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tv   Amanpour Company  PBS  September 18, 2018 12:00am-1:01am PDT

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hello, everyone. welcome to "amanpour & co." here's what's coming up. woodward and bernstein, the legendary duo held one president to account. now 40 years after watergate, they're turning their investigative skills to president trump. is history repeating itself? bob woodward and carl bernstein join me live. also today, an actress for our time, publishes a novel for our time. sarah jessica parker presents a place for us the debut of writer fat me a farheen mirza.
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it all happened on this man's watch. our walter isaacson talks to alex stamos. >> uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour & co." and those dreams were on the water. a river, specifically. multiple rivers that would one day be home for uniworld river cruises and they're floekt through peak hotels. today that dream set sail in asia, egypt, and more. bookings able through your tafl agent. for more information, visit additional support has been provided by rosalyn p. walter. bernard and irene schwartz. sue and edgar walken heim iii. the sheryl and phillips mill seen the family.
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and by contributions to your pbs stations from viewers like you. thank you. welcome to the program. i'm christiane amanpour in new york. will president trump's supreme court nominee brett kavanaugh by confirmed now that christine ford has gone public accusing a drunken 17-year-old kavanaugh of assaulting her at a high school party more than 30 years ago? kavanaugh denies the allegation and says he'll testify again on capitol hill. the white house also says his accuser should be heard. so would it derail? in his new book "fear: trump in the white house" legendary journalist bob woodward provides an intimate inside portrait and says even the chief of staff says this presidency has gone off the rails. meanwhile, carl bernstein, once's bob woodward's watergate
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partner is racking up scoop after scoop of his own about the trump administration. internist following the money among many other issues in his groundbreaking reporting. and they are now still icons after all these years, bob woodward and carl bernstein join me for their first joint interview around this issue. in fact, the first joint interview as far as i can gather for more than a year. gentlemen, thank you so much for joining me. can i ask you both, let me ask you, bob, because you're in washington. do you think that this 11th hour revelation by christine ford alleging what she has about brett kavanaugh will affect the confirmation hearing? >> i certainly don't know, have done no original reporting on it. it's obvious that they've got to try to get to the bottom of it. that may be difficult and more time consuming than lots of people would hope. >> carl, just thinking about how
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all these hearings unfolded 40 years ago, all the watergate matters, and seeing this happen right now, what do you think about its potential? or is it just going to be done and confirmation will go ahead? >> i think one of the great things about being a reporter is that we don't have a crystal ball. so there really is not enough information for us to look ahead. we're very much in the present reporting the story as it's going on including the dynamic of the white house, and the possibility of extended hearings, but we don't know what's going to happen and i wouldn't hazard a guess. >> bob, let's get to your book, "fear: trump in the white house," as we said. the crystal ball, you actually gaze very, very deeply into this white house. you talked to a lot of people. everybody knows the parameters of your reporting. why did you call it "fear"? >> because in an interview a
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couple of years ago we asked trump what is real power, and he literally said real power is, i don't even know like to use the word, fear. so that's his -- it was done in a way -- it was almost a shakespeareian side, hamlet turning to the audience saying this is what's driving me, this is what it's about. and if you look at his presidency, i think there is -- that is one of the motifs. he's trying to scare people and not only has he scared people abroad and in the country, he's scared a lot of people who work most closely with him. >> i guess everybody has been, you know, sort of their hair standing on end over the revelations in your book, and caller himself has been doing a
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huge amount of reporting as well. and you both have been talking a lot around this book as it's been unfolding. what do you think, bob, is the most significant revelations? national security, t t t projection of power, the alliances and how america remains a stead fast alley and an an adversary? >> it's something carl focused on a year ago about trump, and that is the line, things that are just not true. and trump has a view of the world that somehow he can come in as the disrupter and that the framework that was handed to him 70 years of work by democratic
