tv Amanpour on PBS PBS January 20, 2018 12:00am-12:31am PST
welcome to amanpour on pbs. tonight, what does it mean to be a man during the "me too" revolution? we might have something to learn from the transvestite artist grayson perry. his latest book is "the descent of man." plus, covering the presidency in the trump era. part two of my conversation with the editor of the "new york times," dean baquet. ♪ >> announcer: amanpour on pbs was made possible by the generous support of rosalynn p. walter.
good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. i'm christiane amanpour in london with the global perspective. in the age of me too, women across the globe are rising up against the toxic aspects of masculinity. and most importantly, they are talking. but there's another half of the planet that isn't talking. the other victims of masculinity, men themselves. men, who it turns out, are also paying a terrible price for their silence. it is something that's argued by the renowned british contemporary artist and social commentator grayson perry. fresh off debuting his latest exhibition "making meaning" in the windsor gallery in florida, he joined me in our studio for the discussion we rarely have. grayson perry, welcome to the program. so you have a big new show that you are sending to america. or is it already there? "making meaning." >> yes, it's in a place called windsor near vero beach in florida, which is a kind of very wealthy, kind of gated community.
quite an unusual environment to have an exhibition in. >> what are you trying to tell the florida audience, the u.s. audience? what do you hope the new exhibition will say to them? it's very multimedia. >> it's got tapestries, prints, sculpture and my ceramics. coming away, making meaning is my job as an artist to make meaning. the one thing they might find is how british it is because the main piece in it is a big tapestry called comfort blanket which i made a few years ago about british identity. and a lot of the works have a lot of text in them, and i think language is the thing. often they say with the british and the americans, we're separated by common language. >> let us move on because you say very britishness about your exhibit. and that really does lead directly into your book "descent
of man" and the very british maybe sort of pent-up masculinity and malehood we see where they have difficulty expressing emotions. do you think it's a particularly british thing or -- >> no. >> it's not? >> not at all. it's purely a gender thing. i think men are not brought up to be so aware of their feelings, and they don't have practice in kind of recognizing the degrees of feeling. and so often they don't recognize it until it's extreme. until they're extremely angry or extremely sad. and so it bursts like a balloon. all of a sudden, whereas, you know, maturity and women are much more, you know, able to say when they're slightly irritated or slightly sad and do something about it then before it becomes a problem. >> at this point we have to remind our viewers that you are famously a heterosexual transvestite who often wears
your alter ego clare's physical attributes. dress, hair, makeup, et cetera. with all this "me too" going on, do you feel empathy for what the women are going through now or at any time, given that persona that you've inhabited for so long? >> i mean, i may put on a dress, but to say that i understand what it's like to be a woman would be kind of, i think, offensive. >> sympathy then? >> of course, you know. i think it's amazing it's taken this long. you they are kind of -- the house of cards, literally, is collapsing. >> literally. >> but only in certain cultures, of course. in large parts of the globe, you know, sexism is more than institutionalized. it's legalized. so i think we're only at the beginning of this discussion. i think men have got to
understand there's an up side. and i think emotion is probably the key to it. and these things are going to -- it's going to take more than one generation to change. you got to start. we've got to start. it's great this discussion is getting going because it's going to take generations to change. emotional and social change happens at a different pace than political change. we've got to start encouraging men and boys to understand the benefits of being more vulnerable, having better relationships. it's going to make them happier. it's going to mean they'll find the meaning of life in different places other than competition and consumerism. they're going to find it in friends and family and community. and, you know, these sort of things which are more positive. >> the book opens with a really dramatic and rather tragic tale. you talk about a little boy on a bicycle pedaling desperately uphill. take it away. >> i like to go mountain biking. i was in the forest coming out
and i could see this little boy maybe 6 or 7 on his new mountain bike coming up quite steep here, which is quite hard work. he's getting into a real tempo u want me to help you?and he he was like this, really in a temper. and he was screaming for his father. dad, dad, dad, dad. and i thought, well, where is his father? he was on his own in the forest. he pedaled. he didn't want any help. i thought his dad is probably not very far away. i got to the top of the hill like 200 or 300 meters up, and there was his dad waiting for him like this. >> really? >> and i thought, that's a face i've seen on a lot of touch lines. that's -- that is, come on, man up, you know. and deal with it. and don't ask for help. and you'll sort it out. and i'm not going to help you. >> did the boy finally make it up there? >> i don't know. >> you didn't see it? >> no. >> did you say anything to the dad? >> i said i hope your son can afford good therapy when he's old enough because he'll need it. >> you had a life-changing experience with violence committed against you as a child.
