IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

CDC rules TRANSCRIPT: 5/6/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: S. Lee Merritt, Joe Kennedy, Katty Kay, Karen Tumulty, Jennifer Jacquet, Marq Claxton, Megan Ranney

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

We cannot report tonight that America`s virus curve is dramatically flattening. We do know the Trump administration formally told states, and thus the country and you, that states should wait weeks until the curve drops before going through reopening.

And yet, despite that, here is President Trump today:


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can`t keep our country closed down for years, and we have to do something. And, hopefully, that won`t be the case, John, but it very well could be the case.

We can`t have our whole country out. Can`t do it. The country won`t take it. It won`t stand it. It`s not sustainable.


MELBER: Now, there is science behind waiting longer to reopen in many places. The president pushing, obviously, the way.

As we have seen more states reopen, we can actually assess in realtime -- and it is a grim process, believe me, but we can assess what this does when you reopen in different places. We are seeing spikes in different parts of the country.

This chart is courtesy of "The New York Times." You see New York on the left, the epicenter of the breakout, in a state that has been under these stay-at-home orders. The case number, though, is coming down, even in that hard-hit area on the left. That is the slope you see.

Now look to the right. That`s the rest of the nation, which is confronting a growing surge. You can see the curve of new cases in New York down very clearly. And you see the rest of the curve up.

And let`s be clear. Most of the people in most of the country don`t want to live in what New York looked like over the past few weeks, and yet the red arrow you see is a sign to varying degrees of what we may be in for.

This is real. This is serious. This is what we`re facing.

Now, let`s take a look at one example of a populous state, not the same as New York, but has a lot of people, has some big metropolitan areas. We`re looking at Texas. Today, we are getting a little extra insight into how Texas is figuring this out. It`s a tough call, as we have covered, for governors in every single place.

But there is some leaked audio. This was a conference call with legislators in that state. So, this is state-level policy-making. And you have the governor there, Greg Abbott, who basically says to the people who he`s working with that he admits the virus will continue to be spreading and thus potentially increasing after Texas reopens.

I want you to know, because we always want you to know what you`re seeing and hearing, the source of this audio was put out by a progressive organization, that is to say, probably pretty critical of Governor Abbott in general.

But what you`re looking at looks to be quite realistic and quite valid, because a representative who we checked with for Governor Abbott`s office isn`t disputing what you`re about to hear, that he said this.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Pretty much every scientific and medical report shows that, whenever you have a reopening, whether you want to call it a reopening of business or just a reopening of study in the aftermath of something like this, that it actually will lead to an increase in spread. It`s almost ipso facto.


MELBER: Ipso facto, automatic. And Texas is seeing the case of these cases rise as it reopens various parts of life, including, in the way they`re doing it in that state, malls, movie theater, dine-in restaurants.

So this is what governors are up against. And, unlike the president, some of them are publicly acknowledging the trade-offs. Others are holding back on fully reopening.

There is a range of ways to do it. This is tough.

I want to also tell you that the president was meeting with a different governor, this one from Iowa, a state that actually didn`t go very far from shutting down to begin with. And, again, it is grappling with the consequences.

These are policy choices, and they have real life-and-death consequences. Iowa`s latest numbers show the rate of infection growing, with over 10,000 cases to date.

The state`s meatpacking plants were forced to close, because there were 1,600 workers who were sick across four plants in the state. This is obviously very real life for everyone who works in that kind of plant, who knows someone there, who lives with someone there. These are all real decisions, real policy trade-offs.

Now, we were actually speaking, again, because we have been trying to keep up with this on the ground around the country, with the mayor of Sioux City, Iowa, one of the hardest-hit places. Take a listen.


BOB SCOTT (I), MAYOR OF SIOUX CITY, IOWA: A lot of people want the get out, get moving, get things going, and a lot of others are very scared about what the results will be if we go too quickly.

MELBER: And so what are you telling your constituents day to day right now?

SCOTT: Be vigilant. Stay at home, if you possibly can. Wear a mask. Do everything -- continue to wash your hands. Continue to do everything you can to stay safe.


MELBER: To begin our coverage tonight, we are joined by Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts -- they have a statewide mandatory face mask order that`s actually going into effect today there -- Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician and professor of emergency medicine at Brown University, and Katty Kay, Washington anchor for BBC News.

Thanks to all of you for joining.

