Trump slams CDC plan TRANSCRIPT: 7/8/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Ron Klain, Sally Kohn, Arne Duncan, Barbara Res

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: In the meantime, "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.

Hi there, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Katy.

Thanks so much.

And welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

And, as we come on the air, America is reeling from the spike in coronavirus, and Donald Trump`s administration and his campaign are taking it from all sides right now, including from his own family, as Trump`s niece unloads on her uncle as a -- quote -- "lying, cheating failure," in an absolutely scathing new tell-all book.

Meanwhile, there are other key Trump allies that are firing their own warning shots. As for the coronavirus, one of the most prominent Americans to first contract it speaking out now, Tom Hanks cutting through so much misinformation to warn Americans with a blunt message that we will show you later this hour.

Also later, we have some new thoughts and reactions from you, BEAT viewers, about the reckoning with racism in America, as well as the road ahead. That`s later tonight.

Our top story, though, is the pandemic and a stark number, three million. That is where the U.S. case count is now headed, powered by the grim fact that this is not a regional or coastal challenge in this nation. This is not something that`s happening in part or even half of America.

Right now, tonight, you need to know the facts, 37 states suffering from rising case numbers, including the largest and most populous states in this country.

Now, before we go any further, remember, this deadly reality is the product, in part, of U.S. government policy, and, in part, a product of President Trump`s repeated failures to tell the truth about the virus and how to prevent it, his failure to implement his own Trump administration CDC guidelines, which can save lives.

And that`s kept American cases going up, while other countries go down and improve. You can see it in European countries that are similar to the U.S., rich democracies with dense cities and lots of tourism.

And, in April, we were all on the same boat. This is so critical. Look at the red April there. And you see, the blue line is Europe`s surging case count of the virus, and the red line is us, America, right there in the middle. Now, most of those European countries applied strict rules, while the Trump administration and some U.S. states did not.

And what you see here, going towards the right, the red July, where we live now, boom. The blue European line shows the drop, and they`re benefiting from it, while the U.S., as you know, is not only surging but surging more than it had to.

When you keep this in mind, it`s literally one of the clearest ways to see what`s happening right now tonight. And if you talk to anyone who says, well, we should just give up because these measures didn`t work anyway, you can remind them, the measures work when they are applied, which is what Europe did.

We don`t have to be that surging red line. It`s also why Dr. Fauci is now urging any government official who will listen to mandate the key CDC guidelines, mandate meaning, yes, require, force, compel. And he`s telling governors and others, that would include requiring masks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: I am strongly in favor of mandating things. If governors and others essentially mandate the use of masks when you have an outbreak, I think that would be very important.

If you say it doesn`t matter whether you put it on or take it off, you`re giving a wrong mixed signal. The signal should be, wear a mask, period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s the signal.

If you`re not in a safe zone, if you`re not socially distanced, wear a mask, period. Texas` Republican governor actually has issued exactly this kind of mask mandate, although later than many states.

Now, there are some reports that sheriffs in eight counties refuse to enforce it there. The state faces a surge and a coming shortage in ICU beds.

Another hot zone state, Florida, is backing off reopening plans, while that state`s Republican governor is saying this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Why didn`t you invest in more contact tracers in a hot spot like Miami-Dade and Broward County?

And now that Miami-Dade is in this rollback, do you plan to...

(CROSSTALK)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Well, we have already -- I have already green- lighted $138 million for the Department of Health.

The contact tracing is not going to be enough. Another problem that you have seen is particularly the younger folks aren`t cooperating with contact tracers. And so, when they`re trying to call, they`re just not getting a lot of support.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, not all policy is personal. These policy problems, though, are a backdrop for more COVID exposure in the president`s inner circle.

A new report that a governor may have exposed the president to COVID on Air Force One, and tracing her contacts back to another Trump insider, former FOX anchor Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.`s girlfriend.

Joining us now is Dr. Kavita Patel, who also was an Obama health policy adviser, from RNC Chairman Michael Steele, and Ron Klain, who was Ebola czar during the Obama administration and now a Biden adviser.

Good evening to all of you.

Doctor, how important is it, as some Americans understandably say, well, if it didn`t work, how much longer do I have to put up with this, or I have already suffered under quarantine and job loss? Very real things, not to minimize any of the real pain out there.

How important is it to look at what Dr. Fauci and the E.U. and others are emphasizing, which is that, if you really do it, it works?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.