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and republican presidents to keep the peace quite female and use trade agreements, security agreements like nato, and top secret intelligence partnerships to protect the united states, and there are scenes in the book where he just will not have any of it and has this very difficult catastrophic view quite frankly that the issue is money. oh, my god, we are protecting european countries, we're protecting south korea and we're losing money. and he literally says in one meeting we are being played for suckers. we would be so rich if we were smart. well, the generals, the people who know this tell him very much upfront, look, these are bargains. if we had to pay ten times the
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money to keep troops in south korea, or in nato, or the forward deployment the united states has around the world, that would be exactly what we would do. he doesn't get it. >> carl, in the introduction i said that you among other things concentrated on following the money. in a different way, where is it leading you? >> i think what bob has accomplished -- let me focus on that and then i'll tell you where it leads me. what bob has accomplished is many of us have had little pieces of this through the past year and a half and a few big pieces. what he has done is assemble a coherent picture of the dysfunction of the ignorance as attested to and characterized by those closest to him, but also a
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real level of incompetence. what we get is a book that now shows very clearly those closest to the president of the united states saying the president himself is a danger to the national security of the united states. and what i've done is pieces of that. we have looked at the money aspects of it. there's a lot more to be learned about donald trump's relationships with oligarchs, what he has done in russia in terms of most of his income as far as we know, and as one of his sons has told us, most of these his income has come from russian enterprises having to do with oligarchs and we have to do more of that and perhaps the mueller investigation will tell us. but following the money and the lies is the key to understanding what this presidency is about.
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and bob has done it and added up from those closest to him to the president a really dramatic narrative that shows us in realtime what has been happening. >> and the vacuum here, if i may say, and i think carl would agree, we never got -- or trump never released his tax returns. you talk to people about following the money. those tax returns are a trail to understanding not just how he made money, how he lost money, what these bankruptcies were about, but who he is. it's a shame and i would be quite frank here. i fault myself for not being more aggressive in trying to get those tax returns. it would be such a window into
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all kinds of things, not a perfect window, but it would be something that would tell journalists and book authors and the public who this man is. >> but both of you, woodward and bernstein, this is obviously the most leaky white house in recent memory. everything seems to pour out one way or another. do you think that these tax returns could leak out? i mean, they exist. the federal government has them, doesn't it. >> yeah, it's hard. >> one is going to presume that mueller is going to use them in some way that we might learn about them. >> that's not for sure. you say it's a leaky white house, yes, it's a leaky white house, but it is reince priebus, as he called it, it's a team of
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predators, not rivals, and they are chaos creators. and what we have to do is find a method, and i go back to the method carl and i used in watergate, which, frankly, i learned from carl. go to people's homes at night. it's futile to try to see them in the office, certainly to see people in the white house you have to go knock on doors, you're going to get some noes and slammed doors, but you will find people who are willing to be truth tellers, and you can build a long-term relationship with. it's difficult, it takes time, but that's where we've i think gotten out of the habit and i find myself not only did i get out of the habit, but i was
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getting too lazy. there's a time in reporting on this 11:00 at night where i called somebody and said how about now? and he said, now? it's ridiculous. 11:00 at night? go to bed. and i said, well, i'm just a few minutes away. he said, okay, come on. and that opened the door and the reality and it's vividly demonstrated in our book "all the president's men" and in the movie, carl going to the bookkeeper in the nixon re-election committee. and that's wt really began the unraveling for us, understanding of what next to w-- nixon was u to. >> president trump and the white house and many of the protagonists have denied what you have written. many have said no, i didn't say
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that and the president put out tweets the woodward book is a joke, just another barrage of insults. so that leads us to the very real question that so many have had and it has raised the issue of anonymous sources to almost an everest-like level in the stratosphere of what we all do. i want to play just for posterity, the appearance by both of you much younger men, 40 years ago, 1976, on "meet the press" about this very issue of anonymous sources and the opening question is from jack nelson, i believe, of the "l.a. times." let's take a listen. >> i think what disturbs a lot of journalists about the book is the methodology used. both of you say the book is journalism, and yet you've written it from an omniscient viewpoint. that is, you get into the minds of people, you said you made no
