President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that Russia has begun an all-out offensive in the east of Ukraine. Russia`s brutal campaign in Ukraine is discussed. Ronan Farrow discusses his blockbuster new reporting on governments using spyware on their citizens. The growing fascist tendencies on the American right are examined.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening.
We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with yet another escalation of Putin`s war in Ukraine. Late today, President Zelenskyy said that Russia has begun an all- out offensive in the east. In his latest video, the Ukrainian leader said that the Russian military has begun the battle for Donbass.
It`s something Ukraine has been preparing for, a new phase of the war that could see up to three times as many Russian troops in the Donbass region. That region includes the city of Mariupol, where Russia -- which Russia needs in order to forge a land corridor to Crimea.
The city is besieged. At least 100,000 people remain without access to food and water, but Ukrainian soldiers are still holding on, as Russian forces swarm the city. The Ukrainians rejected Russia`s proposal to spare their lives if they would stop fighting.
Meanwhile, Russia is not in full control of the city yet. We are learning more about the treatment of Ukrainians in places Russia has occupied, however, like in Irpin, where new drone video shows dozens of graves. Police say that investigators have examined 269 dead bodies in the city.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is rewarding his soldiers accused of war crimes in Bucha, giving them an honorary title and praising their special merits, mass heroism and courage. And the city of Kharkiv is still under attack, with at least two civilians killed in shelling today. Residents there are evacuating, but one woman told Reuters that it`s futile if all of Ukraine is under attack anyway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): First, evacuate where? They are hitting the whole of Ukraine. You see, they shelled Lviv and Dnipro today, everywhere.
My friend offers me to go to Kherson, but it`s occupied. I will not go to these bastards. I will not hide in occupation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: She is referring to missiles that struck the Western city of Lviv, a haven for displaced Ukrainians and refugees on their way out of the country.
Lviv is also a supplies and logistics hub, where the city -- with the city suffering its first fatalities since the beginning of the war. That attack in Lviv hit close to home today, with my colleague, the great Ali Arouzi and friend of the show Malcolm Nance seeing the missiles rush by as they conducted an interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALCOLM NANCE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE TERROR ASYMMETRICS PROJECT: Ukraine`s unique territory...
ALI AROUZI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It`s not going down?
NANCE: No. But I have never seen a fast mover.
I`m wondering whether that was a cruise missile. Did you see the aircraft?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. (OFF-MIKE)
NANCE: Are we in an air raid?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
AROUZI: Yes, we are. We had the air raid -- there`s another coming.
NANCE: Wait. There will be three.
Striking to the west. That`s two.
NANCE: At least one more. That wasn`t a plane. It was a cruise missile.
AROUZI: That was a cruise missile?
NANCE: Yes. Wait for one more. They`re fired in 30-second -- they fire them in 30-second intervals. Smoke.
AROUZI: There we go.
NANCE: Stand by.
Three cruise missile, caliber. Stand by. Five, six, eight, nine, 10, 11.
AROUZI: Yes, there it is. There`s the smoke.
AROUZI: There`s the smoke.
NANCE: That`s three.
AROUZI: So, three cruise missiles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Joining me now from Lviv is NBC News correspondent Ali Arouzi.
And, Ali, that is harrowing footage. We had come to think of Lviv as the safer place, at least a safer place, because it is so far to the west. What does it mean that Russia would strike there? I mean, literally in the middle of your interview, there are those cruise missiles flying overhead.
AROUZI: Hi, Joy. That`s right.
I mean, you could hear in the interview the one that we actually saw, the second one, it was so big, I thought it was an airplane. So that`s the last thing we were expecting then. And then you saw that thump. And, of course, throughout the beginning of this conflict, the outskirts of Lviv have been hit. They have hit fuel depots and airplane factories, but never the center of the city.
This was a very built-up area full of apartments, houses, and it was done at 8:30 in the morning, when people are going about their daily routine. Now, the Russians said in a statement that they hit a warehouse where ammunition from the west was coming in from, but they didn`t say that they hit an auto repair shop.
And this is the first time that they have killed people here in Lviv. Seven people were killed in that strike. Amongst the injured was a 3-year-old child that had escaped from Kharkiv, only to be injured by a Russian missile here in what was supposed to be a safe zone.
And we have seen waves and waves of displaced people coming here looking for sanctuary, looking for refuge in Lviv. But they`re no longer finding that here. You speak to Ukrainians all through the day today, and they don`t say, will Lviv be hit again? They ask, when will Lviv be hit again?