No, Ari, you`re absolutely correct on that. And not only does it work, but we know that even those E.U. countries, Germany, for example, when they did have some hot spots break out at clubs and other places, it was because they had a pretty uniform approach to testing and tracing that they were able to quickly isolate and decrease those cases.

So I think the key here is something that we have been saying for a while, that reopening the economy safely, it goes hand in hand with people feeling like that they can be healthy and function in that economy.

So, yes, people are frustrated. But, as you can see, it`s even more frustrating to feel like you`re taking two steps forward, one step back.

MELBER: Ron?

RON KLAIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE EBOLA RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Yes, I mean, I think it`s not an either/or. I think is what Dr. Patel was saying. And I think it`s really important to drive home.

Donald Trump is not helping the economy. He is hurting the economy. Put the health care issues aside. Put aside the death toll and the case count. If you want to create jobs, if you want to have things open and have customers show up when stores and restaurants open, you need to deal with this health care crisis, because, if you don`t, you`re going to see what you saw on Miami-Dade, things that were opening re-closing.

You`re going to see what the data is starting to show. States that opened aggressively without safety measures are seeing the number of people go into restaurants go down, not up, going into stores go down, not up.

His approach on health is bad for our health, and it`s also hurting the economy.

MELBER: And, Michael, on the other side of this, you have a growing push that echoes what Donald Trump was saying from the jump, which is, reopen no matter what, let`s get out there, "take the hit" -- quote, unquote -- however horrific the death toll, and move forward.

And I want to play a little bit of Rush Limbaugh, Michael. Sorry. And it`s reminiscent of parts of our society, parts of the Internet that sometimes feels like a book club where nobody read the book, but everybody`s yelling about it. And you`re like, I mean, we could debate if you want. You have the right to your views, but you clearly haven`t read the book.

Here is, for your analysis, Michael, Rush Limbaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Don`t mandate closures. Don`t mandate social -- don`t even mandate mask wearing. Encourage people who are old or who have a compromised immune system to stay quarantined.

Let the young and the healthy go out and live their lives and spread herd immunity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Michael?

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Dude, the young and the healthy are the ones who are filling up our emergency rooms right now. They did their spring break and now they`re paying for it.

They went to the beach. They hung out in those bars. They had a good time, and they whooped it up. And now, as you look at the numbers, you`re seeing that the significant increase in those who are taking a hit on this are not the people Rush Limbaugh says, leave in the rooms with compromised immune systems and the elderly.

They`re the very young people. They are the 18-year-old, the 20-year-old, the 30-something-year-olds, who have been told by watching the behavior of our political leadership to just go out and live it up.

They were told to go out there and charge against state capitols and demand their right to be free. Well, guess what? You got a free dosing of coronavirus.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: It sounds like you`re saying they`re living la vida corona.

(LAUGHTER)

STEELE: I knew you were going to do that. I knew you were going to do that.

You`re right.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: But you did it. You did it. You set it up. You did it.

STEELE: I did set it up.

But that`s the thing. At the end of the day, Ari, they got a free dose of coronavirus, because they were arrogant in their illusion that they somehow would be immune. And that was reinforced by watching a president who wouldn`t wear a mask, who talked down to people who did, and basically ignored his own CDC policies, which the good doctor and many others have been touting from the very beginning of this thing.

MELBER: Well, Doctor, certainly that we have people watching right now across America who are going to say, well, I have heard people echo what Rush Limbaugh is saying.

And however responsible some people want or try to be in public, this is a conversation that is going on out there. So, when you hear it, when people say, oh, well, Russia said -- quote -- let`s go out and -- quote -- "spread herd immunity," what do you say to that argument, if you want to call it that?

PATEL: Sure.

And just to try to humor things for a little bit -- put aside the fact that I think that`s inherently ridiculous and irresponsible, but let`s just look at the facts, as I know you like to do.

Number one, it`s incredible to me the amount of people who are asymptomatic, and we are still trying to navigate the effects that they have had. We look at C.T. scans, X-rays, and we`re seeing actual damage to lungs and other organs for people who have had zero symptoms whatsoever.

These are largely young people. So this is very serious.

Number two, the concept of getting herd immunity, the way Rush has described it, all I have to do is point you to the country of Sweden, where they did try that, and it incredibly backfired. And it would absolutely be the wrong message for Americans to receive.

