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WHO TRANSCRIPT: 4/28/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: David Priess, Selwyn Vickers, Marc Morial, Katty Kay, Andy Slavitt, Mark Cuban

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Hello. I`m Ari Melber, and welcome to an edition of THE BEAT.

I will be joined tonight live by Mark Cuban. We`re also going to feature some special reporting and some difficult angles for you coming up, so a lot to look forward to.

But we begin with the medical facts. They are grim and staggering.

Tonight in America, over one million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including, as we continue to count, over 58,100 fatalities. Meanwhile, experts are saying that the numbers, when you actually have the ability to count them fully, they could be much higher.

Just 1.6 percent of the country is still being country. You have to keep that mind as we continue to go through all of this with you. Now, the testing, as we all know, is critical. And it will be even more critical than it`s been because of what`s happening, depending on where you live.

Many states are beginning at least partial reopenings. Meanwhile, depending on where you live, the cases are also growing.

One of the top outbreak models in the nation has raised its death estimate now to 74,000, and that is in part projecting that because of reopenings in states where medical experts do not feel and do not believe that we will control the risk rate.

Cases also increasing in the Washington, D.C., area, which prompts this governmental news that we have for you. You may have seen the House of Representatives, which had hoped to return, will not come back into physical session next week.

Then you have the World Health Organization that is warning -- and everyone needs to hear this, no matter where you live, this is global -- this global pandemic -- quote -- "is far from over."

Health care workers on the front line are telling their stories. They`re doing the work, and they are sharing. We should listen to them, as we try to do around here. They are sharing why they are worried about what reopening could mean for them and the rest of the country.


JOCELYN HOMOLA, NORTHWELL HOSPITAL EMT:  As a health care provider on the front lines, I`m gravely concerned for a second wave.

I`m gravely concerned that opening society back up to the world, you could have another heat of what we just experienced over these last couple of weeks.

The majority of the public doesn`t really understand how terrifying this has been. I would like them to think that they want themselves and their families to stay safe, and to ride this out.


MELBER:  I`m joined now by Andy Slavitt, a former top health care official in the Obama administration, Katty Kay, Washington anchor for BBC News, and Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, the medical director of special pathogens at Boston University School of Medicine,

Dr. Slavitt, beginning -- I should say, Andy Slavitt, beginning with you, because of your experience in how government deals with these medical trade-offs, what do you think is important in where we are?

Obviously, there are some places that, in all fairness, have had lower incident rates and can argue that they should take a different approach than one size fits all. But we just walked through the concerns by so many.


There is not a person in the country that wouldn`t like to get us back to normal life. I don`t really think there is this dichotomy that exists between people who would like us to be back and have a better economy and those who would like to make sure everybody is healthy.

The truth is, though, the American public is saying in pretty large numbers, whether they live in Georgia, New York or California, that, until they`re safe, they`re not going to be comfortable doing the things that move the economy back again, getting on airplanes, buying things, if they`re an employer, hiring people, making loans, taking loans.

So I think we have to understand that making people feel safe means we have got to have a smaller case count, we have got to have adequate testing, we have got the ability to track and trace. The governments need to work to show that.

Trump and the governors did not shut down this economy. The American consumer and the employer did. And I think they`re going to be the ones that bring it back. And they`re only going to do that when we make some advances.

MELBER:  Well, that`s -- respectfully, that`s a little bit of rhetoric, what you`re saying, right? I understand what you`re saying, but there are - - many people are living through governmental-required rules.

So it`s not that there has been a voluntary pullback from all participation. And while the experts tell us these are the right rules, as you know, Mr. Slavitt, there are plenty of people in the country who are economically feeling like they want know when they can get back to work because they`re balancing debts and risks of losing their homes and all of that.

I`m not suggesting you`re insensitive to any of that, but it is still mandatory for many people, right?

SLAVITT:  Well, look, it`s hard on everybody, and it`s particularly hard on people who are living paycheck to paycheck.

A third of people are not able to make their rent. Forty percent of -- there is 40 million Americans that are experiencing some form of hunger.

But even with that, there is a Kaiser Family Foundation poll that just came out which said that, even with the sacrifices they`re making, 80 percent of the public would prefer to feel safe and figure it out than to jump back in too quickly.

Now, that may change over time, and I think people only have a limited tolerance of patience.

But here is my point. My point is that a governor saying go out and be free, people aren`t going to go start sharing popsicles again right away. People are smarter than that. And I think it would be smarter for political leaders to understand that people want to feel safe first before they can take those steps.

That`s really my point.

MELBER:  Yes. No, and I wanted to tease that out with you, and I hear that.