So, that -- Putin has really broadened his canvas of attacks. And he`s made it very clear that there is no more sanctuary in this country. So people are very on edge here. They were shaken up before this happened, when the outskirts of the city was hit. Now they are really frightened that they could be a target in this war here in Lviv.
REID: And it is pretty remarkable. I mean, the -- is the idea and is what you`re hearing on the ground that Russia is expanding, because they don`t seem to have the capability, to be blunt, to wage war throughout this massive country?
They seem to have been, at least up into the last couple of weeks, focusing on the east, on trying to sort of create this land bridge to Crimea. Does it feel, at least as you`re there in Lviv, that they have changed that plan and are again trying to take the whole country?
AROUZI: I`m not sure if they`re trying. I mean, Malcolm will be able to speak to this much better than I can.
But I`m not sure they`d be able to take the country. So, as they`re botching their attack more and more, they hold on to none of the major cities here, except Kherson. The Ukrainians are still in control of much of their land. So they keep terrorizing the populations, as we have seen in Bucha, in Irpin, in Gostomel, now here in Lviv.
So, that tactic is -- I think, is to make people very frightened here, to make the Ukrainian people capitulate and say, we have had enough of these bombs raining down on us. But if anybody has been to this country, the Ukrainians are in no mood to capitulate. They`re in no mood to give up even an inch of their land. Even Zelenskyy said, if those soldiers in Mariupol are killed, a deal is off the table.
So they are determined, at whatever cost, to hold onto their land, hold onto their sovereignty, and look after each other here in Ukraine.
REID: Ali Arouzi, please be safe, my friend. Really appreciate you in Lviv. Much appreciated.
And joining me now from a secure location in Western Ukraine is Malcolm Nance, executive director of The Terror Asymmetrics Project. He`s fighting with the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine.
And, Malcolm, we just watched that video of you. And Ali Arouzi was attempting to interview you for us to get more information on what you`re doing. We saw those cruise missiles fly overhead. So explain to us why you are there and what you are doing.
NANCE: Well, as you know, I spent quite a bit of time here in the prewar period.
And when the invasion happened, I had friends who were in Donetsk, who were in the Ukrainian army, who were writing to us and telling us, we`re not going to survive tonight. We have been hit 500 times. These are graduates of Defense Language Institute. These are my friends.
And as -- the more I saw of the war going on, the more I thought, I`m done talking, all right? It`s time to take action here. So, about a month ago, I joined the International Legion here in Ukraine, and I am here to help this country fight what essentially is a war of extermination.
This is an existential war. And Russia has brought it to these people, and they are mass-murdering civilians. And there are people here like me who are here to do something about it.
REID: And we have some video here. This is some video that was shot by Ali`s team of yourself with some supplies and the things that you are working on while you`re there.
We know there are about 20,000 people from 52 countries that are currently in the Ukraine, and have been there from the start of the war. What are international troops like yourself, what are you all tasked to do?
NANCE: Well, we are here for one purpose, and one purpose only, and that is to protect the innocent people of Ukraine from this Russian aggression.
And it`s not a conventional war, Joy, even though you have two armed forces going head to head here. What you have is, you have another group -- I won`t even refer to the Russians as an army -- just using mass heavy weapons that are used in combat against civilians. They are destroying infrastructure.
And then you find that they go to the cities, and they massacre men, women and children. And that is the fundamental reason everyone is here. The International Legion is a multinational force. It is men and women. There are thousands here who are here to protect this country.
And for the most part, we really have to assist them in any way to stop this. And so I have decided I came here to assist them with the skills that I have myself.
REID: And we know that this -- there is a tradition of Americans and others going overseas to assist in wars overseas.
Eugene Bullard is somebody who people think of in that way, as an African- American young man, 19 years old, went over and fought in two world wars. So we know that there is a tradition way of doing this.
And I wonder, for you, do you feel that -- foreigners stick out, wherever they are. People know that you clearly are not Ukrainian when they see you. Do you think that that poses any special danger to the people who are not Ukrainian who are there?
NANCE: No, it doesn`t, because the war that`s being waged here is being waged against everybody.
Look, they`re not going around hunting for American flag patches or to see who`s, who`s black, who`s Asian, who`s Latino. We are part of the Ukrainian armed forces. We are brothers and sisters with the Ukrainian army.
