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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 10/20/21

Guests: Ashley Parker, Lisa Lerer, Joyce Vance, James Carville, Mike Murphy, Stephen Sample


Full House to vote tomorrow to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Biden sells domestic plan during visit to Scranton, PA. Sinema object to tax increase in Biden plan. FDA backs Moderna, J&J COVID boosters. Senate GOP blocks voting rights legislation. FDA allows mixing vaccine brands for boosters. Netflix walkout over Dave Chappelle special.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: President Joe Biden gets tonight`s "LAST WORD." THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 274 of the Biden administration and we are just hours away from what has become at least thus far the linchpin of the committee investigating the sacking of our Capitol and the attempt to change a presidential election. That would be holding someone, anyone accountable. In this case that would be Steve Bannon.

This afternoon, the House Rules Committee voted to advance the recommendation to the full House that Bannon be held in contempt after hearing from lawmakers on the January 6 committee.

Also, there for good measure, Trump acolytes, Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz, who showed up just to speak against the move to subpoena Bannon during one lively exchange Gaetz made sure to push the former presidents lies about election fraud.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN, HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON JANUARY 6: Do you accept that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election?

REP. MATT GAETZ, (R) FLORIDA: I accept that Joe Biden is the president.

RASKIN: Do you accept that he won the election by more than 7 million votes and defeated Donald Trump by three or six to 232 in the Electoral College, a margin that Donald Trump called a landslide when he beat Hillary Clinton by the same numbers?

GAETZ: I think that our election was uniquely polluted by these indiscriminate mail-in ballots.


WILLIAMS: Today just to remove any doubt, Republican House leaders officially reminded their members to vote no on holding Bannon in contempt. One of them used a Trumpy refrain to denounce the 1/6 committee`s body of work.


REP. STEVE SCALISE, (R) LOUISIANA MINORITY WHIP: I think you`re seeing most members get tired of the witch hunts in the games. Let`s focus on policies that affect everyday families right now instead of these partisan witch hunts that they want to keep going on.


WILLIAMS: Liz Cheney, who is one of the committee`s two Republicans today tried to make her case to her fellow lawmakers for the move against Bannon.


REP. LIZ CHENEY, (R) WYOMING HOUSE SELECTION COMMITTEE ON JANUARY 6: I`ve heard from a number of my colleagues in the last several days who say they "just don`t want this target on their back. They`re just trying to keep their heads down. They don`t want to anger Kevin McCarthy." I asked each one of you to step back from the brink. I urge you to do what you know is right. Think about how you will answer when history asks, what did you do when Congress was attacked?


WILLIAMS: Should the full House find Bannon in contempt? The speaker must then refer the matter to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. Questions about how Attorney General Merrick Garland intends to handle the matter will come up when he testifies tomorrow before the House Judiciary Committee.

Meantime, there is the ongoing Biden presidency after all, and Democrats are working with the White House on salvaging the President`s ambitious domestic spending plan. Today, he was back on the road this time in his hometown of Scranton, PA to promote what is now a slimmed down version of his original proposals to expand several social programs and address climate change.

Biden plan to raise taxes to pay for those proposals, now meeting increased resistance from wait for it, Democratic Senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

There was also a bit of drama today surrounding again, wait for it, Joe Manchin of West Virginia. According to a new report from Mother Jones, Manchin, "told associates that he is considering leaving the Democratic party if President Joe Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill do not agree to his demand to cut the size of the social infrastructure bill from $3.5 trillion to 1.75. Manchin has said that if this were to happen, he would declare himself an American independent, and he has devised a detailed exit strategy for his departure."

Well, today the senator offered his own colorful response to that report.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: Bulls -- spelled with a B-U-L-L-, capital `B.


WILLIAMS: The White House did get an assist today on one aspect of its domestic policy. FDA has now authorized booster shots of both the J & J and Moderna vaccines. They also signed off on allowing Americans to get a booster of a different brand than their original vaccination. More on all of it later in our hour.

