Culture in the Trump era. TRANSCRIPT: 9/3/2018, The Beat w Ari Melber.

Guests: Nancy Giles, Danielle Belton, Alicia Menendez, Ben Jealous, Dave Chappelle, Billy Eichner, D.L. Hughley, Liz Plank, Madison Gesiotto

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: September 3, 2018 Guest: Nancy Giles, Danielle Belton, Alicia Menendez, Ben Jealous, Dave Chappelle, Billy Eichner, D.L. Hughley, Liz Plank, Madison Gesiotto

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: We`ll be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY for the rest of your Labor Day. We`ll see you tomorrow.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, we have a special edition of THE BEAT on Labor Day, exploring how Donald Trump is, yes, one of the most unpopular first term presidents ever. And yet, the paradox, he is everywhere dividing and sweeping across culture in America feuding publicly with cultural figures and celebrities ranging from Alec Baldwin to Chrissy Teigen, of course going after athletes and NFL players for their protests of police brutality during the national anthem.

Trump has criticized many musicians who have their own followings and political leadership styles from Madonna to Jay-Z and they have of course returned fire. And then there`s the feuds with the late night comics who have Trump as a nightly punchline. In fact, look at this, the George Mason study found jokes targeting Trump eclipsed most other presidents over a thousand in his first 100 days alone.

And tonight, we are joined by our expert panel including some funny people and we`re going to discuss what is happening to our culture in this age of Trump. Now, he has hit back on culture and celebrity figures in ways unlike any other U.S. president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don`t need Jay-Z or Beyonce. We don`t need Lady Gaga. Just friends, his friends and he`s a good man. And I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings. Even look at Roseanne, I called her yesterday, look at her ratings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The women`s marched this weekend and you hear Madonna.

TRUMP: Honestly, she`s disgusting. Wouldn`t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It`s a cultural conversation but it is a time to be deadly serious. And to be clear, other presidents have also taken eat from prominent icons, but Trump`s negative approach, the insulting, the demeaning, the obsessing over famous people has boomeranged on him and drawn some tough rebuttals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instead of talking Puerto Rico and gun reform from Nevada, all these horrible tragedies and he`s bored and would rather cause a Twitter storm with the Packers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s now using sports as the platform to try to divide us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If your baby is going to die and it doesn`t have to, it shouldn`t matter how much money you make. I think that`s something whether you`re a Republican or Democrat or someone else, we all agree on that, right? I mean we do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a powerful used deposition to bully others, we all lose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Illegal going on. He`s despicable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And because we think politics is broader than just politicians here on THE BEAT, we featured some of our own responses from cultural figures.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are my anti-Trump depression glasses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any dude that has a comber like that lies to himself all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wants to be popular. He wants to be a celebrity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come November, we`re going to save democracy or we`re going to lose it. That is the whole thing. If we save democracy and we turn the House, he`s gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is them rooting for the joker against their own interests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one being above the law is like a foundational principle for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: America knew Donald Trump as a reality show before the reality show of his presidency, blending celebrity icons and having people like Kim, Kanye and Omarosa frame his national discourse. His notoriety, of course, extends beyond America`s borders, even a Russian pop star writing a hit song about Trump`s controversial ties to that country during the election. That itself has become though not culture but law as it is under investigation right now in the federal probe.

The United States has embraced a kind of far-fetched hyper reality presidency today and that is a problem or a solution, depending on your point of view. Let`s get right into it, with my panel. Nancy Giles is an Emmy Award Winning Commentator and host to the Giles Files Podcast on iTunes, also she`s a huge in Instagram where she doesn`t know her own Instagram handle. We`ll get to that.

NANCY GILES, COMMENTATOR: OK, we have to go there.

MELBER: Danielle Belton is Editorial Chief for "THE ROOT" and Alicia Menendez, contributing editor at "Bustle" and a experienced politico in her own right.

Nancy, you look at that setup, it is different than other presidencies. And in many ways, it`s the culture struggling to deal with a man who people didn`t think would be a legitimate president in the first place.

GILES: That`s true. It is really weird because we are looking at someone who has crafted his whole life around being in the news and being a celebrity. It`s clear that he loves that, he lives for that and he wants that attention in any way, shape or form. What`s funny is, I`ve been thinking about this, does he even care whether it`s negative attention. I think he does. He always wants to be positive but I think his ego is so huge, that even if people are saying bad things about him, that`s OK, too.

But the other side of it that I find so fascinating about Trump is he`s so thin skinned. If it`s not praise, it is not being -- what am I trying to say? If it`s not praise, if it`s not something good, if it`s not something that flatters him, he can`t handle it.

MELBER: Right. It`s all emotional.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BUSTLE: You raise a great point which is there is an actual functionality to this with him, which is as long as there is Trump and the celebrity, that`s going to always lead SEO searches. It`s going to lead the news.

GILES: That`s right.

MENENDEZ: And so then you`re talking about Trump and celebrities instead of talking about the child separation policy. But that cuts both ways, right? Because I think celebrities have been incredibly smart about the ways that they`re now utilizing their platforms for political messages.

