Oscar-Winner Michael TRANSCRIPT: 5/22/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Michael Moore, Kevin Hart, Howell Raines, Daniella Gibbs Leger

PETER ALEXANDER, MSNBC HOST: The special live schedule begins right now with THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER.

Ari, have a great weekend.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, Peter. You too. And thanks for the special rundown of tonight`s lineup.

As Peter mentioned, we have a lot going on, and some very special stuff.

If you guys know me here on THE BEAT, I keep it real with you. I am thrilled about the show we have planned, because it`s a 90-minute episode of THE BEAT as we head into the long weekend.

And when we get 90 minutes, we go big with it. I`m going to explain to you everything we`re doing, a lot to get to.

Donald Trump breaking with medical guidance heading into the long weekend.

And, tonight, among other special guests, we have Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore.

We have the actor, comedian and entrepreneur Kevin Hart making his debut on THE BEAT tonight. He`s got a lot of ideas that he wants to get into that are relevant to the pandemic, a lot of different issues. And Kevin Hart is such a fascinating person. So it`ll be interesting to hear from him as part of the 90-minute show.

And, later, THE BEAT will actually turn to something that I think is so relevant. I`m not even going to tell you exactly what it is, but so relevant and inspiring, that we`re going to do in the next hour, in the end of our 90 minutes.

So, a lot to get to. We will tease it throughout the hour, of course.

But let`s get right to the news, Donald Trump calling now for everyone in every part of the country to focus on one part of reopening.

Let me explain to you what he`s saying. And then we`re going to get into the context. He`s saying, it`s critical to keep churches, synagogues, mosques, houses of worship open, even if medical experts say otherwise. He`s threatening now to say he would get involved in this.

And you may recall this as an echo of other threats he`s made overpowers he doesn`t actually have.

Houses of worship, of course, are going to figure out as they go what to do. All this comes a day after Donald Trump said he would not close the country, even if there is a second wave. Donald Trump`s handling of this crisis also hitting a new low in polls, which the White House reportedly was hoping would improve by dialing him back from, of course, those briefings they used to regularly hold.

But the absence of the briefings hasn`t done politically what White House officials wanted. It hasn`t resuscitated Donald Trump. Meanwhile, Dr. Fauci says it`s not time to tempt fate by doing anything to reopen too fast.

As we like to do around here, we go right to our experts, beginning with Dr. Kavita Patel from the Brookings Institution, an MSNBC analyst for us, Daniella Gibbs Leger, an executive vice president at the Center for American Progress, and Howell Raines, who used to be executive editor of "The New York Times" and is a journalist we rely on often.

Doctor, I just want to ask the obvious question to you, as everyone hears these different headlines, which is, is there anything medical or sociologically prudent about focusing just on so-called houses of worship in the medical sphere?

Or, as some folks have already been pointing out, it looks more like some sort of political play by the president, because the guidance we have seen is generally about the number of people and the nature of the gathering, but not necessarily the content of the gathering.

DR. KAVITA PATEL, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, that`s absolutely right, Ari.

And recall that we have had kind of fits and spurts where people in houses of worship and faith-based organizations have actually been waiting for guidance, and the CDC released kind of a six-page very paltry set of guidance last week, then, because of lot of criticism, released kind of a 60-page guidance earlier this week that included a number of appropriate organizations, but noticeably leaving out houses of worship, to which many faith-based leaders actually said, look, we want to keep patrons safe.

We want to keep people safe. So tell us how to do it.

MELBER: Right. Right.

PATEL: And now you see this incredible injection of, I mean, just -- I don`t know how to characterize it any other way, Ari, but it`s just unfortunate going into Ramadan, going into Eid weekend, huge milestones, Memorial Day weekend.

We should be sending a clear signal about what`s safe, and what`s responsible for the public.

MELBER: And to be clear, Howell, as this doctor and others have mentioned, it`s not about the content of what people do in any given gathering.

I mean, Howell, I know you`re a Southern guy, right?

HOWELL RAINES, FORMER EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes.

MELBER: So, I could bet, if I wanted to bet, that if there was a Southern- fried barbecue gathering, you might be more interested in that then, I don`t know, a tofu parade, right?

And someone else might want to go to a synagogue, and someone else might -- and it`s fine. If people are obviously enthused about getting back to their lives and people are excited about different things, that`s fine.

But what the president has done, according to medical experts here, is make it about the -- literally the content of what people happen to be gathering for, which looks again, like politicizing something that -- I don`t try to do overstatement on the show, but politicizing something that, according to medical experts, is still a life-and-death decision about the guidance we give, Howell.

RAINES: Yes, Ari.

