official warns of worsening pandemic TRANSCRIPT: The Beat w/ Ari Melber
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: “THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER” starts right now.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Katy. Thank you so much.
We have a lot of news in our program tonight, the president announcing he
will address the nation this evening on the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
It is hitting pandemic levels. We are going to get to what that means later
Also, Bernie Sanders coming out defiant after losing several key states
last night to Joe Biden.
And, later tonight, we go to Queens to hear from voters on the Democrats`
now two-person race, Biden`s surge and how voters are viewing the economy.
We have that brand-new reporting, listening to voters, something we have
tried to do throughout this high-stakes cycle.
But we begin with the latest on the coronavirus, which, today, the World
Health Organization is formally labeling for the first time a pandemic, the
virus spreading to more than 100 countries.
More than 120,000 people have been infected, according to these accounts,
4,300 now dead. Tonight, we are reporting more than 1,100 coronavirus cases
in the United States and more than 30 deaths.
Today, on Capitol Hill, top health official Dr. Anthony Fauci warned this
will get – quote – “worse” before he thinks it will get any better.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS
DISEASES: If we are complacent and don`t do really aggressive containment
and mitigation, the number could go way up and be involved in many, many
Things will get worse than they are right now. How much worse we will get
will depend on our ability to do two things, to contain the influx of
people who are infected coming from the outside and the ability to contain
and mitigate within our own country.
Bottom line, it`s going to get worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s the bottom line from a medical expert.
All of this, of course, rattling not only Americans` fears, changing the
way many people are living in certain communities, but also it is rattling
the markets. There has been a massive sell-off on Wall Street, the Dow down
nearly 6 percent.
That means we are in – quote – “bear market” territory.
House Democrats planning to vote tomorrow on an economic relief bill that
would include paid sick leave, the Trump administration considering a range
of measures, including potentially delaying the tax filing deadline past
The president himself, as mentioned, will be addressing the nation tonight
at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, the first formal address since all of this story has,
of course, reached these levels.
Meanwhile, around the nation, we`re seeing educational institutions
shutting down to prevent the potential spread of the virus, the NCAA
president announcing late today there will be no fans at March Madness
In Kentucky, the governor calling for church services to be nixed. And out
in Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee announcing a formal ban on any
gathering of more than 250 people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE PATTERSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: How far does this extend to
personal events, like parties, like weddings, like funerals? And then what
are the penalties exactly for not abiding by the ban?
GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): The penalties are, you might be killing your grand
dad if you don`t do it, and I`m serious about this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: With that sober warning, we turn to former Vermont Governor and Dr.
Howard Dean, Dr. Hilary Babcock, an infectious disease physician at
Washington University in Saint Louis, and virologist Dr. Joseph Fair, who
is also, we should note, a science contributor right here to MSNBC.
Governor Dean, your view of the way Governor Inslee put it?
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It was a little
harsh, but it`s true.
Look, we`re crippled by not – having exactly no leadership at the top
whatsoever. And I do have a lot of respect for Anthony Fauci, but today he
refused to condemn Trump`s political rallies, which is just stupidity.
So, here`s the problem. One, we`re not going to have a vaccine for 18
months. Two, we have no idea what the infection rate is because we`re not
doing enough testing. We need – if we had 10 or 15 million people who had
were tested, we`d have some idea how fatal this disease was.
We don`t, because the testing sample is so tiny. For all we know, there`s
hundreds and thousands of carriers around. There probably are. And the good
news is, most of us are going to get this at one time or another, and most
of us are going to be just fine.
We`re doing exactly what – the American people, because of the state
health agencies, are doing exactly what we should be doing, all these
quarantines. We`re reducing the speed at which this happens, at which we
all get infected, which means that we`re less likely to overrun the health
care capacity of the country.
And that`s what we can do right now, and we should be doing it.
MELBER: Governor, let me ask you to elaborate on that point, because here
in the news, we report out each thing that`s developing around the nation.
So, as we report out precautions, sometimes, that can be interpreted as
itself a warning or a bad thing even. And yet you, as a health expert and a
former leader of a state government, you`re emphasizing that those very
precautions aren`t necessarily something that should be interpreted by the
wider public as negative, let alone a reason to panic.
DEAN: I think panicking is crazy. But if it takes panic to keep you out of
gatherings of 10,000 people or even 250 people, that`s a good thing.
I don`t think there`s any reason to be panicked. A lot of people already
have this and they never knew they had it. Nothing bad happened to them.
They`re very clear – it`s very clear this is bad for older people.
And that is one of the reasons we`re having all these quarantines. And I
think the NCAA did the right thing. I`m the biggest March Madness fan you
can imagine, but I think they`re doing the right thing by banning
attendance at the games.
