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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 9/13/21

Guests: Lisa Lerer, Ashley Parker, Matthew Dowd


Biden joins Newsom in Long Beach for final push against California recall. GOP pushes unfounded fraud claims before California recall. U.S. Capitol Police arrested a man who had banned weapons in a truck near Democratic National Committee headquarters. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies on Afghanistan withdrawal, defends administration. Blinken faced heated accusations from House Republicans on the withdrawal and ongoing efforts to evacuate Americans.




BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Gavin Newsom, President Biden just joined him at a campaign rally at Long Beach. Newsom needs a simple majority to hang on to his job and his near term political future tonight they offered this message to voters.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: Social Justice is on the ballot tomorrow night. Economic justice is on the ballot tomorrow tonight.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: The eyes of a strong California because the decision you`re about to make, is this going to happen, that`s going to have a huge impact on California. And it`s going to reverberate around the nation, and quite frankly, not a joke around the world.


WILLIAMS: Republican front runner and conservative talk show host Larry Elder seems -- seems -- already seems to be using I should say the Trump 2020 campaign playbook trying to cast doubt on the integrity of the election even before it`s decided.

Elder`s campaign is promoting a website that`s already making the false claim that quote, statistical analyses used to detect fraud in elections held in third world nations, such as Russia, Venezuela and Iran have detected fraud in California resulting in Governor Gavin Newsom being reinstated as governor.

Again, the recall voting isn`t even over yet. We don`t know the results. Earlier today, our own Jacob Soboroff asked elder if he`d commit to accepting the results.


JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Whether or not you win or lose, will you accept the results of the election tomorrow?

LARRY ELDER (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think we all ought to be looking at election integrity, no matter whether you`re a Democrat and independent or Republican. Let`s all make sure that the election is a fair election. So this all worked together no matter what the results are. They make sure that the results are valid and legitimate and everybody who voted should have voted.


WILLIAMS: And as for the former twice, impeach President himself, he stayed true to form issuing a statement today complete with misinformation and false hoods, which asked the question, quote, does anybody really believe that California recall election isn`t rigged. Similar false claims about the 2020 presidential election fueled the insurrection and desecration of our capital back on January 6, another rally scheduled for this coming Saturday to support those being prosecuted for their role in that riot has Washington on high alert.

Overnight Capitol Police arrested a California man near the Democratic Party headquarters not far from the Capitol Building, who they say had a machete, a bayonet and multiple knives in his truck. His vehicle stood out to police when they saw a swastika and other white supremacy has symbols painted on it. And that the suspect told them what he was quote on patrol.

This morning, the Capitol Police Chief confirmed the seven foot tall fence that was installed too late to stop January 6th, will be re installed this week ahead of Saturday`s rally. And he briefed four congressional leaders on other security preparations.


CHIEF TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: Just the intelligence information that we`re aware of and a little bit about our operational plan about what we plan to do. The fence will go up a day or two before and if everything goes well, it`ll go down -- it come down very soon after.


WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, the latest numbers on the pandemic reveal is continuing spread across our country. There are now over 41 million cases in our country. The number of Americans lost to this virus is now north of 665,000 souls.

A new CNN poll found a slim majority supporting measures to require vaccinations for daily activities. 51 percent of those surveyed, say a mandate is an acceptable way to increase the vaccination rate while 49 percent call it unacceptable infringement on personal rights.

Even so Republican governors are intensifying efforts to resist and in some cases even penalize enforcement of the President`s latest vaccine requirements.



GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: If government agency in the state of Florida forces a vaccine as a condition to employment that violates Florida law and you will face -- and you will face a $5,000 fine for every single violation.


WILLIAMS: That`s Ron DeSantis, who has degrees from Harvard and Yale. The administration also facing more questions about its military exit and evacuation from Afghanistan. For hours today, Secretary of State Blinken defended the withdrawal during the first congressional hearing since U.S. forces pulled out.

