CDC rules TRANSCRIPT: 5/6/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber
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:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can`t keep our country
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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
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.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
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.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLYNIS DONNELLY, FLORIDA SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: I have delved into my
savings account to pay for my employees, and I will continue to do so.
WELDON BOYD, SOUTH CAROLINA SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: Half my people still
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: As you`re saying, Congressman, it`s very hard for so many people
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
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.
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.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DR. RICK BRIGHT, FORMER DIRECTOR, BIOMEDICAL ADVANCED RESEARCH AND
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. .
(END AUDIO CLIP)
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
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
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
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
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
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
JENNIFER JACQUET, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Thanks a lot.
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daniel?
DANIEL UHLFELDER, ATTORNEY: Thank you.
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
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
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
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
S. LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY FOR ARBERY FAMILY: Thank you for having me.
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?
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
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?
MARQ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: What I see is I think what
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
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
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
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.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
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.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
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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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
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