And we haven`t even come close to doing the things we could do to prevent the deaths and the cases that we have. It`s not as if we have tried everything, Ari, we have exhausted it, and then we throw our hands up. We have not even come close to doing the testing, the tracing, the isolation.

And, to be candid, getting people and persons of color and vulnerable communities access to treatment and testing is still, to this day, a challenge that we should be embarrassed. And it`s really all on the hands and shoulders of this White House and the federal response, or lack thereof.

MELBER: Ron?

KLAIN: Yes, I mean, I think that this is the wrong time to give up.

I mean, we are in a crisis. And this country didn`t give up during World War II. It didn`t give up in other great crises in our history.

To go to Dr. Patel`s point, herd immunity, letting this disease run rampant, would mean well over a million American deaths. It would mean a death toll from this virus that exceeds World War I and World War II and Korea and Vietnam combined. And even that might not get us to herd immunity.

So we should call out the people like Rush Limbaugh. When they`re saying, just let this disease wash over the country, they`re talking about at least a million American deaths. So, let`s start there.

The other point is that we have tools that work. We know that social distancing works. We know that mask wearing works. We know that testing and tracing works. The chart you showed at the beginning of the show, Ari, seeing the curve come down in Europe, Europe has nothing that we lack, other than leadership.

They don`t have medicines we lack. They don`t have riches we lack. They just have little leadership. And so we...

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Ron, also potentially better croissants.

KLAIN: Better croissants, perhaps.

I don`t think that`s driving that curve downward, though, Ari.

STEELE: No.

MELBER: It`s not.

And we will put it back up on the screen, because, while we mix the lightness, because humanity has lightness -- and I also like to just see if Ron Klain is even listening to me, but I know you are, Ron.

But we mix the lightness with the seriousness, because this chart, we have put it up, and we will continue to put it up every night, Ron. And I give you the final word, as a czar, so to speak, about this, because this is the rebuttal to every person, well-meaning or not, who says to you, well, we tried, it didn`t work, or we got to move on, or I`m tired of staying home or whatever, because they did it quickly, Ron.

KLAIN: They did it quickly.

I mean, Donald Trump promised America first. This is America first, not in any good way.

MELBER: Well put.

I have got to say, thank you to, as always, Dr. Patel and Ron Klain, who both know their way around these issues.

Michael, stick around. We got some serious politics to get into.

I`m going to fit in a break. But let me tell you what we have coming up, a lot coming up.

This tell-all book by Donald Trump`s own family member, claims of SAT cheating and all kinds of other shenanigans. We actually have one of our friends, former Trump.org executive Barbara Res, back on THE BEAT live tonight.

Also, key Republicans unloading on their fears about Trump`s reelection. We`re very careful around here. I`m not going to give you national polls, but I will show you why they`re nervous.

Later in the hour, some schools ordering Plexiglas to try to protect students. What are the measures being taken? We have a very special guest on that, Barack Obama`s former education secretary, Arne Duncan.

Plus, what did Tom Hanks say and why does he want you to be the right kind of scared?

A lot coming up this hour. I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Turning to developing news on two political problems rocking the Trump White House.

First, harsh accusations about President Trump in a new book from his niece, Mary Trump, who asserts that her up-close view of the family showed her how Trump literally views cheating as a way of life, alleging he paid someone to take the SATs for him, the kind of thing that recently got people indicted in the college cheating scandal, and arguing Trump was traumatized by a tough father who stunted his ability to develop the spectrum of human emotion.

She argues, it made Donald Trump`s so cold that, when his brother was dying alone in a hospital, Trump went to see a movie.

A Trump spokesperson responded today that the SAT allegation is false and that Trump had a great relationship with a warm and loving father.

Now, this is far from the first time that people psychoanalyzed Donald Trump. But Mary is the first family member to really go this far in detail, bringing back memories of Donald Trump`s unusual approach to processing emotion and feeling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Has it happened that somebody has done something to you, not a death in the family, but has done something to wound you?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I`m wounded, I go after people hard, OK? And I try and unwound myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Unwound.

This family portrait of Trump as a traumatized victim lashing out because of his father`s mistreatment is, of course, at odds with his entire reality TV and business and political campaign persona.

And it comes as Donald Trump`s campaign brand is in trouble. That`s according to Donald Trump`s own allies, the coronavirus surging in over 37 states, adding uncertainty to a jobs crisis, with 21 million people out of work after an uptick in hiring last month.

