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100k COVID-19 deaths TRANSCRIPT: 5/27/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams

Guests: Anne Rimoin, Irwin Redlener, Ben Sherwood, David Jolly

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,224 of the Trump administration, 160 days until the Presidential Election.

We`ve had trouble on the streets of two American cities tonight, Minneapolis and Los Angeles. We`ll have more on both situations in a bit.

But first, we have as a nation crossed into new territory tonight as the marker of how this pandemic has changed this country reaches a stark and difficult to fathom high. We have now lost over 100,000 Americans, 100,846 to be exact as of the time we come on the air. That is roughly equal to the population of the cities of Tuscaloosa, Alabama or Burbank, California or South Bend, Indiana. And in this area, sadly, the United States leads the world. The cases continue to mount. Right now north of 1.7 million. That`s just in our country, just what we know of. The increase in deaths from early march until now has been relentless, startling in its speed. 100,000 people gone in fewer than a 100 days. This is some of what we heard from the President as the virus was claiming more and more victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you worried about a pandemic at this point?

DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: No, we`re not at all. And we`re -- we have it totally under control.

Looks like by April, you know, in theory when it gets a little warmer it miraculously goes away. I hope that`s true.

We`re finding very little problem. Very little problem. Now, you treat this like a flu. When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.

It`s going to disappear. One day it`s like a miracle. It will disappear.

The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus.

This is their new hoax.

It will go away. Just stay calm.

2.2 million deaths. If we can hold that down as we`re saying to 100,000, it`s a horrible number. We all together have done a very good job.

And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning?


WILLIAMS: Trump`s White House, which don`t forget has witnessed its own outbreak in the residence portion and the West Wing, has been under intense fire for its response to the virus and as it tightens its grip on the nation.

Just this morning as the staggering new toll was becoming apparent the President posted this message. "The Radical Left Lamestream Media, together with their partner the do nothing Democrats are trying to spread a new message, that President Trump was slow in reacting to COVID-19. Wrong. I was very fast, even doing the ban on China long before anybody thought necessary."

But before he even sent that Trump was focused on his war with Twitter. Launched in the wake of its decision to add fact checks to his unsubstantiated posts alleging voter fraud in this country. "Republicans feel that social media platforms totally silence conservatives` voices. We will strongly regulate or close them down before we can ever allow this to happen. Big action to follow."

Now, the A.P. notes that "The President can`t unilaterally regulate or close the companies and any effort would likely require action by Congress." It`s also been widely reported just tonight that tomorrow the President is going to sign some sort of yet to be defined executive order on social media. Details TBA.

Late this afternoon the White House did acknowledge the latest grim milestone in this pandemic. In a third-person statement that read in part, "President Trump`s prayers for comfort and strength are with all of those grieving the loss of a loved one or friend as a result of this unprecedented plague."

Meanwhile, there are new concerns tonight about the so-called silent COVID- 19 that the number of asymptomatic people with the virus much greater than originally thought. New cases rising now in over a dozen states. Mostly in the south. Just about the entire southeast is a hot spot now. Also the upper Midwest. Puerto Rico as well. Officials in Arizona have reported spikes in hospital admissions with emergency room visits reaching a new one-day high on Sunday.

Experts have warned about a second spike of outbreaks as more states loosen their restrictions, as more people head outside as the weather warms up. In an interview with PBS just today Dr. Fauci says a second wave may not be inevitable.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: For those who have opened up in a way that has been strictly according to the guidelines of the gateway, the phase one, the phase two, even at that approach there are going to be cases that you see blips. That`s inevitable. And people should not be surprised at that.

I continue to say that we need to be prudent and careful and not to in the sense go prematurely. My feeling is if we put all our efforts into that we can prevent these blips from becoming a resurgence or a second wave. It`s how you handle it that determines whether or not you have a second wave.


WILLIAMS: Now, Fauci went on to say the next few months will be critical in terms of developing that vaccine.


FAUCI: It is not only conceivable but I`m cautiously optimistic that we would have a vaccine toward the end of this year and the beginning of next year.


WILLIAMS: Now, a big move to report tonight on the so-called reopening front. Disney saying its Orlando Park will start accepting visitors on a limited basis beginning 11 July.

