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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 11/3/21

Guests: Susan Page, Eugene Robinson, Jackie Alemany, Robert Gibbs, Bill Kristol, John McWhorter


Gov. Phil Murphy wins re-election in NJ. Youngkin wins VA governor race, defeats McAuliffe. Senate GOP blocks voting rights legislation. Dems sound alarm about 2022 after Tuesday`s election. Biden agenda remains stalled on Capitol Hill.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again, on this night after election night, happens to be day 288 of the Biden administration. It`s as narrow as they get, but it`s a victory. And indeed, the breaking news of these last three hours is a victory for the Democrats in the most densely populated state in our union.

NBC News, among many others projecting New Jersey Democratic Governor Phil Murphy will serve a second term after the scare of his political life from Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli. No Democrat has won reelection as New Jersey governor since Brendan Byrne in 1977 when some of us were seniors in high school. 24 hours ago, it appeared Murphy was headed for a loss. Now a victory by percentage point.


GOV. PHIL MURPHY, (D) NEW JERSEY: Thank you for putting your trust in our team for another four years. Thank you for saying we need to keep moving forward on our shared journey to a stronger and fairer New Jersey. In New Jersey, we know how to make forward work from the middle out and the bottom up and we know how to move forward and accomplish big things. If you want to know what the future looks like folks come to New Jersey.


WILLIAMS: Phil Murphy tonight in Asbury Park. This Murphy win follows a big loss as you know in Virginia, a state Biden won by 10 points. The Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Virginia`s former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, some big reasons, big turnout, unforced errors by the McAuliffe, a well-run campaign by Younkin. And the fact that Democrats have nothing to show where the voters are concerned for having control of the White House, Senate and House. There are now fears of course of a bloodbath in 2020.

Today, the President was asked whether the delay in passing his economic agenda led to the Democrats defeat in Virginia.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: People want us to get things done, should have pass before Election Day. But I`m not sure that I would be able to have changed the number of very conservative folks who turned out and the red districts who were Trump voters, but maybe, maybe.


WILLIAMS: Some Democrats in the Senate were much less cautious about their assessment of yesterday`s vote.


SEN. TIM KAINE, (D) VIRGINIA: Look, Congressional Dems hurt Terry McAuliffe if we had been able to deliver infrastructure reconciliation in mid- October, he could have sold universal pre-K, affordable childcare, infrastructure, creating jobs. We blew it on the timings.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT: Congress has to deliver. We need to get it done. And as one who will be running for reelection in 2022, I need results that I can show the American people.

SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D) ILLINOIS: We`ve spent enough time talking, enough time thinking and enough time suggesting to America that good things are coming, now we can approve it.


WILLIAMS: House Democrats who`ve been negotiating some would call it fighting for weeks to bring the spending and infrastructure bills to a vote rejected their Senate colleagues` views.


REP. GERRY CONNOLLY, (D) VIRGINIA: Did it help to not pass a bill and to have stories about this function? No, it did not. Did it hurt? Yes, it did. Was it dispositive? What was that the really determining element that put this election one way or the other? No. Voters don`t think that way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It happens to fall in this time where, you know, we did have elections and of course we have the natural backlash of a cycle. So, I would just say to everybody focus on the fact that we are going to pass two transformational bills.


WILLIAMS: Today Republicans in Congress made it very clear they see last night`s election results as the voters` rejection of Biden and his policies and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered up his own sage advice for Democrats.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MINORITY LEADER: Getting a result on this massive reckless tax and spending bill is not going to improve their position with the American people. I think the best advice I can give them politically after yesterday, they ought to drop the whole thing.


WILLIAMS: Now, the after-action report from House Republicans echoed similar themes, tacking on this warning of what`s to come.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) CALIFORNIA MINORITY LEADER: If they continue to push these policies, it could be one of the biggest election losses for Democrats. If you`re a Democrat, and President Biden won your seat by 16 points, you`re in a competitive race next year. You are no longer safe.


WILLIAMS: With last night`s election in mind, House Democrats are pushing ahead with those bills, stop us if you`ve heard this before. They say they`re aiming for votes before the end of the week.


