tv Charlie Rose PBS May 18, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening walk talking about the future of television with josh sapan. he is the c.e.o. of amc networks. >> the system is evolving, and many people who have netflix or hulu or amazon also have cable television, and it is now support manager more options and people have shown an appetite for it. so i actually think it is a moment of great diversification and abundance and creative brilliance. >> rose: we talk about the future of oil with john watson, chairman and c.e.o. of chevron. >> fossil fuels, if you think about the last 150 years, all the advancements in the living standard, everything we enjoy -- light, heat, transportation by land, sea and air -- everything we value is coincident with fossil fuels. new york would be dark without
fossil fuels. so fossil fuels are important now and will be important for many, many years to come. >> rose: many, many years means, in your own judgment? >> for the foreseeable future. now, that doesn't mean we can't develop other forms of energy. renewables have their place, nuclear has its place, and there will be new technologies that will be developed over time that hopefully will bring us other forms of energy but they have to be exit frif a point point of view. >> rose: and we talk about the death of a spouse with lucy kalanithi. >> the secret life is in death, find air that once was breath. so i drew from that. he wrote a lot of poetry during the time he was ill. we were lying in bed and he was reading the poetry anthology and said, i think i have the title for my book, look at this. >> rose: sapan, watson and kalanithi when we continue.
>> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by the following: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: josh sapan is here. he is the president and c.e.o. of amc networks. the network has helped make cable television a destination for high-quality, scripted shows. amc made a name for itself with the critical acclaimed series "madmen" and the other "breaking bad." amc networks also owns brands incueding i.f.c. and sundance tv. sapan also has drawn praise for expanding the boundaries of cable television industry. champion of video on demand and
other channels. "take 5" will debut on sundance, focusing on justice in america, premiering policed to have josh sapan back at this table. welcome. >> thank you so much. >> rose: let's talk specifically, what's "take 5". >> it requires a moment of explanation. we have a new streaming service that's not a cable tv channel -- >> rose: who doesn't (laughter) it's true. >> that took care of the explanation. who doesn't? >> rose: go ahead. it's a new streaming service. thank you for helping the explanation. it's called sundance now dot club and has -- doc club. it has the biggest selection of documentaries amassed anywhere. i think it's possible. >> rose: there was actually a cable channel called discovery formed on that idea.
>> exactly. >> rose: way back when. exactly right. it's perhaps the case that a cable channel that had ads to support it was not the right formulation for the world's greatest documentaries that may not have mass appeal but has great importance. so that end, in addition to this collection in which we're adding feature films, we did the first original series and our notion was do something interesting in documentaries and do something timely. we tried to create, if i can say it this way, what might be the op-ed page of today and tomorrow by putting in the hands of five filmmakers enough money to make five-minute films on one subject, and the subject -- >> rose: on the same subject. the same subject. >> rose: really. yes. >> rose: take five great filmmakers and say this is the subject, go make a movie. >> and the subject is justice in america, what does it mean to
you. >> rose: right. so we did that. we went to five, i'll call them emerging documentarians, and said what do you think because we at amc had good experience, mentioned material on the scripted side, by putting ourselves in the hands of creators and said do it and we'll juxtapose all five, put them out on a streaming service and let people see what these individuals think of justice in america. >> rose: you have these up your sleeve,reich race in america, justice in america. >> inexhaustible. future in america, president in america. there will be a million things. >> rose: let's that you can about cable per se. >> sure. >> rose: you've seen this evolution, i mentioned streaming and you are about to make a deal with hulu. i have a deal with hulu. everybody does. my point, is we all have begun
to love streaming. we love the idea of "house of cards." we can watch all those episodes in a splurge, if we want to. what's happened? i mean, what did the internet bring? >> yeah. so i think that the internet did bring, just to focus on this, streaming services and notably, perhaps most notably the word "binging" is associated with it, and i think the internet also brought homemade material that was not professional and was idiosyncratic in the form of youtube, some very inventive material. >> rose: and very powerful. very powerful. it is interesting, however, because it is the rage, i would call it, sort of the rage, meaning it's the new technology
and the new format streaming, so we see the streaming services develop. at the same time, i think that there is extraordinary material on broadcast television. >> rose: what are you doing with hulu? >> so we have an arrangement with hulu today in which we essentially syndicate. they're our partner. the material that we make for the most part later goes to them in about a year's time. so if you want to see the later episodes of "fear the walking dead," you will see them on hulu about a year later. huhly did just announce, however, they haven't announced who their partners are but this made some news that they are going to offer a package of video services, and they haven't yet declared who will be in that package. >> rose: what will they offer? well, you would really have to ask them to get the final word. the rumor is, if you want to call it that, that they'll offer
