CDC rules TRANSCRIPT: 5/21/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: And THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.
Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you very much.
Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.
We have a huge show tonight, and I will tell you why.
The president is visiting a swing state and clashing with Michigan
officials. That state`s own attorney general, the top law enforcement
official in the state, is here on THE BEAT tonight. And she is telling the
president in no uncertain terms, if he won`t wear a mask, he will not be
asked to return to the state.
So, we will get into all of that and what he did today.
Also, jobless claims soaring to almost 40 million. Robert Reich, a friend
of THE BEAT, is here to give us the perspective we need.
And, later, Donald Trump`s former lawyer Michael Cohen officially out of
prison. You`re looking at him walking out with a newfound freedom with his
mask, going into his home. The great Maya Wiley is here tonight. We`re
going get into all of that.
But we do begin, as mentioned, in Michigan.
Here are the facts. Over 50,000 there have coronavirus. And like many other
states, and, frankly, like Donald Trump`s own CDC, the official guidance
there is, people have to wear a mask when they are at enclosed public
And this is already teeing up a battle, I guess, fit for the summer of
2020. The president using today to make it all about publicly defying that
guidance, while also now offering a very Trumpian defense.
He is claiming he did wear a mask at one point, you just couldn`t see it
because he wasn`t on camera.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wore one in this back area.
But I didn`t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.
Everybody has been tested, and I have been tested. In fact, I was tested
this morning. So, it`s not necessary.
I was given a choice. And I had one on in an area where they preferred it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Meanwhile, experts are weighing the grim results of the policies
that everyone`s been living through thus far. This can inform future
decisions. This is not just idle review of what happened.
This is about what we do next. And the results showed that timing is key;
36,000 lives, according to this new study, might have been saved if social
distancing began just one week earlier than it did in that crucial period.
And as the economy in all states are reopening, experts warning there is
still this risk of the second wave, depending where you live in certain hot
spots in the nation. The warning is that there is a risk for resurgence.
Now, one of these scientists is, of course, top infectious expert Dr.
Anthony Fauci. You may have noticed that, after many public appearances,
for whatever reason, we haven`t seen him on television with interviews
recently, but he is telling print reporters there is no doubt there will be
new waves of cases.
Let`s get right to our experts, Dr. Natalie Azar, a rheumatologist at NYU
Langone Medical Center, “New York Times”` Michelle Goldberg, and Bill
Kristol, who leads Defending Democracies together and has experience in a
Republican White House.
And, Dr. Azar, I want to begin, as we often do, just running through the
science with you. Your reaction first to this study that gives an estimate
as to how we think about the policies and where we go?
DR. NATALIE AZAR, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, so I think – honestly,
Ari, I think the real take-home here is not so much what we did. We could
hash that out, honestly, until we are just exhausted of it.
If you just look at a quick timeline of what happened in our experience, we
had our first case on January 20. We had our first death on U.S. soil on
February 29. And by early April, there were greater than one million cases
And in that period of time that this study was referring to, that March
time frame, we didn`t implement social distancing early enough, according
And a thing to remember about these models is, they`re based on
assumptions. They`re based on hypothetical assumptions. They`re also based
on an ideal scenario. But, in reality, what we have is a lot of
uncertainty. We have a lot of economic concerns and just, frankly, a lot of
But I think more important than going back to that is thinking about this
as what we do in the future. And I think all experts would agree that, now
that we know this – and hindsight, of course, is 2020 – is that, as we
start to relax social distancing measures moving forward as we`re
reopening, we have to be so astutely careful of a resurgence.
And we do that with testing, of course, and tracing, as that, as soon as we
see that, we really, really strongly re-implement those social distancing
measures. That`s really what we have to take from that, not what happened.
We have to learn from that and use it as we move forward.
MELBER: You mentioned learning, and we have been at this from the start,
trying to take the different bits of information, and even some true
information can lead to disproportionate reaction or disproportionate
You and other experts have come on the air and walked us through what to
focus on, like the distancing, like the germ and handwashing and these
There is a study I want to point to for that very reason in proportion for
you to walk us through it, CDC noting that the bottom line is, surfaces are
not the main way this virus spreads, that it`s possible, but the main way
the virus spreads is through this person-to-person contact.
Can you walk us through that again with news we can use tonight on plain
English? Because, at the beginning, and some people were being very
careful. They were scrubbing down every item, everything. And it`s fine to
be more on the side of sanitized.
But walk us through what this means now.
AZAR: Yes. OK. So, this is really important.
