BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Good evening on this day 1,189 of the Trump administration, 195 days remaining until our presidential election.
The President started today`s White House briefing by saying there was "A lot of tremendous news out there." About reopening our country he said, "People are getting ready and they`re all excited."
It is clear the President was not happy with the headline or the plot line of the story that came out of there yesterday. His CDC director telling the Washington Post that a second wave of illness this coming fall and winter could be deadlier than what we`re going through now, especially when you factor in flu season.
The CDC director was summoned forward to sing for his supper in effect and proceeded to admit the, "he gave the post was right." Dr. Fauci then got up and said, "We will have coronavirus in the fall. I am convinced of that. There will be coronavirus in the fall." He added, "Thankfully, we`ll be better prepared."
The President was having none of that today. He said, "You may not even have corona coming back. It`s possible it`s not going to come back at all.
The President has also started saying if there are so-called pockets or embers of coronavirus, "We`ll put it out very fast." he said all the world leaders he talked to today it was incredible that you solved the ventilator problem. He said if he`d done nothing "We would have been so infected nobody would have believed it." He said testing for coronavirus is "Very much of a media trap." he said, "We`re going to give everybody what they want with the testing." He said we`re taking care of our seniors, "other than me. Nobody wants to take care of me," he said.
He said Georgia is moving too soon to reopen tattoo parlors, spas and hair salons, even though he said, "I love these people. Tattoo parlors. Bikers for Trump. A lot of them have tattoos." Along the way he mentioned the Obamas and Oprah. He said we know more about Iran than Iran does. He promised air shows in the skies over our country this summer. And he compared his 4th of July crowd in Washington last summer to Dr. King`s speech at the reflecting pool in terms of crowd size. He said they were very similar according to photographs he`s seen.
But we return once again reluctantly to the real world tonight where the U.S. death toll stands at more than 46,000 with over 833,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. And in the midst of this health crisis The New York Times reporting the head of the federal agency working on a vaccine has been reassigned to another agency.
Dr. Rick Bright argues he was effectively demoted after pushing for extensive vetting of hydroxychloroquine. That`s the drug Trump has pitched relentlessly from the podium in the White House briefing room.
Tonight the doctor issued a statement that reads in part, "I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions and not in drugs, vaccines, and other technologies that lack scientific merit. I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus science, not politics or cronyism, has to lead the way."
Bright goes on to say he is filing a whistle-blower complaint formally accusing administration officials of retaliation. Here is how Trump responded when asked about Dr. Bright.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Never heard of him. You just mentioned the name. I never heard of him. When did this happen?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This happened today.
TRUMP: Well, I never heard of him. If the guy says he was pushed out of a job, maybe he was, maybe he wasn`t. You`d have to hear the other side. I don`t know who he is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Just yesterday a veteran administration study found this hydroxychloroquine showed no benefits for COVID patients and in fact was linked to higher death rates. Over the past several weeks medical experts have expressed reservations about the drug and about the president`s comments on its effectiveness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The FDA also gave emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine. We`re having some very good things happening with it. It`s shown very encouraging, very, very encouraging early results.
There are some good signs. You`ve read the signs. I`ve read the signs. And I say it. What do you have to lose? I`ll say it again. What do you have to lose? Take it.
If things don`t go as planned, it`s not going to kill anybody.
It will be wonderful. It will be so beautiful. It will be a gift from heaven. If it works.
If some other person put it forward they`d say oh, let`s go with it. You know. What do you have to lose?
Try it. If you`d like.
I`ve seen things that I sort of like. So what do I know? I`m not a doctor. I`m not a doctor. But I have common sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And again, today`s White House briefing started with that remarkable attempt at a cleanup and a backtrack, as we mentioned, the director of the CDC told the Washington Post that a simultaneous flu and coronavirus outbreak this fall and winter, "will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through." This evening the CDC director tried to somehow revise his warning with the President there at his side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Dr. Robert Redfield was totally misquoted in the media on a statement about the fall season and the virus. Totally misquoted. I spoke to him and he said it was ridiculous.
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I didn`t say that this was going to be worse. I said it was going to be more complicated -- or more difficult. It doesn`t mean it`s going to be more impossible. It doesn`t mean it`s going to be more as some people have said worse. It just means it`s going to be more difficult.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were accurately quoted, right?