There was also a setback this afternoon for another White House priority for the third time this year. Senate Republicans have blocked efforts to advance voting rights legislation.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK MAJORITY LEADER: Every single Republican senator just blocked this chamber from having a debate, simply a debate on protecting Americans right to vote in free and fair elections. A little over a year ago, our country held this safest most accessible, most on the level elections in modern history, Republican obstruction is not a cause for throwing in the towel. As soon as next week, I`m prepared to bring the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act here to the floor. What we saw from Republicans today is not how the Senate is supposed to work.



WILLIAMS: The failure to get the needed 60 votes to just debate the measure means pressure on Democrats to eliminate the filibuster is becoming even more intense. Those two Democratic senators I made you wait for earlier Sinema and Manchin who oppose getting rid of the filibuster are two reasons changing the Senate rules is easier said than done. Earlier on this network, the former chairman of the Republican Party said in no uncertain terms, the Democrats better figure out a way to lead.


MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: If someone landed on this planet from outer space, and asked, may I see the majority leader of the United States Senate, you know who they take them to? Mitch McConnell, because McConnell`s played this as if he`s still running the Senate, he`s played this as if he still has command and control of the operations, meaning the votes and what the senate business will be. And so, if I`m sitting there as a Democrat, I`m going to well damn, how did that happen? Didn`t we win?


WILLIAMS: For my money, the most important words spoken on all of cable television today. But with that, let`s bring in our starting line on a Wednesday night Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post, Lisa Lerer, National Political Correspondent for The New York Times and former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor for good reason. She is one of the co-hosts of our podcast, Sisters in Law with Kimberly Atkins Stohr, Jill Wine-Banks, Barb McQuade.

Good evening and welcome to you all. Ashley, you get the tough one. The White House is to put a charitably stalled, the Democrats in the Senate are, to put it charitably paralyzed. So, what political impact is there? If the Democrats in do indeed do have the numbers for this vote against Bannon tomorrow?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, the thing still, I think, is the stalled, the domestic agenda with infrastructure and reconciliation. That is the key thing. But the vote against Bannon does help forward Democratic objectives in certain ways but you`re seeing what Biden -- President Biden came in to do which was sort of shoring up democracy and going after the January 6 attacks. That`s something that`s incredibly important for this White House, as it is, again, and it doesn`t detract from sort of the intractable problem. They`re narrowing in on a deal in on Congress for the President`s domestic agenda. But it is politically problematic for the Republicans and that it reminds them of everything they disliked about the Trump era, which of course culminated in a deadly insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. That is not what Republicans want to be talking about at all and what will be in the news a bit at least tomorrow with that vote.

WILLIAMS: Lisa, as you know, starting tomorrow, this process could go so slowly. And indeed, Bannon is banking on it, going so slowly, this could be tantamount to the public opening of a bottle of molasses. What will be the impact on the work of the 1/6 committee, should this vote go against Bannon tomorrow?

LISA LERER, THE NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they say that they`re talking to many, many other witnesses involved so that work will proceed. I think the political impact could be a bit less than what Ashley`s laying out just because this could, as you point out, go on for quite some time well beyond the midterm elections, but I do think it is a test of Congress if they don`t take this vote, and they don`t refer Bannon to the Justice Department for criminal contempt. It`s unclear why anyone would comply with a congressional subpoena. You know, this is something that was about the very essence of our democracy. It was a violent attack on the institution itself.

And if they can`t sort of push this forward, I think there`s real question there. And I do think there`s also a question for the administration. Obviously, how DOJ proceeds` separate from the administration, they`ve been taking great pains to stress their independence. But, you know, the administration has not been very eager to reopen these kinds of things from the Trump era, even when it comes to the January 6 attack.

And, you know, they don`t see it as gaining a lot of ground with independence. They know that it motivates their base politically but Biden`s numbers with independence have fallen significantly. They will be crucial voters in that midterm election. And so, it`s unclear if the administration -- this is something that the administration itself wants to spend a lot of time talking about.


WILLIAMS: Joyce, counselor, let`s get our hands dirty on this next one. Does Garland in your view, have it in them to go hard on this? His MO thus far, has been somewhere between cautious and measured?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I think that`s a good way of characterizing the way he`s approached these issues so far. Today DOJ released a statement saying that they would follow a document called the federal principles of prosecution in making this decision. So, here`s the step that Garland will have to start out with. First, he`ll have to make sure that he has sufficient evidence to obtain and sustain a conviction against Steve Bannon for obstruction of Congress. If he doesn`t think he has the evidence, then it`s done right there. But look, we`ve all seen this sort of obstruction crime committed in public, it seems very likely that the evidence is sufficient.