MELBER: Dr. Babcock?
DR. HILARY BABCOCK, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: I agree with all the things that
Mr. Dean – Dr. Dean just said.
I think that it`s really important that we use these community mitigation
strategies early. We know, from looking at prior outbreaks and prior
pandemics, that if we can control the amount of infection and slow its
spread in the community, that our health care systems can keep up.
And the best ways to do that is minimize the number of people that any one
person with infection can spread to. So the amount that we can cut back on
these large community gatherings and keep people that are sick at home, the
better we will be.
MELBER: Joseph, your views?
DR. JOSEPH FAIR, MSNBC SCIENCE CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely appropriate.
Everything that is being done by the state government – and I emphasize
the state governments at this point – absolutely appropriate. Limiting the
spread in mass gathering events is how we`re going to get this mitigated. I
won`t call it contained, because we`re well out of the containment phase.
So, what we have to work on is mitigating the spread from further – from
continuing. Average 80 percentile, they`re going to be fine, yet they are
still infectious to those in the high-risk percentile.
And so we can`t lose our grandparents, our parents. We each know someone
with diabetes, heart conditions, pulmonary disease, et cetera. So, even if
you yourself are going to be fine, it`s not something you want to pass on
to someone that you love and potentially cost them their lives.
MELBER: Certainly. Certainly.
And you`re sort of threading the needle of what Dr. Dean was explaining,
which is, there may be plenty of people who have this with little to no
actual negative long-term consequences, and yet the whole spread of it is
And , Dr. Babcock, that brings us back to your area of expertise with
regard to infection, because today is the day that it`s formally declared a
pandemic by the World Health Organization.
Take a listen to that rationale, and so you can give us more expertise on
the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION:
COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.
Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. We cannot say this
loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough. All countries can still
change the course of this pandemic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Dr. Babcock, what does it mean when we are told that it`s formally
a pandemic today?
BABCOCK: So, mostly, this is just labeling what we have been seeing
already, which is that we know there is spread into most continents, most
countries around the globe.
And that`s what makes it a pandemic, instead of an epidemic, that it`s
spreading more widely around the globe. So this doesn`t change the status
of where we were yesterday to where we were today. It`s just a label that
we put on this current status.
And I think his point is well-taken, that it doesn`t mean that the cat is
out of the bag and there`s nothing we can do anymore. All of the strategies
we`re talking about here in terms of community mitigation, people staying
home when they`re sick, washing their hands, avoiding large gatherings, not
shaking hands with people, waving or some other method of greeting that
doesn`t involve touching, all of those things are going to keep us safe and
decrease the impact.
MELBER: I haven`t heard as much about waving. That`s an option.
MELBER: Please, go ahead.
BABCOCK: My son actually said that we should try to – we should try to
popularize this phrase: Catch a wave, not coronavirus.
MELBER: Catch a wave, not coronavirus.
Should I ask how old your son is?
BABCOCK: He`s 14.
MELBER: Pretty good.
DEAN: I was just going to say he has a great public relations career ahead
MELBER: And there is – look, there`s seriousness here, obviously, but when
we talk about training and helping people understand it, there is this part
of it, right?
That`s the other question, Governor, is, we`re talking about the bedside
manner for the entire nation, because there are a great range of health
risks. This is not the only one. This is the one that is new and that is
admittedly scary to some.
But where does that fit in at a time when there are forces in our society
that undermine credibility, undermine science, undermine even what the
DEAN: Well, the interesting thing is, this is something people are really
paying attention to.
All Trump`s B.S. and all this hot air he`s always blowing really doesn`t
have an effect. I was very worried about this. Trump has apparently no
leadership ability whatsoever. But, look, the public is doing the right
I rode Amtrak three times this week. And if there was more than 25 percent
filling of the seats, I would be surprised. That means the average person
gets this. And there are really good people in our universities and in the
state health departments, and they are getting the message.
Governors are being very responsible. I don`t hear much discordancy and
stupidity, outside of the federal government on this issue. And I think
people have turned to their local governments. And that`s the right thing
MELBER: Appreciate the points there.
Joseph. Let me also play Dr. Fauci, who we heard from earlier, and who has
been a real presence on this. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: We would recommend that there not be large crowds. If that means not
having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it.
But as a public health official, anything that has large crowds is
something that would give a risk to spread.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: How important is that, just people understanding that going about
your normal life is different than choosing to be in a large setting, if
you can avoid it?
FAIR: It`s absolutely the right thing to say.
