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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 9/6/22



As midterms begin, Democrats seeing Biden dominating message on economy and GOP extremism, putting Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans essentially on the ballot. New video showed election deniers in voting office on day the voting equipment was said to have been breached. Melber talks about Black leaders protesting injustice and was met with police brutality. Jay-Z releases new track which features The Beat report.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thank you very much.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber. I am back. It`s great to be back with you on this weeknight after I had a couple of days off. And I can tell you upfront, we have one of our special reports tonight. It`s about Sarah Palin losing again after she famously lost to Obama and some lessons about politics, coalition building, and the civil rights legacy of American artists ranging from Bob Dylan to Jay-Z.

I can also tell you that in a first we have new reaction from Jay-Z himself to an MSNBC BEAT segment we shared with you last week. So you`ll hear the audio of him and I talking about that which is a first by the end of this hour. So I hope you stay with us for that.

Also later on, we have a new report on this new surveillance video raising questions about a MAGA coup plot.

The top story, though, right now is really about the fall. Here we are, summer`s over, Labor Day is done. Today marks the midterms going into high gear. The unofficial sprint towards election day as President Biden touts his domestic record including those late-summer breakthroughs while also arguing that democracy and, believe it or not, in a very real sense, Trumpism are on this ballot. If you`re counting, election day is now just about nine weeks out.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The MAGA Republicans don`t just threaten our personal rights and economic security. They`re a threat to our very democracy.

I do think anyone who calls for the use of violence, who fails to condemn violence when it`s used, refuses to acknowledge when an election has been won, that is a threat to democracy.

I will not stand by and watch elections in this country stolen by people who simply refuse to accept that they lost.


MELBER: The Trump-fueled effort to take over once independent election offices is clearly up for a test in these midterms. About half of Americans, roughly, will choose their leaders from a ballot with at least one election denier on it.

And let`s be clear. The point there is about truth and democracy, not partisanship. As historian Tim Snyder has explained the people openly lying about the last election are telegraphing in their willingness to hijack and steal the next one.

Joe Biden spent his Senate career, really much of his public life, leaning into a different type of governance where the parties clashed but deals could be worked out because both sides agreed on democracy and maybe some facts.

And here he is at the apex of his power as his presidential legacy is written, and he has turned, basically as we start the midterms today, he`s turned into an initially reluctant but now passionate advocate of a completely different view of the other side, of this Republican Party, as a domestic threat, as if, as the president said, these so-called semi- fascists have to be stopped first, shut down, reformed, maybe retaught democracy, so that our system of government might yet prevail.

All of that under what the president is saying now and where the Democratic Party is trying to go in framing these midterms is a rejection of that older Biden compromise style, let alone the hope for any beltway steak dinners at the Palm to hash out solutions any time soon.

I`m joined now by Chai Komanduri, he`s a political strategist, a veteran of three presidential campaigns including the Obama-Biden campaign. And I think it`s fair to say, he is familiar with both Bidens, whether there are two or more.

And Chai, many people say when the facts change, you have to adapt. Do you see this as a different Biden here midterm message day one, post-Labor Day?

CHAI KOMANDURI, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Oh, absolutely. I think what has happened here is that Joe Biden has made a strategic decision to put Donald Trump on the ballot. And it`s a smart decision because Donald Trump very much wants to be on the ballot. And I think we should remind ourselves that this cycle should have been really easy for the Republican Party.

You know, all they needed to do was talk about inflation, the economy, there`s still a lot of jitters about both things, Glenn Youngkin types, Mitt Romney clones, you know, and they could have won. And Trump could have won. Because we have to remember that a Rob Portman votes pretty much the same well as Josh Hawley. While D.C. sees a difference between Josh Hawley and Rob Portman, practically, functionally for Donald Trump, there is no difference.

They both will end up supporting and voting any way that he dictates. However, they have decided instead to sort of run like this sort of freak show where all these candidates look like they`re more at home on the set of "Big Brother" than in the U.S. Capitol.


And as a result, we really have a situation where Trump, McConnell, McCarthy, sort of look like the Three Stooges running this party, and they have made just a tremendous mistake, and Joe Biden knows it, and he is basically going right at their weakness, which is the quality of their candidates and their anti-democratic message.

