that’s one of the most profound of your 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. So thank you so much, Yuval Noah Harari for
HARARI: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Learning how to switch off and tune out, not for our next guest though. It is not unusual for a British actor to go to Hollywood and make
it big. But Jameela Jamil is not exactly your paint by numbers actress, a Brit, a Pakistani descent. Incredibly honest about her life from anorexia
to sexual assault, nervous breakdown and even she got hit by a car. She remains incredibly optimistic throughout. And now she’s starring in the
hit sitcom The Good Place. Jamil spoke without our Alicia Menendez about her unusual journey to the top.
ALICIA MENENDEZ, CONTRIBUTOR: You have the type of story that if it were written as fiction would be unbelievable. You grow up without full hearing
and yet somehow become a radio D.J. You accidentally become a host. You then accidentally become a columnist.
You have then achieved fame in the U.K. and decided it is time to move to the U.S. to pursue a career in writing and then somehow, although you are
not pursuing acting, get cast in one of the most important sitcoms happening in America right now. Who are you?
JAMEELA JAMIL, FOUNDER, I WEIGH MOVEMENT: I don’t know. I have no idea. I should be stopped.
JAMIL: Memorized my life.
MENENDEZ: Well, it’s unbelievable.
JAMIL: So when I was 17, I was hit by a car into another car, broke my back. And that changed the rest of my life because it gave me this
certainty that we can’t really have plans. There’s no point really in having plans. Because one day if you walk across the road and then that’s
it, your whole life changes and you can’t walk again or some people can never walk again.
So I think I stopped living my life with a plan and with a particular direction and just moved in the direction of happiness. [13:40:00] I’m
making the most of every single day which makes me sound so disgustingly cheesy but it is true. Once you lose the ability to urinate alone, you
start to take things less for granted.
So I think that it’s left me open-minded. I think some people can be quite tunnel visioned in this world and in this industry in particular. They
have a certain idea of how everything is going to go. And I think so I just been quite malleable and quite open to things. I’ve been in the right
place at the right time.
I think luck plays a huge part in it. And I’ve just been willing to take risks and humiliate myself constantly, sometimes, which I do actually quite
frequently. I’m bad at things on air in front of lots of people but I’m willing to do the first time.
MENENDEZ: Well, because you’re trying to try. Yes.
JAMIL: But I always jump straight in at the deep and I have no idea how to host and my first audition landed me one of the biggest hosting jobs in the
United Kingdom. And then I started out in radio and Rob then giving me the kind of one-year training run that you’re supposed to get when you pop up
for other people.
I got given my own show straight away and then made history as the first woman to ever take up an official show. So I’ve never been ready for — I
mean I’ve never acted before and now I’m on “The Good Place” of the Ted Danson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who would you say is the most famous person in your phone?
JAMIL: It’s not about who you know, enlightenment comes from within.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MENENDEZ: The show The Good Place for all of its humor, gives us some very dark deep existential questions. What have you learned being on the show?
JAMIL: I learned that I need to pay more attention and be a better person to make sure that my motivations aren’t corrupt. I think that’s a part of
all of us that sometimes, even without realizing, do good things for the — not for the sake of it but doing it because it will make you feel like a
good person. We call it moral desert on the show.
And I think that also it is a great reminder at the time where it feels like everything is so divisive in politics and in the news and they’re all
being turned against each other and fear-mongering about one another, this show is about four people who have nothing in common who come from very
different places who have no choice but to work together in order to get to a better place, which is kind of a really wonderful analogy for the rest of
the world. Divided, we will be conquered and we are literally being conquered.
And if we want to be more like the show, a silly NBC network comedy, we would put aside our differences and just work together, we could actually
change the world. And so that’s what I really like about it.
MENENDEZ: Talk to me about why you decided to make that leap from your career in the U.K. to moving to L.A.?
JAMIL: Well, England is amazing. But England has kind of a quite low ceiling for women still. I think there’s really very few of us who managed
to continue to work off their 30s and there still isn’t enough diversity, not as much as they should be. I think they’re getting back to the way
behind America. And so I kind of felt like my options are very great content where it was sort of at that time — I think things are changing
now but four years ago, it was sort of I felt like the walls are kind of closing in on me and I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
And I had health scare again. I get this like kind of cyclical, every decade I get a huge health scare that makes me think about my life.
MENENDEZ: The breast cancer scare?
JAMIL: It was the breast cancer scare, yes. And it took a week for them to give me back my biopsy results which is so long when it is happening to
you. And I thought during the whole week about everything that I wished I would have done if it’s cancer. And if it isn’t cancer, I’m going to go
and do all of those things.
So I made a list. And one of them was to book a one-way ticket to Los Angeles and quit my job and quit my relationship, quit my life. Just move
there, with no plan, no visa, no contacts, nothing, no friends here and I just did it.
MENENDEZ: They say of comedians that very often their humor comes from a very dark place. Even though you are not a comedian, you obviously now are
a comedic actor. And so I wonder for you, is there a darkness that you access in order to get to your comedy?