Doctor, your views on the above?

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR:  Yes, I do think that it`s -- most people understand the importance of this, right?

As we`re opening up, the reason the models have sort of predicted higher death, part of this is the reopening that might be happening in some states.

But even in other states that are at their peak, you`re seeing longer peaks, which means that people are letting their guard down. There is a small percentage of people who are letting their guard down that need to be reminded about why this is important, because the hospitals are still full.

Our hospital is still full. We`re not nowhere near the end of this. We`re still lingering in Boston around the peak and sort of slowly coming off.

And so I think it`s going to be understand to understand it takes everybody`s cooperation. But, also, for states that open, you`re talking about Texas opening and Louisiana is not. It`s still Louisiana`s problem if there`s a big outbreak that happens in Texas.

And so it is the states` responsibilities, but I think it`s going to have to be a regional strategy as we open this up.

MELBER:  I want to bring in Katty Kay.

And we have tried to always lead with the medical science and then also keep everyone abreast of everything else. And we have a whole debate in this country over the handling of this crisis and this president.

And Al Gore came out endorsing Joe Biden, and he said his focus is on what, as a community, the country can do despite the president, who he said has been just completely incompetent in dealing with this in this emergency moment.

Here was Speaker Pelosi just today on MSNBC discussing what the president knew and when he knew it. Take a look.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  What did the president know and when did he know it? This president has presided over the worst disaster in our country`s history, an assault on the lives and livelihood of -- livelihoods of the American people.

And he did so by neglect of information, also denial and delay in accepting the facts.


MELBER:  Where do you see that part of this issue?

While everyone wants the best immediate emergency response and information and all this public safety stuff, while, at the same time, it seems a little bit frustrating to so many to say, well, wait a minute, when will there be a reckoning for a president who is literally out there ducking the signals, spinning people, giving terrible misinformation that`s been disproven, disinfectant on down?

It doesn`t stop.

KATTY KAY, BBC:  You know, I think the two are related, right, what happened in the past and the degree to which all the reporting suggests the president underplayed even his presidential daily briefing, according to "The Washington Post" reporting today, and the number of times that the coronavirus was put into that briefing over January and February.

And the White House`s consistent desire to downplay the severity of this virus is impacting exactly what you have just been talking about with medical experts there, and that is the potential to reopen, because there has to be a level of trust in what you are hearing for people to be able to feel that it is safe to go back.

And, also, there has to be a level of trust in that the information is correct, so that local officials make the right decisions. You look at somewhere like Georgia, for example, where the health commissioner has just admitted, we reopened, but we haven`t actually met all of the guidelines that the White House has set us.

There were five criteria we meant. Well, we only met three, but, hey, that`s good enough.

And I think it`s because of the mixed messaging coming out even today from the White House that people are making rash decisions.

MELBER:  Yes. You lay that out and that reporting.

And then, before I bring in our next guest, who is an expert on how these kind of briefings work, let`s remember how the president sounded during the very period that we now know he was getting these briefings.

Everyone, take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country.

Well, we pretty much shut it down coming in from China.

The virus that we`re talking about having to do, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat.

We`re finding very little problem, very little problem. Now, you treat this like a flu.

When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero...

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


MELBER:  We`re going bring in now David Priess. He was a former intelligence officer and literally did the daily briefings for the president on behalf of the CIA.

He also wrote "The President`s Book of Secrets," the history of the president`s daily brief.

And we want to bring you in here to make sure for the entire group to make sure we have this understanding. What does it mean that the president was getting these briefings and then sounding the way we just heard?

DAVID PRIESS, FORMER CIA OFFICER:  Yes, the timing in that "Washington Post" report indicated that he was getting updates from the intelligence community about the situation in China and about how it was likely to develop at the same time that he is making those statements you just played.

That means things like, it`s going to disappear, or we have had 15 cases, but it`s going to zero real soon. In his intelligence briefings were reports saying, based on what we`re seeing internationally, that`s not likely.

Now, there are two possible ways to interpret that. One is that the president internalized that, probably not by reading the briefings, because also in that reporting was indication he doesn`t read the book. He just takes oral briefings.

But in the oral briefings, perhaps he got the information, and he simply chooses to discard it. He chooses not to believe it because it`s an uncomfortable truth.

The other option is, he actually didn`t get the information at all, because the reporting says he doesn`t read the book and he only gets oral briefings two or three times a week. Maybe his aides are doing him a disservice by not making sure he has the information on the days when he doesn`t get oral briefings from the intelligence community.