MELBER: Well, you mentioned basically Trump getting his way on the ballot. He`s not a big strategist for the Republican Party in general. He`s certainly not someone who looks at House districts and figures out what is best to build a majority or have something that`s not just a one or two vote majority. I mean, those are things that people in both parties think a lot about. He primarily thinks about himself, and he relishes -- you`ve said on this program, he`s someone who relishes a kind of transgression.

Here he was openly talking with the language that Biden criticizes. Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Jeff is a proven fighter who successfully pushes back on the ultraliberal extremists and who`s have driven them a little bit wild because they can`t figure him out, and he`ll rule your state with an iron fist, and he`ll do what has to be done.


MELBER: Iron fist, do what has to be done, it`s giving Pinochet-Mussolini vibes.

KOMANDURI: Absolutely. You know, I think the way to think about Trump is if you -- you know, and I think people who watch THE BEAT and yourself are big fans of the TV show "The Wire." If you remember the dispute between Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell. You know, Stringer Bell wanted to run the drug cartel as a business. He wanted to be tactical. He wanted to be strategic.

Avon Barksdale was like, no, this is street warfare. You know, you have to show your dominance, you have to show who`s in charge. Donald Trump is all Barksdale. It is always street warfare. He`s always about showing his dominance, showing that he`s in charge. Now if you watch that show, both of them were actually correct at different times.

And I`ll say the one thing about Democrats is sometimes we`re a little bit too much Stringer Bell as opposed to Avon Barksdale. We`re a little bit too much of the data, a little bit too much of the polling. You know, but Donald Trump is the opposite of that. Donald Trump is always about street warfare, which is why he`s chosen these candidates and why he`s chosen this very anti-democratic approach. He needs to show people who`s boss and who runs the Republican Party.

MELBER: Well, I`m imagining a lot of people listening to you, Chai, are wondering, does this make Andrew Weissmann Omar?

KOMANDURI: Oh, no, I -- well, you know what, that`s actually maybe a good analogy, but Omar by the end of the day was a criminal character, and, you know, I don`t know a point where Andrew Weissmann lines up in that. I think that`s something that we`re going to have to see.

MELBER: Yes. That`s fair. I`m taking what they call poetic license, although, Omar was famously President Obama`s favorite character. And for viewers who aren`t as into "The Wire" as maybe the two of us, the larger point you`re making, Chai, to broad it out, is the idea that some level of thuggishness can actually be alluring, at least as a concept. We know a lot of people like "The Godfather," that doesn`t mean they`re for murder.

Do you see Trump as walking that line right now or roiling and exacerbating the tensions in the Republican Party because McConnell and others seem to clearly want to talk about, as you said, inflation and other real things, not relitigate 2020 or a lawful search?

KOMANDURI: Oh, no. I think Donald Trump has chosen which strategy he`s going to follow, and the Republicans are following the Avon Barksdale- Donald Trump approach. This is street warfare. They have to show who`s boss. And any attempt at tactical or strategic politicking has been thrown out the window.

I mean, one thing you have to keep in mind is if you believe in the big lie, and the entire GOP believes at this point in the big lie, at least functionally bigot. The types of candidates you end up attracting are Kari Lake, Herschel Walker, Mehmet Oz. These are sort of candidates who are willing to run on the big lie. So of course you`re going to have problems with candidate quality. The big lie attracts candidates of this particular quality.

So I don`t think it`s any surprise, and I think that`s exactly where we see the midterms are lining up. Donald Trump is as much on the ballot, if not more so, than Joe Biden. I think that`s a tremendous strategic success for Joe Biden and for the Democrats.

MELBER: Well, Chai, you always walk through things with great precision. I will say as an observer of the Chai Komanduri experience, as someone who was an Obama-Biden campaign person, you sound a lot more enthused, you sound a lot more energized than you did two months ago, so I don`t know what polls you`re reading, but we`ll keep an eye on all of it. Thanks for kicking us off tonight, sir.

KOMANDURI: Great to be here. Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: Absolutely. We`ve got a lot coming up. As I mentioned, one of our special reports.


We`re going to get into criminal justice, reform, dissent, art in America, as well as what I mentioned, Obama, Jay-Z, and the lessons. We`re going to get into all that by the end of the hour.