the price point maybe in the range, so people have said, of 30 or $40 and there would be a collection of broadcasting cable channels. >> rose: i read in thinking about you, a quote from somebody who said maybe we've got too much original programming now. >> yeah. >> rose: does that have any resonance with you? >> no. i don't think so. i really don't think so. >> rose: yeah. it's been said frequently, and i think it's been said because the old regime of tv, the old regime which didn't have streaming and didn't have cable and didn't have all these apps and didn't have the ability to buy streaming services or select all that material, was limited. so, in that regime or organization, the economic system perhaps didn't support as much material as there is today. but i think that the system is
evolving, and many people who have netflix or hulu or amazon also have cable television and it is now support manager more options and people have shown an appetite for it. so i actually think it is a moment of great diversification and abundance and creative brilliance. >> rose: and enough talented people to feed this monster. >> i think big time. >> rose: good. big time. and i think people's appetite is there. >> rose: there was a piece, i think, about you in deadlines, david lieberman did it, and you were quoted saying people in the television business are all in one sense competitors. they're all interested in some of the material that we're interested in. are they all direct competitors? they're competitive in degree inasmuch as by each might have a show on we would want on. are they drafting off the same economic opportunities?
no, they're all a little bit different. >> yeah. >> rose: what did netflix accomplish other than a subscription model as a very general revenue contributor? >> that's primarily what they accomplished but the way they got there is interesting and they deserve full credit for having not only done that and designed it and implemented it but done it with wit and interest and when "house of cards" which became their signature for a period of time and "orange is the new black," in their moment they were defining. >> rose: right. so i think they developed material that was important and took advantage of the technology. >> rose: and got everybody's attention when it was announced they were going to spend $100 million on an original production, "house of cards." >> yes. there is material in all these services and channels that i would envy. >> rose: yeah. but we are now more -- and we
are competitive at large, but we also are companions because one in every two households, more or less, in the united states subscribes to netflix and nine out of ten have cable television. so they're sitting side by side, and people are doing both. >> rose: factor in for me how many young people i know who say to me, i don't have a television in my house. all the television they watch is either on their pc -- if they still have one -- their ipad or their iphone, all the television they watch. >> yeah. there is no question that there is an increasing interest in and reliance on devices that are not in the big living room and anchored. it will be interesting to see when those younger people start to have families whether their behavior changes a bit. >> rose: what are we waiting
for in television? what is the great thing that somehow is going to transform, beyond everything we talked about in this conversation? >> hmm... that's a big question. i have the privilege of asking myself that question and saying that it's professionally something that i should require myself to answer, but it's as much fanciful as it is serious, and i think there is, as with many things, probably not one answer. >> rose: yeah. will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary? >> i think it will but to me the most interesting way to respond is when technology changes, when things happen and you get a little machine and a little screen and channel capacity that allows you to watch or get 400 channels when there used to be four and you can watch them in sequence and binge, the economy adapts to the technology and you see more forms, so you see cats
on youtube and sequential drama because more people can pay attention. madmen and breaking bad were aided by people being able to not only watch on linear but able to watch on demand. so what's most interesting about what's next is what technology comes next and what form and what creative genius adapts to make that technology come alive and serve so many interests. >> rose: clearly, video is everything, fair to say. >> yes. >> rose: and it's clearly -- if it's not, it's a close second -- it's clear that video -- somehow video and search are coming together. >> yes. >> rose: so that everybody's organizing it for us. >> yes. >> rose: and here's what fascinates me, too, it is the possibility of virtual reality as a storyteller's tool.
>> yes. you know, i've seen virtual reality that is rap sodic. >> rose: i know! it's hard to find words to describe how engaging, inviting and mesmerizing it is. >> rose: yeah. and i do think it will give birth to experiences and actually content experiences and formulations that didn't make sense before and were not imaginable. >> rose: here's what i'm going to do, i promise you i'm going to do this, i have argued about this show that we've got nothing here but a table, an interesting person, you know, and a few average questions. that's all we have here. but what it is is that the viewer likes it because i tell them you are sitting at the table, you know, and, therefore, you are part of it. not really, but that's what i want them to think. they're there, and they're there.