Doctor, how do you contrast just two leaders we showed there, the president basically playing down the idea that there is a trade-off to be made, saying, hey, it`s inevitable, we have got to get back to work, and the Texas governor in a moment that he may have thought wasn`t going to be on television, admitting that, when you reopen, your infection rate goes up?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, RHODE ISLAND HOSPITAL: So I think there are two important things to take away from that, Ari.

The first is, this virus is not behind us. It is not in the rear-view mirror. We have not vanquished it. It is still amongst us.

And, as we reopen -- the Texas governor is correct -- we are going to see increased spread. That said, most public health professionals are not calling, as Trump claims, for a forever shutdown of our country. We, like everyone, are anxious to protect the mental and emotional and economic health of Americans.

What we are asking for is a science-driven reopening, where we have adequate testing, we have adequate protective equipment, we have adequate access to hospital beds. And the fear is, is that, when we reopen, based purely on emotion, and not based on science, without providing that scientific underpinning for the reopening, we are putting lives of Americans at risk.

MELBER: Congressman?

REP. JOE KENNEDY (D-MA): Wholeheartedly agree with the doctor, right?

And that should be, I think, the stance of most of our policy-makers at this point. It is that we let science drive the day. Look, this is what Dr. Fauci said at the very beginning of this crisis, right, is, the virus is going to respond to science, not hope and aspiration.

And, look, I would love nothing more than to return to normal. I think all of us would. But the reality is, as you so eloquently said, these decisions have life-and-death consequences. And you can`t be playing around with matters of life and death.

Last point here real quick. I was in Chelsea, Massachusetts, yesterday, which is one of the communities that had been hardest-hit by this as community in the country. I have never seen a longer line for food in my entire life in all of my travels and my time living in the developing world.

The impact that this is having on our communities that is going to be felt for years is very real. The idea that policy-makers would somehow do something that would allow for this to spike up again is just unconscionable.

MELBER: You`re talking about what you`re seeing in your work, constituent services, out with the people you represent.

And on that point, Congressman, take a listen to some of the on-the-ground report we have from how hard-hit people are in small businesses.


GLYNIS DONNELLY, FLORIDA SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: I have delved into my savings account to pay for my employees, and I will continue to do so.

WELDON BOYD, SOUTH CAROLINA SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: Half my people still can`t even get paid from the state. We have done everything on our end.

LARISSA BOUSHEE, NORTH DAKOTA: It`s really hard, because I don`t know when I will get another job, and I also don`t know if I will get unemployment. So it`s been a very difficult time.


MELBER: As you`re saying, Congressman, it`s very hard for so many people out here.

And I`m going repeat myself, as we do sometimes in the news. These are all people who played by the rules, who went to work, paid their taxes, did their jobs, all of that, and 30 million-plus out of a job not because they weren`t doing a good job, not because, oh, they took a bet on a business that just didn`t work, no, because of this macro-health crisis that is none of our doings.

What do you see as the ethical obligation, then, of government, of Congress, when you see these stories, how hard it is for people, and yet you`re saying the science requires even more hardship before we get out from under?

KENNEDY: So, let`s be clear about a couple of point there, right? It`s not so much that they didn`t do anything wrong. It`s that they did exactly what they were supposed to do or what they have to do.

The reason why Chelsea has an infection rate from this virus from known cases, right -- and that`s a massive underestimate -- but as of last week, was nine times higher than the state average. Why? It`s a largely immigrant population.

A higher percentage of essential workers, the folks that make the rest of our society run, yes, a lot of them live there. It`s the fact that you have got multigenerational households. It`s language barriers. It`s the exploitation that we actually see across so many segments of our society.

And then we turn around and say, oh, I`m sorry, you don`t even get access to the health care you need in order to prevent the spread of this virus.

And so what is the ethical response? One, there could not be clearer call to make sure that everyone gets access to health care in country, and that, particularly in a pandemic, that it`s not just insurance coverage. That means that you get treated and you`re not going to face bankruptcy.

We means we actually address the structural inequities.


KENNEDY: Go ahead.

MELBER: Since you bring that up, and we wanted to get into that, and then I`m going to bring Katty Kay in.

But I want to bring detail into this. We try to get into different aspects each night. You have got a bill here with about 30 other members of Congress, and you basically are saying, with millions stripped of health coverage around jobs, the jobs crisis, House Democrats want emergency expansion of Medicare and Medicaid.