Next, though, we turn to the surveillance video that documents a plank of the alleged coup plot in Georgia as it happened.


MELBER: New video evidence surfacing of intersecting strands of the coup plot from 2020.


Take a look at the surveillance. This is video that shows one of the fraudulent electors in Georgia who was affiliated with what many see as a criminal conspiracy there escorting operatives into what was is county elections office. And this was -- and this is bad for them as far as prosecution is concerned -- the same day that voting equipment day there was formally breached according to other independent evidence.

So you see them going in. In a different part of the video, you`ll see the operatives then bringing in suitcases full of gear. Now you may have heard the term circumstantial evidence, well, when you have target letters going out for elector fraud, for people who might be indicted in Georgia, and you have that separate evidence I mentioned of what happened that day, and you have the video, well, you`re stacking circumstantial evidence on top of a lot of other bad stuff.

They were allegedly hired by Trump lawyer Sidney Powell to go do the dirty work. That fraudulent elector who led them in had testified under oath that she was only there that day briefly, that she had actually spent the day teaching. This was all one day after the January 6th insurrection, but part of a plot as we`ve shown you that was months in the making. Elector fraud kicked around from November through January 7th.

There`s another video where you`ll see two men from a tech group you may recall, Cyber Ninjas. They go into the same Georgia elections office, one of at least seven visits in that crucial period after Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, when he would not concede and while he and his aides staged multiple different efforts -- this is one of them, them walking in there, caught them on tape, busted -- these different efforts to overthrow the race.

This is under investigation. We`re joined now by Washington bureau chief from "Mother Jones," David Corn.

David, the video alone means nothing. The video with what I mentioned and the stack of evidence, some prosecutors would look at this as really key indictable material that you then show a jury and stack it up against why did they lie about it.

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Well, that`s the big question. Why did they lie about it? You had that person who was a fake elector. She was the former county chair, Republican county chair, for that county, Coffee County, and she`s said in a lawsuit that`s going on sort of adjacent to this that she might have been there for a few minutes after she had taught for the day. What the video seems to indicate, she was there much earlier and was there for many hours.

So what is she covering up? What is she lying? Why is she there the day that this data was breached? Which also raises security questions for future elections in that county and elsewhere using those machines because they took that data and put it online. And there`s a concern by some voting experts that that can be used to compromise voting systems there and elsewhere.

MELBER: Yes. Hillary Clinton speaking out on this in a new interview. Take a listen.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I would not be honest if I didn`t say I think there was a seditious conspiracy against the government of the United States, and that`s a crime.

NORAH O`DONNELL, CBS NEWS: Led by Donald Trump.

CLINTON: Led by Donald Trump. Was I happy when I beat Donald Trump by nearly three million votes but lost the electoral college? No, I was not happy. Did I even for a nanosecond think, I`m going to claim victory, and try to get the Democrats to refuse to certify the election? No.


MELBER: David.

CORN: You know, there are a lot of people out there who will not listen to what Hillary Clinton has to say, but I think she`s spot on in that comparison. We`ve seen as the January 6th Committee has really tried to demonstrate that there were seven or so different strains after election night of Donald Trump trying to subvert the election.

What went on in Georgia, including his phone call, asking them to find him just enough votes so he can win, was just one of those seven strains. Trying to get the Justice Department involved was another. Of course January 6th in blocking the insurrection was the grand finale. So to me it`s quite clear that we have two realities here. We have an actual reality where people know what he did after the election, after election night, and then you have the Republicans still pretending that everything was fine.

Nothing wrong was done. January 6th was not a big deal. And they`re still backing a guy who tried -- whether you call it sedition, overturning election, authoritarian, whatever you want to call it, that`s what Donald Trump did, and the Republican Party is fine with that.


They`re still backing him, even Mitch McConnell who said he would support him should he gain the nomination in 2024. And so that`s what`s really at stake right now. Whatever terms you put on this, whatever Biden says about semi-fascist or not, you have part of America which is dominant, a majority part of America, accepting reality, and wanting to protect democracy and you have this other ramp faction out there that wants to subvert democracy and say nothing happened.