So I would use someone like Jenna Ortega. She was on "Jane The Virgin". She`s a Disney star. She shows up at the Radio Disney Music Awards in a jacket that says "I really care and you should too." So now, you have a 17-year-old Disney star who`s making a political message in a phase that has typically been very --

GILES: And totally taking something that Melania in her way took and reframing it into a really smart positive message.

MELBER: Yes, cool.

DANIELLE BELTON, EDITORIAL CHIEF, THE ROOT: I mean fundamentally, he`s just a really sad bully. Like it all goes back to high school where people always assume it`s the popular kids who start these fights. Like often, it`s people who feel like they don`t fit in. They have this out-sized ego, they feel like they should be in the spotlight, they should be the star. They should be getting all this attention.

And here`s the president of the United States and he didn`t win the popular vote. He`s typically the biggest celebrity, you know, in the U.S. right and yet other celebrities who are just as big or bigger than he is, based on stature, won`t have anything to do with him.

GILES: That hurts.

BELTON: I mean the idea that you can be the president of the United States, you just won`t get to be friends with Jay-Z and Beyonce.

GILES: I know.

BELTON: You know, that`s so true. I mean that little phrase, the little clip that you showed, Ari where he`s like, you know, "Who needs Jay-Z? Who needs Lady Gaga?

MENENDEZ: Well, me. I need them.

BELTON: I need them.

GILES: He`s definitely feel so bad that they don`t like him. It does, it goes back to high school and who likes you and who don`t like you.

MELEBR: Well, and someone who knows him very well, Howard Stern, who has done his own evolution in the celebrity space talk about that, that Donald Trump-- let`s not forget, we`re sitting on a table here in a news room, Donald Trump has more media experience than most of us and most of the reporters in his campaign. He spent most of the `90s and the 2000`s as a full time media employee.

GILES: Right.

MELBER: That`s what he does.

GILES: By this network, I might add.

MELBER: And yes, full disclosure. If you didn`t know, "The Apprentice" did air on NBC. But beat that as it may, here`s Howard Stern explaining as you put it the void he`s trying to fill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD STERN: He loves Hollywood. Personally, he loves the press. He lives for it. He loves people in Hollywood. He only wants to hobnob with them. And all of this hatred stuff directed toward him, it`s not good for him. It`s not good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: What`s interesting about that is there are many critics of Trump. Stern says he voted for Clint. He`s not coming from political agreement. Well, he says it`s not good for him. He`s speaking of someone who knows Donald Trump and basically says this is an act, he actually is media, wants to be media, wants to be celebrity and is crushed that the punitive apex of his life and career winning the presidency, he is more despised by those people that he covets than any other point in his history.

GILES: It`s true. And it`s this horrible chasm that can`t ever be filled. Because the thing that he loathes, the fact that these people that he admires don`t like him. He`s not a likeable guy. He`s kind of a --

MELBER: I didn`t know that. You find him unlikable.

GILES: Yes, he`s kind of horrible, Ari. He`s kind of horrible. And going back to the point that you made, what happens with all of this talk about the celebrity, why I feel like are we part of the problem or part of the solution? Because here we are still talking about Trump, which I`m sure he loves. But his policies are despicable. His policies that are hurting actual people, immigrants and families and, you know, people that aren`t in his -- I`m blanking because I get so angry. Please someone.

MENENDEZ: I think a lot about the fact that when you talk to people in communities of color, they will say, "We`ve always been living through these times." So when you say like "these political times," let`s welcome to the party. And yes, it does mean that there`s been an activation that`s even beyond Trump. Like it`s hard to imagine a few years ago, Anne Hathaway using her Instagram account to talk about someone like Neil Wilson and the sanctity of black lives and a call to action for white people to pay attention to racial justice. So some of the most interesting commentary is not even around Trump himself but the cultural moment.

MELBER: That`s so interesting because that`s part of what we want to delve into in this show, is to take Nancy`s warning, not just echoing the person in the White House but looking at the way that culture through the civil rights movement, through music, through obviously movies and other iconography that affects people has this shaping.

There is a cynical version that of it which Roger Stone, a long time Trump advisor talked about, which is they thought that they could use the myth and the trickery of Donald Trump as a character to confuse voters. And Stone, was quite candid about that. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER STONE: Here`s the fundamental question. Is the pop culture in this country more influential now than its institutions? Fifteen seasons of "The Apprentice" not only makes him a smooth television supporter, but think of the way he looked in that show. High back chair, perfectly lit, great makeup, great hair, decisive, making decisions, running the show. He looks presidential. Do you think voters, non-sophisticates make a difference between entertainment and politics?

MELBER: Alicia, the hanging question there is Roger Stone suggesting voters don`t know the difference. And yet, what we`re living through now is potentially a moment going into the midterms where the culture and people who are involved in day-to-day politics are actually leaning into that power to try and grab a hold of voters and saying American democracy is on the line.