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judgments, but, in fact, you made hundreds of judgments in the book about how people feel about how they think, about whether they're sad or happy. and you do all this from an omniscient standpoint. and what i wonder is is this the full flowering of the new journalism, and do you think this is healthy for journalism? journalism already has a problem of credibility with the public and the public ceasees this as journalism, i wonder if it's health? >> it's not new journalism, it's not psycho history. it's very simply reporting, the most basic empirical type of reporting you and i do every day. in fact, the real similarity is to be seen in your own stories and this particular piece of work. we do use anonymous sources just as you do in your stories daily about washington. the difference is in this book we don't use the phrase "according to informed sources"
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after every second or third paragraph. >> we use quotations sparingly in the book, as you know from reading it. you say we get into people's minds and we read people's minds. we do nothing of the kind. just to take an example, the line in the book that one of nixon's chief watergate lawyers thought that president nixon was one of the most transparent liars he had ever seen. the basis of that is all sorts of people in the white house who heard him say that time and time again. it's simple, basic reporting. >> guys, you haven't changed a bit. what can i say, 40 years ago. but look, this is a real issue. >> let me interrupt you, christiane. >> a lot of people have asked me -- >> bob's new book ends with the
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president of the united states today, donald trump, being called by his lawyer as in the nixon book, an effing liar, the same thing 42 years later, the same methodology and the same conclusion by the president's lawyer about his client. >> bob, having said that, a lot of people keep raising the issue of anonymous and are worried about the credibility of anonymous, particularly the anonymous "new york times" op-ed writer. >> this has got nothing to do with the "new york times" op-ed writer who's not named and they're not specific incidents. in my book i had the luxury of time. if you look at it, it says 2:00 p.m. tuesday on july 15th, the following happened and you will see a meeting and a discussion of very substantive issues.
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the sources of that are known to me. happily i was able to get notes, files, diaries, actual documents, and some of them are reprinted in the book, and they are quoted extensively. think about the alternative. you go over to the white house and you talk to kellyanne conway, say, and say what's going on? and you turn on your tape recorder and say this is on the record. what level of truth do you think you're going to get? it's a press release. we do not want to give the public press releases. and so the avenue in is -- and carl and i lived in this environment together in the nixon case for two years. you cross-check, you double check, you try to find people, and you can find people of con
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sense and courage. let's not fool the public that it's going to be pure and true if it's on the record. >> it's important to go back to get it from the horse's mouth and the journalism you've been doing for the last 40 years. but i do want to ask you both, maybe carl can sort of describe a little bit of what you bring up in the book. these are not exactly profiles in courage. in a way some thought your book is all about sort of conquerers of the truth. but you have an incredible story in the book chunk is going to reveal what somebody's saying about trump, but it's actually what's saying about john kelly, his chief of staff about his attention span, about what he's interested in, about how to
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present him with substance. so the question is, what face do you put in the people around the president? >> well, there are all kinds of people at all kinds of levels. as we're trying to say, it's about reporting, and you can do it. let's not kid ourselves. in the white house, in the trump white house, there is a level of anxiety that people have that, my god, the impulse is going to drive the president to do one thing or another like imposing steel tariffs. 99.9% of the economists say this is foolish. this is not going to help the american economy, and the president even keeps it secret from his top economic adviser in the white house, and his chief of staff general kelly at the
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time. >> carl, i wonder whether you think one of the unintended consequences of these kinds of stories is something might happen to one of the gate keepers. for instance, many people believe the general, now defense secretary james mattis is a man of great experience, great integrity, and knows the military back to front and the global situation. now we read in the newspaper that his position may be in peril. do you worry the kinds of stories bob has written, the kinds of reporting he's done, the kinds of stuff you all do, might have consequences that cause some really true blue officials to pay with their jobs? >> no, because the truth is the best thing we can have in terms of government, secret government as bob has said is the enemy. and what we need to know is more and more of the truth.
