CDC rules TRANSCRIPT: 5/6/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

S. Lee Merritt, Joe Kennedy, Katty Kay, Karen Tumulty, Jennifer Jacquet, Marq Claxton, Megan Ranney

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.


We cannot report tonight that America`s virus curve is dramatically

flattening. We do know the Trump administration formally told states, and

thus the country and you, that states should wait weeks until the curve

drops before going through reopening.


And yet, despite that, here is President Trump today:





closed down for years, and we have to do something. And, hopefully, that

won`t be the case, John, but it very well could be the case.


We can`t have our whole country out. Can`t do it. The country won`t take

it. It won`t stand it. It`s not sustainable.




MELBER: Now, there is science behind waiting longer to reopen in many

places. The president pushing, obviously, the way.


As we have seen more states reopen, we can actually assess in realtime –

and it is a grim process, believe me, but we can assess what this does when

you reopen in different places. We are seeing spikes in different parts of

the country.


This chart is courtesy of “The New York Times.” You see New York on the

left, the epicenter of the breakout, in a state that has been under these

stay-at-home orders. The case number, though, is coming down, even in that

hard-hit area on the left. That is the slope you see.


Now look to the right. That`s the rest of the nation, which is confronting

a growing surge. You can see the curve of new cases in New York down very

clearly. And you see the rest of the curve up.


And let`s be clear. Most of the people in most of the country don`t want to

live in what New York looked like over the past few weeks, and yet the red

arrow you see is a sign to varying degrees of what we may be in for.


This is real. This is serious. This is what we`re facing.


Now, let`s take a look at one example of a populous state, not the same as

New York, but has a lot of people, has some big metropolitan areas. We`re

looking at Texas. Today, we are getting a little extra insight into how

Texas is figuring this out. It`s a tough call, as we have covered, for

governors in every single place.


But there is some leaked audio. This was a conference call with legislators

in that state. So, this is state-level policy-making. And you have the

governor there, Greg Abbott, who basically says to the people who he`s

working with that he admits the virus will continue to be spreading and

thus potentially increasing after Texas reopens.


I want you to know, because we always want you to know what you`re seeing

and hearing, the source of this audio was put out by a progressive

organization, that is to say, probably pretty critical of Governor Abbott

in general.


But what you`re looking at looks to be quite realistic and quite valid,

because a representative who we checked with for Governor Abbott`s office

isn`t disputing what you`re about to hear, that he said this.




GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Pretty much every scientific and medical report

shows that, whenever you have a reopening, whether you want to call it a

reopening of business or just a reopening of study in the aftermath of

something like this, that it actually will lead to an increase in spread.

It`s almost ipso facto.




MELBER: Ipso facto, automatic. And Texas is seeing the case of these cases

rise as it reopens various parts of life, including, in the way they`re

doing it in that state, malls, movie theater, dine-in restaurants.


So this is what governors are up against. And, unlike the president, some

of them are publicly acknowledging the trade-offs. Others are holding back

on fully reopening.


There is a range of ways to do it. This is tough.


I want to also tell you that the president was meeting with a different

governor, this one from Iowa, a state that actually didn`t go very far from

shutting down to begin with. And, again, it is grappling with the



These are policy choices, and they have real life-and-death consequences.

Iowa`s latest numbers show the rate of infection growing, with over 10,000

cases to date.


The state`s meatpacking plants were forced to close, because there were

1,600 workers who were sick across four plants in the state. This is

obviously very real life for everyone who works in that kind of plant, who

knows someone there, who lives with someone there. These are all real

decisions, real policy trade-offs.


Now, we were actually speaking, again, because we have been trying to keep

up with this on the ground around the country, with the mayor of Sioux

City, Iowa, one of the hardest-hit places. Take a listen.




BOB SCOTT (I), MAYOR OF SIOUX CITY, IOWA: A lot of people want the get out,

get moving, get things going, and a lot of others are very scared about

what the results will be if we go too quickly.


MELBER: And so what are you telling your constituents day to day right now?


SCOTT: Be vigilant. Stay at home, if you possibly can. Wear a mask. Do

everything – continue to wash your hands. Continue to do everything you

can to stay safe.




MELBER: To begin our coverage tonight, we are joined by Democratic

Congressman Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts – they have a statewide mandatory

face mask order that`s actually going into effect today there – Dr. Megan

Ranney, an emergency room physician and professor of emergency medicine at

Brown University, and Katty Kay, Washington anchor for BBC News.


