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|CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
President Trump arrives for a rare royal state visit. Soaking up the pomp and the pageantry. We talk to the former U.K. ambassador to the United
States, Sir Nigel Sheinwald on the future of this special relationship now that Trump has thrown his weight behind Brexit, deal or no deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This want — what they want what they want, they will do anything. Do you hear me? Anything.
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AMANPOUR: One of the most important directors of her generation, Ava DuVernay, joins us. How her new series “When They See Us” delves into
America’s great miscarriage of justice, the case of the Central Park Five.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID KWONG, MAGICIAN, “THE ENIGMATIST”: Used to have one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: An escape from reality with magician and “New York Times” crossword mastermind, David Kwan.
Welcome to the program. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London, where today President Trump begins a three-day state visit.
As his plane landed, there was an undiplomatic flurry of tweets from the president to his longtime nemesis, the mayor of this capital city, London,
who opposes the visit and said so in his own undiplomatic terms. But by the time Trump’s helicopter landed at Buckingham Palace, it was all smiles
and a lot of pomp and pageantry. The queen laying on a right royal welcome.
And then it was ceremony at Westminster Abbey, where the president and first lady laid a wreath at the grave of the unknown warrior and also
visited the tombs of great scientists like Stephen Hawking and Charles Darwin. It was a very English afternoon tea time to be shared with the
heir to the throne, Prince Charles, and Duchess of Cornwall. And tonight, is the state banquet.
Today, of course, is the royal part of the visit. Tomorrow it’s all politics. And the president is already weighed in heavily on Brexit,
stating his support for his friends like Mr. Brexit himself, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson who is vying for the prime minister seat after he and his
allies stuck the knife into Theresa May’s political back, forcing her to stand down, which she will do right after this state visit.
So, with that framework, what does the picture look like for the future of the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom?
Sir Nigel Sheinwald joins me in the studio. He’s the former U.K. ambassador to the United States and the European Union and he was also a
key adviser on foreign policy and national security to the former prime minister, Tony Blair.
Welcome back to your program.
NIGEL SHEINWALD, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Good evening.
AMANPOUR: Good evening. So, as with all things Trump, this is a big deal. How big a deal should it be?
SHEINWALD: Well, any visit, any state visit by the president of the United States is important. U.S. remains the U.K.’s most important ally, most
significant ally by quite a long way. But I think it’s important, partly because in the U.K., this is a very vulnerable and significant moment.
We’re having to deal with a new type of American president. Someone who doesn’t value alliances in the way that his predecessors did, who likes the
history and who clearly likes the pageantry, and that’s a good thing.
But it isn’t enough because I think alliances without values, alliances without a shared agenda are weak alliances. And that’s what this visit may
expose or it may prove to be wrong, if there seem to be more substance behind the smiles and behind the ceremony.
AMANPOUR: So, given that you were a U.K. ambassador to the United States and also to the European Union, two, obviously, big issues for Britain
right now, given that you’re also steeped in foreign policy and security policy and intelligence policy, what do you see as the big issue beyond
today’s royal day when it comes to politics. Are there any, as far as we know, I mean, major bilaterals that have to be talked about, trashed out,
signed? What’s on the table?
SHEINWALD: I’m not sure there’s going to be a huge amount that’s going to get agreed then and there. Because I think this program is deliberately
light on substance. And that’s for two reasons. A, I think it’s because the president did not want a heavy program. But I also think it’s because
at this moment that our prime minister about to change with all the uncertainty over Brexit, it doesn’t feel like the right moment for the U.K.
to be launching major new initiatives in any event.
But I think there are some things clearly on the agenda. The test will be whether you get the sense two of nations working with some sense of shared
purpose and a shared agenda before beyond the generality of this historic alliance. So, I would say the test tomorrow will be what is said on Iran,
what is said on the Yemen and whether it’s possible for the U.K. and U.S. really to push forward the possibility of a peace agreement in relation
[13:05:00] to Yemen.
What’s said on China and the perceived threat from China and what’s going to happen over the treatment of Huawei here in the U.K. which is clearly an
issue very much on the president’s mind and the mind of his advisers.
AMANPOUR: So, can we just take those two for a second. First China, obviously. The president has said that he might punish Britain by
withdrawing intelligence cooperation, which is a major big deal. Britain is part of the five eyes, the English language speaking countries that all
cooperate along with the United States on intelligence.
And correct me if I’m wrong, but Britain does a good job on intelligence gathering. And needs, likewise, the United States. And this is if you
can’t persuade the prime minister to not cooperate with Huawei on certain 5G and technological developments in the future. I mean, so how will that
work? What will be the basis of a negotiation?
SHEINWALD: Well, I think at the very least, I imagine what he wants to do tomorrow is make his strongest case at the highest level with everyone
involved in the U.K. sitting around the cabinet table in Downing Street, to hear his case, why a more restrictive policy is required and to hear
whether he puts any flesh on the bones of this idea that cooperation in the future might be limited in some way if we go ahead. But, of course, we
haven’t actually made a decision.
There was a leak but the government has been steadfast in saying they haven’t made up their minds. And I think the president and his team will
think there’s something to play for. They can certainly play out the rest of Theresa May’s time as prime minister and they may hope either that they
persuade the current group of ministers or that if there’s a change of prime minister, there will be a change of attitude on Huawei, because we
know that counsels are divided here in the U.K. around the cabinet table already on that issue. So, it may be that they move the ball a little bit
closer to the line tomorrow.