One measure of enthusiasm, showing Americans donating more money to Democratic candidates, including Joe Biden outraising Trump for the first time ever. And it`s the same story in key Senate races, even in red states, where Trump allies like Lindsey Graham may face a tighter-than-expected race.

And Graham is breaking with Trump on some racial controversies, ranging from NASCAR to the Confederate Flag. When you take it all together, and you have a book by Donald Trump -- making the case against Trump, plus these allies voicing concern that he`s falling behind, it`s a lot.

Now, it is still July. Today`s developments do not dictate what voters do in November. And any assumption that Trump will lose actually could depress turnout by the very voters needed to beat him.

So, you have to keep that context in mind, while also listening to the anxiety building.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: President Trump could well lose this election. In fact, unless fundamental facts change soon, it could be tough for him to be reelected.

MICK MULVANEY, FORMER ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: If it ends up being a popularity contest or, worse, a referendum on President Trump, I think he`s got some real -- some real headwinds to face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Many believe November is precisely a referendum on Trump.

And we have the perfect panel to dig into all of this.

We`re back in just 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We`re back with Barbara Res, a former Trump Organization executive and the author of "All Alone on the 68th Floor," political commentator Sally Kohn, friend of THE BEAT, and back with us from earlier in the program, former RNC Chair Michael Steele.

Hello, everyone.

STEELE: Hey.

BARBARA RES, FORMER TRUMP ORGANIZATION EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: Hey, Ari.

MELBER: Barbara, we begin with you, as a person who, like Mary Trump, has actually been up close when the cameras were off in the behind-the-scenes situations.

First of all, your reaction to her forthcoming account?

RES: I`m glad that she`s come out with it.

Nobody really that knew him like she did and like I did back in the time has really spoken much about this. There`s a lot written about it, but by people that didn`t work with him or know him, but read about him and summarized what was said.

She has very, very powerful information. And I`m glad that she`s willing to share it. I think it will be helpful.

MELBER: When you were around Donald Trump, did you pick up anything that was consistent with her view of the impact of his father?

RES: You know, yes and no.

I worked for Fred. And he drove me crazy, absolutely, without a doubt. He was very, very, very tough. And I think he was tough on Donald, but he wasn`t abusive of Donald, where he might have been abusive of her father, Freddy.

So I did see that.

MELBER: And I mean, basically, that`s -- she`s giving a portrayal that -- again, I distinguish it from people who are on the outside looking in, but, basically, she argues that Donald was able to find a way to better co-opt his father, but it also made him, as she argues, the sort of traumatized, emotionally stunted individual he is today.

You give that what level of credibility?

RES: Well, I do consider him traumatized, emotionally stunted to an extent.

I think that his father was a tremendous influence on him. And his father was definitely the kind of person that cheated and lied a lot. But I also think that Roy Cohn had a tremendous influence on Donald.

And he didn`t start out as an altar boy. He did have a predisposition to a certain kind of person that he is. And he just grew into it, even way beyond where he was when I knew him.

MELBER: Really interesting.

Stay with us. We got this great panel here.

Sally, I want to read to you another one of the quotes here that`s making waves.

Mary Trump writes, saying, privately, Donald Trump`s sister, who was very credentialed, because she actually was appointed as an appeals court judge, viewed him as -- quote -- "an unprincipled clown."

Sally.

SALLY KOHN, WRITER/ACTIVIST: I mean, look, this is -- this feels a little bit like we`re engaging in political gossip.

And I`m going to go out on a limb here and just be honest. I don`t care if he was a clown. I don`t care if he`s an emotionally stunted narcissist with daddy issues, if he was actually a good president, right?

I mean, part of this is, those of us who see evidence now of his plain, plain failings before and certainly now, in this moment with 120,000 American -- plus -- Americans dying and a crisis out of hand, his coddling white supremacists, problem after problem after problem, we want to look back and see evidence that these problems came from somewhere?

I don`t really care. I care about his leadership right now. So I think this is going to be grist for a lot of mills, but the bigger problem is actually the Donald Trump we are seeing today.

MELBER: Yes, I would definitely hear you on that. I mean, we cover a lot of what you allude to for that reason.

But, myself, as a student of political history, I have read many presidential biographies. This isn`t the first time that there`s been a lot of thought given and reporting done on what motivates someone.