MELBER: Yes. You lay it out there, David, and so much evidence has poured in since even what was the first draft understanding of the horrific, you know, physical violence of the insurrection. But as you say, one of many plots, and that`s something that both authorities and the country has to keep the scrutiny on.

David Corn, always good to see you, sir.

CORN: Good to see you. Glad you`re back.

MELBER: Hey, thank you. Appreciate it.

Our thanks to David. I want to tell, everyone what`s coming up. I mentioned that we do these special reports. They are a team effort here. We work hard on them. I have a brand new one for you. It starts, I`ll tell you, with Sarah Palin`s loss. She lost once to Obama, she just lost again. And it marks a kind of an end of something in the Republican Party. Then we go to lessons from Obama and lessons from the Civil Rights Movement across American history.

It`s my special report for you with some new reporting and it`s next.



MELBER: Now to our special report. On politics, truth, and art. An era just ended in the Republican Party with Sarah Palin`s loss.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Like you, I know that it is now or never. I`m in it to win it because we believe in America, and we love our freedoms.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Sarah Palin has failed in the her most recent attempt at a political comeback.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Mary Peltola has won that election. Just shocking. You see who she won it over, Sarah Palin.


MELBER: That`s a big fall for someone who rose to fame as the Republican Party`s first big attack dog against Barack Obama.


PALIN: Senator Obama has an ideological commitment to higher tax taxes.

I guess a smalltown mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.

Barack Obama`s friends from Chicago. Turns out one of his earliest supporters is a man who was a domestic terrorist.


MELBER: Palin was clearly a precursor to Donald Trump. Reality show style figures who served up the Obama attacks, the trolling, the transgressive cruelty that some Republicans crave in America. And while Palin kept going negative in 2008, and ultimately losing to Obama, he was mostly pitching hope and unity, appearing with everyone from conservative Pastor Rick Warren to hitting the campaign trail with artist Jay-Z.


JAY-Z, RAPPER: You`re going to be able to vote one day. Right, this young lady right here is a perfect example of why we have to vote. I need you to vote November 4th. If you need more information go to Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run.


JAY-Z: Obama is running so we all could fly.


MELBER: Those last lines about the foundation of work, walking so others could run, those were so enduring Obama later went back to them as the ruler of the free world. One might say the ruler`s back.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: We honor those who walked so we could run. We must run so our children soar.


MELBER: That`s Obama there campaigning with artists. You can see it with your own eyes. You could hear what they were doing and saying, a musician and a leader talking about voting, civil rights, hope, the next generation. And yet for certain artists, pundits portrayed it all very differently.


MEGAN KELLY, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: This is rapper Jay-Z and rapper Young Jeezy. What kind of example is this setting for, you know, young African- Americans?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This very vitriolic rhetoric.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your husband was a drug dealer. For 14 years he sold crack cocaine. Talk about protecting black neighborhoods. Start at home.

JAY CARNEY, FORMER OBAMA PRESS SECRETARY: It`s a song, Donovan. The president did not communicate with Jay-Z over this trip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He continues to promote a message, a divisive message.

BILL O`REILLY, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: You`re going to have to get people like Jay-Z or Kanye West, all these gangster rappers to knock it off. That`s number one. To knock it awesome.


MELBER: Palin and those right-wing pundits were fear-mongering about Obama`s supposed associates. They failed to stop Obama. But they were drawing on a much older playbook that`s relevant right now.


We will get to why. We will return to how the government cracks down on this dissent. But first, let`s go all the way back and listen to what has upset so many elites in America whenever in any era, Black leaders, activists or artists confront the system.

We can go all the way back to 1939 when a 23-year-old Billie Holiday tackled lynching in Strange Fruit, adapted from a poem by a labor organizer. Or Sam Cooke who released the Civil Rights anthem A Change Is Gonna Come back in 1964.


SAM COOKE, SINGER (singing): It`s been a long, a long time coming. But I know change is going to come.


MELBER: Or Gil Scott-Heron rebuking foreign policy towards apartheid in the song Johannesburg, and taking on Nixon for pushing no-knock warrants all the way back in 1971 with a song that was essentially also journalism because Mr. Heron was reporting on how those new warrants would be used for raids largely targeting Black Americans. It`s the same tactic that led to the police killing Breonna Taylor in her sleep.