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we need to know more about the trump presidency, not less, and not sit on it. let me say a word bob can't say because he can be modest about his body of work. we know more about the american presidency going back to the nixon books that we did together, but then through subsequent presidents, we know more about the presidency and the real record of what happened during eight presidencies than we would have known at all had it not been for bob woodward's books. but the whole idea that the president of the united states has declared a war on truth, which is really what we're talking about here, and called the press the enemy of the people, the press being the only reason that we really know about what's been going on in this presidency and particularly the way bob has put this book together, this is where we are today.
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we have a war on truth and happily we still have a free press that is doing its job and doing it well. >> so many, many people would agree with you. it does seem to be, you know, the latest iteration of this adversarial role to an nth degree. but bob, you kind of criticize the press at large over the trump coverage. and you've said i just think too many people have lost their perspective and become emotionally unhinged about trump. i can understand that. but that's not the way the media should respond. the media should respond with what really happened. you know, what do you mean by that? >> i think it's very clear. sometimes people get in a mode, particularly on television, of self-satisfaction, a kind of smugness about it all. as carl has said, you look at the trump white house and what's going on.
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we need to have a wake-up call about it. and there should be no joy or comfort that people feel whether in the press or citizens. as i describe it, this is a full-fledged nervous breakdown. if you know anything about nervous breakdowns, they're tough on the individual in an institution, let alone a white house, a whole administration. as i quote people in the book, we're teetering around on the edge. there is no doubt about this. you can see it when people who defend the president, fine, let him have their say. and they come out and they give this portrait of the president himself has the well-oiled machine. well, that's just not so. it is provably not so.
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>> well, it is really remarkable reporting, and we are so grateful for it. and we are grateful to see you two back together again on this program. thank you so much, bob woodward and carl bernstein. >> thank you. the watergate reporting of both of these gentlemen defined an era. and in a very different way now, my next guest, sarah jessica parker also captured the zeitgeist of a different era, the turn of the century. it was with a runaway tv hit "sex and the city." she is known for her shoes, and acting chops, but who know she's an avid reader, she's also a brand-new publisher launched sjp in partnership with penguin random house. its first title, "a place for us" by fatima farheen mirza landed straight on "the new york times" best seller list. mirza takes us inside a
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muslim-american family as they struggle against expectancies of culture, had only, religious and marriage in post-9/11 america. a police for "a police for us" our times. sarah jessica parker and fatima farheen mirza joined me in new york for our own private book club meeting. >> fatima, you started to write this when you were 17 or 18? >> 18. >> you're now 27. so it took nearly a decade, not quite. when you start to write it, it proceeded the current hyperpartisan feeling about foreigners, about immigrants, about refugees and all the rest of it what was it that made you want to write this book? >> it's funny you bring up that because that's something i'm revealed about that i began it before all of this, which allowed me to approach this family. my goal when approaching them
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was i knew the labels the world might assign on them, and tiffany preconceived igneous people might have about a muslim-american family post-9/11, but for me i always wanted to protect them from that and approach them as characters, as individuals, and ask them every time i sat down on the page, what is the story to you and what is your life like when you're alone. >> sarah jessica, what did you most connect with? it's a story of leyla and ra feed, the parents who bring up their daughters, there's a sister, hoda. it really does delve on their childhoods, on their ability to integrate within the american community they grow up in, but it has a lot to do with love. >> there's so much that is compelling about the book.
