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official warns of worsening pandemic TRANSCRIPT: The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Joseph Fair, Ro Khanna, Michelle Goldberg, Howard Dean, Joseph Fair, Hilary Babcock


Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Katy. Thank you so much.

We have a lot of news in our program tonight, the president announcing he will address the nation this evening on the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. It is hitting pandemic levels. We are going to get to what that means later this hour.

Also, Bernie Sanders coming out defiant after losing several key states last night to Joe Biden.

And, later tonight, we go to Queens to hear from voters on the Democrats` now two-person race, Biden`s surge and how voters are viewing the economy. We have that brand-new reporting, listening to voters, something we have tried to do throughout this high-stakes cycle.

But we begin with the latest on the coronavirus, which, today, the World Health Organization is formally labeling for the first time a pandemic, the virus spreading to more than 100 countries.

More than 120,000 people have been infected, according to these accounts, 4,300 now dead. Tonight, we are reporting more than 1,100 coronavirus cases in the United States and more than 30 deaths.

Today, on Capitol Hill, top health official Dr. Anthony Fauci warned this will get -- quote -- "worse" before he thinks it will get any better.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If we are complacent and don`t do really aggressive containment and mitigation, the number could go way up and be involved in many, many millions.

Things will get worse than they are right now. How much worse we will get will depend on our ability to do two things, to contain the influx of people who are infected coming from the outside and the ability to contain and mitigate within our own country.

Bottom line, it`s going to get worse.


MELBER: That`s the bottom line from a medical expert.

All of this, of course, rattling not only Americans` fears, changing the way many people are living in certain communities, but also it is rattling the markets. There has been a massive sell-off on Wall Street, the Dow down nearly 6 percent.

That means we are in -- quote -- "bear market" territory.

House Democrats planning to vote tomorrow on an economic relief bill that would include paid sick leave, the Trump administration considering a range of measures, including potentially delaying the tax filing deadline past April 15.

The president himself, as mentioned, will be addressing the nation tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, the first formal address since all of this story has, of course, reached these levels.

Meanwhile, around the nation, we`re seeing educational institutions shutting down to prevent the potential spread of the virus, the NCAA president announcing late today there will be no fans at March Madness fans.

In Kentucky, the governor calling for church services to be nixed. And out in Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee announcing a formal ban on any gathering of more than 250 people.


STEVE PATTERSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: How far does this extend to personal events, like parties, like weddings, like funerals? And then what are the penalties exactly for not abiding by the ban?

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): The penalties are, you might be killing your grand dad if you don`t do it, and I`m serious about this.


MELBER: With that sober warning, we turn to former Vermont Governor and Dr. Howard Dean, Dr. Hilary Babcock, an infectious disease physician at Washington University in Saint Louis, and virologist Dr. Joseph Fair, who is also, we should note, a science contributor right here to MSNBC.

Governor Dean, your view of the way Governor Inslee put it?


Look, we`re crippled by not -- having exactly no leadership at the top whatsoever. And I do have a lot of respect for Anthony Fauci, but today he refused to condemn Trump`s political rallies, which is just stupidity.

So, here`s the problem. One, we`re not going to have a vaccine for 18 months. Two, we have no idea what the infection rate is because we`re not doing enough testing. We need -- if we had 10 or 15 million people who had were tested, we`d have some idea how fatal this disease was.

We don`t, because the testing sample is so tiny. For all we know, there`s hundreds and thousands of carriers around. There probably are. And the good news is, most of us are going to get this at one time or another, and most of us are going to be just fine.

We`re doing exactly what -- the American people, because of the state health agencies, are doing exactly what we should be doing, all these quarantines. We`re reducing the speed at which this happens, at which we all get infected, which means that we`re less likely to overrun the health care capacity of the country.

And that`s what we can do right now, and we should be doing it.

MELBER: Governor, let me ask you to elaborate on that point, because here in the news, we report out each thing that`s developing around the nation.

So, as we report out precautions, sometimes, that can be interpreted as itself a warning or a bad thing even. And yet you, as a health expert and a former leader of a state government, you`re emphasizing that those very precautions aren`t necessarily something that should be interpreted by the wider public as negative, let alone a reason to panic.

DEAN: I think panicking is crazy. But if it takes panic to keep you out of gatherings of 10,000 people or even 250 people, that`s a good thing.

I don`t think there`s any reason to be panicked. A lot of people already have this and they never knew they had it. Nothing bad happened to them. They`re very clear -- it`s very clear this is bad for older people.