Thanks to all of you for joining.


Doctor, how do you contrast just two leaders we showed there, the president

basically playing down the idea that there is a trade-off to be made,

saying, hey, it`s inevitable, we have got to get back to work, and the

Texas governor in a moment that he may have thought wasn`t going to be on

television, admitting that, when you reopen, your infection rate goes up?


DR. MEGAN RANNEY, RHODE ISLAND HOSPITAL: So I think there are two important

things to take away from that, Ari.


The first is, this virus is not behind us. It is not in the rear-view

mirror. We have not vanquished it. It is still amongst us.


And, as we reopen – the Texas governor is correct – we are going to see

increased spread. That said, most public health professionals are not

calling, as Trump claims, for a forever shutdown of our country. We, like

everyone, are anxious to protect the mental and emotional and economic

health of Americans.


What we are asking for is a science-driven reopening, where we have

adequate testing, we have adequate protective equipment, we have adequate

access to hospital beds. And the fear is, is that, when we reopen, based

purely on emotion, and not based on science, without providing that

scientific underpinning for the reopening, we are putting lives of

Americans at risk.


MELBER: Congressman?


REP. JOE KENNEDY (D-MA): Wholeheartedly agree with the doctor, right?


And that should be, I think, the stance of most of our policy-makers at

this point. It is that we let science drive the day. Look, this is what Dr.

Fauci said at the very beginning of this crisis, right, is, the virus is

going to respond to science, not hope and aspiration.


And, look, I would love nothing more than to return to normal. I think all

of us would. But the reality is, as you so eloquently said, these decisions

have life-and-death consequences. And you can`t be playing around with

matters of life and death.


Last point here real quick. I was in Chelsea, Massachusetts, yesterday,

which is one of the communities that had been hardest-hit by this as

community in the country. I have never seen a longer line for food in my

entire life in all of my travels and my time living in the developing



The impact that this is having on our communities that is going to be felt

for years is very real. The idea that policy-makers would somehow do

something that would allow for this to spike up again is just



MELBER: You`re talking about what you`re seeing in your work, constituent

services, out with the people you represent.


And on that point, Congressman, take a listen to some of the on-the-ground

report we have from how hard-hit people are in small businesses.





savings account to pay for my employees, and I will continue to do so.



can`t even get paid from the state. We have done everything on our end.


LARISSA BOUSHEE, NORTH DAKOTA: It`s really hard, because I don`t know when

I will get another job, and I also don`t know if I will get unemployment.

So it`s been a very difficult time.




MELBER: As you`re saying, Congressman, it`s very hard for so many people

out here.


And I`m going repeat myself, as we do sometimes in the news. These are all

people who played by the rules, who went to work, paid their taxes, did

their jobs, all of that, and 30 million-plus out of a job not because they

weren`t doing a good job, not because, oh, they took a bet on a business

that just didn`t work, no, because of this macro-health crisis that is none

of our doings.


What do you see as the ethical obligation, then, of government, of

Congress, when you see these stories, how hard it is for people, and yet

you`re saying the science requires even more hardship before we get out

from under?


KENNEDY: So, let`s be clear about a couple of point there, right? It`s not

so much that they didn`t do anything wrong. It`s that they did exactly what

they were supposed to do or what they have to do.


The reason why Chelsea has an infection rate from this virus from known

cases, right – and that`s a massive underestimate – but as of last week,

was nine times higher than the state average. Why? It`s a largely immigrant



A higher percentage of essential workers, the folks that make the rest of

our society run, yes, a lot of them live there. It`s the fact that you have

got multigenerational households. It`s language barriers. It`s the

exploitation that we actually see across so many segments of our society.


And then we turn around and say, oh, I`m sorry, you don`t even get access

to the health care you need in order to prevent the spread of this virus.


And so what is the ethical response? One, there could not be clearer call

to make sure that everyone gets access to health care in country, and that,

particularly in a pandemic, that it`s not just insurance coverage. That

means that you get treated and you`re not going to face bankruptcy.


We means we actually address the structural inequities.




KENNEDY: Go ahead.


MELBER: Since you bring that up, and we wanted to get into that, and then

I`m going to bring Katty Kay in.


But I want to bring detail into this. We try to get into different aspects

each night. You have got a bill here with about 30 other members of

Congress, and you basically are saying, with millions stripped of health

coverage around jobs, the jobs crisis, House Democrats want emergency

expansion of Medicare and Medicaid.