If you look at, say, Mitch McConnell and Teddy Roosevelt both overcoming being sick when they were kids, and how that fortified them, right, or other things, and so it`s not to psychoanalyze. I don`t have that ability, but it is something we have done with other leaders to look at, does it give insight, and especially as the president`s up for reelection, Sally?

KOHN: Oh, listen, I think he has a habitual personality-driven, deep-seated something or rather to see himself as some kind of magically gifted genius, when all factual evidence fails.

Now, where does that come from? Again, I`m not -- like, I`m not saying I don`t want to play armchair psychologist. I do appreciate that his niece is an actual expert on mental illness, and that isn`t getting, I think, enough treatment in this. It`s not just that she -- that Mary Trump is niece.

It`s that she is literally -- she wrote the textbook on some of these diagnoses. Again, to me, it bears light only to the extent that we`re seeing, , that unwillingness to admit when you`re wrong, that obsessive fixation on how you`re perceived vs. the actual job that you`re doing and whether you`re helping the American people.

Yes, of course I`m interested in where it comes from. I`m far more interested in stopping it.

MELBER: Michael.

STEELE: You know, Ari, family can be a bitch. What can you say, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

STEELE: What do you do?

Family knows you. They know you. They were at the birthday parties. They were at the Thanksgiving dinners. They were in the room at the time of great grief and the time of great joy. So, in many respects, they give you a view of the individual in question that the public otherwise wouldn`t get.

And so we can`t discount it. And, certainly, to Sally`s point, given the fact that his niece is someone who is an expert in a particular field, so her diagnosis, her analysis carries a lot more weight than any four of us, if we would have written the book and said, well, I heard and someone told me.

This is coming direct from her, her clinical, as well as familial observation of the president of the United States. So, yes, it carries some weight.

And it`s something voters -- all the other books aside -- and they`re great little narratives about Donald Trump`s presidency. If you want to get a window into the man that has governed this nation, and is currently governing it the way he`s governing it, then, yes, you want to pay a little bit more attention to what she has to say, because she`s in the room. She`s been in the room as a family member.

MELBER: And, briefly to Barbara, before we turn to some of the 2020 stuff, I mean, Barbara, did you ever see a situation where these tactics that Trump uses with what you might call inoculation faded?

I mean, you had people who went to Trump University. They were Trump fans, and, eventually, they felt conned to the point that they sued. But there were still people who started out so infatuated with the idea of what they thought Trump represented, they were willing to pay for it.

That`s bigger than a vote. I`m curious whether you think anyone in that world might listen to Mary or these accounts and feel moved or not.

RES: I absolutely think -- I see much more value in this than the other guests, with all due deference.

People want to know what he was really like and what he is really like. And that`s -- and I too have a lot of knowledge about him of this -- because I worked with him for 18 years.

And I think that we can -- especially Mary can present somebody that you don`t necessarily see. And when you hear the stories, you put two and two together, and it makes a lot more sense, and you can understand a little bit better what he`s doing, and sort of the motivation.

And it paints a different picture, a good picture, I think, that we should see.

MELBER: Very interesting.

On the 2020 stuff, Michael Steele, take a look at this new ad taunting Trump from the Lincoln Project.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: Why do you think you`re losing, Donald?

TRUMP: Because some people don`t love me maybe.

NARRATOR: It`s because you have got a loyalty problem. Loyalty problem. They whisper about you. They whisper about you.

They leak and spin, lie. They tell the media they`re smart and you`re out of control.

With so many leaks, you probably think it could be anyone. So many leaks. Donald, it`s everyone. It`s everyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I don`t know if this is a -- as they say, this is a table for one, an advertisement just literally for him or schadenfreude for his critics or, as with all campaigning, the real question to you, Michael, is, does this stuff move people?

STEELE: You know, I had that conversation literally earlier today.

And it`s a very good question to ask. And you have got to be very careful. That`s a very good ad. But the question becomes more and more salient, who are you reaching? What are you trying to move? Are you trying to move a narrative? Or are you trying to move voters?

And I think that these -- that`s going to become a very critical thing going forward, as Republicans and others sort of look at how they`re going to, in the words of Ten Walls, who wrote that wonderful, progressive house piece "Walking With Elephants" -- you`re familiar with that one -- how you walk with this elephant will matter in terms of how you tell people about that elephant.