We know that there is community spread in multiple states, if not all of
the states at this point. The states that haven`t reported cases yet, I`m
sure they`re there. They just haven`t had them confirmed yet.
Just last night, I was reporting we just said Michigan didn`t have any
cases. Literally five minutes later, the governor of Michigan came on and
said, we have two confirmed cases. So now today they have five.
We know the rate of infection for this virus is two to three people per
confirmed case. And that`s just the confirmed cases. And that`s without
having the diagnostics rolled out.
MELBER: When you say that, unpack that. What does that mean, two to three
FAIR: So, that means that every individual that has this virus is going to,
on average, infect two to three other people around them in their immediate
And those two to three people will infect two to three people in their
circles. And it just goes logarithmically from there on.
MELBER: And how does that compare to other infectious and airborne
FAIR: Well, it`s much more contagious than what we saw with SARS, for
example. It`s much less fatal than what we saw with SARS.
It is more fatal, multiple times more fatal, than we see with flu. You
often hear the comparison between coronavirus and flu. Coronaviruses do
cause the average cold, and you don`t die of the average cold. But this is
not the average coronavirus.
This one is new to us, and we have no preexisting immunity to this
particular strain of coronavirus. Thus, it`s much more deadly and it`s much
MELBER: You put it very clearly. And what we need are the clear facts, so
people can contextualize this.
Dr. Joseph Fair, I know you`re coming back.
Dr. Babcock, I want to thank you.
And, Governor Dean, I also want to get your views on the – quote, unquote
– B.S. you referred to emanating from parts of the White House. Well,
there is going to be an address tonight. We want your thoughts in advance
Now, coming up tonight, new reports the Trump administration is trying to
classify and keep secret briefings about public health that the public may
want to know. We are also going to look at what Trump will say tonight with
Governor Dean and others.
Meanwhile, back on the campaign trail, Bernie Sanders came out today
defiant, even after losing some big states last night.
And I`m very excited to tell you we will speak to voters in Queens as part
of our special series on this primary race.
I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: We`re tracking several stories for you right now, including Donald
Trump`s impending statement to the nation on coronavirus, which he will
make from the Oval Office.
As you probably know, if you watch the news, Donald Trump doesn`t usually
use that particular forum very often. This is coming after a growing
pressure on the president to address questions not only about this public
health crisis, but specifically as well the administration`s handling of
For example, a report out of Reuters today that the Trump White House tried
to order federal health departments to treat any top-level meetings about
the coronavirus as – quote – “classified.”
Four Trump officials calling it an unusual step which would,
understandably, hamper speedy information flow, while also excluding
government experts who know the things you need in that room and don`t
happen to have security clearances.
Meanwhile, today, two governors with states facing outbreaks speaking out
on the federal government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I think this is going to be the public health
version of Hurricane Katrina. The federal government has just fallen down
on the job, so let the states do it.
GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): I`m not afraid to say that I am extremely
disappointed. Again, my job is protecting the health and safety of the
people of our state, and I need help from the federal government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Those are both, we should note, of course, Democratic governors.
Meanwhile, top health officials, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying things will
get worse before they get better, and the U.S. will certainly see more
Now, that`s important because it`s a medical view that also contradicts a
series of things that President Trump has said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re going down, not up.
We`re going very substantially down, not up.
It`s going to disappear one day. It`s like a miracle. It will disappear.
I like the numbers being where they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined by “New York Times” columnist Michelle Goldberg and
Congressman Ro Khanna, who is on the House Oversight Committee, and also
questioned some top officials today, which we will get to.
How are you, Congressman?
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): I`m doing really well. Thanks for having me on.
MELBER: Thanks for being here. And thank you, Michael.
Beginning with the congressman, given all of the action in Washington.
What is the latest, in your understanding, regarding any legislation to
address this coming out of the House?
KHANNA: We want to do a stimulus. We just want to make sure the stimulus
actually helps working families and middle-class families that`s going to
increase consumer spending and prevent a recession.
So, if there is a program for paid leave, if there is an expansion of the
Earned Income Tax Credit, if there`s an extension of unemployment benefits,
those are things that House Democrats support.
MELBER: You just listed several things that, in traditional times,
including everybody who remembers the Obama era efforts to revive the
economy, were often associated with the left.
What does it tell you that these are now suddenly on the table from the
Trump administration as the markets slump?
KHANNA: Well, it tells me that there`s some people there who have read
This is not left or right. This is obvious to anyone who has studied
economics that the biggest thing you need to do is make sure you increase
consumer demand, that people can spend.
And the way you do that is by getting more money in the pockets of working-
class and middle-class families, who go out and spend the money, as opposed
to the rich, who may put that money in a bank account or stocks.