REDFIELD: I`m accurately quoted in the Washington Post.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: There you have it. The President then followed up with this assertion about a second coronavirus outbreak with that key follow-up from Dr. Fauci.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It may not come back at all. If we have embers of corona coupled with the flu, that`s not going to be pleasant. But it`s not going to be what we`ve gone through in any way, shape, or form.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We will have coronavirus in the fall. I am convinced of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So as our country prepares for whatever comes next from this virus, there is now a COVID-19 coalition of southern states preparing to try to restart their economies over the next week. And tonight Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said he`s moving forward with his decision to allow salons, gyms, and other businesses to open Friday despite the president`s surprising take on that decision this evening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the phase 1 guidelines. At the same time he must do what he thinks is right. I want him to do what he thinks is right. But I think spas and beauty salons and tattoo parlors and barbershops in phase 1 -- we`re going to have phase 2 very soon, is just too soon. I think it`s too soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: On that note here for our lead-off discussion on a Wednesday night, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for the New York Times. Ashley Parker, Pulitzer prize-winning White House Reporter for the Washington Post. And Michael Steele, Former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, now the host of the Michael Steele podcast.
Good evening and welcome to all of you. Ashley, the President came out, said your newspaper misquoted the head of the CDC. Turns out he didn`t like the headline. Also turns out if you`re a doctor or a scientist the President may have trouble with you.
ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That`s exactly right. The President didn`t like the headline and more specifically he didn`t like the way CNN seemed to characterize the post`s interview with Dr. Redfield.
But the broader issue here is that the President has a task force understandably in the middle of a pandemic stocked with doctors, scientists, public health officials and these are the people who should be guiding the response. And they are doing the absolute best that they can. And they`ve found that they can somewhat speak truth to power but only to an extent and if they say something that contrasts with the president`s worldview, and this is a worldview that in some moments is data driven but more frequently is prone to magical thinking and false statements and citing drugs with no evidence that they work as a possible cure-all. If you are a scientist in this administration you will be forced to atone.
You will not necessarily be pushed out or minimized, although that certainly has happened, but like what we saw with the CDC director today he was basically called up and told to say, you know, what the Post reported I said I did not say. And it was striking to see him as the President stood there and basically glowered say I was absolutely accurately quoted in the post.
But he did sort of try to play some semantic games to please the President saying I didn`t say it would be worse, I said it would be more difficult. Well, when you`re talking about dual respiratory diseases, one of which is a deadly pandemic, more difficult frankly does mean worse.
WILLIAMS: We saw Dr. Fauci put through that same on the spot ordeal just days ago. Hey, Peter Baker, you write tonight about this new movement on the right. The credo according to my watching of Fox News seems to be if you can`t save American lives save the American way of life. How big is this and is there an acceptable loss of life to them?
PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, let`s say, the hard question that`s at the core of the question of reopening, right? No matter what we do, whatever kind of reopening we have, without a vaccine or a cure you`re going to basically risk the idea that you`re going to have an increase in deaths. The question then becomes how do you minimize those potential deaths and how many is too many? And this is the question that`s really dividing the country right now because there is a trade-off on the other side. The economy with 22 million people out of work. The people being pushed into poverty who can`t afford food or medicine or shelter for their own families. There`s a cost to staying closed as well.
And what you hear from these governors, and I called and talked to a few of them about this, is they recognize they`re in this really miserable position of having to decide between -- or at least find a balance between life and livelihood and where do they fit on that balance. How can they find a way to reopen the economy, get people working again without a major risk of an outbreak? The President is obviously eager to push the country into normal life right away. Some of the governors, particularly the Democrats, but even some of the Republicans are wary of that, particularly in the northeast where they`ve had such an outbreak. But they also recognize that they can`t stay closed forever. How can they manage it without the kind of comprehensive testing public health experts say is necessary in order to minimize that risk?
And it`s a really interesting debate. It even divides individual families. I talked to Rahm Emanuel. You know Rahm well of course. He`s the former Mayor of Chicago, former White House Chief of Staff. He`s one who believes the country cannot stay closed for an extended period of time without deep damage and that sometimes there is risk in society and we need to find a way to manage it. And his brother Ezekiel Emanuel, also I think a guest of yours, prominent medical ethicist, in his view and these two brothers are fighting it about it on the phone many days, is that this is a much worse threat than we`ve seen in a long time and we can`t rush back anything even approximating normal life.