MENENDEZ: You know I don`t know if it`s fair to frame it in terms of what voters value or what voters care about but there is the (INAUDIBLE) matters, right. When you show up how known are you, how notorious are your, that matters. And so celebrities will always have an advantage and to your point now, the question given that reality, how do you leverage that for good?

MELBER: Right. And you`re making the point in there that name matters. That`s what Alicia Keys said when she said, "You don`t know my name." And how can you get the guy at the coffee shop to like you if he doesn`t even know your name.

BELTON: Well, I mean everyone knows Trump`s name. Before he became president, I mean he was so much part of the lexicon. You have rappers like Lil Wayne dropping lines, "I`m going to fire my blunt like Donald Trump." You know, like how do you go from --

MELBER: Is that where the, if you fire your blunt like Donald Trump, is that where you don`t actually own the majority of the blunt or marketing rights?

BELTON: I`m not quite sure what -- I don`t think that`s what Lil Wayne was going for.

MELBER: He wasn`t talking about a leveraged buy-out.

BELTON: No.

GILES: I think he`s talking about that fire at that plane.

MELBER: What about the blunt tax returns? It`s Labor Day. I didn`t mean --

GILES: Yes.

BELTON: No, no, it`s OK. The point being, how do you go from being quoted by, you know, rappers as a signifier of wealth to being the white Supremacist. It`s a new type of celebrity that he`s unfamiliar with and like he`ll take whatever attention he can get.

GILES: Right.

BELTON: He`ll take whatever attention he gets so if it`s the love of white supremacists, he could barely like come across and denounce David Duke.

GILES: But it`s love. It turns --

BELTON: Yeah.

GILES: -- kind of love. Yes. And going back to the rappers and the way that they quoted him, I mean what Roger Stone said is very important, a lot of it had to do with how Donald Trump was portrayed.

BELTON: Yes.

GILES: People believed -- people not in New York. New York knows, made money off of his father`s discriminatory housing. He continued to believe that the Central Park five were guilty even when not proven but he loves publicity and he craves the spotlight. People here know that but people were convinced at this image of this successful businessman.

MELBER: Right. And yes, weren`t we a long time ago don`t believe the hype?

GILES: Well, and Ari, in the end, it`s like a jungle sometimes. It makes me wonder how I keep from going under.

MELBER: Happy Labor Day. Nancy Giles, Danielle Belton and Alicia Menendez, I would say only on THE BEAT, I think that may be true. I don`t know but a great panel nonetheless.

Coming up. We`re going to show you the one and only Dave Chappelle and why he stepped into the political world for the first time right here on THE BEAT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE CHAPPELLE: You know I didn`t know that Donald Trump was going to win the election. I did suspect it. Seemed like Hillary was doing well in the polls, and yet I know the whites.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: You`re about to hear Chappelle explain why he made his first ever political endorsement in the campaign this year. And from street comedy to activism, comedian Billy Eichner tells me how he`s using comedy to get out the midterm vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILLY EICHNER: We are going to run through an awesome course today that take us on a tour across the United States of America. The more guns that you acquire along the way, the safer and more American you become.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And then we turn to one of the original kingdom comedy DL Hughley weighing in on Trump`s feuds with comedians and why he doesn`t have a sense of humor. Then later, a special report on, yes, how culture is changing dating in the Trump era. The stash may surprise you.

I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching the special Labor Day edition of THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Welcome back. You know, Dave Chappelle has always been a political comedian when you think about it because he critiques power, race in American culture itself. But he has never been a partisan comedian, avoiding campaigning or any endorsements until this year where he endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous. And we were thrilled that Chappelle and Jealous, the former head of the NAACP came on THE BEAT for an exclusive interview to discuss their unusual partnership.

With me now is Ben Jealous, candidate for the Governor of Maryland and comedian Dave Chappelle. Thanks for being here both of you. My question, Ben, after all your work in civil rights, why are you running for governor now? And Dave, why are you endorsing him when you don`t usually get involved in endorsing candidates?

DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: Ben, you want to go first?

BEN JEALOUS, DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND: Sure, I`ll go first. You know Ari, I`m running for governor because I have a vision. We can finally fully fund our schools. We can finally pass single payer, so- called Medicare for all. And we can end this era of massive student debt by ending massive incarceration. And a big part of the ending massive incarceration in Maryland is to finally legalize cannabis, period.

And so that`s, you know, part of why Dave is here is that we have been talking about firstly our experiences when we were young and the need for us to have a just set of laws that help you reduce the number of people in our prisons.

CHAPPELLE: As for me, Ari, Ben and I are like family, literally. Like our fathers were best friends. And my father was Ben`s godfather. So I met Ben in person when we were 17, when Ben was at Columbia and we became fast friends.

Unbeknownst to me, the plan was Ben was supposed to convince me to try to go to college. And that plan obviously failed miserably. Thank God but --

JEALOUS: Well, Dave made 750 bucks telling jokes in Washington Square Park in 15 minutes and I was like college is not going to do better than this.

MELBER: But Dave, had you gone to college, you might have become rich one day.