virtual reality will give you a better way to communicate that than anything. you can sense that. >> yes. >> rose: and however you look, you can focus just on you. >> yes. >> rose: you can just watch your hands. >> yeah. >> rose: you can watch from up above. i mean, it's just amazing. you are literally at the table. >> oh, you are literally. you know, i went to a demo of one of the technologies and i was literally falling off the cliff and felt endangered and threatened -- >> rose: for a moment your brain says, if i go there -- >> correct. so it's sort of thrilling. >> rose: it is thrilling. yeah. >> rose: and you don't know where the future is going to come but, boy, you can't wait, and you know the velocity of change in the world today is such that it's not that far off. >> no, it's not that far off. >> rose: no. and we've had success putting money and resources in the hands of the best creative people who
can take that new technology, whether it's nuanced and modest or radical as is virtual reality, and bring to the world the next great incarnation. >> rose: i mean, i just think -- what i love about what the internet has done in terms of all the things we have been talking about, it is in a sense -- and certainly with youtube and certainly with whatever apple wants you to do and you do and young filmmakers is the democracyization. they can do a thousand things and they can tell a story. it may be a minute, or five or two hours, but people with talent now have a place they can raise a bit of money to make it and have a place that it can be shown. it may not be a hollywood release, but it shows your drive
creativity and possibility. >> you know, we're with our five filmmakers. >> rose: right mpght and we -- and we had a forum where they stimulated a panel and were talking about their five-minute films. i went on twitter and the panel was trending and it was having the desired effect and it was on the subject of justice in america and it was creating an immediate social dialogue around that subject and it was thrilling. it was breathtaking. >> rose: would be great if some of that could intrude into the political debate. >> i think it should. >> rose: when you look at what you've done over there, is your favorite program "walking dead," "breaking bad," "madmen"? >> ettes hard to answer. >> rose: don't give me some cliche about your children.
(laughter) >> you know, i would answer it this way -- i would say breaking bad was breathtaking and better call saul and vince gil and peter gould -- i don't know if you watched the prequel and the characters, it's beautifully nuanced in breaking bad and rare and each note is incredibly true, so it resonates, at least for me, wonderfully. we also financed a movie that took 12 years. maybe it's the gestation period -- >> rose: "boyhood? ." >> boyhood with richard linklater. to me it's a high point. it's an exercise in professional patience ." >> rose: thank you so much. pleasure. >> rose: back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: john watson is here, chairman and c.e.o. of chevron.
it is among the world's largest oil and gas companies. chevron's been under pressure since oil prices have been under steep decline since past february. production shortages in nigeria and canada contributed to a resurgent market this spring with oil hovering near $50. the industry is navigating increased regulation and environmental policy aimed largely at shape ago renewable energy future. pleased to have john watson at this time at this table. we can. >> charlie, thanks for having me. >> rose: let's talk about oil today and renewable and where the progress is being made there and what chevron is doing. but tell us the dynamics of the fall and rise of oil prices. >> well -- >> rose: is it simply supply and demand? >> at its simplest, it is. but what's not told is demand
rises relatively predictably over time but supply comes online in big chunks. so the industry does many long lead prajts. if you get supply and demand a little off as you're building the new capacity, if the economy doesn't grow as fast or you have disruptions in supply, you can get big excursions up and down in prices, and that's what we saw recently where we had, over the last five years, we have had production that went offline in many places in the middle east, prices went up, industry responded, built new capacity. we got off as the economy slowed down as saudi arabia and iran returned supplies to production, and we've seen prices respond downward. so we can have big excursions up and down. >> rose: let me understand clearly what saudi arabia has done. did they ever reduce the supply they were providing? >> not in the recent past. they were producing about 9.5 million barrels a day and, just as prices were starting to
fall, they actually increased production. >> rose: with what intent in mind? >> well, i think it's been part of a long strategy on their part to hold market share. if you look at their experience in the past, they would cut production significantly -- in fact, they cut production about 75% if you go back 30 years -- and what happened is other supplies filled that void. what they have concluded is they want to maintain their market share over time and, so, they're going to continue to produce and let others make up that -- >> rose: some argued they wanted to drive the shell oil business out of business. >> i don't think that's the case. i think what they are saying is we have low-cost supplies of energy and we're going to put it ton market. remember, opec used to have about 50% of the market. now they have about a third. >> rose: from 50 to 33. that's right, and most countries have no intention of cutting production.