AMANPOUR: Can I you given your experience in security and intelligence, I mean, who is dreaming when they think Huawei is an independent, private
enterprise in China? I mean, everybody knows that you cannot be that in China, that there is an element, if not, a huge amount, of state
intervention. And if they are told this is what the state wants them to do, then they will. And the United States is right to be worried about
spying or other such, you know, dangerous stuff that happen in a major technological, you know, thing that we use all the time.
SHEINWALD: No, absolutely. But I don’t think there will be any lack of concern and lack of worry on the U.K. side either. The question is whether
technically it’s possible to do what our intelligence services say is possible, technically possible, which is to insulate Huawei. Not to give
them access to the core of the new system, but to involve them in some way.
And I guess to bring in Brexit, which you haven’t mentioned —
AMANPOUR: In a minute. I’m getting there.
SHEINWALD: Which is on everyone’s mind at the moment, obviously. For the U.K., going out into the world, if Brexit goes ahead, it can’t just rely on
the United States and it’s going to want a relationship, a trade relationship with China, with India and a lot of other countries. So, it
can’t be an America-only policy. This dilemma really exposes some of the real problems that we face with this concept of a global Britain after
AMANPOUR: Do you know what? What’s really interesting because I think most people, certainly the Brexiteers, whether it’s Boris Johnson or Nigel
Farage or the others, look entirely to the United States. I mean, they’re basically betting on President Trump’s friendliness toward the Brexit
experiment and particularly to the names around Brexit, whether it’s Johnson, Farage or whoever it may be, to deliver — to give them a great
big fabulous quick and massive trade deal.
How realistic is that? I mean, I’ve been told that in the United States, whatever the president was doing, it’s great but it also has to get past
SHEINWALD: Yes. Well, not just that. I think if you look at the relationship as a whole, there’s no way that even a beefed-up relationship
with the United States can somehow substitute for our relationship with the European Union. Our trade in goods and services with the European Union is
2 1/2 or 3 times what it is with the United States.
And some people talk as though we don’t have today a great trade relationship with the U.S. Of course we do. America is our top export
destination. This is a trade and economic relationship of huge substance. We are each other’s top investment partner. There are a million jobs in
both countries which depends on the other country.
So, of course, a trade deal will be important to Britain after Brexit. But two cautions. Number one, it can never substitute for the scale of the
regulatory and trade cooperation between Britain and its nearest partners in Europe, number one. Number two, the idea this is going to be a
sweetheart deal. And that the sharp claws of the American [13:10:00] negotiators will be trimmed and that the normal, very, very tough American
negotiating tactics won’t apply.
That’s, I think, for the birds. I think the idea that we will be given very, very preferential treatment and that there won’t be a lot of pressure
on the U.K. on health standards, on procurement, on contracts, on things like the health service, I think it’s going to be a very important, but a
very difficult and probably quite lengthy negotiation.
AMANPOUR: So, I’d like to play what the U.S. ambassador, Woody Johnson, to the U.K. said about this. I mean, he has also, you know, said in public
that it should be quick and rapid and great but there are other issues and you just mentioned the health issue.
AMANPOUR: Let’s play this for a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODY JOHNSON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.K.: I think the fact it’s on the president’s desk, day one, the minute you leave and we can negotiate, we
are already negotiating. I mean, we’re already looking at the terms and conditions that will allow us a successful negotiation. I think it will be
done. With the president looking at it, it will be done as expeditiously as any agreement we’ve ever had.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, as expeditiously because it will be on the president’s desk.
AMANPOUR: But you sort of already discussed that.
SHEINWALD: Well, as expeditiously as any trade agreement, I don’t know what the actual record is, but a big trade agreement with a major partner
normally takes years. So, it’s not the lowest bar that he’s setting there.
I think this will normally — normally, these things take quite a while, even when they’ve been pre-negotiated and pre-discussed as this one to some
extent has already. But I think it comes back to the nature of what America’s interest in this will be. We know that the United States prefers
to deal with individual countries and not with blocs.
The U.K., as a country of 65 million people, we’re not going to be a walkover in this negotiation but we simply don’t have the same trade and
economic clout that the United States or indeed the E.U. or a country like China has. So, I think this is going to be hard for us to get what we want
out of the relationship. But the most important thing is that even if it offers advantages, it’s not going to completely transform the trade and
economic relationship between us because we already have a high degree of liberalization and we already have actually an amazingly successful trade
investment and economic relationship.
AMANPOUR: And could we just point out that on trade, the U.S. has already imposed painful tariffs on the British steel industry —
AMANPOUR: — partly (ph) the European one and also other things. I mean, you know, we’re talking 20,000 jobs are being affected. And also, the
ambassador said that our — the British — highly loved National Health Service, the NHS, would be “on the table.”
I mean, what does that mean, and would the British be up for seeing the National Health on the table to be highly privatized and beneficial? I
don’t know. Why would that be on the table?
SHEINWALD: Well, it will be on the table if the United States government puts it on the table, if he makes a proposal, and they may well because
they made a similar proposal when the United States and the European Union were negotiating a few years ago and it caused a great deal of
consternation at that time.
The foreign secretary and the health secretary here in the U.K. have already said that they won’t accept that. So, you can put it on the table,
it can it can be rejected and maybe that’s the end of the matter. But there is quite a big U.S. economic interest in getting more access to
things like their health services. Many of them are here already. They want to expand their operations. How do you expand the investment and
services relationship and at the same time constrain that? I think that will be the subject of quite a difficult negotiation.