>> i had a very violent stepfather who would terrify me. he would hit on my mother, and he would throw us around. and so i was always scared of him, really, throughout my childhood. and so that kind of meant that i am -- i'm not saying that i wasn't a very angry young man myself, but i was never violent to anyone. but -- it's something that's very close to my heart, this thing. and when you go -- when i was making my tv series, i went into police stations. i talked to sort of young offenders and people, and i saw it was -- when you take away the other ways where a man can have status, he resorts to something very primal which is sort of defending territory and competition with other men. and i feel a bit sorry for men
in that masculinity has become a sort of redundant phenomenon, you know. i call it a -- it's an architectural term that means something that used to be functional. it's become decorative. >> you're not saying masculinity is going to be overturned. you're just saying it's going to be shifted around a little bit. >> it's going to be changed, but most of the things people think of as typically masculine need to be examined. and we have to take out the bits that don't work, and there's a lot of bits of masculinity that don't work. >> you have some, you know, grayson perry's men's rights. if you wouldn't mind reading that. >> the right to be vulnerable. that's the most important one because to be vulnerable means you have better relationships. you let yourself be impacted upon by other people, and that's a way of growing. the right to be weak. you know, this is something men really struggle with. the fact they ask for help. the right to be wrong. particularly around
well-educated middle class men. their weapon is -- i am right. they are mansplaining and showing how much they know about whatever it is. sometimes you want to go, park it. the right to be intuitive. the fact that they -- i think often men, they don't -- because they're not aware of their feelings so much, they don't trust their intuition about things, and they think they want and they get very hung up on kind of -- they need facts and backup and often they don't say, well i feel this. the right to be uncertain. this is so -- related to the idea that you might not be this rock that is always right and always dependable. you may be a bit undependable. the right not to know. that's something i learned as a father. your child saying, why is this? what's this? i don't know. it's quite a nice thing to do sometime. the right to be flexible. the fact we all change as we go through life and what's the most
powerful kind of weapon on social media? it's calling people a hypocrite. maybe they just changed their mind! why can't we be flexible and change our minds? mea culpa, i got it wrong. this whole social conversation would change if people just started to respect that. and the right to not be ashamed of any -- shame is a really interesting one. you know, i think one of the big cultural divides in the world is between cultures that have guilt and cultures that have shame. and shame is a public thing. it's how you look. there are much more communal cultures. we're much more individualistic here in britain and in america so we have guilt. it's all about us. and i think it might be good for us to look outwards in our emotional connections more. >> how do you hope that these
rights of men -- let me have the paper back. how will that make life better for your girl and other girls? >> i think, you know, what we're seeing in the me too phenomenon. all the harassment scandals that are coming out is that the things that men probably -- they -- i think a lot of them weren't even aware how terrible they were behaving, and they're being called out on it. they are a bit shocked these unconscious processes and feelings that they have the right to do these things. they are getting a bit -- they are made to think about it and so, you know, the pendulum is going to swing where everybody is a little bit terrified of kind of, oh, should i do this? should i even say hello to this woman? and it will get to the point where when men can learn to have a relationship, to look the person in the eye and have an equal relationship with someone and feel confident that they have took the emotional
temperature of the situation, then, you know, when there is good with their feelings as women are -- this is worldly generalizing. >> it is, but it's on the right path. i just want to ask you, because you have been asked before. you write two very interesting biographical facts that show that even yourself, with your highly intuitive feminine side given your alter ego, as a young boy, had some very, very male dominated feelings. the cereal in the flowery bowl. >> oh, yes. when i was young, it was -- i had only been about, maybe 6 or 8 years old. and i wouldn't eat breakfast cereal out of a flowery porcelain bowl because somehow i intuitively knew that was a female pattern. so i had to have the stripy bowl. and i think that that kind of unconscious decisionmaking in
greater and lesser form happens in men's lives all the time. they're terrified of -- there's a very policed role internally and by other men. other men are always checking out other men to make sure they're living up to the role, and every man inside them has a hegemonic man who they are constantly checking on. am i doing it right? am i living up to the role? and i think -- >> what changed you? being a transvestite makes you question things right from the off. i think it's a combination. having some fantastically strong and funny girlfriends and my wife over the years, it's like a therapy. psychotherapy, you know, my wife might say that there's two sorts of people. people in therapy and people that need it. i don't know. but it certainly helped me. >> grayson perry, thank you for sharing your insights. adding to the global angst, many would say, is the trump