And that being said, we are fighting side by side, elbow to elbow with them. The Russians, on the other hand, they barely -- I mean, except for when they`re doing these offensives and moving with armored forces down these highways, they`re barely attacking the Ukrainians. They`re maintaining a line.
But their emphasis seems to be the mass murder of civilians, which is against all laws of war. These are war crimes. So, believe me, the International Legion here, which is a viable, strong combat force, which is out on the line, no one`s going around asking whether -- if you`re Asian, or you`re Catholic, or you`re Jewish, whether you`re actually helping the people of Ukraine.
They are grateful for the help. And I`m grateful to be here. I`m glad that I can help my friends and I don`t have to listen to them talk about how many children were killed that day. We`re going to try to put a stop to it.
REID: And what do you make of this shift in the war strategy
We had learned earlier on, in the last couple of weeks, that Russia was focusing on trying to create this land bridge to Crimea, which is why they have been pummeling the city of Mariupol, really wiping it out, off the face of the earth, because they want to have all of that land in what they call the Donbass region in the east that goes all the way down to Crimea.
Now it looks like they`re off that strategy and, as you said, just pounding civilians in random cities, even in Western Ukraine.
NANCE: Well, this was always part of the Russian strategy. That`s not a new factor to it.
It`s just that what happened was, they got destroyed in Northern Ukraine -- in the northern part of Ukraine, certainly northwest of Kyiv, near Chernihiv, out in the northeast, out in Sumy. They had their lines and supplies cut off. They had their logistics destroyed. And they pulled those forces out of that part of the country.
Now they`re going for a land grab on 20 percent of the country to take the entire eastern portion of that -- of Ukraine and leveling Mariupol, leveling Kherson, leveling Kharkiv, making their thrust to Izyum and wiping that place out and every other village with long-range artillery.
This is why the United States needs to provide heavy weapons to Ukraine. Russia has one advantage on this battlefield. And that is long-range artillery. And let me tell you -- let me say something to the president of the United States.
Give them counterbattery long-range artillery, multiple-rocket launch systems, HIMARS rocket launch system, something that can outrange their artillery. If you do that, you stop the attacks on civilians, because that`s what they`re doing with the artillery. They are mass-murdering civilians.
And they`re preparing the battlefield as well. But they destroy villages. They don`t care who`s in them and who`s not. And that`s what this entire fight is about. If we fail here -- and we`re not going to, because we`re here to win, and we are winning.
But if we fail here, they -- the Russians, they`re here to wipe democracy out in this country, and hopefully that it would cascade to other countries. This battle is here. It`s going to be fought now. And we`re going to win it.
As they say here in Ukraine (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE). If you fight, you win. And this country is already winning. And that`s why Russia is shifting its strategy.
REID: Malcolm Nance, stay safe out there, my friend. Really appreciate you. Thank you.
Pretty harrowing stuff.
And up next on THE REIDOUT: How does Russia get away with all this brutal inhumanity? And what is the point of organizations like the United Nations if they have no power to stop it?
Plus, Ronan Farrow joins me on his blockbuster new reporting. It`s not just dictatorships that are using spyware on their citizens Democracies are using it too, including right here in the U.S.
And you can`t help but laugh at this new Tucker Carlson manly, manly men video. It`s clear that he is feeling un piquito insecure about his masculinity.
But it`s actually quite serious. These right-wing obsession with vanishing masculinity and with women`s bodies and with trans people and book banning, all of it reveals the growing fascist tendencies on the American right.
THE REIDOUT continue after this.
REID: In the seven weeks since the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has lost up to 15,000 troops. It was forced to retreat from Kyiv and suffered the humiliating loss of one of its key warships, the Moskva.
This is a stinging public relations loss for Putin and his Russian propaganda machine. And, sadly, it has triggered an increase in vengeful attacks and the indiscriminate killing of civilians, as evidenced by Russian atrocities in Bucha and the appalling uptick in dehumanization and dehumanizing rhetoric from pro-Putin media, calling for de-Ukrainization of Ukraine.
Their commitment to pure blood thirst is borne out in the unrelenting assault on Mariupol, a key port city that has been decimated. Russia`s relentless bombing has killed 21,000 people. Citizens report seeing bodies littered throughout the city.
Russia has warned those who survived that they have zero intention of allowing them to evacuate. Ukrainian forces were warned to surrender, or they will be eliminated. One Ukrainian official reports that Russia has forcibly deported thousands of people to its territories, to the pro- Russian Donetsk People`s Republic -- or to the pro -- Donetsk People`s Republic.