So, specifically, what are you trying to do here?

KENNEDY: We`re trying to make sure that people get access to the health care that they need when they need it in the midst of a global pandemic.

And this not be earth-shattering. Right? I will defer to the doctor here. But, like, dear God, what are we supposed to be doing? So, the idea behind this deal, pretty simple.

If you`re unemployed, you get signed up for Medicare. And we have a drastic expansion of Medicaid, too, to make sure that every single person is going to be able to access the health care that they need to stop the spread of the virus, because if there is one essential lesson of this moment, it`s that I cannot guarantee my own health if somebody else might be sick and spreading this virus undetected.

And so my health depends on yours, and your health depends on mine. So let`s make sure we`re all healthy. That`s the goal.

MELBER: Understood.

We did a little medicine here. We did a little bit of government.

Katty Kay, I come to you for the journalism. Your views on all the above.

KATTY KAY, BBC: Look, I think America`s approach to reopening, it`s got to be this balance. Everywhere is dealing with the same thing, between protecting people`s livelihoods and making sure the people are as safe as possible when it comes to the risk from the virus.

I think what is unique about the United States is that this reopening process looks so haphazard, that different states are doing different things, and it doesn`t seem to make very much sense. It certainly doesn`t make very much scientific sense. There is no reason behind what it`s doing.

Why is Georgia opening tattoo parlors? Why is Texas opening shopping malls? And when you look at some of the countries who have done this before the U.S., it`s very methodical. So, Italy, for example, has just announced that it won`t open bars and restaurants until the reproductive rate of this virus is below -- is at 0.5, so each person only infects half another person.

It won`t open museums and theaters until the R0 rate is down to zero. I think people would be reassured to know that there was scientific method behind what was taking place. That would then give people the confidence to go into the places of business, because, at the moment, frankly, even those states that are opening up are finding that most people don`t feel confident about going back to visit those businesses.

MELBER: Understood.

Katty, I also wanted to play a little bit for you of the president. And this is unusual. Folks who follow the news know, even long before this pandemic, the president has certain places he goes, FOX News very often. He does some talk radio. And he made his points in the Briefing Room, attacking various reporters.

As Katty knows and as I think viewers may recall, it`s unusual for him to step out, kind of a campaign season thing. He`s going on network news. He went on ABC. Take a look at one clip.


DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: Do you believe that`s the reality we`re facing, that -- that lives will be lost to reopen the country?

TRUMP: It`s possible there will be some, because you won`t be locked into an apartment or a house, or whatever it is.

But, at the same time, we`re going to practice social distancing. We`re going to be washing hands. We`re going to be doing a lot of the things that we have learned to do over the last period of time.

And we have to get our country back.


MELBER: What do you think of both what the president is arguing and, as we head into the summer, what he is effectively doing as campaigning, get our country back?

You know, far be it from him to put the rhetoric aside for a global health disaster that is worth the death toll of 10-plus 9/11s. But what do you think of what he is doing here, Katty?

KAY: Look, I think the muddle that we have seen over the last 24 hours about whether the Coronavirus Task Force was going to be disbanded or not is so emblematic of the president`s own ambivalence about the guidelines that he himself put in place, that his White House instituted.

He has never really been behind them. Why didn`t he wear a mask when he toured Honeywell yesterday? Why has he been so anxious to say, you have got to reopen? It`s like he is giving with one hand and taking away with the other.

And I think that ambivalence is part of the problem. He wants to be in the mode of getting the economy going and the stock market back up again. That appears to be his priority. And every time he doesn`t wear a mask, every time he says liberate Virginia, he is undercutting the public health message that he is meant to be the prime proponent of.

And I think that`s really confusing for people.

MELBER: Really important.

I want to thank Katty Kay and Congressman Kennedy for kicking us off tonight. The doctor comes back for something special we`re doing later in the hour.

So, I will see you soon.

After the break, we have insiders now accusing Jared Kushner of fumbling the COVID response, detailing cronyism within his handpicked team.

And, as we were just touching on, this task force, what is its future, after Donald Trump`s own aides say it might be disbanded?

And, later, we`re going get into something you may have been thinking about, public shaming in the age of the coronavirus. It worked against Mike Pence, but how do you do it constructively? How do you do it in a way that helps more than it hurts?