The CDC is very, very much saying that their language on transmission has
not changed. That means that the main mode of transmission is human-to-
human, and it`s primarily through respiratory droplets.
Their purpose – what changed on their Web site today was this, the area on
other contact or other transmission. The headline used to read spread from
contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. It now reads, the virus does
not spread easily in other ways.
Basically, all they wanted to do was clarify other types of spread other
than respiratory, but they – this isn`t new science. This isn`t a new
study. It really is just in the wording, and they are reemphasizing that
the major mode of transmission is, as we have said from the beginning…
AZAR: … the respiratory droplets. Not saying it`s impossible that it can
happen from contact with surfaces, but I think they really want to drive
home the point that it`s all up here, rather than objects.
That make sense.
MELBER: Right, which is – it makes perfect sense. And we wanted to get you
on that, because, yes, if somebody comes from a particularly high-risk area
and they want to discard things or be very careful when they go back to
what some experts have called your more safe zone, that`s fine.
But your focus, your proportionate focus should be on what`s going on with
your face, your hands and the people that you get near, not necessarily
sanitizing every grocery bag.
MELBER: Doctor, we like to get the scientific facts from you often to kick
Thank you so much for being a part of THE BEAT tonight.
MELBER: Appreciate it.
Michelle, listen to the president talking about reopening churches. Here we
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I want to normalize. One of the other things I want to do is get the
churches open. The churches are not being treated with respect by a lot of
the Democrat governors.
I want to get our churches open. And we`re going to take a very strong
position on that very soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, there has been a number of
cases recently of churches that have opened and have had to immediately
close, because there has been widespread transmission and even death.
And if you look at what we know about how this virus transmits, it`s having
a lot of people in an indoor space. And things like singing and speaking
loudly and sort of projecting your voice tend to be, at least in my
layperson`s understanding of the scientific consensus, seem to be really
And so I think a lot of people want the get churches and all kinds of other
places where people gather for comfort at this horrific time open again.
But I think what we see again and again is that this president has very
little concern for the people who are actually in his base. He is perfectly
willing to put them in very dangerous situations, if he thinks that he gets
some short-term political benefit from it.
MELBER: Bill, I`m curious your view on that, as well as this little mass
And for bonus points, if you have a priest and rabbi joke, you can tilt.
That`s really your personal call.
BILL KRISTOL, FORMER EDITOR, “THE WEEKLY STANDARD”: You know, I was
thinking, though, about our synagogue. We
And Have it`s – Judaism wants people to come together, obviously, and
there are actual certainly – certain requirements of having 10 people come
together to fulfill certain requirements of the religion, to say a prayer
for those who are deceased and so forth, and yet people haven`t come
KRISTOL: Yes. Yes.
MELBER: Bill, if you`re going to come on the show and refer to a minyan,
you just call it a minyan.
KRISTOL: OK. Well, OK, anyway.
MELBER: I will just tell everyone, these are Jewish references. It`s not
just rap references. Sometimes, there`s Jewish references.
MELBER: Go ahead.
KRISTOL: I don`t want to get in stuff (AUDIO GAP) orthodox, reform,
conservative. We could really go down a rabbit hole there.
KRISTOL: Anyway, all I`m saying is, responsible religious leaders are
telling their parishioners and members of their congregations, look, we
have to sacrifice something here.
Now, everyone wants to open up, both in terms of religious observance and
business. But this is why the mask thing isn`t just a little fracas,
actually. It`s pretty serious. If you`re going to open up, the masks are
more important than ever.
If we`re all sitting at home, as I am and you are…
KRISTOL: … we don`t need masks, because we`re at home and we`re in our
place and hopefully we have kept it fairly secure.
Precisely if one is going to go out to stores, precisely if one`s going to
work, precisely if one`s going to go to a church service or something else,
one needs to wear masks, not only – not so much to protect oneself, but to
And that`s why Trump`s irresponsibility here, precisely as he`s calling for
opening up, is particularly appalling. I mean, this is the moment where a
responsible person who is on the side, so to speak, of let`s get the
country going again, needs to say, but let`s do it responsibly.
And be careful and wear masks and do certain other things to make sure that
this does not lead to a 1918-type second outbreak, which really could be
terrible. And I`m now more worried about this than I was a couple of weeks
ago, just watching the president and people react to him and feeling that,
hey, it`s going to be fine.
The message the government sends now needs to be, in a funny way, even more
cautious as we`re opening up.
GOLDBERG: Well, I was struck by the president when he was at that – when
he was in Michigan saying he didn`t want to give the press the pleasure of
seeing him in a mask, right, because what he is telegraphing there is that
wearing a mask is somehow humiliating.
