tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg April 24, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." --rlie: steve ball mark, steve ballmer, the former ceo of microsoft, announced this week a new project. is letting usafacts, a comprehensive nonpartisan data platform that track government performance. i sat down with him on tuesday at the economic club of new york about his career and this new venture. let me start back where you were. when you had the question that how isted to answer, government money spent, and you
went looking for that, has anyone else tried to do this? steve: you can find everything on the site. you can find it someplace else. we didn't create anything original except for the , structure around the data. the answer is yes on every topic. there are actually some very good site that take these topics and do them well. i saw visualization about how government money gets spent. that is super. you don't see many places where people are adding together state, local, and federal data. that is pretty rare. most governments present themselves government by government. everything out there is available. part of the question is bringing it together. if you say how many jobs are in food preparation and service, you will find the bureau of labor statistics website. you may not navigate it well and it may be hard to correlate that
would other things in the economy. charlie: who will use it? steve: i hope that what we get initially is people in the government field, journalists will benefit, and what i call the most engaged part of the citizenry. people who read publications that regularly cover things in some depth and use of numbers. that was certainly point to the great national newspapers and magazines, "the economist," "the new york times," "wall street journal," etc. charlie: why do you feel better about how the government money is being spent? steve: i thought there were a lot of pockets where you could really -- you could debate the money is not being spent on your priorities. i thought we would find pockets were things look very expensive relative to output. i do not think, at least i did not feel i found that. take transfer payments. i think transfer payments are about $2.4 trillion, if i
remember quickly. that is medicaid, medicare, social security snap, and some , other stuff. you can agree or disagree about how much of that we should do, but the truth is you know that money goes straight through to purpose. people are eating the snap dollars, spending their social security money. i feel good about that. when you look at the people that work in government, i felt pretty good, actually, on what people were doing. i don't mind spending that money. government pensions look high. if you look at government pension costs compared to private sector pension costs or private-sector 401(k) contributions, that would look a little different to me. i went through category by in addition to profession by profession, and i felt a little bit better about effective use of money, and as i say reasonable people can , disagree about what to spend on.
charlie: how do you ensure it is bipartisan? steve: numbers do not know if they are liberals or conservatives, last time i checked. adjectives to me -- adjectives may, but numbers don't know. we have informally shared our work, the annual report, with people who are clearly democrats and clearly republicans i.e., , politicians. i got no feedback about this thing being partisan. none whatsoever. not from democrats nor republicans. charlie: the idea of takeaway, you talked but the fact that the government is doing better than you imagined. other takeaways for you? steve: yeah. i will be careful because it is surprises that are important. i will not give you my personal policy views. they are not relevant. for today, i'm only partisan about three things. i am partisan about the numbers.
my wife and i and our philanthropy are clearly dedicated to trying to find a way to have private and public money, given opportunity to kids to live the american dream, and i have to say, i sort of think over the long-term, balanced budgets are a good thing. i don't understand companies not making money. i don't understand how you sustain yourself long-term. but whether that means increasing taxes, decreasing spending, sort of the democracy should figure that out. that is not the point of this work. with that as context, what was surprising, i ran through a few things. i will give you another one. we did an analysis of how much money it took, inflation-adjusted, to be in the middle quintile in 2000 versus today, versus 2015. it actually takes lower income to be in the middle quintile today than it did 15 years ago.
that is probably not a very good thing. when people say the middle class is getting hollowed out, maybe that is what they are talking about. i don't know what the middle class really is. i'm a numbers guy. i just say, this must have something to do with income quintiles. that would be another example of something that was surprising, timmy to see laid out numerically. charlie: at this stage, where do you think government money is being spent badly? steve: again badly depends on , your political views. let me take the simplest ones. steve charlie: you said you were pleasantly surprised it was doing better. why can't you be pleasantly surprised or disappointed because it was doing worse? steve: that is based on my values. charlie: i'm asking for your values. steve: i don't want to share
them, because it's not important to the dialogue. the dialogue is about what the numbers say. charlie: can't you make a judgment about values? steve: let me pick one that you think everyone can agree on. let me pick it. bridge quality is improved dramatically since 1980. dramatically. transportation, investment in transportation infrastructure is up. somebody might say, that is a great correlation. somebody might say, and we have not had that many bridge accidents. traffic fatalities are down. bridges are -- there's not a lot of bridge collapse fatalities. somebody might look at that and say, let that continue to go. it is going well. some mother with her baby in the backseat might say, i cannot stand the fact that 90% of the bridges in the country are structurally deficient. -- 9% of the bridges in the
country are structurally deficient. i can't take that, that is way too hard for me because i value my baby. is that a good set of statistics or bad? people have to decide. take the economy. we have a chart in the annual report. and dials ae knobs report. we have 10 things that can stimulate the economy, and at the bottom, outcomes. we do this over time because government stimulation can drive things up and then you will see a phase down or decline. you can look at that chart, and some people will say that government action has a huge impact on the economy. some will say it seems to be uncorrelated. we have had people look at this table and say both. by me are nots that important. i'm not a politician, i'm not running for office, i never will. i'm just a guy with numbers trying to make sense of the world. charlie: do the numbers tell you the government needs to do a better job, needs to do more, and the needs to be a better divide between public and private contributions in a philanthropic way?
