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September 6, 2020 1:26 pm

CBS Sunday Morning:

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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September 6, 2020 1:26 pm

According to recent studies, Americans spend 40 billion dollars a year tending to their 40 million acres of grass. So, no surprise coronavirus has made quarantined Americans -- fanatics and novices alike -- lawn-care crazy. Former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok talks about leading Crossfire Hurricane, the Bureau's investigation into the Trump campaign's connections with Russian officials, and how he came in the cross hairs himself. A new YouTube documentary, "This Is Paris," reveals a never-before-told chapter in Paris Hilton's life that the socialite and social media influencer says was too painful to talk about … until now. Those stories and more on this week's "CBS Sunday Morning."

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Our CBS Sunday morning podcast is sponsored by Edward Jones. College tours with your oldest daughter. Updating the kitchen to the appropriate decade.

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Learn more at Good morning. I'm Jane Pauley, and this is Sunday morning. In any other year, I'd be wishing you a happy Labor Day weekend. Only this year, millions of ordinarily hard-working Americans aren't enjoying the weekend at all. They're unemployed, paying the price for some long-term economic trends that COVID-19 has only made worse.

Correspondent Jill Schlesinger will report our cover story. Coronavirus has put millions of people out of work and left millions more without even enough to eat. Meanwhile, billionaires' bank accounts grow fatter. The pandemic has only laid bare inequities that have existed in our country for a long time. Now the question is what we do, right?

COVID-19 infects the debate over wealth and income inequality ahead on Sunday morning. Paris Hilton is a celebrity whose name is known around the globe, but the real person, the woman behind the name, has been largely hidden from view. Until now, she'll talk with Tracy Smith. Just when you thought you'd heard all there was to hear about Paris Hilton, she makes a movie about a time in her life she says was too dark to even tell her parents about.

Why not tell them when you got out? I didn't think they would believe me because even talking about it now and hearing myself talk about it, it just it sounds impossible to believe. Paris Hilton finds her voice later on Sunday morning. Lee Cowan drops in on legendary baseball announcer Vin Scully. Leslie Stahl is in conversation with Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings. David Martin talks with former FBI special agent Peter Strzok. Jim Axelrod puzzles over the challenge of smiling while wearing a mask, and more. It's Sunday morning, September 6th, 2020, and we'll be back in a moment.

Millions of Americans, through no fault of their own, are paying the price this Labor Day holiday for America's worsening economic inequality. Here's Jill Schlesinger. My name is Tiana Caldwell. I'm AJ Caldwell. Before the pandemic struck, the Caldwell family of Kansas City was just making ends meet. Derek was working as an electrician. Tiana was training office workers.

AJ was looking forward to playing football after school. If you go back to the beginning of March, were you busy? Was it slow?

What was going on for you? It was busy and it was just like everything just stopped. You might say COVID-19 infected the family's finances. Their jobs dried up, exposing a stark reality.

They had no safety net. Were you able to save any money before the pandemic hit? No. So just paycheck to paycheck, right?

Yeah. Even before the coronavirus, nearly four out of 10 American adults said they would have difficulty covering a $400 unexpected expense. We got help from family. We got help from friends.

The Caldwells also got help from Casey Tenants, a Kansas City housing rights organization founded by Tara Raghavir. The pandemic has only laid bare inequities that have existed in our country for a long time. It's been a long time It's nothing new. Last year, the Census Bureau found income inequality was at its highest level in 50 years. Consider this, two-thirds of the total wealth in this country is owned by the richest five percent. At the same time, more than 38 million Americans are living in poverty and it's projected that up to 54 million people might not have enough to eat this year.

We have a mythology that what's good for Wall Street is good for Main Street, but that's really never been true. Economic inequality is the subject of a new documentary based on the surprise bestseller by French economist Thomas Piketty. He has surveyed centuries of economic upheaval.

In the 18th century, money marries money and so poverty is a death sentence. The pandemic illustrates, you know, I think the need to change the economic system and to get in the direction of a more equal and more equitable and more sustainable model of economic development. More than 29 million people are now collecting unemployment benefits. While at the top end of the economic ladder, in the first three months of the pandemic, the net worth of the more than 600 billionaires in the U.S. grew by 20 percent.

Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, saw his net worth increase by $43.8 billion in the first months of the pandemic. Those who have the least advantages, the least economic opportunities are going to bear the largest burden of any kind of downturn, whether it be an economic downturn or whether it be a public health crisis. Valerie Wilson is a director at the Liberal Economic Policy Institute. Wilson sees not only an economic divide, but a racial divide. COVID-19 has magnified these racial disparities that we have known about for decades. Because of the persistence of many of these disparities, we can almost predict how any crisis is going to go. For example, Black households have just 10 percent of the net worth of White households.

For Hispanic households, the figure is just 12 percent. The combination of COVID-19 and it being such a universal problem, not only in this country but around the world, has really challenged us to sort of question the idea of whether or not we really are all in this together. But not everyone sees income and wealth disparity as negative trends. At the end of the day, capitalism is just trying to maximize, optimize, grow everything as fast as it possibly can.

That's how people get rich. Edward Conard, a former partner at Bain Capital and a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, has written about the upside of inequality. Conard argues for giving entrepreneurs incentives to create the next Google or Apple or Amazon, looking to free markets to help boost incomes for lower wage workers. The more prosperous the economy, the richer the bottom 20 percent. And they are depending almost exclusively on government redistribution for their income. And where do we get that income from? We get it from increasing the overall prosperity of the economy. And the best measure of that is not Jeff Bezos's salary.

Valerie Wilson isn't buying it. In this country, we have this idea about the American dream and about the virtues of capitalism, that if you work hard, put in your time, you get an education, you take risk, then you're able to climb the economic ladder. But I think it's clear that when we get this billionaire superclass, that those opportunities are not so evenly distributed. And in fact, the economic gains that we all contribute to are increasingly being shared by only a few. So will the coronavirus change our economic path?

Thomas Piketty believes it could go either way. Do you believe that the pandemic presents an opportunity here? What we see from history is that crises like pandemics are sometimes necessary, unfortunately, in a way to deliver bigger political change or ideological change. But we should not just count on crises to get very bad so that after a crisis, things go better. Because in practice, crises can also deliver political monsters, as we've seen after World War I in Europe. As COVID-19 continues to rage across the country, the initial $2.2 trillion in government stimulus money has run out.

And Congress and the White House don't appear close to agreeing on a more substantial deal. Also of concern to Tara Roggeveer, the patchwork of federal and state moratoriums on evictions won't be enough to keep renters from sliding into homelessness. Many people got sick and died because of insecure housing situations. That number will only grow over time as people face evictions.

And it's inexcusable. We live in the richest country in the history of the world, and we can and we must guarantee that everyone has a home. I know it won't happen overnight, but where can we go from here? The thing is, it could happen overnight. And that's what we've seen with what the government has done around the stimulus.

When we need to print a trillion dollars and get it out to people in their bank accounts, we can do it. So that's actually given me a lot of hope. Tiana Caldwell also has hope that someday, when we say we're all in this together, we'll mean it. We should be helping each other, right?

If one of us is not okay, none of us are okay. As always, we thank you for watching Sunday morning. But it's what you watch the rest of the time that's on the mind of Reed Hastings. Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes chats with the man behind Netflix. The New York Times once described the Netflix lobby as the hottest see-and-be-seen spot in Hollywood. That was last year. This is now. It's supposed to be full of people cheering and talking, and now it's empty.

Reed Hastings, the co-founder and co-CEO of Netflix, showed us the video wall promoting new Netflix shows surrounded by lots and lots of empty chairs. We will be back. We're going to get the vaccine, and then that lobby's going to be pumping again. I know why you're so optimistic. I know why, because like toilet paper and Lysol, you're one of the few companies who has really thrived in this pandemic. People love entertainment, whether that's wartime, peacetime, COVID.

Yeah, but you're avoiding my question, which is that you're doing extremely well. Your subscription numbers have what? We are off to a faster start in growth than any year in our history, roughly from 160 million to 190 million, so a lot of growth. Internationally, too. All around the world, COVID, unfortunately, is everywhere, and luckily Netflix is, too. The global growth of Netflix has been exponential over the last few years. Now the service is available in 190 countries, and its financial growth has been a wow also. When the company went public in 2002, the stock price was $15 a share. During the pandemic, Netflix has been trading around $500. If you spend chasing a big audience, you better get one.