You don`t want to be caught wearing a mask. And most people in this
country, I think, are behaving pretty responsibly, and you see people in
surveys. There is pretty overwhelming support for wearing a mask when
you`re in crowds.
But inasmuch as he is able to turn this into a culture war issue to make
wearing a mask a sign of submission to democratic enormous and kind of make
defiance of health guidelines a sign of your belonging in MAGA world, then
we`re going to see a lot more cases, and we`re going to, ironically, end up
reopening even slower or having to shut down again after these sort of
initial gestures towards reopening.
MELBER: Yes, Bill, how about that?
Because there`s many issues, including all of these so-called nanny state
issues, where, in the past, I`m sure you identified with some of the
concerns about large federal regulation, et cetera.
But this isn`t close to that. This is, as Michelle said, obviously what his
own administration experts say is required, and now it`s being maligned.
KRISTOL: Yes, it`s his own guidance from his own public health
professionals and from elected professionals and people who work for
elected governors in 50 states.
And I do think, to the credit, as Michelle says, of the country, people are
trying – mostly trying to be responsible. But it is bad to have this fake
kind of, you know, this is freedom to infect other people or to put other
people at risk. It`s going to cause other people who aren`t confident that
the people are behaving responsibly not to go out.
It really is going to slow down a healthy reopening. Are you going to go –
if you think people aren`t behaving responsible and you`re a teacher or a
janitor in a school, are you going to feel comfortable going back to
If you`re confident other people are taking care, then you can get out a
MELBER: Right. That`s a key…
KRISTOL: Yes. And it is irresponsible.
And one of the other things he`s doing, the voting thing too, which is its
own issue and an important one too, and we have discussed it on this show,
but just think what signal he is sending by mocking the notion that people,
especially older people, would like to vote for mail. And it would be safe
for everyone for them to do so. Safe for the poll workers not to deal with
MELBER: Yes, these things have – they have a purpose to them.
I`m being told we`re actually getting some breaking news, so I am wrapping
I want to thank Bill Kristol and Michelle Goldberg.
Thanks to both you have.
We`re getting breaking news in a case we have been covering, new arrests in
the Ahmaud Arbery case.
We`re going to fit in a quick break, but I`m being told this, so we`re
going get right into it. We have Maya Wiley here for that, as well as the
other big story, Michael Cohen getting home tonight thanks to COVID relief.
And, later, our live interview with Michigan attorney general – Michigan`s
attorney general on this whole debate about masks and what`s really going
on in that state.
Also, top Republican leaders now moving to cut off economic aid, even as
the unemployment rolls swell.
A lot coming up.
I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Breaking news right now in a major legal case.
This is another arrest and new charges in that fatal shooting of Ahmaud
Arbery. This is the third individual, the one who is believed to have
recorded that now widespread video, and he is being arrested on more than
one charge, including felony murder.
Arbery`s attorney had called for this very arrest, saying it is not only
about – quote – “the man who pulled the trigger.”
This is a major development in this story.
I`m joined now by Maya Wiley, who is a former civil prosecutor in the
Southern District of New York and who has worked on civil rights issues
throughout her career.
Maya, thank you for joining us.
As I told viewers when we were going break, this is a topic you know
intimately, but different than what we booked you on because of the
Your response to both the timing and the development of this charge and the
fact that it is what legally is a very aggressive charge in this instance,
a felony murder charge.
MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.
I think we knew that there was investigation from news reports about this
third suspect or witness, depending on who took to believe.
WILEY: And what we know is that the family had been calling for his arrest
because Mr. McMichael, Gregory McMichael, said apparently in an early
statement to police that this third person, Roddie is his nickname,
actually helped to block Mr. Arbery`s attempts to escape them.
And, remember, he was escaping someone who had a gun and a truck that had
blocked his way. So, there`s obviously legitimate reason for anyone to try
to run from that.
So why was this third person using his vehicle, according to Gregory
McMichael to block his – Mr. Arbery`s running away from someone who is
MELBER: Right. So you`re walking us through…
WILEY: … if he wasn`t part of an agreement?
MELBER: That`s the legal part of what would support this potential charge,
that there was a part of a plot or a conspiracy to commit the murder.
Then there is the wider part of this that viewers are well aware of, which
is, well, if this was such a terrible felony murder, as now charged in
Georgia, why wasn`t it charged when it happened?
Why wasn`t it charged when they obtained this video?
Can you give us any insights to what you think is happening here in a case
that many have pointed out was, sadly, reminiscent of other cases of in
alleged racism in the criminal justice system? But here something seems to
be changing under pressure.