steve: we are focused very narrowly on philanthropic work. we are not medical research people, not hospital construction people. , soo give to our alma mater i put that in a separate category. long live the university of oregon, long-lived harvard. great institutions we support. but when you support money that goes to disadvantaged kids and , many, if not most of the not-for-profit we work with, 50% budget, 83% of their which is still insufficient, but it comes from government contracts. so is it important a? percentage -- so is it important? sur.e. there is a whole contracting industry out there funded by the
government to provide social services. is that money well spent? on the philanthropic side, we are focused on that. most government dollars are not spent, at least in the service sector, with a pay for performance mentality. it is not whether those kids are getting good outcomes from the system. you pay based on the number of people who go to jail, not the number of people who stay out of jail. that deal specifically, with our interest, the one that i am willing to talk to publicly, i think that money can be better spent. when i talk about balancing the budget, everyone here is an expert. i would just give you the numbers to make your case. charlie: where is the human element in this? steve: the two biggest things that we did, human element, was trying to decide how the
-- how to explain what government does. the problem with government databases is everyone has a different taxonomy about what the government does. what are the government actions? then you got all these databases, and you think government does millions of things. in a way, it does. but in a way, it can be simplified. that is part of the human element, the decisions we made. they are human decisions we made, not numerical decisions. which parts of the population should we really study in terms of how government impacts? we pick the family types, the income levels, race and ethnicity is more obvious. we decided we would look at 65 plus. decisionse some human before we got up to bat to present information and then we present it in a certain context.
we decided what is material and what is not material. someone asked me, can you tell me what is spent on the national park system? i wasn't sure we had it, so i went to the search bar, national park system. guess what? we don't have it. but we do have national forests, etc. charlie: where will this be in five years? steve: the most important thing, i would hope, is we have the same missions and submissions. so, we have consistency in presentation, and much more data. but we continue to have a simplified way to present it, but with tools that let you dig in and find what you want. what is reading proficiency for fourth graders in mississippi versus california? you want to correlate that with education spent in, let's say
l.a., since we have a basketball team -- charlie: the lakers, i think. steve: i'm leaving. [laughter] we are done now. that was a really cheap shot, charlie. [laughter] now you really got me off chart. anyway -- charlie: where to go in five years is the last question. what are things you have to have to accelerate growth? for example, connection to a search engine, for example. steve: that is certainly one. connection to search engines. literally you can go to bing, my favorite search engine, or google, and pose as many questions as you can. how many arrests were made for murder in a certain year? you like those to come back as answers if we can get hooked up. we have a lot of work we need to do. i think the most important thing we will do between now and then
is to bring the data alive. wouldn't it be great to have a debate once a week, or once every two weeks on youtube or facebook live, where you had somebody from the left and somebody from the right debating , but anchored, you have to look at the same data, being vouched for the integrity? people cannot get away with saying things that are not agitators --med in adjectives not supported by numbers. charlie: let's talk about the clippers. is the joy of owning a basketball team, an nba franchise, everything you thought it would be? areuse you, at the games, how do i say this, a crazy man. ,[laughter] steve: it is everything i hoped for and more. it is so cool. i'm sitting here at the table with glenn hutchins, who i've
known since i was in college, owner of the boston celtics. we just made a deal with the celtics and the clippers in the finals. glenn would agree with me, losing is not fun. losing in our first playoff game, that was not fun. if you want to have the fun, you have to take a little pain along with it. charlie: when you and the board at microsoft decided you had different visions for the company and it was time for you to leave, how was that for you? you have been at this company, you built this company, you had remarkable success and became amazingly rich. you will still be amazingly rich, but you were not doing day-to-day what you had been doing all of your adult life. what do you go through? tove: my life plan had been work and then have a second phase of life. i always wanted a second phase that i would get before i was too old to enjoy it.