CHAPPELLE: Yes, that was the myth. I mean I was the legend. I think everything worked out better than I could ever imagine.

JEALOUS: But you also have to understand that my godfather was on a tear because Dave was the first male in his family not to go to college since slavery. And so there was a batting average that he wanted to keep up for the family and I was on a sacred mission. But when I came and reported back that his son could make 750 bucks in the park telling jokes, he was like, "Yes, OK, I get it."

CHAPPELLE: I listen -- go ahead. I`m sorry. Go ahead.

MELEBR: No, go ahead.

CHAPPELLE: I was going to say, man, like I have never ever even stuck my toe into politics. I don`t even necessarily believe in politics but this is the first time that I believe in somebody this much for a job like this because I know him so well. We came up together. I saw Ben do activism his entire youth. And when he got the Rhodes scholarship, my father, I remember said to him very pointedly, said, "Ben, I`m afraid that you`re getting the scholarship so that you`ll no longer be a threat to them, whoever they are."

And Ben has always stayed true. And when I got in trouble with my show and all these things, he was like my confidante. I would call him to help me work through some very challenging personal problems and professional problems that I had and he was always like a rock for me. And I think for the State of Maryland, couldn`t get any better.

MELBER: You`re saying, Dave, when you were in South Africa, you were taking a break from a career in the U.S., you were relying on him. What was his counsel to you then?

CHAPPELLE: Well, I mean I think that`s kind of private. I think the bottom line is that I trusted him enough at a time when I didn`t trust anybody. He`s never betrayed my trust. I think that trust in politics, on public office is something that the country desperately needs, especially in this time. He`s a very trustworthy person. The fact a guy like this could possibly sit in a seat like the Governor`s chair is very exciting to me and makes me feel more faithful and hopeful about what our country can be.

MELBER: And Dave, you won an Emmy for your "Saturday Night Live" hosting right after the election.

CHAPPELLE: I did.

MELBER: Everyone remembers what you said that night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAPPELLE: All my black friends who had money said the same thing when Trump got elected. That`s it, bro, I`m out. I`m leaving the country. You coming with us? No, I`m good, dawg. I`m going to stay here and get this tax break and see how it works out. I`m wishing Donald Trump luck and I`m going to give him a chance and we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, here we are a year and a half in, you`re out here campaigning for a Democratic candidate. Do you think Donald Trump has given all people in the country a chance? How would you say it today?

CHAPPELLE: Without talking about the president, I`m campaigning not even because Ben is a Democrat, I`m campaigning because he`s trustworthy. Whatever party he ran under I`m going to endorse this guy because I know him personally. I have no particular deep party affiliations. I think that we just had eight years of a president who has a resume of social activism.

I was happy with that president and this guy has a similar resume. He`s been doing this as long as I`ve known him. He`s just going to advocate for people and I just believe he`s very sincere in his effort. I`ve seen the blood, sweat and tears of how he got to this position. And if, you know, God willing, if he becomes Governor, I don`t think anyone is going to be sorry for it. I think he will do a great job. I think that --

MELBER: Well, Dave, you brought it up. You brought up the word president. Do you think you`re sitting next to someone who someday could be president as well?

CHAPPELLE: I told Ben that he could be president of the United States before there was an Obama. That I knew of. I mean I`ve always believed that but he chose another route. He stayed with his community activism.

JEALOUS: Back then, I told him I just wanted to be president of the NAACP and that ended up happening a little faster than we thought was possible.

CHAPPELLE: Yes. I mean Ben, you know, he`s a remarkable dude, man. I`ve seen him overcome his own personal demons. It`s really terrifying to aspire to do anything outside of the narrow boxes that society wants to stick you in. Ben is a brave dude and he`s a trustworthy dude, and he`s retained all of himself. And I think this is a great thing that he`s running. That`s what I mean. As a matter of fact, it`s dangerous for me to even step into the political arena. Poopity-scoop.

MELBER: Poopity-scoop. That`s how we end all of our interviews. My last question I guess because I know you guys have to go. And starting with Ben, I mean since you`re with Chappell, you`re campaigning with Chappelle which is something I think a lot of candidates would love to be able to do, is there a kind of a Chappelle test we can apply here? Is there anything in politics that you see that would fall under the rubric of when keeping it real goes wrong?

JEALOUS: Yes. I got to tell you, man, when we started off this journey, there`s a story I tell about how Dave saved my life down in Jackson, Mississippi when I was a young organize fighting a Republica Governor, trying to make a black college a prison and Dave showed up with a damn bag of pot. And things could have gone very wrong but we were spared because the police officer recognized Dave from Def Jam and all the sudden, he just wanted tickets to the show and didn`t search Dave`s bag.