That`s a special discussion we`re having.

And, later, outcry, as new video emerges of this deadly shooting in Georgia, the victim`s family explaining that this is individual was out for a jog, unarmed.

I have the family attorney with me, as a special and newsworthy guest on that important story later tonight.

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


MELBER: Who do you put in charge of the federal government`s medical search to deal with the virus?

Well, someone with no experience in the medical field or emergency response whatsoever. This is something we have mentioned before, but bears underscoring, that the president tapped his own son-in-law, who also serves as his adviser, Jared Kushner, to lead the search and development and deployment of medical supplies to fight the virus.

The results are in, and many people closest to this are reporting out that he failed, Kushner tapping volunteers that also, like him had, no actual experience in the federal procurement process, in medical expertise, in the very things you need know how to do, and fast. Talk about a learning curve.

"The New York Times" and "Washington Post" both have reports about how Kushner`s team was completely plagued and hobbled by both inexperience, as mentioned, and also a type of cronyism, members who had literally no background in health care or procurement or what can be complex supply chain operation decision-making.

One volunteer revealing that they were also told along this workload to prioritize VIPs on their spreadsheets, including FOX News anchor Brian Kilmeade, who called in with a tip, and FOX News host Jeanine Pirro, who repeatedly contacted task force members and FEMA officials until 100,000 masks were sent where, to a hospital that she personally favored.

One of the volunteers also exposing all of this to "The New York Times," saying -- quote -- "The nature and scale of the response seemed grossly inadequate. It was bureaucratic cycles of chaos."

A team member also filing a formal complaint with the House Oversight Committee. That is public because "The Washington Post" obtained it.

All of this comes as Donald Trump`s virus task force, which has been rumored to be, you know, closed down, well, maybe it`s going to be back on. Take a look at this. These are just two days apart.


TRUMP: Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job, but we`re now looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is safety and opening. And we will have a different group probably set up for that.

 I had no idea how popular the task force is, until actually yesterday, when I started talking about winding it down. It`s done such a good job. It`s a respected task force.


MELBER: That`s what it looks like when you contradict yourself, and the cleanup explanation is that this thing is -- quote -- "popular."

This is not a popularity contest.

The misinformation that the president circulated in the virus briefings is what hobbled them, which led to the discussion about ending the entire task force.

Now, let`s also remember that this is all coming, this back and forth, about whether to have a task force or have public briefings or whether the reality show version of it is popular enough to the president`s liking, it all comes amidst something that is serious as a heart attack, an insider, a vaccine expert blowing the whistle on President Trump.


DR. RICK BRIGHT, FORMER DIRECTOR, BIOMEDICAL ADVANCED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: We need strong leadership. Americans need to have all the facts. We cannot afford to silence and dismiss scientists in our country. There has never been a time in our life where their voice has been needed more. .


MELBER: A journalist who knows her way around these issues is "The Washington Post"`s Karen Tumulty.

She says it`s time for Jared Kushner to go.

We will find out exactly why when we`re back together in 30 seconds.


MELBER: We`re back with Karen Tumulty of "The Washington Post."

She writes in a blunt message that -- quote -- "We must all be saved from Jared Kushner."

Why do you make that case?

KAREN TUMULTY, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, you look at what`s happening at this moment, where the government stockpile of the kinds of equipment that our medical first responders needed was running empty.

The president hands this over to his son-in-law, to whom he`s already handed Middle East peace and building the border wall and criminal justice reform. I mean, basically anything that lands on the Resolute Desk, it seems like he hands to his son-in-law.

So, Jared Kushner, who has absolutely no expertise or experience in this area, brings in a bunch of people from the private sector who are coming in from venture capital and from management consulting.

They, too, have no expertise in the kinds of equipment needed or how to procure it. And so we see the inevitable, obvious thing that was going happen, which is, it got totally bungled, and there was cronyism on top of that. There was a VIP list where, if you were a Republican congressperson or if you were a FOX News host, your request and your suggestions got fast- tracked.

And a lot of people who were actually in the field who actually knew where to get ventilators and masks and other equipment were not getting their calls returned.

MELBER: Yes, and what you document is there`s two interlocking problems at least, nepotism, which since the dawn of time has been viewed as something to combat against public service, public interest, and then this generalized arrogance.