my plan has probably been to work another couple years. steve: you were in your 50's when you did this. steve: and i plan to do that until my youngest son went to college. three years longer. what are the end of the day, i made a decision that if we couldn't agree on strategy, it made sense for me to go. it was fine. tumultuous. tumultuous when you stop doing something you've done for 43 years. what really happened to us is i had a sort of principle. i was going to work hard until the last day. the last day, and i had not planned anything for the future. what the heck am i going to do? thankfully my wife challenge me, i got involved in philanthropy. this usafacts thing got in line, and the clippers were forced to
be sold. i had already looked at three teams to buy. it was like this sign from heaven that the clippers were being sold. i would say it was quick. i probably had a tough year. charlie: microsoft, it is done, many say, really well. stock prices have gone up, benefiting you, the largest stockholder. why they have been so successful since you left? [laughter] steve: let me give three comments on that. number one, i think they're doing a great job. charlie: approve of your successor? steve: i do. i think they are making the right strategic moves. they have to make more, better and faster, but they are doing a good job. charlie: meaning they are not doing as much and they are not as fast? steve: right. i would have said that when i ran a place.
more, better, faster. i think they are doing a good job. charlie: what keeps them from being more, better, faster? steve: there is so much to do in any tech business. you just have to keep pushing yourself relentlessly. i'm not being critical in the slightest, but i do know the industry moves quickly and you better move quickly with it. note -- that is number one. number two, i think they have done a great job reestablishing the image of the company. how much has changed perceptually, i can't comment. one thing i did tell the board was my successor will have a better opportunity to change the company, including its stock price than i would. , i think my successor had an advantage. charlie: so, he had a fresh look? steve: yes, and i think he has done a great job with that. it's a little different, but how you are perceived as often
important to how well you do. number three, the hot products they are promoting today. we all start with my watch. i feel pretty good about that. number four, i want to see more profit growth here at profit hasn't grown much since i left. i know in the tech world today not marking -- making money is cool and you get high market caps, but i am a big believer in profit growth. charlie: is that the proudest thing that you did, in terms of your tenure, how you got a huge lift in profits? think i would say yes, but i would also say we started xbox, we started bing, surface, and office 365 all on my watch. very proud of that. the team in place today is largely the team we had went i left. my successor found those folks all worthy of staying in their jobs. he is a guy that i identify with
a high potential star. those people, the team, i have great pride. the products, i have great pride. charlie: greatest regret? remains iatest regret think the company should have gotten into hardware sooner. that is my mistake. charlie: why did you? well apparently, bill disagreed. steve: apparently. the company is still doing hardware. say ourit's fair to biggest miss was our position in the phone business. it is very hard to have a business case for doing phones just with the royalties. google does it by forcing their force engine into the game. apple does it with the growth margin. our model, trying to reproduce the windows model in phones was flawed. i pursued it for a long time but it was fundamentally a flawed model. charlie: you cannot put windows
into phones? steve: you could put a derivation of windows into phones, you just cutting get paid for it. the question for a lot of these things is not what the product should be, it is how do you monetize the technology you build? apple and google had a monetization approach, hardware and search. we never had a monetization approach which means we did not invest in the right way. we cannot get our product bootstrapped at high volume. i would approach it differently if i could again. but i can't. charlie: yahoo! you are prepared to pay big dollars. steve: i would look like a genius if we had actually bought it. if you look at what i was willing to papers is the value, touchdown. charlie: mainly because of the investment of alibaba. steve: absolutely. that would look like a perfect investment. charlie: somewhere around $40 billion? steve: around there.