Reports from news organizations like "The Guardian," "The Washington Post" and the BBC recount the stories of people who claim to have been forcibly removed from shelters or bunkers. Some of these individuals describe being taken to what the Russian army called a filtration camp, where they are interrogated, then moved thousands of miles away.
Russia denies that anyone from Ukraine is being forcibly relocated. Instead, Russia claims that nearly 700,000 people have left voluntarily.
Now, I should note that Russia has a long history of forcibly deporting people. In the 1930s, Joseph Stalin forced the deportation of millions of people from 10 different ethnic groups. In the 1990s, Russian forces used filtration camps during the war in Chechnya.
Human rights groups investigating these camps documented numerous cases of abuse, torture and murder.
Joining me now is Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia.
And it`s always good to see you, Ambassador McFaul.
I wonder. To me, the rhetoric has become increasingly Hitlerian as this has gone on. It is ironic to me that Putin tries to claim that they`re denazifying Ukraine, when he sure sounds much like the 1930s dictator of Germany when he`s talking about putting people in filtration camps, deporting people. He`s channeling Stalin. He`s channeling that guy.
I don`t know what`s going on. What do you make of the rhetoric, in addition to the atrocities?
MICHAEL MCFAUL, NBC NEWS INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, the atrocities are overwhelming.
And I have lost -- I can`t think of any more adjectives to describe them. I think the war -- even the word war is incorrect, as when you were talking to Malcolm. I think it`s really important for us to stop using that war -- word...
MCFAUL: ... to describe artillery fire on innocent civilians.
Second, yes, there are comparisons to Stalin and Hitler, and the doublespeak, right, that, allegedly, they are liberating Ukraine from Nazis. Mr. Putin himself just said it.
So it`s not just his talking heads on TV. They say it all the time. But he himself just said it three or four days ago, when we can see -- we have not seen what really happened in Mariupol. I think that will shock the world, from what my Ukrainian government colleagues tell me.
But what we do know is, that is a city with a lot of ethnic Russians and a lot of Russian speakers that Putin himself is deliberately killing as a way to get President Zelenskyy to sue for peace. So, it`s killing civilians as a method of his war.
REID: And that is -- I think that is what was striking in what Malcolm said.
He said that they`re not using their artillery to fight the Ukrainian military. They`re losing to the Ukrainian military when they do fight them. They`re using their most lethal armaments to kill people, just kill people in apartment buildings and maternity hospitals, that you`re right. This is terrorism campaign at this point.
Do you think that there should be any time left wasted in designating Russia to be a state sponsor of terror?
MCFAUL: Well, I`m not an international legal expert, but, yes, that is my view. I think they should be, and with all the consequences that go with that, including financial sanctions and things that go with that.
This is terrorism. I don`t see the difference between what I witnessed in Mariupol and what we witnessed on September 11, except for one thing. One is a state and the other is not. But it`s done for political objectives. And it`s designed to kill innocent people.
And that`s what we should call it. And I think it`s another important thing to underscore, they`re not doing conventional combat with Ukrainians. When they do that, they lose. That`s what the battle of Kyiv was. they lost that battle, and maybe that will be coming in Donbass. That`s what we all suspect.
But, right now, it`s a deliberate strategy of terrorism. And you ask the question, why are they attacking Lviv now? Why are they attacking these other cities? I think it`s to do both at the same time. They want to terrorize the civilians, as they get ready to launch this bigger conventional war in the east.
REID: And, by the way, just some of the reporting, Julia Davis reporting that Russian propaganda is now essentially using "Lord of the Rings" sort of iconography, comparing Ukraine to Gollum from "The Lord of the Rings," using words that are normally reserved for witches and imps and demons to describe Ukrainians, and saying that the American temple of Satan located in Salem is supporting Ukraine.
I mean, it`s really kooky stuff, what you`re hearing coming out of there. Do you have a sense, this many days in, on what can end this? There is some big -- what is it, May 9, I guess there`s some big ceremony that or big holiday that takes place, military holiday in Russia, that it appears that Putin wants to have a big victory to declare.
Is there anything that you can see in what`s happening now that will end this?
MCFAUL: Well, first, on the television stuff, I watch Russian television from time to time. I know most of those people on TV.
And it`s just shocking what they`re saying. And people that I know, know better. When they compare us to Satan, it`s just -- it`s grotesque. And I - - whether they`re doing it out of fear, because they can`t -- they know that it`s not true, but it`s really, incredibly horrible to see.