Well, one of the things about Southerners is that we now down here that religion can be a refuge for political rascals. And I think that`s what we might be seeing with Trump, because I don`t think he has any standing with the American people as someone who is sincerely religious.

And I think you touched earlier on the plummeting polls and the repeatedly proven management failures. I think what we may be seeing now in the decline of Trumpism is the beginning of the end of the process that began some years ago with the Tea Party, and this idea that political people go to Washington to deform the government, rather than run it for the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

And I certainly don`t think Trump, if he succeeds in this kind of unconstitutional power reach, can claim that packing the churches is the greatest good that could come for the greatest number of people, certainly not down here in the South, where we`re seeing the second wave already coming in.

MELBER: Right.

Let me bring Daniella in.

Your thoughts?

DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Oh, I agree 100 percent.

Like, there was nothing about this announcement today that had anything to do with science or anything to do with health. This was just about a ploy to his base.

And I want to be very clear about something. Poll after poll has shown that the majority of people and the majority of religious people want the country to open up in a safe and healthy manner. And what he did today was the exact opposite of that.

He`s speaking to a very small portion of his base. He`s hoping to use this as some sort of political cudgel against Democratic governors, and try to set up some sort of battle, instead of doing what a president should be doing, which is leading and caring about the health and wellness of all Americans, and not to pretend that he`s doing something because he`s particularly faithful and is -- and guided by the science, which neither of those things seem to be very true.

MELBER: As for the science, Dr. Patel, take a listen to Dr. Fauci. This is new today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: We are enthusiastic about reopening. And I think we can do it in a pace that would be reasonable. I don`t want people to think that any have of feel that staying locked down for a prolonged period of time is the way to go.

We had to do that when we had the explosion of cases. But now is the time, depending upon where you are and what your situation is, is to begin to seriously looking at reopening the economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Dr. Patel, when he mentioned the physical separation, how important is it, as we go into new phases in different parts of the country, for people to understand that as a prerequisite to doing this right, rather than what we have heard sometimes, which is on/off switch approach, as if, oh, we`re reopened, so go back to life.

PATEL: Right.

That`s -- the approach that we need to take is the one where science can actually help us reopen in a safer and, honestly, over the long run, in a more economically responsible way. So keeping social distancing in restaurants -- anything that looks like those crowded beaches or boardwalks or sidewalks is actually only going to take us further backwards.

And I think that doing as much as we want to with non-medical masks and keeping a distance, washing your hands, limiting gatherings -- you will hear guidance about 10 people or less, especially in the beginning. I think that`s exactly how we will kind of ease our way back into, Ari, it`s unfortunately a new normal.

It`s not going to be anywhere near what we experienced a year ago.

MELBER: Right.

PATEL: But it is going to give America a sense of recovery. And that`s critical, but we have to focus on this, and not try to be too ambitious in the reopening.

MELBER: All important points. We like to go to our doctors first.

And, Dr. Patel, as always, I really appreciate your expertise, your context, your judgment. We need it right now.

Take a listen, Howell. I want to play the president here. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It`s not right.

So I`m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential. If they don`t do it, I will override the governors.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: We dealt with and had a doctor explain why the president is medically incorrect in focusing on content.

Having said that, Howell, I want to dig into the other part of this, which for some may be an echo, familiar, but what does it mean to you, as someone who is a journalist who follows this stuff, not when we`re looking at ideological debate, of which there are many legitimate ones, but of a president who has found that he will just come back and claim powers he doesn`t have, perhaps because he`s so nihilistic, it doesn`t matter to him whether the actual thing gets done, when he does not have the power to override governors under the federal Constitution these matters, but he says that?

How should we view that? I ask you as a journalist.

RAINES: Well, nihilism is always a possible explanation with this president.

But I would also point out that this is the start of this campaign season, the summer campaign season.

MELBER: Sure.

RAINES: And it`s a dangerous time for incumbent presidents.

I traveled the country with Ronald Reagan in the summer of 1980. And you could feel him gain traction steadily on Jimmy Carter, and the summer is when you have to lay the foundation of a successful campaign. And Carter -- or -- excuse me -- President Trump pointing out the governors today I think was an interesting tell.

The governors, some of them are at 70 and 80 percent approval rating on their management of the crisis. He`s at 39 percent. And so what I think you`re seeing now is, people are beginning to understand that Trump`s big - - misleading statement that big government things are easy to run is simply not true. They`re difficult.

And what we`re seeing daily from Trump is a demonstration that, if the Pentagon ran according to Trump`s management principles, or if NASA ran according to Trump`s management principles, we could have lost World War II and we might very well not ever put a man on the moon.