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i think what i saw in it immediately, and i think what you reacted to enthusiastically, which is a thrill for all of us, is that it's a book with big themes, you know. and it is a book about love, but it's also a book about what it means to be an american family. it's a book about what it is to love and honor those who sacrifice for you. how to be an observant person, how do you honor your faith but also carve a place for yourself in the world, what it is to be a first-generation american, to be a first-generation american muslim today, how you see yourself and what people project onto you, and the sacrifice we make for children, for love. it's about parenting and missed opportunities and loving wrong sometimes. and it's sweeping, so it feels
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big in those ambitions, but those inner monologs, because there's so many quiet moments because they're not being candid with one another, they're so polite and principled that we get to be inside the bodies of these characters, and i think it's about all of us. >> essentially this book was conceived and written in the immediate post-9/11 aftermath. there is a section in the book where the father tells his daughters who are hijab wearing, not to wear the hijab in case when they go to school, in case they get backlash. you yourself used to wear the hijab and then you didn't. >> right. >> tell me about that evolution. >> i worry hee job for many years when i was 9 to 22. but that scene where the father asks the daughter to take off
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the hee job in the direct aftermath of 9/11, that was a very personal scene for me, although at the time i was in fifth grade and the seniors are juniors and seniors. so that was something that i was very confusing as a child because you don't quite know what's happening and you don't know exactly why something new has to change if you've been -- if you're just being who you are, right? but my journey with the hijab, it's been -- it's not one i can speak of so simply. i worry it for many years with intention, and it was my decision. and when i took it off, it's not that i just didn't want to wear it anymore. it's also because i was aware of how i grew up in a family where the women wore hee job so i was aware of how much pride my mother and cousins take in wearing it and what it means to
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them. i realized my relationship with my religious and faith, it wasn't one necessarily i felt -- >> that's a girlfriend. >> yeah. that i felt as wholeheartedly in that decision as i saw my mother and my cousins. and i so much respected and admired what it meant for them to wear it. because i recognize both in myself a struggle, i ultimately decided not to wear it anymore. what really frustrated me when i spoke to my friends and people who were not in my family about it, the reaction i received was, oh, now you're liberated. that was so hurtful because what about the years i was acting out of wanting to wear it? >> there's so much territory covered in the book. i don't want anyone to feel like it's a burden to read because it really isn't. it's a wonderfully -- it's a gift to rewards because it just
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takes you. but that's another interesting puzzle i think that all the children in the family are trying to figure out is their own relationship to their faith which they don't resent. people examine their faith. when people are observe haven't, it means something to ask those questions ask it's admirable to try to fillet it a little bit for a reader in fiction and to see how she misunderstands the expectations and how the brother is so misguided and ill-quipped to be nuanced about faith. >> it really is a story for the current environment. going back to sarah jessica
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parker's "sex and the city" and the whole girlfriends. i want to play this clip because it goes to the heart, actually, who know, of your respect for books and the power of writing. >> there can be many tortured moments in the life of someone who spends her days writing books. the ant dote to those moments is the moment the finished book finally arrives. >> never a truer word. >> never a truer word. >> but it's funny. >> i never knew what it meant until now. yeah. >> and then you appeared on the red carpet not so long ago with a novel instead of a cool designer handbag. >> did i? >> yes, you did. >> what was it? >> i don't know i was going to ask you. >> i can't help myself. yeah. >> you are a big, voracious reader. >> i grew up in a house where there are lots of rules, and one of them was that you weren't allowed to leave the house without something to read. that was applied to those of us who yet knew how to read because
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my mother felt simple exposure to books and stories, if we would go to a museum, she would say find a bench and sit down. if you go to the symphony, bring a book. i have many memories with the car pool, my mother would have a book in her lap. beep, beep, beep, the light's green. as you travel so much, it's been my most relied-upon companion, a book. and the ability to escape life and the more foreign, the more it's not known, the more unlike myself and my life and more interesting i find it. >> what effect good or not so good do you think "sex and the city" had on girls around the world? >> i'm not sure that i'm best suited to answer that.