AMANPOUR: Let’s just put this in the context in which this visit is happening. OK. So, the prime minister is stepping down. She’s giving up
her party leadership and then there will be a contest to replace her. Also, though, it comes right at the time when the allied leaders are going
to be going to —
AMANPOUR: — Normandy, including President Trump —
AMANPOUR: — we believe, to celebrate and commemorate the shared joint effort and sacrifice to liberate the democratic and free world. Just talk
about that a little bit. Talk about that history and how you think it will impact President Trump and where that puts what you were talking about,
multilateralism and joint objectives.
SHEINWALD: Well, I’m sure he’ll be very moved by the ceremonies. And of course, we all remember earlier commemorations at the 40th and 50th of the
D-Day landings, they are very, very moving. And for Americans and Europeans, of course they are.
But I think the point I was trying to make at the beginning is that history and pageantry aren’t enough. And that the success of NATO, which followed
the Second World War, was because we had a shared agenda, a shared purpose and a sense of confidence in our shared values. And I think in today’s
world, for all sorts of reasons, just because of the sort of politician that the current president is, for all sorts of reasons [13:15:00] about
the way politics are changing. It makes that very, very much more difficult.
And certainly, because between the U.K. and U.S., the U.K. has lost some of its international confidence, some of its sense of where it belongs in the
world as a result of Brexit. We’ve had three years of turmoil and that turmoil has got worse, not better in the run up to this visit.
AMANPOUR: So, let — I want to ask you about that. Because one thing I just like to observe, the president has not been beating up on NATO for the
last year as he did leading up to the NATO summit last year. I mean, it was pretty bad last year but it hasn’t been as bad and as pointed in this
last 12 months.
But also, he has weighed in very heavily on Brexit. He does have an ideological affinity for the people like Johnson and Farage, some say it’s
because they like him, they compliment him, et cetera. But his sort of disruptive quality focuses on perhaps maybe trying — I mean, he’s talked
about the breakup of the E.U., how Britain should, you know, leave without a deal, how they haven’t negotiated smartly, how they shouldn’t pay the
divorce bill. How will that affect, do you think, the leadership context and most importantly, the negotiations with Europe going ahead to figure
out whether we can get a deal or not?
SHEINWALD: Well, I think — I’m sure he does things deliberately and I’m sure he knows the impact of what he says and of course, he’ll know enough
about Brexit because he is (INAUDIBLE) a lot and at least for Nigel Farage and others. He’ll know that it’s a divisive issue here in the U.K., that
the country is very, very divided and passions have obviously in no way abated since the referendum three years ago.
So, in pushing himself forward as the advocate for — and champion of one side, he must know he’s going to alienate a lot of people. So — but he
does so, as you say, Christiane, because he is, to some degree, the Brexit president. Brexit preceded his own election. And the element of Brexit,
which is anti-establishment and anti the majority sentiment of the past, of course, appeals to him.
All I’d say is that in the U.K. at the moment, I’m quite sure that the right instinct is for us to pause a little bit and think about where we are
and think about whether it’s as easy as Donald Trump and others say, simply to walk away from the E.U. and, therefore, risk a relationship with our own
partners, which would be, to me, a denial of the real meaning of these commemorations in France. The real meaning of that should be that we
cooperate, that we realize the importance of events and alliances on our own continent. And, of course, that we need the United States and want to
build a very close relationship with them.
But the U.K., if Brexit goes ahead, is going to need, above all, a relationship with the rest of Europe and then also a relationship with the
rest of the world. It can’t afford simply to put its eggs in the basket of the United States.
AMANPOUR: Talking about the United States and something you know a lot about, the relationship with Iran. I mean, it’s nonexistent.
AMANPOUR: Although there was an Iran nuclear deal struck which, as we know, the president has pulled out of and the piling on the pressure has
reached a big sort of, you know — sort of apex in terms of sending a carrier group, sending anti-aircraft missiles, et cetera.
Some people believe that it will bring the Iranians to the table within the next several months, some people believe it may lead to deliberate or
accidental conflict. Where do you stand on the current policy toward Iran and what it will deliver?
SHEINWALD: Where I stand is that I preferred the route of seeing whether the nuclear deal, which was laboriously agreed, could work out. I thought
that was the right path and did not support the move that the president made.
I think that the moves the U.S. has made recently, the military moves, are potentially worrying. But I think there’s been a little bit of a sense of
a stepping back over the year — over recent days. And I guess that there is a potential sweet spot if you have got American pressure continuing, the
uncertainty over future American actions may be concentrating Iranian minds, conceivably. But at the same time, the Europeans trying to maintain
a channel to Iran, keeping the Iran nuclear agreement, at least in place as a framework, and avoiding a situation where Iran simply renounces
everything and goes unilateral and decides there’s no point in dealing with the West at all.
So, I myself think there’s something to be rescued from the present situation. It’s not the one that I would prefer to have seen, but I think
that’s a big subject for discussions tomorrow. Can you [13:20:00] — it’s more complicated than good cop/bad cop, but can you make some use of the
fact there are divergent views between America and Europe? Can you play the two of them off together to have some effect on Iranian behavior, which
we all agree is dangerous and we all want to change? But what is the right way to do that?
AMANPOUR: It’s really interesting. It couldn’t come at a more interesting time this visit. Nigel Sheinwald, former ambassador to the USA, thank you
so much indeed for joining me.
SHEINWALD: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, since President Trump did ascend to the Oval Office, one question has dogged him from the beginning and that is, is he a racist?
