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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello everyone and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): The biggest climate protest yet as children around the world take their school strike to the street, author Jonathan Safran
Foer tells us what we can do. Then.
MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (D): Too much drama people are going through that they shouldn’t have to go through in the richest country
in the world.
AMANPOUR: Spiritual guru, author and Democratic presidential wild card Marianne Williamson talks us through the issues that matter to her. Plus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your majesties, welcome to “Downton Abbey.”
AMANPOUR: A blast from the past as “Downton Abbey” hits the big screen. Writer and producer, Julian Fellowes tells the why we’re all happily
riveted by the upstairs, downstairs blockbuster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in New York. They want to make it the biggest global climate protest ever, as
young people all over the world take to the streets to save the planet. The New York City Department of Education has permitted more than a million
and a half school children to leave class today and demonstrate.
This all started with one girl, of course, the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. She’s in the United States right now to confront world leaders
who are coming to the annual U.N. meeting and that kicks off on Monday with a climate summit. And she’s already been to Congress telling them to get
serious and try harder.
The climate activist has met with former President Barack Obama who signed the United States onto the Paris Climate accord, the very one President
Trump has now pulled out of. But halting an environmental catastrophe will require government and corporations to make big changes, so there’s a world
for our kids to live in.
Fighting the climate crisis is a personal and moral decision for the acclaimed author, Jonathan Safran Foer, who’s gone from writing best-
selling fiction to penning impassion books against climate inaction. His new one, “We Are the Weather,” explains how saving the planet begins at
breakfast. And he joined me to talk about it.
Jonathan Safran Foer, welcome to the program.
JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER, AUTHOR: Hi, thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So I mentioned the name of the book but just again, “We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast.” I mean look, you are a
novelist. You’re not necessarily a climate scientist, what brought you to write this particular book?
SAFRAN FOER: So I’m a novelist and also a father, I’m also a New Yorker and American, an earthling, and I had found myself saying over the last
couple of years, over and over and over the same sentence, which is we have to do something. Sometimes that referred to issues that weren’t climate
change like separation of families at the border or gun control, but really most often it referred to climate change. And it was something I heard my
friends saying all the time that I would say to my kids and hear from my kids all the time.
And at a certain moment about a year ago, it just became intolerable to think of myself or to witness myself being somebody who was all of the time
saying we have to do something and yet never doing anything.
AMANPOUR: So what is the do something that this book calls for? I mean, the title is obviously “Begins at Breakfast.” But for new readers, explain
exactly what you’re asking people to do.
SAFRAN FOER: So I should say, it’s not something that I’m asking anybody to do and it’s not an opinion. It’s very well-established and
uncontroversial science at this point that there are four things that we can do as individuals to participate in the saving of the planet. And
these four actions matter significantly more than anything else.
They are flying less, living car-free which is not the same as having a hybrid but living car-free, having fewer babies, and eating a plant-based
diet. So, 85 percent of Americans drive to work and most of our cities, like most cities around the world, are designed to require cars. More than
half of the flights we take are either for business or for what are called non-leisure personal purposes like visiting a sick relative.
And most people, most people watching this, are probably not in the process of deciding whether or not to have a kid now, but eating is a decision we
make three times a day. And according to the IPCC, we have no hope of achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Accord even if we do everything
else if we don’t really dramatically reduce our meat and dairy consumption.
The most comprehensive analysis of this was published at the end of last year in Nature Magazine which said that while people who live in
undernourished parts of the world could actually afford to eat a little bit more meat and dairy, people who live in the cities of Europe, UK, the
United States have to reduce meat consumption by about 90 percent and reduce dairy consumption by about 60 percent.
So that’s complicated. You know, how does one — you don’t want to become an eating calculator. You don’t want to ask for 90 percent of– a 10
percent, you know, what it is that you’re ordering at a restaurant or we want to find ways to make these habits as easy as possible —
SAFRAN FOER: — knowing that they are not going to be effortless. So, what I suggest in the book is thinking of breakfast and lunch as sort of
distinct from dinner. So we could not eat animal products at breakfast and lunch, and then eat whatever you’re going eat at dinner. That’s a good way
AMANPOUR: You referenced the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is sort of under the U.N. umbrella, and is latest report did in
fact come out this August. I guess, after you’d written the book and it had a huge actual, you know, exaltation about agricultural and eating and
totally changing the planet’s eating habits.
Can we just read a little bit from that report? Balanced diets featuring plant-based foods such as coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables and
animal-sourced food produced sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems, present major opportunities for adaptation to and limiting climate
Fill in gaps, that’s the science who says this. You’re talking about it from sort of as you say a citizen, an earthling’s point of view. And you
know at the same time that a lot of earthlings especially in the country where you are right now, the United States of America, hold their
cheeseburgers and their steaks very, very dearly.
And they’re very worried about this idea that they’re going have to change every single lifestyle habit that they’ve grown to know and love.
SAFRAN FOER: Right. So nobody is going to pry the burger from anybody’s cold dead hands, you know. What we need to do is reduce the amount of meat
that we eat.
We don’t have to think of this and we shouldn’t think of this as a binary or either you do everything or you do nothing, in the same way that we
shouldn’t think about climate change as an apocalypse or we’re all going to be fine. It’s actually a process that we’re going through. And the
outcomes are going to be determined by our habits.
