official warns of worsening pandemic TRANSCRIPT: The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Joseph Fair, Ro Khanna, Michelle Goldberg, Howard Dean, Joseph Fair, Hilary Babcock



Hi, Ari.


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

this hour.


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.





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.




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

April 15.


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.





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.




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?



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?




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

the issue


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.





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.




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.


Governor Dean?


DEAN: I was just going to say he has a great public relations career ahead

of him.




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

government says?


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

to do.


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.




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.




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

per case?


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

more contagious.


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

for context.


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.




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.




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.





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.




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.




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?



Thank you, Congressman. I think it`s important to realize that, for

decades, we have underinvested in the public health infrastructure of this





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

with us.


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

Republican-run Washington?


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

the draw?


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

have predicted.


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.




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.






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

professionals` advice.


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

these restrictions.


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.


MELBER: Governor?


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

local governments.


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

health coverage…


DEAN: Right.


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

advance them.


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






generational debate.


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?




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

Biden`s record.


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

them. Right?


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?




MELBER: Can I join you?






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

push forward.


MELBER: You`re nodding.




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?




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

generational divide.


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

whole area.


MELBER: Did you feel pushed out?






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

me, does.


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

little more.


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.




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.











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