presidency itself. and in the wake of handing out fake news awards, this presidency has brought the importance of american journalism into focus like it hasn't experienced in decades. few institutions are essential to this moment as "the new york times" and its executive editor dean baquet. in part two of our conversation in new york, i spoke to him about covering the unusual president trump and some controversy on his own turf. dean baquet, welcome to the program. >> thank you for having me. >> the big stories of the year. what do you think? where are we heading in 2018? is it more russia? is it north korea? what are you seeing as the big story? >> one big story is the midterm elections. we're going to get to see in races all over the country what people think of donald trump and what he did. and what he's done. it's another test for the press and its ability to capture the
country. there are governors races. this is -- debates over how districts are apportioned. and this is a remarkable political year for the country. that's first. and it will be huge. russia will continue to be a huge investigation. it's a remarkable thing that's been claimed and with much evidence which is that the russian government meddled in an american election. we're about to have another big american election. and we still don't fully know what happened in this one. so the russia investigation and its impact on donald trump is important and is a huge story. donald trump's continuing governance is a big story, right? the first year was a bigger story than anybody anticipated. it will be a big story again this year. >> you don't think -- the anti-trump brigade are begging for blood. they want him to be impeached. they think he will be impeached. they think it's a crime he's not
impeached. but you don't really think that's going to happen, or do you? >> i actually don't know. there's so much -- it would be foolish to say i think he's going to be impeached or not impeached. i don't think we know about russia. i don't. i think we know a lot. we've reported. we broke the story of the don junior meeting. we know a lot more in the last year than we did a year ago. but i don't know completely where it goes. there's certainly some evidence that's already emerged of -- collusion is such a bizarre word. of the russians wanting to help the people around trump and of their willingness to accept it. that's important. i don't think we know how high it went, how active the help was. and i think until we know the answers to those questions, at least i don't. bob mueller may already know. until we know the answers to those questions, i don't think we know where this goes. >> your own columnist david brooks wrote that the anti-trump brigade is at risk of sort of going over the top and just
losing the plot. they're so focused on him and his personality and every twist and turn of this unusual presidency that they may be missing the forest through the trees or the trees through the forest. that while everybody is focusing on every last sort of tweet, really serious america-changing stuff is happening. and perhaps we're not focused enough on that. do you think there's a danger of just being overly aggressive and overly ideological about him? >> i always remind people, david works for the opinion side of the house, which i don't run. i think there is a danger of -- there's always a danger when people become so driven by ideology. and when people sort of go off in their corners. there's multiple dangers. one danger is you aren't capable of understanding the debates over policy. one danger is you can't listen
and learn from the other side. i know that the instinct of the left, because i get it in my e-mails all the time, is to think that everybody who voted for donald trump is evil. i can't accept that. i can't accept that journalistically. i'm not talking about as an american. that's too easy an answer. i need to understand. that doesn't mean going out and having, you know, false interviews with people. we've done some of that, some good, some bad. but i think we've got to understand that phenomenon. that, to me, is journalistic inquiry. >> and the book "fire and fury" that michael wolff has just written which has created a firestorm of protest from the white house and captivated the world mostly because he says everybody -- he uses the word 100% of people around president trump thinks he's unfit for the job. but your reporters meet him on practically a daily basis and have a lot of access to, again, david brooks said most of the people who go into the white house and oval office meet a
perfectly genial man who runs a fairly good meeting, who is pretty clear in his thinking. and do you think that was a cartoon characteristic of him? what do your reporters say about the man? >> i think what my reporters say about the man, about donald trump is that there is -- there are some very unusual characteristics in him as a leader. he does lead by whimsy. he often does not have a larger plan or a larger philosophy. and it's hard to know what his biggest issues are. and his -- the governing style of the trump administration has been erratic. i think that's what they would say. and i think there's ample evidence of that. i think there's ample evidence of an administration that's gone one way one day. and i think the tweets, you know, i think -- i have not heard anybody say there's a plan to the tweets against the north koreans.
i think if you add that all up, i'm not going to put a value judgment on it. it makes for a great story. i'll say that. >> and do you think because, let's face it, "the new york times" and all the so-called mainstream media has been flagellating itself ever since november 2016 when he won saying they got the story wrong. they didn't understand the american people or the forgotten, those who felt left behind. >> probably not quite flagellating. >> believe me. >> i'm not -- all the others. i'll say what i think we -- look. i think something happened after the -- in the aftermath of the financial crisis. a lot of people didn't get it wrong. there was some terrific reporting by alec mcgillis and pro publica and elsewhere and in "the new york times." and in "the washington post" and on cnn. i don't think we got the totality of the anger and anxiety in the country that helped lead to the election of donald trump. i don't think we -- i don't think we got that.