So, specifically, what are you trying to do here?


KENNEDY: We`re trying to make sure that people get access to the health

care that they need when they need it in the midst of a global pandemic.


And this not be earth-shattering. Right? I will defer to the doctor here.

But, like, dear God, what are we supposed to be doing? So, the idea behind

this deal, pretty simple.


If you`re unemployed, you get signed up for Medicare. And we have a drastic

expansion of Medicaid, too, to make sure that every single person is going

to be able to access the health care that they need to stop the spread of

the virus, because if there is one essential lesson of this moment, it`s

that I cannot guarantee my own health if somebody else might be sick and

spreading this virus undetected.


And so my health depends on yours, and your health depends on mine. So

let`s make sure we`re all healthy. That`s the goal.


MELBER: Understood.


We did a little medicine here. We did a little bit of government.


Katty Kay, I come to you for the journalism. Your views on all the above.


KATTY KAY, BBC: Look, I think America`s approach to reopening, it`s got to

be this balance. Everywhere is dealing with the same thing, between

protecting people`s livelihoods and making sure the people are as safe as

possible when it comes to the risk from the virus.


I think what is unique about the United States is that this reopening

process looks so haphazard, that different states are doing different

things, and it doesn`t seem to make very much sense. It certainly doesn`t

make very much scientific sense. There is no reason behind what it`s doing.


Why is Georgia opening tattoo parlors? Why is Texas opening shopping malls?

And when you look at some of the countries who have done this before the

U.S., it`s very methodical. So, Italy, for example, has just announced that

it won`t open bars and restaurants until the reproductive rate of this

virus is below – is at 0.5, so each person only infects half another



It won`t open museums and theaters until the R0 rate is down to zero. I

think people would be reassured to know that there was scientific method

behind what was taking place. That would then give people the confidence to

go into the places of business, because, at the moment, frankly, even those

states that are opening up are finding that most people don`t feel

confident about going back to visit those businesses.


MELBER: Understood.


Katty, I also wanted to play a little bit for you of the president. And

this is unusual. Folks who follow the news know, even long before this

pandemic, the president has certain places he goes, FOX News very often. He

does some talk radio. And he made his points in the Briefing Room,

attacking various reporters.


As Katty knows and as I think viewers may recall, it`s unusual for him to

step out, kind of a campaign season thing. He`s going on network news. He

went on ABC. Take a look at one clip.




DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: Do you believe that`s the reality we`re facing, that

– that lives will be lost to reopen the country?


TRUMP: It`s possible there will be some, because you won`t be locked into

an apartment or a house, or whatever it is.


But, at the same time, we`re going to practice social distancing. We`re

going to be washing hands. We`re going to be doing a lot of the things that

we have learned to do over the last period of time.


And we have to get our country back.




MELBER: What do you think of both what the president is arguing and, as we

head into the summer, what he is effectively doing as campaigning, get our

country back?


You know, far be it from him to put the rhetoric aside for a global health

disaster that is worth the death toll of 10-plus 9/11s. But what do you

think of what he is doing here, Katty?


KAY: Look, I think the muddle that we have seen over the last 24 hours

about whether the Coronavirus Task Force was going to be disbanded or not

is so emblematic of the president`s own ambivalence about the guidelines

that he himself put in place, that his White House instituted.


He has never really been behind them. Why didn`t he wear a mask when he

toured Honeywell yesterday? Why has he been so anxious to say, you have got

to reopen? It`s like he is giving with one hand and taking away with the



And I think that ambivalence is part of the problem. He wants to be in the

mode of getting the economy going and the stock market back up again. That

appears to be his priority. And every time he doesn`t wear a mask, every

time he says liberate Virginia, he is undercutting the public health

message that he is meant to be the prime proponent of.


And I think that`s really confusing for people.


MELBER: Really important.


I want to thank Katty Kay and Congressman Kennedy for kicking us off

tonight. The doctor comes back for something special we`re doing later in

the hour.


So, I will see you soon.


After the break, we have insiders now accusing Jared Kushner of fumbling

the COVID response, detailing cronyism within his handpicked team.


And, as we were just touching on, this task force, what is its future,

after Donald Trump`s own aides say it might be disbanded?


And, later, we`re going get into something you may have been thinking

about, public shaming in the age of the coronavirus. It worked against Mike

Pence, but how do you do it constructively? How do you do it in a way that

helps more than it hurts?