MELBER: But, Howell, briefly, because I want to get back to Daniella, if he had been running NASA the whole time, perhaps at least some of those iconic spaceships would have been plated an imitation gold. That would be one upside.

(LAUGHTER)

RAINES: Yes, I think the sanitary facilities would have been very different too.

MELBER: It`s what we call on the other hand.

Daniella, I want to give you a final chance to respond.

GIBBS LEGER: Yes.

I think what we have here is a president who sees those same poll numbers. He`s on Twitter all the time. He sees people. He sees the news. He understands that the American people can see through his angry tweeting and understand that he has botched the response to this pandemic from the very beginning, and that his botched response to the health crisis has caused an economic crisis.

And so now what I feel like we`re entering is not just the heat of campaign season, but the heat of Donald Trump throwing everything against the wall to see what might fit to help his poll numbers, when really what would help is if he was a competent leader, which clearly he has proven that he is in three years.

MELBER: All important context.

Thanks to Daniella and Howell.

Up ahead, we have new insights into this pandemic`s economic toll, such a big part of the story, but also what can be done about it.

Tonight, we also have Oscar winner Michael Moore here live talking a lot of these issues. He obviously knows a lot about the health care markets, where he`s done a documentary, environment and more.

There are new developments in the case we have been reporting, evidence in the Ahmaud Arbery case, a third murder arrest. The family attorney joins me at some later point tonight, because we`re doing so many things.

And, also, making his BEAT debut, I want you to know, comedian Kevin Hart is going to join me. I expect we`re going to get into all kinds of things, like 2020, politics, maybe even a little bit of The Rock, and a bunch of other things I`m going to tell you about as we go through this special 90- minute edition of THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Where`s the coronavirus hitting American workers the most? The answer actually turns out to be on this one almost everywhere, because 43 states have clocked their highest unemployment rates ever on record since we have been keeping modern records.

The worst would be Nevada at 28, followed right behind by Michigan at a whopping 23 percent. That may be part of why so many top Michigan officials have been feuding with Trump.

And that brings us to our next guests, a Michigan native and award-winning, Oscar-winning filmmaker, Michael Moore.

You can recall it all began with his documentary "Roger & Me," which dealt with the auto industry layoffs back in Flint, Michigan. He won an Oscar for his dissection of American gun culture in "Bowling For Columbine," and also took a cutting look at Bush foreign policy with "Fahrenheit 9/11."

He`s also dealt with so many other issues, including health care in "Sicko," which I mentioned earlier in the hour.

Michael Moore is here.

The new film is "Planet of the Humans," which addresses, among other things, climate change. He`s also the host of the "Rumble With Michael Moore" podcast.

As a Michigander, I want to get into all of it, but, first, did I miss anything? Thanks for being here.

MICHAEL MOORE, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: No.

Actually, the only thing you missed was, I need to make a confession to you. The last time I was there in the studio with you, before the lockdown, I swiped -- I swiped your mug, the mug you were giving me to drink from.

MELBER: Well..

MOORE: I felt bad about this.

So I just want to say that, if you want it back post-pandemic, you can...

MELBER: No.

MOORE: I will bring it to you, although it will be -- it will have been 74 days in quarantine, so I don`t know if you want it back, but...

MELBER: You keep it, and I didn`t know you did it. I didn`t know you had that this interview.

But, also, that was a smart move, Michael, take a BEAT mug while there were in-person BEAT interviews. We have been going pretty virtual.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: It`s pretty cool for a cable news mug.

It`s high-end.

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: Let`s start with this news on Michigan, which, as mentioned, you know so much about there.

MOORE: Yes.

MELBER: And some were surprised to see Donald Trump do better there in 2016.

We`re seeing the state debate all of this. Your reaction?

MOORE: Well, first of all, he goes to the Ford Motor plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, yesterday, and the Ford executives insist that he wear a mask.

And the attorney general of Michigan had warned him in advance that it is the law that, if you`re going to be out in public or around people, you have to wear a mask. And he wouldn`t -- he would not do it. And there was quite -- from what I have heard from people there, Bill Ford, who is, I think, the great-great -- or the great-grandson of Henry Ford, the Ford executives were refusing to go out there with him until he did it.

And then, finally, he -- out of the range of the cameras, he put it on.

MELBER: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: You know this whole...

MELBER: Let me show you...

MOORE: And -- yes.

MELBER: ... for your reaction.

We had the attorney general you mentioned on last night. Take a listen to what she said about the moment you`re discussing.

MOORE: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA NESSEL, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: How disrespectful to come in and then to at least refuse to wear a mask publicly.

Leaders lead by example, and he is the poorest example of leadership that I think we have ever seen in this nation. And it sends a terrible message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Michael?

MOORE: Yes.