GIL SCOTT-HERON, AMERICAN POET: We`re going to do a poem for one of our unfavored people who`s now the head of the Nixon campaign. No-knock, the law in particular, the authorities and members of the police force no longer have to knock on your door before entering. No-knocking, head- rocking, enter, shocking, shooting, cussing. Killing, crying, lying, and being white.


MELBER: Those poets were capturing real life in America from work and love, to policing and systemic racism. They build a path for the next generation of poets also known as rappers like Dr. Dre leading NWA`s aggressive song that condemned how police think they have the authority to kill a minority. Or Tupac Shakur, the son of a Black Panther, who was sadly and remarkably prophetic when he was speaking out in his early 20s.


TUPAC SHAKUR, RAPPER: The same crime element that white people fear, we fear. So, we defend ourselves from the same crime element that they scared of. All the societies are doing is leeching off the ghetto. They use the ghetto for their pain, for their sorrow, for their culture, for their music, for their happiness, for their movies. Well, we asked 10 years ago, we was asking what the path is. We was asking with them, you know, a civil rights movement, we was asking. You know, now those people that we`re asking, they`re all dead and in jail. So, now, what do you think we`re going to do, ask?


MELBER: Black artists exercising their free speech rights, their free speech rights that every person is supposed to have in this country. And I just showed you across different decades. What was the response on Black artists condemning police brutality and repression? They were met with more brutality and government repression.

And you could turn away from these facts. If you`re watching this report in America live or on the internet and you live in America, this is being done in your name. You should know about it. And we do facts around here, so let me walk you through briefly the results for each of those artists.

Billie Holiday. She died at 44 years old at a hospital as police were handcuffing her to the hospital bed over drug allegations. The measures deemed so cruel that even in 1959, a judge ultimately ordered those police removed from her room on an emergency basis. It was hours before her death.

For Sam Cooke, some change did come but not in time for him to see it. Protesters were marching with signs quoting his lyrics. Congress did pass the Voting Rights Act in 1964 but Cooke was dead at 33. He was killed in a controversial shooting by a hotel manager who was then cleared it was deemed a justifiable homicide by a jury that deliberated for just 15 minutes.

Gil Scott-Heron was older, a celebrated musician when a judge sentenced him to one to three years in prison for personal drug use by a 52-year-old, far harsher than what white drug users who are often spared any jail time ever face.

Tupac was stopped for jaywalking by the Oakland Police and brutally beaten at age 20. He actually chose to sue to highlight what he said was police brutality. That was a common fact of life. He just had a platform to depict it.

These are harrowing stories of government attacks on artists. You can see what happened to Pac there. The backlash also targets art itself, that after police song which I showed you discuss specifically police brutality, it was attacked by politicians, it was targeted for radio bands, kind of like an audiobook burning. The FBI was pressuring the record company saying it oppose that song`s message and disrespect.


This was all stoking a frenzy of a kind of mob antipathy to this entire art form. Here in this supposedly free speech country, we`re witnessing those efforts to literally criminalize the music. There were DJs indicted on racketeering charges for, I guess, dealing music. Some of them actually beat those cases. The authorities were trying to turn poetry and descent into kind of a hated contraband.

And it was worse on the political right. I showed you those clips. But the thrust of this was by partisan, just like so much of America`s drug war and policing of minority communities that we have reported on for you here. The historic -- the hysteria started to drive Black art and descent up to a kind of a supposedly presidential-level problem. I want you to listen to this. Consider the kind of indulgent blindness it took Bill Clinton to seriously compare a clan leader David Duke to the poet, author, and rapper Sister Souljah.


BOB DOLE, 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 reverse them, you might think David Duke was giving that speech.


MELBER: Presidents versus poets, the FBI versus a CD. Police force in America versus words. Why? Because the poets and the words were depicting racism and reporting brutality and exposing hypocrisy that America doesn`t want to hear. Now, certain people may object, but Ari, that was a long time ago. Certain people do that a lot. You show them these problems and they claim the problems are -- they`re located some other place or area. That`s not here, they`ll say. That`s not us. Or maybe that was back then or it`s over there but not now. No, it is right now.