WILLIAMS: Michael Steele, those of us who are able to work these days are lucky to have it. Let`s start with the baseline assumption that no one who is home these days is there because they like it. They don`t want to get this thing. And so this brings us to an interesting spot between Donald Trump and his base. He`s been exhorting to liberate certain states, yet when push comes to shove and they all get together and go to a Georgia tattoo parlor and Georgia got real yesterday, the President`s backing up and saying too soon.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Yeah. I think some sober heads prevailed in this conversation regarding Georgia with the President and really struck home with the President the point that you cannot as President take a risk being out here encouraging this behavior in a way that on the back end something tragic happens. And that`s a real concern here. And I really appreciate the point that Peter just made, and I don`t think we can lose sight of that.
There is this very fine line between our economy and our health. And it is more stark now than it has ever been. And I think at the end of the day a lot of governors have come to the conclusion that in order to really address that I can`t begin to do it until I see some change on the health side of this thing. Because I cannot open an economy when we`re still having an increase in deaths and an increase in infections. And the problem on the latter point is that they don`t have the tests in place to make sure that they`re addressing the infections appropriately and that they have in fact turned that corner when you can effectively say on a gradual basis we can begin to open up the economy.
What Georgia`s doing is foolhardy. It is obstinate. And it is ignorant. Because you are not Georgia in a point where you`ve turned that corner. You`ve not had 14 days of clearing under the phase 1 protocols to say to those powers and those businesses that they can reopen. And I think that`s what prevailed ultimately on the President and made him turn the corner that he did, really an about-face on opening up right now.
WILLIAMS: Ashley, though we never leave to be, let`s dive into the realm of the political. You report tonight and we have a graphic to put on the screen, according to a Post analysis, since the federal guidelines were announced on March 16 Trump has spoken 63% of the time compared with Dr. Birx at 10%, Fauci at 5%. Ashley, do you have any reason to believe the President`s air time percentage is going to decrease? And are any of the Democrats that the Post is talking to mentioning maybe a response? The news media argument is still going on about two hours of free time on the air every day, but Joe Biden`s in his basement in Wilmington. There is no counterprogramming to two hours of free media time every day.
PARKER: That`s exactly right. To answer your first question, there is absolutely no indication that the President plans to stop talking at these daily briefings anytime soon. I`ve talked to a lot of people this week inside the White House and other people in the President`s orbit who privately say look, we actually don`t think this is particularly helpful. We think it`s a missed opportunity for the President. He had an opportunity to cast himself as he tried to as a wartime President and instead he looks a bit petty and childish using these briefings to praise himself and to fight with the media.
And you have this almost surreal double screen of the President comes on, the briefings take on the feeling of one of these keep America great rallies that he so desperately misses and then sometimes he departs and a second sort of more fact-based briefing begins led by Vice President Pence and the public health officials. They don`t necessarily like this, but they think it`s going to continue, although I will say there is right now an internal push to try to refocus the President, maybe even in a different forum on the economy. They think that`s an area where he has a chance of shining. He has cast himself as a former wildly successful businessman. That ignores some of the bankruptcies. But they think he`s stronger on the economy and they would rather have him weighing in on that part of the duality than the public health one.
As for democratic response, it`s tricky. It is very hard for Joe Biden to break through. But one thing that`s fascinating is both on the Democratic side of people some of my colleagues are talking to and on the Trump Republican side there`s an actual debate on if this is good or bad for Biden. Some people say of course it`s bad for him because the President is dominating primetime and he can`t break through. And other people say that Joe Biden`s main problem is visibility and if he can sort of let the President potentially self-destruct and then just emerge for the elections that could actually be an up side for a candidate like him. It`s a real debate with no clear answers.
WILLIAMS: Peter Baker, in the meantime it looks like we have a whistle- blower complaint and another one of those stories the President was not up on.
BAKER: Yeah, I would like to have heard him talk a little more about that even if he didn`t know this person. You know, does he approve of the idea that a scientist who disagrees with him would be pushed out of his job? That`s at least the allegation on the surface. And it fits a pattern we`ve seen throughout this presidency in which expertise and people with jobs to do that involve speaking out of turn perhaps with the administration`s preferred line find themselves, you know, punished in some way or another. Remember of course the weather forecasters in Alabama who said there wasn`t going to be a hurricane damage in their state found themselves slapped publicly as a result. You`ve seen the inspector general whose job it is to point out wrongdoing by government agencies now fired or replaced by this President who didn`t choose to heed their independence. You see it time and time again under this administration, a lack of interest in hearing voices that conflict with the President`s. And that`s why you saw that sort of ritual act today by Dr. Redfield denying something he actually confirmed he said, which was, I think a real tableau of this administration`s policies.