So, OK. So here -- here you have corporate executives, not necessarily my best friends, doing the right thing, trying to get him to do the right thing. And so he fake puts it on, and then as soon as they make the turn in front of the cameras, he whips it off.

But an autoworker got a picture of it for posterity. But it`s just so ridiculous. And he -- here`s the thing, Ari. I don`t understand. Maybe you get it.

But why is it -- he won Michigan. Why would he be behaving this way toward the state of Michigan? Why would he be threatening to withhold funds from the state of Michigan?

He will not call the governor of our state by her name. She`s that woman. I think that he -- I think he`s got a problem with a certain gender. And in our case in Michigan, it`s -- that`s our governor, that`s our attorney general you had on, and that`s our secretary of state, who`s a single mom.

That`s who`s running our state. And I think that, probably, he doesn`t do well with people like that. But, nonetheless, in the midst of all this, you have thousands of Michiganders with the coronavirus. I don`t know what the latest number is of those who have died, but it`s in the thousands.

And if you were running his campaign, is this what you would be telling him to do, to threaten to not send money, to not help, to battle the women who are running the state, that that`s how you`re going to win Michigan?

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: He`s almost creating a slam dunk.

MELBER: Well, to your point, we`re a long ways out, and we avoid the national polls, which don`t tell you much.

But the state polling gives you a snapshot.

MOORE: Yes.

MELBER: It`s early.

But, to your point, Biden`s up over five points in that state right now. He is struggling. And so there is that clash.

MOORE: Yes.

MELBER: I want to hit more than one thing with you. I want to make you a deal that I don`t know, because I have gotten to interview you before. I got to know you a little bit.

I don`t know if Michael Moore can make the deal I`m about to offer, OK?

MOORE: Oh, wow. Good. What -- does it involve...

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: Careful, Michael. Does it involve what?

It involves you giving a two-minute answer or less, which is a reasonable...

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: ... when you have been locked in for a couple months.

MELBER: Yes. Yes, exactly.

The reasonable idea is that I`m going to give you two minutes to respond both to your film and criticism of your film. And then, as we do on THE BEAT, we have the shortest break in TV news. We have a 30-second break.

When we come back, I have a different thing I want to get to you with. So, I hope you will try that.

MOORE: OK. Yes.

MELBER: Here`s a clip with your new film, as mentioned, talking about solar power. Take a look.

MOORE: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "PLANET OF THE HUMANS")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The efficiency of these panels is only about just under 8 percent.

If you happen to be NASA, and you happen to own a rover running around mars, they have very efficient panels. But we can`t afford those, and about a million dollars a square inch. We can meet the energy requirements for 10 homes over a year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, as a documentary filmmaker, you have a lot of quotes, a lot of sources.

MOORE: Yes.

MELBER: We know the nuance, but I want to let you address -- there`s been controversy. You`re often controversial.

But, specifically, some of the energy folks on climate change say, look, that very scene and scenes like it have -- they`re quoting things from over a decade ago. And others saying, it flies in the face decades of peer- reviewed science.

MOORE: Yes. Yes.

MELBER: Your response to the views of some that you might call green or you call them whatever you want, that they say, basically, you have your right to your views, but some of this, they say you have gotten a little off the science.

MOORE: No, no, the people who are called green capitalists, they don`t like the film, because we point out that a certain section of the environmental movement has gotten into bed with Wall Street, with corporate America.

And all the oil and gas companies all have their green divisions now. You never see big oil and gas running a commercial on cable news attacking green energy.

That`s because they have been trying to buy it up and control it and control the movement. And that`s really what the film shows. So, some people have been upset at us showing that.

All the facts in the film, I have -- for all my films, I put a fact-check bible on the site, where you can -- like, it`s footnoted. It`s hard to footnote during a movie, but I footnote every fact in the film.

And those solar panels you just showed there in Lansing, Michigan, look, because we started filming this 10 years ago, those are still there. Those -- they are about 8 percent efficient. The new solar panels are now 16 percent efficient.

This is why we`re losing the battle against climate change, because we`re - - after all these years, we`re only at 16 -- if your cell phone was only working 16 percent of the time, what would you call that?

Not a cell phone. You would be -- the fact that we have not won this battle -- and this is the main point of the film, that we are losing it. We were not supposed to go above 350 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. Remember?

We were told, if we went past three -- James Hansen of NASA told us this over a decade. If we go past 350, that`s it, we can`t reverse it, we can`t make it better.

Today, we`re at 417 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. We have lost, or at least we`re are losing, seriously losing the battle against climate catastrophe.

And that`s -- my -- this film...

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: I want to cash in my deal. I want to cash in my two-minute deal.

MOORE: Yes. OK, what`s the deal?