The history just helps show what`s happening. But this isn`t cable history. You`re watching cable news. The news tonight is this playbook continues now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not actually a form of music.

GERALDO RIVERA, CORRESPONDENT-AT-LARGE, FOX NEWS: He`s walking around with his pants around his ass. They have encouraged people to be so different from the mainstream that they can`t participate.

ERIC ADAMS, MAYOR OF NEW YORK: I had no idea what drill rapping was. We are allowing music displaying of guns, violence, and it is alarming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Americans are upset, upset, annoyed and looking for answers that a guy like Common would be entertained at the White House.

JOSHUA JOHNSON, T.V. HOST: Prosecutors in Georgia will use art as criminal evidence in an upcoming trial.

RIVERA: This is why I say that hip hop has done more damage to young African-Americans than racism in recent years.


MELBER: That is all right now. And those were people on the right and the Democratic left or center. So, some people clearly did not learn Bob Dylan`s admonition from back in 1964. Don`t criticize what you don`t understand. And this is going way beyond criticizing right now, which is why it`s national news. And we`re going to explain exactly how when this special report concludes when we`re back after our shortest break in just 60 seconds.



MELBER: Welcome back to our report tracking this playbook used against dissent, and Black art in America. Now, we showed you how leaders in both parties have led these kinds of attacks. Right now, Atlanta prosecutors are treating poetry as criminal evidence against two Black artists who are legally presumed innocent, but they`re in prison right now tonight, that`s before their trial, in a RICO case that cites their lyrics 11 times as supposed criminal evidence.

Now, that`s striking because white artists on trial for violence don`t ever see their art held against them in court from Johnny Cash, who had several arrests back in the day to just this year Johnny Depp. And all of that brings us back to Jay-Z tackling injustice in this new song we reported on as well as history in this new interview.


JAY-Z, RAPPER: You got to remember, hip hop was demonized when we first came out. After they couldn`t get rid of us, they demonize us. And they started driving tractors over our CDs and things like that. This is all history.


MELBER: History as we showed you. And people are listening right now that drug war song is the title track and what is right now the number one album in the country. News if you want to know what people are listening to and what is resonating. Now, tonight, I can tell you art and news are intersecting because in that same new interview with Rob Markman, Jay-Z cites that MSNBC BEAT report that we did about the song.

So, I want to play this for you. Here`s Jay discussing our BEAT report and then briefly, my response to him in this new online discussion.


Ari, that was amazing piece. In the verse, I say, my only goal is make a real -- feel seen." When somebody break it down in that way, you know, we all feel seen. And it wasn`t me -- you know, I got calls from everybody like, man, we need it that right there or that was amazing. To articulate and understand what we`ve going through, you know? So, that was amazing job.

MELBER: And I`ve been listening to you guys my whole life. Your work and the work of hip-hop artists who have explained the real stories and history that wasn`t always in the history books is why I did civil rights law and then now I do journalism.


MELBER: Not all history is in the history books they give you. Now, Jay-Z also released that BEAT report as a new track Hov Did, citing his own nickname. It`s kind of like a single or the audio book. Jay-Z is basically distributing the MSNBC segment as a track for his fans across music platforms, Spotify, Apple title, which has made headlines you see here because as best we can tell, that is a first.

And one might even say Jay sampled my voice and made it a hot song. I mean, one might say that because that`s a quote. But the larger story here is about truths long denied. How a nation so insistent that it is the land of the free, as Jay once wrote, is actually a place where so many remain enslaved.

Now, the truth has no politics. The truth has no ideology. When you deal with the truth, your lived experience or knowledge built up through sources and information. It should just hit as true. But let me tell you something. In repressive societies, telling the truth can become a radical act. And you see how they treat the so-called radicals.

But the truth is attainable. The knowledge is here if you want it bad enough. As Jay-Z also said, I`ll answer all your questions but then y`all got to go. The question I asked you is how bad you want to know. Do you want to know what`s going on in our country or what`s been going on this whole time? Or is it just easier to be ignorant of our history and our reality today?

That kind of ignorance is what helps history repeat itself. But it is not inevitable. This is history right now. What we do today will become tomorrow`s history. And as you see, if you learn it with effort we can change history. Sam did. Gil did. Hov did. They did.