MELBER:  David, how do you contrast this to the storyline that everyone remembers from before this pandemic, which was the president`s battles with all of the nonpartisan long-term federal intelligence services, whether he was beefing with the CIA on the Russia stuff, FBI, where he took out the director, then took out the acting director, McCabe, then demanded for his investigation?

All of that past is prologue, because it would seem to suggest that the president has a long-term problem getting these kind of facts. And then, in the Russia probe, maybe the resolution was a matter that remains contested to this day for many politically. There are people who disagree about the resolution of that matter.

I don`t think there is any way to disagree about the fact that the medical experts through the intelligence were saying, this pandemic`s coming and here it is.

PRIESS:  Right.

I think it goes to something even more fundamental, Ari, which is, all presidents disagree with some of the intelligence analysis they get, because it`s difficult for their policy objectives. It`s a natural human thing.

This president doesn`t like to be told that something he believes is wrong, or perhaps more so than any other president. But that is the fundamental job of the intelligence community, to give objective analysis, to tell truth to power:  Mr. President, this is the way we see it, based on our information. Here`s what we know. Here`s what we don`t know. Here`s what we assess.

This president doesn`t like being told things that he doesn`t agree with. That`s obvious in his public and his private statements. So, guess what? You`re always going to have a clash there. And this president has clashed with them because of this.

The fact that he is still taking some briefings from the intelligence community is a very good sign, but to what end? If he is taking them and he`s not internalizing the information being briefed, such that he can go out through the whole month of February and say those things he said, then what is the point of those briefings at all?

MELBER:  What is the point?

PRIESS:  Well, you hope some of the messages are getting through, whether it`s one a day, that, Mr. President, today we need to focus on North Korea because of some North Korean nuclear information we have found out, but we should also mention that China is lying about this virus.

Maybe the message on North Korea was more important to get through that day, and there still is a value to those intelligence briefings for the president. My concern is if indeed there were a dozen or more reports in this time period about this virus, and yet the president was going out and saying these things publicly, it showed that perhaps again he wasn`t getting it, or he was getting it, but thought that he knew better and he did not need to prepare the American people for what the intelligence was suggesting was coming.

MELBER:  Katty?

KAY:  Well, or there is a third alternative, which is that President Trump wanted to wish this away, and that his concern, his focus was on the damage that this could do to the economy and the stock market in particular, and so he didn`t want the bad news to get out there.

And, look, to be fair, he is not the only leader to have been put in this position. You had on March the 3rd Boris Johnson bragging really about still shaking hands with people, saying, oh, I`m glad to say that I still shake hands with people.

A month later, he has very serious coronavirus infection and he ends up in the ICU in the hospital. So, Donald Trump isn`t the only one, but there have been repeated instance of him wanting to give the best possible spin to this in order to protect his ratings and the economy.

MELBER:  Well, Katty, you make such an important point, because isn`t that the difference between what is empirical truth and the rest of it?

In other words, there were things that Donald Trump was doing that defied Republican orthodoxy in the primary, and everyone, including some of us in the press, but certainly everyone in the Republican Party, said, you can`t do that. You can`t take that position. You can`t go against this or that sacred cow, so to speak.

And he did and he beat everybody. Then they said, well, this scandal will bring you down. You can`t fight with a Gold Star family or attack John McCain, or all the things everyone remembers.

And his political approach of disappearing away things and literally looking like he is the one who doesn`t have reality, and then reshaping a type of political reality, that worked.

And yet that is so different from this deadly empirical scientific pandemic we`re living through, where you cannot -- not only can you not do that, it makes it worse.

We have had experts come on the show -- I will go to Katty and then Andy -- who literally say that ignorance is deadly right now.

KAY:  I think you`re quite right about the history of President Trump and about the ignorance being deadly.

To some degree, the sole advantage that the United States has at the moment is that it comes after other countries. And you only have to look at the news coming out of -- take Germany, for example, where they opened up a week ago, and the infection rate over the course of the last eight days has ticked up again, and now they`re having to warn people again about, right, we may have to shut down.

America has that advantage. It could -- the president could take other countries and learn from their example. It`s not something he`s in the habit of doing, but it is an example of where you can learn and save lives by learning.

SLAVITT:  Look, I think to work President Trump is to have to learn how to work around President Trump.

And to be someone, whether you`re an intelligence officer or someone in the Justice Department or today Dr. Birx or Dr. Fauci, is to be in an extraordinarily difficult position, where you really want to prevail like you would in wartime on a wartime leader with a set of facts that you don`t want to interpret personally, that you will -- he will use to allow him to make the right decision.