That`s a special discussion we`re having.


And, later, outcry, as new video emerges of this deadly shooting in

Georgia, the victim`s family explaining that this is individual was out for

a jog, unarmed.


I have the family attorney with me, as a special and newsworthy guest on

that important story later tonight.


I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.




MELBER: Who do you put in charge of the federal government`s medical search

to deal with the virus?


Well, someone with no experience in the medical field or emergency response

whatsoever. This is something we have mentioned before, but bears

underscoring, that the president tapped his own son-in-law, who also serves

as his adviser, Jared Kushner, to lead the search and development and

deployment of medical supplies to fight the virus.


The results are in, and many people closest to this are reporting out that

he failed, Kushner tapping volunteers that also, like him had, no actual

experience in the federal procurement process, in medical expertise, in the

very things you need know how to do, and fast. Talk about a learning curve.


“The New York Times” and “Washington Post” both have reports about how

Kushner`s team was completely plagued and hobbled by both inexperience, as

mentioned, and also a type of cronyism, members who had literally no

background in health care or procurement or what can be complex supply

chain operation decision-making.


One volunteer revealing that they were also told along this workload to

prioritize VIPs on their spreadsheets, including FOX News anchor Brian

Kilmeade, who called in with a tip, and FOX News host Jeanine Pirro, who

repeatedly contacted task force members and FEMA officials until 100,000

masks were sent where, to a hospital that she personally favored.


One of the volunteers also exposing all of this to “The New York Times,”

saying – quote – “The nature and scale of the response seemed grossly

inadequate. It was bureaucratic cycles of chaos.”


A team member also filing a formal complaint with the House Oversight

Committee. That is public because “The Washington Post” obtained it.


All of this comes as Donald Trump`s virus task force, which has been

rumored to be, you know, closed down, well, maybe it`s going to be back on.

Take a look at this. These are just two days apart.




TRUMP: Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job, but we`re now

looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is safety and

opening. And we will have a different group probably set up for that.


 I had no idea how popular the task force is, until actually yesterday,

when I started talking about winding it down. It`s done such a good job.

It`s a respected task force.




MELBER: That`s what it looks like when you contradict yourself, and the

cleanup explanation is that this thing is – quote – “popular.”


This is not a popularity contest.


The misinformation that the president circulated in the virus briefings is

what hobbled them, which led to the discussion about ending the entire task



Now, let`s also remember that this is all coming, this back and forth,

about whether to have a task force or have public briefings or whether the

reality show version of it is popular enough to the president`s liking, it

all comes amidst something that is serious as a heart attack, an insider, a

vaccine expert blowing the whistle on President Trump.





DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: We need strong leadership. Americans need to have

all the facts. We cannot afford to silence and dismiss scientists in our

country. There has never been a time in our life where their voice has been

needed more. .




MELBER: A journalist who knows her way around these issues is “The

Washington Post”`s Karen Tumulty.


She says it`s time for Jared Kushner to go.


We will find out exactly why when we`re back together in 30 seconds.




MELBER: We`re back with Karen Tumulty of “The Washington Post.”


She writes in a blunt message that – quote – “We must all be saved from

Jared Kushner.”


Why do you make that case?


KAREN TUMULTY, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, you look at what`s happening at

this moment, where the government stockpile of the kinds of equipment that

our medical first responders needed was running empty.


The president hands this over to his son-in-law, to whom he`s already

handed Middle East peace and building the border wall and criminal justice

reform. I mean, basically anything that lands on the Resolute Desk, it

seems like he hands to his son-in-law.


So, Jared Kushner, who has absolutely no expertise or experience in this

area, brings in a bunch of people from the private sector who are coming in

from venture capital and from management consulting.


They, too, have no expertise in the kinds of equipment needed or how to

procure it. And so we see the inevitable, obvious thing that was going

happen, which is, it got totally bungled, and there was cronyism on top of

that. There was a VIP list where, if you were a Republican congressperson

or if you were a FOX News host, your request and your suggestions got fast-



And a lot of people who were actually in the field who actually knew where

to get ventilators and masks and other equipment were not getting their

calls returned.


MELBER: Yes, and what you document is there`s two interlocking problems at

least, nepotism, which since the dawn of time has been viewed as something

to combat against public service, public interest, and then this

generalized arrogance.