And that is one of the reasons we`re having all these quarantines. And I think the NCAA did the right thing. I`m the biggest March Madness fan you can imagine, but I think they`re doing the right thing by banning attendance at the games.

MELBER: Dr. Babcock?

DR. HILARY BABCOCK, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: I agree with all the things that Mr. Dean -- Dr. Dean just said.

I think that it`s really important that we use these community mitigation strategies early. We know, from looking at prior outbreaks and prior pandemics, that if we can control the amount of infection and slow its spread in the community, that our health care systems can keep up.

And the best ways to do that is minimize the number of people that any one person with infection can spread to. So the amount that we can cut back on these large community gatherings and keep people that are sick at home, the better we will be.

MELBER: Joseph, your views?


Everything that is being done by the state government -- and I emphasize the state governments at this point -- absolutely appropriate. Limiting the spread in mass gathering events is how we`re going to get this mitigated. I won`t call it contained, because we`re well out of the containment phase.

So, what we have to work on is mitigating the spread from further -- from continuing. Average 80 percentile, they`re going to be fine, yet they are still infectious to those in the high-risk percentile.

And so we can`t lose our grandparents, our parents. We each know someone with diabetes, heart conditions, pulmonary disease, et cetera. So, even if you yourself are going to be fine, it`s not something you want to pass on to someone that you love and potentially cost them their lives.

MELBER: Certainly. Certainly.

And you`re sort of threading the needle of what Dr. Dean was explaining, which is, there may be plenty of people who have this with little to no actual negative long-term consequences, and yet the whole spread of it is the issue

And , Dr. Babcock, that brings us back to your area of expertise with regard to infection, because today is the day that it`s formally declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

Take a listen to that rationale, and so you can give us more expertise on the other side.



Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough. All countries can still change the course of this pandemic.


MELBER: Dr. Babcock, what does it mean when we are told that it`s formally a pandemic today?

BABCOCK: So, mostly, this is just labeling what we have been seeing already, which is that we know there is spread into most continents, most countries around the globe.

And that`s what makes it a pandemic, instead of an epidemic, that it`s spreading more widely around the globe. So this doesn`t change the status of where we were yesterday to where we were today. It`s just a label that we put on this current status.

And I think his point is well-taken, that it doesn`t mean that the cat is out of the bag and there`s nothing we can do anymore. All of the strategies we`re talking about here in terms of community mitigation, people staying home when they`re sick, washing their hands, avoiding large gatherings, not shaking hands with people, waving or some other method of greeting that doesn`t involve touching, all of those things are going to keep us safe and decrease the impact.

MELBER: I haven`t heard as much about waving. That`s an option.



MELBER: Please, go ahead.

BABCOCK: My son actually said that we should try to -- we should try to popularize this phrase: Catch a wave, not coronavirus.

MELBER: Catch a wave, not coronavirus.

Should I ask how old your son is?

BABCOCK: He`s 14.

MELBER: Pretty good.

Governor Dean?

DEAN: I was just going to say he has a great public relations career ahead of him.


MELBER: And there is -- look, there`s seriousness here, obviously, but when we talk about training and helping people understand it, there is this part of it, right?

That`s the other question, Governor, is, we`re talking about the bedside manner for the entire nation, because there are a great range of health risks. This is not the only one. This is the one that is new and that is admittedly scary to some.

But where does that fit in at a time when there are forces in our society that undermine credibility, undermine science, undermine even what the government says?

DEAN: Well, the interesting thing is, this is something people are really paying attention to.

All Trump`s B.S. and all this hot air he`s always blowing really doesn`t have an effect. I was very worried about this. Trump has apparently no leadership ability whatsoever. But, look, the public is doing the right things.

I rode Amtrak three times this week. And if there was more than 25 percent filling of the seats, I would be surprised. That means the average person gets this. And there are really good people in our universities and in the state health departments, and they are getting the message.

Governors are being very responsible. I don`t hear much discordancy and stupidity, outside of the federal government on this issue. And I think people have turned to their local governments. And that`s the right thing to do.

MELBER: Appreciate the points there.

Joseph. Let me also play Dr. Fauci, who we heard from earlier, and who has been a real presence on this. Take a listen.


FAUCI: We would recommend that there not be large crowds. If that means not having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it.

But as a public health official, anything that has large crowds is something that would give a risk to spread.


MELBER: How important is that, just people understanding that going about your normal life is different than choosing to be in a large setting, if you can avoid it?

FAIR: It`s absolutely the right thing to say.

We know that there is community spread in multiple states, if not all of the states at this point. The states that haven`t reported cases yet, I`m sure they`re there. They just haven`t had them confirmed yet.