MELBER: Because I work here.

And the deal was, so you -- that`s part of your answer. And what I`m hearing you say that`s important, for folks following us that can see the film themselves in its entirety, is, you see this as an intramural debate.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Yes, you see this as an intramural debate within good-faith arguments over how to deal with climate science and stop the Earth from getting so hot, we can`t live on it, whereas it`s -- there`s other forces here that are denying the climate science entirely.

And so this is intramural in that way.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: I wanted to get your response to that, but, also, I have a 30- second break.

And then I`m going -- I`m going to get into, Michael Moore, Michael Moore, an issue that I`m hearing more and more about, which is whether Donald Trump could potentially abuse power to interfere with this next election.

MELBER: We have news on that when we`re back in 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We`re back with Michael Moore.

The final thing, the president continues to go after mail-in voting. That`s an issue in many key states, as you know.

He was debunked, interestingly, by Chris Wallace, of all people, on FOX News, saying, the plot itself may not work -- quote, unquote -- "politically" because there`s not necessarily a clear indication of who it helps when you when you restrict mail voting, as opposed to other types.

But final question to you. Your concern about that. And, as someone who has always been tough and loud and clear about your politics in public, what do you think people like you, fellow liberals should do if Trump is playing games in 2020 with voting?

MOORE: He has to be fought tooth and nail. There can be no compromise with him now.

I can see, I think you, others can see what he`s up to here. He is trying to do a number of things to make the election go in his favor by rigging it, by trying to make it uncomfortable or uneasy, or if the virus is still going on in November, that people are -- I don`t know why -- first of all, I don`t know why he would oppose this, because it seems like a lot of seniors, who are his -- that was his strongest demographic -- why he would oppose making it easier for them, so that they don`t have to go to a polling place and maybe get the virus.

It -- a lot of stuff doesn`t make any sense right now. But I have learned, in terms of how we lost to him last time, how he won the White House by losing the election, to not take him for granted.

And every move he`s making, whether it`s getting rid of the inspector general`s, so that there`s no watchdogs in these last six to nine months, whether it`s the business with the post office, what whatever he`s doing and what he`s up to, suggesting that maybe we postpone the election because of the virus, we must not postpone the election.

We must make it easy for every American to vote.

MELBER: Right. And I wanted...

MOORE: And we must not be afraid of men carrying guns in our state capitols.

MELBER: Michigan.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: In Michigan and...

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: I wanted to get you on that. I will have you back.

MOORE: They`re the minority.

MELBER: Viewers of this interview could be confused into thinking I was cutting you off, when, in fact, I tried to give you a lot of time, because it`s always fun to have you on the show, sir.

MOORE: No, no, you were great. No, no, thank you. Thanks for having me on.

MELBER: Thank you, Michael.

MOORE: And voices like mine aren`t often heard, so you let them be heard. And I thank you for this gift.

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: Perfect sign-off.

The film, again, is "Planet of the Humans."

We`re going to fit in a break.

We have so much more in this special 90-minute episode of THE BEAT, including breaking down what really happened and what really matters in an interview that, if you haven`t heard about it yet, you`re going to hear about it on Memorial Day weekend, because it is a very controversial exchange with Joe Biden and this radio host.

And I want to get into what matters when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I`ve been critical of you. I have a few things I want to talk to you about.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know you have. You don`t know me.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: No, I don`t. That`s why I wanted to get to know you today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That was the tense beginning of a new interview where "Breakfast Club" radio host Charlamagne pressed Joe Biden on his agenda for civil rights issues.

And it ended in a moment that`s lighting up the race today.

And before jumping into this controversial part of it, which is the first clip you would probably see when searching about this on the Internet, right now, let`s report out the substance of this clash, because it matters.

Let`s go beyond one sound bite or one headline, because it matters.

First, there`s a history. "The Breakfast Club" is a very popular radio show, especially with many Democratic and black voters, and it frequently presses candidates. Top primary candidates made the stop there this year.

And this same host, Charlamagne, has had pretty tense exchanges with other candidates from Cory Booker to Hillary Clinton.

Second, this clash I`m about to walk through with you that`s making waves, it`s not just about words. These questions are digging into a long-running issue in Democratic politics. Do some elites take black support for granted?

Charlamagne pressing that by quoting other Democrats who have advocated Biden should put a black woman on his ticket this year, and asking if voters are owed that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Do you feel like black people are owed that from the democratic party?

BIDEN: Absolutely. What did I say? Remember when they said Biden, can`t win the primaries?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yes.

BIDEN: I kicked everybody`s ass. Excuse me.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: No, more like that. I need you to say that.

You did what?