Speaking of Florida, which happens to be a battleground state politically, Trump was at Cape Canaveral today for the first space launch of American astronauts from U.S. soil in nearly a decade. He, along with the First Lady got to tour part of the Kennedy Space Center, which they walked through without masks, though the First Lady did wear a mask while on board marine one on her way to Air Force One. As you no doubt know by now, bad weather forced NASA to scrub the launch of the SpaceX Falcon rocket. Some 16 minutes before lift-off time. Now rescheduled for Saturday. The President says he`ll be down there once again.

Peter Baker of the New York Times summed up Trump`s day this way. "Leaving behind coronavirus meetings, Trump flew to Florida in hopes of watching the first launch of NASA astronauts into orbit from the United States in nearly a decade. Nothing would say America is back with more verve than a rocket`s red glare. But 16 minutes before lift-off the launch was scrubbed, undermining for now the narrative of recovery the President had been pitching after months of national lockdown."

It`s a lot again tonight. And here with us for our lead-off discussion on this Wednesday evening, Jill Colvin, White House Reporter for the Associated Press. Anne Rimoin, Professor of Epidemiology at UCLA where she runs the Center for Global and Immigrant Health, specializing in emerging infectious diseases. And Eugene Robinson back with us, Pulitzer Prize- winning Columnist for the Washington Post.

Jill, I know you were on the trip today. I hate to begin with something as superficial as optics, but in this time it`s important. How notable is it that the President does not wear a mask on these trips where he is surrounded by people commingling though at a distance with people?

JILL COLVIN, ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: This is very much become just a point of pride for the President where he clearly does not want to be seen by the public wearing a mask. You know, we`ve reported that he has told colleagues that he`s worried that it would make him look weak if he were to be seen in one. His whole point over the last couple of weeks is he`s been trying to project a sense of calm, a sense of normalcy and he does not like it when people around him wear masks. You know, all the time he says to reporters in the pool that he can`t hear us, asks us to pull our masks down when we`re asking questions. He sees it as a projection of power.

WILLIAMS: Anne Rimoin, help us with nomenclature, with what to call things. I`ve been under the understanding that these, for example these 14 states that are up just this week, that this is a possible second spike in the first wave of disease in our country. A second wave and we hate to use Normandy-like terms. But it`s been called a war against this disease. The second wave in earnest is the one we are fearing when the weather turns cold again over much of the country fall and winter. Do we have that about right?

DR. ANNE RIMOIN, UCLA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH EPIDEMIOLOGY PROFESSOR: Yes, Brian. That`s exactly right. What Dr. Fauci was saying this morning was that there are going to be these blips as he described. As we are opening up we`ll see cases surge and then we may see it come back down again as people start to socially distance and take better precautions again. And these are these kinds of small little spikes that we anticipate seeing. But what we`re very concerned about is a larger second wave of infections that would come in the fall where we would see a huge number of cases happening and where we really might see our health systems being overwhelmed. And so this is really a big concern for us.

But nobody knows exactly how these waves will come. The WHO just today was also suggesting that we could be seeing waves come in a variety of different ways. We could see a very large spike all of a sudden that could easily overwhelm our health system. So the truth of the matter is we have no idea what`s coming. This is a new virus. It`s new to humanity. We have not seen it before. And all we can do is do our best to mitigate the effects by making sure we`re socially distant and that we wear masks because we do know that asymptomatic infection is an important driver of this pandemic.

WILLIAMS: Eugene Robinson, in your view what should our country have heard from our President today and how should he have appeared in public today?

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Well, Brian, you know, it is not surprising but it is really very sad that there was no effort by the President to help the nation get its mind and arms around the enormity, and that`s the right word, the enormity of the tragedy that we are living through.

We`ve lost 100,000 lives in three months. Really the bulk, almost all in two months. That`s an astounding toll. And each death a tragedy for a family, for a community. And this is a President who is incapable of performing that presidential task, of leading us in mourning, of expressing empathy. I think back to the space shuttle challenger disaster, and the evening -- that evening President Reagan gave that remarkable speech written for him by Peggy Noonan, slip the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of god is the way it ended, speaking of the astronauts who died.

And it was the moment of the Reagan presidency that I most vividly remember because he expressed the feeling of sadness and mourning and shock that so many Americans that all of us really were feeling and he did it so brilliantly and made us feel better. And of course there was nothing of that from President Trump. There was more self-centered tweeting. And it`s just sad. We`re having to cope with this on our own and we don`t have a leader now who can help us get through this moment.

