In the midst of a political and cultural climate that Christiane Amanpour calls “an unprecedented state of affairs” and “a moment of extreme existential crisis and threat,” the CNN host will begin Amanpour & Company, set to launch on PBS September 10, with journalists Walter Isaacson, Michel Martin, Alicia Menendez and Hari Sreenivasan as co-contributors.
Announced as PBS’s replacement for Charlie Rose back in May after Rose was accused of sexual harassment, Amanpour said putting a woman in this role made a very important statement. “Now is a really watershed moment,” she told Deadline following her TCA panel discussion, “and so I think it’s really great that a woman takes this role at this particular time.” Asked if she’d heard of Rose’s reported attempts at a comeback, Amanpour said, “I don’t know anything about it to be honest, because I live in London so I’m not on top of everything.”
Of her new 60-minute spot, Amanpour said during the panel discussion that she embraces PBS’ non-partisan stance, emphasizing that she believes CNN to also be wholly non-partisan. “My job is not to preach to the converted, and not to preach to the choir,” she said, adding she believes in being “truthful and not neutral. If you’re looking to somebody to be neutral, it’s not me.”
The new current affairs show would include a broader selection of guests than Amanpour previously had as a CNN International host – for example, Jennifer Lawrence, Shaggy and Sting feature as guests – now that her audience has extended to the U.S. and to a different format. “I wouldn’t have done those necessarily on CNN,” she said, “it wouldn’t have crossed my mind, but I love it, it’s great.”
One of the biggest challenges Amanpour says we are facing is the way people have become trapped in their own “echo chambers” of news. “There’s always been political press,” she said, “there’s always been press that’s catered to their political heartland…this has been going on for a long, long time. It’s exacerbated now because of the exponential power of social media, and it’s exacerbated by people who have become hyper-partisan and hyper-political and these people are being funneled into their own echo chambers, and that is the real crisis of our time.”
However, she pointed out that it’s “not my job to get people to wake up. My job is to present the unvarnished truth…We’re performing our duty as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution,” she said. “I take that really seriously. If we’re really going to call ourselves The Fourth Estate…without a healthy press there is not a healthy democracy.”
Amanpour added that CNN was pleased with her new show. “I like the way this show is right now, and CNN loves the way this show is right now,” she said. “Now that I’ve had this opportunity to broaden my horizon, it’s actually been fantastic and CNN has loved it as well, so for me it’s a win-win.”