Lawmakers from both parties have been critical of how the withdrawal was carried out. But during today`s House Foreign Affairs hearing Republicans were particularly combative.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): This was an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions. I never thought in my lifetime, that I would see an unconditional surrender to the Taliban.

REP. STEVE CHABOT (R-OH): We relied upon the Taliban to be our security. In essence, we ended up getting 13 of our military personnel and over 150 Afghan civilians killed by relying upon the Taliban. They didn`t provide very good security. We never should have relied upon them. But let me move on.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We were not relying upon the Taliban. As you know, what happened was the Afghan security forces and the government collapsed within the space of 11 days.

REP. ANN WAGNER (R-MO): Do you take any responsibility Secretary Blinken for this disastrous withdrawal.

BLINKEN: I`m responsible for the decisions that I make. We made the right decision in ending America`s longest war.


WILLIAMS: And it went on about like that, that were also calls for Blinken`s resignation. He can expect a similar grilling tomorrow, when he testified -- testifies before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

With that, let`s bring in our starting line on this back to work Monday 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 Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence. He is author of the FBI way he is host of the podcast, The Bureau. Good evening, and welcome to you all.

Lisa, I`d like to begin with you with this quote from the LA Times today, quote, The Biden ministration has a vested interest in the California recalls outcome. A Newsom victory could lift Democrats after a politically challenging several weeks for the president. Lisa, for those who don`t triangulate quite the way we all do, how does this fit into the larger goals for the party and the White House?

LISA LERER, THE NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, of course, you don`t want to over interpret the results of a recall election that`s highly idiosyncratic and you know, where Newsom`s facing 46 contenders vying to replace him. This is a pretty quirky process they have in in California, but I think a lot of political strategists and pundits will be watching the outcome of this race to get a sense of what our politics are in this Biden era, particularly for Democrats.

You know, Democrats had this amazing motivator in their -- on the ticket for the past four years, that was former President Trump, and he really just motivated their voters to come out and record numbers of records of donations. And there`s a real question now for Democrats without Trump on the ticket with President Biden`s approval rating sinking in the past couple weeks, will they be able to get the same kind of turnout even in places like California, which are obviously quite deep blue.

So I think the, you know, Democrats feel confident about this. They expect Newsom to pull this out. But the margin of his victory here if he does, in fact win will really matter.

WILLIAMS: Ashley Parker, I have a quote for you too. This is E.J. Dionne in your paper The Washington Post and he writes it this way. The next month is make or break not only for President Biden and the future of American social policy, but also for the right to vote and our democracy itself. The horror of what so many Republican dominated state governments have done most recently in Texas to restrict access to the ballot and undercut the honest and nonpartisan counting of balance -- ballots represents -- presents rather, Democrats with only two options. Act uncompromisingly at the national level to ensure democracy everywhere, or accept that many states in our union will in important ways, cease to be democratic.

Ashley, is there evidence that this movement the former President gave rise to questioning the legitimacy of all elections where they may not like the result, is that just going to become part of the permanent standing republican brand henceforth?


ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, it`s certainly not going away anytime soon. And this is sort of the lingering hangover or long shadow of former President Trump, that not just Democrats, but the system writ large is really having to grapple with, which is that President Trump while he was president and in office, and even now out of office threatening to run in 2024 is really posed an existential threat to small d democracy.

And it is a question of how does Secretary of State`s handle the fact that they`re getting death threats? How do candidates and local election officials handle the fact that now if somebody loses an election, they will simply claim or they can simply claim that it is fraud, that it was fake, and that there are large swathes of the country, who will accept that as fact and putting it forward? How do they grapple with the fact that something like January 6 is not a sort of a distant horror and never again moment, but it`s something that Washington is readying itself for another potential rally, a rally basically in support of the insurrectionists this coming weekend?