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i think that in some ways it has been and might continue as new generations discover the show, i think it's been good in terms of the kind of feeling people can talk about their intimate lives, that they have a voice and that they can be who they authentically are, whether it's how they choose to leave as well are the exchanges they share with friends. and i think for a while there was an emphasis on the super official stuff, but it's not as important as the journey of friendship and the search for home and love. >> can i ask you about your personal life? i don't know whether this is at all true in our book, but fatima, when you told your family that you actually wanted to be a writer, what did they
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say? what was your prescribed route through life as far as your family was concerned? >> that's a very interesting question. you know, when i first moved away to go to use it riverside, i had struck a deal with my dad if i study premed i could move to riverside. it was there that i started writing this novel because i was taking creative writing classes as a way to honor what i had always known. eventually he came around, but he was -- >> she applied to the iowa writers workshop. >> and that did help my father decide okay, she can do this. >> she's legitimate. >> but my father would always call me and say can you write a novel like "hunger games." i'm just worried no one is going to care about this family, that no one is going to read this story. that was also my fear, but i
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cared about them so i was going to do my best to tell it. >> excellent. sarah jessica parker, fatima, farheen mirza, thank you for joining us. >> thanks for having us. >> we turn now to the story of an insider on a huge and powerful phenomenon, facebook, and the whole facebook factor. they continue to dominate headlines and congressional hearings. what was seen as a purely positive force in our lives, connecting old high school friends and cementing new friendships has since 2016 lost some of that luster. the trump election showing how easily the platform was gamed by the russians trying to manipulate americans' emotions and their votes. my colleague walter isaacson has spoken to someone who saw it from a privileged position inside the silicon valley castle. walter, you've just been speaking. tell us what he came up with.
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it's alex stamos, chief security officer for facebook. as we went up to the 2016 election, this is not a job in retrospect you wanted to have. and we talked about how the evidence started coming in that the russians were both hacking our elections and then using young kids to try to mess with our minds through facebook. and the frightening thing about this interview was he said nobody's trying to stop it. the republicans have blocked any plans to try to halt this. facebook is making some efforts, but not enough, and it's too late to stop it for the midterms this year, but we got to start working now if we don't want the russians to hack us in 2018. listen to what he had to say. >> you were chief security officer for facebook in the 2016 election which seems like a pretty tough job, especially in retrospect. when did you start getting a sense that something was going definitely awry with russians hacking our leaks?
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>> the actual attacking didn't happen on facebook, but what we saw against the dnc, john podesta, we saw them create fake personas of american individuals. they set up their own wikileaks effectively. >> when did you discover that people were setting up fake news sites to give disinformation? >> so that russian activity was in the fall and we shut it down. during the entire election there was a debate around fake news and the real question of who was behind it. but it wasn't until after the election that we dove in to try to figure out is fake news mostly a government phenomenon or something that's financially motivated and it turns out in the spring of 2017 the majority of what people were calling fakes news, pope endorses trump, those were driven by spammers,
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people creating clickbait headlines to make money on ads. >> in 2016 i remember people talking about russia trying to influence the election with these things. you didn't know about it? >> we knew they were pushing stories. at that point we did not know about the large cluster of activity that was found in 2017. >> emanuel at the obama administration, homeland security people, they knew russia was trying to meddle in the elections through the internet research agency. i'm surprised you didn't know. >> to be clear, they were talking specifically about the hacking campaign and we got information from the government. we got nothing from the government. >> how could you not know these are fake accounts coming from weird people in st. petersburg using proxy servers? >> we were looking for the traditional kinds of hacking activity we saw. we were looking for people to break into accounts to steal data to spread malware.
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the creation of groups whose entire job it is to look for organized propaganda activity, that didn't exist either at facebook or anywhere in the industry at the time. >> we know it was a large coordinated group of people, real americans having real opinions. >> it wasn't clear. there's a lot of talk about russian activity and obvious russian activity with the dnc hacks and the podesta hacks, but there was no body of data to find ira. whatever the government had, they didn't share. >> you can't find out if large amounts of information were being pushed through facebook? you can't find out where it's coming from and say that's weird, that doesn't sound right? >> no one's proving these poses. these platforms allow people to communicate in realtime. you can later look for activity that looks like it's coordinated, are these accounts
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tied together? but those links not always obvious. it took a pretty large effort that facebook took on voluntarily and internally to go find and stop that activity. honestly, in the end it was a tiny portion of the overall discourse. >> it did seem to have an effect. >> it certainly has an effect. >> in which direction? what were they trying to do? >> again, there's two totally different campaign -- >> you're talking about the ira. >> the gru campaign directly targeted hillary clinton. the ira is more dispersed. it started before the election and lasted afterwards. their goal is to get people not to trust each other online in america. so that's why they will apprehend to be a black lives
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matter activist and doing so will push more radical positions than anyone who's legitimately part of that movement. on the other side they will have ecifically reference that ll group. >> but they're both fake. let me ask a broader philosophical question. if we were trying to fix the social media ecosystem that was supposed to bring us together and make us better, wouldn't we try to find ways to have a little bit less anonymity, to make sure just as in the real world, if you really did something bad, you could be tracked down? >> in most cases i think people can be tracked down under a lawful process under most of the major sites. you're right, this is an interesting problem in that you have the spectrum where you have more anonymity means more freedom but also a lot more abuse. facebook is actually on the far side of less anonymity.