So then, he`ll have to consider a couple of other questions. Is it in the national interest to prosecute, it would seem that preserving the independence of one three branches of government to ensure we have checks and balances sounds like national interest to me. And then the final step is considering whether there are alternatives to criminal prosecution that would be effective. That`s where I think given the sort of restraint that we`ve seen this Justice Department want to engage in, they may falter, they may decide that because Congress has civil litigation options, that perhaps those are preferable to criminal prosecution.

But, you know, at the end of the day, you have to dig in somewhere if you`re going to defend democracy, and unless Congress and its oversight function are going to become paper, tigers, then Merrick Garland is simply going to have to break the mold and engage in a prosecution here.

WILLIAMS: We shall see. Ashley, your colleagues write this today about the president. Those working closely with Biden or familiar with his meetings say that the President`s now more clearly setting guidelines for what should stay in his social safety net bill, and what will have to go. Good idea would have been a great idea a month ago. What does that mean, exactly do you think Ashley?

PARKER: Well, this is something that lawmakers -- Democratic lawmakers, some of them at least have been eager to see happen for a long time for a while the President was conducting listening sessions, bringing in lawmakers in, making phone calls, conducting video conferences with them. But as a former senator, he was very aware that he did not like it himself when he was in that chamber when the President came in and laid down the hammer. Now he is that way laying down the hammer, but he is, as we reported, giving a clear sense of what he would prefer where he thinks both moderates and progressives can compromise. And that`s something they find very helpful when you have the President of the United States say, I think you know, early childhood education is absolutely crucial. We may be willing to lose the two years of free community college, even though my wife will be furious with me as a community college professor herself. That helps give a framework for these two sides to move forward on. So, on the whole it`s very welcome at this point as the deadline live.

WILLIAMS: Lisa Lehrer moving on to voting rights, which was the big depression trigger of the day for so many Democrats looking on? What are their options now?

LERER: Well, look, this is once again, reminds of me the -- what was that line, The Brady Bunch of Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, again, it`s Manchin, Manchin, Manchin. So, the thinking here was that this vote had to happen that he had asked for more time to try to get Republicans on board, get those 10 Republicans needed to pass something, pass a voting rights bill. That obviously didn`t happen. And so, the question now is whether he will be more open to eliminating the filibuster, there`s no evidence that that`s the case.

And I also think voting rights for as critical of an issue that is both to the health of our democracy and to the Democratic base. It`s not one that is getting so much public attention, at least from the White House, that they`ve been much more consumed with those negotiations over the economic bill. You don`t hear the President out there giving these big speeches on voting rights very frequently or talking about it much at all. They say that, you know, action behind the scenes, legal action, administration action is more important than those kinds of speeches. But it does sort of, you know, raise the question of how much momentum there is to get something like this done, particularly when Democrats simply do not have the votes in Congress, unless they can, you know, agree to up end the filibuster and there`s just no evidence as of now that that`s something that`s going to happen.


WILLIAMS: Joyce Vance, I think this moment calls for the following. I`d like to ask you as a southerner, as a Democrat, as a woman of the law, as a former Fed to talk about what`s at stake, what will happen to voting rights in this country, what we`re watching happen, absent any movement at the federal level?

VANCE: We`re watching an absolute erosion of the right to vote, and that erosion is not equal across the board. It is often targeted at people who Republican and conservative state legislatures believe we`ll vote Democratic. And that means it`s targeting communities of color. It`s targeting people who have less or financial means. So, we have a lot of new laws coming out of state legislatures, and they all restrict the right to vote. They do it in the name of preventing fraud by and large, but that fraud has never been proven to exist. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary, that it`s really just a Boogeyman that these legislatures are using in order to enact laws that suppress the right to vote.

You may need to get an identification that`s difficult to identify -- or expensive to get, you may no longer be able to drop off your ballot in a Dropbox or use drive up voting. If for instance, you`re someone who has mobility issues or illness, it may be more difficult to get a mail-in ballot. You may find it harder to register and you may be removed from the role that for instance, you skip an election, when you take all of these suppressive laws in combination it paints a very bleak picture of the landscape from voting in `22 and going forward.