WILLIAMS: Frank Figliuzzi, we use this shorthand toss off phrase, the big lie, when it actually means so much more, it goes right to the integrity of our elections. And it led to on 1/6 to an attack on the result of our elections, in addition to our lawmakers and the center of our government, talk about the broader threat that this phrase this notion represents.

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. FBI ASST. DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: You know, it`s worth noting, Brian, that there`s a common thread through at least three of the topics that you cited in your introduction, and that common thread is disinformation is a lie.

If you look at the topic of the California recall election tomorrow, they`ve -- it seems that people have already seated this idea that this is rigged. There`s no verifiable fact behind that. If you look at the rally plan for DC on Saturday, why are people showing up at this rally? They`ve bought into a big lie that Trump had the election stolen from him that he`s still a legitimate president?

If you look even at the pandemic topic and people`s refusal to take vaccines, what`s that based on? It`s based on their false notion that somehow an FDA approved vaccine is unsafe for them. The role of disinformation has become extremely dangerous for us in terms of democracy, and even to the point where someone`s willing to die because they won`t take a vaccine that protects them against the deadly virus.

So this Saturday, I`ll be looking not only at the physical security. We know now that the fence sadly has to go back up around the Capitol, but I`ll be looking at those who incite violence. I`m all about free speech and freedom of assembly. That`s why we have permits for rallies, where people can spout all kinds of ideas. That`s great. That`s America. But I`ll be looking for people, even elected officials, getting up at the podium and inciting people to violence by repeating lie after lie after lie. That`s not freedom. That`s something other than freedom. That`s a crime. And that`s what we have to be looking for.

WILLIAMS: I`ll return in our next round of questions to you, Frank, about this Saturday. Lisa, you heard Frank just raise the notion of vaccines. The Biden ministration has just gone a level deeper in their push for vaccines, angering Republicans all across the country. Are their real costs, Lisa, to Biden for the part of his job that is advocating public health?

LERER: Well, I think, you know, we that remains to be seen politically, it certainly doesn`t feel that way now, and the White House for a long time had resisted imposing these kinds of rules, doing anything that could be construed as a mandate, even uttering the word mandate, because they were worried that those kinds of -- those kinds of mandates would, you know, convince Republicans and others who are vaccine hesitant, it would make them more reluctant to get the vaccines. They were worried that it would not accomplish their public health goal of getting as many people vaccinated as possible.

I think the reason they turned around on that is they realized that the public was on their side. When you look at polling numbers, majorities of people support stricter rules around masking, around vaccines. They want to see proof of vaccination to go on an airplane, to ride public transit, to eat in a restaurant.

So the public is overwhelmingly behind the president and his approach. I think the Republican Party and the base the Republican Party is not.


So that`s why you see this divide between these Republican governors who are playing to their base and between the approach that the President has taken. We`ll have to see whether it ends up being successful from a public health standpoint. But politically, it also helps them, it puts them in line with the majority of the American public, and also helps them it really changed the -- turn this change the subject from a damaging couple of weeks.

WILLIAMS: Ashley, does it feel like an attempt at a reset this week in the Biden White House?

PARKER: It sure does. If you just look at his public schedule, he is out west. Now he has a couple of stops. And then he is back in DC. And throughout at all, there`s a couple of three lines in one is talking about climate change. And another is talking about his infrastructure plan build back better and this broader reconciliation bill in part by no fault of his own and part by some of his own actions. He`s had to deal with a number of crises outside of his control. The Delta variant when it comes to Coronavirus, the Afghanistan withdrawal, a slew of natural disasters. I think in the past 10 days, he`s you know, he visited New Orleans, he visited New York in New Jersey, he`s now touring wildfire damage out in California. So on the one hand, they were distracted.

And on the other hand, particularly on an issue like climate change, these natural disasters were also something of an opportunity, they give him a chance to showcase what he has said he does best with the sort of compassion and confidence to talk about a crises, not of his own making, and to use them to not just sort of talk about climate change in the abstract, but to tie it to something that is making its way very slowly, very healthy and lay through Congress right now, which is of the utmost importance to him and Democrats, and that this huge reconciliation package.