WILLIAMS: Hey, Michael Steele, I saved either the best or worst for last, depending on how you view this. Here now something the President said out loud today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I saw a magnificent picture of Dr. Martin Luther King and I saw a magnificent picture of our event last year and both of them were maxed out. It was beautiful to see. Beautiful. Very similar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So Michael Steele, the President said that out loud today.
STEELE: Yeah, that happened. Sure. OK. Yeah. Let`s go with that. Why not? Of all the things that we need to be concerned about right now, crowd sizes right at the top of everyone`s bucket list to check off. It`s consistent with where the President`s head is in most of these rallies.
I think, Ashley, again touched very clearly on the point how the President is looking at these events and what the expectation is of the central player, the President. It is about the narrative that he shapes every day for two hours uninterrupted. It is about how he is transfixing the conversation around what he sees and hears in his head. So when he sees a picture, someone shows him a picture, I don`t know who would bring that picture into the Oval Office and say look, Mr. President, your crowd size is as big as Martin Luther King`s crowd size back in 1963. You just -- where does it come from? And at this stage I think we should be less concerned about that and more concerned about whether or not we are stemming the tide of deaths and infection rates in this country and that the leadership of the governors right now more than anything else matters, particularly as some governors are moving to open up their states.
If the folks in Georgia don`t think that some fella out of North Carolina or some of other part of the region comes into their back yard carrying that virus is not a risk to them, get ready. Because that`s going to be a new reality for them in 14 days.
WILLIAMS: On that note our thanks to our friends. Peter Baker, Ashley Parker, Michael Steele, for helping us kick off the broadcast tonight.
Coming up for us an E.R. Doc who helped keep Ebola from spreading in this country says testing is just one of the things we`ve got to master. He`ll tell us about the others.
And later, Michael Moore on the chaos management he sees in Washington during this health care crisis. All of it as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting under way on a Wednesday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Apparently the testing is, as I said -- if we test 350 million people, you`ll say we want them to have a second test or a third test or a fourth test. Not everybody believes as strongly as some people on testing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Three months into this pandemic fewer than 2% of all of us Americans have been tested for coronavirus. Medical experts say that number needs to be a lot higher before restrictions can be lifted. There`s a new report from NPR that suggests one of the big name rapid COVID-19 tests, one the President is fond of talking about, may not be reliable, producing a false negative rate of 15%.
With that we welcome to the broadcast Dr. Mario Ramirez. He`s an E.R. Doc currently treating COVID-19 patients. Also former acting Director for the White House Office of Pandemic and Emerging Threats, helping lead the Obama White House Ebola Response.
So Doctor, this is the Abbott quick turnaround test. It`s received a lot of attention for good reason. But a 15% error rate, an 85% rate of correct results, seems to me that`s high enough to throw out the whole sample. Am I wrong?
DR. MARIO RAMIREZ, WORKED ON EBOLA RESPONSE FOR OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: Well, it`s a great question, Brian. And there`s a couple of things to put into context here. So it`s not surprising that there are some errors in the testing. We see this with any test we do in medicine. In fact, a lot of the test we go do is a matter of sort of balancing probabilities against patient histories and patient symptoms.
What is concerning is that this was not sort of worked out before this test came to market. Now, this study that showed this 85% sensitivity rate was produced under certain conditions by the Cleveland Clinic and they compared five different tests under conditions where they were transporting the samples in something called viral media, which is essentially a solution we use to transport samples that we`re going to test.
Abbott has essentially said that that media should not be used and that when the samples are taken directly from the patient to the machine that the machine works as it should. But this I think is really where we get down to this question of theoretical testing and this sort of strategic- level testing capability in this country against what that means at the tactical and implementation level.
And so what that means for patients on a day-to-day basis, you know, is if your test was only 85% sensitive that might mean that as many as 15 out of 100 tests are wrong. So as we start to think about people going back into the workplace or going into sort of big public areas how confident can we be that those people around us have tests that are truly negative? And if we can`t have that 100% certainty then that means we probably need to be testing people over and over and over again. And that`s how we arrive at these numbers where some people say that we need between 5 to 10 and up to 20 million tests a week because we need to run those iterations over and over again because the true sort of accuracy of these tests in practice is much lower than it looks like from the manufacturer.