MELBER: That`s the bill. There`s, of course, the ongoing oversight.
As mentioned, you were right in the center of this. Let`s take a look at
your questioning of a health official today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KHANNA: Do you think our country would have been safer if, let`s say, we
had twice the CDC budget, if we had put it at 3 percent of our national
defense budget in our capacity?
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION:
Thank you, Congressman. I think it`s important to realize that, for
decades, we have underinvested in the public health infrastructure of this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What were you getting at there? Why does it matter now?
KHANNA: Well, the entire budget of the CDC is $10 billion. To put that in
perspective, Ari, our defense budget is $738 billion.
We put 1.5 percent on the CDC. And the reason they have been unable to
expand testing in part is because of a lack of capacity. This should be a
clear signal, warning signal, to every American that we ought to be
doubling the CDC`s budget, investing in public health.
The second thing is that the World Health Organization actually offered
these tests to 60 other countries. That`s why South Korea and other nations
have been able to do testing, 100,000 people tested there, where we have
only had a few thousand.
And we ought to have taken the World Health Organization tests, as opposed
to rejecting them.
MELBER: Stay with me, and let me bring in Michelle Goldberg, who`s here
What does it tell you that, in response to the rising perception of the
public health threat, so many things are suddenly on the table in a largely
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: It`s not clear to me how many
things are on the table, because I think that what you`re hearing from
Republicans, what you`re hearing from the administration is a bailout for
the airlines, a bailout for the hospitality industry, which I would want to
know how much that applied to Trump hotels.
And so we`re seeing, I think, an understanding that there`s a need for some
kind of stimulus. I`m not sure at all that you`re going to get Republicans
on board for a stimulus that actually targets working people, instead of
bails out these giant corporations.
MELBER: When you see the governors we just heard from go at Donald Trump
this quickly, while there is plenty to criticize, do you think that is the
right state level response at this point, or is that a little too quick on
GOLDBERG: This has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks, right? This
isn`t something that just happened or that, as Trump said, nobody could
This is something that actually public health experts saw coming, have been
warning about. And in New York right now, we have hundreds of cases. It`s
still not clear, I think, to a lot of people what the testing capacity is,
how you get a test, how you afford a test if you don`t have health
And so this is a mess. This is a calamity. If you look at where Italy is
right now, where the government just ordered – the whole country is
basically locked down. The government just ordered all private businesses
shut, except for pharmacies and food shops.
We – two weeks ago, Italy had fewer cases than we had now, right? So we
are basically going into what could be an incredibly perilous couple of
weeks with no federal leadership.
Politico has an article that the Trump administration is waiting to issue
an emergency declaration until Jared Kushner finishes his research and
decides if that`s necessary, right? So think about that.
Those are the hands that your families are in, everyone who is watching
this, as your schools are closed, as people worry about whether there`s
going to be hospital capacity, as other countries are basically having to
triage, decide that some patients can be treated and other patients can`t,
because they just don`t have the infrastructure to treat them all,
countries whose public health infrastructure is every bit as robust as
And so we are staring down something absolutely terrifying, with the worst
possible people leading us.
MELBER: Congressman, Michelle lays it out pretty starkly.
KHANNA: I think Michelle is absolutely right.
I mean, the hearings today were surreal. You had Republican after
Republican member of Congress basically asking some version of, this isn`t
really that bad, is it? This is just like the flu. What is so much – why
is there so much concern?
And you literally had Dr. Fauci, who I respect, having to contradict
publicly these Republican members of Congress and pointing out that the
coronavirus is 10 times as lethal as the flu.
KHANNA: And so one of the things in leadership is, you don`t want to cause
panic, but you want to be honest and transparent.
And the systematic downplaying of the risk has, I think, been one of the
greatest failures in the administration.
MELBER: Very striking.
Congressman, given the voting last night, we should mention you`re also
leading congressional chair of the Sanders campaign. He came out today and
said he will keep fighting.
Can you identify, in a couple of sentences, what his path would be to come
back and win the majority of delegates?
KHANNA: He needs to have a transformative debate. There has to be a moment
that changes fundamentally the dynamics of the race.
He`s going to try to do that in the debate, to have a clear contrast. He`s
also going to ask issues that he`s been hearing for a year on the trail and
making sure that those are Democratic priorities, issues like, why is it
that 28 million people are uninsured, and how are they going to get tested
or treated with the coronavirus? What are we doing with student debt?
So, for him, it`s about winning, but it`s mainly about his causes winning.
MELBER: Congressman Khanna, thank you very much.
KHANNA: Thank you.
MELBER: Michelle, stay with me.