WILLIAMS: And Frank, as promised, back to this upcoming Saturday rally, I know you stay in close touch with your former colleagues in the Intel and counter Intel business. Are you convinced that from the federal level on down, they`ve got this thing handled?

FIGLIUZZI: I`m encouraged by what I`m hearing and seeing. And I and I like the fact that there have been lessons learned from January 6, and there should be. I`m not yet convinced that all of the laws and techniques are in place, but the right things are happening.

Here`s what I`m hearing. There`s conflicting intelligence here. There`s Proud Boys and other groups who are chatting on private forums about coming to DC. They seem energized by the vaccine requirements that Biden has now laid down that even though they were planning not to come because of security concerns. Now they`re saying they`re going to come. There`s an equal or greater amounts saying, Let`s not go, we`re going to get arrested. There`s too much security, let`s go local. And let`s play an even for another date.

So September 25 now is a date where many rallies in Florida, Georgia, Texas, are now being planned. Washington State. So there`s alternate locations, alternate dates. This causes me to actually wonder about the ability of local county and state authorities to handle the stress of what they`re going to face in the coming weeks locally. That`s something to keep an eye on.

I do think there`s going to be strong security in DC. It`ll be a test of the security posture. It`ll also be a litmus test to see if the 600 some odd arrests so far, regarding January 6, have had an impact on people saying, I`m not going I don`t want the handcuffs.

WILLIAMS: Viewers, please know what tonight`s conversation means as a marker of where we are in late summer, early fall of 2021. Much obliged to our starting lines and I to Ashley Parker and Lisa Lerer, Frank Figliuzzi, our thanks for starting us off.

Coming up, what do California is recall battle next weekend`s Capitol Hill protest and this new Texas abortion law all have in common? Well, it depends on who you ask. And we will ask our political experts. And later, it`s getting hard to tell what`s worse, the fight against the virus that is exhausting our hospitals for the anti-mask and anti-vaxxers targeting those same hospitals. We`ll get the latest from one of our top doctors all of it man as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on this back to work Monday night.



NEWSOM: We may have defeated Donald Trump but we have not defeated Trumpism. Trumpism is still on the ballot in California. And that`s why it`s so important. Not just for all of us here 40 million Americans strong in the nation`s largest and most populous state, but also to send a statement all across the United States of America, that Trumpism has no place here and Trumpism will be defeated all across the United States of America because we`re better than that.


WILLIAMS: Whatever the outcome of this California recall election reaction from the Republican Party will be all too predictable. NBC News reporting it this way and we quote, Republicans are already laying the groundwork to argue the election was stolen even before a single ballot is reported or a victor declared an increasingly common tactic in conservative circles.

Back with us again tonight, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, professor and assistant dean at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas, Austin, and Matthew Dowd, former George W. Bush strategist and founder of Country Over Party. To our two Texas friends a big welcome back to the broadcast tonight.

Professor, I`d like to begin with you. There was a recall in California where Californians woke up to Greg Davis getting the boot and a new governor named Arnold Schwarzenegger, do you hazard a prediction for tomorrow?

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I don`t like to hazard and predictions. But I do think that we`re dealing with two totally different scenarios here. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, we didn`t have the ecosystem of Trumpism. And then the clip that you just play, Brian, we heard that Gavin Newsom has squarely made this a part of Trumpism. So I think that Trump ism is squarely on the ballot.

That being said, recalls happened as a result of political missteps. Greg Davis had political missteps, which then open the way for Arnold Schwarzenegger, a very charismatic, Hollywood known personality to enter. Here we saw political missteps, again, from Gavin Newsom.


Gavin Newsom just fit that stereotype that is given for Democrats, a limousine liberal, where there was already murmurs of there being a recall among Republicans among that Trump base, when we see that that dinner at the French Laundry when we find out that his kids were actually in person school, it just gave fodder for that. But now that is wit into very much a referendum on Trump ism and California.