Thirty-six percent of meat eaters in the United States say that they want to eat less meat. You may have heard of the “Beyond Burger” which is a
plant-based burger, a veggie burger, substitute that’s now sort of all over America and spreading all over Europe, 90 percent of the people who buy
“Beyond Burgers” are meat eaters.
So, I think if we can reorient away from these identities, these binary identities of I’m a vegan, I’m a vegetarian, I’m a pescatarian, and instead
start at the beginning, you know, which is the next meal we’re going to eat and recognize that it’s an opportunity to do something extremely important,
perhaps the most important thing that we can do as individuals for the environment.
AMANPOUR: I’m fascinated by this eating change that so many individuals have got behind. And it really is becoming a bandwagon. It’s not just
about climate, it’s about human health as well. And, you know, many months ago, last year, I spoke to the Director James Cameron and his partner, his
wife, the actress Suzy Amis, who wrote the book, “One Meal a Day.”
So it’s basically saying, actually, just eat one meal a day plant-based. And this is what they said about how individuals can actually help just by
taking action on their own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CAMERON, FILMMAKER: The quickest and easiest way for an individual to be — to feel empowered and to make a difference, and to be able to look
at their face in the mirror in the morning and think, I’m making a difference, I’m doing something positive, not just for myself, my own
health and family’s health, but for the health of the planet, is change how we eat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I guess the big question is, how do you not convince people because you said the numbers about the “Beyond Burgers” and this and that.
But to empower individuals in an era where individuals feel disempowered, like, oh my god, it’s all too big, the corporations, the governments, the
special interests, the lobbyists, you know, whatever we do, it’s not going to make a hill of beans.
SAFRAN FOER: And we’re at this moment in America where liberals are waiting for corporations to change. We’re unwilling to change as
individuals until the system changes top down. And conservatives are unwilling to change because they’re afraid of the systems changing.
And — but I think that we’re coming from similar places. You know, climate change is often presented as a divisive issue and it’s not
Ninety-one percent of Americans accept the science of climate change two times as many Americans believe in the existence of big foot as denied the
existence of climate change, 70 percent of America said they wish we had the country stayed in the Paris Climate Accords that includes the majority
So I think a great starting point is to simply say what’s obvious but is often obscured, which is we all want to save the planet. And at this
moment in history which is maybe not true even two or three years ago, we broadly agree on the science.
So the question is, what do we do? And if we could somehow see the climate crisis as a war, and it’s a little bit different than anywhere we’ve ever
fought before because this one is us against us. There is nobody to vilify, there’s no enemy to point at and becoming a rage at.
But if we could see it as a war and recognize our — not only responsibility but our privilege to participate, I think it’s not going to
feel like martyrdom and it’s not going to feel like a tremendous sacrifice. I think it’s going to feel thrilling, actually.
If we can imagine ourselves, you know, if we can imagine future generations looking back at us not, they are not going to say what did they feel? They
are going to say what did they do? So if we do what’s necessary, I think that we’ll feel extreme pride.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about a personal device you use throughout your book, and that is you talk about your grandmother who, as a young
girl, Jewish, grew up in a town in Poland. And then she, the family made the decision to flee knowing about the Nazi advance.
And you use that idea of decision making of calculating risk and sacrifice. In her case, compared to the fact of people’s ability to make those
judgments, decisions, risks and sacrifices, knowing the impending cataclysmic, apocalyptic doom that over edge tipping point climate change
will do to us. Fill in those gaps a little bit.
SAFRAN FOER: I was really questioning my own indifference to climate change. You know, I am somebody who I would say for years has known and
acknowledged the science and for years I would have said to anybody else and said to myself of course I care. You know, I can’t imagine caring
And yet, if I were to give an honest look at my own habits, my own lifestyles, I behaved like somebody who didn’t care at all. When the
images of the Amazon burning are in front of me, when the images of an ice sheet melting or climate refugees on the move or wildfires in California
are in front of me, I care an awful lot.
And the second those images aren’t in front of my face anymore, I stop caring and I go back to my life. And I have so many incentives to continue
to live as I’ve always lived because flying is great, seeing the world is great, eating the kind of foods that are delicious is great.
And I wanted to explore with this book how to close the distance between the person that I am and the person I imagined myself being, a person that
I want to be.
And so, it was actually in the year that I was writing this book that my grandmother was dying. So it was quite natural for me to look at her life
as a model to think about the choices she made both fleeing her village in Eastern Europe when nobody else did, despite the fact she didn’t have
anymore knowledge than she did. She wasn’t any braver than they were, wasn’t anymore afraid of dying. It’s just a very, very difficult thing to
AMANPOUR: And survival is at the heart of all of this that you’re talking about and writing about. And in fact, this kind of existential angst about
survival and how to, is affecting quite a lot of younger people as well, who look at us and ask what the heck have we done to ensure their futures.
And I know you talk a lot about that in the book. You write about how your children and grandchildren will judge you about, you know, for what you did
in this crisis. That played a lot of your writing and your thinking about this.
SAFRAN FOER: It did. And I think it affects most people. You know, I think Greta Thunberg influence is largely explained by the fact that, by
her age, you know, and the feeling of both shame and responsibility that she inspires. You know, being confronted by a child to face oneself, to
have to confront one’s own decisions and the repercussions of one’s decisions.