And, you know, I mean that`s something -- the beauty of politics in this moment is that people are comfortable with us talking about what`s real. The fact that we were once two much younger black men who are very afraid in that moment of spending a long time in jail and in prison. And you should have to be that exceptional to be justly treated. And so that`s, you know, a lot of what fuels Dave`s politics and mine -- excuse me. A lot of what fuels Dave`s comedy and my politics is the fact that we both survived an era where young black men were the most murdered in the country and most incarcerated on the planet and we both found our own ways to lift people to a higher place and we both so recognize that unfortunately too much of what we went through as young people and young people still going through and we`re eager to see a change because we know how smart they are and how much they could contribute if our system was just a little bit fair, the plain field a bit more level, our country a bit more just.

MELBER: Dave, final word?

CHAPPELLE: You may never see me endorsing somebody again. I really do believe in the product. I mean this is the real deal. This is the real deal.

MELBER: Well, it`s fascinating. We don`t often see a duo like this, learning a little bit about your history with each other, what motivates both of you and what Ben says is why he wants to step into the arena is fascinating. So thank you for bringing the story to THE BEAT and thanks for your time, Dave Chappelle and Ben Jealous.

CHAPPELLE: All the best, bro. Thank you

JEALOUS: Thank you.

MELBER: And straight ahead, comedian Billy Eichner, best known for taking ambush comedy to the street is hitting the street for activism and a surprise. That`s when we`re back in just 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Pop culture can be a powerful force in politics. But Republicans have actually often attacked Democrats for being too close to Hollywood.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hollywood liberals on gun control, let`s take away everything from the working men and women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some are calling it less American because their outfit isn`t red, white and blue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are not really the most -- I don`t want to say the most intelligent people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do not want to hear their political opinions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they ought to do is just show their respect for the people who helped secure the country --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe that`s the social justice golden parachute calling one all along.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The idea is that some conservatives think they can get mileage out of putting a wedge between Hollywood and, well in this case, liberals. But there is a friend of THE BEAT, actor Billy Eichner who`s been recruiting stars for the opposite proposition. He`s working with Will Ferells, Seth Myers and Sarah Silverman not just to make content this year but running a specific program to get younger people registered for this midterm.

And polls show, those younger voters are a threat to Trump, 60 percent disapproval which is higher than older Americans. Eichner has just come on THE BEAT to talk about this venture. Here`s my full interview with him. We talked about his advocacy, culture in the Trump era, and another show getting a reboot, "Designing Women."

Donald Trump has long been obsessed with celebrities but many celebrities not feeling Trump and they`re now boosting the resistance, joining the students at the March for our Lives where you could find friend of THE BEAT and star Billy on the street. Billy Eichner out marching. He also stars in a new American horror story season with a Trump themed plot and his comedy has long walked that thin line between our celebrity trivia and trenching punchlines exposing the growing rot at the center of the American experiment we call Democracy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILLY EICHNER, COMEDIAN: Would you sign this goodbye card?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would love to sign this goodbye card.

EICHNER: Thank you. Here`s a pen. We`re saying goodbye to the freedom of the press.

We are going to run through an obstacle course today that takes us on a tour of the United States of America. The more guns that you acquire along the way the safer and more American you become.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Eichner joins me to talk politics, comedy and this glam midterms. A new push he has to encourage voters turnout and fight Republicans and change who turns out. Of course, that was a key part of Dems winning the Senate seat in the red state of Alabama, also Dems electing Connor Lamb in Pennsylvania, a state that Trump narrowly won. Forecast now have Democrats wining back the House.

We turn to Billy Eichner and begin with the big question. Are the Democrats surging because of your work?

EICHNER: Absolutely. I was watching that and thinking about what a hero I am. Sometimes I`m so busy doing the work that I forget --

MELBER: You forget to reflect --

EICHNER: On how much I have meant to American democracy and you know, the Republic in general. I`ve gone to a few museums lately, extreme museums, and I just walked around thinking, God, I`m a great person. I don`t have to be here.

MELBER: You`re very funny, you`re known to be funnier.

EICHNER: Thank you.

MELBER: But we did show that some of your punchlines go to the dark place. Ha, ha, freedom of the press is in danger.

EICHNER: We`re satirizing a very dark moment in our history the way that many people are. And with Billy on the Street, for many seasons it had been a very silly absurdist riff on pop culture and pop cultural obsessions but now culture and politics are fully merged I believe and so to not talk about that would make the show feel completely irrelevant.

I think Ryan Murphy felt that way with the prior season of American Horror Story which I was on too. I think a lot of artists are feeling that way. But one of the reasons I wanted to do the glam up the midterms campaign is because it`s an optimistic approach to what`s happening as opposed to something that`s just complainy, and angry, and snarky.

MELBER: You talk about that difference because the cliche about any artist or celebrity getting involved, right, is maybe you don`t know what you`re talking about. But you seem to be channeling feelings that a lot of people have and you`re obviously a good communicator. You tweeted, "as horrendous as I knew Trump would be, what`s truly remarkable is he somehow worse than I thought."

EICHNER: Yes.

MELBER: And a lot of people in Washington say that.

EICHNER: Yes. Well, you know, I guess like I say -- as I said in the tweet, as awful as I knew he would be there was a more hopeful part of me when he first got elected thinking yehey, he`s from Queens, I grew up in Queens. I`m a New Yorker, I`ve been aware of Trump all my life because --

MELBER: Queens is the first thing I think when I see you.