saudi arabia is saying why should we cut product so that shale oil producers and others -- >> rose: and one is iran and the other is iraq. >> they're getting what they feel is their fair share of production and saudi arabia is saying we're a low-cost source of supply, we, too, are going to produce up to our capability. >> rose: what's happening with libya? >> libya, very sad circumstance in libya where -- >> rose: a failed state with no central leadership? >> most production is offline today. >> rose: what did the rise of shale oil do to the oil market? >> well, it surprised the oil market would be the first thing i would say. but what it really showed the market is there is a fairly resilient source of supply that's available on short notice. much of the oil that's produced are the long cycle time projects that i talked about, but what the shale business showed is
that in a relatively short period of time through the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling is we can grow production with the right sort of price environment. >> rose: what's the right price environment to do that? >> well, when oil was over 100, we were growing production in this country a million barrels a day per year. that was very significant. now at $30 a barrel, it's uneconomic, and so it's somewhere in between. the industry has gotten bert at reducing costs but i think it's going to take a price above $50 to really see the kind of contributions to supply that we've seen in the past. >> rose: what's happening to the russian production because of the price? >> well, interestingly enough, russia's production has increased. one of the things that happened with sanctions is their currency declined and, so, costs to the russian oil industry actually went down. the oil price went down if dollar terms -- in dollar terms but cost in local currency also
went down so their production is resilient and increased production in low-cost environment. >> rose: what's the percentage of the national revenues of oil? how significant is the oil contribution and natural gas to the russian economy? >> very significant. you should think of the russian economy as largely a petro state and most of the revenue they derive from oil. some from natural gas, mostly from oil. >> rose: is brazil a petro state? >> brazil has a diverse economy. it has certainly troubles today but they are a large oil producer and have potential to grow production with offshore discoveries. >> rose: venezuela? venezuela technically holds the largest reserves in the world but is facing its own internal difficulties. >> rose: but it has the largeslargest potential reserven the world. >> it does, yes. we're the only american company there right now. some of the other companies have
left. >> rose: why did they leave, why did you stay? >> mostly about fiscal terms and relationships with the government. we work hard to maintain relationships. we deal in long cycle times and work with governments across the political governments inchoosing chavez and the government today. >> rose: is your relationship fine with the ma dura government because you have existing contracts? >> and existing business. one of the i thin things that distinguishes american companies is we work with whatever government is in power. if it's legal for us to do business and we can do business according to our standards, we'll do business in many different countries around the world regardless of the political ideology. >> rose: where is new oil discovered? >> we found it right here in the united states. >> rose: with sail oil. with shale oil. we found it in old oil fields in the shale.
>> rose: because you could access with horizontal. >> that's correct. we we're seeing it increasingly in deep water. in brazil, gulf of mexico, east africa, west africa is discovering oil and gas. so there is oil to be discovered. the arctic has potential longer term. >> rose: what's the difference in chevron and exxonmobil other than they have a higher market cap than you. i think you're second, aren't you. >> is this we and shell are about the same. there are a lot of differences, we are both in the oil and gas businesses but we operate in different areas. we emphasize different things. certainly inside the company, we have our own way of doing business, they have their own way. they're a fine company, but we're a little different mostly from a portfolio point of view. >> rose: what do you mean by portfolio? where your assets are? >> right. for example, we have more business in upstream exploration and production, they have more
downstream in the chemicals business. we have a big business here in the united states. they have do as well. they have a big business in russia. we're in other countries. i think geographically and we've emphasized different segments of the business. >> rose: what is your commitment to alternative energy sources? is that a business you leave the others? or is it research and development you're doing every day, you know, with the revenues you have in order to see and make sure? >> it's a mix right now, i would say. we're the largest producer of renewables now thanks to our geothermal business in indonesia and the fil the philippines andt money on researching biofuels. that has been a tough nut to crack for everyone in that business. >> rose: when someone says to you, what's the future of fossil fuels, what do you say? >> charlie, fossil fuels, if you think about the last 150 years, all the advancements in living