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you have people on twitter who don't have to tie their account to their real identity. and you can see from anybody who's visited those sites, they become pretty aggressively hostile and poisonous communities very quickly. >> so we see, then, a spectrum where the more pure anonymity you have, the more hostile and aggressive people become. it's what we discovered with the as we mentioned of social networks and then you get to facebook that has less anonymity. shouldn't we have a way where we can have civil discourse that's more authenticated than facebook is? >> maybe. i think one of the things we have to think about is we're talking about this from a very u.s. centric perspective. something like 90% of facebook users are not american. and we got to be careful about -- here you and i can postthings against our government under our real names and not face legal
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repercussions. that is not true for a huge chunk of people in the world. >> and you've said that you take some responsibility in retrospect. what do you feel responsible for that you wish you had done differently? >> i wish we had had dedicated teams looking just for the propaganda activity. we are a security team, focused on information security. but turns out the vast majority of harm that happens online is not tied to technical security issues. that includes disinformation and misinformation. so i do wish he had constituted that team before the election that we had seen the warning signs. >> do you think facebook and twitter have good teams like that
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the truth is we're also react to go -- reacting to what happened in 2016. we're missing the big picture of what has happened since then, and the texture of how misinformation has worked in elections since the u.s. has been zblifrt when you get signs that something's going awry, you call the government agencies. i know if a missile hit the facebook campus, you know exactly. if a burglar came in, you would call the local police. is there one sort of 911 number you call in the u.s. government? or is it too diffuse the way the government handles this? >> that is problem in the u.s. we don't have a single agency whose responsibility is to prevent cyberattacks against american assets, including disinformation. also including traditional security threats. effectively the fbi is playing that role and there's a lot of good confident people there.
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but they are structured as an organization to investigate crimes after they happen and to diet peop indict people who are within reach. that's not how cyberattacks work. there's nobody who's really motivated to prevent things from happening to build the relationships with the companies that can prevent the activity in the first place and perhaps in that case earn the opportunity for legal action. >> do you think part of the problem congressional republicans after all this happened just said, okay, that was fine, we're not doing anything about it? >> as a country we're not going to be able to respond to this problem unless we all agree it's a problem. just imagine pearl harbor happens and half the country believes it's a hoax. there's no way we could have mobilized the country and win world war ii. we're in a place where a significant percentage of the country believes that nothing happened in 2016, and to be
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honest, congressional republicans have some of the most responsibility for that because they have slowed down investigations, they have reduced the certainty people have. and it would be very, very powerful to see both republicans and democrats speaking with one voice that this is not nothing the united states is going to allow and passing legislation to secure our elections to give the proper authorities to regulate the online ad ecosystem, but they don't do it because they can't get past the idea that that calls into question the election of 2016. and we just got to say, okay, trump's president, he won, let's move on and thinking where we're going. the other risk they're running is i think republicans think this is always going to be a good thing for them. countries getting involved in our election. >> and when north korea, iran, and china do it. >> right. the republican playbook is out there. anybody who's paying attention who reads the reports we've put out, you can recreate the entire
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russian playbook from the outside. and there's nothing technically sophisticated that the chinese can't do, the iranians, the north koreans. >> you go up to capitol hill to talk to some of these people a lot. on the senate side you have mark warner and burr. democrat and republican trying to work together but not getting too far yet. but on the house side, it's much different, right? >> right yes. you have to give the senate committee credit that they've been able to accept the concept we were attacked and they have to do something about it. they haven't done anything. there is that component. we are almost two years out and there hasn't been any actual legislation that's come out. as a country what we missed is the opportunity for a 9/11 commission. we really should have had a nonpartisan, nonpolitical investigation because one of the benefits we had of the 9/11 commission is there are lots of arguments about whose fault