EICHNER: Ari, now you just lost your glad award by the way. That`s what you were going for. I don`t even know what you were talking about.

MELBER: I don`t know what that means.

EICHNER: No, I don`t know. But you know, here -- Queens seriously is the most diverse borough in the most diverse city in the world. And I grew up in Forrest Hills, Queens, Trump and his dad grew up in Queens as well. And so there was a part of me that thought maybe now that he has the job and is getting all the press and all the attention that somehow step up to the plate --

MELBER: Right, and be a better --

EICHNER: -- and be slightly more normal.

MELBER: Yes.

EICHNER: You know, and not as disturbing and not as you know anti-American as I feel that he is in terms of his values and his choices but that`s -- he went extreme in the opposite direction. And that -- I don`t know, I guess I was ignorant or naive and I certainly was no supporter of his but I guess I hoped for something that I was wrong to hope for.

MELBER: One of the funny things you do in your show is for a dollar and we`d like to play again with you.

EICHNER: OK.

MELBER: For a dollar, Billy, name someone on Trump`s cabinet who`s lasted over a year.

EICHNER: Scott Pruitt.

MELBER: Good.

EICHNER: You think I`m some idiot, Ari? That because I -- you know, I`m on a couple of T.V. shows I don`t know who`s in Trump`s cabinet? Let me ask you a question, who was on Designing Women?

MELBER: Oh.

EICHNER: Exactly.

MELBER: Wait, Designing Women was very smart, sophisticated women in a group setting.

EICHNER: Yes, name one actress. If I can name someone at Trump`s cabinet, I need you to name someone on Designing Women.

MELBER: Sandra Bernhard.

EICHNER: No, she wasn`t.

MELBER: OK, I took a risk.

EICHNER: Wrong!

MELBER: For a dollar, who`s going to pay for the border wall?

EICHNER: Not me.

MELBER: For a dollar, what is easier to buy in America, an iPhone or a gun?

EICHNER: Oh, I would imagine they`re equally easy to purchase actually.

MELBER: And you find that to use a millennial word problematic.

EICHNER: Well, I`m no millennial because I`m old but I think that`s very problematic. We did an obstacle course on Billy on the street long before what happened in Parkland and we just went through all the lack of gun safety laws in almost every state in the Union and it`s just shocking.

MELBER: You are getting your first Netflix special.

EICHNER: I`m doing a Netflix special, yes.

MELBER: Which is huge. I love watching comedy at Netflix.

EICHNER: Thank you.

MELBER: It seems that it`s come much later in your career than many other comics.

EICHNER: I was busy.

MELBER: It was -- they asked earlier.

EICHNER: Yes, they were interested.

MELBER: When was the first time they asked you?

EICHNER: They came to me. I don`t remember the date what is (BLEEP), McCarthy hearings? Ari Melber, we`re talking about my Netflix comedy special.

MELBER: Full disclosure, I`ve always been a fan of your comedy.

EICHNER: Thank you.

MELBER: It is very interesting to see you using your platform to engage young people and get all these people involved so it`s really awesome. And Billy on the Street, we always appreciate you doing a little show on THE BEAT.

EICHNER: I appreciate that. You need some Designing Women in your life.

MELBER: You want to hold it?

EICHNER: What`s that?

MELBER: That`s the thing we do.

EICHNER: Oh, I held your hand last time.

MELBER: You forgot.

EICHNER: The excruciating amount of time.

MELBER: You do simply interviews.

EICHNER: When can I meet Rachel Maddow?

MELBER: I promise if you do yeah five to seven more appearances on THE BEAT we will -- we will work on it.

EICHNER: That`s all I have to do? Not worth it.

MELBER: Billy Eichner, thank you for being here.

EICHNER: Thank you.

MELBER: And next we hear from an even bigger Trump critic, comedian D.L. Hughley

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Joining me now one of the original kings of political comedy D.L. Hughley. He broke the scene as a comic on HBO`s iconic Def Comedy Jam. That show of course also paved the way for our friend Dave Chappelle and celebrated its 25th-anniversary last year. D.L., you tell a lot of jokes, what does it mean to you when someone can`t take a joke?

D.L. HUGHLEY, COMEDIAN: I think that there`s this little self-indulgence. I think that it`s just like when I see all the things that are happening right now in terms of civility, I think that when you have a president that is lower than norms of civility you can`t -- when you call people racist name and misogynist names and xenophobic names, you can`t be shocked when people that represent.

You know, everybody`s talking about how Sarah Huckabee in the whole red hand thing but Ari -- and how uncivil that was. But I remember when the Tea Party used to come to Barack Obama`s rallies and outside armed you know, they started carrying guns so the tone for this kind of -- and this, of course, is happening for a very long time so it`s just disingenuous to pretend like you haven`t contributed to it.

MELBER: Yes, you`re talking about that word. That`s become kind of a flashpoint word civility discourse.