WILLIAMS: If we need to do that kind of thing before we can think about freeing up parts of this country, that`s one thing. Let me also ask you about this troubling so-called second wave prediction. Do you think it`s inevitable? Is it organic? Or is this part up to us depending on how we behave and react right now?
RAMIREZ: So we know that coronaviruses and influenza viruses, although from different families of viruses, tend to behave similar in some ways. And we know that these viruses tend to decrease in frequency during the summer months. That`s probably linked to temperature, humidity. But anecdotally that`s why we all get sick more often in the wintertime, because these viruses come back and last longer in the wintertime. Based on prior epidemics and prior pandemics, we have every reason to believe that this coronavirus should come back this winter time.
Now, the question that you`re asking is whether the behavior that we take now affects what that second peak looks like. The behavior that we`re instituting now determines how big the peak is right now. But there`s no reason that that second wave shouldn`t necessarily come back. And the size of that wave is going to depend on how naive the population is to the virus when it comes back.
WILLIAMS: Wow. It`s not always pleasant, but we ask you for the answers and you deliver. Dr. Mario Ramirez, thank you for coming on. We`d like to call upon your wisdom and guidance again if we can.
Coming up for us, Michael Moore is here to talk about the new push in his home state and beyond to whip off the mask, get out of the house, go to work.
WILLIAMS: Today, protesters rallied outside the state capitol Richmond, Virginia urging Democratic Governor Ralph Northam, who also happens to be a physician, to reopen the state. Virginia is after all one of the states the president urged to liberate over Twitter. Meanwhile, new polling from the A.P. shows 61 percent of us feel steps taken by the government to prevent infections are about right.
We are pleased to welcome back a proud Michigander, movie maker, muckraker, also happens to be the host of the podcast "Rumble with Michael Moore". And Michael Moore has been able to join us tonight.
Michael, Stephen Moore no, relation, the economist, compared these protesters out there right now to Rosa Parks. First of all, can we please stop with the Rosa Parks and MLK comparisons? But, secondly, what`s your feel for this movement, with the given that everyone would like to get back out there and everyone would like to return to work?
MICHAEL MOORE, OSCAR-WINNING DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: Yes, everyone would like to get back to some of the things that we were doing. The protesters, though, that`s not really what`s going on there. These are essentially mini-Trump rallies, pro-Trump people. They`re funded by Trump backers. I think you had that on your evening news tonight in terms of the people, especially one very wealthy person in Wisconsin who`s been backing these demonstrations.
The idea when Trump tweeted that about liberate Michigan, those are the only words, liberate Michigan, I thought, well, actually, yes, we`re planning to do that on November 3rd this year. So, good idea. We were a state that voted for Trump. So, a lot of us are very busy trying to make sure that that doesn`t happen again.
WILLIAMS: Let`s talk about Michigan and what happens when a pandemic hits a state that already has a rough economy.
MOORE: Well, needless to say, things are not good. And especially in Detroit-- in the Detroit area, especially in the parts of Michigan that are majority African American. It has hit people there very hard. And, it`s been interesting to see the disparity in different parts of the state in terms of income and race. You know, Michigan has just had the crap kicked out of it now for a number of decades.
I understand why some people don`t really believe when things are being told because they`ve been told so much for so long. Nonetheless, it`s been very disheartening to see on that chart that you have up in your upper right-hand corner of the screen that shows in this last week Michigan being near the top. Many days after New York and New Jersey, which by the way Michigan we consider that one area, New York and New Jersey. No offense to the people from New Jersey.
But, Michigan`s been number three. More than California, Brian. More deaths, more -- and now, you know, California, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania are all kind of clumped around the same. But as you`ve pointed out many times, these aren`t just numbers we`re talking about here. These are human beings that did not need to lose their lives. And I think you and others have done a good job of telling the story of how this could have been prevented. Not the disease, not the virus. The virus was -- exists. We`ve always had viruses. We`ve always had to fight them. But we didn`t -- we could have gotten -- if we`ve gotten just a quicker jump on it, if the president hadn`t called it a hoax, hadn`t fought the reality of it. And still today, Brian, still today, getting rid of the top person in charge of vaccines because that person didn`t offer enough praise to Caesar.