MELBER: Sally, your response? And do you follow the elephant walking analogy?

KOHN: Well, that`s the difference between my friend Michael and I. I do not walk with elephants. I tend to be going in the other direction.

(LAUGHTER)

KOHN: But, look, I mean, I think this goes actually back to -- don`t get me wrong. I have already got my copy of Mary Trump`s book, and I`m certainly interested in it.

There`s a difference between those of us who are already prone to be critical having more grist for a mill and what is actually swaying the movable middle.

Look, I don`t think anything is turning Trump supporters away from him, much to my consternation. I think -- it seems to me, every -- once a month, something happens that I think, oh, well, this, this is the final straw. This will be too -- and it just never is.

It`s like Stockholm syndrome. I don`t know how this is actually possible. The rules of gravity don`t seem to work on him.

I don`t know that that ad in particular is going to move that many people from the middle. It felt to me -- as you said, it was really just a poke at the bear.

MELBER: Right.

KOHN: But I think that is, in a larger climate, where he is clearly very, very deeply vulnerable to anyone who has a heart and a mind focused on what could be otherwise in this country right now under different leadership, he is intensely vulnerable. And almost any ad is going to further that vulnerability.

MELBER: Right.

And the Stockholm syndrome, does that make the elephant the prisoner, and it`s falling in love with Michael Steele, who`s trying to walk it?

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: I`m just trying to follow.

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN: Well, there`s like an elephant cult, but Michael Steele left the cult. And so he`s trying to get...

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN: Oh.

MELBER: I`m over on time.

Final words to Michael and Barbara.

Michael?

STEELE: I was just going to say, I don`t know if you have ever tried to clean up after an elephant. It does matter which end you begin with.

MELBER: Barbara.

RES: Well, I think that you`re going to find that Mary`s book is going to do very well.

I hope that it does impart knowledge to people. And look for something from me maybe.

MELBER: Hey.

STEELE: Uh-oh.

MELBER: Are you teasing a book? Is it going to be out by November, Barbara?

RES: Well, if it isn`t, I don`t think it`s going to be very valuable. So we will see.

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: Well, we think all of you are valuable.

I got to fit in the break.

Barbara Res, Michael Steele, Sally Kohn, a lot to think about and a couple things to laugh at. Appreciate you guys.

Up ahead: Donald Trump is demanding that schools open, but downplaying how to deal with COVID.

Our very special guest, an Obama education expert, will give us facts.

Also, one of the biggest stars to ever contract COVID, Tom Hanks, speaking out. We will show you that up ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We`re back with a question that is confronting so many communities and parents: What do you do about reopening schools safely?

Florida planning to open public schools next month -- that`s August -- despite their surging caseload, over 11,000 new cases just on July 4, you see right there.

Some nations attempting to deal with this by disinfecting classrooms, others putting up new Plexiglas barriers around each and every desk. That`s happened as well abroad, like in the Netherlands.

The United States has a school district in Texas that`s ordered five miles worth of Plexiglas already.

Joining us now is an expert on all of this, the former education secretary under President Obama, Arne Duncan, and Mara Gay, a "New York Times" editorial board member, MSNBC contributor, who has written about her own recovery from COVID.

Good to see both of you.

MARA GAY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me.

ARNE DUNCAN, FORMER U.S. EDUCATION SECRETARY: Thanks for having us.

Mr. Secretary, what`s the right way to do this?

DUNCAN: Awfully slowly, carefully.

And let me be clear. Schools cannot do this by themselves. Every superintendent I talk to, they desperately want to go back to school. Every parent, including myself, wants our kids to go back to school.

But we have to put in the hard work now, in July, to try and make that possible in August. And if we refuse to make some small sacrifices, wearing a mask, staying off of the beaches, staying out of the bars, staying out of indoor dining, we do our children a grave, grave disservice, because then we will not be able to bring them back.

So it`s not just up to school systems. It`s up to all of us. We have to understand our common humanity and what`s at stake for our kids.

MELBER: Here`s the president, who has been speaking about this. I will remind everyone, for factual context, it`s one of the many issues where he doesn`t actually have authority. So he talks about his opinions, which is like anyone else can write an op-ed.

But here he is on the schools issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We hope that most schools are going to be open.

We don`t want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons. They think it`s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed. No way.