HUGHLEY: Right.

MELBER: These are things that when we hear them sometimes it sounds like a thing that people in power demand in a one-way direction.

HUGHLEY: Absolutely.

MELBER: Is that what you think civility is, sir? Go ahead.

HUGHLEY: Well, totally I can`t understand what it means but I can`t say this. This President is racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and I think Islamophobic and so I think it`s -- he`s definitely lowered the blue book on the presidency so I think it will never have presidents in the tradition before I think that you can have political ideological disagreements.

But humanity -- like it -- like do you have you know, administrative officials -- administration officials quoting the same scriptures that were used to keep black people slaves and now they`re using it to keep young immigrant children in cages. And it`s disingenuous to pretend like you don`t know that. And for anybody to say -- I could understand supporting somebody and you`re not quite sure where they`ll go, like everybody`s you know, he`s going to change in the primaries and he`ll change when he`s -- he`s exactly what you said he was so (INAUDIBLE) is not blind, now you support him.

And I`m not saying that everybody who supports Donald Trump is a racist but his supporters definitely is going to think that racism is a disqualifier.

MELBER: Well you`re sort of going with Donald Trump to the Eminem test, I am whatever you say I am, and if I wasn`t why would I say I am?

HUGHLEY: Right.

MELBER: I mean, he`s told us who he is.

HUGHLEY: Yes, but people gave him the benefit of that. You know, for such a plain-spoken man, why there`s so many people trying to explain what he meant? God, I don`t understand. If he speaks his mind all the time why are they all these interpreters?

The bottom line, if I was in a guy -- in a car with somebody and I committed a crime, the reasonable argument would be that the person with me was an accomplice and I think anybody who votes for him in spite of all the things that`s done is it would have to be witty accomplices. It`s just nowhere around.

MELBER: Let me play for you the White House Correspondents Dinner jokes because I`ve been to that dinner, it`s a mixed bag, it`s goofy but everyone I know, famous people, people in media, if they get a joke from the president, and I mean in either party --

HUGHLEY: Right.

MELBER: That`s usually like a wow. Like your big time like just to get namechecked.

HUGHLEY: Right, like Saturday Night --

MELBER: Exactly. And that wasn`t the reaction that Donald Trump had to these famous moments. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for President as a Republican which is surprising since I just assumed he was running as a joke.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that`s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter like did we fake the moon landing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: What does it tell you that then as now he has what appears to be a true deep emotional problem with being roasted?

HUGHLEY: Well, I think that you can see the way he that he governs and I think you can see the way he interacts with people. He`s a bit of a bully. I think that -- you can come into this administration with a rather pristine reputation but you don`t leave that way. And I think the people are literally selling their souls and somewhat of their reputation to it. But you could tell they don`t believe what they say. Like one day Giuliani is saying that he said a thing, the next day -- I don`t know what`s harder for Giuliani, to keep his teeth in his mouth or his head in his (INAUDIBLE) I don`t know what`s the harder for him but everybody`s definitely becoming more slimy and dirtier because they`re hanging out and trying to make things, contort things that don`t make sense.

Look either we`re a nation that believes in laws or we don`t. But to blog you know, Korean -- no Korean dictator`s and Russian dictators and then to denigrate the American football players is you know, they`re tough guys and these other guys are just sons of bitches, I think it`s ridiculous and I think it says more about us as a country than it does about him.

MELBER: Right. Well, and you`re going back to the core point which is what is the audience, what is the nation, what do we want to do about everything? We`re in this together. A perfect guest on this topic, D.L. Hughley, thanks for coming in.

HUGHLEY: Thank you, man. Thank you.

MELBER: If you like Hillary Clinton would you date a Trump supporter? Would you have your kids do that? Well, the political divide in dating is growing and we have a special look at that next. And then later, late night lampoon`s the President blurring the lines between politics and comedy when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELBER: We`re back with a look at how dating is actually changing in this Trump era. Political divisions as sharp as ever and I`m joined tonight for this discussion by two people with opposing political views Liz Plank and Madison Gesiotto, but first, think about how this played out when millions saw the political dating dynamic on this season of The Bachelorette. The final couple Becca and Garrett got together despite their opposing politics. Garrett had been criticized for liking controversial conservative posts on Instagram.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARRETT YRIGOYEN, CONTESTANT, THE BACHELORETTE: It was going against what he stands for and that made it really hard on us as a couple.

BECCA KUFRIN, AMERICAN PUBLICIST: That was a major thing that we had to talk about early on at the very beginning of our relationship.

YRIGOYEN: I was really worried about it that I might lose her from that but I feel like she knew who I was as a person and that I didn`t stand behind those lies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Tonight we have actually some exclusive new data on how this is playing out across the nation a year and a half into the Trump presidency. OkCupid reports they`ve seen a 64 percent increase in dating profiles that proactively mentioned politics since just last year. Another dating Web site called PlentyOfFish says 65 percent of Democrats say they will not start conversations with their political opposites. That number slightly lower for Republicans using the site about 52 percent say they won`t start those kinds of conversations.