It’s amazing and it’s in a deeply embarrassing to see children parenting their parents when it comes to climate change, but it’s also our best hope.
You know, on American college campuses right now, there are more vegetarians than Catholics. There are more vegetarians than any major of
study. Economics, psychology, English.
This is not a marginal identity. A few years ago, there were more vegetarians than would admit to it because it felt, you know, little maybe
Now more people admit to it than actual are because there’s a recognition that this is who we want to be. And I should say who we want to be is not
vegetarian. It’s not a binary identity like that, who we want to be is people who act on our values.
AMANPOUR: You have, in another publication recently, Air Mail, which is an online magazine, I guess. You have reviewed a few books that are out now
on climate change. One of them is called “Merchants of Doubt” how a handful of scientists obscure the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to
global warming, and it’s by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.
And in your review, you said, you know, you end up wanted to throw this book across the room or you should, when you finish reading it. Just
describe for us the heart of the matter in this book that makes you so angry about the public debate.
SAFRAN FOER: I feel angry when very few are obscuring the will and the good of very many. As I said, it is hard to find a denier of the science
of climate change in America anymore. And those who still deny it are denying it willfully rather than on any kind of intellectual basis.
You know, it’s pretty easy to wake up somebody who is asleep. You just tap their shoulder or pinch their nose, and it’s impossible to wake up somebody
who is pretending to be asleep. And these people are pretending to be asleep and it’s a shame that, you know, the leader of the free world is in
that small club, but I think it’s time to stop obsessing over them and stop giving them so much of our attention and energy. And instead focus on what
we can do.
AMANPOUR: On this review, you said, you know, it’s infuriating how the public has been mislead by a small group of scientists motivated by
corporate and political interests, which leads me to the political action right now.
As you know, because you’re there, the Democratic candidates on their debate stages are all very, very firmly behind countering climate change.
And yet people like Elizabeth Warren and others, I guess, are saying as much as we are altruistically or for whatever reason, individually
motivated, it won’t matter or it won’t make a, you know, a tipping point if governments and corporations, and fossil fuel industry aren’t on board as
So this is what she said about, you know, light bulbs and recycling and the kind of things we try to do individually.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is exactly what the fossil fuel industry helps we’re all talking about. That’s what they want
us to talk about. This is your problem. They want to be able to stir up a lot of controversy around your light bulbs, around your straws, and around
your cheeseburgers. When 70 percent of the pollution of the carbon that we’re throwing into the air comes from three industries, and we can set our
targets and save by 2028, 2030 and 2035. No more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So that was part of a ground breaking CNN climate debate among all the Democratic contenders, first of its kind, really important. But
she has a point, right? I mean, it isn’t going to fully matter until governments get onboard.
SAFRAN FOER: Well, you know, I hope Elizabeth Warren becomes president but I really disagree with what she said. We have been waiting, like who is
going to bring about this change that she’s talking about.
We’ve been waiting for it. She’s not going to bring it about. Not in this political climate, and that’s the point.
The point is, we have to change the climate in order to change the legislation. And in order to change the actions of corporations. So a
good example is cage-free and free-range actions of corporations.
So a very good example is cage-free and free-range eggs, which are the fastest growing sector in the entire food industry. There was no law that
said there had to be cage-free and free-range eggs. The corporations didn’t wake one morning and say, hey, you know, it’s wrong after all to
keep an egg-laying hen in a cage so small that she can’t turn around.
What happened was, people asked for something different. I’d met farmers all over the country who have said, I grow what people want to eat.
Politicians enacted legislation that people want to have passed. The best way to show we want to change is to be the change ourselves.
Maybe it’s a shame that we have to lead our leaders, but it’s actually always been that way. So Elizabeth Warren right that we as individuals
cannot save the planet. She’s absolutely right.
It’s also true that the government alone can’t save the planet. There is an interaction of what happens at the grassroots level and what happens at
sort of trickle down politics. And thus far, we have not been doing our part.
So what I would love Elizabeth Warren to say is, we can’t solve this problem without legislation and we can’t solve this problem without
individuals taking on responsibilities. So let’s do both at once. And let’s do it right this second.
AMANPOUR: Jonathan Safran Foer, thank you very much, indeed. Saving the planet begins at breakfast.
SAFRAN FOER: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: Climate is top of the agenda for many Democrats as they navigate their way through the primaries. One long shot candidate who is definitely
made a mark is Marianne Williamson.
One of Oprah’s favorite motivational speakers and best-selling self-help author, she set herself apart from other candidates with her spiritual take
And though, she didn’t reach the second debate stage, she’s not dropping out of the race just yet. And she told our Michel Martin why she thinks
the American government has been hijacked.
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST, NPR’S “ALL THINGS CONSIDERED”: Can you walk me through as briefly as you can, because I know that for a lot of people, this is a
MARTIN: I mean, sometimes it’s a process with years in making —
MARTIN: — of deciding to run for president as opposed to supporting someone —
MARTIN: — that you happen to like. Walk me through the process of deciding that you had to run for president.
WILLIAMSON: So when I started my career, the issues of personal trauma, personal transformation were not only where I felt my skill set best fit,
where I could be a greater service, but also the idea of bad public policy impacting people’s lives. It was always there but it wasn’t there the way
it is today.