Today`s Speaker Pelosi said paid leave had been added back into the spending bill that expands the social safety net as they`ve called it, and more deja vu here. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin tonight made it clear he is still not convinced it should be included.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: If you put that paid leave in, it`s not being paid for. I`m all for paid leave and I believe that people should have --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think it should be done separately?

MANCHIN: Separately, completely separately.


WILLIAMS: This was also the day Manchin`s Republican colleagues voted yet again to block a voting rights bill named after the late great Congressman John Lewis. Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski was the only Republican senator to cross over vote with the Democrats to bring the measure to the floor for debate. But nine more Republicans would have been needed. Vice President Harris spoke after this afternoon`s vote.


KAMALA HARRIS, (D) U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: This is about our democracy and one of the most important pillars of our democracy, which was whether or not we are going to make it more difficult as is happening in many states or protecting make it easier for people to vote. That`s what`s at stake right now. And it is a shame that nearly every Republican in the United States Senate refused to even allow a debate on this issue.


WILLIAMS: Majority Leader Schumer later hinted the Democrats would find an alternative path to passing voting rights legislation, even if they have to do it without any Republican support.

Well, with that, let`s bring in our starting line on this Wednesday night. Susan Page, Veteran Journalist and author, longtime Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today, Jackie Alemany, Political Reporter for The Washington Post, author of the paper`s morning newsletter, The Early 202, and Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist for the Washington Post. Good evening, and welcome to you all.

I have some idea how tired everybody is. Hey, Susan, it was obviously a tough Tuesday night for Democrats. What`s worse, the losses they suffered last night and the near misses or failing to learn lessons from last night?

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, we`ll find out. I mean, the good news for Democrats is they got this wake-up call now, not the month from now or not a year from now in the midterm elections. But this is a -- that was a very disquieting evening for Democrats everywhere, not just in Virginia, we become to come to realize that that governor`s race was going to be close. They lost up and down the ballot in Virginia, they almost lost New Jersey, New Jersey is about as True-Blue estate these days, as you can find. So, Democrats do have some lessons to learn and Democrats today we`re drawing different lessons from that tough election night about what it is voters had find them. They better do, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, is there a singular lesson to you that emerged from last night?

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: I don`t think we know yet, Brian, I mean, look, I think political power can be fleeting. I think that`s a lesson that should have been learned and that Democrats have that power now. And if they`re going to use it, they better get on with it. Because that probably helped them politically. And I think and also, they might not have forever. But there are direct concrete consequences of this election for real people in Virginia. You know, the incumbent Governor Ralph Northam is a medical doctor during the COVID pandemic, he followed the science, on masks, on vaccines. It`s unclear to me whether Youngkin is going to feel as if he has to compete with the likes of DeSantis and Greg Abbott, in sort of anti-science lane on reckoning with racial justice, Northman was a big supporter of bringing down Confederate monuments including the big window, Robert Lee, after all the critical race theory stuff. It`s unclear to me whether Youngkin is on with that at all. So, we can -- let`s not forget that these elections actually mean something to people.

WILLIAMS: And Jackie, we heard from the President today sounding very much like him and trying to set a tone. But according to your reporting and that of your colleagues, what are the people in his circle saying?

JACKIE ALEMANY, THE WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah, I think what they`re saying was reflected a little bit more subtly in Biden`s remarks here, which was him sort of issuing some of the blame for these election losses, calling on Congress to do the job that they were elected to do. And I think some of the responses that we`ve seen today from Democratic lawmakers are reflected the schisms that have plagued this party from day one and prevented them from getting President Biden`s economic progress. And really overall agenda done in any sort of way.


You had people like Joe Manchin who viewed the results in Virginia as affirmative of his calls to for Democrats to slow their roll and be wary of things like inflation and the rising costs of goods. And then you had progressives, people like, you know, Senator Raul Grijalva, who said that he viewed the suppress vote as indicative of the fact that progressives were not delivering all that they promised to their base. Either way, Biden highlighted and underscored the fact that Democrats have yet to deliver on again, his major priorities from voting rights to both infrastructure bills, to really, you know, not much has gotten done since they passed the American Rescue Plan. So, I think, either way, whichever direction Democrats decide they want to go into this week, they`ve got limited time to make it happen.