Just last night, I was reporting we just said Michigan didn`t have any cases. Literally five minutes later, the governor of Michigan came on and said, we have two confirmed cases. So now today they have five.

We know the rate of infection for this virus is two to three people per confirmed case. And that`s just the confirmed cases. And that`s without having the diagnostics rolled out.

MELBER: When you say that, unpack that. What does that mean, two to three per case?

FAIR: So, that means that every individual that has this virus is going to, on average, infect two to three other people around them in their immediate circle.

And those two to three people will infect two to three people in their circles. And it just goes logarithmically from there on.

MELBER: And how does that compare to other infectious and airborne illnesses?

FAIR: Well, it`s much more contagious than what we saw with SARS, for example. It`s much less fatal than what we saw with SARS.

It is more fatal, multiple times more fatal, than we see with flu. You often hear the comparison between coronavirus and flu. Coronaviruses do cause the average cold, and you don`t die of the average cold. But this is not the average coronavirus.

This one is new to us, and we have no preexisting immunity to this particular strain of coronavirus. Thus, it`s much more deadly and it`s much more contagious.

MELBER: You put it very clearly. And what we need are the clear facts, so people can contextualize this.

Dr. Joseph Fair, I know you`re coming back.

Dr. Babcock, I want to thank you.

And, Governor Dean, I also want to get your views on the -- quote, unquote -- B.S. you referred to emanating from parts of the White House. Well, there is going to be an address tonight. We want your thoughts in advance for context.

Now, coming up tonight, new reports the Trump administration is trying to classify and keep secret briefings about public health that the public may want to know. We are also going to look at what Trump will say tonight with Governor Dean and others.

Meanwhile, back on the campaign trail, Bernie Sanders came out today defiant, even after losing some big states last night.

And I`m very excited to tell you we will speak to voters in Queens as part of our special series on this primary race.

I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER: We`re tracking several stories for you right now, including Donald Trump`s impending statement to the nation on coronavirus, which he will make from the Oval Office.

As you probably know, if you watch the news, Donald Trump doesn`t usually use that particular forum very often. This is coming after a growing pressure on the president to address questions not only about this public health crisis, but specifically as well the administration`s handling of it.

For example, a report out of Reuters today that the Trump White House tried to order federal health departments to treat any top-level meetings about the coronavirus as -- quote -- "classified."

Four Trump officials calling it an unusual step which would, understandably, hamper speedy information flow, while also excluding government experts who know the things you need in that room and don`t happen to have security clearances.

Meanwhile, today, two governors with states facing outbreaks speaking out on the federal government.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I think this is going to be the public health version of Hurricane Katrina. The federal government has just fallen down on the job, so let the states do it.

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): I`m not afraid to say that I am extremely disappointed. Again, my job is protecting the health and safety of the people of our state, and I need help from the federal government.


MELBER: Those are both, we should note, of course, Democratic governors.

Meanwhile, top health officials, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying things will get worse before they get better, and the U.S. will certainly see more cases.

Now, that`s important because it`s a medical view that also contradicts a series of things that President Trump has said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re going down, not up. We`re going very substantially down, not up.

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

I like the numbers being where they are.


MELBER: I`m joined by "New York Times" columnist Michelle Goldberg and Congressman Ro Khanna, who is on the House Oversight Committee, and also questioned some top officials today, which we will get to.

How are you, Congressman?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): I`m doing really well. Thanks for having me on.

MELBER: Thanks for being here. And thank you, Michael.

Beginning with the congressman, given all of the action in Washington.

What is the latest, in your understanding, regarding any legislation to address this coming out of the House?

KHANNA: We want to do a stimulus. We just want to make sure the stimulus actually helps working families and middle-class families that`s going to increase consumer spending and prevent a recession.

So, if there is a program for paid leave, if there is an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, if there`s an extension of unemployment benefits, those are things that House Democrats support.

MELBER: You just listed several things that, in traditional times, including everybody who remembers the Obama era efforts to revive the economy, were often associated with the left.

What does it tell you that these are now suddenly on the table from the Trump administration as the markets slump?

KHANNA: Well, it tells me that there`s some people there who have read economists.

This is not left or right. This is obvious to anyone who has studied economics that the biggest thing you need to do is make sure you increase consumer demand, that people can spend.

And the way you do that is by getting more money in the pockets of working- class and middle-class families, who go out and spend the money, as opposed to the rich, who may put that money in a bank account or stocks.

MELBER: That`s the bill. There`s, of course, the ongoing oversight.