WILLIAMS: Jill Colvin, talk about this executive order tomorrow that the White House has teased out. I understand since we`ve been on the air the Washington Post is out with some reporting details that they`ve been able to gather, but as a practical matter what power would the President have, executive order or not, over a private entity like Twitter?

COLVIN: You know, I`ve been speaking to experts about this all day, and the President has very limited power here. It`s not like the President can snap his fingers and shut down the internet, can shut down social media just because he`s angry that Twitter decided to fact-check one of his posts. You know, there`s possible legislative action that could be taken by Congress, potentially to set up some kind of rules that would impact, you know, various social media sites.

But it`s very clear that what the President is trying to do here is to lash out at Twitter, to try to threaten them, to put some pressure on them. But it also very much feels like a distraction tactic. You know, I don`t think we can say enough that today is the day that the country reached this incredibly grim milestone. And the President didn`t address it at all. You know, I was not on the trip with him today but I was at the White House as he was leaving, as he was returning, shouting questions at him, asking him questions about it. And we didn`t hear a single acknowledgment from him. All we heard was that statement by a press person speaking on his behalf.

WILLIAMS: Anne Rimoin, I want to play for you a bit of Dr. Fauci on the topic of wearing a mask in public.


FAUCI: We`re very aware of and sensitive to the need to try and make those steps toward reopening. But there are certain things that you can do and still do as you`re reopening. One of them is wearing a mask. I wear it for the reason that I believe it is effective. I want it to be a symbol for people to see that that`s the kind of thing you should be doing.


WILLIAMS: Anne, exactly how frustrating has this topic been for you? And a subset of that, how frustrating for you that it has become for better or worse some kind of political symbol in a lot of places?

RIMOIN: Here`s the problem, Brian. Whenever there are mixed messages, and we`re getting big mixed messages on masks from our President and from the medical establishment and from the CDC and from Fauci, everybody`s saying something different about masks. And we should be wearing masks. But when there is mixed messaging, politics fills this void. And that`s the problem right here, is these masks have become political.

Here`s the thing. We know that asymptomatic infection is important. So just because you feel well doesn`t mean that you can`t spread the virus to somebody else. And so it is your civic duty. It is your duty as a human to protect everybody else around you from getting sick.

Listen, there are studies that have just come out today showing that 40% to 80% of people in certain studies are asymptomatic and capable of spreading virus. And so we really need to do our very best to be keeping our droplets to ourselves and to be wearing masks. It`s really these blunt public health measures are not fancy but they will work in reducing the spread. And as the United States opens back up, this is our only hope at really being able to contain it in the absence of vaccines, therapeutics, and good testing.

WILLIAMS: Indeed, I`ve heard doctors say when you`re out in public act like you know you have it. That would mean your behavior would ensure the proper distancing and hygiene.

Eugene Robinson, since we`ve been on the air the LAPD has put their forces on a tactical alert. We have police using crowd dispersal grenades in the streets of Minnesota. And oh, yeah, we`re in the middle of a pandemic which is tearing through communities of color in this country. We`re just coming off the death of George Floyd in the Twin Cities. What kind of summer do you reckon this is going to be?

ROBINSON: I`m just hoping we can get through the spring, Brian. You know, there`s nothing but bad news today. I don`t know that the summer is going to be figuratively a bad time. I think we`re in a bad time now. And we have to struggle through it. I mean, it is tragic that -- the George Floyd killing is a tragedy. The Ahmaud Arbery killing was a tragedy. These tragedies keep happening.

I don`t know how many times I`ve written that column. I`ll have to write it again tomorrow probably. And, you know, and yes, it happens in the middle of a pandemic. It`s an unsettled time. And again, it`s a time when the right message from the right president couldn`t make everything better, wouldn`t make all of our problems go away, but could help us cope and help us think of ourselves as sort of all in this together and needing to work together to try to make things better. But we won`t get it. We`re going to have to do this on our own. We won`t get it from him.

WILLIAMS: An unsettled time. Much obliged to our three guests for starting us off. Jill Colvin, Anne Rimoin, Eugene Robinson, our sincere thanks.

