CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. As U.S. coronavirus cases crossed 42,000, we`ve now become the country with the second-highest recorded active cases headed it seems unfortunately towards number one. And at this moment, President Trump is very obviously indecisive and losing his nerve, and millions of lives are on the line because of it.
Remember, we are here in this frightening situation because in the two months, the U.S. and the White House had to prepare for the virus, the President was concerned about the economy and the stock market and chiefly his own reelection chances. Less than a month ago, he told us the virus was going to "disappear." Just 17 days ago, his top economic adviser said the virus looks relatively contained.
The administration did not get adequate personal protective equipment for medical professionals like masks and gloves and gowns. They ignored explicit warnings about shortages of those things of ventilators and other medical supplies. They did not do adequate testing. They created a test that didn`t work, stop other people from pursuing their own, and the result is that the United States has been the international laggard in testing. We are ramping up finally now.
All of that combined allowed for what is one of the worst outbreaks in the world in terms of the rate of growth, if not the worst. And so now that we have one of the worst outbreaks in the world in absolute terms and rate of growth, in order to forestall serious doom and death, we`ve had to shut down enormous parts of the economy, which has obviously caused massive human misery and economic dislocation, because we missed our chance to do something better earlier.
And now, after about a week of that economic dislocation, as we continue to climb up the exponential curve of cases and deaths, the President is now listening to voices on the right to say, really, what`s a million seniors when you`re thinking about the whole economy. That`s slightly caricature, but only slightly, because there`s a growing chorus of voices on the right saying the benefit of keeping people alive is not worth the cost to the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our ruling class in their T.V. mouthpieces whipping up fear over this virus, they can`t afford an indefinite shutdown. Working Americans can`t. They`ll be crushed by it. You know that famous phrase, the cure is worse than the disease. That is exactly the territory we are hurtling towards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There was a viral medium post making basically that argument, and now right-wing law Professor Richard Epstein who`s circulating a version of the idea that the cost is not worth the benefit. I should note, this has been a central conservative right-wing idea forever. It`s the same reason there are arguments for why we don`t need clean air regulations, even if you know tens of thousands of people die every year from lung disease from additional pollution issues. It`s just that now it`s being applied in this extreme case in the midst of a global pandemic and a growing exponential curve.
And then it got to the president clearly. Last night, the president tweeted, all caps, "We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. At the end of the 15-day period, we will make a decision as to which way we want to go." He then retweeted multiple requests from random Twitter users like Steph93065 to send people back to work.
One person administration who has consistently and publicly urged more action to stem the spread of the virus is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci. But now, the New York Times reports "Trump has become frustrated with Dr. Fauci blunt approach at the briefing lectern, which often contradicts things the President has just said."
And this morning, Fox News host Laura Ingraham tweeted, "A global recession would be worse for our people and the Great Depression. Doctors provide medical treatment and cures. They should not be the determinative voices in policymaking now or at the end of 15 days."
It`s probably worse pointing out, Dr. Fauci was not at this evening`s White House press conference, an ominous sign to many about the president and his relationship to scientific advice. But here`s the thing. It`s not a question of if the economic shutdown is absolutely brutal for Americans, for our fellow citizens, for our economy. Of course, it is. It`s just that those on the right, in the business world, talking to Donald Trump are just misreading what the choices are right now.
There is no option to just let everyone go back out and go back to normal if a pandemic rages across the country and infects 50 percent of the population and kills a percentage point at the low end of those infected and also melts down all the hospitals. What kind of economy do you think you`re going to have under those conditions?
I mean, please just think about this for a second. Are people going to be flying? Are they going to be going to Disney World? Are they going to be going to restaurants and bars? Are you going to be able to run a business if two-thirds of your staff gets sick when the virus comes whirling through your workplace in mounting horror stories come out of hospitals every day? And maybe it goes through the places of where people maintain the grid or the water treatment system.
As the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom orders a country-wide lockdown the next few weeks after resisting the idea, the President of the United States appears to be just considering the opposite. OK, enough of that. Let`s take our chances with the virus.
The Associated Press reports, as the coronavirus crisis threatens his presidency and upends his campaign for reelection, Trump is rapidly losing patience with the medical professionals who made the case day after day, the only way to prevent a catastrophic loss of life is to essentially shut the country down. We find ourselves in the situation we are partly because Donald Trump delivered us here. And now all indications are that he is very seriously considering making it much, much, much worse.