As mentioned, the president addresses the nation at 9:00 p.m. tonight. We
have more on that and our special series with voters later in the show,
when we`re back in 30 seconds.
MELBER: The president addresses the nation about coronavirus tonight.
This will be just his second Oval Office address. The first came during the
2019 government shutdown. Today, the president was asked about the gap
between his public statements and, of course, statements contradicting them
and correcting them from his own health administration officials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: What do you say to Americans who are concerned that you`re not
taking this seriously enough and that some of your statements don`t match
what your health experts are saying?
TRUMP: That`s CNN. Fake news.
Go ahead. Thank you very much, everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
We are joined by Michelle Goldberg from “The New York Times” and former
Governor Howard Dean.
Governor, what happens tonight? Is your advice that people should basically
inoculate in advance of any misinformation, or you`re hoping the president
rises to the occasion?
DEAN: You know, this is one of the most – the president is incapable of
rising to any occasion.
So this is one of the most fascinating things about the maturation of the
American people. You know, I have been at meetings recently where there are
a lot of Trump supporters, not the kind you see at the rallies, but
businesspeople who like his fiscal policies and so forth.
They know very well who he is. I actually think that most Americans are
going to listen to Trump, if they listen to him at all, and they`re going
to – they have a compensatory mechanism.
Look, we have made some serious progress by doing the things that the
federal government doesn`t want us to do, more testing, much more
quarantining, stopping big events, even though the president seems to want
to continue his own.
So, I think there`s a bit of maturity coming in the electorate about how
capable Trump is. And I don`t think most people in this country think he`s
very capable, even among his supporters. They don`t want their grandmas to
die either. And I think they are quietly going to take the health
MELBER: Michelle, there is a kind of coarsening and a kind of a – I`m
really looking for the right word, but an ability by more people, even
those who are politically sympathetic to the president, to really just
completely ignore some of this, which may be a very sad statement about the
leadership, but it`s probably a net positive for facts in the country.
I think a lot of people, but, importantly not everyone, right? You see
reports of people who believe that this is all a hoax. You see on FOX News
a sort of division. Right? On the one hand, you have Tucker Carlson saying
to take this very seriously. You have other people on the network saying
that this is just meant to take down Donald Trump, that it`s nothing but a
You obviously had Rush Limbaugh saying this is nothing but a flu. I have
seen T-shirts for sale on right-wing Web sites sort of boasting about their
– COVID-19, their willingness to kind of go out and not heed by any of
And, importantly, a lot of President Trump`s base are the people who are
most susceptible to complications from coronavirus, right? This is not
particularly dangerous for younger people. It`s extremely dangerous for
people in their 60s, and especially their 70s or 80s.
So there are certainly people in this country who are going to listen to
the president and put their lives at risk because of it.
DEAN: Yes, I think that`s right.
Look, I do have faith in the American voters. I obviously think that the
minority of them, by three million, made the wrong decision, and the
Electoral College is what got Trump elected. And people wanted a change,
and they got one.
But I think, after the four years that we have seen, or the three-and-a-
half years that we have seen, people are learning to fend for themselves,
and they still do trust local governments, no matter which party they`re
in, for the most part. And they`re getting pretty good advice from their
And I think that`s a good sign for America as a country, and it`s going to
be a very good sign for the health of the American people.
MELBER: When you look at the problems that we`re facing, Governor, you ran
– before it was cool in the Democratic Party, you ran for more expansive
MELBER: … among other things.
We`re seeing now this discussion. And Michelle made a very fair important
point earlier, which was, let`s not give too much to rhetoric, let`s see
what policies come out.
But we`re certainly seeing, I would say, people in the Republican Party,
including in Congress, discuss this with the idea that people need to go in
and get checked, they need to go to their doctor they need to do XYZ.
Well, we live in a country where a lot of people can`t go to the doctor.
What is your view of all this? And is it a little through the looking glass
that it takes something like this to have even a momentary discussion that
presumably will pull back if this gets under control?
DEAN: Ari, this is not new.
The reason we picked up 40 seats in 2018 was principally because of the
health care. Everybody keeps writing in the paper about the party is moving
to the left and AOC and the Squad. The party is not moving to the left. We
elected 35 people from Oklahoma, Kansas, Orange County, Texas.
I mean, these are – most of whom served in the armed forces. The party is
moving to the center in a practical way.
But I do believe that the vast majority of America – of Democratic voters
want a universal health care system. We can argue about whether you should
force this insurance companies to go out of business or not. Everybody
wants to have health insurance.
And I personally believe that we ought to let people sign up for Medicare.