You could imagine a world where someone brings in the – quote, unquote –

“best of the best,” and they get Elon Musk and Bill Gates in here full-

time, and it actually helps. But “The Post,” “The Times,” your piece

alludes to it, documents this arrogant buddy list of people who weren`t



Let me just read from your piece for viewers. You say: “Americans are

facing a crisis of” – I`m sorry. That`s the complaint to the White House.


I want to read from your piece, number two here in your article: “We are

seeing now why government cannot and should not be run like a family

business,” you write. “In normal times, nepotism is merely corrupt, but in

the moment such as the nightmare we`re living through, it can be fatal.”


I just want you would to build on that point.


TUMULTY: Well, nepotism – I think we have never seen a White House that

runs on nepotism quite and a longtime cronyism in the way this one does.


But at a moment, you know – and, again, it`s bad government practices

normally in good times. But now we have people`s lives are on the line, not

only the more than 70,000 Americans who have already died of this virus,

but also the people that we need out there, health care workers who – to

sort of combat this.




And it`s just – it`s all out in the open there. That`s the thing about it.

We wanted to put a spotlight on your piece, Karen. I appreciate you joining

me tonight.


TUMULTY: Thanks. I really appreciate you having me.


MELBER: A hundred percent.


Coming up: the power of public criticism and advocacy to change the

behavior for the better, from the social distancing that we`re all

experimenting with to when you who wear a mask. It`s a special discussion

that I think could be useful.


And, later, we will be joined by the family attorney for the victim in that

deadly Georgia shooting that is getting new attention with a new video.

It`s an important story, and we will bring to it you later tonight.




MELBER: The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly changing how people live.


And it`s putting new pressure on personal behavior that can affect others,

like when this pandemic first hit, and a Tennessee man was basically eying

a business opportunity, as he viewed it, buying up 17,000 bottles of hand

sanitizer, trying to make a profit by reselling them on Amazon.


You may have heard about the story, which drew a huge backlash, which then

led him to back down, donate most of the stockpile and even offer a public





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If, by my actions, anyone was directly impacted and

unable to get sanitizer from one of their local stores because I purchased

it all, I am truly sorry for that.




MELBER: Now, notice something here. That public health dilemma was not

addressed by the government or the police. That man was not fined or

arrested. He was basically swiftly corrected by peer pressure.


We`re now seeing a similar dynamic, as the weather warms up and some public

spaces are filling up, some people now criticizing and trying to shame

people who appear to be violating these rules both online and in person

with public shaming.


Then, of course, there are the efforts to shame the powerful. Vice

President Pence leads this virus task force. He visited the Mayo Clinic

last week without wearing a required mask that the other medical staff



But the public criticism and swift shaming led him to say he was wrong. And

he was conspicuously then wearing one two days later at a ventilator plant.


So, shaming can work, can even foster public health, when deployed



And let`s be clear. There is an obvious difference between shaming a random

civilian and a very powerful official running virus response. There are

also some more subtle differences that we probably need to explore between

shaming, say, extreme sweeping conduct, like depriving a whole neighborhood

of the needed sanitizer, vs. overreacting to a single person taking a walk

on the beach.


Now, researchers call the more enlightened version constructive shaming.


Professor Jennifer Jacquet is an expert in this field and notes in a new

piece that shaming an institution can be quite effective, writing: “The

mayor of New Haven recently shamed Yale University, his alma mater, for

refusing the city use of their dormitories for medical first responders,

stressing the nearby University of New Haven had said yes in the first five



Wait for it.


“Soon after, Yale reversed its decision” – that from the piece, “Public

Shaming Has Only Just Begun.”


And its author, NYU environmental studies Professor Jacquet, joins us right

now. She is also the author of the book, “Is Shame Necessary?” And for the

medical perspective, we`re also joined by Dr. Megan Ranney.


Good to see both of you. Thanks for being here.


RANNEY: Thanks for having us on, Ari.




MELBER: So, professor Jacquet, let me start with you, having worked in this



We walked through some of those examples, including courtesy of you. What

makes for the most effective shaming for public health?


JACQUET: Yes, thanks.


I mean, this is such – it`s such a fruitful time for shame, and I think we

all know how common it is in our daily lives and how uncomfortable it is

right now.


It`s really easy to shame behaviors that are clearly observable and where

there is a clear transgression. So, you have, you know, the gatherings of

10 or more or the social distancing of six feet or more or wearing a mask

as really obvious points of behavior for shaming.