Joining me now Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy. He was the U.S. Surgeon General under President Barack Obama. He`s the author of Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes-Lonely World, that is due out next month.
Doctor, I guess let`s start with the argument, right? The President came out tonight during his now daily press conference where he rambled a lot and he sort of touted cures at around the corner. And he`s basically saying, look, the cure is worse than the disease, global recession is going to kill people too. So this is nonsense. You got to stop listening to these public health experts. They don`t understand the economy. We need to get the economy up and running. What do you say to that?
VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, I can understand where this sentiment is coming from where people are saying, maybe we should get back to our lives sooner than we had thought we could. And it`s because this is incredibly painful, what we`re going through. We`ve had to dramatically upend our lives. People are hurting economically. They`re separated from family and friends and children`s lives are disrupted. This is incredibly painful.
But when we`re measuring whether the disease is worse than the cure -- worse than the cure, we have to recognize that we have not even come close to seeing how bad this can get. We`re just at the early stages of seeing the number of cases and deaths ramp up in the United States. And because we had some stumbles early on where we weren`t testing people, we weren`t tracing as many contacts as we should have been an isolating people to protect others, we have seen now the virus spreading unchecked for weeks.
Keep in mind, the numbers you are seeing today are a reflection of infection that has happened one to two weeks ago. So these numbers are going to continue to go up. And that is why you find public health experts around the country saying that the measures we`re taking now as extreme as they are, are necessary.
And if we want to pull back on them, here`s what we need to have in place. We need to have the ability to test broadly, we need to have the ability to trace contacts extensively, not a few hundred contacts, but hundreds of thousands of contacts. We need to have healthcare systems that are shored up and have the capacity to treat a huge surge of patients which is what we`re starting to see now. And we finally need the ability to protect an isolate the elderly and the vulnerable. We do not have these all in place right now. So to pull back on the measures would be premature.
HAYES: Well, play that out a little bit. I mean, because I think that there`s two cases here. One, there`s a sort of question about the value of human life and who we care for and care about and what societal decisions we make and how we calculate those tradeoffs. And there`s a kernel of the truth here, right, which is, you know, we do make tradeoffs like that all the time, the speed limit could be 35 miles an hour everywhere on every highway, and that would almost certainly save lives, and we don`t have that because there`s a trade-off between efficiency and life, frankly. These are things baked into policy.
But spell out what your best sense from the people you talk to is of what to kind of get back to work in a week order would actually end up looking like in a real sense. Because my understanding is he doesn`t even solve the economic problem.
MURTHY: Well, no. So, if people are told that they can go back to work, but they don`t have confidence that there`ll be taken care of if they get sick, if they don`t have confidence that they`re not going to get sick if they resume normal activity, then people aren`t going to do it, or they`re going to do it in a haphazard way. And instead, what you`ll see are infection rates, once again, surge.
So, you know, these are hard choices to make. But that`s why there are three core principles that you`ve got to observe in crises like this. We`ve seen this played out again, in Ebola, with Zika, with H1N1. These three core principles are number one, you`ve got to lead with science and with scientists. You`ve got to have people who are versed in science out there and messaging and talking directly to the public.
Second, you`ve got to be transparent. This is not always easy. There is enormous pressure when you walk into that briefing room in the White House to want to give good news, to put a positive spin on everything that you`ve got, because you don`t want people to panic. You have to resist that urge. You`ve got to trust people and be transparent with them.
And finally, third, you got to get resources to people on the front lines. Chris, you know what breaks my heart is my friends, my colleague, doctors, nurses, health care workers across this country, are going to battle every day on their front lines of the COVID-19 war without armor. They`re going with without the masks they need, without gloves. They`re running out of gowns. They`re running out of ventilators. We would never think it was okay to send soldiers into war without the protective gear they need, yet that is what we are demanding and asking of our healthcare workers.
And without being able to tell them when they can expect the protection they need, many of these doctors are scared, many of these nurses are worried that they`re going to ultimately contract as infection. This is -- this is unacceptable in 2020 in the richest country in the world. Our health care workers are out there saving our lives. We`ve got to have their back.