standard, everything we enjoy -- light, heat, transportation by land, sea and air -- everything we value is coincident with fossil fuels. new york would be dark without fossil fuels. so fossil fuels are important now and will be important for many, many years to come. >> rose: many, many years means, in your own judgment. >> for the foreseeable future. now, that doesn't mean we can't develop other forms of energy. renewables have their place, nuclear has their place, and there will be new technologies that will be developed over time that hopefully bring us other forms of energy but they do have to be competitive from a price point of view. for the time being, it's going to take natural gas, it's going to take nuclear, coal, renewables, it's going to take all those things in order to meet the supply. remember, the developing world needs all this energy to raise living standards because they aspire to the things we have. >> rose: are you worried about the instability in the middle east? >> well, certainly. we've seen disruptions and risks
in north africa and the middle east in the last years, of course there is concern. i think there is also an interest in coming to reasonable agreements so we avoid conflicts in the future that night disrupt supplies and importantly disrupt the drives to improve the standard of living throughout the middle east an and elsewher. >> rose: is the united states' energy independent? >> the u.s. is blessed with energy. while we still import some oil, we are starting to export natural gas. i would say there is not an energy crisis in that sense. we have abundant supplies available and the potential to produce more. >> rose: as you know, people will make the argument, understandably, you know, that we have been hostage to the middle east because of our need for their oil. >> you know, i don't view us as being hostage. every country has their own competitive advantages. the middle east happens to have oil. if you think about it, we have many sources of oil that are available. i don't see, in a broad sense,
that there is any shortage of oil. there are risks. most of those risks that we talk about are above-ground risks that are there. there is plenty of oil out there. if you think about the three largest producers i mentioned earlier -- russia, saudi arabia and the united states -- those three countries together are only about a third of the supply. so there are a lot of other supplies of oil that can be made available. >> rose: what about australia? well, australia is a place of big business for us. in our case, it's natural gas off the northwest shelf of australia. we have two big projects that are coming online over the next two years that will contribute l&g to asia. >> rose: you worked in one place. you have been at chevron all your life. >> i have. i joined chevron out of school in 1980, so i never thought i would spend 36 years with the company, but i've been given different opportunities over time and i just loved it and
have stayed. >> rose: and can you say to the global population or the global citizenry that we have done everything that we can to address climate change and environmental issues? >> oh, no. there's a lot more we can do. in fact, i think today that we're largely talking past one another on policy. >> rose: explain that to me. well, if you think about it, we have a tendency to talk about one issue at a time. we'll talk about that we want low energy prices. one minute we'll talk about we want lower carbon sources. but we don't talk ann about an integrated policy. germany, japan and the united states are shupting down nuclear power plants. i'm not in the nuclear power business, but if your biggest concern were climate change would you be shutting them down. >> rose: why are they shutting them down? >> because of the perceived risk of nuclear power. it's slightly different in each country, but the point is if
carbon emissions are the biggest concern, we should be trying to enable nuclear power, we should be trying to enable natural gas. new york city doesn't allow hydraulic fracturing. new york city doesn't want to permit pipelines across its land, nuclear power and natural gas are sources of energy that will restrict greenhouse gas emissions over time. >> rose: keystone pipeline, does it make a difference? >> pliens in general make a difference. it's the safest way to move oil and gas is via pipeline. there are literally millions of miles of pipeline. we have to operate them safely. we have to make sure our standards are high and we do it well. to me it's been unfortunate that with a great ally we have north of the border that we haven't allowed a pipeline to bring oil that's needed in the united states. it seems like it's not the right policy, if you believe in low prices, if you believe in promoting economic activity in
this country. >> rose: how would you assess president obama in terms of how he has been as presidents both in terms of environmental protection, in terms of trade, in terms of wanting to -- commitment to paris and the kinds of accords that came out of paris? >> certainly we have our differences of opinion, but there is actually some common ground. i point to two areas where there's common ground. one on trade. i went to the university of chicago. so i believe in free trade. i believe in the trade agreements, for example, so we have been a supporter of the trade agreements that are out there. >> rose: and so is the president. >> yes. >> rose: and his party was not. >> well, we'll see where some of these agreements go. >> rose: well, but i mean, the likely candidate of the democratic party is not. >> well, that's what we say today, but in general there is been bipartisan support for strayed. >> rose: so what happened?