We`re also following as we mentioned this breaking news out of Minneapolis tonight where protests have broken out following the death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man killed on Monday after a police officer was kneeling on his neck. So far four officers have been fired. We`re going to get a live report from our own Shaquille Brewster, who`s standing by in Minneapolis. We`ll have that coming up.

Also ahead for us tonight, what happens when you mix a pandemic with the kind of natural disaster these next few months are going to bring? Our next guest says we`re about to find out whether we`re ready or not.

And later, the calls are coming from inside the House now. A rare burst of public criticism of the President. Wait for it. From some in his own party. As THE 11TH HOUR is just getting under way on this Wednesday night.


WILLIAMS: Along this so-called reopening phase. We`re days away from the official start of hurricane season. Two named tropical storms have already formed. The latest being tropical depression Bertha. The remnants of which set back the SpaceX launch today.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting an above average hurricane season with the possibility of becoming extremely active this year.

Dr. Irwin Redlener writes in the Washington Post, "We are now at a point that many of us have long feared and for which we are not remotely prepared. The lethal confluence of an uncontrolled pandemic and a slew of large-scale natural disasters."

Indeed for more tonight we have back with us the aforementioned Dr. Irwin Redlener, pediatrics physician by training, a Clinical Professor with the School of Public Health up at Columbia University in New York where, importantly, he is Director of Columbia`s National Center for Disaster Prepared Preparedness.

And Irwin, you must get a lot of jokes about being fun at a party given your job description, but this could not be more serious business.

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA Au contraire, as we say, yeah, yeah.

WILLIAMS: And knowing I was going to talk to you tonight, think about it, we`ve had an outbreak of tornadoes during this pandemic period in the south and southeast. We`ve had 1,000$1,000 Michiganders on the run, from flooding, some of them force into crowded high school gymnasiums as shelters. This didn`t hit the ritzy areas in Michigan by and large. Some of these folks were out of work already. So what you`re calling for I`m guessing is a specialization in natural disaster preparedness during a pandemic.

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: Yeah, Brian, that`s really what we need. And right now even, even as we`re in the middle of the pandemic and we`re just days away from the official beginning of hurricane season, every single governor as well as the federal government, ought to be appointing special task forces that are doing absolutely nothing but focusing on this confluence of disasters.

We`re expecting a terrible hurricane season this year. And like you said, already experiencing disasters that are forcing people to be evacuated rapidly and under crowded circumstances. And then being put in very, very crowded recovery centers or backup facilities where they can ride out the storm or whatever it may be. All of these things are absolutely contrary, Brian, to what we are recommending for control of the spread of the pandemic.

And I think that what is it that we`re going to do here, we need probably to have double or triple the number of shelters for people escaping disasters. We need to have special precautions taken for common bathrooms, shared cooking facilities, and so on. But I`m not aware of any state in America that has even begun to think about how we`re going to deal with these conflicting overlapping disasters right now, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Indeed. No one should come down with COVID-19 by dint of the fact that they`ve been forced from their home because of a natural disaster, especially in the southeast, the very region where NOAA is telling us it could get very sporty this summer. I`m going to put a quote on the screen from Dr. Frieden, who formerly ran the CDC. And I think it is in line with your own thinking right now about the national mood and our attention deficit disorder. It`s like we have attention deficit disorder right now. Everything we`re doing is just a knee-jerk response to the short term. That`s from Tom Frieden, someone you know, former head of the CDC.


WILLIAMS: And Doctor, this sounds like it`s right out of your playbook?

REDLENER: Yeah. Well, I think as people start to think about what we`re going to be facing -- and by the way, we can expect also a pretty terrible wildfire season in the west. There`s going to be no relief from this necessity for trying to deal with strategies that will both protect us from the natural disaster that`s occurring and at the same time practice the good public health recommendations that we must need to have.

How ironic it would be, Brian, if we ended up having big surges because we weren`t prepared to deal with overlapping disasters. I hate to be a Debbie Downer here, but we`re really facing some big challenges. I think we have the capacity to think this through but we have to get started. I mean, this new disaster season is right on our heels right now. We`ve got a lot of work to do and I wish the governors would take this seriously, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Well, thank you. We wanted to at least amplify your warning using our airwaves. Dr. Irwin Redlener, thank you as always for agreeing to come on and spend some time with us.

REDLENER:  Thanks, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Coming up as we`ve been saying the streets of an American city on edge tonight. Is it going to get even worse? And what Trump said that caused some members of his own party to say enough. Those stories when we come back.