And, Brian, here`s the linchpin. We used to have the Voting Rights Act, which was a mechanism DOJ could use to keep these overly restrictive, overly suppressive laws from going into effect, particularly in jurisdictions with a history of discrimination. But the Voting Rights Act was abrogated by the Supreme Court, the John Lewis voting right, the second of the two acts that the Senate will consider is essential to reestablish the Voting Rights Act too without some sort of change to the filibuster seems to be doomed to failure.

WILLIAMS: Exactly why I asked. With great appreciation to our starting line tonight, Ashley Parker, Lisa Lerer, Joyce Vance, thank you all for starting us off.

Coming up this evening, Republicans take a stand on democracy today. Well, they voted against voting rights. So that`s kind of a stand. James Carville and Mike Murphy standing by to talk to us.

And later, he treats COVID patients, and he recently got COVID himself. So, it`s for good reason that one of the docs we check in on to ask about COVID today especially is with us to talk about this news on booster shots among other subjects. All of it as our broadcast is just getting underway on this Wednesday night.




REP. JIM JORDAN, (R) OHIO: The FBI has been investigating this issue for the past -- since it happened, exactly where it`s supposed to have 600 people have been charged. Investigations are supposed to happen in the executive branch. Congress has an oversight function. But Democrats don`t want to do that. The actions of the January 6 committee I believe are a complete assault on Americans` liberty.


WILLIAMS: It remains to be seen if any Republicans except for the two people on the January 6 committee will vote to hold Steve Bannon in contempt. It`s an important night to have back with us, James Carville, veteran Democratic Strategist who rose to national fame with the Clinton effort. He`s co-host of the politics War Room podcast. And Mike Murphy, Veteran Republican Strategist, Co-Director of the Center for the Political Future at the University of Southern California, who co-hosts the Hacks on Tap podcast.

Gentlemen, good evening and welcome. James, we`ll talk about LSU football on the head coach at some other time. Tonight, it is way too important. I`m going to begin this segment with a dramatic reading, when this story was first written it was written by Charles Schulz and it stars were Charlie Brown and Lucy. It`s been rewritten for modern times in the Atlantic tonight by Russell Berman. Kids watching at home want to be writers, right like this. This is about the senate well this afternoon.

"After Vice President Kamala Harris gavel devote closed Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declared that his party`s fight was far from over. He said the Senate would soon call up a New Voting Rights Act named for the late Representative John Lewis, a bill that is likely to meet the same fate as the Freedom to Vote Act. Schumer invoked Senate history and the Civil War amendments that ended slavery to show how important he believed the cause to be. But he had no more news to announce, no next steps that would break the impasse on voting rights. The voluble Manchin had nothing to say. And when Schumer finished his brief speech, the Senate moved on to something else.

James, however rare it might be on this network I think it`s time for this question to be fairly asked of you. Are the Democrats up to this?

JAMES CARVILLE, VETERAN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, you know, as long as you have the filibuster, and Republicans play in it, we got 50 votes. I mean, it`s just very hard to do a lot of things you want to. Now since Manchin was involved in this, I know he`s supportive of voting rights. And the only way to take in a pass is if they get a carve out for the filibusters. It`s just simple math and the simple Senate votes.

And it`s really horrible in this country, like Mike and I spend our lives trying to convince people to vote for someone, now all of the politics is about who votes, just stopping people in voting. It`s ridiculous, but I suspect that Senator Schumer`s not going to let this go, that they`re going to revisit it in some place and other and, you know, think this game is not over yet.

WILLIAMS: Mike Murphy, same question.

MIKE MURPHY, VETERAN REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think -- I mean, I agree with James, bottom line is they don`t have the votes, but I don`t think they`re sobbing in the war rooms tonight on the Democratic side, because well, they don`t have the votes, they have the issue. So, they`re going to keep bringing this thing up and pounding away, because it`ll help the Democrats in the cold hard calculation of politics. One, it`ll help rile up their base. It`ll help minority turnout in the midterms, where often it`s not as high. And two, it`ll play in the suburbs. We talked a lot about the House, but the suburbs are where a lot of these Senate races are going to be decided. So, I`m the cynic that think that was leader Schumer would have been delighted to pass it. He`s equally delighted to have the issue, to bang like a gong now, which is what they`re going to do.