$33 a share, whatever that meant back then. you put the two things together and there would have been a lot of synergy and speed to market that took a lot more time. the cost benefits did not accrue as much for microsoft. with 10 years of hindsight, when we first proposed acquisition, it wouldn't have looked good five years ago, but with 10 years having passed, i think that would have looked like a great acquisition. charlie: when you look at the future, cloud has been a huge part of microsoft's success today. where do you see the future going? what are we going to be talking about? steve:steve: it's fair to say that i've went to and a half to three years working on usafacts because data was not accessible. in a sense, what you would like to do is have technology that
you express your interest in a topic, and the artificial intelligence, if you will, that lives in the cloud, is smart enough to say, i'm not just going to bring back one data element the way that search does, i will bring back a picture of what is going on in this area. i'm going to understand intent. i'm going to work off intent. whether that is preparing me for my visit to the economic club, looking up the bios of every person at the head table because they're all in my agenda, if it understood my intent. i'm interested in government spending, it doesn't take me to some random website where i might find what i'm looking for. it actually brings back to me a picture of government spending. so, the notion of technology, intent,, understanding and being able to harness data and serve intent however that , comes about, there will be magic words, artificial intelligence, probably changing
two or three more times, but that's where i think there's a lot of opportunity. virtual reality, augmented reality, in a way, they are part of intent. i have on my little augmented reality glasses, and i look at you, and it gives me your bio because it recognizes who you are. when i am 85, i may not recognize who you are, but at least there is a laser shining into my eye, and the laser will work better than my eyes work because it can tune in automatically to my vision. anyway, this notion of technology that recognizes intent and serve you based on that is important. what elone look at musk is doing in driverless cars, and apple making a big push into driverless cars, we assume. is that something that microsoft would have been interested in? steve: you would have to ask current management. charlie: i ask might have been interested in? a lot of it is driven by software. steve: yes.
i would say it is interesting, but a little bit like the phone. you have to pick the right though to market approach. if all of your writing is in software is in the back and that gets embedded in cars, there might not be a lot of money in there. you might spend a lot of time trying to convince automakers. you might get there slowly. but it might be the right approach, or the right approach may be to build a car, which is what tesla has done. it sounds like what apple might do, google might approach it differently. there are two reasons to get the business model right. one is to get paid. two, to get the product to market quickly. if you build a bunch of software and then you are begging gm, ford, and bmw and you can't get to market quickly, the guy who builds their own car might get ahead of you. on the other hand, tesla doesn't build many cars in the grand scheme of things. maybe that's not the best way to get there. charlie: they do have a hell of a market cap.
let me talk about core competence. core competence steve jobs, what , was it? steve: i think he had a unique ability to put together familiarity with technology as well as an understanding of what made sense to consumers and conceptualizing products. i think that was a talent. in my world, anybody who can do one magic thing in business is great. do a singles don't trick. you talk about a single trick pony, most businesses are zero trick ponies. successful businesses are at least a single trick pony. almost nobody does more than steve jobs did more than one one. trick. he did apple 2, mac i, and the series, iphone, ipad, etc. that's amazing. i think microsoft did two tricks.
that was certainly a skill of that's why i think part of microsoft is amazing. that was certainly a skill of steve jobs. charlie: jeff bezos? steve: jeff bezos is a guy bet for the long-term. he has pushed position into multiple areas. i marvel at the market cap they have and i wonder about their long-term profit streams. i think what they are focused on is commoditizing a lot of industries, taking the profit down, and having them benefit from their huge scale. yet, they have not proven the benefits, at least in terms of profitability and having that scale. charlie: bill gates? steve: bill gates, super energetic businessman able to comprehend and really see the market opportunity. himself, a decent profit
-- product conceptualizing for sir -- for sure, great at mobilizing technical talent. charlie: i think it was steve jobs to say that bill was more rockefeller than einstein. steve: i think that was a backhanded compliment. i think that is way overstated. was bill a better businessman than steve jobs? probably. did steve jobs spend more time on product creation? probably. are they both amazing people who did amazing things? yes. i'm not sure it's really important to debate who is rockefeller and who is einstein. if people said i was close to either of them, i would feel good. [laughter] charlie: exactly. [applause] charlie: all right, one last name. steve ballmer, core competency, reliance on data. we know that. steve: i think my core
competency has to do that i can really form a simplified picture of a complicated product. -- topic. is the usafacts core competency, but also core competency when i was with microsoft and part of the reason that microsoft makes as much money as it does, the ability to see opportunities through numbers. the other thing that is a core capability for me is drinking teams together, pointing them in a direction, and getting them fired up. i think i'm good at that, i have a lot of energy, enthusiasm. in order to be good at that, you have to be good at simplifying things. i think i have an ability to simplify. we will only have four goals, let's go. of course, if you are pointing people the wrong direction, that's very bad. charismatic leaders lead you over cliffs, you are better off not being a charismatic leader.