It’s only been in the last 20 years that I have seen in work like mine too much trauma that people are going through that they shouldn’t have to go
through in the richest country in the world. They shouldn’t have to go through, given how hard they work. They shouldn’t have to go through given
how much education they’ve had, and how much they have achieved.
So I’ve seen things that remind of the story, I heard a story once and I don’t know if it has a title but I think of it as the ship from the good
Samaritan to the conscious Samaritan.
The good Samaritan is walking down the road and sees a beggar and gives elms to the beggar. And then walks further down the road and see and gives
elms to another beggar. And then walks down the road and sees another beggar and gives elms. And walks down the road another beggar and gives
At a certain point, the good Samaritan says to him or herself, why are there so many beggars? And that has been gnawing at me for a long time.
Now I have been a nonprofit activist working on peace issues, poverty issues, particularly issues around AIDS, people dying of life-challenging
illnesses, all of that. But it has become obvious in over the last few years no amount of private charity can compensate for basic lack of social
MARTIN: I want to ask you about you, like why did you decide that this was your task right now? Because there are other candidates like, for example,
Elizabeth Warren who has articulated a very clear message about the way in which our economy is broken and serves the few and expense of the many, but
you obviously have a message that you feel was distinct, that you wanted to bring. So what is it?
WILLIAMSON: I understand. And in terms of those things that you just mentioned, I absolutely agree with Elizabeth. But I’m also talking, for
instance, about war and peace. I’m talking the fact that — what Eisenhower called the military industrial complex so dominates our national
security agenda, that we spend so much money on the military and on endless preparation for war as opposed to a fraction of that spent on actual waging
I’m talking about actual reparations. Not just race-based policies but actual reparations, and the moral repair, and the spiritual influence that
that represents. I’m talking about actually addressing the lives of millions of traumatized children in the United States, chronically
And I’m talking about a World War II level mass mobilization facing the kind of climate emergency that we are experiencing now.
But I think more importantly, for me more significant, is the election of Donald Trump changed everything. Not just for me, for millions of us. Who
among us looks at the world the same way without an extra added level of how can I possibly help? And so, I think that’s changed everything for a
lot of people.
MARTIN: So I take your sense of emergency informed your decision?
WILLIAMSON: Any conscious person has a sense of emergency today.
MARTIN: if I understand it, your core message to the voters is that you are a vehicle for resisting or counter acting dark forces that have been
marshaled, but it’s slightly different. It’s not just the sum of your policies, would that be accurate?
AMANPOUR: What would be accurate is to say that this is the 21st century, and that the current political model is very 20th century in its outlook.
It’s very much the idea of the 20th century mind that the world is a machine. To change things, you just tweak the pieces of the machine.
That’s not the way we look at the world today. That’s not the 21st century mindset. The 21st century mindset is much more integrative. We realize
that there are many different aspects at work, many different influences at work in any system.
And in order to change a system, you need to do more than just address the things on the outside. External change matters. I’m not in any way
propolizing or minimizing it, and I’m glad you mentioned that.
Policy — listen I’m running for president. Policy, of course, policy matters, but if we only change policy on an external level and do not
address the underlying fundamental, not only external forces but internal forces, that brought them to bear anyway, to begin with, then even if we
win in ’20, which certainly we must, those same forces will be back in ’22 and the same forces will be back in ’24.
MARTIN: Is there anything right now that you would just like to clarify once and for all? Particularly for people who are not as familiar with
your record as you would like them to be. I mean, there had been a couple of would it be fair to say some missteps on your part.
Vaccinations, for example, in June you said — to your supporters in one of the house events in Manchester, New Hampshire. You said, to me, it’s no
different than the abortion debate. The US government doesn’t tell any citizens in my book, what they have to do with their body or their child,
and that you added, you were quoted as adding vaccine mandates are too draconian and Orwellian.
And as you know, a lot of people have raised questions about this and they were asking, you know, what is your position? You said you’re not an anti-
vaxxer but no one says that he is or she is an anti-vaxxer.
WILLIAMSON: Many people do. Absolutely many people do.
MARTIN: Well the question is, what is your view of this?
WILLIAMSON: Well, to equate the abortion issue with the vaccination issue is absolutely a mistake, because it’s a big difference. Somebody who has
an abortion it affects their life or however one conceives it, the life of the unborn. But it certainly does not affect public health.
So for people to say, well, wow, that’s a bad analogy. They’re correct. That was a bad analogy. But any time you have a medical intervention,
there’s benefit and there’s risk, and governments have to come down on the side of public health. And when you look at the — look at what — look at
smallpox, look at polio.
You know, in California right now they’re going through a tremendous brouhaha having to do with exemptions and mandates. I think that it’s a
conversation that is out there. And I understand the government has come to down on the side of public health
MARTIN: Well, and this is kind of a deeper issue, because this does speaks to the question of how you marry your spiritual believes with your sense of
how to show leadership in the secular realm.
MARTIN: So this is why — it’s a longer conversation around the whole question of the Bahamas, around Hurricane Dorian, that Bahamas, Florida,
Georgia, and the Carolinas may all be in our prayers now, of course. You said, millions of us seeing Dorian turn away from the land is not a whacky
idea. It’s a creative use of the power of the mind. Two minutes of prayer, visualization, and meditation for those in the way of the storm.
You removed that post but there are folks who thought you were saying that prayer could move the storm. And there are other people, I think, who
would say why couldn’t it? So the question is —
WILLIAMSON: It’s so funny because —
MARTIN: I find it interesting because there are many people who believe that power — in the power of prayer.