WILLIAMS: Mike is any part of you surprise that let`s just go ahead and prognosticate about tomorrow. The huge majority of Republicans in the House are going to take a dive on behalf of Steve Bannon. It`s a kind of badly groomed Hill to die on, is it not?

MURPHY: Yeah, it`s disgusting. I mean, we`re talking about rule of law here. And except for a handful, the brave few, the rest of them are just running for the tall grass. A lot of them know better. But it`s not exactly a profile of courage on the Republican side about this one.

WILLIAMS: James, I guess you`re beyond surprised about something like that?

CARVILLE: No. Yeah, Jim Jordan, who -- you know, you pervert wrestling coach and never said a word. And he doesn`t remember he talked to the President. That committee has all of Jim, algo records. They know what`s going on. Liz Cheney said that Steve Bannon dissolved in the planning at ESPN and probably Trump. I`m not surprised. Jim Jordan wants to stop this because he`s got his hands all over this mess, too. But that committee is moving ahead. And if Bannon doesn`t go, Merrick Garland has got to lock him up front, you can`t decide that you`re not going to comply with a subpoena in this country. That absurd.

WILLIAMS: James, while I have you on the topic of the Democrats, I want to play for you some more of Michael Steele. And I think it`s its own kind of frog boiling experiment. Maybe some of our viewers forget, as you listen to this man, remember, used to run the Republican Party. Here he is today, talking about secrets from inside their locker room, vis-a vis the Democrats.


STEELE: Let me share a little bit behind the curtain of how Republicans look and see some of these things strategically, having been in that strategic space.

We know the Democrats won`t act. It`s not complicated people, call their bluff. Democrats won`t call their bluff on nothing, or anything. They talk, they whine. They wring their hands. They wipe their eyes, and Republicans are sitting there going, OK, because it changes nothing. Where`s the accountability? How do you hold them accountable? How do you force the issue?


WILLIAMS: James, you have never been above tough love for your party. That`s coming up for your party.

CARVILLE: Well, you know, I love Mike. He`s a great guy. And I`ve become friendly with somebody who`s never Trump voter. Mike and I have been friends so long to Bulwark, people can`t get over that Democratic Party, confused and disorganized. But he makes a good point. And if we don`t rally around this 6 January commission, and just take Bannon in destroy him in jail. The only person I feel sorry for is his cellmate. If you can imagine what that guy smells like, jeez. But that`s their problem. That you`re right, they just -- they don`t need to fool with these people. If they don`t comply, then Merrick Garland block them up that. You can see that happened.

WILLIAMS: Anyone, I`m sure, about Bannon`s role should just buy the cost of Woodward book.

Yes, James.

CARVILLE: Of course. And the guy was indicted for fleecing these poor people or build a wall and he says he`s not going to do it. I think that Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney are not fooling around here. I think Bannon, I hope I`m proven right, and Merrick Garland, you know, better get off the dime here.

The Justice Department exists for one reason not the institution, anything like that. It exists to enforce the laws of the United States. That simple. That`s his job. And when people violate the laws of the United States, like Bannon is doing then you bring down the whole thing. It`s simple. That`s why we have a Justice Department.


MURPHY: I couldn`t agree more. I mean, leg irons, you know, racket busters, grab them, Holloman rule of law, this should not be ambiguous. And if I were Steve Bannon, I get off the right-wing nut sites for a minute online and I googled Cheney family. You know, fairy chain of shatter we would probably have them upside down and underwater. So, I think the committee is going to play hardball here they have the right to do it. And the cause is just, this is not another political squabble or people are throwing subpoenas around is a PR trick. This is the real deal, and they ought to get the cops, the federal cops and (inaudible) and Mark Meadows. And any of these accomplices are trying to be cute about it.

WILLIAMS: You guys are never boring. It`s why we keep having you back. That`s why we`re lucky both gentlemen have agreed to stick around while we get a break in.