But we`re not going to get there immediately by forcing people out of out
of the system. But we`re going to get there.
And we should use this opportunity to do it, because the voters have
already spoken once on this. And they`re going to speak again in 2020.
MELBER: You said sign up for Medicare. We have been out talking to voters.
And we keep an eye on these state exit polls. In the Democratic side, the
primary electorates, for the most part, by a majority or about half, have
supported Medicare for all.
I mean, from your experience, medically and politically, does that look
like an all-time high?
DEAN: It certainly is an all-time high.
Look, Medicare for all has become a slogan, and it became involved in a big
fight in the political – in the primaries. People want universal health
care insurance. And they don`t trust insurance companies.
So let`s take those things and figure out how to get this done. I do not
believe the United States Congress is going to pass a, we`re going to get
rid of all the insurance companies bill.
But we need to use this opportunity, no matter who becomes president of the
United States, and this terrible, terrible epidemic that is – or pandemic
– that has been ignored, essentially, by the Trump administration, except
for whatever they think is good for their politics, we need to use that to
get a universal health care system, and a universal health care system that
the majority of Americans are comfortable with.
And I think you – what you just said about the polling data means they`re
getting more and more comfortable with what people will call Medicare for
all, even though that may be different things to different people.
MELBER: We have a lot more in the show, Governor, including looking at this
roiling debate in 2020 and some other stories.
You have worn your doctor hat and your governor hat. I would ask one more
thing, if you would be willing to take your maple syrup hat and give us a
little Vermont expertise. Is that OK with you, before I lose you?
DEAN: I will try it.
MELBER: You saw Bernie Sanders come out today. You know him well, locally,
politically, and otherwise.
How do you interpret the way he came out swinging today, despite losing
some key states last night? And, to be clear, on this program, we have
counted his delegates. We credited him when he was surging above other
There were a lot that he has outlasted, but it would seem right now that he
is not building the type of turnout he would need to get back into the
delegate race. What did you interpret as his message today? What does it
DEAN: It means two things.
One, this is – for Bernie, this is a movement, not just about him. He
deeply cares about these issues, and he wants to do as much as he can to
Two, I really do think he understands that, in order to further his
movement, if the time should be right – and it`s clearly not right for him
– that he should be supporting the Democratic nominee if it`s not him.
I`m not worried about this at all. Bernie`s a fighter. When you have to
leave a race, you have to do it on your terms, not somebody else`s terms.
So he`s going to figure this out. If I were in his position, I`d go another
round and see if I couldn`t change the way things are going. And that`s
what he`s chosen to do.
MELBER: Very interesting.
You get the Governor Dean hat trick for all the different topics. We
appreciate your time.
And, Michelle Goldberg, don`t go anywhere, because I want to get your views
on that and 2020 as well. So, my thanks to my guests.
I have another update on a story we have been covering for such a long
time, and it`s an important update we want you to know about, even with
everything else going on.
Today, Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for his
convictions on sex crime charges. All six women who testified against him
were back in the courtroom today, a dramatic, heartfelt moment for this
Those people were reading what are called victims` impact statements. They
were presenting their arguments. The judge went on to issue this very harsh
sentence and told Weinstein – quote – “Although this is a first
conviction, it is not a first offense.”
Weinstein also spoke on his own behalf. Remember, we haven`t heard from him
in the courtroom setting through this whole process. He did not take the
stand in defense at his trial.
But he said today – this was really striking as we were covering it –
that he is – quote – “totally confused” by this case against him. And he
also argued that he was not and his company was not powerful.
These were the kind of claims that were basically not believable and not
the kind of thing that would have helped him had he taken the stand at
I can tell you Weinstein is scheduled to be moved to a prison for this 23-
year sentence within the following days.
We wanted to give you that update.
But we have a lot more in tonight`s show as well, including, as mentioned,
this next step for Bernie Sanders after Biden`s big wins last night, and a
new installment of our special series where we talk to voters about the way
this race is shaping up.
Stay with us.
MELBER: We have been following coronavirus news basically all hour in this
broadcast tonight, but there`s a lot of other stories, as you know,
including Joe Biden widening his delegate lead over Sanders after blowing
him out in four different states last night, Michigan, Missouri,
Mississippi, and Idaho.
So, that means, as of right now, the delegate count has grown, 838 for
Biden, 691 for Sanders, with Washington still being counted.
Now, there are rumblings that maybe Sanders should do something different.
Today, he came out to this podium and basically made clear he is in this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are winning the
Joe, what are you going to do for the 500,000 people who go bankrupt in our
country because of medically related debt? Joe, what are you going to do to
end the absurdity of the United States of America being the only major
country on Earth where health care is not a human right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Sanders laying out his policy challenges.