WILLIAMS: Susan, coming off our last exchange, I have this from Politico, and I`d like to read it. "Democrats` House majority, and their path to the White House in 2020, was built in large part on suburban college educated voters who spurned former President Donald Trump. But Virginia Governor- elect Glenn Youngkin`s inroads with them proves Democrats support in those suburbs is soft." And the question Susan did, Democrats misread the situation and foolishly put all their chips on being the anti-Trump party and just forget that sometimes issues like education are the ones that will resonate?

PAGE: You know, perhaps the most terrifying news for Democrats last night was Trump is not that scary to the swing voters in the suburbs when he`s not on the ballot? That`s something Terry McAuliffe discovered.

The other thing is that, Glenn Youngkin demonstrated an ability to walk that tightrope to get endorsed by Trump, but not be stained by him with voters who seem to him as really toxic than Youngkin, it`s something that Republicans -- if Republicans that can learn lessons from this, they`re going to really benefit from them next year, because Trump, he got out, Trump`s voters and more in those rural red counties. And he flipped some of those suburban candidates cutting into the vote that Joe Biden got among those swing voters, white suburban voters, many of them women, came back to the Republican Party in a big way last night. If Democrats are going to do all right next year in the congressional midterms, they need to get them back.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, that brings us to you and this question, should Democrats change their message and forgive me for implying they have one other than we`re not Trump?

ROBINSON: Well, they need more of an affirmative message, they need a message other than we`re not Trump, we should all remember that swing voters are called swing voters for a reason, because they swing back and forth and independence. And, you know, the largest chunk of voters these days describe themselves as independents really don`t belong to either party. They have to be one. So yes, Democrats have to have an affirmative message. And it has to speak to the Democratic base, it has to speak to those suburban white swing voters. It has to speak to rural voters. I mean, it is it is not viable, I think, for the Democratic Party to write off rural America. I know that, you know, Jamie Harrison DMC would, would tell me, no, we`re not doing that. But, in fact, Democrats are not as competitive in rural America as they need to be if they want to build a solid majority that would last. They`re going to -- they`ve got some work to do.

WILLIAMS: And Jackie, indeed, Jeff Greenfield wrote an opinion piece for Politico. And in there, he argues that if Democrats believe that build back better by the 2020 midterms and presenting that to the voters as deliverables, is going to be enough to beat back a culture war, presumably on items like trans bathrooms and critical race theory, they`re deluding themselves. Is the problem cultural that they`re not fighting the same fight as the other party, they`re certainly not playing by the same set of rules?

ALEMANY: Yeah, well, I think there`s two things here, Brian, a bit of truth to the truth that but I think one Democrats biggest current problem, something that they could probably remedy pretty immediately is the messaging when -- the messaging issue that they have when it comes to build back better, but at the end of the day there is $1.75 trillion worth of new policies and deliverables to the American people. But because of all of the inter party fighting, I think it`s been hard for members to communicate in a coherent way that resonates.


But on the flip side of this, at least what we`ve seen in Virginia, is that, you know, candidates really do matter. And candidates messaging really matters. And we`ve heard several Democrats criticize Terry McAuliffe for the way that he handled the issue of schooling with Virginia parents, which was really, you know, heavily contracted what you saw from Glenn Youngkin, who really channeled this parental and white ravens that was heavily coated with, you know, racial language and dog whistles, quite frankly. But I think that there was a frustration from Democrats with some of McAuliffe`s responses that parents would homeschool their kids throughout the pandemic, you know, should not have a say in their kids` education. I think there is a sentiment and a realization here that Democrats need to come up with some better answers to these cultural issues, rather than sort of defaulting to the attack Trump mode.

WILLIAMS: And Susan, last word coming right off what Jackie just said, some Democrats today were polite, some were more direct, and they said pretty directly that Terry McAuliffe did not run a great campaign. There was a sense of entitlement to it at least early on, and a number of unforced errors, including the one Jackie just outlined.