Hastings co-CEO Ted Sarandos joined us up on the roof, socially distant. You created this monster. You did. Binge watching is so addictive. It's changed our habits. It's changed our sleeping habits. We don't read as much.

Just one more, just one more. We don't watch CBS as much. People say it's ruined their sex lives.

Well, they're watching the wrong thing, then, though. I did a story on Netflix 2006. An age ago. An age ago. OK, all DVD. All DVD, you had those little red envelopes flying around the country.

We still have them. One of the things you told us, you realized that you were not CEO material. Are you CEO material now?

Beginning to be, trying to be, aspiring to be. But do you think it's kind of humorous that a guy who's in the studio has written a book about how to manage a company? The book is called No Rules, Rules. And it spells out a highly unorthodox management style that gives Netflix employees an unusual amount of freedom and responsibility, offering unlimited vacation time and paying top of the market salaries. But in exchange, what's the keeper test, though?

The keeper test? And I say that, though, because everything isn't sunny and wonderful here. I mean, it's tough. We run like a professional sports team. We're trying to get the best players on the field at all times. If someone was leaving to go to another company, would we work really hard to keep them at Netflix? And if so, then they pass the keeper test. And if not, we give them a very generous severance package and we let them go. Well, sometimes they don't want to go.

But the keeper test says it's not worth keeping them. And therefore, you have a reputation, this company, of being ruthless. Some people call it the Hunger Games company. They just want a good show. That's all they want?

There's 24 of us, Gal. Only one comes out. It's not like the Hunger Games at all. This is a total cooperation.

But if you're going to win the World Cup of Entertainment, then you've got to have the best players on the field at all times. There's no question it's a tough place. There's no question it's not for everyone. In the tough Netflix way, honesty is the best policy no matter what. You say that you instituted this idea of radical candor because of marriage counseling that you went through.

Well, it's a long time ago. Now we've been married 29 years. But early in our marriage, we had this great marriage counselor. And he got me to see that I was just lying a lot. I was saying conventional things like family is the most important thing. And then I would stay at work late. And so it helps so much for him to really show me that I wasn't being that honest.

And it helped to live more in balance. What are live 360s? The live 360 is we'll typically have a dinner or a lunch. And then everybody just goes around and gives each other feedback how they could be more effective professionally. So do you get feedback or criticism?

You? All the time. Being too glib and not really listening. Or I'll get critiqued about being too positive and Pollyanna-ish and not really seeing the problems or lots of things. And there's always grains of truth.

In his book, Hastings reports on what was said about him in one of those sessions. This one said that you're too aggressive, you're overconfident, and you're too dismissive when other people have ideas. You recognize yourself? Yes, and again, I try to mitigate it.

And then you can't really change your nature. Ted Sarandos joined Netflix over 20 years ago. He says Hastings' vision is what sold him on the company. Reid described Netflix in 1999 almost exactly like it is right now. And why that seems insane was at the time the internet was so slow and so expensive that it just seemed incomprehensible.

I mean, if someone emailed you a video clip, it would take days for it to open up and watch. And Reid talked so crystal clear about where this was heading. And I was just mind-blown.

I don't, by the way, I don't, I'm not sure that I thought he was right. But his sense of clarity about it was just incredible. Netflix, all the DVDs you want? Hastings guided Netflix through four major shifts, from renting DVDs, to streaming other people's shows, to producing its own shows, to going global. This year, Netflix got more Oscar and Emmy nominations than any other studio.

And that's in large part thanks to Sarandos. My job was to pick everything that's on Netflix. He picked nearly 400 shows last year, and every one of them, be it The Crown or its royal cousin, Tiger King, You're going to have to kill me to shut me up. started with a pitch. We probably hear about a hundred a day.

You have a hundred pitches a day. So that's film and series and television and global and documentaries. The first pitch Sarandos heard and the first show Netflix produced itself in 2013 was House of Cards. Tell us why you even wanted House of Cards. What did you see there? It was Shakespearean.

It was about greed and power and sex and all the makings of great television. Is this your subtle way of saying that I'm out of shape? No, it's my way of suggesting you could be in better shape. That sounds both passive aggressive and condescending. Just plain aggressive and true.