I think, number one, just to make sure the audience understands felony
murder, you don`t actually have to plan to kill someone to be guilty of
felony murder, as long as you had planned to participate in an underlying
So, in this case, if they didn`t have a legal right to stop Mr. Arbery,
which, according to some of the public records, it does not appear that
they had, they didn`t witness him committing a felony, which is what is
required under Georgia law to go chase somebody down and try to hold them
And so, in this case, you know, remember that we had a series of
prosecutors before there was a prosecutor who was willing to bring charges
in the first place. We had the second prosecutor on the case write a
lengthy letter essentially saying that the McMichaels weren`t guilty of
anything, and that there were no grounds to release – to arrest them, and
had made that determination the day after the shooting, which means
essentially there was not a significant investigation at the time of his
WILEY: So it really wasn`t until we get to this essentially fourth round of
investigation and prosecutors that they start peeling back the onion and
doing what investigators do and really looking at all the pieces.
And I would guess that there are things they wanted to sort out around the
McMichaels before they expanded out to whether or not this third person was
in fact a felony murderer.
MELBER: It`s incredibly striking.
And having reported on a range of cases, this one is a particularly delayed
and unusual set of developments, with allegations of racial disparities
hanging over all of it.
So, we really wanted to bring that up, this breaking news, again, for those
joining us, a third arrest, this one on felony murder, in this Ahmaud
Arbery case, the killing of an unarmed African-American jogger in Georgia.
So, Maya Wiley, I want to ask you to stay with me here for the thing that I
planned to interview you about, and that we did mention higher in the show,
which is this other development, Trump`s former lawyer Michael Cohen now
out of prison.
Take a look at the scene today as he got his freedom and is heading to home
confinement, walking here in New York with a mask on going into his
apartment building. This was Park Avenue just this morning, Cohen stepping
out of the car there with his mask, obviously, you see that, and plenty of
He has become something of a national political celebrity, one of the
people who most notoriously turned on Trump. You see him here in that
congressional testimony he gave. Cohen will serve out the rest of his
three-year sentence basically from home.
The release comes just one week after Paul Manafort got out. And there is a
lot of questions here about fairness, objections that Barr`s DOJ has been
And even beyond the Trump administration, I want to mention, many state
systems continue to favor inmates with money to fund lawyers who can
personally press their case to get COVID relief.
And, Maya, I turn that question back to you. These are complex issues. If
there is going to be a humanitarian approach for more at-risk folks, fine.
Then it should be done fairly and equally for all people of a certain age
with a certain type of offense.
As we have documented, that`s not always been the case. So I`m curious what
you think is important as we now watch two high-profile people from this
Mueller prosecution, where it began, now out of prison.
WILEY: Yes, I think it takes us to essentially what we have been talking
about around coronavirus and the Trump administration from day one.
The Bureau of Prisons, just like the Trump administration, writ large,
denied the seriousness of COVID-19. It did not jump on how to protect
inmates. And even, remember, the compassionate release, which is what this
is called, existed before the pandemic.
WILEY: And what we saw is the Bureau of Prisons, essentially, you know,
fumbling the ball repeatedly, to the point where we even had a federal
judge here in New York call the Bureau of Prisons` treatment of the
compassionate release process as Kafkaesque.
There is no question that, essentially, under the FIRST STEP Act, they took
an important step in saying, we can`t have the Bureau of Prisons blocking
prisoners from getting to the court to try to get to try to get this
compassionate relief, because that`s what was happening before the FIRST
But it hadn`t really changed the equation. You have to go – an inmate has
to go to the Bureau of Prisons to the warden and say, look, I`m sick. I`m
at risk. I have been basically playing by the rules here in prison.
WILEY: Let me out, because this is dangerous to my health.
And what advocates have said is, that should be how it`s viewed. And,
instead, the Bureau of Prisons wanted to use an artificial intelligence
tool called PATTERN, which civil rights activists rightly immediately
raised huge alarm bells around, once William Barr did issue guidance.
And that was discriminatory. Seven percent of black inmates would get
released and 30 percent of white inmates would get released under that
MELBER: It`s all such important context.
And viewers will note Maya Wiley coming correct, as they say, both on a
story you weren`t necessarily prepared or asked upon, but you were prepared
in advance, because you`re probably well-informed, and then the story we
planned to talk about.
I really appreciate your expertise. You have given us a lot of insight
WILEY: Thank you. Pleasure to be with you.
MELBER: Thank you. Absolutely.