In terms of ending the war, so two things. May 9, that`s the end of World War II for the Soviet Union. It`s the most important holiday in their country by far, and before all of this horrific stuff, rightfully so. There were millions of people, Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Estonians, who died in that war, and it should be celebrated.
But Putin allegedly wants to have a victory before May 9. One, I don`t think that`s going to happen. So he`s not going to get that. And, two, I think there`s a false sense of everything is going to end on May 9. Tragically, I don`t think that`s the case.
This war will end in one of two ways. Either one side wins, or there`s a stalemate on the battlefield. And if we want a stalemate on the battlefield, or we want Ukrainians to win -- and I most certainly want both of those things -- then we need to do more to arm the Ukrainians to achieve that outcome.
MCFAUL: Until there is stalemate, they will continue to fight.
REID: Very quickly, should we rejoin the International Criminal Court?
I know that we left it because of Iraq. And there was this idea that there was a fear that American troops might end up in it because of some of the things that happened during that war. Should the U.S. rejoin the International Criminal Court, in your view?
MCFAUL: I know there`s a lot of legal reasons why people argue against it, but I think it puts us in a very hypocritical position, if we`re not a member of the ICC, and we want to have war crimes against people like Putin.
So I would advocate it, not knowing the details, but I think we are always stronger when we`re members of international institutions than when we`re on the outside.
REID: Yes, agreed.
Ambassador Michael McFaul, always an honor. Thank you very much, sir. Really appreciate you.
REID: And still ahead: A new report reveals that even democratic governments are using spyware to track the online and even offline activities of lawmakers, journalists, human rights activists, even clergy members.
Ronan Farrow joins me next.
REID: Surveillance of the cell phones of politicians and journalists might seem like a tactic that only authoritarian regimes would use. But, today, we`re learning more about how democratic governments can spy on their citizens too through the use of commercial spyware.
In explosive new reporting in "The New Yorker," Ronan Farrow details the two years he spent digging into the vast spyware industry, and, in particular, Israel`s NSO Group and its flagship Pegasus software.
Farrow reveals for the first time that, in Spain, the research group Citizen Lab found that more than 60 Catalonian independence supporters were targeted using the Pegasus software. Catalan officials blamed the Spanish government, which has used Pegasus, according to a Citizen Lab analysis.
Farrow also reports on findings that an official working at 10 Downing Street under U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was compromised by Pegasus in July 2020. The U.K. official confirmed that the network had been compromised. The report notes that Citizen Lab analysis found that the United Arab Emirates was likely behind the hack.
Farrow notes that evidence shows Pegasus is being used in at least 45 countries, including by law enforcement agencies in the United States and across Europe. A Microsoft executive fighting the software told Farrow: "The big dirty secret is that governments are buying this stuff, not just authoritarian governments, but all types of governments."
Ronan Farrow, investigative reporter and contributing writer to "The New Yorker," joins me now.
Ronan, my friend, this is scary stuff.
First of all, just break down for those who are unaware of what it is, what is Pegasus and who makes it?
RONAN FARROW, "THE NEW YORKER": So Pegasus -- and there`s a lot of competitors, Joy -- the makers of Pegasus are quick to point this out, but it is also accurate. There are a lot of people who offer this service. And some of them don`t even charge that much.
This is accessible technology. The fundamental is, it can crack a phone. It can take all your text messages, all your photos, any personal information that can be weaponized against you. It can also turn on your microphone, your camera, provide real-time monitoring and surveillance.
So you understand very quickly how, if you`re a journalist, if you`re a dissident, if you`re trying to conduct any kind of secret business, this can be a really dangerous tool. And, indeed, what`s happened over the last few years is, there`s been an emerging controversy around the way in which this technology can be linked to violence around the world.
REID: It is -- that is really scary.
And so then what kinds of governments are using it? Because this is something that it does sound like something that I could see the Russians doing, right? And they have got everybody monitored. But you`re talking about and you`re writing about a much broader use of it in Spain, and even in this country.
My ears perk up at law enforcement. How are local government entities like law enforcement here using it?
FARROW: So, this company that I have spent a lot of time reporting on specifically, NSO Group, which makes Pegasus, an Israeli company -- a lot of the start-up culture around this type of technology is in Israel -- they make the argument that they`re the lesser of evils, because they sell only to law enforcement, only to government agencies.