Don't wait up for me. House of Cards starred Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. So what did you have to do to get them to sign on? Ted's charm and a huge checkbook.

That combination can do anything. How huge a checkbook? Well, Sarandos paid a hundred million dollars for the first two seasons of House of Cards. Netflix is notorious for buying its way to the top. We're spending billions of dollars and making every show in the world. Did you ever see the Saturday Night Live skit where you're just throwing money out there and you're buying anything?

This show is about a girl named Ginny. Yes, here's money. Go. Make it. Make.

South Park did one too. They were there. It would be answering the phone saying Netflix or Greenlit. Who am I speaking with? And that's you.

They didn't call me by name, but I'm assuming. He has an enormous content budget. He spent 15 billion dollars on programming last year. Yeah, but across the world, it's not so much. Well, but you're paying some stars 30 million dollars, 40 million dollars. Whoa. You know, the pressure on the other studios to match what you've done.

It's been intense. How much is Will Smith getting these days? 40 million? 50 million? I can't say what Will Smith pays. Variety reported that Netflix will likely pay Will Smith 35 million dollars to star in the sequel to the Netflix film Bright. This summer, Netflix moved 100 million dollars of its assets into black-owned banks, and Hastings and his wife gave 120 million of their own money to historically black colleges and universities.

Hastings, whose worth is estimated at 5 billion dollars, has pledged to give away the majority of his wealth to worthy causes. So Ted is your chief in charge of content, content, and then you make him co-CEO. People are wondering whether this is your first step out the door. Well, eventually, but, um, you know, eventually we're all gonna die. They're gonna drag you out by your feet. We'll see.

Now streaming. I used to believe in progress, that no matter what we do, we just end up back at the start. We're in crazy time. The Paramount Plus original series, The Good Fight, returns for its final season. The point isn't the end.

The point is winning. There are bad people in the world. The best way to protect the good people is to convict the bad.

So here's to us. The Good Fight, the final season, now streaming exclusively on Paramount Plus. Former FBI special agent Peter Strzok was fired over text messages critical of President Trump. Now he's writing about his controversial role in the Russia investigation and answering questions from national security correspondent David Martin.

Nobody had any joy in doing this. Nobody was seeking to try and open that case. Peter Strzok is the FBI agent who started it all. Opening the investigation into Donald Trump's campaign three months before the 2016 presidential election. You're the guy that writes the official document that opens the investigation? I do.

Sitting right inside in the house. Inspired by Mick Jagger, of all people, he codenamed the investigation Crossfire Hurricane. Jumping Jack Clash was running through my mind. And one of the lyrics, Mick Jagger kind of swaggering and saying, I was born in a crossfire hurricane kind of hut.

It's a pretty good name. Attorney General William Barr has said Crossfire Hurricane was based on a very thin, slender read. In his new book, Compromise, Strzok describes exactly what that read was. George Papadopoulos at the time was a very young foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign. In May 2016, Justice Trump was emerging as the unlikely Republican front runner.

Thank you, everybody. Papadopoulos was in London having drinks with some Australian diplomats. Papadopoulos told them that somebody on the Trump campaign had received an offer that said the Russians had material that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton and to Obama, and they offered to coordinate the release of that information in a way that would help the Trump campaign. The Australians didn't make much of it until Trump made this appeal about Hillary Clinton's emails. Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. Those Australian diplomats heard that and contacted the FBI. When they saw that statement by Trump that that triggered the memory of the conversation they had with Papadopoulos. So Donald Trump, with his own words, brought this investigation down on himself?

According to what the foreign government told us, yes. Give me the theory of the case when you opened this investigation. Russia had offered to assist electing someone to be president of the United States.

From an intelligence perspective, I can't think of anything more significant. Strzok identified four suspects in the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn, based on their contacts with Russian officials.

That's Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who would become President Trump's first national security advisor, seated next to Vladimir Putin at a 2015 dinner in Moscow. But the FBI turned up nothing incriminating on him. So were you ready to close your investigation of Flynn? We were. That obviously didn't happen.