Coming up, former President Obama getting involved in the Virginia governor`s race. There`s polling out there that explains why you bring in a big gun right about now.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Virginia, you have a lot of responsibility this year. Not only are you choosing your next governor, but you`re also making a statement about what direction we`re headed in as a country. I know Terry McAuliffe and I can tell you as governor, no one worked harder for their state.


WILLIAMS: So, it`s for good reason. That is the latest ad, the McAuliffe campaign is putting on the air in the Virginia markets. The latest Monmouth poll has Terry McAuliffe in a dead heat with the Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin 46% a piece with less than two weeks to go thankfully.

Still with us, James Carville, Mike Murphy. Mike, do you agree with Obama that this is a national statement election?

MURPHY: Well, I -- you know, elections are always more complicated than that, particularly Governor`s elections. But right now, the country is so polarized. I think there`s some truth for that. But the problem is helping Youngkin. Biden`s numbers are down. There`s all this stumbling going on with the domestic policy agenda. And it looks to casual voters in the suburbs which are the key swing group that the left-wing wingers have taken over the Democratic Party.


Youngkin is not a scary Trumpian Republican just in his tone, and his action. So, he`s had a bit of a comeback in the suburbs. And it`s now a tide raised. And if I had the bat, I tried to avoid betting. But if I had the bet, I bet he`s going to win this thing.

WILLIAMS: James, the same dynamic we`ve seen with national Democrats, I swear we just witnessed in Virginia, I think McAuliffe may have assumed that the public reaction to the use of a flag from 1/6 at a Youngkin rally, a flag that may have been used to beat a police officer would be abhorrent to most people. And I think the Democrats continue to kind of assign and assume attributes to people that haven`t been the case, since Bonanza was on the air. What do you make of where this race is?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, it`s closed. So, podcasters (ph) toss up, if podcaster has a right to toss up, and Terry, by the way, it`s been very blunt that, you know, we`re in a very tight race, and Democrats need to be activated. I do think that Trump is a -- has a tug against Youngkin. I`ve seen a lot of research on that. Of course, he said he wouldn`t be running without Trump, and he tries to run away from him. It`s kind of slippery. But yeah, it`s close. There`s no doubt about it. And I`m scared to death, and other Democrats should be and the solution to that is, you know, people in Virginia`s column and asked him to vote if in Virginia, Colorado, people are asking to vote, like I can tell you it`s close race.

WILLIAMS: James, the rule of thumb and your line of work is if you`re explaining you`re losing, and I heard Carville -- I heard of McAuliffe a week ago, complaining about the Senate, U.S. Senate procedure, and so on, that`s probably not a great marker for a race for governor in the Commonwealth of Virginia to go deep on the filibuster.

CARVILLE: Well, these races get nationalized, and Terry`s to kind of "can do" guy, he said, you know what, let`s just get in the room and work this out. And I think there was some level of frustration at that. But I think underneath that was the kind of level of truth that it, you know, it would click, I think it helped him a little bit that we see in some momentum coming out of Washington that there`s something happened, but I`ll be frank with you. And I`ll be frank with the viewers of this program. It is a tough race. I`ve spent about 47 emails on behalf of Terry, so I`ll do anything I can to help him. He`s a dear friend. He was a great governor.

WILLIAMS: Gentlemen, I can`t thank you both enough for taking our questions and being candid about your answers tonight. As always, it`s for good reason, you`re both good friends of this broadcast, James Carville, Mike Murphy have been our guest tonight.

Coming up, important news on those booster shots on vaccines for kids. We`ll get an update on our favorite Indiana ER doc on his situation and the situation unfolding in his hospital.



WILLIAMS: As we mentioned, the FDA today cleared booster shots from Moderna and J&J while authorizing the mixing of vaccine brands. This is not easy. Of course, a CDC panel meets tomorrow to then make its own recommendations before the agency makes a final decision for all of us people. The national average of new COVID cases is falling. But over 64 million eligible Americans have yet to get at least one shot. And don`t forget the campaign to vaccinate young children has yet to begin.

Back with us again tonight, Dr. Stephen Sample, ER physician at Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, Indiana, also Volunteer Clinical Faculty Member at Indiana University School of Medicine

So, Doctor, last time we spoke you had just been diagnosed with COVID. You`d been thrown unceremoniously into the basement by your wife. I`m curious as to how you`re feeling. Are you still in the basement? And have you had your booster shot?