As you point out, that list actually includes the United States. "The Times" reported a while back that the FBI purchased and tested this technology. The CIA has also helped Djibouti, a military ally of ours, get this technology.
It was, I report in this article, used against the Djiboutian prime minister. So you see how chaotic the results of this can be.
But, yes, this is claimed by some of the bigger players in this space should be only given to ostensibly legitimate government-affiliated law enforcement agencies. But we see in that example in Spain, Joy, how that is no guarantee of it not being abused.
And the overall impression that I emerge with from this slate of reporting is, this is everywhere. This is not some terrifying future in which every phone is a spy in your pocket. It is here now. It is an Orwellian present that we`re living through.
And the folks at NSO say, well, we`re an arms dealer. It`s not our fault that there are no conventions governing the use of our particular kinds of arms. That`s one part of their argument that, actually, I see some logic to. There needs to be international regulation on this.
REID: It`s not going everywhere, though. I mean, there is a Ukraine angle to your story.
Ukraine wanted it, didn`t get it. Why?
FARROW: It`s a really interesting wrinkle in this.
This has become a tool of diplomacy, of development. And, as you pointed out, Israel actually blocked Ukraine from getting Pegasus. The Israeli Ministry of Defense oversees the purchase of this technology by foreign governments, when we`re talking about NSO specifically.
And that`s one of the arguments they make. They say, hey, Israel is an ally of the United States. We don`t do anything without the Israeli government approving. And then I also have insiders both in the Israeli government and in this company and people who observe this industry saying, that is also no guarantee of safety.
We have seen how Israel has used this to empower other countries around the world. They have doled out this technology, essentially, through this private company. And we have seen how the United States, like in that Djibouti example that I gave, has also kind of used the same tactic.
We -- in the same way we once offered all kinds of other development assistance, building wealth, building roads, we`re also now at times helping countries procure spyware. And Ukraine wanted to get this, because it is a powerful tool in a confrontation like the one that they`re in now.
And Israel didn`t want to ruffle the feathers of the Russian authorities.
REID: That`s scary.
OK, so I`m looking at my phone now, giving it the side-eye, OK? And people know that I`m on my phone a lot. For people who are afraid of this software and afraid that your phone is going to then be turned on you, how do you protect yourself from it?
FARROW: Well, one of the takeaways from this is, Joy, if someone has the resources and the wherewithal to try to crack into what you`re doing, if you are that journalist, that dissident under a repressive regime, there`s no guarantee.
But, for most people, if you`re looking at a fear of most of these technologies, including Pegasus, according to the leadership there and the engineers I talked to inside that company, you can just power off your phone.
Most of the tech in this space doesn`t have what`s called persistence. It can`t survive a reboot. So that was one of the first recommendations that programmers of this kind of tech gave me. It`s not a guarantee.
REID: This is some scary -- yes, turn off the phone is also probably good for your mental health. Turn it off.
I mean, this is scary, when we have journalists who have been killed, with some of those murders tied to foreign governments. Looking at the Saudis also with a side-eye.
Ronan Farrow, great reporting, my friend. Thank you very much.
FARROW: Thank you so much. Really appreciate it, Joy.
REID: Cheers. Thank you.
All right, well, coming up, here`s a turn for you: testicle tanning.
I mean, it`s hard not to dismiss it as silliness, but the fascist inclinations of America`s right wing are filtering into the mainstream, disguised as concerns about American masculinity.
Stay with us.
REID: FOX News host Tucker Carlson sure has tarnished masculinity on his mind. Hmm. Wonder what that`s about?
Remember, he once said on this fake log cabin daytime show that COVID feminizes people? And now a new trailer is out to promote his feature series "The End of Men," or shall we call it an ode to men, a certain type of man, that is?
The trailer featured shirtless men doing all the manly things, shooting guns, grilling, and drinking egg yolks, and, in one bizarre scene, tanning one`s groin using red laser beams. Leave it to the Swanson frozen food air to suggest microwaving your testicles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once a society collapses, then you`re in hard times.
Well, hard iron sharpens iron, as they say. And those hard times inevitably produce men who are tough, men who are resourceful, men who are strong enough to survive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: OK, this trip into Tuckums`s dreamscape is absurd. I mean, testicle tanning, which supposedly raises testosterone levels in men, presumably not FDA-approved, was absolutely a popular search term today.
And we can make jokes about Tuckums, because, I mean, come on, and laugh at him on Twitter, but the message here is far more nefarious. It`s about the so-called decline in masculinity and the rise of the left, and it`s a message that resonates deeply with Tuckums` Gen X to elderly white male evangelical audience.