The president strongly denies it, saying that he is, in fact, the least racist person. But opponents would argue that history tells a different
story going all the way back to the firestorm he ignited around the rape of a female jogger in New York Central Park, that was in 1989.
The now-infamous case saw five young Black and Latino teenagers falsely accused and jailed for their crime — for the crime. And then, Businessman
Trump took out a full-page newspaper ad to bring back the death penalty.
Director and writer, Ava DuVernay has delved deeply into racism and civil rights with her Oscar nominated film “Selma” and her documentary “13th.”
And now, she’s taking on the story of so-called Central Park Five in her new Netflix series, it’s called, “When They See Us,” and it aims to get the
viewer to relive the injustice and humanize those falsely accused. Take a look at this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The female jogger was severely beaten and raped.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every Black male who was in the park last night is a suspect. I need all of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What’s going on with my son?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your son was involved in a rape in Central Park.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait a minute. Wait a second. Wait a second.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They saw you rape the lady.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn’t see a lady or hit anyone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn’t see any lady.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kevin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn’t see any lady.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to see my son right now. Right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And Director Ava DuVernay joins us now from Los Angeles.
Ava, welcome back to our program.
AVA DUVERNAY, CREATOR, CO-WRITER & DIRECTOR, “WHEN THEY SEE US”: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: You’ve taken on this story, and it’s not the first major work on this story. There was a big documentary by Ken Burns, which I know
informed a lot of your work. But tell me why you decided to do it and do it in this — I mean, not fictionalized but in a dramatization?
DUVERNAY: Yes, absolutely. Well, there’s a terrific documentary by Sarah and Ken Burns that explored the case, chronicled the legal aspects of the
case. I was very interested in the boys. The boys who had become men, their families, the effect of the incarceration, of one boy on a whole
community. And so, we really wanted to look at this case from a space of the legalities, yes, but also the humanity that we don’t talk about hardly
AMANPOUR: So, what was it that brought you to it then?
DUVERNAY: A tweet, believe it or not. Social media. It was Raymond Santana, one of the five men who tweeted me and asked me after he’d seen
“Selma,” would I consider making a story about the Central Park Five.
And so, I proceeded to have some correspondence with him and eventually met all of the men. And as soon as I met them all, I felt instantly connected
and very driven to make sure that their story was told, but not just their story, that the intimacy, humanity and personal nature of the story beyond
the headlines was known.
AMANPOUR: And your first — I mean, the first part — rather, the first episode in this series really doesn’t happen in court. It doesn’t happen
in Central Park. It’s in their homes, right? You are making us see them as people and as one reviewer said, the innocence that they once were and
the innocence that they lost and the innocence they still always insisted on.
DUVERNAY: That’s true. That’s true. We begin on a spring day. It was April 19, 1989 when these five boys, Black and Brown boys, were kind of
ripped out of their youth. And it was the last day they were ever boys, the last day they were ever kids. And so, we start on this day and you
just see boys being boys. And, you know, talking to their families, talking to their friends. And then a horrible tragedy befalls them.
You know, there were six victims that day. It was Trisha Meili who was — the woman who was raped and assaulted viciously by someone who was not
properly pursued. And then you have these five boys who there was never any DNA evidence connecting them to the crime, there was never a weapon,
there was never any physical evidence. All that the prosecutors had were these coerced [13:25:00] statements. And so, in the film, we show how
those statements came to be.
AMANPOUR: I want to play one of the clips that we have, and it’s of one of the young boys, Kevin, who — and this is in the interrogation phase. I
guess right after they were dragged up in this dragnet. And we know that they were often, in many of the cases, not able to see their parents, they
weren’t able to have any lawyers, they weren’t able to have any basic due process. And here, these underage minors being essentially, at least
verbally, roughed up in these interrogation cells. We’re just going to show this clip and then we can talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE MACVITTIE, ACTOR, “WHEN THEY SEE US”: The sooner you tell us what you know, the sooner you go home. You got it?
ASANTE BLACKK, ACTOR, “WHEN THEY SEE US”: Yes. Yes, Officer.
MACVITTIE: Detective. I’m Detective Hartigan. Let’s start with you telling us who you were in the park with.
BLAKK: I don’t know their names. I just got lost.
MACVITTIE: Sit up. This isn’t a game.
BLAKK: Is mom — is my mom here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She left. She wasn’t feeling well. It’s just us. You and us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, Ava, it’s really hard to look at, even in the fictionalized version, but I mean, just to think they told him that about
his mother, I don’t know whether she was there or not but I know the parents were furious at not knowing what was happening to their children.
And, you know, it is kind of the first time we see these boys looking so vulnerable, that policeman who won’t allow himself to be called officer and
then he whips the chap, Kevin’s hand, away from his head.
DUVERNAY: Yes. I mean, there — you go through and you’ll witness the interrogations of each of the men as they describe them, as they remember
them, there was physical harm, there was emotional intimidation and certainly, the absence of an adult in most of the rooms. There — you also
see a boy whose parents were in the room and how the parents were intimidated. You were dealing with people who did not have a full scope of
what their rights were at the time and who trusted the police to process the matter professionally and ethically, and that didn’t happen.
And so, we get to a place where we’re looking at a case that is tried, boys are sent away for crimes that they did commit, for crimes that there was no
physical evidence for, and who served, really, really tough time. Korey Wise has spent almost 14 years in prison. He went directly to Rikers
Island at the age of 16 and endured troubling, terrorizing behavior within those — while in the custody of the State of New York, it’s really what it
was, New York state.