WILLIAMSON: The only thing I regret is deleting the tweet. I only deleted it because I saw a criticism from Joyce Carol Oates, and she’s one of my
heroes. And, of course, for any public figure to delete a tweet is ridiculous. It only brings it more.
But I would like to say that several days before, I’d spent the weekend in South Carolina and Georgia. And I assure you their prayer was that that
hurricane would turn around.
And part of my problem is, it is an unfortunate arrogance condescension and patronizing attitude on the part of Democrats, which is really not helpful
strategically to make all those people in state the like Georgia and South Carolina feel there something unintelligent about them because they were
praying to their god to turn that hurricane around.
MARTIN: You had referred to the President as the reality show. And you are the reality.
WILLIAMSON: No, I didn’t say that. I said he’s a reality show, I’m showing reality.
MARTIN: You’re showing reality, thank you. Is part of your message to people that you understand the source of his appeal and, therefore, you are
best positioned to counter it?
WILLIAMSON: In part, yes. In part, yes.
MARTIN: Well, could you say more about it?
WILLIAMSON: Yes, I absolutely can. And thank you for that.
The President has ushered in an era of political theater. We will not be going back. He’s not just a politician. He’s a phenomenon. And I think a
standard conventional establishment politician is going to have a very difficult time defeating him. We need to create a phenomenal of our own.
And I’m not saying, I’m phenomenon, that’s not a human being. But it is an uprising of energy and motivation and excitement and inspiration that will
only come from a level (inaudible) deep truth-telling about what’s really going on in this country. Because the issue is not just the people who
voted for Trump and are excited about Trump. They’re going vote for Trump again. So don’t even have to think about that.
And then there are people who hate his agenda so much they’re going to vote for the Democrat no matter what. Done. Don’t even have to think about
But if you put these two together, that’s way too close for comfort. We have to talk to this millions of people who didn’t vote or who voted for
the third party or who voted for him but are at least disturbed and I think there are a lot of those.
So that, to me, is the conversation that I am having. The only way to defeat outrageous lies is with outrageous love.
MARTIN: You have a robust array of policy proposals that you’ve already put forward. The first thing I wanted to talk about is gun violence.
MARTIN: Because this is obviously something that concerns, deeply concerns, you know, millions of people across the country. The headline
from the last debate was Beto O’Rourke saying hell yes, we’re going to take your ar-15s. What do you have to say about that?
WILLIAMSON: So this is a perfect example of what I’ve talked about an integrative approach. So there’s the external and there’s the internal.
So on the external, I want what the Progressive Democrats want. I want universal background checks, I want to close the loopholes, both boyfriend
loopholes and gun shell loopholes. I want to outlaw bump stocks. I want to outlaw the military assault-style weapons and I think we should have
So I want all of that. And I wrote in an op-ed in the “Washington Post” recently and I’m talking about the fact that the United States must deal
with the fact that we must have a conversation that I believe I’m uniquely qualified to hold about why we are such a violent society. And how
ultimately that gun violence is a symptom.
And as much as we need to deal with it on the level of policy, we need to ask ourselves, and this is not only true of our domestic policies, it’s
true of our international policies as well, why are we so violent? Why is there so much brute force? Can we decide to be — can we make the choice
That’s what I want the United States Department of Peace. So this is exactly my point. Yes, I want to talk at that level but that level alone
is not enough.
MARTIN: I picked a subject. You pick one.
WILLIAMSON: One of the things that I want is a United States Department of Children and Youth. There are millions of traumatized children in this
country, chronically traumatized children.
We have children who are traumatized before preschool, universal preschool. We have children who are traumatized before preschool. We have 13 million
hungry children in the United States.
I was in New Hampshire recently. And I was at the Northern New Hampshire and I was meeting with some business and political leaders who said that 25
percent of the children in Northern New Hampshire go to sleep hungry at night. I met a woman who is an elementary school principal in Las Vegas,
Nevada who said she has elementary school children on suicide watch.
We have millions of American children who go to school every day in classrooms where they don’t even have the adequate school supplies with
which to teach a child to read. If a child cannot learn to read by the age of 8, the chances of high school graduation are drastically decreased and
the chances of incarceration are drastically increased.
There was an article in the “Chicago Paper” just recently about how it estimated that 40 percent of the girls in the public school system in
Chicago have PTSD. We need trauma informed education.
We need community wrap around services. We need far more mental health services, not only for the children but for families.
We need nutrition, food, mindfulness in the schools. So what I want is an entire Department of Children and Youth. Because what I see is — because
we have to coordinate efforts.
What I find, because I travel this country a lot, and this is not just in the area of children. It’s also in the area of the environment. It’s also
in the area of peacebuilding and others, as well. This country has the people who know what to do. We have the experts. We have the best
practices. We have the people doing the things that need to be done.
But this is what I see with children. I’ve seen it in several states. People who are doing amazing work in the nonprofit, maybe hired by the
district, you know, early childhood experts, neurologists, social workers, I’ll say to them, and they’ll tell me very inspiring work that they’ve done
And I say of the children in your area who need this, how many do you feel you’re reaching? Over and over and over, I get the same answer. Maybe 10
to 15 percent.