MELBER: Turning to accountability for election lies safeguarding our democracy. We`ve been reporting on a several significant cases from Alex Jones to Fox News that really try to assert some accountability in court in this arena. Now, in the explosive defamation suit against Fox News and its parent company, well, we`re seeing a lot of progress, action.

Now, this started with the Dominion Voting Machine Company basically saying that they were lied on in a way that affected their business. That`s sort of the legal argument. NPR reports their lawyers now have an email from a Fox producer in that critical period of November 2020 warning that they could not responsibly or factually put Jeanine Pirro back on the air because she was "pulling conspiracy theories from the dark corners of the web to justify Trump`s lies."

Keep in mind, this affects Dominion`s business. It also was the precursor to an insurrection we all live through. Why does it matter? Well, according to this report, and again, it`ll all be hashed out eventually in the trial if they make it to trial. But according to this kind of evidence, the argument is that Fox knew, was on notice, was not just confused, but was intentionally knowingly putting people back on the air to lie, putting false information on the air. And thus, Dominion says, defaming them. The company just went forward and did it even with the internal warning I just showed you, which was secret. This is something we`re only learning about because of the case.

Meanwhile, there`s pressure on Fox in the $1.6 billion lawsuit. When you have a lawsuit like this, well, you have to play by the rules or you could be sanctioned. Indeed, if you resist enough, you could end up in contempt of court, which is jail. So, people like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity who`ve been pretty critical of this kind of thing, while they`re still surrendering, they`re still cooperating, they are testifying under oath recently to deal with these kinds of questions. There are reports that Mr. Rupert Murdoch himself could be deposed.

In the court filings, Dominion argues that Fox cynically exploited wild claims of fraud to win back viewers who were angry that Fox had initially and accurately reported the fact that Joe Biden won the election. Now, you can`t understand a case without understanding both sides. And we`ve heard from many different people throughout all of this. Fox News` lawyers and its management insist everything they did is covered and protected by the First Amendment. They wouldn`t comment on this specific producer email information but they also argue a kind of a dodge about the news.

They say that because Donald Trump was then President, outgoing or not, and was saying all these things, they had a newsworthy reason to cover them. That`s their defense. What happens if they make it to trial? Well, we will keep reporting on this big story. I`ll be right back.



MELBER: There has been a lot of reporting about the search of Donald Trump`s Mar-a-Lago home, the struggle to find a legal theory, and then this ruling we reported on last night there was a procedural step of sorts, although controversial in some ways that would change the review process for the Trump materials seized by the government.

Now, Attorney General Bill Barr disagrees with Donald Trump and his lawyers and the ruling. This is Donald Trump`s former attorney general, so it`s interesting. This was today on Fox News. Barr says and you can hear him in his own words, the Justice Department he thinks is still in the right, meaning Trump is wrong, that this court ruling could easily be appealed and narrowed or reversed. And that basically, Donald Trump, listen for it, probably doesn`t have standing, meaning power to even challenge this stuff at this juncture anyway. Bill Barr.


BILL BARR, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The opinion, I think, was wrong and I think the government should appeal it. It`s deeply flawed in a number of ways. I don`t think the appointment of a special master is going to hold up. The law here I think is pretty clear that the Justice Department should be able to review these documents. If it got to the point where they wanted to actually put the documents before the grand jury without sanitizing them and protecting the deliberative process, then you would litigate the issue.

But for her to come in now in sort of this abstract thing and say this guy is going to decide what is potentially privileged, dodges the question which is does the President have standing to assert the privilege against the existing administration.


MELBER: That last sentence he`s referring to Donald Trump saying he does not have this standing or power to even do this. That`s Bill Barr, Trump`s Attorney General, on Fox News telling everyone he doesn`t think they`re right. Interesting.

Now, as I mentioned tonight, we went through this history Black art, Black dissent, freedom and truth in America. You can always connect with me on social media. And my question and I picked up on that reporting we did. What protest song do you think stands as true or more important now than when it first came out? What protest song or any song, whatever you want to call it, out there do you want to share.

You can tell me @AriMelber on social media. You can always connect with me at in the comments there or @AriMelber. What protest song should we all be listening to in today`s America.

That does it for me. "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" starts now.