And, instead, he is leaching onto whatever good news he hears from a friend of his that has no backing, and he will take that out to the American public.

And so he would be smarter, I think, to realize what I think Governor Cuomo and others have realized, which is that the public has actually got more tolerance for the fact that this is a marathon, that there aren`t any great answers, and he doesn`t have to have good news at every press conference. He`s got to play it straight.

And the public can handle more bad news than he`s been willing to deliver. I think he is used to being able to spin his way, as you said, Ari, through any situation look like he`s winning. And that is just the wrong formula here.

MELBER:  Yes. I`m going fit in a break.

I want to thank Andy Slavitt, Katty Kay, Dr. Bhadelia, and David Priess.

We have a lot more planned for tonight, our live interview with Mark Cuban. Very interested to hear what he has to say.

We`re also going to discuss jobs, big companies getting breaks that were explicitly not for them, but for smaller businesses on Main Street, what sports teams will do in this new reality.

Also, the growing debate about how to reopen -- why experts say we need way more testing.

And also tonight, we have two special guests on what reopenings could do when you look at the economic disparities that we see across America, an important aspect of this that we think needs more attention.

All of that coming up. I`m Ari Melber.

You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER:  So, what happens next?

Nobody really knows for sure, but weeks and weeks into this pandemic, there is more indications about what next might look like.

We have been touching on that a little earlier in the hour, some states moving to reopen as soon as this week. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, for example, he was just at the White House discussing how that state will reopen.

More broadly, we have nine states that are partially reopened, with seven more to reopen in some fashion -- you see it right here -- this coming Thursday.

New CDC models show that there is a rise in deaths when people do more active. In fact, the model used by the White House surged to 74,000 deaths, up from 60,000. And these models do get steeper, which is to say more dangerous as states open.

Texas now reopening restaurants, movie theaters, and some malls with limited capacity. Those are obviously potential social hot zones. Alabama beginning a reopening Thursday, including retail stores, with a limitation that they can only open at half-capacity.

Tennessee opening restaurants for even in-person dining. The state saw its largest one-day jump, though, in coronavirus cases over the weekend. So, what we`re looking at here is what phased reopening actually involves, with all of the real concerns from medical experts, and not only the experts, but also activists supplying what they say are expert data.

Take an AP analysis that found African-Americans dying already at these higher rates. And that`s all over the country. Look at Washington, D.C., where African-American make up 45 percent of the population, but 75 percent of that area`s COVID deaths.

Similar stories out of New York, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Michigan.

This does not mean it`s not time to try any reopening. But it does mean that, if the states are doing this, it is time to have an important and serious look at the disparities.

We`re going to do exactly that important conversation when we are back in just 30 seconds.


MELBER:  Welcome back to THE BEAT.

We`re joined now by Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, and Dr. Selwyn Vickers, senior vice president and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

In his "USA Today" op-ed, he writes something we should all consider, that the way minorities are being treated during this pandemic is creating a crisis within a crisis.

Both of you have devoted a significant portion of your careers to these issues.

Doctor, what do you mean by that?

DR. SELWYN VICKERS, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM:  Well, I think that the op-ed was really to speak to the fact that there were really different disparities in how different populations in our country were responding or responding to the COVID-19, particularly African-Americans, who, as you show, had a disproportionate suffering, particularly as it relates to death, and even sometimes ICU admissions.

And so it was to really convey that that crisis is real, and it`s across the country, as you just demonstrated in that chart.

MELBER:  Yes, you mentioned that. And obviously, as a doctor, you deal with the data and the diagnostics.

Let`s take a look at these percentages, where you see Washington, we mentioned, 75 percent of the deaths. It`s just such a disparity. Louisiana, 33 percent of the population African-American, 65 percent of the deaths.

In the South, which has had a bit of a different experience at times with this COVID in different geographic patterns, 27 percent of the population of South Carolina, on the bottom there, African-American, 55 percent of the deaths.

Doctor, how much of this is preventable, treatable, and how much of this is a part of underlying systemic racism and health and economic disparity and you have to treat the root cause?

VICKERS:  So, you`re -- it`s a really credible question.

And when we look at individuals` healths, there are really being two components. There are medical determinants and social determinants. And so when you look at the medical determinants of health, these preexisting conditions were significantly higher in African-Americans, particularly in the Deep South in some of our urban areas, whether it`s heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, or diabetes.

And when, in this setting, those individuals have an infections from coronavirus, particularly COVID-19, their response has been challenging. And so when you see the increased deaths.

MELBER:  Doctor, let`s pause on that, and then I`m going to let you get -- I think you`re going get to the second part.