HAYES: Dr. Vivek Murthy, thank you as always, for sharing your expertise tonight. For more on the economic side of the coronavirus equation, I want to bring in Sarah Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants and Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist, author of People, Power, and Profits.
And Professor Stiglitz, let me start with you with something the President said tonight. People are talking in apocalyptic terms about what we`re going to see happen to the economy, unemployment at 25 or 30 percent, GDP diminished in numbers we`ve never even seen in the Great Depression. This is what the President said about basically saying, look, you -- there are going to be repercussions and deaths from that level of economic devastation, take a listen.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can`t turn that off and think it`s going to be wonderful. There`ll be tremendous repercussions. There will be a tremendous death from there, death. You know, you`re talking about death, probably more death from that then anything that we`re talking about with respect to the virus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, I don`t necessarily think that`s correct about more death than what we are, but it is true that this level of economic dislocation has just profound consequences, right Professor Stiglitz?
JOSEPH STIGLITZ, ECONOMIST: That`s right. It will have profound consequences. And I think the numbers that have been bandied around unemployment in excess of 20 percent and unprecedented decline in GDP are right. But the balance between the potential death would be two, three million. And the economy, (AUDIO GAP) way that any reasonable person could come to his conclusion.
And the point you made earlier is absolutely right. If people were worried about getting the disease by going to work, by going into the store, by going to a restaurant, it`s not going to happen. Our economy is going to implode whether we shut things down or not. And it`s better to do it in an organized way. The alternative is to see the economy go down and death soar. That`s really what he`s offering.
HAYES: Sarah, you`re -- you and your members are obviously the front lines of this. You represent flight attendants. And I mean, the stats coming out of air travel are just insane. And, you know, you`ve been very sort of public about how you think about rescue, right? The federal government is going to have to do something for the airline industry, or the whole thing will collapse. There will not be any airline industry.
So how do you think about prioritizing that and conceptually, when your members on the front line of this, about what can be done in the midst of this?
SARAH NELSON, INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: Well, first, Chris, when flight attendants are on a plane, we don`t have any options. We can`t call for help. We can`t walk off when we get frustrated. We actually have to handle the problem. And this is the United States of America, and I think it`s absurd to say that we have to either choose death or financial ruin, when both are hurtling at us, and we can take on both.
And we can take on both by making sure that we are taking care of the individual people on the front lines so they can take care of themselves. So we have put forward a package that says that instead of thinking about from top-down economic recovery here, we need to think about from ground up.
So we need to make this package be worker-centric. And we`re doing that by saying that it starts with grants from the government to pass through to payroll. The payroll systems are already in place. We don`t need the government to be the H.R. solution for everything. Let`s keep the paychecks going, keep people on the job and able to perform their job.
And by the way, flight attendants are still going to work even though it`s drastically reduced, but we have to, and so keep people on the job, connected to their health care because their benefits are connected to their job. And so we can actually take people who are today able to care for themselves and make sure that through this national emergency, they can continue to care for themselves. So that we can focus on the sick and vulnerable and help our medical professionals on the frontline and not overload them.
Let`s make sure that everyone who can take care of themselves has the means to do that and the federal government can do that. We are the workers and we are the taxpayers, give us our money and help us take care of ourselves so that we can focus as a nation on getting rid of the virus and restarting our economy.
HAYES: So Professor Stiglitz, that sort of general conceptual framework here, which I think has been part of the debate we`re going to get into in the next segment about the rescue package in the Senate, which is basically look, essentially if things were going before, try to keep them going now and use the government which has, you know, incredible borrowing capacity and also the printing press now to essentially kind of backstop at all, right? Like just keep it all going have the government kind of backstop it. Does that make sense to you as a general approach to this?
STIGLITZ: Well, (AUDIO GAP) top-down does make sense. We don`t have probably the capacity to distribute 150 million individual checks to different families. We don`t even have the capacity to increase our unemployment insurance program 20-fold. So, keeping as many people as possible tied to their employers, in a way like Denmark is doing, is a very reasonable way.
But I`m learning and I don`t like the basic idea of bailouts to the companies. You know, we did that in 2009. The problem was the financial crisis was caused by the companies by the banks not doing what they should have done. In this case, the companies are partly to blame. We gave them an enormous tax cut in December 2017. Their profits were record profits. And what did they do? They bought back stock. They distribute their money to the dividends, high pay for the CEOs, but they didn`t put any money on the side.