The formerly bow-tied "Dancing With the Stars" contestant`s hypermasculinity flex is some pretty blatant fascist posturing. The decline of real men is code for conservative white men, who need laser beams to make white babies.
And if that all falls apart, that spooky old great Replacement Theory is bound to succeed. What`s scarier is what the rhetoric translates into, from book banning to abortion bans and laws that regulate procreation and women`s bodies, and what is now an obsession with the false notion that scary liberal saboteurs are going to turn your kids, meaning your sons, trans.
That fascist posturing has led to fascist tendencies on the American right that worship tough guy -- well, fake tough guy Trump, who, even as a ghostly presence, can still reign as a party boss, as he recreates New York`s Tammany Hall at Mar-a-Lago.
And up next: what all that means for the midterms and for our future.
REID: In a video that has gone viral, Missouri state Representative Ian Mackey confronted a colleague over an amendment that would allow schools to restrict transgender athletes` participation in sports.
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STATE REP. IAN MACKEY (D-MO): I grew up in a school district that would vote tomorrow to put this in place.
And for 18 years, I walked around with nice people like you, who took me to ball games, who told me how smart I was, and who went to the ballot and voted for crap like this. Thank God I made it out. I think every day of the kids who are still there who haven`t made it out, who haven`t escaped from this kind of bigotry!
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REID: Joining me now is Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University and author of "On Tyranny," which will be released in an expanded audiobook edition tomorrow with new content about the war in Ukraine, and Michael Eric Dyson, distinguished professor of African- American studies at Vanderbilt University.
Thank you both for being here.
Mr. Snyder, congratulations on the expanded version of your book, I read the original "On Tyranny."
And when I see all of these individual stories, the bans on so-called Critical Race Theory, Florida banning math books because they claim it teaches Critical Race Theory, just the number of bills, anti-trans bills, 153 trans bill -- anti-trans bills in 34 states, just a massive number of anti-abortion bills and 530 -- 536 laws so far in 42 states, anti-CRT bills, I put them together in one thing, which is fascism.
It is this mania about trying to boost up white conservative Christian men, push down women and anything that`s other than heteronormative relationships? What do you see?
TIMOTHY SNYDER, PROFESSOR, YALE UNIVERSITY: I mean, I think you`re certainly right that, from a male point of view, a lot of what this is doing is trying to drive anxiety, right?
It`s trying to teach men that it`s normal for there to be roosters, like figures like Trump or Putin or, for that matter, Hitler and Mussolini. These hyperperforming types are fascist types. And then the rest of us, other men, are supposed to be anxious. We`re supposed to be worried. Are we producing enough children? Are we male enough?
That`s -- that is a fascist model, where you have this guy who struts at the top, and then everyone else is supposed to be worried and follow along with him for that reason.
REID: You know -- and, Michael Eric Dyson, I think about the "You will" -- the "Jews will not replace us" and "You will not replace us."
Those were the two things that the Charlottesville -- they were sort of like thugs in -- I don`t know, in tan suits, walking down the street, marching: "You will not replace us."
To me, that was a hypermasculinity flex too. It was this anxiety among these young-college aged men that somehow taking away a statue of a long dead white man who owned slaves was somehow threatening their very existence on this earth and that, in their view, somehow, Jewish people were fomenting this conspiracy to replace that kind of white man, that kind of -- that particular type of right-wing white man with, I don`t know, I guess with brown people, black people, with immigrants, et cetera.
I -- again, I put it all together, and it is down to not just masculine anxiety, but racial anxiety. What do you see?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Yes, well, they certainly go together.
The history of toxic racism is the history of toxic anti-women belief, femaphobia, a fear of real women showing up. And when a real woman shows up, it challenges the testosterone level of men. They somehow feel they have to reassert violently their prerogative to not only lord it over women, but other men as well, when you talk about Tucker Carlson and the like, this generating a kind of mythical, all-powerful masculinity that, at its root, is afraid.
It`s scared little boys trapped in the bodies of muscle-bound men. What are they afraid of? Abortion is about the fear of the disappearance of the white race. So, stop killing our babies and increase our wherewithal genetically.
Racial intolerance is about the fear of ceding legitimacy to black people, who they fear will do the same thing to them that we -- that has been done to us. And then fear of women is, we have lorded over these women. Even when we put them up on a pedestal, it`s a kind of frozen Jean-Jacques Rousseau 17th century respectability.