BIDEN: No, no, I won overwhelming. I told you when I got to South Carolina, I won every single county. I won a larger share of the black vote than anybody has, including Barack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Biden citing his support from black voters in Delaware and this year.

But this cuts both ways.

To Biden`s point, it`s true he won over that support. He can certainly tout that support.

But many black Democrats have argued the point goes the other way, that it is because of this longstanding loyalty that they are demanding representation at the top.

Now, another argument may be that, look, nominees don`t always want to pre- commit to any particular profile for a future running mate. But Biden`s already done that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I will pick a woman to be vice president. There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow. I would pick a woman to be my vice president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So that undergirds this.

Then there`s the policy in this interview, the exchange over a crime bill that drove mass incarceration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Why so much resistance on admitting the crime bill and other legislation you are a part of was damaging to the black community?

Because we had Hillary on a few years ago, and Ms. Clinton said that the crime bill, we made a lot of mistakes with that, and she wanted to atone for that by becoming the next president.

Like...

BIDEN: She was wrong.

What happened was, it wasn`t the crime bill. It was the drug legislation. It was the institution of mandatory minimums, which I opposed mandatory minimums. I opposed...

(CROSSTALK)

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: I thought you...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Complicated debate.

The `94 crime bill did increase harsh sentencing. It was not only other drug legislation. And many legal experts say the crime bill went way too far. They have turned on parts of it.

And, politically, that also includes a lot of Democratic leaders, even some libertarian Republicans. So, Biden`s resistance to breaking with parts of that bill may stand out for people.

But other parts of that bill, to Biden`s point -- and he has said this in other forums -- are also embraced, like the Violence Against Women Act was also in that same old `94 bill.

A worthwhile debate. In fact, you could argue this whole exchange is what democracy and what pressing, pressured interviews are for, dig into the issues, hash it out bluntly, straightforward.

In fact, this interview was more substantive than many other things candidates have to do while running for office, and certainly more substantive than some questions that Joe Biden gets in other mainstream media appearances.

But then, at this sign-off -- this is the part getting all the attention right now -- things took a turn. Biden`s team, you will hear, was reiterating that the time was up. And Joe Biden needed the camera for her interview.

And then Biden did two things. He challenges the interviewer, Charlamagne, on choosing between Biden and Trump, and hammers the point home with a comment that everyone`s talking about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Thanks so much. That`s really our time. I apologize.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: You can`t do that to black media.

BIDEN: I do that to white media and black media, because my wife has to go on at 6:00.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: OK.

BIDEN: Ooh. Uh-oh. I`m in trouble.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Listen, you got to come see us when you come to New York, V.P. Biden.

BIDEN: I will.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Because it`s a long way until November. We got more questions.

BIDEN: You got more questions.

But I tell anyone, if you have a problem figuring out whether you`re for me or Trump, then you ain`t black.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: It don`t have nothing to do with Trump. It has to do with the fact I want something for my community. I would love to see you...

BIDEN: Take a look at my record, man. I extended the Voting Rights Act 25 years. I have a record that is second to none.

The NAACP has endorsed me every time I have run. The -- come on. Take a look at the record.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: All right, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

BIDEN: Anyway, thanks, I will come back.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: All right.

BIDEN: I look forward to seeing you in person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s how it ended.

Reactions pouring in. We could actually fill a whole show with them.

We will just share two for context.

A former Obama-Biden official who`s worked on diplomacy and civil rights, Patrick Gaspard, pushing back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK GASPARD, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH AFRICA: Those are not the kind of comments that one should make even in jest.

I have had the privilege of working directly with the vice president. I know that he`s a conscious, thoughtful person on these issues.

However, Vice President Biden is in no position to determine who is black enough or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Biden`s campaign first said the comment was in jest, but the fallout was large enough that Biden actually came back out today to address it.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BIDEN: And I shouldn`t have been such a wise guy. I shouldn`t have been so cavalier. I don`t take it for granted at all.

And no one, no one should have to vote for any party based on their race, their religion, their background.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MELBER: There`s the entire context.

Biden quick to walk back the comment, and people can make up their own minds about all of it.

The larger framework beneath the controversy, though, matters. This doubles back to the actually deeper exchanges we just showed you between these two people.

Charlamagne was asking about what leaders like Biden owe the black community, pressing for results, the same way that rich donors or lobbyists press for their debts.

Biden is citing his past support as a kind of defense, and then presenting the issue as -- quote -- "figuring out whether you`re for me or Trump" -- end quote.

But let`s listen here. Charlamagne and many other left-leaning voters and people affiliated with the Democratic Party, they`re not saying they can`t figure out if Trump is worse for them on policy. They`re pressing for results and representation, which is how politics works.