PAGE: He didn`t run a good campaign, as it turned out, he looked backwards, not forward. He`d relied too much on tying Glenn Youngkin to Trump he made that mistake in the debate when he said that he didn`t want cheap parents telling teachers what to teach their kids.

On the other hand, Phil Murphy ran a campaign that wasn`t seen as it seemed more sure footed, and he almost got defeated as well. So, Terry McAuliffe may have not been the best candidate, but he was not the only problem for Democrats in what happened yesterday. Brian.

WILLIAMS: On this night after the election night, great, thanks to our starting line, Susan Page, Jackie Alemany, Eugene Robinson, thank you so much for staying up with us, yet another night.

Coming up for us, more on what both parties might take away, might learn from last night`s results.

And later, it`s a new book with a very provocative title Woke Racism, its author will join us here tonight to talk about the fact that he just might have stumbled upon a potential political suicide mission for the Democrats, all of it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on this night after election night.




LARRY SABATO, UVA CENTER FOR POLITICS DIRECTOR: I think even more important was the complete and action and almost Keystone cops` behavior of the Democrats on Capitol Hill in the House and Senate. You know, you decide whether you want to blame the moderates or the progressives or both. But it looked terrible. It was terrible. It sent a message to Democrats that election promises are not being delivered, and therefore it wasn`t that important to vote.


WILLIAMS: Not the message Democrats wanted to send the voters for sure on what transpired last night in Virginia. NBC News points out this, the fact that Glenn Youngkin won by keeping former President Donald Trump at a cautious distance, even as Terry McAuliffe and the Democrats presented them as one and the same gives party operatives confidence that a post Trump playbook can work.

Back with us tonight, Robert Gibbs, former Obama Campaign Senior Advisor, former White House Press Secretary under President Obama, he also hosts the Hacks ON Top podcast, and Bill Kristol, author, writer, thinker, Politico veteran of the Reagan and Bush Administration`s and Editor at Large at the Bulwark.

Gentlemen, good evening, and welcome. It was indeed a long night. Mr. Gibbs, I`d like to begin with your reaction to last night, as you may have anticipated the question.

ROBERT GIBBS, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, look, Brian, I`m a Braves fan. And that was the best thing that happened last night. In terms of politics. It was terrible. Look, I think Democrats had an awful night. And I think there`s no real sugarcoating that on a lot of different levels. We won Virginia a year ago by 10. We lost it by 12. We won New Jersey by 16. And we barely won it a year later.

Again, I don`t think there`s much to like about last night. And I think if you`re a Democrat, you have to wonder, why didn`t we run a campaign that had a message that was focused on the future? Why did we depend on Donald Trump to be the one and only boogeyman, the only thing we had to run a campaign against? I think there`s a lot of questions, we should ask ourselves and ask the campaigns. And we should ask Capitol Hill, why we didn`t look like we were a governing party for the last three or four months. So, I think there`s a lot of questions to ask. And I`m worried, Brian, there aren`t great answers at this point.

WILLIAMS: Bill, over to you what did Youngkin`s win mean to you as an observer, as someone with many years of politics experience under your belt? And are there any convertible lessons from it for the party or was it a one off?

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I don`t think it was a one off. And I think actually has been too much criticism of McAuliffe`s campaign and all that which maybe wasn`t great. I mean, I was for McAuliffe and did a tiny bit with him. But, you know, he lost less relative to 2017. So, Northam, showing 2017. Then Murphy, the governor of New Jersey lost relative to his own show in 2017. There were -- there was -- the Democrats were destroyed to have valid Virginia. They were destroyed to have valid New Jersey. They suffered great losses. And Nassau County and Long Island, losses of Westchester and upstate New York. So, it was a repudiation of the party, I think, not at the individual`s which is more worrisome as Robert so just suggested. I mean, it was a wave, you know, under the wave you could have better candidates that were considered very attractive Lieutenant Governor candidate here in Virginia, Hala Ayala against, I think pretty flaky Republican honestly (ph), she lost too, so I think that`s not good news though because you can`t blame it on one bad candidate or once above in a debate, you got to say that the image of the Democrats was not great all around the country, or not all around the country, we only had a few states, but still among the people who voted.