What changed? He had a bunch of phone calls and contact with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Before the Trump administration had assumed power, Flynn called Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

What's wrong with that? I think what makes a problem is when you look at the content and nature of the things that Flynn tells the ambassador. Flynn asked Kislyak not to retaliate for Obama administration sanctions against Russia. The conversation in which Flynn potentially interfered with Obama's foreign policy was recorded by U.S. intelligence. So instead of closing the case, Strzok sat down to question Flynn.

The strangest thing happened. It was very clear that he wasn't telling the truth. And we repeatedly tried to get him to that by using and offering phrases, the exact things he had said with the ambassador in the conversations.

As a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Flynn knew his conversations with the Russian ambassador would be monitored. So it's the damnedest thing. He knew you knew, but he's still denying it.

I can't explain it. It sounds like the old Washington story. The cover-up is worse than the deed itself. And to this day, I don't think we yet know the true story of what was behind General Flynn's statements to us. Flynn pled guilty to lying. But now the Justice Department has moved to dismiss the charges because Attorney General Barr told CBS News the FBI kept the case open just so Strzok could try to catch Flynn in a lie. And they kept it open for the express purpose of trying to catch lay a perjury trap for General Flynn. Flynn's case pales next to that of another Strzok suspect, Paul Manafort, who served as Trump's campaign chairman. According to a new report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Manafort was a grave counterintelligence threat who sought to secretly share with a Russian intelligence officer sensitive campaign polling data. If it's their polls, isn't it theirs to give to whoever they want to give? If you're giving that to somebody who is passing it to a foreign adversary who is targeting our elections, how is that possibly OK? Is it a crime?

Whether or not it's a crime, to me, it's unequivocally unpatriotic. By the time Manafort was convicted of tax evasion and bank fraud, Strzok was no longer on the case. He had been fired by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for sending anti-Trump text messages to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair.

July 21st, 2016, summer before the election. Trump is a disaster. And then one week later, you open that crossfire hurricane investigation. I mean, it just looks like you saw a way to stop Donald Trump from becoming president of the United States. I can understand why some people might think that, but they had nothing to do with each other. And one week after Strzok opened the investigation, Lisa Page texted him, Trump's not ever going to become president, right?

Right? Strzok replied, no, no, he's not. We'll stop it. So why shouldn't Trump supporters suspect you of using the investigation as a tool to take him down? What I'd point them to are all the investigations that have been done that have conclusively proved that didn't occur.

The Justice Department Inspector General found no evidence that political bias influenced the opening of crossfire hurricane. But it did find serious performance failures in the investigation of another Strzok suspect, campaign advisor Carter Page, who was never charged with any crime. Is it sloppy work or is it FBI agents trying too hard to get something on members of the Trump campaign?

I don't think at all that it's anything improper. You get people who are overworked who make mistakes and don't get me wrong, inexcusable mistakes. Attorney General Barr disagrees. The evidence shows that we're not dealing with just mistakes or sloppiness. There was something far more troubling here and we're going to get to the bottom of it. One FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, has already pled guilty to falsifying a document.

And U.S. Attorney John Durham is conducting a full investigation into the conduct of crossfire hurricane, which will include a reexamination of Strzok's every move. Did you write that? I did write that, sir.

Okay. Were you under duress? Political expression engaging in hyperbole. He remains branded, you might say, compromised by his text messages. The president has accused Strzok of treason, lambasted him on Twitter and even ended his famous Helsinki press conference with Vladimir Putin like this.

And if anybody watched Peter Strzok testify, it was a disgrace to the FBI, it was a disgrace to our country. How does it feel to be in Donald Trump's crosshairs? It's horrible. It angers you. It scares you. That hasn't stopped him from putting one of the president's tweets, Peter Strzok is a fraud, on the cover of his book. You know it's going to put you back in the crosshairs. I do.

Is it going to be worth it? Yes. David, this is a threat that we have not faced in our modern history.

What Russia is doing, what they did in 2016 to attack our election, to help Trump, what they are doing now to do the very same thing is something every American ought to be thinking about and considering. Paris Hilton. You probably know the name, but the person behind the name, maybe not so much.

As Tracey Smith tells us, prepare to be surprised. By now, you probably think you've seen everything from and about Paris Hilton. You know, the socialite who made a career out of being a dumb blonde. A reality TV star famous for being famous. A Barbie doll voice with nothing to say. I don't know. What is Walmart? That persona, she now says, was all an act. Is it like they sell wall stuff? No.