MARTIN: And as president, you feel you could —
WILLIAMSON: Well, I want an entire department —
MARTIN: — (inaudible) the resources, too, and focused attention on these issues?
WILLIAMSON: Not just focused attention, we’re talking focused funding. Let’s not kid ourselves.
So you’re talking about these people who underpay. We’re talking about all these nonprofit groups where people are, like, trying to have a fundraiser.
Maybe they’ll raise $50,000. Maybe they’ll raise $100,000. When meanwhile our governmental policy is giving millions to people who actually are at
least indirectly causing these problems.
MARTIN: So I feel I do want to ask you an international question because as you know —
WILLIAMSON: Yes, please.
MARTIN: — we’re speaking right now, we’re in a very sort of volatile place. The attacks on the Saudi oil fields this weekend. The president of
the United States and national security team has identified in this country, Iran, as the main actor there. And, of course, there’s a deep
stem to this.
As you know President Trump opted out of the Iran nuclear deal. So the question — it’s an open-ended question, what would your response be to
this particular moment?
WILLIAMSON: Well, the first thing I would do is get back into the Iran deal. I can tell you that much. When the president tweeted a couple of
days ago that basically just waiting for whatever MBS says.
MARTIN: MBS being Mohammad bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia.
WILLIAMSON: Yes, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. The — what I see is very unholy alliance between Donald Trump and the crown prince of Saudi
Arabia, including apparently some cozy gross stuff with Jared Kushner I find horrifying, terrifying right now for the sake of $350 billion arms
sale to Saudi Arabia. Let’s not forget.
We’re giving aerial support to a genocidal war that Saudi Arabia is now prosecuting against Yemen. Tens of thousands of people have starved, many
of them children. You can’t get more corrupt than that.
And Mike Pompeo, when he was asked about it, when people said how can the United States do this? It’s such a complete lack of moral authority. This
was his response. He said, well, sometimes you have strategic partnerships with people who do not share your values.
My response to that is no, you can’t. That means you have no values. So on the level of international policy as well as domestic policy, the first
thing we do, we bring our core values back. So that internationally, we’re supporting democracy and we’re supporting humanitarian values. And that
does not mean you’re in bed with the Saudi Arabians.
MARTIN: Do you feel, in some way, that you have a language that some parts of the country understand sort of implicitly and that other people just
don’t? I mean, I’ve noticed that many people when they meet you one on one really like talking with you. You know, I’ve noticed that.
Even people who are very kind of skeptical of your presence in the race. And, frankly, people who are afraid that you are a distraction to the core
project of defeating Donald Trump. Because obviously, that’s a big priority for some people.
For some people, it’s like the connection with you is so obvious and implicit and they just don’t understand why other people don’t see the
world as you do. Do you see that? Do you agree?
WILLIAMSON: No. I was the most Googled person in 49 states after the second debate. And I got much less time than other candidates.
Now, what that says to me is that a lot of people might have wanted to hear more. But I’m also an adult and I see the forces that were used, the
articles, the memes, the talking points to minimalize, peripheralize, mock, and disparage my candidacy.
So I don’t think that — we know whether or not the American people want to hear. I’m telling you everywhere I go, there are two different political
universes. There’s the machinery and then there are the people on the ground. And I feel among the people on the ground, I’m doing just fine.
MARTIN: Marianne Williamson, thank you so much for talking to us.
WILLIAMSON: Thank you. Thank you so much.
MARTIN: Thank you.
WILLIAMSON: Appreciate that.
AMANPOUR: It’s not surprising that so many people are seeking relief from our fraught political scene, which means it’s time for Julian Fellowes to
bring on the happiness again. He’s the writer producer of the feel-good mega hit “Downton Abbey.”
Full of nostalgia for all world British grandeur and dazzling upstairs, downstairs drama, Fellowes who’s turned his award-winning T.V. series into
“Downton Abbey” movie with all the old familiar characters. In this turn, the drama centers around the royal visit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No maid, no valet, no nanny even.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It’s 1927. We’re modern, folks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The king and queen are coming to Downton.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Tens of millions of viewers around the world loved the series and Julian Fellowes joins us to talk about what keeps pulling us all back
to this bygone era.
Julian Fellowes, welcome to the program.
JULIAN FELLOWES, ACTOR: Well, thank you very having me.
AMANPOUR: The obvious question, what is it about this period drama? No explosions, no special effects, no, you know, massive sort of sequel that
has attracted so many people.
I mean let’s just say that it had 120 million viewers on the small screen, the series, 10 million in America alone for the finale. What is it that
appeals so widely, do you think?
FELLOWES: Well, I mean in the end, the truth is all series are, popular or not, according to the characters in it. People either get interested by
the characters or they don’t and that’s just true if it’s about astronauts or politicians in the White House. None of that really affects it.
Do you care about these people? Do you want to see them again next week? And I think somehow we must have got the kind of list of characters right
and the right actors to play them, and other important, very, very important part of it. And we did have a terrific cast.
But I mean, in the end, it’s that sort of artificial pretend relationship between you and these fictional people that is the reason that you watch
AMANPOUR: Obviously, you have written a fictional series but it’s very much based on sort of, you know, gilded age. I know that’s an American
term but nonetheless, it’s sort of the British empire when it was so powerful but also the whole class system.
In other words, I see what you’ve done is made the class system palatable, the upstairs downstairs, which is a little counterintuitive in these days.