And the second takeaway from me, I think this is important is that it`s not and I regret this, it`s not disqualifying, it`s not disqualifying that the Republican Party has not repudiated, Donald Trump is not repudiated January six, has not repeated the big lie. People are being too facile. And they say, oh, how foolish the Democrats to keep running against Trump. That`s a fair exactly.

What McAuliffe kept saying is we can`t have a governor who goes along with Trump`s big lie. It wasn`t simply that, oh, he should be denouncing Trump every day. To me, that`s kind of an important issue, to the voters noy so important perhaps.

WILLIAMS: Robert, I want to pause here, I`m going to show you a clip from yesterday. This is Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did we land on the moon?


Did we land on the moon?



WILLIAMS: So that`s tragic in and of itself, but then consider why there were hundreds of people in Dealey Plaza in Texas because of a QAnon rumor that none other than John Kennedy Jr. was coming back, and he`s been in hiding all these years. So, the QAnon rumor goes, complete disrespect, obviously the members of the Kennedy and beset families that would do almost anything in the world to bring back their loved ones. It`s sad. It`s tragic. It happened yesterday in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. They went home disappointed, they didn`t get to see their man, who by the way, is going to run apparently as VP on a ticket with Donald Trump.

But, Robert, I run this to make a point that this is a new dynamic the Democrats have to deal with and remember, it fits the Democratic response has been surely people will realize the crime in the phone call with the Ukrainian leader. Surely people will see the ramp and crime of 1/6, surely people will see those crazy people in Dealey Plaza. And no, it`s not right but what is the other solution? Because those solutions haven`t worked?

GIBBS: Yeah, look, I can`t explain what happened in Dallas. It`s mesmerizing, if you will. And look, I think we have to, as a party grapple with really a new way of doing campaigns in an effort in an age of misinformation and disinformation, I don`t think either tactically or strategically, the Democrats are all together, that ready for this.

Look, I also think part of that, too, is I think we as Democrats have to get away from this idea that somehow if we can just explain, in 90 seconds or less all the policy implications and bonuses that we have for you that somehow will convince swath of people too. I think it`s time for us to break down and think through how we win races. Why do we win races? Why did people vote differently in 2021 than in 2020? I think it`s time for a real look under the hood by the Democratic Party because I don`t think there are a lot of easy answers here.

WILLIAMS: Hard to look under the hood while the car is running at 60 miles an hour. But so be it and I thank you for the candor embedded in that answer. The good news is both of these gentlemen are staying with us while I slip in a break.

Coming up, where does -- what happened last night leave things like oh I don`t know voting rights and the Biden agenda.




SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI, (D) ALASKA: We`ve got to step back from the partisanship, we`ve got to step back from the politicization that is driving this conversation. I think we should be able to agree to meaningful improvements that will help ensure that all our elections are free. They`re fair, and they`re accessible to all Americans.


WILLIAMS: Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, standing as the only Republican in the chamber to vote in favor of moving forward with the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. It`s the second time in the past two weeks the GOP has refused to even allow debate on voting rights protections. Another of the President`s priorities.

Thankfully, still with us, Robert Gibbs, and Bill Kristol. Bill, dual question for you, did last night`s results make it harder or easier to pass all or part of the Biden agenda? And do you agree with the Jeff Greenfield argument that Democrats could miss play this and go to the nice people living in the holler and say we`re putting modems on poles? Thanks to this bill, you`re going to get rural Wi-Fi service and then get beaten on trans bathrooms and CRT?

KRISTOL: So, I`m a little skeptical that the culture war is quite as successful as Republicans like to think, there`s not that much if they lost some Board of Education fights around the country. Republican governor lost on trans bathrooms, I recall, in North Carolina a couple of years ago. I`m not sure, if Youngkin talk some about that but there was sort of covered over by his folksy manner and his business background and when I moved here in Virginia, I think that people here were more unhappy about the schools not being well rounded, public schools not being open quickly enough perhaps sensitive bureaucracy running things instead of the votes citizens, that`s what make McAuliffe gaff particularly maybe resonate a little bit.