What is it? What do you think the difference is between that character that you created and the real Paris? There's so many differences. With the character, it's mostly kind of this blonde, bubbly, kind of Barbie airhead. And in real life, I'm the exact opposite. I'm not a dumb blonde.

I'm just very good at pretending to be one. You actually knew what Walmart was. Yes, I know exactly what Walmart is. So this is the family home?

Yes, this is my parents' home. And these days, she's talking about a new film that describes a time in her life that she says was too painful to bring up until now. I feel like my parents were scared, and they didn't want their reputations to be ruined. I wonder if some people are going to say, with all that's going on in the world, do you worry that people are going to say, oh, come on, with everything that's happening, should I really care about Paris Hilton?

I think when people see the film, they're going to see a completely different side, and they're going to see I am a human, and I do have feelings, and they're going to understand me a lot more. I know there's so much more to me than what they thought. Paris Hilton, heiress to the storied Hilton Hotel legacy, was born to wealthy but working parents, Richard and Kathy. She says they were strict, no makeup or dates allowed.

But as a teen, Paris had a wild streak, so wild that back in the 90s, mom and dad sent her to a series of behavior modification schools. How did your parents get to the point where they thought that that was the answer? What were you doing?

I wasn't really doing anything. I just moved from LA to New York, and that's why my life completely changed. And basically, I was just sneaking out, going to clubs, and not going to school, and ditching class. And that's when my parents thought it was time for me to go away. So in 1998, then 17-year-old Paris wound up at the Provo Canyon School in Utah, a place for treatment of young people with mental and behavioral challenges. There's no getting out of there.

But in her film, This is Paris, she describes the place as more of a prison camp, with solitary confinement and physical abuse. So they made an example of you. And they would choke you? No. And hit you?

Yes. It's so weird to think now, because I buried this for so long with my emotions. So now to think about it, what happened, it's so weird for me to even be like, how is this really real? We reached out to Provo Canyon. In a statement, they said, in part, that Provo Canyon School was sold by its previous ownership in August 2000, and they therefore cannot comment on the operations or patient experience.

Prior to this time, and also that they do not condone or promote any form of abuse. Paris says she never told her family about her experience there, but suffered nightmares for years afterward. She would say things to me after, like, I still have nightmares.

I'm still in the middle of my night. I feel like, you know, she would say that. And I always take what people say with a grain of salt. Like, I think, yeah, it did bother her, but it was, it was our way of saving you. Why not tell them when you got out? When I got out, I was just so grateful and so happy to be free, that I just didn't even want to bring it up. I was like, I'd rather, you know, just never talk about this.

Just don't think about it. And from the moment I stepped out of that building, is when I decided I'm never telling the story to anyone ever. You thought you'd never tell it?

No, and I didn't think they would believe me, because even hearing myself talk about it, it's just, it sounds impossible to believe. After she left the school, Paris Hilton says she tried her best to forget it. She was a fixture at every high-profile event, and she got famous for all the wrong reasons. Like a 2003 sex tape scandal that made headlines. The sex tape happened after the school. Is there a connection there? That would never have happened if I hadn't went to that school. You don't think the sex tape would have happened?

No. Why not? I just feel when I got out of that school, I was so lost, and then I ended up meeting the person who did that, and I never would have let someone like that in my life if I hadn't went through such experiences. And therefore, I would never have put myself in that situation. But I just wanted love so bad. I didn't really know, I was so naive, and I trusted the wrong person.

And that's something I'll regret for the rest of my life. But despite what she's been through, or maybe because of it, it seems Paris is having the last laugh. She founded her own fashion and merchandise empire, and is reportedly worth about $300 million, a fortune built on self-promotion. You're like the patron saint of the selfie culture, really. Yeah. So do you feel pride or doubt?

A little bit of both. She's lived so much of her life on camera that people think they know her. But at 39, Paris Hilton says she finally knows herself. You said you feel like you've been a kid for so long? In what sense?

Explain that to me. I've always been a kid at heart, and I've always been a kid at heart. I've always been a kid at heart, and I never really wanted to grow up. I feel that's just how I was for so long. Maybe because I didn't really get to have a childhood. But now I'm all grown up.