It`s -- what does he think he`s doing? We -- this guy is -- we used to say this guy is going to get us killed. Actually, it wasn`t just a joke. This guy is getting us killed. And people are not going to forget this at election time. The majority of the people are not going to forget this. People have lost loved ones, people who are sick right now who are watching this, this will not be forgotten.
And what is ahead of us for the second wave, the second wave that`s now going to come with the flu, and he gets angry at the CDC head that tells us the truth. We need the truth. We need total transparency. Don`t sugarcoat it for us. It`s -- but it`s -- you know, I`m stuck in New York. I`ve been in my own self-quarantine now for -- this is day 43. And I was debating whether or not, should I go back home to Michigan just before I did this. Am I better off in New York or in Michigan? Of course, this was before New York started recording horrific number of cases and deaths.
WILLIAMS: Indeed, I saw you one of the last days -- I saw you on one of the last days we were free to move around New York City and our office building. We already, as I remember, weren`t shaking hands.
Let`s pause here. Michael Moore`s going to stay with us. Coming up, just in time for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Michael has released a new documentary on the environment. He, along with the director, will tell us all about it when we come back.
WILLIAMS: Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, as the globe battles this pandemic among other problems. Yesterday, filmmaker Michael Moore, along with director and environmentalist, Jeff Gibbs, released "Planet of the Humans," a documentary that takes a look at the beginnings of the environmental movement over 50 years ago and also examines shortcomings with things like solar and wind energy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was becoming clear that what we had been calling green, renewable energy and industrial civilization are one and the same. Desperate measures not to save the planet but to save our way of life. Desperate measures rather than face the reality, humans are experiencing the planet`s limits all at once.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Remaining with us is the executive producer of the film, one Michael Moore, and joining our conversation is the aforementioned Jeff Gibbs, director of "Planet of the Humans".
And Jeff, I was a White House intern in 1979 and when I first heard about geothermal and wind and solar, I thought as a young man, well, certainly this will be our future. It has faced such an uncertain path. You were a believer going into this. Tell us about the shortcomings you felt forced to come to grips with in the film.
JEFF GIBBS, "PLANET OF THE HUMANS" DIRECTOR: Well, I think long ago when we first thought about solar, there were all kinds of solar. There was solar hot water heaters. There was solar -- you could build a solar house that faced the sun. And then there was solar panels. And, overtime, I slowly discovered that these solar panels are made with -- you can`t have these without industrial civilization so that there`s fossil fuels involved, there`s rare earths involved. There`s mining and smelting that occurs all over the world. Electric cars and, you know, have cobalt, lithium.
And so the idea that we were going to save the world through technology began to seem just an impossibility. And especially not just putting a solar panel on your roof, but plastering it over thousands of square miles. So -- and at the same time, I realized the problem we`re facing is a lot bigger than just climate change. You know, the bees are dying back. We`ve taken all the fish from the ocean, most of the fish. The -- you know, top soils running into the sea. So I just began to wonder, you know, why are we going down this road of kind of worshiping green technology when it seems like it`s not what it`s cracked up to be and there are so many more things to deal with than climate change alone.
WILLIAMS: Michael Moore, as a political and journalism issue, when does climate change come roaring back to the front page and the very top of the newscast?
MOORE: That`s a good question. I do think that a lot of people who now, especially the people that are sitting at home, they have had time to think about a lot of things, whether it`s our broken healthcare system or any of the other things, I think, we want to address. And I`m one of those people that do not want to go back to, you know, "normal". I want -- I don`t want the old normal. I want us to reinvent some things here.
And one of those things has to be how we`re dealing with our environmental emergency. And the road we`ve been going down, Brian, let`s just admit it, it`s been 50 days -- 50 years today since the first Earth Day. Is the earth better off after these 50 years? No. We`re worse off. We are so close now, the number -- the amount of carbon that`s in the atmosphere, all the other things that we were warned about where if we go past a certain limit, we`re going to be in serious trouble. Well, we`re already past those limits. We`re in serious trouble.
And we need -- we almost need a new environmental movement, right? And that`s why I`ve been so inspired by Greta and a lot of the young people in this last year because the baby boomers and the other generation that have handed this earth to our younger generation, the younger generation knows they`ve been handed a choking planet and they`re going to have to figure this out.