We will be back in just 30 seconds with Michigan`s attorney general.
MELBER: President Trump`s at a Ford factory in Michigan.
He has been going to several states that are also swing states for his
COVID visits, unemployment, of course, surging. The so-called coronavirus
crisis stops are, of course, on taxpayer dime, although other presidents
have made similar trips.
In Pennsylvania, Donald Trump was attacking Joe Biden at a medical
facility. In Arizona, he went to a mask facility, and then talked about his
2016 win, more of a political topic.
Today, in Michigan, a hard-hit coronavirus state, he was also attacking
Biden, also clashing with Michigan Governor Whitmer, and threatening to cut
off funding for the state for voting in the upcoming election.
And then there was the beef with the governor over not wearing a mask,
which is a violation of the state`s executive order. We noted, Donald Trump
says he did wear one at one point.
The attorney general has issued an ultimatum: Wear the mask, or you won`t
be invited back.
And joining us now is that attorney general, Dana Nessel, from Michigan.
Thank you for joining us.
Your reaction to what the president has now done today?
DANA NESSEL, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it`s disappointing and yet
totally predictable in what we have come to expect from Donald Trump as
president of the United States.
MELBER: And what are you going to do, given what you have said publicly?
NESSEL: Honestly, in the event that he decides to return, I`m going to have
to speak to any and all facilities that he intends to tour and let them
know that it violates the governor`s executive order for him to come at
all, quite honestly, because visits aren`t supposed to be allowed.
Tours are not supposed to be allowed in the first place. But the governor
indicated that she welcomed him here to the state for him to tour Ford and
to see their amazing work transitioning now to working on ventilators,
which have saved so many lives.
But he – how disrespectful to come in and then to at least refuse to wear
a mask publicly. What I have heard now is that, privately, he wore one for
part of the time that he was on a tour. But as soon as there were cameras,
he quickly removed it because he didn`t want the press to see him wearing a
mask, which is absolutely ludicrous.
Leaders lead by example, and he is the poorest example of leadership that I
think we have ever seen in this nation. And it sends a terrible message to
the workers who work at that plant, who would probably be escorted out and
fired if they did the same thing that the president of the United States
MELBER: Donald Trump has a lot of support historically in your state of
Michigan. It was typically blue in presidential elections, but he did win
We have seen the activists and other largely conservative gatherings and
protests in the state. What message does it send, in your view, to your
constituents, whatever their party may be, when the president guess out of
his way to flout and defy your state`s mask order?
Are you worried that fewer people may wear masks in Michigan because of
this, or is this more symbolic?
NESSEL: Well, unfortunately, what happens is, even though I would say the
vast majority of Michiganders approve of the governor`s orders, which I
should tell you were just upheld today in the court of claims when they
were challenged by the Republican legislature, so that is the law of the
land, and it is completely lawful and enforceable.
But that being the case, it sends a terrible message. And the thing is, we
had great uniformity in regard to people respecting that these rules and
regulations were put in place for one reason, and one reason only, and that
was to protect human life.
And, remember, we have lost over 5,000 people in this state to COVID-19.
NESSEL: But as soon as the president started to say things like, liberate
Michigan, and started to make disparaging remarks about our governor,
that`s when people stopped following the rules, and that`s when more and
more people started to die.
And we haven`t seen the end of it, unfortunately, here.
MELBER: Well, we wish you and all public officials good luck with this.
I appreciate getting your perspectives on this, Attorney General Dana
Nessel. Thank you very much.
A programing note as well. Michigan`s governor, who we just discussed,
Gretchen Whitmer, will be on MSNBC, joining Rachel Maddow at 9:00 p.m.
Now, coming up, we have a lot more in the show, including some special
guests. Republican leaders trying to roll back jobless benefits. The former
labor secretary and progressive author Robert Reich is here. He knows his
way around these issues.
And later tonight, we look at a note of uplift with the Grammy name –
excuse me – Grammy-nominated artist Wale, who is here live later.
MELBER: Turning to another feature of what we`re living through, new data
tonight on these job losses; 2.5 million more people are out of work. That
takes the total job losses since this pandemic hit to approaching 40
million, some calling it the Trump recession.
The human tragedy obviously very real. We`re seeing growing lines from
unemployment offices to food banks. And economists warn this is far from
Meanwhile, in Washington, President Trump and GOP Leader McConnell say they
oppose continuing key parts of the unemployment relief that Congress has
We turn now to an expert who has been inside the government on this and is
also a progressive thought leader and author, former Labor Secretary Robert
Reich. The book is “The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It.”
Thank you for being here. Tough times all around.