Why do you think that’s working?
FELLOWES: Well, I have also attempted to trace its decline that these are the years when the aristocracy was losing their control, really, from sort
of 1880s onwards and the rise of the middle class. So I hope we have made that clear.
But I do think there’s a sense in the show, which actually, to a certain extent, it’s illusory, that this was a very settled period. And we are all
living in a rather unsettled period. And it seems perhaps attractive that there was a time when everyone knew what they were doing and when dinner
was and what they were supposed to wear and all that kind of thing.
I mean in fact, although those people did go on with the manners of their parents and their own youth, in truth, their society was changing
radically. I mean the role of women, organized labor, and simple transport, you know, the movies, cars, everything was changing.
But nevertheless, because they went on living in an audit and I think attractively polite way, we see it as a kind of warm blanket to curl up in
on a Sunday night.
AMANPOUR: You said it. I was going say comfort blanket but yes, a warm blanket on a Sunday night. And as I say, tens of millions of people have
snuggled up to it. Nonetheless, the FT called it a story essentially about consenting feudalism. I wonder what you make of that?
FELLOWES: We are all now disposed to believe that the world only really began with Woodstock and the late 1960s. That’s not true.
And every period had certain things that we would now find difficult to accept but they accepted them. And we will later, our grandchildren will
look back at our own time and not understand why we accepted certain elements of our own living. I really believe that.
I think it’s rather feeble to point at all earlier periods of history and say they were terrible but ours is marvelous. The fact is all areas have
their weakness, their strengths, that their moral blindness, if you like, as certain areas of their culture.
I don’t think we’re any different. But certainly they weren’t in the late 19th and early 20th Century.
AMANPOUR: Perhaps some people think, in fact, ours is not very marvelous at all. It’s the opposite of marvelous right now with this populism, with
this uncertain politics, with the inability to get along at all.
So I want to ask you, what did you use as a kind of dramatic device to make the film somewhat different than the sceneries? You have a royal visit,
FELLOWES: I use the royal visit because I wanted an event that would tie them all together, the family, the servants, the people living locally, all
of it and pull them all together in one central storyline. We didn’t do that in the series.
You know, we have upstairs, Mary’s heart would be breaking as she was trying out some new boyfriend. And downstairs, Daisy would be going out,
buying a suitcase. They didn’t really connect.
But I felt it was important to give the film a kind of unity and so that all the sub-clouts of which as is the Downton way, there are plenty, would
all come off the central theme. And it seemed me that the royal visit would do that.
I got the idea from reading a book about another Yorkshire house and it touched on the fact that the king and the queen made a visit to the country
of Yorkshire in 1912. And as I was reading, I go, oh this is it because even for those who are oppose to the monarchy and the Republican,
nevertheless, it will still put them on their toes. It will still all excite them, even if it only angers them so that everyone will be invested
in this visit. And that’s why I went with it.
AMANPOUR: And so we’re talking late 1920s and it’s the visit to Downton of King George V and Queen Mary. And as such, you talked about characters a
moment ago and beloved characters. Well, Lady Mary is one of them but also is the Lord of downstairs, and that is Carson, the chief butler who is now
retired and Lady Mary goes in desperation to seek his help for this visit. We’re going to play this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARSON: Lady, please come in. This is an honor.
LADY: I didn’t want to be a nuisance but I need your help, Carson. Barrow just isn’t up to the task.
CARSON: My Lady?
LADY: He won’t clean the silver or he won’t under clean it.
LADY: He says the page (inaudible) will choose which pieces to use.
CARSON: I see.
LADY: The truth is, he’s in a sort of trance. Wouldn’t you help me? I feel I’m pushing a rock uphill.
CARSON: I’ll be there in the morning, my Lady. Don’t you worry.
LADY: You’re a treasure, Carson. That’s all there is to say. I’ll see myself out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You never refuse her anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So Carson to the rescue again.
FELLOWES: Carson comes bang to save the day.
AMANPOUR: And save it well. Tell me about your cast of characters, including the animals and what you draw from real life.
FELLOWES: The royal visit is based on various royal visits. And it gave us a very filmmaker opportunity for a tremendous parade with the kings’ own
guns and horses and so on. but also, a ball and great banquet and everything else.
So all of that was kind of scream filling, which is what I wanted. But in fact, it’s a tradition of Downton. But all the way through, we always
referred to events that were going on. We’ve always tried to kind of capture reality with these little markets, just to kind of make the point
that all of this was really happening.
AMANPOUR: One of the characters who is also beloved by all Downton fans and fans of her work whenever she appears is the great Dame Maggie Smith.
She’s been the backbone of Downton for those who just cannot get enough of her ascorbic wit.
How did she agree? What did you have to tell her? Or was it knocking on an open door to get her to play in the film?
FELLOWES: Oh, no, I don’t think it was knocking on an open door. I think she was in two minds about whether to do it or not. But happily in the
end, Gareth Neame, our producer, persuaded her.
I mean, it’s hard to think of Downton without Maggie. And as you say, she’s marvelous to write for, actually because she always hits the button.
You know, you never waste a line on her and she never needs to be have to explain as to why it’s funny. She gets straight in there and I love it.
I mean I’ve done quite a lot with her now over the years. I started writing this 10 years ago. Extraordinary really.
AMANPOUR: But, you know, since you say that, do you never get tired of it?