Biden and Charlamagne, if you pause and actually put aside some of the controversy, they actually agree that Joe Biden got where he is now with a lot of black support.

Facts.

They`re debating what that means. What does that imply? Biden is arguing it is his credibility he`s built over years that he wants to continue to build on. And he can make that argument.

Others are arguing, it`s more like a debt, with black voters holding a receipt, watching to see how it may be paid before November.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: As we all go through this pandemic, many days can feel like a balance between tracking the danger and seeking relief from it.

The CDC actually literally recommends taking breaks from the news and health information and just relax and do things you enjoy. It`s good for you.

So, consider our next guest a public health benefit and mood-booster, the ridiculously funny, super famous comedian Kevin Hart debuting on THE BEAT.

Kevin, I will see you in a moment, man.

Many know Hart`s success today. His journey, though, began by channeling his own adversities into laughter and relief, from making fun of himself, to joking about his upbringing as the child of a single mother and a father who battled substance abuse.

Hart has sold out some of the largest arenas ever used for stand-up. He`s done a string of movies you know, like "The Upside, "Night School," and "Jumanji," created and executive produced his own growing YouTube comedy channel.

And while you can`t measure everything through social media, it is notable that Hart is one of the most popular people in the world on Instagram, with 91 million followers.

I got to say, no shade, but that`s more than Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Amy Schumer combined.

Or, to put it another way -- we looked into this -- Kevin, if your followers were a country, it would be one of the top 20 largest nations on Earth, above England and Germany.

Now, Hart is not only entertaining people right now during quarantine. We also want to shout out that he`s joining efforts to raise money for virus relief, and also paying tribute to front-line workers with more than just a thank-you message. He`s surprising some with the opportunity to be in his next film.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN HART, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: Henry, I want to congratulate you. You are a winner. You have won this particular portion of the All-In Challenge.

My man, let me break this down to you. Let me get close. That`s my face getting real close.

Henry, you...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did I win?

HART: Henry, you will be in my next movie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And Hart`s brand-new audio book is "The Decision: Overcoming Today`s B.S. For Tomorrow`s Success."

A lot going on. Thanks for being here, man.

HART: Hey man, thank you for having me.

Amazing introduction, one of the best that I have ever heard in my life, man. Thank you so much for that.

MELBER: For real? All right, well, we`re thrilled.

We did tee something up for you and for everybody watching. This is some truly old-school moments from back when you went by Lil Kev.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HART: I`m going to put this camera down and seem if I can move a closer to you.

(LAUGHTER)`

HART: You ever go to punch somebody, and before you finish your punch, they hit you?

(LAUGHTER)

HART: Oh.

And then, when the bus get real crowded and something, that`s when he`s got to grind on everything`s butt to get to the back.

Excuse me, baby. Watch out. I`m going to get to the back.

(LAUGHTER)

HART: I`m just trying to get to the back.

You all, my name is Lil Kev. Have a great day.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: What have you learned since then? And did you always know in your mind you were going to go beyond being a talented entertainer, but also growing this business empire?

HART: The best thing that I learned is that it`s OK to not get it right. It`s OK to fall down. It`s OK to make some mistakes.

And it`s OK, as long as you want to grow. So, I would just tell Lil Kev to embrace himself, love himself, and believe in himself, because, at the end of the day, that`s what matters. It`s about you understanding and believing in you and understanding that you`re capable of whatever you put your mind to.

MELBER: A hundred percent. And shout-out to Lil Kev, even if you don`t perform as Lil Kev anymore. He`s out there somewhere, right?

HART: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

HART: Lil Kev -- there`s tons of Lil Kevs out there. Embrace yours.

MELBER: Well, I want to play for our viewers and then for you to explain your thinking a little bit from this new book on the part about adversity.

Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HART: I choose to think about the good times. They just seem like forever problems, because you`re in a mind-set that`s not allowing change.

Clouds always go away. Sun going to come out. It`s going to happen. It`s not just with skies. With life.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MELBER: A lot of people, as I mentioned, know you, look up to you.

And they say, OK, yes, Kevin, but I lost my job, or my partner lost my job, I`m worried about rent. How does that all apply for so many people right now?

HART: Well, I mean, look, the one thing that I can say is that you -- you have to be interesting that everybody is going through something.

And those problems, of course, are at different levels. But you got to figure out ways to find light in what seems to be the darkest times.

MELBER: A lot of comedy grows out of pain.

I`m looking at you because, like a lot of the interviews we do, you`re in your space, and I see some comedy legends flanking behind you.

I see what? You got Pryor. And who else is behind you?

HART: I have Pryor. I got Bernie Mac. That`s Redd Foxx.