For viewers who are watching this and saying , OK, Robert, OK, Ari, 40
million unemployed, I guess we`re sort of reopening, what comes next, and
is there anything here that can be done short-term to make it any better?
ROBERT REICH, FORMER U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: Ari, there is not much that can
be done short-term.
The big problem is obviously the pandemic. That is the number one obstacle
to jobs, because, as long as people are afraid of going to the malls and
going shopping, as long as workers are justifiably worried about going into
factories and into warehouses, this economy is not going to go anywhere.
And, at the same time, you have a lot of people who have no income or who
have got – dipped into their savings or have lost all of their savings.
And so you don`t even have the wherewithal to move the economy forward,
even if people had more confidence about the future.
This is why Mitch McConnell`s decision – or his decision and his statement
yesterday that there will be no more unemployment benefits after the
current round of unemployment, extra unemployment benefits is over, is so
nonsensical and inhumane, and, from an economic perspective, completely,
MELBER: And I do want to spotlight something you have done a lot of work
on, which is the way that different disruptions don`t necessarily get
You`re saying Mitch McConnell, in your view, economically has the wrong
side of the argument, before you even get to people`s politics or morals.
Then you have got CNBC reporting how the billionaires are doing in what you
have described as the – quote – “rigged system.”
Amazon`s Jeff Bezos, Facebook`s Mark Zuckerberg are having the biggest
gains during the pandemic – quote – “Bezos adding $34 billion to his
wealth, Zuckerberg adding $25 billion.”
Robert, how do we even understand that number – that their numbers are
going up that much? And if their companies are doing well enough, that`s
probably, hopefully, positive in some way for everyone who works there. But
in your view of the rigged system, how is that much money going up to the
top right now?
REICH: Well, first of all, nothing is trickling down.
The reason that you have got so much money going to people like Bezos is,
Amazon is becoming the one place where people can go in terms of
purchasing. Small businesses, retail establishments are all closing.
And so if you`re at the right place at the right time in this economy, if
you are particularly a purveyor of goods online, or if you have any online
– major online presence, and you already have a lot of market power,
you`re going to do very well, even though almost everybody else is doing
Elon Musk is $11 billion richer than he was.
MELBER: Is that, in your view, just inevitable, because someone listening
says, OK, sure, people are using Amazon more, or is that a consequence of
REICH: Well, partly, it`s a consequence of government policy, because, for
years, antitrust officials have turned their back on the increased market
power of a lot of big companies, particularly high-tech companies.
And so if you don`t really care about monopolization, if you don`t care
about market power, then, obviously, when it comes to this kind of crisis,
Amazon and other – a few other companies are going to be even more
powerful than before.
It`s all really important context with the work you have been doing.
Robert Reich, we appreciate you every time you make time for us, sir.
REICH: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Thank you.
We have a lot more in tonight`s show, including an update on another aspect
of the Cohen case that I mentioned.
Up ahead also, I want to show you something that`s giving people a way to
think about art through this pandemic, a video pulling back the curtain on
race and class in the COVID era from a major Grammy-nominated artist, who
joins us next.
MELBER: News breaking this hour on an important story we have been
tracking, and I want to walk you through it.
There has been much national controversy over the shooting death of Ahmaud
Arbery, an African American who was jogging unarmed in Georgia and was shot
to death, it all caught on video.
Now, after a long delay, two individuals were charged in that case. The
breaking news tonight is a third man, the one who recorded this now
widespread video of this Arbery shooting, has been arrested on two charges,
including felony murder.
And now, because this is all unfolding, just moments ago, we have reaction
from one of the Arbery family lawyers, who posted online, William `Roddie`
Bryan Jr. has been arrested on charges of felony murder and criminal
attempt to commit false imprisonment. That`s that other felony I mentioned.
And this attorney, Ben Crump, writing: “We are one step closer to getting
justice for Ahmaud.”
What`s important here, above and beyond what we have been reporting, which
is that there was at least a suspicious delay and unusual circumstances in
the way that the police initially seemed not to really investigate, let
alone arrest anyone, for this shooting on tape, but that now it has widened
beyond the two individuals who were most directly involved in the shooting
and involves, again, this additional individual who shot the video and may
have been otherwise involved.
Felony murder, as we were discussing earlier in our broadcast, is an
aggressive stance that prosecutors sometimes take when they believe and
they believe they can prove that an individual set out to commit one
felony, premeditated, and ended up committing acts or engaged in a
conspiracy whereby others were, yes, murdered.
All suspects, all arrestees are, of course, legally innocent until proven
This is a story we will continue to cover for you.
