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Bernie Sanders TRANSCRIPT: 3/23/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Vivek Murthy, Joseph Stiglitz, Sarah Nelson, Ben Smith, Andrew Stroup

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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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, 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.



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. 


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.