And I think you pointed out some people feel like shame has gone too far in

some of these circumstances. There certainly are some problems there, and I

don`t want to minimize those, but I think there is a lot of opportunity

with shaming, and you have made some of those points already.


But this is a long fight, and we have a lot of opportunity to deliberate.

And we need to be thinking about who is leading us really into harm`s way,

aside from just our neighbors at this point in time.


So I think it`s up to smart people like you, Ari, but also, you know, a

broader conversation about who do we want to shine the polite spotlight on

and for what purpose and how exactly.


MELBER: Right. And that`s what we want to dig into.


It`s important what you say, particularly the nuance, and the doctor will

weigh in as well.


I want to look at one dramatic shaming effort that you have kind of got to

see to believe. It involves the Grim Reaper, never someone you want the

see, on a Florida beach, with the self-proclaimed activist in Grim Reaper

clothing. Take a look.








Yes, I`m here today to try to make a point that we need to – I think it`s

premature that we open our beaches. I think that the danger of bringing all

the people here to our area and spreading the virus, and I think it`s going

to prolong the recovery we have. It`s too soon. And it`s not appropriate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Daniel. Now, Daniel is going to be

beginning his protest right now, and he is going to be at a bunch of other

Walton County beaches throughout the day.




MELBER: Now, I will mention for viewers who may have just joined us, fact-

check, that`s not literally the Grim Reaper, but it was someone trying to

kind of dramatize this.


And so I guess first the professor and then the doctor. What is the best

way for people to think about what works vs. kind of overdoing it?


JACQUET: Well, I really like that example. It`s a great one to choose.


It`s shaming a broad sweeping behavior, rather than a particular

individual. So there is no clear victim of the shaming on the other end.

And it has a kind of nice artistry to it, a cleverness. We`re sort of

chuckling at it.


So I think that`s really great, again, for informing that kind of personal

behavior. But I`d like to see a little more strategy in terms of bigger

bang for your buck.


I like how you called out the whole state of Georgia recently for opening

up too soon and putting its citizens at risk. And I think there is an

opportunity. As the congressman was saying in the last episode, they`re

wanting to push a bill through for emergency expansion of Medicaid for

people who have lost their job in health care and to shame, I think,

politicians who don`t support that bill in a clever way, perhaps not a Grim

Reaper way, but something of that ilk.


And that kind of broad strategy that would help maybe the nation as a

whole, rather than just a particular beach in Florida.


MELBER: Doctor, what do you think?


RANNEY: So I think the history of public health messaging shows that

shaming, or, reframing it, changing social norms, is tremendously effective

in changing behavior.


Jeremy Faust and I wrote a piece that was published in Slate yesterday

talking about how we can change that public messaging effectively. And a

big part of it is creating a normative meaning among our communities that

we expect each other to behave appropriately, that we expect each other to

practice social distancing, we expect each other to wear masks.


And you can think about that on the level of leadership, as Professor

Jacquet just talked about, right? So, it can be about trying the get Trump

or Pence or governors to demonstrate that they too wear masks, whether or

not they`re infected.


But it`s also about all of us as individual communities having those

discussions and reinforcing with each other that that`s what we expect each

other to do. You know, you can think about it like with drunk driving. Back

when I was a kid, drunk driving was talked about as bad, but we didn`t take

people`s keys away. We didn`t create that kind of norm that you`re expected

to call an Uber or to let someone else drive.


And those norms changed thanks to public messaging, thanks to the examples

of influencers and celebrities, but also thanks to those changes within the

community where now we would no longer accept one of our friends getting in

a car after they have had a little too much to drink.


And that`s what we need here too. We need to people no longer accept that

people will walk out in public without a mask, or that they will go and sit

right next to each other if they`re not members of the same household.


So, changing those social norms are just critical for creating change and

protecting our country.


MELBER: Yes, thinking about the history of other social movements that

intersect with medical safety is a good example, Doctor.


And, as we quoted, Professor Jacquet, I thought what you wrote as well

about the institution stuff is important. This shouldn`t devolve into a

question of people just posting pictures of other random people and beating

up on people who basically have very little agency or authority right now.


But when you talk about a public health institution, a university, the vice

president, there is a lot of avenues where it can be, as you put it,



We`re just starting the conversation. I suspect we will be discussing this

more in the days ahead.


Professor and Doctor, thank you both.


JACQUET: Thanks for having me.


MELBER: Appreciate.