charlie: philip gorski is here. he's a professor of sociology and religious studies at yale. his new book is called "american covenant." and david brooks david brooks calls it essential reading. this is the story some say of a struggle between two traditions. philip: it is a struggle between three rival traditions thinking about the meaning of the american project. charlie: what do you mean by the american project? guest: what do i mean? that is exactly what is at issue. and so, three different visions. one that sees the united states as a christian nation, another that sees it as a secular democracy, and the third, the one i'm defending, which sees it
as a combination of sacred and secular values. charlie: as you have pointed out, this is not a third way? this is different than the conversation that took place at the time in britain with the coming of tony blair and somewhat in terms of the political direction that bill clinton took in america? philip: i don't think it is a third way. i think it has been the central way all along which the american project has proceeded for much of our history. i don't think there is a mushy middle, an averaging out of two different positions, but it has its own logic and coherence. charlie: tell me about religious nationalism. philip: religious nationalism is the idea that to be a full citizen of a particular nation, you have to belong to a certain religion. in the case of the united states, that typically has meant christian nationalism, though
some accommodations have been made for other faiths. most religious nationalisms, including american religious nationalism, tend to think about history as a cosmic struggle between forces of good and evil, and they place the nation on the side of the good, and its opponents, internal and external, on the side of evil. in other words, they think the line between good and evil runs between people and groups rather than running through them. charlie: how much do they take that from their own religion? philip: it is interesting. i think these are features you find in religious nationalism throughout the world and in very different traditions, but when you are thinking about christian nationalism, it developed within the united states.
i think the key sources have been two. one is apocalypticism, believe in the end of the world and a very literal interpretation of how that is going to happen, a literal interpretation of the book of revelation in particular, but it also draws on the jewish scriptures. in particular, on the idea of a conquest of canaan, that the nation has to struggle against its enemy, that blood has to be shed, has to be sacrificed to an angry god. charlie: but that is not all of christianity? philip: absolutely not. i think that is the dark side of christianity. charlie: so you think religious nationalism is the dark side of christianity? philip: i do. one of the things i'm trying to get across in this book is to help secular people understand that religion does not poison everything the way christopher , in the waye said secularism purifies everything. there is darkness and light in both secularism and in religion. charlie: when you talk about secularism, and secular
democracy, what are we talking about? philip: i think there is a kind of secularism which is perfectly reasonable, which almost all americans accept, that we characterize with the phrase "separation of church and state." i think we recognize that too much mixing of church and state is not good for the state and it is not good for the church either, and we for the most part, we respect that. what i mean is a much more combative position than that, a little bit like what i described, the idea that religion poisons everything and secularism cleanses everything. what you have to do is create this hermetically sealed barrier around our life and you cannot let any religious symbols, and any religious talk, any religious values, into them
without polluting the public square. charlie: you don't believe that? philip: i do not believe that. i think that leaves behind much of the best of our traditions. charlie: what makes america? isn't this that we are talking about? philip: there is a good kind of american exceptionalism and a bad kind of american exceptionalism. the bad kind is the united states is completely unique and above all other nations, without sin, without blemish. the problem with this kind of exceptionalism is it refuses to face up to the mistakes, the transgressions, the bad things that are part of our past. there is another kind of american exceptionalism, though it is not usually called that, which i am completely happy to affirm and i think many americans affirm, and that is the idea that this is a unique experiment in democracy, an attempt to make a nation of nations and the people of peoples. this is something many political philosophers thought would be impossible, that you could only
have a republican form of self-government if you have a homogenous population. charlie: is this because of the genius of the founders? they were come yes geniuses, but imperfect geniuses? philip: absolutely. i'm happy to agree with you on that point. they were imperfect geniuses for sure. charlie: they had a sure sense of the purpose of the nation that they wanted to establish? philip: i think that they did. i think can find the way they thought about the nation, something like this tradition that i'm talking about here. i think one of the most interesting discoveries i made in writing and researching the book was the importance of the idea of a hebrew republic. this is the idea that monarchy actually was not given to the israelites as a gift, but given to them as a curse. why given to them as a curse?