But on that part, what you`re educating us on is, there are underlying conditions that we know about medically, statistically that exist. And this crisis has turned many of them into a death sentence.

VICKERS:  That is correct.

And then, unfortunately, even if you`re managing your heart disease or your diabetes, it doesn`t relieve you from being at major risk of actually succumbing to this virus, if you have it prior to getting infected.

And, unfortunately, African-Americans have these in a disproportionate number compared to the rest of the population.


MELBER:  Yes, forward-looking -- sorry, sir.


The other factor that really predicts our health and particularly relates to the African-American community are the social determinants of health.

And you were indicating that inequities as it relates to access to health, poverty, living in high-density areas, limited opportunities to -- for economic growth, all of those things can have an impact on whether someone is actually able to manage their health, or actually able to prevent getting one of these chronic illness, particularly heart disease or hypertension or obesity.

Those factors play in to how someone is able to address their health. And, subsequently, we`re seeing this play out again as a factor of significance. When you look at the areas where the greatest mortality, it`s not only those that are African-American, but they happen to be the poorest too.

They often have the least testing, and they often have the least access to health care.

MELBER:  Understood. And you lay that all out, such an important piece for citizens and policy-makers alike.

Marc Morial, big picture, because you work on this, civil rights, and how do you improve it, and how do you force change?

And one of the first things which has come up, because I have interviewed you before, is, in debates about race in America, there is a whole crowd that says a lot of the time, well, this is old, this is over. Why are we still talking about slavery? Why would we do reparations for something that I wasn`t alive for, et cetera?

It would seem this is another reminder, another proof, evidentiary example of why that is wrong, because this is right now. And people are dying, and there are economic and racial disparities that undergird the death rate.


And, Ari, it ain`t over until it`s over, and it ain`t over. That`s the point, that there is a continuum of slavery and segregation and health disparities and social inequality in this country.

And what the COVID-19 crisis is doing is shining a spotlight on that problem in a huge way. And so this moment, where African-Americans have, in effect, a triple whammy, high incidents of death due to coronavirus, number one, high percentages of people who are in essential jobs and can`t work from home, and, thirdly, now we see high rates of unemployment, speak to what Congress has to do and what the nation has to do to respond to this.

So, we need to fix the public health system, not fix it back the way it was, but fix it in a way that`s more inclusive and more equitable. We need to understand that too many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and by missing a paycheck or two, they`re now in food lines.

The demand and the need for those who are food-insecure has spiked. We`re doing feeding at Urban Leagues around the country. We just completed a survey which showed that 80 percent of our constituents, the people we serve, list food insecurity as one of the highest needs.

MELBER:  Right.

MORIAL:  This is the America we have today. Let`s (AUDIO GAP) this moment.

MELBER:  So, briefly, Marc, let me press you on this, though.

What`s one thing you think government or Congress could do the help fix this problem, as the doctor diagnoses it?     MORIAL:  I think that we could close the loopholes in the access to health care system.

Number one, expand Medicaid on a mandatory basis and close the holes in the system. Number two, expand Medicare so that people 50 and older have access to the Medicare system. Third, create a public option, so that every American has access to health care, and then build a system that`s...


MELBER:  I`m over on time. I want to get the doctor back in, though, because let me take just one point, Doctor.

You hear Marc Morial advocate, OK, if you lowered Medicare there to 50, the things we`re hearing about, someone loses their job, right, not their fault right now, 26 million, then they contract COVID, and they don`t have health care, is that the kind of policy you think would help address some of this?

VICKERS:  Yes, I think, in general, Mr. Morial, Mayor Morial`s statement is true. Access is really critical.

It`s not only critical to treatment, but it`s critical to managing the health needs of populations in this country, particularly African- Americans. It`s an opportunity not only to create ownership, but also for the system to also provide a unique chance for people to enter the health care and improve their lives.

I think we`re seeing that now. And the combination of high density, the essential workers who often are exposed, as well as the chronic diseases, are the things that have really created this massive death toll in African- Americans.

So the answer is, yes, I think it would be very helpful.

MELBER:  Well, this is an important conversation.

We`re going to keep doing segments like this to keep shining the light.

Dr. Vickers, I just got to meet you. I want to thank you.

Mayor Morial, since I already know you, I`m going take a liberty.

Are you ready?

MORIAL:  Go ahead.

MELBER:  I`m going to take a liberty with you. I like seeing you in the workout gear at home. I like that look.


MORIAL:  Hey, man. I haven`t put on a suit and tie in six weeks, because working from home is comfortable. I don`t have on any shoes now either.