So we`re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: There isn`t really much formal way he can do that, as you know, Arne. I mean, this is something that will be made mostly as a local call.

But do you believe there are places where they should be looking at not opening it all, or it`s all about how you do it?

DUNCAN: Well, first of all, President Trump has lost all credibility on this issue a long, long time ago and he basically irrelevant on this.

I will say, no one wants to keep schools close. There`s no one`s political interest to keep schools closed. What we have to do is keep people safe, first and foremost.

So, if we can open up schools, ideally, for all kids safely, we will do that. If we end up in a hybrid situation, which I think is probably most likely, that will happen.

But I want us to be really, really clear to all your viewers. Unless we`re willing to do the things it takes to make our communities safe, our schools are not islands. Our schools are not bubbles. So we have to be willing to walk the walk now in July, so that, in August, our children have a chance to go to back to school safely and be in that physical environment that we know is so important for them educationally, socially and emotionally.

MELBER: Mara?

GAY: That`s exactly right.

I mean, the reality is that the fastest way to opening schools safely, just as with the rest of the economy, is actually a widespread nationwide large- scale testing, rapid testing system.

Under Donald Trump, we`re not going to get that. And that`s a crime and a disgrace, in my opinion. But I think, in the interim, it is going to be a local decision. I think Secretary Duncan is exactly right. It`s going to be a hybrid model.

There are some school districts where it may make sense to hold school outdoors. There are other districts where that`s not a possibility or that doesn`t make as much sense.

There are some districts that might go on a staggered schedule. I think the key is just that we focus our American ingenuity at its best on this effort, and not simply on opening bars and restaurants.

This is also a system that is not only important to the future of many children in the country, of all children, but also to the economy. Here in New York City, for example, without the schools open, we cannot have an essential work force that shows up every day.

So, all this is -- where there`s a will, there`s a way. We need to be creative about it and smart, and safety first.

MELBER: And, Mara, as someone who, as I mentioned, battled COVID -- and we`re glad you`re right, and you have written about it -- what do you think as you see these spikes now, I mean, even just in the past two weeks, and the median age dropping to younger people?

GAY: Yes, I have a deep personal frustration and professional frustration that other Americans who saw our suffering here in New York City and elsewhere in earlier hot spots did not heed our warnings, did not listen, did not prepare in time.

And, to me, it`s just -- it`s really sad, because it reflects what I think is a breakdown in empathy and a breakdown in understanding that we`re all not that different, and that what affects one person affects the neighbor.

And I think it really does mirror the partisan divide, which really goes beyond our activities at the voting booth, and is a much, much broader cultural divide that we need to heal.

MELBER: All really deep points, stated succinctly, as we have come to expect from you, but I think that`s something to really reflect on, because we`re nowhere near through it.

And those are some of the things that are obviously exacerbating it.

Mara Gay, Secretary Duncan, thanks to both of you for this conversation.

DUNCAN: Thank you.

GAY: Thank you.

MELBER: When we come back, we will show you what we have promised, new Tom Hanks cutting through misinformation. Some of it may remind you of Trumpian misinformation.

This is his first actual interview since recovering from COVID.

And, later, I`m going to show you some of what you guys are saying, BEAT viewers, about how to go forward with racial recovery in America.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Do you remember when you first heard the news that basically the coronavirus was hitting home for you?

Well, for some Americans, especially people living in places that hadn`t been directly impacted yet, this March story got people`s attention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps the most high-profile coronavirus patient yet, Tom Hanks announcing overnight that he and wife Rita Wilson are both infected.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oscar winner Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, revealing they have both tested positive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That was March 12, early on, Tom Hanks and his wife opening up about contracting the virus. They shared their updates online.

He also hosted "SNL" from his home in April, leading Americans through all of this new stuff.

But while Hanks talked and performed and shared, he hadn`t actually fielded questions about all this until today, in his first TV interview since recovery.

And while the beloved actor went really out of his way to note that freedom does include the freedom to be wrong, hold whatever views you want, and he didn`t really try to shame or attack people who may be misinformed, he also left no doubt about his takeaway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: There`s no law against ignorance.

It`s not -- it`s not illegal to have opinions that are wrong. I think you flout a number of realities when you -- when two and two don`t add up to four.

And, granted, there are -- this is a mysterious thing, where people are asymptomatic. They don`t know they have it. They don`t feel bad. There`s all sorts of things that come along in it.