OkCupid also notes that since Trump`s victory they`ve seen an increase, 40 percent of users who say they would prefer "similar politics" over "good sex" and 34 percent of PlentyOfFish users say they`d rather have "bad sex for the rest of their lives than date a Trump supporter." These are real news topics we just report them. I am joined by Liz Plank a Senior Producer for Vox and Madison Gesiotto on the Trump Campaign Advisory Board.

Liz, what are these numbers tell you and is it concerning that so many people are not open-minded in this way or does it make sense because it reflects their values?

LIZ PLANK, SENIOR PRODUCER, VOX: Right. I mean, I think Republican or Democrat, were all DTF, were all down to face the tax code, right? So it doesn`t really matter where we stay on the political spectrum. I think we can have conversations about this kind of stuff but this new data is similar to the data that we saw you know, even leading up to the election. I actually went to the RNC in 2016 and set up a Democrat and a Republican on a blind date.

MELBER: We pulled that in our research which I don`t think you even knew. Let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you voting for a Donald Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, probably. What about you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m rooting not for Donald Trump. I actually would be fine if my taxes were raised if it meant that -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re such a goodie-two-shoes -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m just saying. Wouldn`t you - would you really -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I get a little bit more wine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the cop tells me to do something, I`m going to do it. I have no - I have no problems with the cops.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How often do interact with a cop?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I interacted with them quite a bit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: White man are not often stopped and frisked on the street regularly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLANK: There were conversations that I think both of them have not had about the policies that they stand for and more importantly the reasons why they stand for them. That conversation is rare.

MADISON GESIOTTO, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: On a first date I actually am turned off if someone wants to only talk about politics with me considering it`s what I do most of the time during the day. I want to hear about what are their religious values, what are their moral values, you know what do they want in their future and hopefully, it`s not just surrounding whether or not they like Donald Trump.

MELBER: Would you be open to potentially dating across the aisle?

GESIOTTO: I would.

MELBER: Politically.

GESIOTTO: Yes, I would and I have.

MELBER: And you have and you are a pretty recognizable Trump person. If somebody looks into you at all they`re going to know you`re part of the -

GESIOTTO: Well, OK, let me say, I would and I have but when I was in law school, I got asked on a first date by somebody. I said yes. We set up the date Thursday. I have no idea his political views, obviously, he knew mine. I wake up one morning to a text with a picture of myself wearing a make America great again hat from this guy saying he can`t stand for this and he`s canceling the date.

MELBER: Wow.

GESIOTTO: So I got canceled on. He did try to come back later and ask me to do it again. I said no at that point.

MELBER: Is it a sign though that something has changed and that Donald Trump is partly responsible for it because I think it is a fair and factual observation that he is not a bridge builder and so there`s a reaction to that where we see more Democrats than Republicans saying they don`t want to go with the other side but that`s partly because they feel quite clearly a year and a half in he is attacking the other side?

PLANK: And so it climate of fear, right? Democrats I think are just progressives generally, are less I think willing to date across the aisle and more generally even have you know, conversations with people across the aisle because they feel you know, afraid and they feel attacked as you said. And I think that`s also you know, something that I think Republicans are better at. They have a lot - they`re happy to have conversations with people that don`t agree with them.

GESIOTTO: And I sit down and talk to a lot of people I know and friends specifically that are Democrats, it`s not that we want different things, it`s we think differently about how to get there. I think that when we don`t sit down with people that we disagree with, we never get the chance to really see those similar things that we feel we want.

MELBER: I very much appreciate you both being here. Madison Gesiotto and Liz Plank, thank you so much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MELBER: Ahead late nights take on the Trump era and why the President finds it so hard to take a joke.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: If you`re going to pick a public fight, you`re supposed to make sure it`s not with someone smarter or funnier than you but that`s a lesson many say Donald Trump has been learning the hard way. Comics turning around and using the President as a punch line as they tap into the cultural pulse of this political moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: Trump insulted me on Twitter. I was going to tweet back immediately but thought I have more important things to do. As a matter of fact, wait, he shouldn`t. He have more important things to do.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Trump remains on vacation but it`s a working vacation because he`s still lying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree with him. There were -- there was blame on the white supremacist side and on the Nazi side.

JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: Trump had a meeting today with his KGBBFF Vladimir Putin. We haven`t seen an American so owned by a Russian since Rocky 4.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most embarrassing performance by an American president. George H.W. Bush threw once up on the Japanese Prime Minister.

COLBERT: Calling Trump an idiot is like Pringles, once you pop, you can`t stop.

MICHELLE WOLF, COMEDIAN: Trump is the only person that still watches who wants to be a millionaire and thinks, me. I have to phone a Fox and Friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump isn`t even really the president. I would say he`s more like --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The ringleader of a criminal enterprise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That does it for our special show. We hope you had some laughs along the way. We want to wish you and your family a very happy Labor Day weekend. We`ll see you back here tomorrow night for THE BEAT live at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Trump`s people, let`s play HARDBALL.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END

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