I think their shareholders should bear the cost and the CEOs should bear the cost. And there`s an important distinction between bailing out the shareholders and the bondholders and saving the company.
HAYES: Right. I think, Sarah, you agree with that as well. You have been in touch with the House leadership and a lot of the -- your ideas have ended up in that legislation. Sarah Nelson and Joseph Stiglitz, thank you both for your time tonight.
NELSON: Thanks, Chris.
STIGLITZ: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, high drama in the Capitol tonight as House Democrats unveil a sweeping new rescue bill, Mitch McConnell strings to keep the senate functioning. Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Adam Schiff on where the rescue efforts stand next.
HAYES: There was a frenetic back and forth on Capitol Hill today as the Senate, House, and White House tried to agree to a $1.8 trillion economic rescue package to mitigate the massive economic damage caused by the attempts to get the coronavirus pandemic under control.
So far two versions of the Senate bill have now failed primarily because Democrats refuse to vote for the Mitch McConnell plan. A plan that insists on including what Democrats call a $500 billion corporate slush fund that would be available to the Treasury Secretary to essentially rescue or bail out industries with really little oversight or real disclosure.
Democrats also argued the bill does not have enough protections for workers, hospitals, and others. All this is happening in a Congress that is not at full capacity. Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is now among the lawmakers who tested positive for the virus. Paul was in close contact with senators while he awaited his results, even using the Senate gym. And as a result, two more Republican senators Mitt Romney and Cory Gardner have also had to self-quarantine. So there are now a total of five Republican senators in self-quarantine while this plays out.
For the latest in the state of play in Congress, I`m joined first by Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California. I guess, first, your understanding of where things stand at this hour, Congressman.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, negotiations are ongoing. It looked like the differences were being narrowed, but there`s still some very significant disputes. And chief among them that Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump want this big bailout fund that they would control.
Donald Trump I think today said that he would be the oversight when asked about the lack of oversight and the Republican proposal. That`s not going to fly for most Americans. We don`t want to see abuse of taxpayer dollars through executive compensation or stock buybacks, layoffs that merely enrich some of the executives.
Much as those (INAUDIBLE) said, I think the best approach frankly, is one in which we avoid layoffs. We incentivize companies by helping to guarantee payroll to keep their employees on. For one thing, it will avoid putting all that pressure on that appointment system. But for another, when this crisis is over, we can recover that much more quickly if people don`t need to go job hunting all of a sudden.
So that remains a big sticking point that essentially a half-billion dollar slush fund that the President is pushing for.
HAYES: The half-trillion dollars. And there -- my understanding is a sort of the debate there is that the language that McConnell has used and Treasury Mnuchin says that basically companies that have to retain as much of their workforce as is practicable, which is essentially like, they got to try. Whereas the Democrats are asking for some actual requirements, right, that a condition of the aid has to be keeping payroll. Is that -- is that a fair characterization?
SCHIFF: That is a very fair characterization. And look, these industries ought to do the right thing here. They are going to need this financial assistance. We want to keep these industries alive. We want to make sure that the -- those that work in those industries still have a livelihood.
And this is a very reasonable condition, which is, if you`re going to have access to this government funding, then you need to retain your workforce and retain their wages. And we will help guarantee your expenditures to maintain that workforce. That seems to be an eminently fair bargain.
You know, I do want to say also, Chris, if I could, with respect to the conversation you just had. It terrifies me to see this president, do 180 degrees of first saying there`s no problem with the virus, then saying, OK, this is a massive wartime-like crisis. And now preparing, it would appear, to say let`s go back to business as usual.
We need to listen to the health experts, the epidemiologists. We need to do what science dictates here to save American lives. And if this president wants to be a wartime president, he needs to stop vacillating, listen to the experts, or simply get out of their way.
HAYES: I wanted to raise a critique that has been offered by a lot of folks in the Republican Party and conservatives observing this today, which is that they say the Democrats are essentially trying to smuggle in a whole bunch of sort of pre-existing ideological points, extension to the solar tax credit changing to the funding mechanism of the post office, which is the funding mechanism is really messed up in lots of ways, but they say, you guys are sort of see this opportunity to get a bunch of stuff you want it anyway, in under the cover of emergency legislation. What`s your response to that?