MELBER:  Great. Well, that`s good to know. We got extra information, a little bit of a laugh during what are obviously hard times for so many.

MORIAL:  Thank you.


MELBER:  Thank you, sir. Thank you, Doctor.

When we come back, something very special we have been talking about. The economy, where`s it headed, the small business relief crisis, Donald Trump`s response to this virus, well, Mark Cuban live on THE BEAT when we come back.


MELBER:  Here is a basic fact.

The greatest problem for the greatest number of Americans right now is not technically contracting this virus. It`s losing your job because of the pandemic, a problem that now has hit a staggering 26 million people, from small businesses to the gig economy to also, of course, major corporations and institutions.

So let`s start like this.

Do you remember where you were on March 11? That was one day that brought home how fast things were suddenly changing. Several sports leagues shutting down their seasons. Tens of thousands of related jobs in peril.

My next guest was at his job, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. He was actually with his team in the very middle of a game when the urgent news came in the NBA was suspending the whole season. In fact, we are going to show you. Here was Cuban taking in the sudden news like everybody else.

This is shot right from when it happened in real time.


MARK CUBAN, OWNER, DALLAS MAVERICKS:  This is crazy. This can`t be true. I mean, it`s not within the realm of possibilities. It just -- it seems more like out of a movie than reality. It`s really not about basketball or money.

You think about your family. You want to really make sure you`re doing this the right way. What about all the people who work here on an hourly basis? We will put together a program for them.


MELBER:  There are many ways to measure all the responses to a crisis as it hit all these different countries and institutions and economies.

We have covered this. The WHO made some mistakes, but it was ahead of many countries, including the U.S., where the Trump administration lagged behind what the WHO was saying medically. Sports leagues, like the NBA and NHL, they didn`t have private intelligence briefings, like the president, to shape their decisions.

But we should note they still came out more decisively in shutting down and protecting many impacted people than Donald Trump.

Now, consider what Donald Trump said the very same day the NBA shut down, as well as throughout the rest of that week.


TRUMP:  The vast majority of Americans, the risk is very, very low.

Other countries that are smaller countries have many, many deaths; 32 is a lot; 32 is too many. But when you look at the kind of numbers that you`re seeing coming out of other countries, it`s pretty amazing when you think of it. So...

But we have done a great job, because we acted quickly. We acted early. And there is nothing we could have done that was better than closing our borders to highly infected areas.


MELBER:  Joining me now is entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban. He also owns the Dallas Mavericks and is one of the main invest owners on that reality show you have probably seen "Shark Tank."

Thanks for joining me, Mark.

CUBAN:  Thanks for having me on.

MELBER:  Let`s start with what we just showed. How do you rate the president`s handling of this virus, in comparison to, say, the NBA and those kind of institutions, and overall?

CUBAN:  You know what? I`m not going to second-guess. What`s done is done.

What I care about is what`s happening next. What I want to know about is, where is testing going to come from? How are we going to get it implemented? How are we going to do tracking and tracing? Are we going to have a federal jobs program that employs millions of people that we need right now to do that tracking and tracing?

You know, he was dealing with imperfect information. We know who he is. I didn`t expect a whole lot. But what are we doing next? That`s what I care about.

MELBER:  Well, part of what we`re doing next, of course, will inform on what happens on the economy.

Your view of the economy right now, and how do you get it moving again within these restrictions?

CUBAN:  I think we should learn from what worked.

If you look at what we have done for restaurants in particular, we have allowed pickup and delivery. And we haven`t had any real problems. And I actually talked to some restaurant, and I know a lot of smaller ones aren`t doing well. But some pickup and delivery, some restaurants have done really well with pickup and delivery.

Why not extend that to any company in the United States? So any company that wants to offer pickup and delivery exclusively, open up right now. But when we get to opening up a retail location, that`s a completely different matter, and I will tell you why, because we don`t have protocols in place to guide those small or medium or large-sized retail businesses to tell them what to do to deal with sanitation and just -- I will give you a simple example, right?

It`s a clothing store. And Ari walks in and he wants to try on a T-shirt, tries it on, puts it back, decides he doesn`t want to buy it. What do you do with that T-shirt? You can`t just put it there for the next person to buy.

MELBER:  Right.

CUBAN:  Somebody goes into a restaurant...

MELBER:  Well, wait. Mark...

CUBAN:  ... takes -- has their mask, sneezes, what are you going to do?

MELBER:  Does the example change if I want to try on a pair of Yeezys?


CUBAN:  He is a billionaire. He can let you just keep them. He`s rich now.