JAMIL: I think normally humor comes from an inability of feeling like you have anything else to rely on to make people like you. And so for me that
was being Pakistani in a time where England was still quite racist and I think it was being more overweight than society thought I should be. And
also coming from a poor background, getting a scholarship to a very wealthy girls’ school where everyone within, very few people were of any ethnicity.
I was very much that outside of my whole life and I didn’t really have friends probably until about 19-years-old. So I think that loneliness and
also spending my hours that I should have been spending with other people my age, I spent watching comedy. So I think it has become comedy is my
friend and therefore, comedy is how I approach all friendship. And that’s probably where my comedy comes from, loneliness and darkness and sadness.
MENENDEZ: Well, you alluded to this but you spent three years suffering from anorexia in which you did not eat one proper meal —
MENENDEZ: — entire three years.
MENENDEZ: It is then that car accident that kicks you out of that. Not everyone will be hit by a car and have that be the turning point —
JAMIL: No, not everyone is as lucky as me.
[13:45:00] MENENDEZ: I mean what a life-altering experience.
JAMIL: Yes. It’s the best thing ever happened to me. I highly recommend it.
MENENDEZ: You understand about how dark that sounds?
JAMIL: Yes, yes. No, I highly recommend it. You know, just little milk that reminds you that you are human and everything that you have can be
taken away from you. You’re not special. You’re not privileged. Anything can happen.
At least, if you look at the current, this can happen all the time. You have to be careful with yourself. You have to respect your body and it
taught me to respect my body. Because once you buy for things I’ve taken for granted like walking or bending or sitting up by myself was taken away
from me, I realized that “Oh my God, I’ve been treating my body so badly, speaking about my body so badly.”
We all do it. We all say terrible things about our bodies, to our bodies, and to other people constantly. It’s all I hear. And now that I started
the I Weigh Movement and I myself have become so sick of the toxic language around the way that we talk about our self-image, I feel like I’m seeing it
more than ever before. And we just have so much self-hatred and I think that’s kind of the thing I most want to do with my platform.
MENENDEZ: So tell me about I Weigh.
JAMIL: So I Weigh is a movement that I started. It’s not a body positive movement. It’s a life positive movement because I think there are enough
people working within body positivity. And I would like to focus myself on getting away from the body and just looking at the whole picture of a
We’re so multi-faceted. And what’s so interesting is so many of us do impress and wonderful and incredible things. So many women is so much
funnier than people know. And we are reduced to nothing more than a silhouette and normally aesthetically pleasing to a man. Those are the
kind of confines of which were given to exist.
We have to have big breasts and a small waist and a big bottom but no size and no arms, no cellulite and we have to never age ever. We have to always
look prepubescent and yet men are shot in H.D. and they get celebrated for getting older and, you know, sculpt and pepper hair. You don’t say that
about women. So we’re so shamed.
And I decided I am tired of being valued by my weight, like my physical weight. I don’t want my worth to be represented on a weighing scale. I
think that we are — I Weigh the sum of all my part, you know, and I deserve the right to be acknowledged for that. I’ve lived a whole life
here. I’m not just a facade. I’m not just an outside.
And I want to celebrate women and I want them to celebrate themselves and everything that makes them up. I want them to be proud of themselves.
There’s so many things that we do that are amazing. You don’t need to look like a teenage sex doll to be valid in this world.
If you do, fine. If that’s what you like, that’s great but that shouldn’t be the one requirement we’re given. Also, it’s so narrow for us. We’re
only getting one look and that look changes every 10 years. Can you imagine a world in which we said to men every 10 years I got to look like
this now? And if you don’t, you’re nothing. They would tell us to F-word off. That’s what they would do. There’s no way that they would take that,
tolerate that from us.
MENENDEZ: You have plenty of experience with airbrush, airbrush that is not of your choosing. You have been made to look both less ethnic,
slimmer. How do you stop that?
JAMIL: I say do not ever airbrush me now to all magazines. I think I’ve always said it for a long time but I didn’t command enough power. And
also, I think I was less OK with the word no and for being strongly opinionated. I think we need to — in times it has given me this sense of
like I’ve never ever had before.
But now I’m just like damn it, this is my life, don’t change my face. It’s rude when someone changes my face. It’s crazy to me that without asking me
if I want to change the shape of my nose and change the color of my skin and lengthen my body. That’s a direct insult from the editor of the
magazine and (INAUDIBLE) to me that I’m not good enough.
And then the young girl who doesn’t look like me because I don’t even look like me, who sees that image then think she’s not good enough. This is
ridiculous. So I now ban all airbrushing. I would like to move to change the laws on airbrushing. If I could, I would get rid of all of it.
And God help us with these Photoshop apps. I think they are a nightmare because — and I think that they are increasing the numbers of surgery that
are happening now, cosmetic surgery. I think numbers are rising because you’re seeing yourself, you’re always – I think Facetune is one of the
apps. You’re always Photoshopping yourself and you look in the mirror.