As mentioned, you were right in the center of this. Let`s take a look at your questioning of a health official today.


KHANNA: Do you think our country would have been safer if, let`s say, we had twice the CDC budget, if we had put it at 3 percent of our national defense budget in our capacity?

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Thank you, Congressman. I think it`s important to realize that, for decades, we have underinvested in the public health infrastructure of this nation.


MELBER: What were you getting at there? Why does it matter now?

KHANNA: Well, the entire budget of the CDC is $10 billion. To put that in perspective, Ari, our defense budget is $738 billion.

We put 1.5 percent on the CDC. And the reason they have been unable to expand testing in part is because of a lack of capacity. This should be a clear signal, warning signal, to every American that we ought to be doubling the CDC`s budget, investing in public health.

The second thing is that the World Health Organization actually offered these tests to 60 other countries. That`s why South Korea and other nations have been able to do testing, 100,000 people tested there, where we have only had a few thousand.

And we ought to have taken the World Health Organization tests, as opposed to rejecting them.

MELBER: Stay with me, and let me bring in Michelle Goldberg, who`s here with us.

What does it tell you that, in response to the rising perception of the public health threat, so many things are suddenly on the table in a largely Republican-run Washington?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It`s not clear to me how many things are on the table, because I think that what you`re hearing from Republicans, what you`re hearing from the administration is a bailout for the airlines, a bailout for the hospitality industry, which I would want to know how much that applied to Trump hotels.

And so we`re seeing, I think, an understanding that there`s a need for some kind of stimulus. I`m not sure at all that you`re going to get Republicans on board for a stimulus that actually targets working people, instead of bails out these giant corporations.

MELBER: When you see the governors we just heard from go at Donald Trump this quickly, while there is plenty to criticize, do you think that is the right state level response at this point, or is that a little too quick on the draw?

GOLDBERG: This has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks, right? This isn`t something that just happened or that, as Trump said, nobody could have predicted.

This is something that actually public health experts saw coming, have been warning about. And in New York right now, we have hundreds of cases. It`s still not clear, I think, to a lot of people what the testing capacity is, how you get a test, how you afford a test if you don`t have health insurance.

And so this is a mess. This is a calamity. If you look at where Italy is right now, where the government just ordered -- the whole country is basically locked down. The government just ordered all private businesses shut, except for pharmacies and food shops.

We -- two weeks ago, Italy had fewer cases than we had now, right? So we are basically going into what could be an incredibly perilous couple of weeks with no federal leadership.

Politico has an article that the Trump administration is waiting to issue an emergency declaration until Jared Kushner finishes his research and decides if that`s necessary, right? So think about that.

Those are the hands that your families are in, everyone who is watching this, as your schools are closed, as people worry about whether there`s going to be hospital capacity, as other countries are basically having to triage, decide that some patients can be treated and other patients can`t, because they just don`t have the infrastructure to treat them all, countries whose public health infrastructure is every bit as robust as ours.

And so we are staring down something absolutely terrifying, with the worst possible people leading us.

MELBER: Congressman, Michelle lays it out pretty starkly.

KHANNA: I think Michelle is absolutely right.

I mean, the hearings today were surreal. You had Republican after Republican member of Congress basically asking some version of, this isn`t really that bad, is it? This is just like the flu. What is so much -- why is there so much concern?

And you literally had Dr. Fauci, who I respect, having to contradict publicly these Republican members of Congress and pointing out that the coronavirus is 10 times as lethal as the flu.


KHANNA: And so one of the things in leadership is, you don`t want to cause panic, but you want to be honest and transparent.

And the systematic downplaying of the risk has, I think, been one of the greatest failures in the administration.

MELBER: Very striking.

Congressman, given the voting last night, we should mention you`re also leading congressional chair of the Sanders campaign. He came out today and said he will keep fighting.

Can you identify, in a couple of sentences, what his path would be to come back and win the majority of delegates?

KHANNA: He needs to have a transformative debate. There has to be a moment that changes fundamentally the dynamics of the race.

He`s going to try to do that in the debate, to have a clear contrast. He`s also going to ask issues that he`s been hearing for a year on the trail and making sure that those are Democratic priorities, issues like, why is it that 28 million people are uninsured, and how are they going to get tested or treated with the coronavirus? What are we doing with student debt?

So, for him, it`s about winning, but it`s mainly about his causes winning.

MELBER: Congressman Khanna, thank you very much.

KHANNA: Thank you.

MELBER: Michelle, stay with me.