You could imagine a world where someone brings in the -- quote, unquote -- "best of the best," and they get Elon Musk and Bill Gates in here full- time, and it actually helps. But "The Post," "The Times," your piece alludes to it, documents this arrogant buddy list of people who weren`t helping.

Let me just read from your piece for viewers. You say: "Americans are facing a crisis of" -- I`m sorry. That`s the complaint to the White House.

I want to read from your piece, number two here in your article: "We are seeing now why government cannot and should not be run like a family business," you write. "In normal times, nepotism is merely corrupt, but in the moment such as the nightmare we`re living through, it can be fatal."

I just want you would to build on that point.

TUMULTY: Well, nepotism -- I think we have never seen a White House that runs on nepotism quite and a longtime cronyism in the way this one does.

But at a moment, you know -- and, again, it`s bad government practices normally in good times. But now we have people`s lives are on the line, not only the more than 70,000 Americans who have already died of this virus, but also the people that we need out there, health care workers who -- to sort of combat this.


And it`s just -- it`s all out in the open there. That`s the thing about it. We wanted to put a spotlight on your piece, Karen. I appreciate you joining me tonight.

TUMULTY: Thanks. I really appreciate you having me.

MELBER: A hundred percent.

Coming up: the power of public criticism and advocacy to change the behavior for the better, from the social distancing that we`re all experimenting with to when you who wear a mask. It`s a special discussion that I think could be useful.

And, later, we will be joined by the family attorney for the victim in that deadly Georgia shooting that is getting new attention with a new video. It`s an important story, and we will bring to it you later tonight.


MELBER: The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly changing how people live.

And it`s putting new pressure on personal behavior that can affect others, like when this pandemic first hit, and a Tennessee man was basically eying a business opportunity, as he viewed it, buying up 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, trying to make a profit by reselling them on Amazon.

You may have heard about the story, which drew a huge backlash, which then led him to back down, donate most of the stockpile and even offer a public apology.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If, by my actions, anyone was directly impacted and unable to get sanitizer from one of their local stores because I purchased it all, I am truly sorry for that.


MELBER: Now, notice something here. That public health dilemma was not addressed by the government or the police. That man was not fined or arrested. He was basically swiftly corrected by peer pressure.

We`re now seeing a similar dynamic, as the weather warms up and some public spaces are filling up, some people now criticizing and trying to shame people who appear to be violating these rules both online and in person with public shaming.

Then, of course, there are the efforts to shame the powerful. Vice President Pence leads this virus task force. He visited the Mayo Clinic last week without wearing a required mask that the other medical staff wore.

But the public criticism and swift shaming led him to say he was wrong. And he was conspicuously then wearing one two days later at a ventilator plant.

So, shaming can work, can even foster public health, when deployed thoughtfully.

And let`s be clear. There is an obvious difference between shaming a random civilian and a very powerful official running virus response. There are also some more subtle differences that we probably need to explore between shaming, say, extreme sweeping conduct, like depriving a whole neighborhood of the needed sanitizer, vs. overreacting to a single person taking a walk on the beach.

Now, researchers call the more enlightened version constructive shaming.

Professor Jennifer Jacquet is an expert in this field and notes in a new piece that shaming an institution can be quite effective, writing: "The mayor of New Haven recently shamed Yale University, his alma mater, for refusing the city use of their dormitories for medical first responders, stressing the nearby University of New Haven had said yes in the first five minutes."

Wait for it.

"Soon after, Yale reversed its decision" -- that from the piece, "Public Shaming Has Only Just Begun."

And its author, NYU environmental studies Professor Jacquet, joins us right now. She is also the author of the book, "Is Shame Necessary?" And for the medical perspective, we`re also joined by Dr. Megan Ranney.

Good to see both of you. Thanks for being here.

RANNEY: Thanks for having us on, Ari.


MELBER: So, professor Jacquet, let me start with you, having worked in this area.

We walked through some of those examples, including courtesy of you. What makes for the most effective shaming for public health?

JACQUET: Yes, thanks.

I mean, this is such -- it`s such a fruitful time for shame, and I think we all know how common it is in our daily lives and how uncomfortable it is right now.

It`s really easy to shame behaviors that are clearly observable and where there is a clear transgression. So, you have, you know, the gatherings of 10 or more or the social distancing of six feet or more or wearing a mask as really obvious points of behavior for shaming.