I got -- who else is over there? Rock. I got Eddie Murphy on another wall. I got Seinfeld, Carlin, Martin, Dave Chappelle.

MELBER: Chappelle is where we want to go, man.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: There`s a little bit of the rivalry, a little bit of the rivalry.

Chappelle has been on THE BEAT. And, as you know, he`s also gotten involved in backing different candidates he believes in. Our viewers know him well.

And he jokes openly about you besting him in the rivalry, at least in his mind. I want to play it for you. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: He said, no, no. Kevin Hart`s coming to town. And I wanted to see his show.

I said, well, how much are the tickets? He said, there`s $125. I said, goddamn. Mine are only $80.

(LAUGHTER)

CHAPPELLE: I was furious.

(LAUGHTER)

CHAPPELLE: Because his show was (EXPLETIVE DELETED) outstanding.

Then I realized -- looked up what Kevin made on Google. I couldn`t believe that (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Kevin is the first comedian that a Drake song could be about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HART: You know, I really consider Dave Chappelle the GOAT.

He`s not only a friend. He`s a brother. But he`s somebody that inspires me and motivates me to do more within the craft of comedy.

So, when we talk, I say to him time and time again, man, you`re standing on that pedestal all by yourself, and deservedly so.

So, loving -- I appreciate the love that he`s given me. And this is a relationship that I truly do value.

MELBER: I want to ask you also about the Ahmaud Arbery case.

I saw that you had posted about it. A lot of people focused on that. And, specifically, you are known, among other things, for exercise, for the health regimen. People have talked about this as a case of "jogging while black" -- quote, unquote.

We have reported on it throughout the story.

Your view of what it means that this happens in broad daylight, an unarmed African-American jogger shot down, and why you chose to post about it, what you think about it?

HART: Well, I mean, it`s disgusting.

You got to call it exactly what it is. It`s a disgusting act. And, ultimately, these things can`t continue to be ignored.

As young black men or women, in 2020, you shouldn`t be living in fear or walking in fear. And you want to feel like it`s OK to jog. You want to feel like it`s OK to drive. You want to feel like it`s OK to be out and about.

And in this case, I don`t understand what the discussion of back and forth is. It`s murder that seemed to be in broad daylight.

MELBER: Before I let you go, everybody knows about your relationship with The Rock.

We`re here on the news, so I`m going to just bring in the political part, which, as you know, there are a lot of people and a lot of strategists in the Democratic Party that are hoping they could recruit The Rock, get him to run for office.

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: We`re in this new era.

Do you think he should be open to that? Do you think The Rock would make a good politician or leader?

HART: I think that man can do whatever he puts his mind to.

If it`s something that he wanted to do, he`s a guy that would be determined to do it. He`s a friend. He`s a brother, man. And I think, when you see what we have seen in the past, nothing`s impossible anymore.

If he did it, expect to see the best of him and from him.

MELBER: And that leads me to my final, final question, which is, then, would you -- if he were the candidate, would you consider being The Rock`s running mate?

Or would you guys just be goofing too much on the plane?

HART: Absolutely not.

I would -- I would take his campaign and run it in the ground. It wouldn`t be -- it would not be as serious as it should be if you involved me. So I would remove myself...

(LAUGHTER)

HART: ... so that man can do whatever he has a problem or fix the things that he wants to fix.

Not my -- that`s not my cup of tea.

MELBER: I want to thank you.

I want to remind everyone, you can check out Kevin Hart, AKA, Lil Kev`s audiobook. It`s out now, "The Decision: Overcoming Today`s B.S. for Tomorrow`s Success."

Thank you, Kevin.

HART: Hey, man, thank you.

And to everybody watching, look, we will get through this. We will come out better. Like I said, it`s hard to change, of course, what we can`t. Let`s only focus on changing things that we can.

So, that`s me just putting a piece of positivity and motivation out there. That`s what I love to do. That`s what I`m all about, live, love, laugh.

Thank you so much, man.

MELBER: Amen. Thank you, Kevin.

HART: Appreciate you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

We`re continuing our special coverage as we head into Memorial Day weekend.

And this, while it is 7:00 p.m. on the East Coast, will continue to be a special edition of THE BEAT. We have half-an-hour planned for you. And then, after that, Chris Hayes comes in early with a special long edition of "ALL IN."

So, I would argue to you, stay with us. We have a lot to get into.

Now, on a serious note, there is new reporting about the video evidence coming out of the third murder arrest in that Ahmaud Arbery case. We were just discussing it last hour. So, we have new developments on that we`re going to get into.

Also tonight, a BEAT special report on the smash hit "The Last Dance."

Even if you have seen it, we`re going in deeper and farther to explore why so much of the inspiration from Michael Jordan applies right now in this pandemic.

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