The moment you shatter the image of an ideal woman for most of these men, you are the B-word, and you are to be just tossed away. So all that does come together in this hypermasculinist intolerance that is neo-fascist, that resists governance by anybody except another white man.
That`s why all of that stuff runs together. And you`re absolutely right.
REID: Well, I mean, the thing, and the anti-trans fixation, because let`s just be clear. It`s not an anti-transgender. It`s an anti-trans someone like a Caitlyn Jenner.
It`s this fear of losing men to trans, as if there`s some sort of conspiracy, that trans is like a thing that`s been created by the left to steal men and make them into women, that it isn`t real, it`s just a -- it`s something conspiratorial, because they`re fixated on that.
You don`t hear them talk a lot about trans men. They talk about trans women, like that`s the thing that`s -- or maybe the fear that they might come upon a woman and realize -- it`s fixating specifically on trans women, and I think in a very particular way. Do you think so, Michael?
DYSON: Absolutely right. It`s the body snatchers, except, in this case, the bodies that are being smashed are trans people.
And think about it. How many trans women are involved in trans women`s sports? But we`re directing all kinds of venom against them. The fear of trans is the fear of identification, right. Not to get too psychoanalytical here, but there`s a fear that I will be what I despise. Therefore, I despise it before I become it.
And, as a result of that, if I can contain it through a phobic-like disdain, it will distance me from the very thing that I fear. As job said in the Bible, this thing that I feared the most has come upon me.
So, the internal fear mechanism creates a kind of disdain for the very thing that they fear that they might become. And it`s kind of ludicrous in one way, because the whole notion of trans is to unsettle rigid conceptions of masculinity, of femininity, of idealized expressions of biologically set, genetically determined identities.
And they ain`t with none of that. That`s why they want to ban everything, ban bodies, ban books, ban ways of existence, if they can.
REID: And, Timothy, to come back to you, I always take this back to politics, because if the right was just sort of politically weird and obsessed with masculinity, and they had these sort of fetishes, that`s fine.
If Tucker Carlson -- I mean, Tucker Carlson ain`t Jason Statham, OK? The men in there ain`t nothing like him. Like, if he`s afraid of -- he`s putting all these sort of manly figures that are nothing like him. Like, he`s the guy in the bow tie that was on "Dancing With the Stars." Like, he`s not like some macho man himself.
But the men who are doing it are not that. They`re something else there. They don`t -- they don`t seem like super alpha guys. Let`s just put it that way.
But, anyway, what I worry about is, what they`re powering is another man who is in no way macho, Donald Trump. But what they`re doing, he has led a movement, in my view. He`s -- he cosigned the Charlottesville people. He`s cosigned this neo-fascist move to the Republican Party.
And now it is powerful, and it could win elections. We could have a fascist government in the -- at the federal and state levels. Are you concerned about that?
SNYDER: Yes, I am very much concerned about that.
And I guess the way these two things work together is that the sorts of ideas that Professor Dyson and you are talking about are designed to turn men into a kind of herd. They`re designed to turn masculinity into fear.
Men are supposed to be afraid all the time. We`re supposed to be afraid of the gays. We`re supposed to be afraid of the trans. We`re supposed to be afraid of the women. We`re supposed to be afraid of demography. We`re not producing ourselves enough.
And so if you can define a group in terms of fear, what you have got is a herd or a mob. Now, that voting bloc, to get into your question, isn`t enough to get Mr. Trump elected. It is, however, enough, along with some other voting blocs, to get him close enough in 2024 that an act of violence committed by a mob could push him over the top.
And so what I`m concerned about is a combination of getting close enough, an angry, fearful mob, and our creaky constitutional system. Those three things together, unfortunately, make a very nasty scenario in 2024 very likely.
REID: Very likely.
And we have seen that they have already done a run at it. They have already tried it. It`s not -- this is -- Michael, very quick last word. This is not theoretical. They already tried it. They got real close last time. They could do it again.
DYSON: Oh, absolutely right.
And if there`s enough disdain for the present administration, and the fear that they are not real men, they`re not stepping up, Joe Biden, because of his compassion, is not a testosterone-driven men -- man.
And, as a result of that, they are very close to taking power once again.
REID: We know that there is no lack of men. Men are not going anywhere. We have had lots of great men on this show tonight. So, fear not. Men are in fine shape.
REID: Professors Timothy Snyder and Michael Eric Dyson, thank you both very much.
And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.