But we can`t just let them like, hey, go figure it out. We`ve got to help them do this. And we`ve got to get -- we`ve got to wrestle this away from so much of corporate America now and Wall Street, Goldman Sachs. They`re all tied in now to the green energy movement. They all profess to be green. And while they`re doing sometimes some good things, there`s too much profit motive involved in this right now, and we need to be thinking about what`s best for the planet, not what`s going to be best for business. And, that`s a bitter pill for some people to swallow.
I know we want to feel good about all the things we all do environmentally. I love it when I see during whatever that month is that MSNBC, the whole logo is all green, and I know the commitment on the part of your company to this issue because it`s not a partisan issue. It`s -- this planet belongs to all of us. But there`s so much more to do. And we`ve got to come out of this pandemic on the other end of this and we`ve got to say, you know, one of the reasons we were just in this pandemic was because nature was reacting to something that we had been doing to this planet.
This virus just didn`t come out of nowhere. It happened because of the way that we`ve been treating other species and how it made its way from these species to us. We need to really examine this. I think -- frankly, I think mother nature has put us in its timeout room right now, literally, not just figuratively. So that we may --
WILLIAMS: Well --
MOORE: -- have some time to think about how we`re treating this planet. But we`ve got to change. We have got to change and we need a revitalized new environmental movement amongst people who have not been involved in the environmental movement before, but who just want this planet to survive, who want to leave their grandchildren with something better.
WILLIAMS: The two wingmen of this new documentary. Jeff, I know you want people to watch, and I trust you leave people with hope by the time we reach the end. Michael Moore, our thanks to you as well --
MOORE: Thank you.
WILLIAMS: -- and your national map, while modest, is a bit of a tip of the hat to the old newscasts we grew up watching. Gentlemen, thanks both of you.
Coming up, what our doctors and nurses on the front lines of this thing we`re watching think about themselves once their shifts come to an end.
WILLIAMS: Welcome back. As you know, we`ve been trying to check in regularly with the folks working in health care who right now happen to be deeply concerned about what could happen if our country reopens too quickly. Here is what one trauma surgeon in Miami told NBC News Correspondent Gabe Gutierrez about the mental toll this pandemic continues to take.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RISHI RATTAN, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI HEALTH TRAUMA SURGEON: It`s hard not to take your work home with you. I sit at home reliving each death, each delay in my head. The statistics tell me that this person`s father probably wouldn`t have made it no matter what I did. But my heart can`t help it. Maybe if I started another medication instead of the one I did, maybe if I stayed up one more hour researching the next best treatment for coronavirus, maybe he would have made it. Maybe if I had been better, I wouldn`t be standing outside telling a sobbing family that we`ve lost their loved one. It`s hard not to take every death personally as a sign of your failure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Can you imagine? Hopefully, life is long enough to find each and every one of these doctors and nurses to thank them for what they have been doing. Some of what correspondent Gabe Gutierrez has been hearing on the front lines.
Another break for us, and coming up, the newest arrival at the White House to mark a big anniversary.
WILLIAMS: There they are. Last thing before we go tonight, what happens when four people have to split two shovels between them? Well, if it`s the Trumps and the Pences, the answer is the madcap excruciatingly physical ballet we witnessed on the White House grounds just today.
Mike Pence reached over and was able to be a big helper with the shovel. Let`s forget social distancing for the moment, of course. No masks, no worries. On the upside, we got to see the First Lady, her first public appearance since March the 10th. The event was a tree planting to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. And let me tell you, as a former 10-year-old in Mr. Stimpson`s class at Middletown Village School in New Jersey, that first Earth Day was a big deal. We all made posters and had an outdoor assembly.
Today`s tree planting was decidedly low key, however, and we should probably take this opportunity to send that tree our very best wishes for a green future, because it`s not easy out there for trees these days. "The New York Times" outlines 95 environmental rollbacks by this administration, 58 of which have been completed, 25 of them having to do with just the category of air pollution and emissions.
And as "The Guardian" put it today, the number and speed of these repeals puts us in uncharted territory. We cannot allow 50 years of hard-won environmental progress to be reversed in just four years. The repeal of air quality rules has increased respiratory illnesses and heart disease and is accelerating the effects of climate change.
So, to the newest tree on the historic White House south grounds, good luck. We`re all counting on you.
That`s our broadcast for this Wednesday night. On behalf of all of my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night from our temporary field headquarters.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END