SCHIFF: Well, look, I think what they`re really focused on is we want to make sure that we protect only the health economy, but the health of our democracy. And for that reason, we want to make sure that we provide that people can vote by mail and have early voting. We saw the fiasco in Ohio. We don`t want that repeated.
And I think what Donald Trump like, what Mitch McConnell would like, is a situation where they can create a corporate slush fund that they can do with as they choose, and the voters won`t be able to hold them accountable because they won`t be able to get to the ballot places without risking their lives.
And so, we view the economic health and the health of our democracy is very much interrelated. They view the health of their slush fund and suppressing the vote is interrelated, and I think that`s part of the conflict.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
HAYES: Now, for more on the situation of the Senate, I want to bring in Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont. Senator, I want to start -- I`ve been watching the broadcast you`ve been doing sort of laying out your vision for this, and I want to start with an argument about assistance to large companies particularly that I`ve heard and get your response to it, which is basically the opposite of what Joseph Stiglitz was saying.
It was, look, in 2008, the financial industry and the real estate industry, they really did just crash themselves and then ask for a bailout. And there was a real problem of moral hazard. In this case, it`s not like the companies that are suffering brought this on themselves. It`s just a virus. Like, we shouldn`t be thinking about it as a bailout, we shouldn`t be thinking about moral hazard in the same way. What`s your feeling about that?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, my feeling is that you cannot simply give $50 billion to the airline industry. And of course, this crisis is not they`re making, but you can`t just give them that money to do anything they want. If we`re going to bail out the airline industry, if you`re going to bail out tourism, if you`re going to bail out hotels, etcetera, what you have to do is make sure that that money is going to protect working people.
And what you`re seeing in the United Kingdom and other countries that they are saying to employers, if you retain your workers, even if you furlough them, even if they`re working from home, they`re going to continue to get the paycheck that the government is providing. So bottom line is yes, I do understand that major industries, through no fault of their own are in trouble. But our job is not to make these industries richer, not to allow them to do stock buybacks, but to protect the workers in those companies.
HAYES: I wanted to get your reaction to one provision that seems a sticking point in the latest negotiations is about disclosure. This is really striking. As the legislation is currently written, I`m quoting New York Times here, Mr. Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, would not have to disclose the recipients of these, you know, grants, loans given out by Treasury until six months after the loans were dispersed. What do you think of that?
SANDERS: Well, I know you know what I think about that. I think that that is totally insane and unacceptable. Can you imagine giving the Trump administration $500 billion, and by the way, in the midst of an election, to do anything they want with that money, to give the money to any company they want, any the state they want with no transparency at all. That is absolutely wrong.
Look, Chris, the truth is right now, we face at this moment in terms of the pandemic, in terms of the economic meltdown, the most serious set of crises that have been facing this country perhaps for a hundred years.
And our job right now is to think big, is to act in an unprecedented way, both in terms of health care and in terms of the economy. And it is going to cost a lot of money, but not spending that money now will make a bad situation even worse, because as you know, there are some people out there talking about by the end of June unemployment being 20, 25, 30 percent.
So right now, our focus has got to be, in my view, to make sure that all workers in this country are kept whole, they continue to get their paycheck, to make certain that in addition to that people get a check of $2,000 a month to make certain right now that we move in an unbelievably aggressive way, to make sure that our health care providers, our doctors and nurses are not dying on the job trying to protect us.
And that means that Trump has got to enforce in a vigorous way the Defense Production Act to make sure that companies now are not producing t-shirts and underwear, that is not our major need at the moment -- masks, gowns, gloves are the need. And companies have got to do that.
Some are voluntarily doing it. They need to be compensated well. But they`ve got to transform their production capabilities to deal with the crises that we face right now.
The other thing I think, Chris, you know, is that while congress -- and there are going to be people up all night right now working on this $2 trillion bill. People are working really hard. They understand the extent of the tragedy. We also have to take a deep breath and ask how we got to be in a country where so many people are in financial despair right now.
What I worry about is that at a time when half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, those paychecks are stopping. There are people out there watching this program who are saying I can`t feed my kids tomorrow. How did we get there? How do we have a health care system which was so unprepared, among many other things, for this epidemic.