So, I`m not so scared of the culture. I don`t -- yeah, they can`t -- the cultural stuff the Republicans are going to play the Democrats should do a better job of hitting back but on your first question, which is really an important one, I think, I`m not sure what they should do but Joe Biden needs to lead the party and lead the country. You know, Robert was very candid with us. Sit in the first, our first little segment here but at the end of the day it`s not just the congressional leadership that makes these things happen. And it`s admitted is -- the process of legislation on the Hill is always a mess.


But I would say what was striking to me reading some accounts of focus groups, all the things that swing voters, independent voters, some Democrats, they don`t really know, what is Joe Biden`s message? What does he want done apart from this infrastructure bill, which they think maybe, OK, they`re not really convinced about that. But what is the whole point of the Biden administration, so to speak, and I think he could pick different messages, frankly, he could go a little laughter, we could go centrist. I prefer more centrist. But he needs to really, I don`t know, kind of come to grips here and show some strength, I think, honestly. And I think voters would respect that.

WILLIAMS: Robert, I don`t think anyone has paraphrased Rodgers and Hammerstein to Gibbs and Kristol, but I`m going to. Here`s the question, how do you solve a problem like Joe Manchin?

GIBBS: Well, look, I actually think Joe Manchin wants to get to yes. On the bill back better agenda. And I think it`s just going to take a little bit of time. And it`s frustrating, and it`s not great. And Democrats don`t have a great amount of time. But I think we were moving in this direction earlier in the in the weekend, and later last week. I think he`s going to get there. I really do, I think to pick up on what Bill said I think is important. You know, I get a fear that Joe Biden thinks he`s still in the U.S. Senate sometimes. And I think some -- I think what he`s got to do is go up on Capitol Hill, or better yet called Capitol Hill down the White House and be the president United States and dictate to Democrats, hey, we`ve had a long discussion. We`ve had meetings between the progressives and the moderates, and we`ve had the moderate the progressives together.

Here`s what I want to do, and let`s go do this. I mean, lots of reports, even last week, when he went up to Capitol Hill, it never asked the Democratic caucus to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal. I don`t know why you`d bring the president to Capitol Hill to close the deal, and not ask him to close the deal. And so, I think there`s some strength in here, as Bill said, I think Democrats have to show the country were capable and willing and able to govern. I think it`s been a tough three months. There`s lots of anxiety in the country. And I think Democrats and Joe Biden have to get to leading this country and leading it in a better direction.

WILLIAMS: There are interns on the Hill who know that where presidential power is concerned, exerted, use it when there`s a reasonable chance that it`s going to be successful. Robert Gibbs, Bill Kristol, gentlemen, thank you so much for adding your voices to our broadcast tonight. We really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, a noted thinker and author is here with us. He noticed something about last night`s election results because he just wrote a book about it.




STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER GOP STRATEGIST: I think the first stages of a repudiation, a growing backlash to the excesses of woke culture. It`s manifested in a lot of racial activists that you see draped up again in critical race theory and others. But there`s a lot to be heard from the American vote or if you listen to the results across the country in this in this election and Democrats need to heat them.


WILLIAMS: To that point from our friend Steve Schmidt, my next guest warns against the influential followers of a new sort of religion in his newest book, Woke Racism. John McWhorter writes, "Third wave anti racism in its laser focus on an oversimplified sense of what racism is, and what one does about it is content to harm black people in the name of what we can only term dogma.

It`s a lot, back with us again, tonight, easily our favorite linguist around here, the aforementioned John McWhorter armed with a Ph.D. in linguistics from linguistics from Stanford, he is a professor at Columbia University in New York, a contributor at the Atlantic. His latest book is Woke Racism, how a new religion has betrayed black America. Now in the top 10 list of the New York Times bestsellers, it`s a pleasure to have you and I`m so curious, having written this, having just released this, you`re watching last night`s returns, how much of the theme echoed back to you, and do you have a kind of realization that we may be approaching, a realization on the part of the Democrats that the language of woke ism just might be political suicide?