Meanwhile, Biden, of course, was talking about thanking Sanders and his
supporters in his victory speeches, and reminding everyone on the
Democratic side they have a common goal, defeating Trump.
We turn to “New York Times”` Michelle Goldberg. We were talking to Governor
Dean about this. I wanted to get your views as well.
We have been juggling a lot of stories tonight.
What do you see as what – what is Bernie Sanders doing in this race now
today, with that speech?
GOLDBERG: Well, I think, mostly, he`s trying to secure policy commitments
from Joe Biden. Right?
If you really want to finish someone off in a debate, you don`t telegraph
everything you`re going to ask them in advance. And I also thought that one
of the most significant things was that he kept saying, what are you going
to do, not, what have you done, meaning that he`s not going to attack – or
at least, as he laid it out today, he didn`t lay out a plan to attack Joe
He laid out a plan to make Joe Biden tell the country and also tell Sanders
supporters how he`s going to address the issues that are most important to
So it could potentially be an opportunity for Joe Biden to make some sort
of outreach to a lot of people who are heartbroken and disillusioned and
people who are the future of the party, and who you want to stay engaged
and you don`t want to make them feel like all of the work that they have
put into this race has been for naught.
MELBER: And voters have not seen Joe Biden in a one-on-one debate in eight
years. Does that matter?
GOLDBERG: I think it definitely matters.
I`m not sure whether this train can be turned around at this point. But
before this thing is finally sealed, I think a lot of people would like to
see how Joe Biden – you know, Joe Biden is not the best debater. He`s
stumbled a few times on the campaign trail.
I think people could rest easier if they could see him handle himself for
90 minutes one-on-one with Bernie Sanders.
And in some ways, although Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump don`t have much
in common on their agenda, they are both very challenging debates. Hillary
Clinton may have underestimated and then seen the way that Sanders comes
back, hits his issues over and over.
It`s a challenge for some candidates. We`re going to see.
Michelle Goldberg, thank you so much on several stories tonight.
GOLDBERG: Thank you.
MELBER: And I`m telling you, if you`re watching THE BEAT, please do not go
anywhere, because, right after this break, we get to the segment we`re so
excited about tonight, hearing directly from Democratic primary voters in
Queens, New York, at the Bel Aire Diner, a special BEAT conversation about
Biden vs. Sanders, their competing economic vision, and something we have
heard on the trail this year, grappling with party unity at a time when so
many want to confront and defeat President Trump.
We will hear from civic leaders and voters unfiltered for this real
dialogue right after this break.
MELBER: THE BEAT is out here in the field at the Bel Aire Diner in Astoria,
Queens. We`re talking to voters and local leaders about the thing on so
many people`s minds, this presidential race, and specifically a Democratic
primary that`s narrowed to just two major choices, Biden and Sanders.
How are you doing this morning?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m fine. How are you, Ari?
MELBER: I`m great. Thanks for being here.
How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good, Ari. How are you?
MELBER: I`m great.
And I wanted to ask. Here we are. We have seen the race finally narrow to
two people. We have seen the voting. What`s on your mind right now when you
look at the choice in the Democratic primary?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With Bernie, he wants to do too much too fast. The
question is, do you want to get rid of Trump or do you want to change the
And, you know, we have to get rid of Trump. That`s the priority. And I
think Joe Biden will help us do that.
MELBER: And do you think Joe Biden would be where he is without the
strength and support of African-American Democrats in this country?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, he would not. So we will take a bow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we`re a very important part of his coalition.
MELBER: Thanks for talking to me.
I`m going to pop over here.
How are you guys doing? What brings you to the diner, breakfast or did you
come to talk politics?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came to listen.
MELBER: You know, Bernie Sanders, straight out of Brooklyn, do you think he
has good ideas for the Democratic Party or too far, like we were hearing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Too far. I think the other guy is more focused. Biden
is more focused.
MELBER: And who would you like to see win the nomination?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m supporting Bernie Sanders.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t tend to assume that I want things to go back
to the way that they were before Trump and that then we can pick up trying
to get more done.
MELBER: Here we have a liberal Democrat that says it`s too left for her.
What does democratic socialism means to you? or why do you find it not too
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s hard for me to imagine how life gets more livable
for most people who live in this country without just massive
redistribution of resources and major investment in people`s daily needs.
MELBER: I appreciate you guys sharing the table with each other and with
Let me pop over here.
How are you all doing over here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you doing?
MELBER: Can I join you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
MELBER: All right.
So, when you see a choice between Sanders and Biden, what is that choice to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a Biden person.