As mentioned, the president addresses the nation at 9:00 p.m. tonight. We have more on that and our special series with voters later in the show, when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: The president addresses the nation about coronavirus tonight.

This will be just his second Oval Office address. The first came during the 2019 government shutdown. Today, the president was asked about the gap between his public statements and, of course, statements contradicting them and correcting them from his own health administration officials.


QUESTION: What do you say to Americans who are concerned that you`re not taking this seriously enough and that some of your statements don`t match what your health experts are saying?

TRUMP: That`s CNN. Fake news.

Go ahead. Thank you very much, everybody.



We are joined by Michelle Goldberg from "The New York Times" and former Governor Howard Dean.

Governor, what happens tonight? Is your advice that people should basically inoculate in advance of any misinformation, or you`re hoping the president rises to the occasion?

DEAN: You know, this is one of the most -- the president is incapable of rising to any occasion.

So this is one of the most fascinating things about the maturation of the American people. You know, I have been at meetings recently where there are a lot of Trump supporters, not the kind you see at the rallies, but businesspeople who like his fiscal policies and so forth.

They know very well who he is. I actually think that most Americans are going to listen to Trump, if they listen to him at all, and they`re going to -- they have a compensatory mechanism.

Look, we have made some serious progress by doing the things that the federal government doesn`t want us to do, more testing, much more quarantining, stopping big events, even though the president seems to want to continue his own.

So, I think there`s a bit of maturity coming in the electorate about how capable Trump is. And I don`t think most people in this country think he`s very capable, even among his supporters. They don`t want their grandmas to die either. And I think they are quietly going to take the health professionals` advice.

MELBER: Michelle, there is a kind of coarsening and a kind of a -- I`m really looking for the right word, but an ability by more people, even those who are politically sympathetic to the president, to really just completely ignore some of this, which may be a very sad statement about the leadership, but it`s probably a net positive for facts in the country.


I think a lot of people, but, importantly not everyone, right? You see reports of people who believe that this is all a hoax. You see on FOX News a sort of division. Right? On the one hand, you have Tucker Carlson saying to take this very seriously. You have other people on the network saying that this is just meant to take down Donald Trump, that it`s nothing but a flu.

You obviously had Rush Limbaugh saying this is nothing but a flu. I have seen T-shirts for sale on right-wing Web sites sort of boasting about their -- COVID-19, their willingness to kind of go out and not heed by any of these restrictions.

And, importantly, a lot of President Trump`s base are the people who are most susceptible to complications from coronavirus, right? This is not particularly dangerous for younger people. It`s extremely dangerous for people in their 60s, and especially their 70s or 80s.

So there are certainly people in this country who are going to listen to the president and put their lives at risk because of it.

MELBER: Governor?

DEAN: Yes, I think that`s right.

Look, I do have faith in the American voters. I obviously think that the minority of them, by three million, made the wrong decision, and the Electoral College is what got Trump elected. And people wanted a change, and they got one.

But I think, after the four years that we have seen, or the three-and-a- half years that we have seen, people are learning to fend for themselves, and they still do trust local governments, no matter which party they`re in, for the most part. And they`re getting pretty good advice from their local governments.

And I think that`s a good sign for America as a country, and it`s going to be a very good sign for the health of the American people.

MELBER: When you look at the problems that we`re facing, Governor, you ran -- before it was cool in the Democratic Party, you ran for more expansive health coverage...

DEAN: Right.

MELBER: ... among other things.

We`re seeing now this discussion. And Michelle made a very fair important point earlier, which was, let`s not give too much to rhetoric, let`s see what policies come out.

But we`re certainly seeing, I would say, people in the Republican Party, including in Congress, discuss this with the idea that people need to go in and get checked, they need to go to their doctor they need to do XYZ.

Well, we live in a country where a lot of people can`t go to the doctor. What is your view of all this? And is it a little through the looking glass that it takes something like this to have even a momentary discussion that presumably will pull back if this gets under control?

DEAN: Ari, this is not new.

The reason we picked up 40 seats in 2018 was principally because of the health care. Everybody keeps writing in the paper about the party is moving to the left and AOC and the Squad. The party is not moving to the left. We elected 35 people from Oklahoma, Kansas, Orange County, Texas.

I mean, these are -- most of whom served in the armed forces. The party is moving to the center in a practical way.

But I do believe that the vast majority of America -- of Democratic voters want a universal health care system. We can argue about whether you should force this insurance companies to go out of business or not. Everybody wants to have health insurance.

And I personally believe that we ought to let people sign up for Medicare. But we`re not going to get there immediately by forcing people out of out of the system. But we`re going to get there.