JOHN MCWHORTER, LINGUIST EXPERT: Well, yeah, I think that what we`re seeing is definitely a pushback against the excesses that we`ve seen since roughly June of 2020. And excess doesn`t mean that, for example, you teach about racism and slavery in schools. What`s going on is that in many school districts in both private and public schools, there is a general message being taught that to be white is to be culpable, that the whole American experiment can be argued to have been polluted from the very beginning by the stain of racism, and that the essence of being black is being oppressed. A great many people are under the impression that that really is a suitable default education, that teaching kids that particular perspective on things is what an education is supposed to be.

And the problem is, that`s not something that all reasonable people will agree with. And instead, what we have is this word game, where somebody calls what I just said, critical race theory. And then somebody else says, well, that`s not what`s in papers that some legal scholars wrote 30 and 40 years ago, that isn`t being taught to eight-year-olds as if that`s what anybody meant. And so, the terms of all of this are extremely frustrating, because there are certain people, brilliant wise people who are insisting that anyone who doesn`t like the direction that so many schools are taking in terms of what they think of as instruction is some kind of bigot that what this is, is racism, rearing its ugly head, when really it`s just that people will differ on how slavery and racism are taught in schools. And when they`re told that they`re fools for questioning it, they have a right to be offended, and this sort of thing could start affecting elections. And we`re going to see more of these oversimplified analyses that all it is, is racism and backlash and ignorance. When really, it`s something much more complex. It`s that there`s left and then there`s radical left. And the idea that radical left is default human morality and intelligence and thought, that`s a tough proposition you have to defend. You can`t just throw it out there and assume that everyone`s going to agree and call the moral perverts if they don`t.


WILLIAMS: To your point about the power of words and terminology it`s always great fun to see you on with Bill Maher and it was during your last segment talking about this book that Bill made the point give people a moment to take in the changes in modern society and the resulting terminology. People walk around with buckets of both fear and guilt, knowing that if they step a foot wrong, when trying to describe anyone on the LGBTQIA plus spectrum, they will be called out perhaps crushed and killed.

MCWHORTER: That`s the problem. That`s why I call this sort of thing, a religion. We`re dealing with the attitude of the church lady on Saturday Night Live some years ago. That`s the problem. And so, for example, some people might need some time, Bill was right about that. Under the new regime, the idea is that needing some time, because it`s not about battling power differentials, absolutely right here in the year now, needing some time is wrong, it`s that you are against a certain kind of person, and you need to be shouted down with recreational mocking glee. That`s not right. That`s not the way a society should be run. Because what we`re seeing, what a lot of this book is about, is that there`s a certain kind of person who wields a certain kind of power in that way, really thinking that they`re doing the world good. I don`t think these people are evil. They`re not power mongers they think that they have found the solution to everything. I can imagine how that must feel, it must feel good. But what they do is, if you don`t agree with them, they call you a racist on social media that feels like being called a pedophile to most of us moderns because of the progress that`s been made on racism, and racial attitudes. And that means that most people, my thumbnail guesses that it`s nine out of 10, most people watch these people that I call the elect, and they`re afraid and so they pretend to agree.

And so, we`re dealing with a whole culture of fear, or reign of terror. The people in question don`t mean to do this. They really think that they`re doing good but those of us who know that they fallen into a detour have to start standing up to these people and saying, not get out, but just sit back down the way you were before roughly June 2020 and stop insisting that if you don`t get your way you`re surrounded by moral perverts because that`s not how the world works.

WILLIAMS: To the folks watching who are all potential book buyers, at the end of this book, there are suggestions for fighting racism and along the way you will learn what third wave anti racism is. It is a powerful and thought-provoking book. Our thanks to a friend of this broadcast John McWhorter. It`s author, always a pleasure come on anytime, it is called Woke Racism: How a New Religion has Betrayed Black America. Thank you, John.

Coming up, the arms are getting smaller, but the shots are going in.



WILLIAMS: Tonight about 28 million American kids ages five to 11 are now eligible for a pediatric version of the vaccine something a lot of families have been waiting for, other families sadly not so much. The CDC says over 8000 children in this very age group have been hospitalized from the virus. We get our report on all of it tonight from NBC News Correspondent Tom Costello.


TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just minutes after the CDC approved the Pfizer children`s vaccine last night, kids were rolling up their sleeves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can be back to normal in my classroom.

COSTELLO: With doses arriving by the hour hospitals and clinics nationwide are today in full vaccination mode. At Children`s National Hospital in D.C. eight-year-old Carter Giglio with type one diabetes was among the first at risk kids to get the shot with therapy dog, Barney, by his side.

Since day one of the pandemic his parents have limited his exposure to other kids.

BRIAN GIGLIO, CARTER GIGLIO`S FATHER: We do everything we can to protect our kids, but it`s been 600 long days and things can start to come back to normal.

In Houston, Texas Children`s Hospital, working through more than 36,000 appointments to vaccinate five- to 11-year-olds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s kind of hurting, I guess.

COSTELLO: Cameron Emanuel (ph) with her mom Sonja (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our whole family has been fully vaccinated. And so, she was the last one that had not been.

COSTELLO: But a recent Kaiser Family Study found most parents won`t immediately get their kids vaccinated. Many concerned about potentially unknown side effects.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I let them get vaccinated for all the other things. But this I just don`t trust.

COSTELLO: But today the CDC Director herself a mother insisted this vaccine is among the most thoroughly reviewed ever.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: He have thoroughly reviewed all of the available safety, immunogenicity and efficacy data before recommending this vaccine for your child.

COSTELLO: Back in Washington.

How do you feel?

CARTER GIGLIO: Halfway vaccinated.

COSTELLO: Eight-year-old Carter already looking forward to his second dose. Tom Costello, NBC News, Washington.


WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, one of the few Democrats you`ll hear telling families how these Biden bills will actually improve their lives? That is if Democrats can deliver those bills. We`ll talk about this guy coming up.



WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight is that guy, Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, he is leaving the House to run for an open Ohio Senate seat. Ryan has famously said for years he`s in politics for the people who shower after work and not before. The working men and women, the ones his party seemingly forgot how to talk to. He`s a McDonald`s Democrat in what increasingly is the party of Whole Foods. He challenged Pelosi for speaker a few years back, I don`t have to tell you how that went. He remains a vocal member of the House and what you`re about to hear is more and delivered more passionately than we have heard from Biden, Pelosi or Schumer about what`s in the Biden bills that would actually help make Americans lives better.


REP. TIM RYAN, (D) OHIO: This infrastructure bill is about two things. This is about putting money in the pockets of the American people who`ve had a rough go for the last 40 years. And this is about taking on China.

Now we`ve seen in the last couple of weeks, CEO pay since the 1970s has gone up 1,300%. We`ve seen that the top 10 wealthiest 10% of the wealthiest people in this country, own 90% of the stocks. And so, this bill is about how do we get money in the pockets of people. Universal Preschool, that`s one year less of childcare that a family has to pay that`s money in their pockets, capping childcare at 7% of your income. That`s money in your pockets, helping seniors with classes or hearing aids, that`s money in their pockets. A tax cut finally, for working people, not for the top 1% but for families, that`s money in their pockets.

And if we don`t recognize in this chamber, and down the hall, that China is a looming threat, not even looming, they`re here. Semiconductors, they out manufacturers, electric vehicles, they are manufacturers, communications equipment, they manufacturers, pharmaceuticals, our seniors get their pharmaceuticals from China. When are we going to wake up? When are we going to have the guts to level the playing field, the guts to take on China, the guts to do what`s right, so our kids and grandkids can thrive in the United States, we have got to make these investments, we`ve got to make them now, Washington has to wake up or we`re going to -- The next bill we`re going to have to pass is mandarin in all our schools, because the game`s going to be over. I yield back the balance of my time.


WILLIAMS: The lesson here is it can be done. You just saw it, a Democrat can speak in terms that American families can understand, which often starts with understanding American life these days, starting with childcare, education, and what it costs all of us to fill our tanks.

That is our broadcast for this post-election night, Wednesday, with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.