But there is a darkness on the edge of town here, folks. And it is -- let`s not -- let`s not confuse the fact. It`s killing people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It`s killing people. Straight talk from someone who`s been through this, who obviously has a platform to speak, and wants everyone to understand the deadly stakes.

Now, when we come back, we have a special note about the national reckoning on race and policing, and what you, what BEAT viewers are telling us about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Welcome back.

We`re living through this national reckoning on race and policing. And it`s been a long time coming, a point we have explored in several ways with several different guests on this very show.

Now, many of you have been sending us your thoughts on all this, which I`m going to share with you in a moment, including your feelings about a recent report that we just did on some of the many black leaders and artists who`ve been urging Americans to listen to all this, from Sam Cooke, to Billie Holiday, to Grandmaster Flash, to KRS-One.

And we looked at how their accurate storytelling about racism and police brutality was often ignored and met with retaliation by the police and by the political system at the highest levels.

So, right now, before I share some of your new responses on this, here`s a little excerpt showing how, for example, the artists KRS-One explained the fear of police.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: To KRS-One highlighting real footage of police beating protesters in an iconic song, arguing that, while many white Americans may see police as protectors, a source of safety, many black Americans live in a reality where police are the source of danger.

That`s why KRS-One told us, people fear the very sound of the police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALES (singing): That`s the sound of the police. That`s the sound of the beast.

MELBER: That iconic 1993 song says that the modern police system replaced plantation overseers, arguing the overseer had the right to get ill and the right to kill the officer. The officer has the right to arrest, and, if you fight back, they put a hole in your chest.

That was 25 years ago, KRS-One stressing the racist historical framework for modern justice, a once perhaps radical view that`s now central to the political focus today on structural racism.

BOB DOLE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A line has been crossed, not just of taste, but of human dignity and decency.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The kind of hatred that you do not honor today.

DOLE: From songs about killing policemen and rejecting law.

CLINTON: If you took the words white and black, and you reversed them, you might think David Duke was giving that speech.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: "You might think David Duke was giving that speech."

As we pointed out in that report, that was President Bill Clinton, joined by other prominent Democrats and Republicans at the time, saying that Sister Souljah, an African-American woman, sounded to him like -- quote -- "David Duke."

We showed the retaliation there from the top of the political system to the actual police harassment and brutality against those very artists and other black leaders and activists.

So, that`s the report we did. Now, compared to a typical news day, I could just tell you, many, many more of you wrote us about this or posted online about the piece.

So, thank you for your thoughts.

I want to share just a few of them right now.

One parent wrote in about how listening to all those artists and rappers was revealing, saying: "Tonight was a personal eye-opener. Thank you so much. I owe my son an apology for not listening and seeking to understand."

Well, thank you for sharing that. I think we can all learn from anyone who`s willing to be open and change their mind and tell us about it.

Now, that was a parent. Shout-out to all the parents who do watch THE BEAT.

We also heard from other generations.

I wanted to share this one, a younger viewer writing in -- quote -- "Me and my parents watched, and it brought my mom to tears. She said: `Now I get it. I wasn`t listening to these rappers back then. But I hear them now.`"

Wow.

Some people also writing in to share what they volunteered as their own personal lived experience.

One viewer volunteering that, as a 67-year-old black female and lifetime resident of Detroit, the piece about Sam Cooke and Billie Holiday, she was -- quote -- "emotionally stunning."

So, thank you to everyone for listening, for thinking and sharing, whether that`s across all the lines that we have in our society, of age and race and anything else.

And I will tell you, if you`re watching right now and saying, OK, Ari, this is a lot of stuff about what people thought about an older report, well, obviously if you`re interested, you can go watch the full report now.

You can see it here on my Twitter page. It`s called: "How Black Artists Defied U.S. Racism, Got It Right and Paid the Price."

So, you can go at Twitter.com @AriMelber, and you will get that link.

I also want to tell you, if you`re not into Twitter, you can just go right to Google News. Go Google News on your basic any browser or Google and go type strange fruit MSNBC. That`s strange fruit MSNBC. And that`s another way that the entire report will come right up, because we discuss Billie Holiday`s "Strange Fruit," Sam Cooke and so much more.

Again, I want to thank everyone for writing in and sharing your experience, and people watching THE BEAT as a family. We love that.

And, as always, we will be back here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.

That does it for us.

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