So, it’s a story that really allows us to look at, yes, this case, but also the overall system that is called criminal justice and how unjust it
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, the system that many critics and people who are delving into it now, including in books and other things call, you know,
this is the second victimization and almost a conspiracy to scapegoat Black and Latino, people of color, boys of color, in an overzealous prosecutorial
environment. Is that what you’re also trying to get at? I mean, of course, these prosecutors who we know had to — or felt they had to be
massively tough on crime in order to pursue, for instance, political careers.
DUVERNAY: Sure. I mean, a lot of people talk about the system being broken. But I don’t believe the system is broken. I believe it’s working
exactly as it was built to work. In a documentary that I made called “13th,” I deconstruct how the system came to be. The historical context of
a criminal justice system that over indexes on the criminalization of people of color in the United States.
And so, it’s one thing to say it’s broken. But when you really delve into it, you see it’s working exactly as it was made to work, and it’s important
for forward-thinking people who actually care about true justice to analyze this, to understand how it was built, what the context for it is in the
past and now, to work to dismantle it in the future.
It really can’t be reformed. It has to be completely overhauled. And we’re hoping that people watch this very famous case and begin to become
emotional and connected to the idea that we need massive work [13:30:00] to reframe the way we think about criminality in the United States.
AMANPOUR: And I want to – you know, I’m going to get to a clip that you actually have in your film, and it’s Donald Trump talking about being a
young, black person or what a young black person goes through, but first I want to put it in this context because the democrats and others are sort of
competing over criminal justice reform. As I said, it used to be considered cool to be really tough on crime and that’s how you get ahead,
and now all these years later it’s about criminal justice reform to the point that President Trump himself holds himself as going for that. And he
is tweeting against Joe Biden.
Super predator was the term associated with the 1994 crime bill that Sleepy Joe Biden was so heavily involved in passing. That was a dark period in
American history, but has Sleepy Joe apologized? No. And then the president goes on to say that anyone associated with the bill would not
have a chance of being elected, in particular African Americans won’t be able to vote for you. I, on the other hand, am responsible for criminal
justice reform. You know, it’s very interesting that he’s trying to appeal now to this vote. Will that work?
DUVERNAY: No, because forward thinking people, particularly black people who are victimized by that bill and brown people clearly recall that in
1989, five years before that bill, Donald Trump and his rhetoric was directly responsible for the atmosphere that made that bill possible to
even pass, to even – to even propose. In 1989, Donald Trump took out $85,000 in ads, at that time an exurbanite amount of money, exurbanite
amount of money now, took out ads in the New York City newspapers calling for the execution of these five boys, calling for the execution of minors
who at that point had not even gone to trial. It was only two weeks after the crime had happened. So with no due process, with no recognition of
their humanity, with no value of our constitutional right to be innocent before guilty, he called for the death of these kids.
And so, with that kind of rhetoric that actually had real world impact that contributed to an air of criminality, of bias, of terror, or the pointing
to black and brown boys and girls as animals, as a wolf pack, the dehumanization of black people at that time, you know, all of these – all
of this tweeting, all of this nonsense is a smoke screen to the actual, real world impact. His racist, white supremacist views, his opportunistic
buffoonery had at that time so when I look at that tweet and I look at the ’94 crime bill and you really know your history, you understand the
atmosphere that that was created within, the atmosphere in which that bill was passed was an atmosphere that Donald Trump actively contributed to.
AMANPOUR: Well yes, I mean, I remember covering that case. Clearly the media did not cover itself in glory covering that case, but one of the
things that I do remember because I saw my own stand up basically saying that at that time a recent Gallup poll had showed that a full 76 percent of
New York City residents favor executing some convicted criminals, so it was at a time when New York City was already in a heightened state of favoring
the death penalty. But you include a – an interview with President Trump at the time based on – you know, not based on this case in your
documentary. I’m going to play the clip and then I’m going to ask you why you decided to put that in.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I was starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black because I really believe they do
have an actual advantage today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is a black?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don’t know, but hell. Maybe he’s right. Sometimes you got to ask yourself when is the white man going to get a break in this country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Girl, don’t make me laugh. We need to keep that bigot (inaudbile) is what they need to do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don’t worry about it. His 15 minutes almost up.
AMANPOUR: Why did you feel that you had to include that?
DUVERNAY: Well, Donald Trump’s ads and the atmosphere that we he was creating and conjuring and contributing to at the time is part of the
story, but a small part of the story. Certainly, there was a world in which I actually cast an actor and had scenes that were centering Donald Trump.
When most people think about the Central Park Five case before they watch this film, they associate him with Trump’s ad, the ad when he called for
the death of the boys (ph). For me, the priority for this piece was the voice of the boys, not the voice of Donald Trump or the voice of people who
were opposing them. And so we were very judicious in choosing just a couple of moments. You have that moment.
You have another moment where you see the actual ad, as a mother of one of the boys encounters the newspaper in a local bodega, and how that felt to
her. And those were just a couple of moments that we put into a piece that’s over five hours long, to really make sure that’s not forgotten, but
certainly not the emphasis for us. To be honest, there’s nothing that Donald Trump has said, will say or could say about this case that’s as
interesting to me as the stories of the men themselves.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you finally then – let me ask you finally, because this was a story that the boys wanted you to tell. And you described
sitting behind them in the screening room where all five of them first saw what you had created. What was their reaction?
DUVERNAY: Very emotional, very filled with love. It was a healing process – embraces, tears. A real letting go, I think, of some aspects of the story
that had imprisoned them, even when they were outside of the prison walls. And so, my hope is that it does free them in some ways, allows them to move
on with aspects of their life that they’ve been somewhat shackled by this horrific experience.