i don't know what's happened. i don't think we've done a very good job -- by "we" i mean business and many in politics -- haven't done what we can to show americans the benefit of free trade. the administration, i support them on trade. the administration has supported and confirmed hydraulic fracturing can be done safely so there are positives. >> rose: but the administration against the pipeline. >> well right now there have been some decisions that -- we're throwing a lot of regulations at the business now and they are rushing out regulations as we speak in the final six months. just in the last couple of weeks they've done so. >> rose: an example. a well controlled rule in the gulf of mexico. our industry put in place 100 new practices in close collaboration with the government over the last five years since the mccondo incident to improve drilling safety with very little engagement with industry they rushed out new provisions. methane regulations, the cost of these methane regulations is disproportionate to the benefit at any reasonable price on
carbon. so those are two recent examples? general, i would say the power has shifted toward regulators in this country and i think that's a risk for the economy. i don't think it's a coincidence, charlie, we're seeing sub-par economic growth. >> rose: you mean regulations is the reason we're having sub-par economic growth? >> i think it's a burden, country matter whether you talk to bankers, to healthcare executives. >> rose: most people suggest it's not regulation. most people suggest it's demand. it's china's demand has gone down and that has hurt growth in the world economy. >> oh, i think there is no one thing, but what can the united states do? what can we do ourselves? we missed an opportunity over the last eight years for meaningful tax reform. we missed an opportunity -- >> rose: why did we miss the opportunity? >> i don't know. it takes leadership, and we didn't see it. the priorities early in the administration's time were on
putting in a cap and trade provision, putting in the new healthcare law. >> rose: were those bad things? >> certainly the cap and trade provision was. >> rose: would you prefer a carbon tax? >> no, i don't -- >> rose: but i know a lot of people in your business would -- are okay with the carbon tax and so do you, don't you -- >> how much is the tax and where should it be applied? think of it this way, the average american lives paycheck to paycheck. >> rose: right. why would you want to increase the costs on that individual? if you think about the u.s. economy, we're four times as greenhouse gas efficient as china. why would you want to added a additional costs to the u.s. economy? we're one of the only large industrial companies that has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, thanks to hydraulic fracturing and natural gas displacing coal. so why would you want to add costs on the american consumer, add costs to business? because business will simply move if you add cost. that's what's happening in europe. they're a step ahead of us in the sense that their consumers are complaining about energy poverty and that's a new term
being coined in europe, and their businesses are very concerned because their electricity costs are three times what they are in the united states. so why would we want to go down that path? >> rose: let me ask you about the status to have the lawsuits involved in atlanta america with your company. what's the status? >> you're referring to a large case in ecuador where a new york trial lawyer attempted to defraud my company out of $19 billion. now, fortunately, we were able to prove in a new york court in a civil case that rico statutes were violations and extortion, wire fraud, basically racketeering enterprises attempted to defraud my company. we continue to fight that. there are cases in progress in several jurisdictions where they're attemping to collect on at the claim but thus far we have been successful both in international court and in the specific countries that -- >> rose: but it's an ongoing
battle. >> it is, but we have been able to succeed at every step thus far. there is risk, but we have been able to manage it, and the courts have supported us at every turn, and that's important. >> rose: thank you for coming. charlie, thank you for having me. pleasure to be here. >> rose: we'll be right back. stay with us. >> rose: paul kalanithi was a rising neurosurgeon at stanford when he was diagnosed with met at thetic lung cancer in 2013. less than two years later, he died. during his final 22 months, he wrote tirelessly about both the struggle and joy he experienced leading up to his death. he asked questions such as what does a meaningful existence comprise? and how might that calculation evolve when death is near? his thoughts on this and much more are in "when breath becomes air." lucy kalanithi is paul's widow. she wrote the book's epilogue. she is a clinical assistant professor of medicine add stanford.
i am very pleased to have her at this table. welcome. >> thank you. >.>> rose: "when breath becomes air." why that title? >> it's striking, isn't it? >> rose: yes. it's a paraphrasing of an elizabethan poem that forms the epigraph of the book. the first line is you what seek in life in death find air that once was breath. so we view it from that. he read a lot of poetry when he was ill. we're lying in tbed and he was reading the poetry anthology and said i think i have the title of my book, look at. this i still have the poetry anthology. >> rose: he found out he was a writer when he found out about the impending illness and he knew he could do it and there was response and he had the drive of writing a book. >> he always dreamed of being a writer. he was a voracious reader from a
young age. he majored in english literature in college. became a neurosurgeon ultimately because he was interested in mortality and what it means to be human. at first he approached that through literature and philosophy and made his way into medicine. when h he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, it was late stage when it was diagnosed. >> rose: stage 4. that's right. he wrote an essay called how long have i got left that was published in the "new york times" and got this huge response he was surprised by with how strongly it resonated with people. >> rose: what do you think it was about that? >> you know, i think part of the reason he was surprised is he felt like he was talking about his singular experience and kind of the disorienting feeling of facing the uncertainty that comes with a new illness and sort of the how do you make sense of how much time you have left, however long that is, and it turned out it was not a singular experience either to talk about suffering or