>> layoffs at "the times." last year, a whole raft of copy editing jobs. the company trying to reinvent itself. trying to make it in this digital world. but there are layoffs. >> they were buyouts for all practical purposes. the newsroom is the same size it was before. we offered buyouts to about 110 people, and we hired another 100 or 110. when i started in newspapers, in an afternoon newspaper, there were reporters who got -- reporters, back fielders and editors. i need videographers. i have a big podcasting operation now. those are jobs that didn't exist before. i have got to change the population of the newsroom to accommodate a different world. >> the ongoing, you know, struggle of james reisen, the reporter who broke the story of warrantless wiretapping by the administration, and he has written a scathing indictment of the newspaper. >> about his era at the
newspaper. >> about his era at the newspaper, when you were not the executive editor. you know, everything from how he couldn't get his stories put on the correct page, how some friendly editors would say, give it to me for this day and we'll make sure it gets on. he has a real beef against "the times." he's right, isn't he? >> yeah, i'm not saying -- i wasn't here because i want to punt on it. i talked to jim. he did work for me when i was running the washington bureau. i think jim started as a -- i'm going to say, yes, he does have a beef. and he's right about a lot of it. i think jim started as an intelligence reporter in a different era for intelligence reporting. i think september 11th transformed the way newspapers do business. the cia was a backwater beat. believe it or not. hard to imagine that now, before september 11th. i think newspapers didn't quite
understand their power or the importance of challenging the government on intelligence stories. and i think that if you look at what's compelling to me about jim and his story is the arc of his story. if i had been his editor, i called him afterwards to tell him it was an important story. but i was editor. i would have pushed him. he needed a grab to say my story tells a story of the development of the press covering intelligence over a generation. by the end of it, i think jim would say, because jim was involved in much coverage, working with me. we publish all kinds of stuff. i think his story is an important story. it's worth reading. >> and you think -- basically, what anger me was while they were burying my skeptical stories, the editors were not only giving banner headlines to stories asserting iraq had weapons of mass destruction, they were demanding i match
stories from other publications about iraq's purported wmd programs, which we know they didn't have. >> it's been widely acknowledged that news organizations like ading to the war in iraq. the and i think jim documents what that looked like from where he sat. it's an important story. he's an important reporter. he's a very important, historic reporter who has done some remarkable journalism for "the new york times," including the story that he writes most about the nsa wiretapping story. >> let's discuss a little bit how it was that sort of fox news-driven, right-wing sphere of cheerleaders for the bush administration and for the war that led the president to take one of the worst decisions in modern history. and that was to invade iraq. i say that because of the backlash that we're still suffering. talk a little bit about the danger of this polarization of media and how media is, well, in this case, how this media
supported the president in this regard. and why president trump should wish that he doesn't get that kind of blind support. >> i think that history is filled with examples. one of the great examples is jfk with the bay of pigs where jfk convinced the press and particularly "the new york times" not to report on it. and went ahead with it, and it was a disaster. and later acknowledged to reporters he wished he had listened. he wished he'd allowed it to be reported because it would have sparked a debate. if we had been more aggressive in the build-up to the iraq war, more forceful in our mission, i think the result would have been -- there probably would have been a fuller debate in america. any president should want that. any president, whether it involves north korea or iraq or afghanistan should want that debate. should want that full debate, and i believe should want exposure.
first off, if an action is warranted or if you can justify to the american people, you have more support. secondly, one of our roles is to poke holes. and one of our roles is to call out powerful institutions when they make mistakes. if i were a president, easy for me to say, i'd want somebody in that backstop. there has to be an independent backstop, and that's our role. >> dean baquet, thanks for being here. >> thanks for having me. and that's it for our program tonight. thanks for watching "amanpour" on pbs and see you next time. "amanpour" on pbs was made possible by the generous support of rosalynn p. walter.
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