AMANPOUR: Ava DuVernay, thank you so much. It is an incredible story. And as we said, it is on Netflix now. Now we leave the real world behind for
some magic, though. David Kwong is a man of many tricks, a “New York Times” crossword developer and a magician.
He’s known for his cerebral approach to deception. His sold-out show, “The Enigmatist,” is an immersive evening of puzzles and illusions at The High
Line Hotel in New York City. And he sat down to make some magic with our Walter Isaacson.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
WALTER ISAACSON: David Kwong, thanks for joining us.
DAVID KWONG, MAGICIAN, “THE ENIGMATIST”: Thanks for having me.
ISAACSON: You know, you’re a magician, illusionist, puzzlemaker, historian, but now you’re producing a play that keeps getting extended here in New
York, month after month called “The Enigmatist”?
KWONG: Yes, it’s my fusion of magic and puzzles. I’m the enigmatist. I’m a performer of puzzles. And that’s sort of the thesis of my whole, not just
the show, but my whole career really, is that all magic tricks are puzzles, and it doesn’t take superpowers. It just takes somebody that can misdirect
you and is one, two, 52 steps ahead. So it’s been great. It’s been running in New York –
ISAACSON: And it’s an immersive theater which seems to be the hot, new genre.
KWONG: Yes, you have to solve a puzzle room. It’s a mild escape room, to get into the theater. It’s not too hard. Nobody’s trapped in the enter (ph)
room. But you have to solve these four puzzles to get into the theater. And then the show is me performing puzzles and asking people to stand up if
they know the answer. And it’s all in the service of unlocking this box of mystery that’s on the stage.
ISAACSON: And so how many people are in the room and does everybody participate?
KWONG: It’s about 100 people in the theater. Everyone is encouraged to solve the puzzles at the beginning. You can work with people. You can solve
with your friends. No one’s forcing you to solve puzzles. You can be a passive observe. But whole idea is that when I put that answer up on the
screen you’re like, “Oh, if I’d only looked at it this way.” You know, think outside the box a little bit. It’s an exercise in perspective. So
it’s really an introduction to puzzling, to fun, next-level puzzling.
ISAACSON: Cruciverbalist –
ISAACSON: – is a wonderful word.
ISAACSON: Explain it.
KWONG: The other half of my career. So I have magic, I have puzzles. I fuse them together. A cruciverbalist is someone who constructs crossword
puzzles. So I’ve been writing them for “The New York Times” for a while now. And it’s a word we’ve – we made up, I think, but it’s slipped into the
ISAACSON: And what’s the connection between crossword puzzle making and magic?
KWONG: Well, it’s just largely that I treat all magic tricks as puzzles, and then I don’t pretend to have any super abilities, and that it’s all
about planning things out ahead of time, and something that’s intricate and the whole show.
“The Enigmatist” is set up like a puzzle where you have to figure out the final answers. So I’m dropping hints throughout. And that’s how a good
crossword puzzle works, is that you’re given the beginning of something that’s going on. The crossword puzzler misdirects you perhaps with a little
bit of a twist and then you get to the end with that ah-ha moment and figure it all out.
ISAACSON: How does magic work?
KWONG: This — the magic tricks you see today are the same ones from 100 years ago. They’re — they’re — you can boil them down to a number of
principles and it’s really about putting a fresh coat of paint on — on the old tricks. And in my show, I do this — I’m a crossword puzzle writer, as
you know, and this one trick that I do is a — it’s making a crossword puzzle on the fly. And I’m taking letters and words from people and I’m
building on the fly with the black squares and when I finish, I circle the name of a playing card.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KWONG: I’ve also written diagonally in the grid the E-I-G-H-T-O-F-H-E-A-R- T-S. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KWONG: And you know what, it’s just a pick a card, any card trick. But that is how I reveal the chosen card. And it’s — it’s about putting a
fresh spin on — on the old tricks.
ISAACSON: But isn’t part of it, like, distracting people from the real thing and making their eye go to the wrong thing?
KWONG: That’s a big part of it. As I said, you can boil magic down to these principles and — and probably the biggest one of all is
misdirection. So it is getting people to look where you want them to look, to think what you want them to think, cognitive misdirection. When you
talk about physically getting people to look elsewhere, we call that moving the frame, controlling the frame. And if you think of a director’s frame,
they — we’re getting you to look somewhere else. And that’s why — movie making came out of magic.
Those first film directors, George Millaize was a magician and there’s that common thread of getting people to look where you want them to look and
feel what you want them to feel.
ISAACSON: You have this wonderful book where you sort of say — and these rules and things that politicians and business leaders can use.
KWONG: Yes, that’s — misdirection is — is rampant in today’s politics.
ISAACSON: It’s getting worse (ph0.
KWONG: Yes. You know, there’s a quote that I love by the great Dutch magician Tommy Wonder. And Tommy, his quote was that misdirection is the
art of getting people to pay attention to something of greater interest. So bad misdirection by contrast is if I’m doing a trick, my assistant walks
on stage and drops some pots and pans on the floor and everybody looks over. It breaks the — the arc of the story, it breaks the moment. But if
you can give someone subtly something of greater interest, their attention will go there.
So if I were to — if I were doing the classic cups and balls trick and I’m revealing underneath the cup that there’s the ball, right? If I instead
reveal and kind of let that ball roll across the table toward you just a few inches, your eye is going to go there. And that’s when I can reach for
my next thing. But the best misdirection is actually the end of trick number one. And you just roll into the next one.