HAYES: Final question for you, senator, I know obviously you`re running for president of the United States, you have been for a while, it`s basically you and Joe Biden the last people in the race, you were asked by a reporter I think last week, and you said something to the effect of I`m effing dealing with a global pandemic, which I found a perfectly reasonable reaction actually given what`s going on, but I do wonder like how would you characterize the state of the Sanders campaign at this bizarre, bizarre crisis moment?
SANDERS: Well, I think you used the right word, Chris, we are in a bizarre moment. You know, you well know, I love to do large rallies. We have had rallies for 10, 20, 25,000 people. We`re not doing rallies. We have been an extraordinarily strong grass roots movement, hundreds of thousands of people knocking on doors. Guess what, nobody is knocking on doors right now.
So, what we are doing is transitioning our campaign to a virtual campaign. We had a wonderful town meeting last night with several of the leading members of the congress, which I thought was very productive, a large viewing audience. So, we`re kind of moving day by day.
HAYES: All right. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, thank you very much for being with me, appreciate it.
SANDERS: Thank you very much, Chris. Take care.
HAYES: Still to come, what could actually be promising new data out of Italy. And it`s a new group of the mission of finding and placing personal protective equipment, because the federal government just isn`t. The founder of Project N95 joins me ahead.
HAYES: I have promised myself in these very grim and unsettling times to try to focus every night on some sort of hope or silver lining -- for example, funny moments like these from Italy where local politicians have been absolutely losing it over people violating quarantines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (subtitles): I`m getting news that some would like to throw graduation parties. We will send over the police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (subtitles): You can`t play ping pong. Go home. Play some videogames.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) Go home, play some videogames.
Today, Italy is 14 days into the nationwide lock down. And we are seeing some positive signs, their attempt to flatten the curve is working tentatively. Officials announced fewer new cases and fewer new deaths in the previous two days, although obviously the toll there is just unimaginable.
Italy has had a brutal, brutal time with this virus. Their fatality rate is among the highest in the world.
But we are seeing that the death rates from Coronavirus are varying really widely from country to country. Italy and Spain are very high, and we are on the lower end so far.
Now, that is maybe some cause for optimism. And it`s probably due to the fact the U.S. population is just considerably younger than the population of Italy or Spain. Those demographics for those countries have made it so catastrophic there.
In a way, I think there is good reason to believe, hopefully, that we will not see the kind of fatality rates in our country they have seen in those parts of Europe, which is another bright spot, I suppose.
But here`s the thing, if we want to avoid real catastrophe, there are a bunch of huge pressing concerns we need to address. And no single one greater right now just immediate short-term than just the shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers.
We will talk about the latest emergency and the society-wide attempt to scramble enough together ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you have any specific numbers on how many masks the federal government has been able to acquire and how many have gone out the door to hospitals?
PETER GAYNOR, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: It is a dynamic and fluid operation.
TAPPER: Do you have even a rough number?
GAYNOR: I can`t give you a rough number.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Here`s a brutal fact, the single most desperate need from states experiencing outbreaks is for more personal protective equipment for front line health workers, as well as ventilators. And the federal government just is not really stepping up to meet that need or to coordinate the states having that need met.
Despite President Trump saying he would use the Defense Production Act which is a 1950 law that requires private companies to prioritize the production of material needed for national defense, the president is not actually using it to order factories to make anything.
For example, over the weekend, he said that Ford and GM are now making ventilators, which when I heard it seemed unlikely, but didn`t know, but of course, no, that is not true. They are not making ventilators. It would take them months to start production.
And so without the president using the Defense Production Act it has instead been left, as so many things in this crisis have been left to, civil society to kind of crowd source things like protective equipment for health care workers, like this project, N95.com where institutions can make requests and others with access to medical equipment can pledge theirs and the two can be put together.
Joining me now to discuss how dire the need is getting met, Andrew Stroup, one of the founding members of the Project N95.
Andrew, what -- how did you guys start this, and what`s the idea behind it?
ANDREW STROUP, CO-FOUNDER PROJECT N95: Yeah, I mean, I think where we ended up, and the simple question was how can we do something that is impactful and helpful. And so the first thing that we thought about was the front line workers, ultimately, how do we get the needed things into their hands, and that was the personal protective equipment.