And I think you pointed out some people feel like shame has gone too far in some of these circumstances. There certainly are some problems there, and I don`t want to minimize those, but I think there is a lot of opportunity with shaming, and you have made some of those points already.

But this is a long fight, and we have a lot of opportunity to deliberate. And we need to be thinking about who is leading us really into harm`s way, aside from just our neighbors at this point in time.

So I think it`s up to smart people like you, Ari, but also, you know, a broader conversation about who do we want to shine the polite spotlight on and for what purpose and how exactly.

MELBER: Right. And that`s what we want to dig into.

It`s important what you say, particularly the nuance, and the doctor will weigh in as well.

I want to look at one dramatic shaming effort that you have kind of got to see to believe. It involves the Grim Reaper, never someone you want the see, on a Florida beach, with the self-proclaimed activist in Grim Reaper clothing. Take a look.




Yes, I`m here today to try to make a point that we need to -- I think it`s premature that we open our beaches. I think that the danger of bringing all the people here to our area and spreading the virus, and I think it`s going to prolong the recovery we have. It`s too soon. And it`s not appropriate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Daniel. Now, Daniel is going to be beginning his protest right now, and he is going to be at a bunch of other Walton County beaches throughout the day.


MELBER: Now, I will mention for viewers who may have just joined us, fact- check, that`s not literally the Grim Reaper, but it was someone trying to kind of dramatize this.

And so I guess first the professor and then the doctor. What is the best way for people to think about what works vs. kind of overdoing it?

JACQUET: Well, I really like that example. It`s a great one to choose.

It`s shaming a broad sweeping behavior, rather than a particular individual. So there is no clear victim of the shaming on the other end. And it has a kind of nice artistry to it, a cleverness. We`re sort of chuckling at it.

So I think that`s really great, again, for informing that kind of personal behavior. But I`d like to see a little more strategy in terms of bigger bang for your buck.

I like how you called out the whole state of Georgia recently for opening up too soon and putting its citizens at risk. And I think there is an opportunity. As the congressman was saying in the last episode, they`re wanting to push a bill through for emergency expansion of Medicaid for people who have lost their job in health care and to shame, I think, politicians who don`t support that bill in a clever way, perhaps not a Grim Reaper way, but something of that ilk.

And that kind of broad strategy that would help maybe the nation as a whole, rather than just a particular beach in Florida.

MELBER: Doctor, what do you think?

RANNEY: So I think the history of public health messaging shows that shaming, or, reframing it, changing social norms, is tremendously effective in changing behavior.

Jeremy Faust and I wrote a piece that was published in Slate yesterday talking about how we can change that public messaging effectively. And a big part of it is creating a normative meaning among our communities that we expect each other to behave appropriately, that we expect each other to practice social distancing, we expect each other to wear masks.

And you can think about that on the level of leadership, as Professor Jacquet just talked about, right? So, it can be about trying the get Trump or Pence or governors to demonstrate that they too wear masks, whether or not they`re infected.

But it`s also about all of us as individual communities having those discussions and reinforcing with each other that that`s what we expect each other to do. You know, you can think about it like with drunk driving. Back when I was a kid, drunk driving was talked about as bad, but we didn`t take people`s keys away. We didn`t create that kind of norm that you`re expected to call an Uber or to let someone else drive.

And those norms changed thanks to public messaging, thanks to the examples of influencers and celebrities, but also thanks to those changes within the community where now we would no longer accept one of our friends getting in a car after they have had a little too much to drink.

And that`s what we need here too. We need to people no longer accept that people will walk out in public without a mask, or that they will go and sit right next to each other if they`re not members of the same household.

So, changing those social norms are just critical for creating change and protecting our country.

MELBER: Yes, thinking about the history of other social movements that intersect with medical safety is a good example, Doctor.

And, as we quoted, Professor Jacquet, I thought what you wrote as well about the institution stuff is important. This shouldn`t devolve into a question of people just posting pictures of other random people and beating up on people who basically have very little agency or authority right now.

But when you talk about a public health institution, a university, the vice president, there is a lot of avenues where it can be, as you put it, constructive.

We`re just starting the conversation. I suspect we will be discussing this more in the days ahead.

Professor and Doctor, thank you both.

JACQUET: Thanks for having me.

MELBER: Appreciate.