ISAACSON: And so we could learn from that too, in business or anything else —
KWONG: Oh, absolutely.
ISAACSON: Like how?
KWONG: Absolutely. Well, it’s about getting ahead of your audience and ahead of your competition. So if you are — if you’re set up, you then
play things off as spontaneous. It’s — it’s — it’s — sort of hinges on this other principle, actually, called the illusion of free choice. And
that’s another big — don’t call the magic police on me, by the way. No, these are just principles of illusion, they’re not technical secrets. But
that’s a big part of how these tricks work, is that we are prepared for each and every outcome but we make it seem like you are deciding everything
for the first time.
ISAACSON: So maybe in real life we have the illusion of free choice too (ph).
KWONG: You know, I — I — I often say like, if you’re in a job interview, why not have seven different copies of your resume in your portfolio based
on how the conversation goes, that’s the one you pull out. Right? That’s no different than a magician and — and –and playing cards. And I just
did a talk this past week at the TED conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KWONG: Now it turns out research tells us that solving is as primal as eating and sleeping.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KWONG: I put a card down on the table and I said to the audience member, name any card. And they said the jack of spades. And I turned it over to
show they were wrong, it was the queen of clubs. But then I turned it to the jack of spades and I revealed to the audience, because I thought it was
a — a good learning moment, that I was ahead with all 52 cards, and I turn the table around and you can see that I have all 52 playing cards behind
the table, and I reach for the one I want.
Of course I always twist it at the end. That jack of spades, I turned it over and in Sharpie was written the person’s name. So I can’t give
everything away —
ISAACSON: — another illusion.
KWONG: Can’t give everything away. Yes, yes.
ISAACSON: Now, at Harvard you studied history, you’re a historian and you did the history of magic. Tell me about the history of magic?
KWONG: Yes, it doesn’t say history of magic on my diploma, but it — I wish — I wish it did. I says American history. But I was so fascinated
with the golden age of machines, Houdini, Thurston, Kellar that I concentrated everything I could on — on writing papers all about that era.
And a particular fascination to me was, you’re familiar, of course, with blackface minstrel shows?
KWONG: I was fascinated by the oriental impersonation that magicians were doing at the turn of the last century. It actually even continued up into
the ’50 and ’60s, but.
ISAACSON: There was a famous orientalist magician, who I think was faking it?
KWONG: Yes, well they were all faking it. It started with real Chinese jugglers coming over and this one Chinese magician named Ching Ling Foo
sparked this craze in the 1890s and all these imitators started springing up and the most famous story that you’ve probably heard of was Chung Ling
And Chung Ling Soo was the most famous magician of his day, at the turn of the last century and he was touring the world and in 1918 he was performing
his famous trick, which was catching a bullet on stage. Yes, the trick was titled, Condemned to Death by the Boxer Rebellion.
And Chung Ling Soo only muttered Chinese on stage, but on that night the gun went off and he collapsed to the stage and said in perfect English,
something’s gone terribly wrong. And he died that night and it was revealed to the world that he as an American man named William Robinson,
who fully spent his life as an oriental, as Chung Ling Soo. And he didn’t speak a word of Chinese, he was — there was gibberish and then he would
have a translator on stage.
ISAACSON: How has magic changed from the — even the days when we were growing up when they were sawing women in half and doing things like that,
has it progressed?
KWONG: Yes, we sort of fondly and jokingly call that the box era. You have the great stage sows and Las Vegas was flourishing with that and
there’s still great performances in Las Vegas today. And the — and the great TV national televised specials, David Copperfield, Lance Burton, Doug
Henning. Do you remember Doug Henning?
KWONG: Yes. And then it moved from those big TV tricks to the small screen and you had David Blain doing street magic, Chris Angel, and it’s
moved largely to Youtube now. But, I think what’s happening right now is a return to the theater and you’re getting these small independent hipster
magic shows springing up, especially here in New York.
ISAACSON: You’ve done that in Las Angeles, you do it in the show in New York.
ISAACSON: But it’s where people come to just see a magician in pretty small venue, not in a Las Vegas .
KWONG: Yes, and it’s a return to the practical. People want to see, in this age of technology, they instead want to see what you can do with your
hands with a pack of playing cards, with your mind, calculating numbers quickly and letters, and that’s what my show is all about. But, for my
contemporaries, it is this return to the practical.
ISAACSON: Without making your revealed trade secrets, because it — you say it’s old-fashioned now, how did they saw the women in half?
KWONG: You know, I actually reveal it in my show. There are many ways to do it. And I won’t — I’m not going to tell you here.
KWONG: But one of the greatest tricks I ever heard of was, I think it was in the ’40s or ’50s, the date escapes me, but involved Johnny Eck the
Vaudeville performer who did not have legs, just a torso, and he got in the saw in saw in the half box, where the magician Rajah Raboid, I think it
was, and sawed Johnny in half and then he sprung up and ran down on is hands down the aisle and people went screaming from the theatre. So, that
might be the most effective trick ever done.
ISAACSON: Can you show me anything?
KWONG: Yes, I can. I absolutely can. I brought a mysterious piece of fruit. You may inspect that.
ISAACSON: All right. A kiwi?
KWONG: It’s a kiwi. Make sure there’s not holograms or wires or .
ISAACSON: It actually smells like a kiwi.
KWONG: OK, good. Yes, we’ll just leave that right there. Do you have a dollar bill on you? Do you have your wallet with you?