MELBER:  He is.

Does -- hey, you know, Forbes says -- I know you keep track of this stuff. Forbes says Kanye is now a billionaire. Do you think he has more money than you, since he brought it up?

CUBAN:  You know what? I hope, for his sake, he does.


MELBER:  Well, let`s get into this practical part, because we prepared you to talk about exactly what you`re saying. You`re a practical businessperson.

Sometimes, we got someone who claims help was in business in the White House. Of course, a lot of what he was in was entertainment. And then we have government, which I will admit, Congress is full of lawyers. They know certain things, like laws. But you`re talking about the reopening.

Here is what the federal guidelines now say about phase one reopening.

Large venues, like the sit-down movie venues, sporting venues, places of worship, have strict physical distancing protocols. As you know, that`s basically prevention. You can`t do a sports venue like that.

CUBAN:  Right.

MELBER:  Gyms can open if they have strict physical distancing and sanitation. You just mentioned that. Bars must remain closed.

With your entrepreneurial experience, does that strike you as right for business, or do you think there is a way to continue to innovate following CDC guidelines?

CUBAN:  I think it`s really limited, and it`s almost useless, right?

I mean, look, again, what does a small restaurant need to know in order to keep their patrons safe? What do the employees need to know so that when they go to work, they feel safe?

What the CDC has presented is commonsense things that we have been seeing, but it doesn`t really protect employees or customers at all. I need to go - - I think it needs to go much further. Then we can start to talk about opening up the retail side of it. But right now, we`re woelly underprepared.

And we need -- whether it`s state or federal, there needs to be very specific protocols in place to build confidence and protect employees and customers.

MELBER:  Well, you mentioned state and federal. A lot of this obviously is the state level. That`s why the president running his mouth about what he will allow or not allow governors to do is irrelevant. It literally has no legal significance, because governors make their own call.

CUBAN:  Yes.

MELBER:  To that end, where you do business, in Texas, I want to show Texas Governor Abbott, how he has been discussing handling it in your state. Take a look.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX):  All retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls can reopen May 1.

I am limiting occupancy to no more than 25 percent. The extent to which this order opens up business in Texas supersedes all local orders.


MELBER:  Do you disagree with that approach?

CUBAN:  It`s kind of showmanship.

The reality is a retail store trying to open up or any large venue trying to open, whether it`s a mall, theater, whatever it may be, when you have to restrict to 25 percent, it`s going to cost you more to open up than anything you would actually bring in revenue.

Now, the pickup and delivery, they did extend to any company, which I liked, as I said earlier. But it`s just -- like I said, it`s a marketing. It`s gamesmanship. Maybe a couple of businesses can open up.

But, Ari, what we`re really missing is, because demand is going to be so much less than it was before, just trying to follow some of these guidelines, these small businesses are going to lose more money by opening up for retail.

And nobody is giving them any help. Nobody is giving them any guidance. There should be support there. And, again, nobody is standing up for employees.


CUBAN:  Who is going to -- what are the employees going to do if they feel the pressure to come to work, but they don`t feel it`s safe? Who do they turn to? Who do they talk to?

And, again, that`s why I keep on harping on very specific protocols to protect everybody.

MELBER:  Yes, that makes sense.

And you mentioned the help. We have been reporting on these terrible stories about both the problem at state and federal level of getting even basic unemployment help, even getting through with the systems, getting the small business loans.

A lot of people pointing out, we shouldn`t even call them small business loans, when you look at some of who was able to come in there, sharks in the bad sense of the word.

CUBAN:  Right. Yes, no question.

MELBER:  Get it. Get what I`m saying there?


CUBAN:  Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

MELBER:  You got it. I slow down the bad jokes. It`s just something I do.


MELBER:  But let me show you, in all seriousness, this includes, you know, some of your contemporaries.

They offer these small business loans, and some companies -- you know where I`m going with this -- they use it as a loophole to say that because technically the Lakers have some lower number, they got their lawyers to put in now.

Then they backed off it with bad press. Potbelly, Shake Shack. You have heard the stories. Number one, do you think the people involved in those organizations were wrong to try to get that money, even if -- and I will be fair and accurate about it -- even if technically it was legal?

CUBAN:  You know, initially, no, I would say they weren`t wrong, because I think the expectation was, there was enough money for everybody.

But the minute you find out there are a lot of small businesses that weren`t able to get funding, if you didn`t return the money, then you`re a bad actor. Right? And I know the Lakers did return the funding. I think some of the other companies that were listed returned it as well.