How can you be happy with something when you’ve been looking at complete flawlessness? And you look in the mirror and you can see human normal
flaws and age. That’s going to make you then want to match what you see in the app and then you have to go out and have painful, expensive, sometimes
What are we doing? What kind of time is this that we’re spending on thinking about these things? You spend a little bit time on your looks,
find a suit I made yesterday?
MENENDEZ: Brushed your hair?
JAMIL: Was it yesterday? Brushed my teeth yesterday but I’m here. I make an effort, wearing some makeup, that’s fine but it’s one-tenth of who I am.
And that’s all I want, is just life positivity. I Weigh is who you are, not what you look like.
MENENDEZ: As you alluded to, we are in a moment of cultural reckoning and that was on full display in these past few weeks as Brett Kavanaugh was
considered for his nomination to the Supreme Court. We’ve spoken openly in the past about being a survivor of assault. [13:50:00] And so I wonder for
you watching what has unfolded in the past few weeks how you process the disbelief that has been posed towards the survivors that have come forward.
JAMIL: As a victim of several different cases of sexual assault, I find it very triggering, very painful to watch and I think so to a lot of my
friends because we’ve all been there. We’ve all been given doubt. And also, I pointed out this week that in the same week in which a woman who’s
just speaking out about sexual assault and the way she’s being treated in many different areas as someone to be suspicious of, someone to not
believe, just been kind of villainize by certain people.
And then you have Roman Polanski on the other side — on the other hand who with this week we’re hearing that he’s got a new film coming out. How is
this — what is this gender imbalance here that a woman who’s accusing someone of sexual assault, life is being torn apart. And then Roman
Polanski is off making movies, hanging out with celebrities, eating at the best restaurants, living his life free.
MENENDEZ: Will you tell me as a survivor, what message does it send?
JAMIL: It sends the message that we’re not supposed to speak out. And that if we do, we will be villainized and we will be doubted and we will be
shamed and asked about what our part — we don’t have a part to play in sexual assault. We are just victims.
And all I could ever beg women to do because I’ve buried so much of my sexual assault for so many years, each one took 10 years from the date of
this whole thing ever tell anyone of anyone about them. You have to speak out. You have to say something. Not just the fact that there may be
something can be done about it but also it’s very emancipating to release that shame and put it out into the world away from yourself.
It’s important to tell someone and have people look after you. Don’t do what I did which is swallow it for so long. It ate me alive and made me
afraid of sex and afraid of people. I suggest you go and get help. I think NDR therapy in post-traumatic stress disorder —
MENENDEZ: What is that?
JAMIL: NDR is a special therapy for PTSD that I think is incredible and it really helps me with overcoming my sexual assault. But I think you need to
reach out to people and you need to go to the law and we need to keep fighting. It’s been so inspiring to see that this is going on as long as
it is. And that even at that higher level where one could be quite well protected and people could be silenced, we are still listening to women.
We need more of this and women need to know that you have the right to speak out. It is not your fault. You did nothing to encourage it. You
did not deserve it and you must say something.
MENENDEZ: I am envious of how unapologetic you are. And I walked into this wondering if that was a need or if that is learned but what I’m
hearing is that it’s been a process.
JAMIL: Yes, yes. I was — I had huge anxiety and depression in my 20s. I had a nervous breakdown at 26 until I was about 27 but I had to hide
because I was still a live T.V. presenter which is probably where my acting comes from, being able to hide a nervous breakdown but I was mad. And —
MENENDEZ: Was there something that triggered it?
JAMIL: Yes, but it’s too personal to say. But it was kind of a big event in my life within my personal life that sort of just was the straw that
broke the camel’s back. And so that kind of — it’s also around that age that I think you start to really process the things that happened to you,
you know, in your childhood and in your youth.
MENENDEZ: One true line that runs through all of the work that you’ve done is that you have been a public person and in the public eye —
MENENDEZ: — for a very long time. No one and nothing can prepare you for that.
MENENDEZ: What has the process of becoming a public person been for you?
JAMIL: Trial and error, so much error. I was not born for this industry at all. And I don’t think before I speak and I can act emotionally rather
than intellectually sometimes, which is a nightmare if you’re on Twitter and I say the wrong thing and my ignorance can be problematic. And I’m
trying to grow from it and learn from it and old mistakes you’ve made, like a tattoo when you’re famous and they never go away.
And all I can ever do is continue to learn and openly apologize and beg forgiveness of those that I offend if I didn’t know something. But I hope
people know that I don’t come from a place of malice, just probably some internalized misogyny sometimes or some internalized shame on my own pain
that’s pouring out. It’s hard to live in an industry where people want to invade your privacy as much as they do, which is kind of why I kind of just
become an open book because I’m tired of trying to hide everything that all the time.
I think my willingness to fail is the one thing that I hope will make me a good role model to young people that it’s OK to fail as long as you keep
MENENDEZ: Jameela, thank you so much.
JAMIL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: What a frank interview.
Tomorrow I’ll speak with another great communicator in a very different field.
Tune in for my fascinating conversation with the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
He brings light to the unspoken alliance between his science and our military.
For now, that’s it for our program. Thanks for watching ‘Amanpour and Company’ on PBS and join us again tomorrow night.