WILLIAMS: As we mentioned, we are keeping a close eye on the protests tonight in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who died after a white officer detained him and pinned him down by kneeling on Floyd`s neck.

Four officers have been fired from the force. But today the city`s mayor called for criminal charges against the officer involved. Protests have also broken out in Los Angeles late today over Floyd`s death. Demonstrators could be seen damaging a California highway patrol cruiser on the freeway after one demonstrator had climbed onto a CHP cruiser, had fallen off, and was subsequently knocked unconscious.

Now, back to the situation in Minneapolis. George Floyd`s sister spoke with Lawrence O`Donnell earlier tonight.


BRIDGETT FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD SISTER: I don`t know because I was not there. But hearing the stories of what happened, he gave no reason to do what y`all did to him. He gave y`all no reason. They murdered my brother. And they`re going to pay. Through the courts.


WILLIAMS: As we mentioned, the streets of Minneapolis got more violent as darkness fell tonight, with police using non-lethal weapons and flash-bang grenades to disperse the crowds. Our own Shaquille Brewster is live in Minneapolis tonight.

Shaquille, I`ve been monitoring a fire at an auto zone there that promptly went to two alarms and there was some trouble getting apparatus there to fight the fire as police have changed the crowd lines going backwards. What can you report from there tonight?

SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: You got it, Brian. I`m sure you saw the images from this feed. Let me just warn you and our viewers that as I do this live shot you may hear flash bangs. You may hear fireworks. You may hear some foul language by some of the protesters. But that is just the scene that we`re seeing right now.

What you have is an angry reaction. For some it`s an angry reaction to what they consider and have called a senseless death, another senseless police- involved death of a black man. But for others they`re openly saying this is an opportunity. They`re exploiting an opportunity, an open wound that you see in the community.

Let me let you look around a little bit. The police line is back there. You see the front line of protesters there. In the distance that`s the auto zone. That`s the auto zone that was on fire. They had to call in reinforcements to come separate the protesters and allow space for the firefighters to do their work.

If you come and swing this way, you see a parking lot on this side. This is where the Target and a grocery store, they were getting openly looted. People walking in and out, running out with items. Anything from diapers to TVs to furniture, Brian. People trying to -- expressing frustration that we were showing the footage even though they had their cell phones out and bragging about what they were doing.

Brian, the sadness here today is that today we learned a lot more about George Floyd through his family. His family emphasized he was someone who was athletic. They said he coached -- he coached children in his spare time. They said that he liked children. He was a rapper on the side.

And the thing you heard from family members and friends over and over is that he was a man of peace. He was someone who was kind. I`m not going to presume to know what he would be thinking right now, but this is not the peace that you see and the peace that was described by his family.

What we do know, Brian, and when you listen to what the protesters are saying, the people who are trying to stay away from the actual conflicts with police, their main message and what they wanted their main message tonight to be is that they want charges against those officers. We know the four officers who have now been named in the death of George Floyd, they -- those officers have now been named. What they want is criminal action. They want those officers arrested.

That`s a message that`s being echoed by the mayor of Minneapolis. That`s a message that you`re hearing being echoed by officials here. The problem is it`s simply not happening fast enough. Fast enough for these protesters and fast enough for the people who want to see action immediately. Brian?

WILLIAMS: Shaquille Brewster, thank you for that report. You take care of yourself and our crew certainly for people who may know the city of Minneapolis, all of this is taking part -- taking place along the lake street corridor there.

Tonight the President weighed in on the death of George Floyd. He said this. "At my request the FBI and the Department of Justice already well into investigation as to the very sad and tragic death in Minnesota of George Floyd. I`ve asked for this investigation to be expedited and greatly appreciate all the work done by local law enforcement. My heart goes out to George`s family and friends. Justice will be served."

Back with us tonight to talk about the larger view, former Republican member of Congress from the state of Florida who has since left the House and his Republican Party, David Jolly.

Congressman, let`s widen out. When the President wasn`t discussing this case on social media, for the better part of the last several days, he`s been forwarding these bogus stories about our colleague Mr. Scarborough. And I was curious to see today that -- I`ll put it this way. The son of George Romney and the daughter of Dick Cheney rose up and came out against the president and came out for decency. I`m tempted to ask if there are any non-scion first generation Republicans you know of who have risen up and done the same thing.