WILLIAMS: Matthew, despite the evidence that in Georgia, it may have suppressed Republican voter turnout and resulted in the election of two Democrats to the U.S. Senate. Do you really believe republicans are going to make this the election is rigged well in advance part of their brand?

MATTHEW DOWD, FMR. CHIEF STRATEGIST TO BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN: Well, I think the answer to that is it`s become part of their DNA. It`s not really any more about Donald Trump, it`s become an inherent part of the Republican playbook or message thing, or whatever to undermine our democracy actually, was when you basically question the credibility of an election and cause a substantial minority of our population to not believe election results, it phrase our democracy, and it breaks the bones of it. And I think this is what this is here to stay.

As you paste like, lead into this, they`re not only not waiting until the election results. They`re like getting in an HG Wells time machine, and discovering, like Elois and Morlocks, before they even happen, that they`re even advancing this cause. And so I think this in California, it`s happening in Texas in a different way, through the voting rights and everything else they`ve done.

I think, fundamentally, what this shows is the Republicans are only really concerned about 5 percent of the population of the United States, about 5 percent, 5 percent of the population of California is about 2 million people. And in less than 2 million people put their names on the ballot to get the recall in place, about 5 percent of the population in Texas votes in Republican primaries. And that`s all who Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick, Lieutenant Governor are concerned about.

So, we`re reached the point of they no longer want the majority. They no longer believe the majority. And their entire concern is with about 5 percent of the population of the country who`s on lie -- also lying wit this anti-democratic agenda.

WILLIAMS: Take 60 more seconds and answer for me the question people are probably asking as they listen to you, how is that sustainable? How does that govern or improve our nation a wit?

DOWD: Well, it`s not sustainable Brian in the long term, because the entirety the population of the country is changing. And the Republicans realize that. They understand the country`s becoming multicultural, multi diverse. And that`s what I think they`re most afraid of, because they know they`re out of alignment with that.

But our system as it exists today, which needs great reforms, is no longer a system that allows the majority to rule. We see it in Congress. We say it in state after state after state. It`s become the tyranny of the minority. It is awful, absolutely awful. In the short term for governance and solving any of the big issues we have today, and bringing us together in any kind of unified way behind some ideals. In the long term, it`s very problematic. And I think the Republicans will ultimately pay the price in the long term. But in the short term, we`re in desperate shape and as a functioning democracy in this country in the world.

WILLIAMS: To our viewers, both of these proud Texans have agreed to stay with us over the break, when we come back and resume our conversation. You know, they say everything`s bigger in Texas and when it comes to efforts to restrict voting and choice, they wouldn`t be right.



WILLIAMS: While Republican led states like Texas are busy erecting all the voting impediments they can think of. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is promising action to protect voting rights on the federal level.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) MAJORITY LEADER: The Republican led war on Democracy has only worsened in the last few weeks. Most notably, the governor of Texas recently signed into law a vile new voter suppression bill that ranks as one of the most draconian undemocratic and living memory. This is unacceptable. So the Senate must act. I intend to hold a vote in the Senate as early as next week on voting rights legislation. Time. Time is of the essence.


WILLIAMS: Still with us Professor Victoria DeFrancesco. Soto and Matthew Dowd. Professor, I want to circle back to voting rights and up in a hot minute, but first, considering Texas leading the nation in voting restrictions and choice restrictions. Tell our audience what`s going to happen when redistricting comes up. I believe we have about a week until that starts.

SOTO: Right. So a week from today the second special legislative session starts which is dedicated to redrawing the lines. And what we see in Texas is a hard right turn, some think OK, it has gone too far to the right, it will snap back. But what we`re looking at with the upcoming redistricting under a Republican led legislature is a lot of the things that we have seen over the last year, over the past couple of years are going to be institutionalized because Republicans are squarely in the driver`s seat of drawing those maps.