because it introduces idolatry. it is the government that benefits a corrupt people and not virtuous people. and the founders thought that republican self-government was the kind of government that suited a virtuous people, though they knew that virtue was fragile. benjamin franklin's famous remark leaving the "whattutional convention, kind of government do we have? a republic, if we keep it." charlie: it is hard to step forward because of the way it is, the nature and nastiness of what goes on, and secondly, because it is such an invasion of self? philip: i think that has dissuaded a lot of people from going into national politics. i think the hopeful signs i see are re-engagement of folks on the local level. i see actually quite a bit of that. you know, i have never seen as much local activism in my
lifetime as i have seen in recent months. and that to me is a very hopeful sign. charlie: i will tell you another hopeful sign according to what i have been told. millennials have a higher sense of service, a higher sense of wanting to be engaged in some public way than the generation before them. you would know that because you are on a university campus. philip: yeah, that is my experience, too. it is in an ironic way that the financial crisis of 2008 and economic fallout of it has made some of them really reassess and think about whether, you know, making a career and making money are really the only or most important things to be pursued in life. many of them for this reason are determined to do
and used their filmmaking skills to document world war ii for the american public. five came back is the new docu-series. the series is adapted from mark harris's 2014 book of the same name. spielberg, paul green grass and other directors offer commentary on the five iconic directors and the impact their war documentaries had on hollywood and america at large. entertainment weekly calls it a fascinating, thorough history lesson. here is the trailer. >> follow me, cried hibbler. i will make you masters of the world. >> a lot of people laughed. he was a clown. it was a comedy. >> america stands at the crossroads of its destiny. ♪ >> in the early years of hitler's rise, moviegoing had
become an essential part of american culture, but americans did not realize the extent of the threat that ller posed. >> it could be put in the service of propaganda. >> americans realize we can win the war. >> western civilization is at stake and we are going to fight until we win. >> five filmmakers wanted to respond as so many millions of men and women responded. they chose to serve. ♪ >> these documentaries were powerful for american audiences. >> the and of the task was worth it. >> we had an enormous story to tell. >> the greatest heroes, the thetest lens on the world stage. >> this was real filmmaking. >> this is the people's war. it is our war. >> these five men were saying goodbye to families who never knew if they would return.
♪ >> and yet, coming out of it, each one made their greatest film. >> i believe a film should have something to say. >> i think it should make people long after they have left the theater. ♪ >> >> nothing could prepare anyone for the intensity of the conflict. >> these filmmakers change the world. i am pleased to have the author of "five came back," atk harris and the director
the table. thank you. where did the idea come to make this into that? mark: when i was working on the book, i became interested in this era and in these world war ii movies. when the book came out, i was surprised at the number of early readers who said to me that it was fascinating to read about these documentaries, too bad most of them are lost, and i would say the documentaries are not lost. they all still exist. they are property of the u.s. government. so i thought this is a real opportunity for us as well as i could try to describe these films in a book, there is nothing like being able to show them to people, so that was the germ of the idea to make it a documentary. charlie: and then the idea was to take five directors and explain each director? mark: yes, that was our directors big innovation. >> we are trying to figure out a very innovative way to tell the story, and it was steven spielberg who said to me, you know, "let us try to think of a very interesting way of telling those stories and, you know, who better than directors to talk about directors?"