DAVID JOLLY, FMR. REPUBLICAN CONGRESMAN: I doubt it. I doubt it based on experience. And, you know, what a confluence of storylines and narratives coming from the White House. The tweet, if you will, on George Floyd and the recommendation to have the FBI investigate and deliver their findings to the U.S. Attorney`s Office is what we would expect of a president and in normal times would be given greater credence.

But that is being done in the midst of the chaos he has sown with the conspiracy theory about the loss of life in the Pensacola area now 15 years ago or so, the attacks on Joe Scarborough, and it leaves a Republican Party wondering how do we defend this president going into November and what is our message?  Because the president is woefully off message.

And it is good to hear the Romneys and the Cheneys condemn what is despicable behavior by the president. We need to hear more of it. But you do wonder why the silence. And it is hard in moments of crisis and in moments of national conversation like we`re seeing in Minneapolis to really unite as one country in a very important conversation we should be having when we`re distracted by the president`s vitriol and his despicable behavior.

WILLIAMS: Even though as some would put it on the Susan Collins scale we`ve perhaps moved from concerned to troubled, has all courage been diminished in the Republican Party and is everything now that the president does, should it be looked at including sadly the Joe Scarborough debunked story as a distraction? Because of what was our lead story tonight and last night and will be again tomorrow night.

JOLLY: That`s one of the great unanswered questions about Donald Trump. There are clearly times when he engages in distraction and deflection. He`ll attack the press. He`ll attack Democrats. And at times there`s political value for him doing that. It stokes his base and it creates a fair fight, if you will.

But then you see these moments like what he`s doing to not just Joe Scarborough but the widower of the woman who lost her life and really engages in despicable behavior and you wonder is it strategy or is it just the reflection of a very angry and broken and despicable person that is the president?

Look, this is a distraction from significant liabilities of the president. We did pass the 100,000 death toll related to COVID-19. Just last week we had the whistle-blower, the former head of the Biomedical Research Office, say he had to reassign researchers away from COVID because of the president`s political interests.

On the national security front we learned in the last week that the attack in Pensacola last year was actually related to al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda inspired an attack on the homeland. That is news this week. We also know that the president brought in a political appointee to temporarily be the director of national intelligence so that he could declassify damning information about Joe Biden. And as soon as he did that the President moved him out over to the campaign.

This president has engaged in extremely controversial behavior, almost criminal, unlawful behavior in the eyes of many, and yet we are left to see the President attack Joe Scarborough and bring up a conspiracy theory of 15 years ago. It`s hard for Republicans to defend that, and it`s hard to think that that is planned. Instead that just might be the vitriol of an angry man.

WILLIAMS: David Jolly, good to see you. Thank you for having us in. Thanks for making some time for us on this Wednesday night.

Coming up for us, in the midst of this pandemic the author of the book "The Survivor`s Club" says there`s one word to help get through it all.


WILLIAMS: At this shall we say unique moment in history 7.6 billion people are dealing with the very same crisis all at the very same time. The global death toll is now give or take 350,000. Sadly, as we say here every night, we lead the world.

About all of it our next guest writes the following. "To survive COVID-19 and to repair the world, we must all do one thing together. We must play trust in humanity." For more we welcome to this broadcast somebody well known to those of us old-timers around here. Ben Sherwood worked with us at NBC News prior to running ABC News and later the Disney ABC Television Group.

In his life away from television, and yes there is one, he`s the author of "The Man Who Ate The 747," "The Life and Death of Charlie St. Cloud," and the book he`s here to talk with us about tonight, "The Survivors Club." Which has now been updated during this pandemic. Good to see you, old friend, and I`d like to start you off by explaining to our viewers your theory of 10-80-10.

BEN SHERWOOD, AUTHOR "THE SURVIVOR`S CLUB": Great to see you, Brian, on a big news night. Thank you for having me on. Now the theory of 10-80-10 describes how humans respond in disasters and the people who study crises, plane crashes, shipwrecks, pandemics, you name the disaster, people respond in the same way going back all the way to the beginning of the century.

10 percent of us respond with decisive action. Clearheaded. We get going and we know what to do. 80 percent of us freeze. We wait for people in a position of authority, for someone in government or a flight attendant to tell us what to do in an emergency. And about 10 percent of us do negative, self-destructive, counterproductive things.