FELLOWES: No, I don’t think so really. I mean I do other stuff, you know, in between and I’ve got two other series coming out at the moment. And I’m
in preproduction for a third.
So it’s not as if I’m only doing Downton. I did School of Rock. I did Mary Poppins, all of those things, but in the middle of Downton.
AMANPOUR: And what are your other series coming out?
FELLOWES: One is a novel I wrote called Belgravia which is now a six-part series for ITV in England and Epix in America. And the other is about
football, English football in the 1870s. It’s called the English Game and it will be on Netflix.
AMANPOUR: Let’s get back to Maggie Smith because as I say everybody is always on the edge of their seats to see what she’s going to say because we
have a little clip and we’ll play and Maggie Smith is at the center of this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you not think it’s long ago? It seems too great a leap for.
SARAH LUOMA: Who do you think I am? Some maid nun who’s never left the village?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obviously not.
LUOMA: Well, (inaudible) because I don’t. At least I understand. Does Miss Smith know the truth?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, she does.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I get home, I will hire another maid. And Lucy can be my companion.
LUOMA: Well, that’s much more suitable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I’m afraid you’ll dislike her but she says she and Tom Grandson have a great correspondent.
LUOMA: (Inaudible) myself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are amazing, Violet. You haven’t won, you know.
LUOMA: I don’t believe in defeat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Maggie Smith talking to the — Imelda Staunton’s character and she’s the lady in waiting —
FELLOWES: Lady Bagshaw.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And the lady in waiting of the queen. Let’s get back to her being in other of your films. Most notably, Gosford Park, right?
FELLOWES: Gosford is when we first worked together. And it was rather an extreme beginning for me because I was very starting out as a screenwriter
in those days. And the very first room they could get ready was the room that would be Maggie’s bedroom.
So the first week was shooting all the scenes in her bedroom. While they made the rest of the house ready for the filming. So it was an
extraordinary kind of baptism by fire, you know, of just scene after scene of Maggie Smith saying my lines, which is a very strange sensation. Rather
an extraordinary memory, actually.
AMANPOUR: You got the Oscar for Gosford Park. And it was a huge, you know, turning point and cementing of your Hollywood status. What draws you
to this era?
I mean you are Lord Julian Fellowes. You sit in the House of Lords. Your wife has been and continues to be a lady in waiting for the British Royal
family. What is it about this era that you, you know, consider so rich for your creative instincts?
FELLOWES: Well, it’s an era of great change and adjustment. It’s really when the 19th Century turned into the modern world. When you think only 50
years divides 1890 and 1940, it’s not even a lifetime. And yet, really, the old world turned into the new during these decades.
And that does interest me, always, periods of great change.
AMANPOUR: Let’s roll on a little bit to the politics of this, you know, moment when the film is out in the cinemas. Some might say that this kind
of nostalgia is exactly what Brexit and Trump are all about. This yearning for a great era past. The idea of sovereignty, the idea of the great
nation with no troubles. Although you say, you know, this is about a point of transition.
FELLOWES: Yes. I think this is a great period of transition for Britain. If Brexit goes ahead. I don’t agree with you about that being nostalgic.
Although there may be elements of nostalgia in it. There’s a great dislike of being a member of the European Union.
But in fact, the European Union, which is an absolutist arrangement, goes back to the 18th Century, I mean the non-ability to control, select, or
elect the commission is rather like being governed by the Empress Maria Theresa. It’s nothing to do with the modern world.
So I don’t really see that in terms of Brexit. But, of course, it is a turbulent period. And I think when people are going through a turbulent
period, they rather enjoy watching what they think, even if wrongly, was a calm one.
AMANPOUR: These characters, who you have, are really popular. And as, you know, as kind of upper class as they are, and weirdly, they’re kind of
relatable, as well. I think that’s why viewers really like it. but I want to ask you this because as you know now and being sort of in the middle of
all of this, you know, there’s a lot of criticism in Great Britain of the kind of politicians who are, you know, empowered right now, who are the
sort of upper class private school educated, Oxbridge and then prime minister.
And a lot of people are saying, look, they just don’t get it. They don’t get what ordinary people need and want. Do you feel sometimes that these
kinds of period hagiographies — I don’t know, play into that praise of that class particularly?
FELLOWES: I suppose you could see it like that. I don’t want to sort of indignantly reject the notion. But, in fact, I think the reality is that
some politicians have an instinct for the public and for the publics’ needs and desires and ambitions and the things they dislike and some don’t.
And I don’t think that has very much to do with their background. You know, I won’t name some prime ministers that we’ve had in my time who came
from perfectly modest backgrounds and yet seem to be completely clueless when it came to reading the public mood.
You know, Queen Victoria was very good at it. And how was that when she grown up essentially sitting on a satin cushion? She had an extraordinary
instinct for finding out what her people minded about. I don’t think it has much to do with your upbringing. I think it has to do with your
passive observation and whether or not you listen and some people don’t.
AMANPOUR: On that note, Lord Julian Fellowes, thank you very much, indeed. “Downton Abbey,” the movie.
FELLOWES: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: And “Downton Abbey” the movie is out in cinemas this weekend.
That’s it for tonight. Remember, you can always follow me, Michel, and the show on Twitter.
Thanks for watching Amanpour and Company on PBS, and join us again tomorrow night.