specifically illness and he just had tons of responses from -- >> rose: i'm struck by he wanted to know how much time he had left, insisted on it. >> tried. >> rose: yes. and i understand it now because he said, look, if i have ten years left, i'll go back to teaching, or i'll go back to medicine. >> right. >> rose: you know, if i have ten days -- >> right. >> rose: -- it's different. ight. >> rose: doctors don't tell patients that, do they? >> you just can't be so precise. >> rose: it's unknowing. exactly. if a doctor says, you have six months to live, usually they're talking about the median rate. half of the people less, but half the people more, and how much more? and his doctors really exhorted him to, instead, focus on what was valuable to him, what was meaningful to him, and it turned out that was much better advice. no matter how long you have left, what is it? >> rose: what did you learn about him? >> i think i learned how brave he could be and how brave we made each other. i had an idea of how strong
willed and curious he was and how smart he was, but i had no idea how brave he was. and then, of course, as he was dying, i was pregnant and, you know, the book was growing, our child was growing. >> rose: after the diagnosis. after the diagnosis we decided to have the baby, that's right. >> rose: why was that important? >> it was something we always planned to do toward the end of at time he was diagnosed withing terminal cancer and we looked at each other and said is this still something we want to do. i asked him -- we were worried about each other. he knew i would have to raise the child on my own and so did i. i asked him and said, if we have a child, wouldn't it make your death more painful? and he said well, wouldn't it be great if it did? and both of us felt it was very meaningful and enriching for our family to have a child and it's up to me to help or shape her
narrative going forward. >> rose: and you have this. mm-hmm. >> rose: back to cambridge and then stanford, might he have become a writer and not a doctor? >> maybe. like i said, he sort of had this plan where he planned to be a neurosurgeon or scientist for a few decades and retire and write. so he started become a writer and he was diagnosed and he said i'm well into the twilight years of my life. >> rose: how do i spend it. exactly. i have a few years. so writing became foremost during that time. >> rose: how does your life change? i mean, it's part of what you just said, but what do you want to do? >> i think when he was diagnosed, it was so much more disorienting than he realized it would be. he had been through, you know, taking care of families facing a sund diagnosis or a long-term
illness or brain damage, and he had some sense of what that was like. then when he himself was diagnosed, even having the experience of having cared for other patients and families, he did find it so disorienting to sort of have the -- such a change in identity. you know, you don't see your future stretching out the way you thought it would, and you need to sort of keep shifting your goals and priorities based on your changing prognosis or your advancing dibillty. it was advancing in so many ways. >> rose: was it harder for you than him? >> he said it was, but i don't agree. >> rose: where was religion in all this? >> paul had grown up in a very christian household. he sort of became an atheist initially and then came back to christianity. >> rose: as a man of science. yes.
he did all this research and had won research awards and then writes in the book how he also found meaning in religion. he said my religiosity actually hasn't gotten greater or more weak during this time, it sort of stayed the same. i think it goes in one direction or another for many people and he was most comforted even more than scripture by poetry and literature. >> rose: there are people out there experiencing a loved one dealing with terminal illness. what do you say so them? this is what he says to them. you have the epilogue. but what do you say to them today? >> yeah, to me, the thing that was helpful and that i think is important is to not be afraid to name things, whether a strong emotion or sort of the pain of going through this or the pain of facing uncertainty. for us, we talked really openly about it -- >> rose: what's an example of
that? >> when he was first diagnosed -- maybe one example is what i mentioned about the conversation about deciding to have a child and asking stark questions about what that meant or seeing our worries for each other and accepting those. there was a moment after he got diagnosed where he said, don't worry, everything is going to be okay. i said, i know, i just don't know what okay means yet. >> rose: what did he think it meant? >> when he said everything is going to be okay, he didn't mean, i'm going to be cured and i'm not going to die. >> rose: he also said he experienced love with you like he'd never felt before during this period. >> yeah. we were really in love. and it's really sustaining. it's sustaining still. i still feel this great love for him and i feel so proud of him. you know, those emotions continue, too, and that's been sustaining. >> rose: yeah. what did he say when they delivered the terrible news? >> yeah, it's funny because we got in this unmediated wayy we
looked at the scan together. no one said aloud the news. we looked at the cat scan. >> rose: no one told you, they showed you. >> we were in stanford hospital and he typed in his own name into the computer and pulled the scan. >> rose: because he had access. >> yes. and we looked and it was very clear us to, both being doctors, we could see cancer in his spine and lungs and liver. so there wasn't -- it wasn't a gradual understanding, it was just stark looking right at the planes of his organs. and i think we did have that feeling. we knew what it meant, and we had that feeling of, you know, it's on us. we immediately understood the task, like you said, you know, we're going to need each other, we're going to need to go through this together and make sense of this somehow. >> rose: cried a lot? mm-hmm. >> rose: and how is it -- the
decision then after that to have the child, considering every aspect of it. >> right. >> rose: and saying that we have to do this. >> yeah. we both had the instinct to do it and we both knew that was sort of potentially crazy and that that would invite other risk or uncertainty or pain. again, i think nobody has a child because it's easy. you know, you have a child because it's meaningful to you or you think you can impart a good life to that child and i think we both felt that was still true and we have a really loving community and family and we needed them, you know, we knew we had them. >> rose: looking back, what would you change within the realm that you could have done different after this diagnosis came? >> oh, man, that's such a good question. huh... you know, i'm not even sure.