The song goes, when you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you. How to make those words true in these COVID times is the challenge our Jim Axelrod takes on. I had to run to the grocery store the other day to pick up a couple of things. Watching the cashier behind her protective plastic partition, ringing up my loaf of bread and a couple of bottles of seltzer, I was hit with this surge of gratitude.

No, she wasn't a doctor or a nurse in a COVID ward, but she was certainly exposing herself to a lot more risk every day than I do. I wanted to express my thanks and make sure she knew how deeply I appreciated her essential service. So I locked eyes with her and smiled, the warmest, widest smile I could muster. She looked at me blankly and didn't say a word. It was almost as if she hadn't seen my smile at all.

I was leaving the store when it hit me. Of course, she hadn't seen my smile. My mask had concealed my gratitude. For the rest of the day, with every interaction I had with someone I didn't know, the gas station attendant, the kid behind the takeout counter, I made sure to tell them how thankful I was, my words replacing the smiles they couldn't see.

But still, something was missing. Smiles are the grease for our interpersonal communications, our most efficient way to signal warmth, safety, empathy, compassion, or at the grocery store, gratitude. A non-verbal supplement to expand the limits of what words alone can express. Studies have shown smiles are actually contagious.

They lift the mood of both the source and the target of the smile. And now COVID has robbed us of this critically important tool we use to connect with each other. We've been sad before as a country, living without smiles for a time in the aftermath of assassinations, terror attacks, school shootings.

But this is different. Wearing masks is a structural change in the way we live. COVID has literally wiped the smiles from our faces. COVID has literally wiped the smiles from our faces. So keep this in mind as you go about your business. For now, our words are all we've got.

Not just the ones we choose, but how we deliver them. From behind a mask, tone, and inflection are the new smiles. Forget the face-to-face world. In a mask-to-mask world, the golden rule is that people can't feel what they can't see.

Let's all be part of the solution and find other ways to smile at each other. A few loose ends to attend to in these waning days of summer. We've good news about Alec Kabukunen, the young TV spokesman for the Shriners Hospital, whom we profiled last December. Alec recently recovered from his 17th surgery for an improper bone fusion in his right leg. He's just out of high school and starting remote classes at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. His dream is to become a sports broadcaster.

Best of luck, Alec. We also have a heartening follow-up to Lee Cowan's story in July about Americans who still, in this century, have no regular access to running water. Since that story ran, our Sunday morning viewers have donated more than one million dollars to the group Dig Deep for various water projects across the land.

To all those who contributed, thank you. On another note, we receive a lot of complaints about our political coverage. Roy Keller speaks for many by writing, I really enjoy your show because of its personal stories and feel-good spots.

I don't want to hear your stories on political issues. We get enough of those everywhere else. Please stop.

Believe me, Mr. Keller, we hear you. We really do. And we don't decide to do political stories lightly.

Still, we're a news broadcast, it's an election year, and we've been covering politics since Charles Kuralt launched Sunday morning back in 1979. We'll keep doing political stories when we think they're called for. But we're also going to keep doing all the other stories we know you tune in so loyally to watch. Promise. And speaking of loyal viewership, we were touched by a recent article in the magazine Cigar Aficionado, calling us the greatest show on television. A program that always seems to lift us up rather than tear things down. Well, we thank you for that.

We certainly try. Looking ahead to next weekend, we'll have a preview of the Academy of Country Music Awards from Keith Urban. Drew Barrymore takes us behind the scenes of her new talk show and talk about stars.

We'll show you the night sky as you've never seen it before. I'm Jane Pauley. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. Hi, podcast peeps. It's me, Drew Barrymore.

Oh my goodness. I want to tell you about our new show. It's the Drew's News podcast. And in each episode, me and a weekly guest are going to cover all the quirky, fun, inspiring, and informative stories that exist out in the world because they're going to be the best show on the planet because, well, I need it.

And maybe you do, too. From the newest interior design trend, Barbie Corps, to the right and wrong way to wash your armpits. Also, we're going to get into things that you just kind of won't believe and we're not able to do in daytime television, so watch out. Listen to Drew's News wherever you get your podcasts. We'll be right back with more on the go.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-28 17:53:54 / 2023-01-28 18:10:22 / 16

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