Up ahead, what remote working sounds like if you are a Supreme Court justice. We have some very unusual audio.

But, first, an important story I mentioned to you earlier tonight. I urge you to stick around for it, because, when we come back, we are going to do an accountability check with a newsworthy guest discussing this quite disturbing video and story out of Georgia.

The attorney for the victim`s family when we return.


 MELBER: Turning now to an important story out of Georgia, where a killing was caught on tape.

This was 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. He is now dead, shot by two men while he was jogging in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon in February. And there is brand-new information about this right now, because a newly released video shows part of a scuffle and the shooting.

Now, as with any story like this, we must note we do not know everything that happened before the moment you`re going see in the video, which is a bit shaky.

At first, it`s hard to follow. But it also has what many experts say is key evidence.

Also, before I show it to you right now, I must warn you, this is graphic and disturbing.




MELBER: That is the new video of this shooting.

Arbery`s family attorney says the video shows that those two men there were the initiators and aggressors in the shooting, calling it a -- quote -- "lynching."

Now, there have been no arrests in this case since this all occurred in February. Two prosecutors recused over conflicts of interest.

We have also reached out to the police department for comment on this story.

Civil rights leaders pressing for an investigation now, criticizing the police for inaction already in a case that essentially involves armed white assailants killing an unarmed black man in broad daylight.

Now, for their part, the men involved in the shooting of Arbery insist that they acted legally. They say they reached their own conclusion that they believed Arbery had committed robberies previously in the area.

I also want you to know the first prosecutor to handle this case asserted that those men had available defenses of -- quote -- "citizen`s arrest and self-defense" in shooting this person.

Now, one of those two men, George McMichael, told police that they basically pulled up beside Arbery. The video actually appears to show the truck up ahead. You can see it appears to be waiting while Arbery was jogging towards it.

The police report states -- quote -- "The two men started fighting over the shotgun, at which point Travis fired a shot, and then, a second later, there was a second shot."

I`m reading that to you because that is what the police wrote down.

But now that the video is public, I want you to know it shows the first shot fired as this wrestling starts, and three shots fired overall.

Now, as the public scrutiny mounts, a new DA is vowing to bring forward evidence to a grand jury for possible charges stemming from this February shooting.

Now, before I bring in our guest, I want you to understand one more thing. As a legal matter, going to a grand jury is not the only way to move forward. As everyone knows from every police drama you have ever seen, the police arrest suspects all the time without waiting to go to a grand jury.

In addition, while Georgia has reopened nonessential establishments, like restaurants and beauty salons, the courts do remain closed due to the pandemic until at least June.

Joining us now on this important story is the attorney for Arbery`s family, S. Lee Merritt.

Thank you for joining me, sir.


MELBER: What is important for people to understand, based on the available evidence, in your view, about this case?

MERRITT: It`s important to understand that, for me, the amount of conflict that exists in the people responsible for prosecuting this case.

The reason that you have two men who have gone unarrested, uncharged, uninvestigated, really, after murdering a young man is because of the law - - the close law enforcement ties of one of the assailants.

MELBER: Your view is that the police`s apparent lack of interest or inaction in what was a shooting in broad daylight, an obvious police matter, with two identified suspects, is because there is some provable bias in the links between law enforcement, the DA, and these individuals?

MERRITT: Absolutely.

It`s -- obviously, if the shoes were on the other foot, if -- and I hate that his father had to say this, but if Ahmaud and his dad went out and killed a young white jogger that didn`t have law enforcement ties, they would be under -- at the very least arrested.

The idea that these men still remain at large, that the law enforcement community has said there is no evidence that they committed any crime at all, is really scary for the black community of South Georgia and across the country.

MELBER: Stay with me.

I want to bring in for this discussion Marq Claxton who is an expert that we have had on the intersection of these issues. He was an NYPD detective, a law enforcement analyst, and also has worked on these civil rights issues after leaving the force.

What do you see on the video, Mr. Claxton?

MARQ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: What I see is I think what everyone is seeing.

I have to agree to agree with you. It is obscene. It is troubling. It is disturbing. There are many elements that are painful to watch. Viewer discretion is definitely advised for watching that video.

But the second part that I understand to be true is that, it`s painfully and troubling, familiar -- familiar in the sense of the investigation and the prosecution tactics at this point is a very familiar pattern that appears to be playing itself out, which gives people a tremendous amount of angst.