What we learned was that the simple fact is we just wanted to find a way for us to contribute in some way and seeing an opportunity and a gap where it wasn`t being collected from the areas that they needed.
So ultimately, how do we source the demand of all the hospitals and all of the requirements needed to get that information, to understand how much of that personal protective equipment they need, and then also identify suppliers that would potentially match them with in some way.
And the goal here really is to try to connect the dots through some data driven process that ultimately allows them to be able to connect the dots where there may not be able to do so.
HAYES: You know, one of the things I have learned in reporting this and talking to people is just the sheer amount that is needed just because these are essentially disposable items, particularly if you`re in emergency rooms that are being infected. You know, New York City needs a billion masks or things like that.
Where is -- what are you learning from what the demand is in terms of hospitals and institutions that are going to your web site, and putting in what they need.
STROUP: Yeah, absolutely. You know, when we started this initiative as just people raising their hand to get started to see how it can be helpful, that was 72 hours ago. 72 hours since then, were 40 people trying to match and go and process all of this information, we have had over a thousand different health care providers come in and say we need protective equipment, and now we`re over 80 million asks of that. And we`re doing our best to match that in some way and some effective means through some vetting process.
HAYES: So where does the supply come from? This seems -- I can`t get my head around what the supply issue is, is it the following, there`s a global supply choke right now because supply chains out of China have shut down and demand is just outstripped the ability, or is there like a coordination problem, is there a money problem, like what is your understanding of what the bottleneck is?
STROUP: Yeah, the thing that we have seen is that the supply chains are inherently complex, as you know, and so every piece of the puzzle here, whether it`s the work that we`re doing with Project N95 or the state and local governments and the federal governments to the private industry, there are all these different pieces at play of trying to figure out which ones can pull the lever. And ultimately what we`re finding is that we`re able to identify the hospital care individuals who need this protective equipment and finding suppliers, both domestically and also internationally, saying how do we go about vetting them in some way to connect the dots in some form or fashion.
And so what we see here is that this is a massive problem that`s changing the dynamic of around how supply chains are ultimately operating. And what we`re working on is simply being a piece and a central clearinghouse to be able to do some of those connections and drive that forward with some transparency and data driven practices.
HAYES: All right. Well, I`m wishing you luck. A lot of people are wishing you luck, Andrew Stroup, thank you so much.
STROUP: Appreciate it.
HAYES: Coming up, what happens when a TV run state is forced to cover a global pandemic.
Ben Smith and The New York Times on the dangerous fallout from the Fox News coverage of COVID-19 next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: They`re scaring the living hell out of people and I see it again as like, oh, let`s bludgeon Trump with this new hoax.
There are now more than 6,000 confirmed cases in the United States. We`ve been telling you this is happening. Sadly over now over 100 deaths in the U.S.
Now, those numbers, as I`ve been saying will likely rise seemingly and dramatically in the next days and weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Over the last several weeks, Fox News, particularly some of its most popular hosts, have done this utterly insane about-face. They started by echoing the president`s line, downplaying the Coronavirus, saying it was just like the seasonal flu, that Democrats are weaponizing and hyping it and then turned around and started saying, this is deadly serious. The president`s got it under control. Also, we don`t like China.
In a great piece in The New York Times, Ben Smith writes about how destructive the Fox News message has been, quote, "I asked Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Public Health Institute who appeared on Fox News recently whether he believes people will die because of Fox`s coverage. Yes, he said, some commentators in the right wing media spread a very specific type of misinformation that I think has been very harmful."
And joining me now is the author of that piece, Ben Smith, media columnist for The New York Times."
Ben, describe for me the trajectory of Fox`s approach to this story, because it really has -- I think we`re entering phase three, actually, but it has had two phases of nothing to see here. This is the Democrats, and now let`s get serious.
BEN SMITH, NEW YORK TIMES: I think we`re entering phase four actually, Chris. It began with Fox to the degree they talked about it saying this is a serious threat, Tucker Carlson very serious about it, but even somebody like Sean Hannity saying, you know, we`re concerned about this. He has -- he had Fauci on early in February.
And what happened is there started to be criticism of Donald Trump`s response, and this got processed at Fox the way every story does at Fox, where a lot of stories do at cable news in general, which is the latest political fight. And it just -- and all of the coverage was really of the media, very little of the coverage was of the disease.