Up ahead, what remote working sounds like if you are a Supreme Court

justice. We have some very unusual audio.


But, first, an important story I mentioned to you earlier tonight. I urge

you to stick around for it, because, when we come back, we are going to do

an accountability check with a newsworthy guest discussing this quite

disturbing video and story out of Georgia.


The attorney for the victim`s family when we return.




 MELBER: Turning now to an important story out of Georgia, where a killing

was caught on tape.


This was 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. He is now dead, shot by two men while

he was jogging in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon in February. And

there is brand-new information about this right now, because a newly

released video shows part of a scuffle and the shooting.


Now, as with any story like this, we must note we do not know everything

that happened before the moment you`re going see in the video, which is a

bit shaky.


At first, it`s hard to follow. But it also has what many experts say is key



Also, before I show it to you right now, I must warn you, this is graphic

and disturbing.








MELBER: That is the new video of this shooting.


Arbery`s family attorney says the video shows that those two men there were

the initiators and aggressors in the shooting, calling it a – quote –



Now, there have been no arrests in this case since this all occurred in

February. Two prosecutors recused over conflicts of interest.


We have also reached out to the police department for comment on this



Civil rights leaders pressing for an investigation now, criticizing the

police for inaction already in a case that essentially involves armed white

assailants killing an unarmed black man in broad daylight.


Now, for their part, the men involved in the shooting of Arbery insist that

they acted legally. They say they reached their own conclusion that they

believed Arbery had committed robberies previously in the area.


I also want you to know the first prosecutor to handle this case asserted

that those men had available defenses of – quote – “citizen`s arrest and

self-defense” in shooting this person.


Now, one of those two men, George McMichael, told police that they

basically pulled up beside Arbery. The video actually appears to show the

truck up ahead. You can see it appears to be waiting while Arbery was

jogging towards it.


The police report states – quote – “The two men started fighting over the

shotgun, at which point Travis fired a shot, and then, a second later,

there was a second shot.”


I`m reading that to you because that is what the police wrote down.


But now that the video is public, I want you to know it shows the first

shot fired as this wrestling starts, and three shots fired overall.


Now, as the public scrutiny mounts, a new DA is vowing to bring forward

evidence to a grand jury for possible charges stemming from this February



Now, before I bring in our guest, I want you to understand one more thing.

As a legal matter, going to a grand jury is not the only way to move

forward. As everyone knows from every police drama you have ever seen, the

police arrest suspects all the time without waiting to go to a grand jury.


In addition, while Georgia has reopened nonessential establishments, like

restaurants and beauty salons, the courts do remain closed due to the

pandemic until at least June.


Joining us now on this important story is the attorney for Arbery`s family,

S. Lee Merritt.


Thank you for joining me, sir.




MELBER: What is important for people to understand, based on the available

evidence, in your view, about this case?


MERRITT: It`s important to understand that, for me, the amount of conflict

that exists in the people responsible for prosecuting this case.


The reason that you have two men who have gone unarrested, uncharged,

uninvestigated, really, after murdering a young man is because of the law -

- the close law enforcement ties of one of the assailants.


MELBER: Your view is that the police`s apparent lack of interest or

inaction in what was a shooting in broad daylight, an obvious police

matter, with two identified suspects, is because there is some provable

bias in the links between law enforcement, the DA, and these individuals?


MERRITT: Absolutely.


It`s – obviously, if the shoes were on the other foot, if – and I hate

that his father had to say this, but if Ahmaud and his dad went out and

killed a young white jogger that didn`t have law enforcement ties, they

would be under – at the very least arrested.


The idea that these men still remain at large, that the law enforcement

community has said there is no evidence that they committed any crime at

all, is really scary for the black community of South Georgia and across

the country.


MELBER: Stay with me.


I want to bring in for this discussion Marq Claxton who is an expert that

we have had on the intersection of these issues. He was an NYPD detective,

a law enforcement analyst, and also has worked on these civil rights issues

after leaving the force.


What do you see on the video, Mr. Claxton?



everyone is seeing.


I have to agree to agree with you. It is obscene. It is troubling. It is

disturbing. There are many elements that are painful to watch. Viewer

discretion is definitely advised for watching that video.


But the second part that I understand to be true is that, it`s painfully

and troubling, familiar – familiar in the sense of the investigation and

the prosecution tactics at this point is a very familiar pattern that

appears to be playing itself out, which gives people a tremendous amount of



I have to agree with Attorney Merritt that there is always – because of

the incestuous nature of the relationship, there is always a problem when

you have police involved or law enforcement-related individuals involved in

these cases, and then prosecutors trying to oversee them.