And now they excluded those companies in the second tranche, which is the right thing to do. But the real problem, Ari, is that the smallest companies didn`t have an equal shot, because the banks, particularly the bigger banks controlling most of the applications, had all the control over who got the money and who didn`t.

My personal preference, it should have gone to a lottery.


MELBER:  You know -- yes, a lottery.

You know so much this. How do you fix that? You`re in this crisis. So you`re not going to rewire the entire underlying banking financial system. But a lot of Americans are feeling like it`s 2008 redux, where the banks are always being told, oh, well, the banks, they`re critical, they`re mission critical, and we have to put up with it.

So you were just mentioning a lottery. How exactly, practically, would you want to fix this?

CUBAN:  Well, first, you do some math, right? How many small businesses are there, the decline in their business, that`s the total you`re going to need, right?

So you start there. But if you can`t get that amount appropriated, in terms of a lottery, when any business applies to any bank, once they take and approve the application, they send it to the government, the SBA or the Treasury.

That Treasury says, we`re going to take the first 50,000 companies and we`re going to choose them randomly. That way, everybody`s got an equal chance. Once we choose the 50,000, we will see what the total amount is. Then we will do it again until the money`s gone.

Now, realize that we have done this twice now. We`re going to have to do it many more times, because this is not enough. The catch-22 for a lot of these small companies is that they are going to be able to pay their employees for eight weeks, but chances are, they`re not going to be able to get open for eight weeks in a lot of jurisdictions, right?

And so now they`re paying their employees to do nothing. Their employees, where they can get unemployment insurance, are actually getting paid more in unemployment, so they can`t get them to come back a lot. So they`re in this catch-22.

We have got to sit down and have somebody truly understand small businesses, who truly understands the predicament that small businesses and their employees are in, and just look at the actual numbers.

Having to go through banks when you were in a rush to get money in people`s hands, I understand why they did that. But now that we have been through this twice, let`s optimize it and get it right.

MELBER:  Really, really important point.

I want to show a little Joe Biden before I let you go, real quick.

CUBAN:  Sure.

MELBER:  We talked about different leaders. We talked about the Texas governor.

Here`s how Joe Biden has been talking about the pandemic.


JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This new enemy may be unseen, but we have the tools, the expertise, and, most importantly, the spirit to defeat it.

But we need to move, and we need to move fast.


MELBER:  The vice president there campaigning from home.

What do you think of how he`s doing? Will he get your vote in November?

CUBAN:  You know, depends on who the final two candidates are.

I`m obviously not a fan of the president`s at all. So, right now, I`d say yes. But, at the same time, we need leadership. And we`re not getting it anywhere.

I think Vice President Biden has been too silent. He`s been too quiet. He`s not really offering solutions in a way that builds confidence. And so, look, I know this is a tough time. You don`t really -- he doesn`t want to be seen as taking advantage of a tragedy like this.

But this is where we need leadership. And I say it all the time. You don`t have to be the leader to be a leader. And somebody needs to stand up and put their voice forward a lot louder and a lot more strongly than what we have been seeing, speaking up for the workers, speaking up for small businesses.

This has got to be a bottom-up recovery. This has to be a consumer-driven recovery. We have to get out of the top-down approach. And I haven`t heard anything approaching anything like that from any candidate.

MELBER:  Yes. Really interesting, getting you to cover a lot of ground. I`m out of time.

This was your first appearance on THE BEAT. Mark Cuban, I hope you will come back.

CUBAN:  Yes. Yes, sir.


CUBAN:  And I will have some hip-hop references for you next time.

MELBER:  Just -- you know, Mark, just be yourself. That`s the success secret.

CUBAN:  Hey, I`m not even going to start rapping. I`m not even going to go into any of that, right?


MELBER:  Well, you seem like you`re doing all right.

Mark, I do appreciate it. Thank you.

CUBAN:  Thanks, Ari.

MELBER:  We`re over on time. I`m going to fit in a break.

I will be right back.


MELBER:  We have been looking for a lot of different ways to deal with the current moment.

And one thing extra that we`re doing is special tonight, and I want to tell you about it. Take a look.

Tonight, I`m going to go live on Instagram with "Late Show" band leader and an amazing jazz musician Jon Batiste.

You go to @AriMelber on Instagram, and we will see the whole thing live for you, talking music, COVID and a whole lot more. That`s around 7:45 p.m. Eastern tonight.

Please come visit us.


MELBER:  I`m Ari Melber.

You have been watching THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER. And we appreciate you tuning in.

That does it for our hour, but I will see you back here tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. I hope you tune in.

Stay informed, and stay safe.

Keep it right here on MSNBC.