And we should use this opportunity to do it, because the voters have already spoken once on this. And they`re going to speak again in 2020.

MELBER: You said sign up for Medicare. We have been out talking to voters.

And we keep an eye on these state exit polls. In the Democratic side, the primary electorates, for the most part, by a majority or about half, have supported Medicare for all.

I mean, from your experience, medically and politically, does that look like an all-time high?

DEAN: It certainly is an all-time high.

Look, Medicare for all has become a slogan, and it became involved in a big fight in the political -- in the primaries. People want universal health care insurance. And they don`t trust insurance companies.

So let`s take those things and figure out how to get this done. I do not believe the United States Congress is going to pass a, we`re going to get rid of all the insurance companies bill.

But we need to use this opportunity, no matter who becomes president of the United States, and this terrible, terrible epidemic that is -- or pandemic -- that has been ignored, essentially, by the Trump administration, except for whatever they think is good for their politics, we need to use that to get a universal health care system, and a universal health care system that the majority of Americans are comfortable with.

And I think you -- what you just said about the polling data means they`re getting more and more comfortable with what people will call Medicare for all, even though that may be different things to different people.

MELBER: We have a lot more in the show, Governor, including looking at this roiling debate in 2020 and some other stories.

You have worn your doctor hat and your governor hat. I would ask one more thing, if you would be willing to take your maple syrup hat and give us a little Vermont expertise. Is that OK with you, before I lose you?

DEAN: I will try it.

MELBER: You saw Bernie Sanders come out today. You know him well, locally, politically, and otherwise.

How do you interpret the way he came out swinging today, despite losing some key states last night? And, to be clear, on this program, we have counted his delegates. We credited him when he was surging above other candidates.

There were a lot that he has outlasted, but it would seem right now that he is not building the type of turnout he would need to get back into the delegate race. What did you interpret as his message today? What does it mean?

DEAN: It means two things.

One, this is -- for Bernie, this is a movement, not just about him. He deeply cares about these issues, and he wants to do as much as he can to advance them.

Two, I really do think he understands that, in order to further his movement, if the time should be right -- and it`s clearly not right for him -- that he should be supporting the Democratic nominee if it`s not him.

I`m not worried about this at all. Bernie`s a fighter. When you have to leave a race, you have to do it on your terms, not somebody else`s terms.

So he`s going to figure this out. If I were in his position, I`d go another round and see if I couldn`t change the way things are going. And that`s what he`s chosen to do.

MELBER: Very interesting.

You get the Governor Dean hat trick for all the different topics. We appreciate your time.

And, Michelle Goldberg, don`t go anywhere, because I want to get your views on that and 2020 as well. So, my thanks to my guests.

I have another update on a story we have been covering for such a long time, and it`s an important update we want you to know about, even with everything else going on.

Today, Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for his convictions on sex crime charges. All six women who testified against him were back in the courtroom today, a dramatic, heartfelt moment for this sentence.

Those people were reading what are called victims` impact statements. They were presenting their arguments. The judge went on to issue this very harsh sentence and told Weinstein -- quote -- "Although this is a first conviction, it is not a first offense."

Weinstein also spoke on his own behalf. Remember, we haven`t heard from him in the courtroom setting through this whole process. He did not take the stand in defense at his trial.

But he said today -- this was really striking as we were covering it -- that he is -- quote -- "totally confused" by this case against him. And he also argued that he was not and his company was not powerful.

These were the kind of claims that were basically not believable and not the kind of thing that would have helped him had he taken the stand at trial.

I can tell you Weinstein is scheduled to be moved to a prison for this 23- year sentence within the following days.

We wanted to give you that update.

But we have a lot more in tonight`s show as well, including, as mentioned, this next step for Bernie Sanders after Biden`s big wins last night, and a new installment of our special series where we talk to voters about the way this race is shaping up.

Stay with us.


MELBER: We have been following coronavirus news basically all hour in this broadcast tonight, but there`s a lot of other stories, as you know, including Joe Biden widening his delegate lead over Sanders after blowing him out in four different states last night, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, and Idaho.

So, that means, as of right now, the delegate count has grown, 838 for Biden, 691 for Sanders, with Washington still being counted.

Now, there are rumblings that maybe Sanders should do something different. Today, he came out to this podium and basically made clear he is in this race.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are winning the generational debate.

Joe, what are you going to do for the 500,000 people who go bankrupt in our country because of medically related debt? Joe, what are you going to do to end the absurdity of the United States of America being the only major country on Earth where health care is not a human right?