ISAACSON: Yes, definitely. Yes, definitely.
KWONG: Let me see if I can take a look.
ISAACSON: You want me to just give you one?
KWONG: A bunch of it actually, three or four.
ISAACSON: All right. Here, I’ll give you — there’s a five stuck in there by mistake, but.
KWONG: OK, let’s do this one here. I’m going to give all this back to you .
ISAACSON: All right.
KWONG: I’m an honest magician.
KWONG: And would you please–
ISAACSON: All back.
KWONG: Yes. Would you please write your name right over George Washington there.
ISAACSON: Is that legal?
KWONG: It’s not legal. We’re on television; you’re committing a federal crime here.
KWONG: Just write my name.
ISAACSON: No, (inaudible) going to jail–
KWONG: All right, now maybe on the back draw a quick little picture, maybe a smiley face or a shape or a dinosaur, whatever you feel like doing. Oh,
nice. All right, very good.
ISAACSON: This has not been practiced in advance–
KWONG: It’s not for practice. Not from practice.
ISAACSON: Yes, I mean I don’t know what I’m doing here.
KWONG: So, we got Walter, your name on the front and on the back we have a heart with an arrow through it. I’m going to perform for you the first
trick that I learned when I was a little kid. Looks like this.
I used to stand in front of the mirror and practice. I would fold the bill down a few times. You see once, twice, three times like this. Check this
out, if I’ve done this correctly your bill starts to look a little bit different, you see? I used to have one, and now Walter, that’s a pretty
good ROI. There’s a–
ISAACSON: Wow, a Franklin.
KWONG: — hundred for you.
ISAACSON: A Franklin, wow. And I was just–
KWONG: Check that out.
ISAACSON: I was — yes, I am not absolutely sure what hundred dollar bill looks like but this looks like a neat one.
KWONG: Yes, yes. You can have that, for five minutes. OK, now you inspected the fruit.
KWONG: Do you have like a — let’s see, do you have a knife on you by chance?
ISAACSON: No, no, no, I just went through TSA.
KWONG: Check that out; make sure there’s nothing weird about it, yes.
ISAACSON: Yes, that’s a plastic knife.
KWONG: Plastic knife from the kitchen here.
ISAACSON: You can see right through it, yes.
KWONG: OK. I’m going to slice in to the fruit here, Walter. I’m going to have you do the difficult part. Could just break off–
ISAACSON: Oh, I see something, yes. Yes, it’s real.
KWONG: It’s real. All right, open it up, make sure it’s real.
ISAACSON: I’m testing. Holy shit — holy cow. Wow, wait–
KWONG: What do you got?
ISAACSON: — a minute, oh my goodness.
KWONG: All right.
KWONG: Show that to the camera. There should be–
ISAACSON: Yes, no I can already see–
KWONG: — a heart–
ISAACSON: It has — it is–
KWONG: — with an arrow through it.
ISAACSON: — exactly what I drew. It truly has kiwi seeds in it. And that was not cut.
KWONG: Are you a Scrabble player?
ISAACSON: Yes, yes.
KWONG: You pay Scrabble?
ISAACSON: I play Scrabble.
KWONG: These are going to be eight letter bingos here, eight letter bingos, and I’m going to write down three words. And the first is
ISAACSON: Right, the chemical.
KWONG: OK newsboys, this will work, newsboys.
KWONG: And this is a great one, OK, lollipop. Now I’m going to put in the values for these letters, OK, they never changed. The A which is a common
letter is always one point–
ISAACSON: One, yes.
KWONG: The L is ne, the D is two and that’s to one four, four, two, one, one, one four, one, B is three, one four and one, and one, one, one, four,
three, one and three. I play a lot of Scrabble, all right.
KWONG: Now I’m going to take these three eight letter words which I basically now converted to three eight digit numbers and I’m going to add
them virtually to get a new eight digit number, right? So the one plus one plus three is–
ISAACSON: Down there.
KWONG: Two plus four plus one, seven.
KWONG: Now before I begin this little experiment I want you to take a look at your dollar bill. In the lower left-hand corner there’s an eight serial
KWONG: Does it end in a seven and five?
KWONG: Yes. What is to the left of that seven?
KWONG: It should be an eight, right?
KWONG: Four plus one plus three is eight, four plus one plus three–
ISAACSON: Wait — wait, how’d you do that?
KWONG: What is to the left of that eight?
ISAACSON: A one.
KWONG: Because this is where it gets interesting. Four plus three plus four is 11. Carry the one mind you to get a four, what do we have to the
left of that four?
ISAACSON: Yes, four, I got that — seven.
KWONG: Yes, we have another seven. Two plus four plus one is seven. What’s to the left of that, should be a–
KWONG: At last but not least we have a three, 33741875, does that match your dollar bill?
ISAACSON: Yes. And by the way–
ISAACSON: — this was the dollar bill out of my wallet. Meaning you didn’t give me this dollar bill.
KWONG: You ca put that under your pillow.
KWONG: Pray to the Scrabble gods.
ISAACSON: Well, we’re all going to go to the show now.
KWONG: If you bring that dollar bill, I’ll buy you a drink. Does that sound good?
ISAACSON: It’s a deal, David. Good to see you, man.
KWONG: Good to see you.
[13:55:00] AMANPOUR: And with that mind-bending magic we end our program tonight.
Thank you for watching ‘Amanpour & Company’ on PBS.
We will continue to follow President Trump’s state visit here.
Join us again tomorrow night.