i really need to think about that. i'm sure there are things. i think i don't feel a lot of regret, which i'm really grateful for. >> rose: regret about the life not lived or -- >> yeah, because i think, you know, he suffered but he found meaning, and that's so comforting to me. >> rose: what was the meaning he found? >> you know, i think he -- because he found purpose, you know, whether it was having the child or writing the book, he really did feel driven and he really -- one of the reviews of the book said it was crackling with life, an it's funny because he was really crackling with life. i mean, he was dying, his body was sort of collapsing, but he was really engaged in life. so i think that's probably a lot
of comfort. there is something about grief, actually, that i might change or share about myself in the future. >> rose: what's that? you know, it's funny, because paul died exactly 14 months ago today, and it's so helpful for me to talk about him, you know, even sitting here with you today. >> rose: cathartic. yeah. i think often when someone dies, they stop saying someone's name and they feel they will make you sad by talking about it. i found you're thinking about it anyway. you're sad anyway. see ago person's name or saying it is connecting. >> rose: it's interesting you say that. i think people that i have known who have been living with a terminal illness, they like to talk about it. they like to talk about it. >> right. >> rose: because what they don't like is the sense of we're avoiding this, we can't talk about this. >> right. >> rose: is there a purpose for you in your life as a doctor from this experience? >> sure.
yeah. i think a couple of different things. one is my empathy for patients and my really wanting to help understand -- wanting to understand their values and their experience and help guide them through an illness has been so deepened, and then i think, for me, it's been really meaningful to be engaging in a conversation, a bigger conversation about dying in america and the ways in which we're helping each other do that and in the ways in which our not facing that is causing us trouble at the end of life. that's been an exciting piece for me that i didn't anticipate, but it's been great. >> rose: what was hardest for you? >> the time since paul died. my own identity has shifted, you know. i think sort of reentering my
work and my life and i'm learning how our -- our daughter is 22 months, so i'm learning how to be a mom and a widow at the same time and i'm, you know, moving forward without paul, although in many ways with paul, with the book. so there are sort of all these dichotomies and things to get used to. it's been disorienting for me, i think now more than before. >> rose: what do you owe him? i have felt so compelled to get this book out there and to help share it with people and, you know, even little things like helping decide on the way the cover would look. it's all felt, high stakes, because i want to do right by him. >> rose: and wher it's abraham bragizi, why did he write the
forward? >> i love the forward. >> rose: me, too. he is a physician writer at stanford who is a really kind person. after paul decided to write the book, he met with dr. vergeze to ask his advice. he's a master dyin dig no, diag. he humbled himself in this epilogue. he writes this beautiful essay on paul and reflecting on paul. it was really kind. >> rose: no surprise the book is dedicated to katy, your daughter. >> mm-hmm. >> rose: here one more time is the title. you that seek what life is in death now find it air that once was breath. new names unknown, old names gone. till time embodies but shoals none. reader then make time while you be, but steps to your eternity.
and then the epilogue, two days after paul died, i wrote a journal entry addressed to katy. when someone dies, people tend to say great things about him. please know that all the wonderful things people are saying now about your dad are true. he really was that good and that brave. reflecting on his purpose often think of lyrics from the hymn derived from pilgrims progress, who would true valor see let him come hither then fancies fly away. he'll fare not what men say. he'll labor night and day to be a pilgrim. paul's decision to look death in the eye was a testament not to just who he was in the final hours of his life but who he had always been for much of his life paul wondered about death and whether he could face it with integrity. in the end, the answer was yes. i was his wife and a witness.
very good. thank you. >> thank you for having me. thank you. >> rose: the book, again, is "when breath becomes air," and there is paul right there. you can see him in that photograph. thank you for joining us. see you next time. for more about this tram and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
man: it's like holy mother of comfort food.ion. kastner: throw it down. it's noodle crack. patel: you have to be ready for the heart attack on a platter. crowell: okay, i'm the bacon guy. man: oh, i just did a jig every time i dipped into it. man #2: it just completely blew my mind. woman: it felt like i had a mouthful of raw vegetables and dry dough. sbrocco: oh, please. i want the dessert first! [ laughs ] i told him he had to wait.