MELBER: Sanders laying out his policy challenges.

Meanwhile, Biden, of course, was talking about thanking Sanders and his supporters in his victory speeches, and reminding everyone on the Democratic side they have a common goal, defeating Trump.

We turn to "New York Times"` Michelle Goldberg. We were talking to Governor Dean about this. I wanted to get your views as well.

We have been juggling a lot of stories tonight.

What do you see as what -- what is Bernie Sanders doing in this race now today, with that speech?

GOLDBERG: Well, I think, mostly, he`s trying to secure policy commitments from Joe Biden. Right?

If you really want to finish someone off in a debate, you don`t telegraph everything you`re going to ask them in advance. And I also thought that one of the most significant things was that he kept saying, what are you going to do, not, what have you done, meaning that he`s not going to attack -- or at least, as he laid it out today, he didn`t lay out a plan to attack Joe Biden`s record.

He laid out a plan to make Joe Biden tell the country and also tell Sanders supporters how he`s going to address the issues that are most important to them. Right?

So it could potentially be an opportunity for Joe Biden to make some sort of outreach to a lot of people who are heartbroken and disillusioned and people who are the future of the party, and who you want to stay engaged and you don`t want to make them feel like all of the work that they have put into this race has been for naught.

MELBER: And voters have not seen Joe Biden in a one-on-one debate in eight years. Does that matter?

GOLDBERG: I think it definitely matters.

I`m not sure whether this train can be turned around at this point. But before this thing is finally sealed, I think a lot of people would like to see how Joe Biden -- you know, Joe Biden is not the best debater. He`s stumbled a few times on the campaign trail.

I think people could rest easier if they could see him handle himself for 90 minutes one-on-one with Bernie Sanders.


And in some ways, although Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump don`t have much in common on their agenda, they are both very challenging debates. Hillary Clinton may have underestimated and then seen the way that Sanders comes back, hits his issues over and over.

It`s a challenge for some candidates. We`re going to see.

Michelle Goldberg, thank you so much on several stories tonight.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

MELBER: And I`m telling you, if you`re watching THE BEAT, please do not go anywhere, because, right after this break, we get to the segment we`re so excited about tonight, hearing directly from Democratic primary voters in Queens, New York, at the Bel Aire Diner, a special BEAT conversation about Biden vs. Sanders, their competing economic vision, and something we have heard on the trail this year, grappling with party unity at a time when so many want to confront and defeat President Trump.

We will hear from civic leaders and voters unfiltered for this real dialogue right after this break.



MELBER: THE BEAT is out here in the field at the Bel Aire Diner in Astoria, Queens. We`re talking to voters and local leaders about the thing on so many people`s minds, this presidential race, and specifically a Democratic primary that`s narrowed to just two major choices, Biden and Sanders.

How are you doing this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m fine. How are you, Ari?

MELBER: I`m great. Thanks for being here.

How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good, Ari. How are you?

MELBER: I`m great.

And I wanted to ask. Here we are. We have seen the race finally narrow to two people. We have seen the voting. What`s on your mind right now when you look at the choice in the Democratic primary?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With Bernie, he wants to do too much too fast. The question is, do you want to get rid of Trump or do you want to change the world?

And, you know, we have to get rid of Trump. That`s the priority. And I think Joe Biden will help us do that.

MELBER: And do you think Joe Biden would be where he is without the strength and support of African-American Democrats in this country?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, he would not. So we will take a bow.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we`re a very important part of his coalition.

MELBER: Thanks for talking to me.

I`m going to pop over here.

How are you guys doing? What brings you to the diner, breakfast or did you come to talk politics?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came to listen.

MELBER: You know, Bernie Sanders, straight out of Brooklyn, do you think he has good ideas for the Democratic Party or too far, like we were hearing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Too far. I think the other guy is more focused. Biden is more focused.

MELBER: And who would you like to see win the nomination?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m supporting Bernie Sanders.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t tend to assume that I want things to go back to the way that they were before Trump and that then we can pick up trying to get more done.

MELBER: Here we have a liberal Democrat that says it`s too left for her. What does democratic socialism means to you? or why do you find it not too left?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s hard for me to imagine how life gets more livable for most people who live in this country without just massive redistribution of resources and major investment in people`s daily needs.

MELBER: I appreciate you guys sharing the table with each other and with us.

Let me pop over here.

How are you all doing over here?


MELBER: Can I join you?



MELBER: All right.

So, when you see a choice between Sanders and Biden, what is that choice to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a Biden person.

MELBER: What about you, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel the same way.