And we have a lot more on tonight`s broadcast when I come back.
MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT.
The coronavirus, as you know, is rocking American life, and health and the
whole job market, which we were just reporting on tonight. It`s also proven
to be a get-out-of-jail-free card for some inmates.
That includes former Trump aides released early, Michael Cohen today, which
has been big news, Paul Manafort recently, and underscores how the justice
system tilts towards the wealthy from the very beginning, whether you get
arrested in the first place or whether you get a trial or whether they go
easy on you, all the way to the end, as we`re seeing people get out.
So we have been covering this. And that is, according to many, a problem.
Now there are also efforts to solve the problem. Civil rights groups
pushing for more equitable systems for this kind of humanitarian release.
Maya Wiley was discussing that earlier tonight. Congress eying reform, and
other activists demanding it.
Now, these demands, they matter, because, as with so many other problems
right now, there is a competition just to get on the board, just to say,
this is at the level of something we should deal with during the crisis.
So, pressure is key. And the political argument around this, I want to talk
to you about this tonight, is getting some reinforcement from artists.
Take the Grammy nominee Rihanna collaborator Wale, who teamed up with
fashion designer Kerby Jean-Raymond to make this new music video
confronting many modern injustices.
And, right here, you`re looking at this new fictional video, but it takes a
documentary turn at the very end with what you see here. This is very real
footage of an Ohio inmate objecting to how only some inmates appear to be
benefiting from these coronavirus relief releases.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re not going to let us on home confinement. Why?
Because they got to make money off of us, because they`re not going to make
no money if we at home on home confinement.
I got less than a year left. I don`t want to die in this (EXPLETIVE
DELETED). I don`t mean to cuss or nothing. You all might not see me again.
I might catch (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and die. So, who knows? It`s crazy. Bye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That very real story is from the artist Wale, who joins us now,
Grammy nominee, platinum-selling artist.
I want to mention, Wale has worked with everyone from Rick Ross, to
Rihanna, to J. Cole. His album “Ambition” hit number two on the Billboard
And, by the way, Wale is a huge fan of “Seinfeld.” He raps about the show
and teamed up for a dream collaboration with Jerry Seinfeld for the album
called, fittingly, “The Album About Nothing,” something we will definitely
Wale, your first time on THE BEAT. Thanks for being here, man. How you
OLUBOWALE “WALE” AKINTIMEHIN, RAPPER: Thanks for having me, man, you know?
You have this music video. I showed our viewers some of it. Why was it
important for you to tell this story and go beyond the artistry to land or
end on shining a light on very real experiences of inmates right now?
AKINTIMEHIN: It`s just like – the whole thing is like – it`s just – it`s
a genuine lack of empty think for people of color.
It`s just in general, just a mistreatment, you know, systematic oppression
and just overt racism, blatant racism right now. It`s just a genuine lack
of empathy for people like myself and people of color right now.
And this is just – it`s just the juxtaposition, you know what I`m saying.
You see it on the other foot and it hit different.
I had a lot of white friends hitting me when they seen the video, was like,
damn, bro. That joint, it hit don`t hit me totally. You know what I`m
I don`t know. I just think that even – sometimes, it`s really kind of hard
for me to watch, because it`s very triggering. You know what I`m saying?
But it`s reality.
MELBER: You said you had white friends who – because the video sort of
imagines some of these racial and racist incidents with people reversed.
So you guys cast it that way, which takes people thinking through what
they`re watching. You said you had white friends reached out to you and
AKINTIMEHIN: It just was like – I don`t want to say they say they get it.
But it`s like I can hear through their voices and their tone that they`re
like – that was the desired emotion that me and Kerby was looking for, you
know what I`m saying, just seeing it like that.
And all Easter eggs in the video, the dialogue in the middle, the white –
the black people on the toothpaste and the Morebucks store. Like, it`s all
in there, and it`s all constant reminders that we live in a different world
than white folks.
MELBER: You use the term triggering.
You talk about this your life and your work, these issues, the story, what
you have been through, what people go through.
But, also, you`re way more open than some about anxiety.
I want to read something that you posted. And I know it`s meaningful to
people, because, sometimes, these conversations get very pushed to the
And you talked about feeling like – quote – “Everybody hates me in my
mind, and that`s the root of anxiety. So, people ask for pictures. You try
to love yourself more, but it`s hard because of what you`re dealing with.”
AKINTIMEHIN: That`s right.
MELBER: Why was it important to you to – excuse me – to share that? And
what do you want your fans or people who hear that to think?