I`m not sure Sean was trying to call the disease a hoax. I think he was trying to say this is the latest media attack, but when you watch that channel -- and really when you think about Republican politics right now, a huge share of what is going on is just talking about the media, not talking about the underlying thing at all attack. I think that was obviously this disastrous mistake.
HAYES: Well, and we`ve seen it in polling, right, in terms of there`s huge partisan splits in how serious people are taking this and how much -- how deadly they think it is. There have been -- there`s been a big difference - - and we may see it play out in terms of behavior as there now kind of really pivoting hard to, look, yeah this is bad, but we can`t shut down the whole economy over it.
SMITH: Yeah, I think that`s -- that`s phase -- we`ve skipped a couple of phases here, but the next phase really, clearly seems to be -- yeah, don`t shut down the economy, maybe keep some of the old people inside maybe as Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said on Fox just now. Maybe let some old people die and that`s OK to save the economy. I don`t think -- I`m not sure that message is going to really sell.
But they`re clearly trying to figure out how to move -- how to start trying to persuade people to come out of quarantine.
HAYES: Well, and there`s also -- I mean, as you note there is also a gap between what the public message was about the seriousness and what the private actions taken by the Murdoch family, for instance, and Fox News were, which reflected that they did take it seriously. They did view it as quite serious and possibly dangerous.
SMITH: Yes, the thing, I went into the story, what happened there, what are disaster. And how does that come about? And, you know, I went and first looked at the CEO of Fox News, and she was as of late February, frantically ordering the cafeteria sanitized and stuff like that. She just apparently had no control over the actual talent on the network talking about stuff., everything else was under control.
The CEO of Fox, Lachlan Murdoch, not particularly engaged. And the thing that I just learned today, actually after I published the story and just wrote a new story about how Rupert Murdoch really knew about it -- you know, he`s 89 years old. He`s had some health problems. And he had a birthday party planned just right in that period for his 89th birthday right in that period when things were -- when his network was playing it down, and they canceled that birthday party because they didn`t want to put him at risk.
HAYES: You know, the big question to me about the White House and this particular channel, and this era, is which way the causality goes. You know, we joke, we say it`s not, sometimes it feels like a state-run TV and sometimes it feels like a TV-run state, meaning it is unclear like who is taking the marching orders, and who is getting them. And in this case, what is your sense of that that feedback loop, because clearly, you know, Tucker Carlson has taken this seriously. He drove to Mar-a-Lago to kind of try to convince Trump to take it seriously. There are other people who have been different.
How has the sort of causal arrow of influence been working right now?
SMITH: Yeah, I think you`re right; it`s not an arrow or a circle or some kind of Escher painting, I imagine Trump as a guy like walking down the street just staring at a mirror, you know. I mean it`s, it`s very easy, obviously taking his cues from Fox and then also feeding back to them, you know, he has a lot of power over some of those host, but Tucker was I think able to get through to him, basically, on air and in person.
But I think, you know, these hosts have a lot of power, because they don`t really seem to have bosses exercising any kind of judgment at all.
HAYES: I think we`re now in this phase of -- a dangerous phase, I think, again, right. The idea of where we`re headed now, it`s clear -- you know, and this is not just Fox, I mean there`s a sort of concerted Republican quarter shouting out, conservative voices, The Wall Street Journal editorial page being a sort of great example of this, and elsewhere, saying you can`t listen to these crazy, you know, pointy-headed lefty public health people, who want to shut down your economy, like we got to get back to business here.
And it`s going to be a real question, I think you can imagine, a world in which this becomes essentially a culture war issue, that like, you know, red America is like, we`re going to open up for business and blue America isn`t and the virus doesn`t care, really, like what kind of politics the different states have.
SMITH: Yes. I think that`s exactly right. And it is also notable, it`s coming out of, The Wall Street Journal editorial page really started the drumbeat on this. You saw it immediately picked up in a huge way on Fox, and that again is coming really straight from the Murdochs.
HAYES: All right.
Ben Smith, thank you for making some time tonight. I hope you stay safe as everyone does.
SMITH: Yeah, we`re all very busy, Chris, with tough sacrifices.
HAYES: Yeah, we are.
We are very busy.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END