It is obvious, based on documentation, very limited documentation, that`s

been made public up until this point that what we are witnessing, what we

have witnessed up until this point is really the beginnings and the basis

and the making of a continued cover-up.


It would have been quite successful, had there not been some full

disclosure or some disclosure of this videotape. But it`s familiar to those

of you who have seen this before. There have been many cases like this

before, but this is very disturbing, and the video really, really

emphasizes that point.


MELBER: As you mentioned, we`re working off the evidence.


And in a case like this, we don`t have all of the evidence. There is also,

though, a partial transcript of the call to 911.


Detective Claxton, I want to read this to you, because the caller is

identified as saying – quote – “He`s running down the street.”


Dispatch says: “That`s fine. I will get police out there. I just need to

know what he was doing wrong. Was he just on the premises and not supposed

to be?”


The caller says: “He`s been caught on camera a bunch at night. It`s kind of

an ongoing thing.”


Detective Claxton, how does that call, assuming that it can be validly

corroborated as made by one of the individuals involved in the shooting,

how does that call get evaluated, in your view, of whether this was

potentially, as they defend, a justified shooting, or not?


CLAXTON: That call, or at least the transcript for that call, should been

included as evidence. It is one piece of evidence.


 And what you hope to do is to compile all of your pieces of evidence,

whether they be forensic evidence, whether it be telephonic evidence, as

that call is, et cetera.


And you try to recreate what has occurred and put together pieces of the

puzzle, so you have a full picture, and you can make an informed decision

about proceeding as far as prosecution is concerned.


What`s troubling here is that, in spite of the fact that the initial

district attorney, Barnhill, had obtained this information, I`m sure the

call, obviously the videotape, had conducted interviews, had ultimately

decided that he would recuse himself, he still felt compelled, before

recusing himself, to offer a legal opinion on the case itself.


And it spoke – the letter speaks in terms of definitives. It`s concrete in

his mind about the innocence of those individuals in this particular case.

And those are the types of things that have people very troubled, very

concerned and smelling something that doesn`t smell right here.




And, finally, Mr. Merritt, obviously, race hangs over all of this, Stacey

Abrams and Joe Biden weighing in, Biden, of course, the presumptive nominee

of the Democratic Party weighing in on this, what is a local case with

national implications, saying quite crisply today that he believes Arbery

was – quote – “killed in cold blood.”


And he asked for a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his



Your response?


MERRITT: Well, I appreciate Mr. Biden weighing in on this.


We`re way past swift in this case. So, I have to strongly agree with him.

We are way past swift, because this February 23 of 2020. And so we need an

arrest today. And that`s something that can be – that can happen.


The government – I`m sorry – the Georgia Bureau of Investigations can go

out and send out officers. They don`t have to wait for the court to open



The FBI can step in, because we believe that this – there are hate crime

implications all over this case. And all those actions can happen right



MELBER: Understood.


And it is, as both of you have said, quite disturbing.


We mentioned that we contacted the police for comment. We included the

defenses, as stated in the police report, of those individuals. This is

definitely a story we will stay on.


So, S. Lee Merritt, thanks for your time.


And, Marq Claxton, as always, thanks for your expertise, sir.


CLAXTON: Thank you, Ari.


MELBER: Thank you both.


We will be right back.




MELBER: A few things before we go.


I want you to know, Michael Moore is on THE BEAT tomorrow night, along with

some other great guests, so I hope you will rejoin us.


But the other thing I want you to know is, like many Americans, like many

of you, probably, the Supreme Court has been working from home, for the

first time ever holding phone hearings of oral arguments on these pivotal

cases. This has been going on for days this week.


And today`s hearing included something that we believe to be a first in the

history of the United States Supreme Court.


Someone forgot to mute while flushing a toilet.




ROMAN MARTINEZ, ATTORNEY: What the FCC has said is when the subject matter

of the call…




MARTINEZ: … ranges to the topic, then the call is transformed, and it`s a

call that would have been allowed and is no longer allowed.




MELBER: You heard that right.


I guess it brings me to a Lil Wayne lyric I thought I`d never say on the

news. Two words you never hear, Wayne quit. Flush, and watch them go down

the drain quick.


And that does it for us. Good night.







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