AKINTIMEHIN: I mean, like, being the first rapper to come from D.C. at a
young age, touring the world, being signed to Jay-Z, then with Rick Ross,
and this level that I got to, it comes with a price, man.
Mentally, it comes with a price. You know what I`m saying? And, yes, I
ain`t going to lie. Like, that anxiety, that builds throughout your career,
because you go from, like, OK, I could sign ever autograph, I could hug
every person to, 10 years later, like, you got – you`re weird with
everybody, because your mind is different about – you`re realizing a lot
of things wasn`t genuine, a lot of things wasn`t real. You know what I`m
And those things build up throughout the years. You know what I`m saying?
AKINTIMEHIN: So, every time I – if I`m away from the people for a long
time and I come back, and it`s like, I`m in my head, too.
Like, some of the – some people just float through it. And I envy them
people. But, like, me, it takes me a while to get used to being around even
my own fans. It just takes me a while.
And that`s like thinking, man, these people were like – they don`t like me
for real. They don`t love me for real. Somebody in here don`t like me.
It`s just – it`s in your head, bro. And it`s everybody who deal with it –
and I talk to a lot of entertainers that deal with it as well, making
people feel like you`re good enough for them and stuff like that. It`s a
real thing in Hollywood or in the entertainment business.
I just wanted to speak on it. I know a lot of people don`t – they be
fronting or whatever, or they`re self-medicating, or do whatever they do.
But it`s – I be in my head, man, when I`m out on the scene.
MELBER: I think that`s so important, particularly right now.
You think about the emotional, mental challenges we`re all going through in
this – these conditions, and people have different challenges. And being
able to speak on it, to share it, to be vulnerable, to grieve, and, as you
know, hip-hop`s got a lot of different storytelling in it.
But some of hip-hop can feel like it`s, as you said, a little bit more on
what might be fronting as tough.
All right, now, can we get into “Seinfeld” for a minute?
AKINTIMEHIN: But everybody handle it differently, though.
Some people ain`t on it like that. Everybody handle it different.
AKINTIMEHIN: Some people might be like, man, what is he talking about? I
don`t – that`s just me, personally. Like, that`s my own thing, what I deal
with when I`m in public.
MELBER: That makes sense, too. I feel that.
I want to get into the “Seinfeld” thing, which I think a lot of people, of
course, will appreciate.
You sampled the show in your music. You dropped a whole project, “The
Mixtape About Nothing.” You struck up this friendship with Jerry Seinfeld.
And you guys collaborated on “The Album About Nothing.” And you both got in
the booth. We love that.
You`re recording these conversations. You`re having this exchange. And the
whole idea, of course, draws on that famous moment when Jerry and George
are pitching TV executives on their idea for a show.
Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SEINFELD”)
JASON ALEXANDER, ACTOR: I think I can sum up the show for you with one
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Nothing?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What does that mean?
ALEXANDER: The show is about nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Why does the show speak to you so much?
AKINTIMEHIN: It`s the banter. You know what I`m saying?
And Jerry`s style of comedy, he`s very observant, and it`s very – it`s
very – like, the smallest things could be the biggest things, you know
what I`m saying?
And like the way it observes things. And he will name something. Life is a
glass egg, or, I got these white shoes, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, and
it just sparks in my mind.
Like, man, it`s an interesting juxtaposition, you know, O.G. billionaire
comedian, and this rap kid from D.C., like, kind of have the same
philosophies on certain things.
And there you have it, you know? You have “The Album About Nothing,”
“Mixtape About Nothing,” “More About Nothing.”
MELBER: I love it. I love that you and Jerry are doing that work together.
And for you, as a dream, like, I – I grew up on “Seinfeld.” I read
“Seinlanguage.” And you jump in there.
I got about 20 seconds left. I will just say, I know you`re joining us from
doing your working in the studio. And to quote Wale, it does seem like you
are in your luggage, also known as your bag.
AKINTIMEHIN: I`m in my luggage. I`m in my luggage. I`m in my luggage.
MELBER: In my luggage. In my luggage.
AKINTIMEHIN: We`re in a crazy time right now. We`re in a crazy time right
But we are all going to stay in our luggage, but we`re going to push
through as a people. We`re going to push through, everybody stays in their
bag, in their luggage.
I appreciate that. We appreciate you and also all the work you`re doing
that you told us about.
Wale`s debut on THE BEAT.
I hope you come back.
We`re out of time. That`s THE BEAT. I will see you tomorrow night.
AKINTIMEHIN: I just want to say…
MELBER: Keep it right here on MSNBC.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the