DR. STEPHEN SAMPLE, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN IN JASPER, INDIANA: Hey, Brian, yeah, I`m feeling good. My illness was super mild, which, you know, based on having been vaccinated before, that`s kind of what I was expecting. I was so full, it`s not that I couldn`t breathe. And I had a very mild cough. But really, that was about it. I came out of the basement. I`m broadcasting down here again, because my little girls home from San Francisco visiting. So, we`re excited about that. So, I`m staying out of their way.

I did get my booster. Unfortunately, I got my booster, the same day that I got diagnosed with COVID or the first day I got symptomatic anyway, so my boost probably didn`t help me a whole lot. And I did crossover actually from Pfizer to Moderna when I got the booster, not really because I was thinking too far ahead. It was just a matter of convenience. I had a Moderna booster that was about to go in the garbage, and I redirected into my arm, so.

WILLIAMS: Well, I`m glad you said that. Because anecdotally we know of people who are, you know, scheming to get their boosters anyway, despite the 65 and comorbidity threshold, we know people who are mixing brands, including a lot of people who feel they have the need and maybe don`t have the means or the access to get their brand on demand. So obviously you feel that this is OK, on the part of the government?

SAMPLE: I do. I think that as we see the data, you know, there`s been a couple of really nice studies that have been pre-printed and being published that showing the crossing over. It looks like it induces a really robust immune response. And of course, that`s what we`re looking for. You know, intuitively to me, it makes sense that if you`re hitting it just slightly differently either from the inactivated add no virus version of the Johnson & Johnson and then to the mRNA, you know, tweaking your immune system in slightly different ways really, I can`t see where it hurts. But, you know, intuition doesn`t always play out in science. So, I think it`s important that they are rigorous about this, but I do think it`s going to come out that crossing over is going to be fine.

WILLIAMS: I got my flu shot a week ago, didn`t think to ask, wasn`t at all interested in what brand it was do you think that in the following years as we start dealing with this if it indeed becomes endemic, brand loyalty goes away, and we just talked about it as the COVID shot.

SAMPLE: Yeah, I think that the way things are going, every time a headline comes out that shows that something is just a slight bit better on this or that I think you`ll have your Moderna gang and your Pfizer gang and then the J&J guys in the back going, hey, what about us? But yeah, I think you`re going to see a lot more brand demand. I have no idea. I got my flu shot a couple of weeks ago as well and I have no earthly idea what brand it was from or who made it, I just put it my arm.


WILLIAMS: Coming up the next hurdle here. And this is an especially difficult communication strategy challenge for this White House on top of what we have just witnessed as no one needs to tell you living in a red state. And that`s the drive to vaccinate children starting at the age of five, I want to play for you some of the comments of Dr. Fauci on this topic.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: In the era of Delta, children get infected as readily as adults do, and they transmit the infection as readily as the adults do. If we can get the overwhelming majority of those 28 million children vaccinated. I think that would play a major role in diminishing the spread of infection in the community.


WILLIAMS: So, Doc, no one needs to remind you how many anti-vaxxers are out there, how many vaccine doubters have been converted into full on anti- vaxxers because of what people are hearing and seeing politically. Well, a lot of them are the parents of five- to 12-year-old kids, I think this might be a pretty steep climb for the administration. Do you agree?

SAMPLE: I do agree. I think that we better be girding ourselves for battle here, you know, I mean, you`ve seen the tape, I`m sure you`ve played the tape of the school board meetings, and we`re just talking about masks. And now as we transition into vaccinating these kids, which is, by the way, hugely important, you know, in the DOJ the original alpha variant of COVID, the transmission seemed to be decreased somewhat, and some of that was because of social distancing and closing schools. But like Dr. Fauci said, the Delta changed all that, that`s by the wayside. And we know that these kids are taking it home to their middle-aged parents, you know, my cohort, and this round of COVID. This Delta variant that we`ve experienced this summer in my area has been particularly terrifying for me because the people I`m putting in the hospital are suddenly my cohort, my generation is Gen X, you know, slightly older, slightly younger, but I`m watching people my age, suffer and die of this thing.