I think that Biden has been through the good, bad and the ugly. I think that Joe has traction because he was with the first African-American president of the United States of America. That`s history.

Now, I do agree that we can`t have more of the same, all right? I think that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, they raise a valid point when they talk about the wealth gap in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me, Joe Biden is more practical when it comes to advancing the country.

So, Bernie Sanders does have great ideas that`s going to affect the majority of us sitting at this table, sitting in this room, because we`re going to have to give up more. And we really don`t have much.

So, we have -- at least with Joe Biden, we can at least trust that he can choose people and say, you know what, I will choose people who are innovative, I will choose people who are progressive, I will choose people who can be boots on the ground and hear the ideas, what we got to go and push forward.

MELBER: You`re nodding.


I think, when we talk about age -- I`m approaching 70, so I don`t like to get into the whole age thing -- I think Joe Biden...

MELBER: You said you`re almost 70?


MELBER: So, you`re almost old enough to be the Democratic nominee.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s right. And I could be the first woman president. Wouldn`t that be great?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we need people we can trust, people who can get the job done, people who can reach across the aisle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was talking earlier I have two younger sons. The younger one is still riding for Biden -- for Bernie.

And I`m trying to explain to them that they need to add the historical context to what they`re seeing in terms of making their decisions.

MELBER: So, you`re having that conversation around your family table?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every day almost.

MELBER: And do they ever lobby you and say, dad, you actually got to look beyond?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I get the OK, boomers.

As a boomer, we told our kids to do all these things right, go to school, get a good job, buy a home. And all these kids did the right thing, and they can`t do any of those things.

And some of them get very resentful, and, therefore -- and point the finger at the people of the "establishment" -- quote, unquote -- the Bidens of the world.

MELBER: Let me table-hop then, because you`re talking about this generational divide.

And we have been hearing that over here as well. And when you hear this concern over here, and a self-described boomer, he OK, boomered, himself. You don`t see that every day.

Do you see a place for capitalism, or is the goal here for Sanders supporters of a certain generation to really replace capitalism?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have entire systems set up already that are not able to be thrown out in a day. But what I see Sanders wanting to do is just to alleviate some of the economic burdens that people have.

MELBER: I`m going to jump around a little more.

How are we doing over here? Are you a Queens resident?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m local, right down the street.

MELBER: What about yourself, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was born in Manhattan, but I left.

MELBER: Why did you leave?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they built Lincoln Center. I came from Lincoln Center.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we had to leave because of the remodeling of the whole area.

MELBER: Did you feel pushed out?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a great community of Italian and Irish.

MELBER: What does democratic socialism mean to you, if anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really, it means the sharing of wealth. And I don`t really have that much of a problem with the sharing of wealth, since I don`t have any.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, though, that government and people have an obligation to help other people. I think that`s part of what government, to me, does.

And democratic socialism seems to go in that direction, but I don`t think it`s realistic, and I don`t think it`s electable.

MELBER: Let`s jump and do another table.

How are you all doing over here? Who would you prefer between Sanders and Biden, if that`s the choice now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would rather Biden, but I think we still stay the same if Biden is -- I don`t see how the same -- I don`t see how this country changes, when the same type of person is in charge, even though they`re from different parties.

At this point, the irreparable damage that Trump will cause for another four years, it`s -- you can`t risk it. So, whoever the nominee is for the Democratic side, I have to go with them.

MELBER: Let me jump right over here.

You have been listening to this conversation in the diner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, quite closely.

MELBER: Biden and Sanders, what do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will be voting for Biden. I did support Bernie Sanders in the primary in 2016.

MELBER: So, you`re a Sanders voter from last cycle who has gone to Biden. Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last cycle, yes.

Well, last cycle, I was looking for change, but it was a much smaller field, so I found more change and more progress in his platform in 2016. But we had a much wider field this year, so I was able to pick and choose a little more.

MELBER: What do you say to voters who do back Sanders and say, if he`s not the nominee, maybe they will stay home in November?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that`s a shortsighted view. As I said, I`m not supporting Sanders in this primary, but if he gets the nomination, I`m definitely going to vote blue.

MELBER: So many important points we have heard here at the Bel Aire Diner in Queens, THE BEAT on location.


MELBER: And we will be right back.




MELBER: THE BEAT has been broadcasting from the Bel Aire Diner right here in Astoria, Queens.

Thank you, everyone, for having us.


MELBER: It`s been such an interesting set of conversations, talking about these election results, the divide in the Democratic Party and the road to November.

So, again, we appreciate it.

As always, keep it locked right here on MSNBC.