I have to agree with Attorney Merritt that there is always -- because of the incestuous nature of the relationship, there is always a problem when you have police involved or law enforcement-related individuals involved in these cases, and then prosecutors trying to oversee them.

It is obvious, based on documentation, very limited documentation, that`s been made public up until this point that what we are witnessing, what we have witnessed up until this point is really the beginnings and the basis and the making of a continued cover-up.

It would have been quite successful, had there not been some full disclosure or some disclosure of this videotape. But it`s familiar to those of you who have seen this before. There have been many cases like this before, but this is very disturbing, and the video really, really emphasizes that point.

MELBER: As you mentioned, we`re working off the evidence.

And in a case like this, we don`t have all of the evidence. There is also, though, a partial transcript of the call to 911.

Detective Claxton, I want to read this to you, because the caller is identified as saying -- quote -- "He`s running down the street."

Dispatch says: "That`s fine. I will get police out there. I just need to know what he was doing wrong. Was he just on the premises and not supposed to be?"

The caller says: "He`s been caught on camera a bunch at night. It`s kind of an ongoing thing."

Detective Claxton, how does that call, assuming that it can be validly corroborated as made by one of the individuals involved in the shooting, how does that call get evaluated, in your view, of whether this was potentially, as they defend, a justified shooting, or not?

CLAXTON: That call, or at least the transcript for that call, should been included as evidence. It is one piece of evidence.

 And what you hope to do is to compile all of your pieces of evidence, whether they be forensic evidence, whether it be telephonic evidence, as that call is, et cetera.

And you try to recreate what has occurred and put together pieces of the puzzle, so you have a full picture, and you can make an informed decision about proceeding as far as prosecution is concerned.

What`s troubling here is that, in spite of the fact that the initial district attorney, Barnhill, had obtained this information, I`m sure the call, obviously the videotape, had conducted interviews, had ultimately decided that he would recuse himself, he still felt compelled, before recusing himself, to offer a legal opinion on the case itself.

And it spoke -- the letter speaks in terms of definitives. It`s concrete in his mind about the innocence of those individuals in this particular case. And those are the types of things that have people very troubled, very concerned and smelling something that doesn`t smell right here.


And, finally, Mr. Merritt, obviously, race hangs over all of this, Stacey Abrams and Joe Biden weighing in, Biden, of course, the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party weighing in on this, what is a local case with national implications, saying quite crisply today that he believes Arbery was -- quote -- "killed in cold blood."

And he asked for a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his murder.

Your response?

MERRITT: Well, I appreciate Mr. Biden weighing in on this.

We`re way past swift in this case. So, I have to strongly agree with him. We are way past swift, because this February 23 of 2020. And so we need an arrest today. And that`s something that can be -- that can happen.

The government -- I`m sorry -- the Georgia Bureau of Investigations can go out and send out officers. They don`t have to wait for the court to open up.

The FBI can step in, because we believe that this -- there are hate crime implications all over this case. And all those actions can happen right now.

MELBER: Understood.

And it is, as both of you have said, quite disturbing.

We mentioned that we contacted the police for comment. We included the defenses, as stated in the police report, of those individuals. This is definitely a story we will stay on.

So, S. Lee Merritt, thanks for your time.

And, Marq Claxton, as always, thanks for your expertise, sir.

CLAXTON: Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: Thank you both.

We will be right back.


MELBER: A few things before we go.

I want you to know, Michael Moore is on THE BEAT tomorrow night, along with some other great guests, so I hope you will rejoin us.

But the other thing I want you to know is, like many Americans, like many of you, probably, the Supreme Court has been working from home, for the first time ever holding phone hearings of oral arguments on these pivotal cases. This has been going on for days this week.

And today`s hearing included something that we believe to be a first in the history of the United States Supreme Court.

Someone forgot to mute while flushing a toilet.


ROMAN MARTINEZ, ATTORNEY: What the FCC has said is when the subject matter of the call...


MARTINEZ: ... ranges to the topic, then the call is transformed, and it`s a call that would have been allowed and is no longer allowed.


MELBER: You heard that right.

I guess it brings me to a Lil Wayne lyric I thought I`d never say on the news. Two words you never hear, Wayne quit. Flush, and watch them go down the drain quick.

And that does it for us. Good night.