So disaster experts looking right now at the pandemic are saying that people are behaving exactly as we would predict they would in this global crisis. 10 percent responding with clear minds and clear heads and action, 80 percent just waiting for someone to tell them what to do, and 10 percent doing negative, counterproductive, self-destructive things.

WILLIAMS: This has been so bad and so fast that especially here in the New York City area most of us know at least one victim, most of us know at least one survivor. Is there a constant in your work and research among survivors, be it a pandemic, a plane crash, or anything else?

SHERWOOD: Brian, there are a number of constants. And my heart goes out to the families of 100,000 and so many more who have been affected by crisis here and around the world. One of the common denominators for people who get through the toughest times is they have adaptability. They can change their attitudes and their actions in response to a particular crisis. And adaptability has sort of been the secret of survival for life on earth for 3.5 billion years. That adaptation to a problem and a threat and then the development of a plan A or a plan B to deal with it.

The other powerful common denominator among a lot of survivors is faith. And that could be faith in a higher power. God has a plan for me. It can be faith in the family or friends. Or in the case of prisoners of war in Vietnam it was faith in country and faith in their fellow men.

I think in this crisis, as you said, at the outset during the introduction that it`s not just faith in divinity that will get us through this pandemic. I actually think the most important survival tool is going to be faith in each other. Faith in humanity. Trust in each other to get through. And that trust is going to be very important, whether it comes to having a vaccine be effective or whether it`s as simple as just going to the local grocery store. Do you trust people to take the necessary precautions? Do you trust the people who`ve made the vaccine who`ve done a good job?

Some people are never going to trust, Brian, and on this show you talk about this all the time. There is a certain number of people who will never trust government. A certain number of people who will never trust vaccines. But for the overwhelming majority of us trust is going to be the most important thing to get us through.

WILLIAMS: It also intersects with the current conversation about mask wearing in public, we note. To our viewers this book is called "The Survivors Club." And sadly it`s been put out in its own pandemic edition because current times call for it.

Ben Sherwood, its author, has been our guest tonight. Great to see you again. Thank you for spending a few minutes with us. We`ll be back right after this.



SPACEX LAUNCH DIRECTOR: Dragon SpaceX, unfortunately we are not going to launch today. You are going for 5.100 launch scrub.

ASTRONAUT DOUG HURLEY: 5.100. It was a good effort by the teams and we understand and we`ll meet you there.


WILLIAMS: That was the bad news this afternoon for all of us who wanted at least the distraction of a launch into space in the midst of a pandemic. But the rocket sits on earth tonight. Bad weather meant failure to launch today. And by the way, for all the people who wondered today why we launch rockets from Florida in the first place, the weather being so changeable there, we have some answers for you coming right back.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight. While Elon Musk may have reinvented the automobile, while he may have reimagined space travel, we`ve found a flaw. It turns out he cannot control the weather in Florida. As one of the still strapped in astronauts put it today over the radio, it was a bummer that the launch was scrubbed due to bad weather. And the forecast for the next launch window on Saturday, by the way, doesn`t look great.

And so a good many people were asking today, given the changeable weather in Florida, why do we launch rockets from there anyway? There are several good answers, beginning with Harry Truman. He made the decision to put a missile range there initially back in the 1940s. Along the part of the Florida coast, the space coast as it came to be known, that juts out into the Atlantic.

Also back in the `40s, remember, it was wild and unpopulate yet close to the east coast. Transportation, rail lines, good roads. It also meant they could launch during all four seasons. But the biggest selling point for Florida is physics. Florida is closer to the equator, where the earth spins with more centrifugal force than at the poles. It`s been compared to ceiling fan blades moving faster than at the hub.

So a rocket launch uses the boost of a spinning earth to launch it out over the ocean to the east on its way into earth orbit. And especially early on in the space program nobody wanted rockets taking off from the west coast, flying to the east over populated areas of the country.

So because launches have to be timed to intersect with the orbiting space station at just the right point in space, until Mr. Musk figures out a weather work around, Florida it is, Florida it will remain. 70 percent chance of inclement weather for the next launch window on Saturday afternoon. But it`s early yet. And a reminder, it`s Florida.

That is our broadcast for this Wednesday night. Thank you so very much for being here with us. On behalf of all of my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night from our temporary field headquarters.


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