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things were. but the basic set of facts in that document were generally agreed upon by the vast majority of the political -- >> tell me what should be done. it's probably a little bit too late for the 2018 midterms, is that right? >> yes. i think we've definitely missed our shot to collectively respond effectively in 2018. there are people in dhs doing work, fbi, tech companies. it's not very well coordinated and we have not done the big-picture things we need. you think of the online ecosystem, the component we need to be most concerned about the advertising because that is a very powerful way to find and reach people who are vulnerable to your message. and that's not just in the case of foreign influence. we have to be really careful about what we allow our politicians to do online versus traditional advertising. >> give me the alex stamos plan. >> one thing we have to look at is who is responsible for the
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actual security of election infrastructure. dhs was granted power on the last day of the obama administration. they're working hard but they don't have the power or resources. they have no authority. >> is that partly because of the trump administration doesn't want this? >> i think one of the big issues right now is that there's no cybersecurity coordinate in the white house. as a result you have all the agencies trying to do their best. but part of the goal of the white house and the nobody else council is to knock those heads together and getting everybody to go in the same direction and that doesn't exist. we have to push the responsibilities into the states. there are a lot of states that are competent. colorado is the best example i've worked with. e cities and counties.t all there's over 10,000 local election authorities. we can't have 10,000 competent security teams, but we can have 50. we need to have federal legislation to support that to give them access to
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intelligence, to do clearance for people. we got to push that responsibility to the states. they should also be held accountable for that. >> what should facebook and other social media giants do? >> there needs to be more transparency. this is where it gets difficult because those pages and those anonymous twitter accounts are also what drove democracy movements in egypt, the resistance in thailand to fight if military junta. >> all those movements failed in a way. >> that's right. that's one of the sad -- when we look back at the arab spring, there's only a couple positive stories. for the most part the autocrats have figured out the neutral ties risk and weaponize it against their own movements.
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>> so what are you doing now both to address this and to make sure average citizens, students at stanford can address it? >> i joined stanford as an professor. how do we build so when you launch your product you have thought about the problems that facebook page or google or twitter or youtube faced and you have put solutions in place so you don't have to scramble afterwards and make excuses of how could we possibly know that this problem that's existed for years happened over again. >> i'm a student in your class and i'm saying professor, stamos, it didn't work out the way your generation thought. social media didn't help democracy even around the world. didn't help democracy at home, it didn't bring us together. it led to a lot of bullying and
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divisiveness. what did you do wrong and what would you do next time? >> we have to stop building products just for ourselves. silicon valley has serious diversity issue as a lot of people know. a lot of people look like me, they come from backgrounds like mine, computer science degree from an elite school, backgrounds that allow us to get into good colleges, access to capital, those kinds of issues mean that a lot of people look the same and have the same views. we have to build diverse teams from day one, not staple on diversity later. when we build products, you have to think adversarially. you got to think about the bad guys. even if 0.1% of the planet are people who want to cause harm, that is tens of millions of people on these platforms, and you have to imagine that from day one that those people exist. understand what they want, understand what they've done in the past, and think about your
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product from day one. >> alex stamos, thank you for joining us. >> thank you, sir. >> alex stamos makes an important point about diversity as we keep being reminded whether it's in silicon valley, in the board room or the news room join us against tomorrow night when two-time best actress oscar winner sally field is here. the all-american movie star who first saw success as a flying nun is out with a decidedly raw and revealing memoir called "in pieces." that's tomorrow night. for now, that is it for our program. thanks for watching "amanpour & co." on pbs. ♪ uniworld is a proud sponsor
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