MELBER: What about you, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel the same way.
I think that Biden has been through the good, bad and the ugly. I think
that Joe has traction because he was with the first African-American
president of the United States of America. That`s history.
Now, I do agree that we can`t have more of the same, all right? I think
that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, they raise a valid point when
they talk about the wealth gap in America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me, Joe Biden is more practical when it comes to
advancing the country.
So, Bernie Sanders does have great ideas that`s going to affect the
majority of us sitting at this table, sitting in this room, because we`re
going to have to give up more. And we really don`t have much.
So, we have – at least with Joe Biden, we can at least trust that he can
choose people and say, you know what, I will choose people who are
innovative, I will choose people who are progressive, I will choose people
who can be boots on the ground and hear the ideas, what we got to go and
MELBER: You`re nodding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I agree.
I think, when we talk about age – I`m approaching 70, so I don`t like to
get into the whole age thing – I think Joe Biden…
MELBER: You said you`re almost 70?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MELBER: So, you`re almost old enough to be the Democratic nominee.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s right. And I could be the first woman
president. Wouldn`t that be great?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we need people we can trust, people who can get
the job done, people who can reach across the aisle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was talking earlier I have two younger sons. The
younger one is still riding for Biden – for Bernie.
And I`m trying to explain to them that they need to add the historical
context to what they`re seeing in terms of making their decisions.
MELBER: So, you`re having that conversation around your family table?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every day almost.
MELBER: And do they ever lobby you and say, dad, you actually got to look
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I get the OK, boomers.
As a boomer, we told our kids to do all these things right, go to school,
get a good job, buy a home. And all these kids did the right thing, and
they can`t do any of those things.
And some of them get very resentful, and, therefore – and point the finger
at the people of the “establishment” – quote, unquote – the Bidens of the
MELBER: Let me table-hop then, because you`re talking about this
And we have been hearing that over here as well. And when you hear this
concern over here, and a self-described boomer, he OK, boomered, himself.
You don`t see that every day.
Do you see a place for capitalism, or is the goal here for Sanders
supporters of a certain generation to really replace capitalism?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have entire systems set up already that are not
able to be thrown out in a day. But what I see Sanders wanting to do is
just to alleviate some of the economic burdens that people have.
MELBER: I`m going to jump around a little more.
How are we doing over here? Are you a Queens resident?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m local, right down the street.
MELBER: What about yourself, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was born in Manhattan, but I left.
MELBER: Why did you leave?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they built Lincoln Center. I came from Lincoln
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we had to leave because of the remodeling of the
MELBER: Did you feel pushed out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I sure did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a great community of Italian and Irish.
MELBER: What does democratic socialism mean to you, if anything?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really, it means the sharing of wealth. And I don`t
really have that much of a problem with the sharing of wealth, since I
don`t have any.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, though, that government and people have an
obligation to help other people. I think that`s part of what government, to
And democratic socialism seems to go in that direction, but I don`t think
it`s realistic, and I don`t think it`s electable.
MELBER: Let`s jump and do another table.
How are you all doing over here? Who would you prefer between Sanders and
Biden, if that`s the choice now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would rather Biden, but I think we still stay the same
if Biden is – I don`t see how the same – I don`t see how this country
changes, when the same type of person is in charge, even though they`re
from different parties.
At this point, the irreparable damage that Trump will cause for another
four years, it`s – you can`t risk it. So, whoever the nominee is for the
Democratic side, I have to go with them.
MELBER: Let me jump right over here.
You have been listening to this conversation in the diner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, quite closely.
MELBER: Biden and Sanders, what do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will be voting for Biden. I did support Bernie Sanders
in the primary in 2016.
MELBER: So, you`re a Sanders voter from last cycle who has gone to Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last cycle, yes.
Well, last cycle, I was looking for change, but it was a much smaller
field, so I found more change and more progress in his platform in 2016.
But we had a much wider field this year, so I was able to pick and choose a
MELBER: What do you say to voters who do back Sanders and say, if he`s not
the nominee, maybe they will stay home in November?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that`s a shortsighted view. As I said, I`m not
supporting Sanders in this primary, but if he gets the nomination, I`m
definitely going to vote blue.
MELBER: So many important points we have heard here at the Bel Aire Diner
in Queens, THE BEAT on location.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MELBER: And we will be right back.
MELBER: THE BEAT has been broadcasting from the Bel Aire Diner right here
in Astoria, Queens.
Thank you, everyone, for having us.
MELBER: It`s been such an interesting set of conversations, talking about
these election results, the divide in the Democratic Party and the road to
So, again, we appreciate it.
As always, keep it locked right here on MSNBC.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the