In the initial that was the very elderly, the nursing home patients, but this is hitting home. But I would not want to be a school board member in a red state in the next few months, especially if the states start actually demanding it, like they do the MMR and all the other vaccinations to come to school.

WILLIAMS: We have indeed played those tapes. Dr. Stephen Sample continued good health to you, enjoy your family. Thank you for having us and taking our questions as always.

SAMPLE: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, because one person`s free speech is seen as another person`s hate speech, there were protests in LA today, over something being beamed into American homes as we speak.



WILLIAMS: The legendary stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce did a lot of offensive material. It was outrageous. It was often blasphemous. That was his brand. And if he missed anybody along the way, the great Don Rickles was bad and clean up and found a way to offend just about everybody. But people understood it was comedy they were stand-up comedians. As is Dave Chappelle, who is maybe the foremost stand-up practitioner alive today. And because we now live in a different era today, some Netflix employees walked out of their offices and protest, because they say Chappelle, his new Netflix special is harmful to the transgender community, and because of how their employer initially handled it, so we get our report tonight from NBC News Correspondent Steve Patterson in Los Angeles.


STEVE PATTERSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, Netflix employees walking out of the company`s Hollywood office after weeks of internal backlash.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If your satire is punching down, you are being bullied.

PATTERSON: Employees angered over Netflix`s handling of Dave Chappelle`s new comedy special, The Closer, which features jokes centered on his relationship with the trans community. Some employees calling this special transphobic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn`t care what Dave Chappelle was doing until you got in our community.

PATTERSON: And internal communications with employees, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos, argued that the special was popular with subscribers and would lead to no real-world harm.

TED SARANDOS, NETFLIX CEO: He did not feel it amounted to hate speech which went down incredibly badly with Netflix`s own trans and LGBTQ plus employees.

PATTERSON: Variety reporter Matt Donnelly broke the story and spoke to Sarandos just hours before the walkout. Sarandos, saying, obviously I screwed up that internal communication, I should have led with a lot more humanity. I had a group of employees that were definitely feeling pain and hurt from the decision we made.

Protest organizers have released a list of demands, but it`s unclear what the company`s next steps will be.

SARANDOS: I think that next Netflix is going to have to put his money where his mouth is this specific block of employees are galvanized to continue to hold them accountable.

PATTERSON: A controversy unfolding within the media giant forced to listen to its workers. Steve Patterson, NBC News, Los Angeles.


WILLIAMS: And coming up here tonight, if the support of the MAGA base is what you`re after, overdoing it is just not something you need to worry about.



WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, we want to show you a campaign ad from Nevada. It`s reminder that when you are begging for the love of a MEGA base, you just can`t be rootin`-tootin` enough, you can`t be bold enough or bang, bang shoot him up enough, but this candidate is willing to try.


MICHELE FIORE, NEVADA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: I`m Michele Fiore and I`m running for governor. I spent my whole life fighting the establishment. I was the first female majority leader in Nevada assembly and one of the first elected to endorse Donald J. Trump. You better believe I was attacked for it. Washington Post called me a gun toting calendar girl and Politico magazine says I was the Lady Trump, and I don`t care. We need outsiders, fighters, not the same old boring, moderate compromised, blue blazer politicians.

Let`s start with a three-shot plan, ban vaccine mandates, ban critical race theory, and stop voter fraud. The Joe Biden administration is coming after me. I`m Michele Fiore and I`m ready for the fight.


WILLIAMS: I know what you`re thinking she seems nice, but the local paper reports she may not be. They say, "She was front and center during the Bundy standoff in Oregon. She posed with firearm toting family members for a Christmas card and distributed as a gift to constituents. She cursed at a GOP colleague on the Assembly floor. Fiore is under FBI investigation related to our campaign finances. Fellow Councilwoman Victoria Seaman accused her of breaking Seaman`s finger in an assault inside City Hall. And Fiore survived a failed recall effort last year fueled in part by racially charged remarks she reportedly made regarding affirmative action."

Now who`s going to tell the newspaper that those are all positive traits to the base whose love she craves?

Well, on that note, that is our broadcast for this Wednesday night with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.