so then came the search for five directors to speak for the five guys, and it was great. we had a very short list. everybody sort of organically was available. it worked out. charlie: what were they charged with? >> they were charged with being interviewed in the same way you are interviewing me right now, but they had to come in with a lot of knowledge. they had already the book, even before we approached them, you know. and they also did a lot of research. mark wrote scripts for each of the episodes and i would highlight exactly if steven spielberg came in to talk about william wyler or the things pertaining to william weiler, so they were prepared, but they were so familiar with the movies, so familiar with their lives. some of them, steven spielberg new william weiler, so they came in with their new knowledge and
appreciation. charlie: your challenge was to connect them all? laurent: yes. it was really well done in the book and it was not only to connect them, but to make sure that on one hand, you know, we had this epic story of world war ii, and on the other side, we had those five very specific stories, very personal, so it was sort of the back and forth, the balance between the personal and emotional and the world stage. charlie: and that changed their lives? laurent: changed their lives. charlie: this began as a way to honor your father? mark: it did. my father was a world war ii veteran. it was a way to honor him , and also a way to apologize to him posthumously. he died when i was young. when i was growing up, i did not listen to his war stories very much. it was scary to me the idea that someone would leave his family and go overseas to, you know, fight for his life and his
country. and of course as i got older and more interested in war history, i regretted not pay more attention to him, so for my father and for my three uncles, who were all world war ii veterans, this is my way of trying to reopen that conversation. charlie: how did you choose which director for which director? laurent: well, that's a great question. you know, we had a lot of thoughts. one thing we did not want to do is try to think "who is the modern version of william weiler?" it was like trying to find directors who had sensibilities or traits that were comparable to those of the five original directors from the past. so steven spielberg, who i had no for many years, i was always impressed with his humanity, how kind he was, and also, you know, his fascination with his own
roots, being jewish, and we felt that william wyler was very similar in spirit and steven spielberg talks about meeting wyler and being a young director meeting a legendary director and saying "i was so impressed with wyler and how kind he was, and that was my experience," frankly, and i thought, perfect casting. francis coppola, i remember being a teenager living in france. and apocalypse now came out, which was a huge event in france. coppola had done a press conference of the content cons film festival and had said that making the film was like a war, and he was so passionate about it, and it was combat, filmmaking, and there were famous pictures of him holding a gun to his head. and i'm like, you know, this echoes john huston in many ways. and the sort of fiery personality. paul greengrass comes from the documentary world and he identified with john ford. in a way that was very personal and could relate to his own
journey. human de guillermo del toro is known for fantasy and horror films, but he is an immigrant, just like frank capra, and his films are extremely emotional, and so he really connected with capra. lastly, lawrence kasdan is very famous for being a screenwriter and coming up with the most iconic movie lines whether it be "raiders of the lost ark, or "empire strikes back," so it was important we had a director who was also very famous for his screenplays, and therefore, we enrolled him to speak about george stevens. he had a great affinity with stevens, so that is how we got our five guys. charlie: when frank capra saw triumph of the will, how did that affect him?
mark: he came to new york where when he wasprint trying to figure out how to make the series of movies that became "why we fight." capra was in a tough place because the government wanted to have him make these new training films for soldiers, but they did not give him writers, they did not give him a staff, they barely gave him a budget. he comes to new york and sees "triumph of the will," and his first reaction is, we are going to lose. we are going to lose the war. and then, he thought, "i can use this movie and kill two birds with one stone. first of all, we can turn their own propaganda against them by showing our incoming soldiers, how the enemy thinks, and second of all, we have all this seized propaganda footage from germany, from japan, from italy. i do not have the money to shoot these movies, but i can certainly compile a movie from existing footage and get the message across that way." charlie: the movies were in part
propaganda. mark: yes, they were. they were. i mean, that was part of the task that the government gave these five filmmakers, to sell the war, not only to the american public, but to soldiers who were 18 or 19 years old and who were coming in and really did not know the reason we were in the war in the first place. charlie: to give them a reason as to why we were fighting. mark: not just to give them a reason, but to excite them and inflame their patriotism. and capra was very good at doing that. charlie: did any of them have resistance to that at all? mark: you know, i think they all wanted to serve their country. capra had the most directly propagandaistic assignment. for the other four, they thought what they were going to do was travel the world to wherever the battle fronts were and document the war, bring the truth of the war home to the public. sometimes their
impulse as filmmakers is to tell a great story, and their impulse as patriots to, you know, to sell the war and make a case for theyide, as artist, clashed with each other, and sometimes, one thing led to another. charlie: you look at the five you made these films. is there one you admire more than the others? laurent: i have a real fondness for william wyler. my dad took me to see "ben hur" as a re-release when i was a kid in france on the big screen. it was just my dad and i. discovering that movie was like discovering a whole new vocabulary of images, and it touched me tremendously and got me really interested in cinema. so wyler. but all of them made gigantic contributions and i studied all of them. and through this documentary, i think i have an even bigger appreciation for them. charlie: thank you for coming.
♪ alisa: i am alisa parenti and you are watching "bloomberg technology c." president trump says the u.s. has tremendous potential it has not lived up to. he spoke about reforms today during a meeting with ambassadors and members of the un's security council. he also told ambassadors scattered at the meeting that the time to deal with a potentially armed north korea is now. it is one of the largest sanction actions and u.s. history. treasury secretary steven mnuchin announced sanctions today on syria at the daily white house briefing.