And, Brian, this is the first time in recent history that we`re going to be having maps drawn without the protections of Section 5 from the Voting Rights Act, that was repealed -- that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. This is also a scenario where we don`t have the report saying partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional. They found that constitutional in 2019, and that overlaps with racial and ethnic partisan groups.

And then lastly, one thing that concerns me in addition to all of these other factors is that we know that our communities of color are concentrated in just a couple of pockets in the state, which leads to the tried and true mechanism of hacking folks into districts to suppress their voice.


So you start having all of these pieces together, the lack of the VRA protections, the 2019 Supreme Court case, the parking the geography of it. And this leads to a very scary scenario where the changes we saw are going to be entrenched for another 10 years.

WILLIAMS: So Matthew, over to voting rights, I don`t know much, but Senator Schumer going very U.S. Senate and using the word unacceptable to talk about the situation in Texas probably doesn`t match the vehemence and energy on the other side in what is a political knife fight. What confidence Have you have voting rights relief at the federal level?

DOWD: Well, I mean, I`ve grown increasingly frustrated, that the Democrats are not using every tool at their disposal, including abandoning of the filibuster which is worn out a relic of that protected my minority, the minority of politically of the country, and now it`s preventing majority things from happening around the country.

I don`t, I mean, I, at some point, Republicans have abandoned any rules and any shame and anything to do what they want to do. I think the Democrats have to stay ethical and stay legal, but they need to explore the toolkit a little bit more than they`ve already done.

I mean, this is a situation in Texas, the Democrats here did their best they could by preventing this for as long as they could and breaking the quorum and doing all the things went up to Washington and doing all of that. And Texas is in a wildfire over these voting rights. And all the Texans were doing going up to Washington was saying, we don`t need you to solve all the problems. Just give us a bucket of water. Just give us a bucket of water. Just give us a bucket of water. If you give us the bucket of water, we`ll fight it out here.

And I`m, I mean, I hope because the majority of the country wants this. I hope it happens in this case. I hope if anybody`s concerned about any issue that matters, guns, health care, infrastructure, and all that, all of those don`t matter if voting rights are taken away. And that`s what this is fundamentally about. I hope the Senate and I hope Chuck Schumer can get this through.

But at this point, we`re in September. We`ve now spent almost nine months after January 6 to get here and still nothing has been done on voting rights. I`m still hopeful, but I`m incredibly frustrated by the pace upon which this has been done.

WILLIAMS: There are great people in the always hopeful state of Texas, our thanks to two of them for being our guest tonight Professor Victoria DeFrancesco Soto and Matthew Dowd, friends of the broadcast both. Greatly appreciate it guys, thanks.

Coming up for us, one of our top doctors on the ever deepening divisions in this country from mask wearing to getting a booster shot or getting the shot at all.



WILLIAMS: A prominent QAnon anti-mask anti-vaxx advocate is now dead from complications from COVID. Veronica Wolski gain notoriety for documenting her own protests including the one where she harassed staples employees over their stores masked policy.

While her death has prompted outrage from the far right which claims the hospital refuse to treat her with the livestock deworming medication ivermectin, it`s yet another disturbing example of what the already strained healthcare workforce is up against during this already deadly pandemic.

Back with us again tonight, Dr. Kavita Patel, clinical physician, former senior policy aide during the Obama administration, also one of our public health experts on a non-resident Fellow at Brookings. All right doctor, what is the truth about ivermectin including but not limited to the use in humans it`s been approved for?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, FMR. OBAMA WHITE HOUSE AIDE TO VALERIE JARRETT: Yes, so Brian, Ivermectin is a bit of medication that we have used in humans to treat parasites. It`s also been used as you know, in animals and that`s unfortunately where many current people have tried to get their Ivermectin.

So I have prescribed Ivermectin limited cases, people who have had parasites from travel abroad, other presenting symptoms and the evidence there have been several trials, very large trials. In fact, Brian, looking at the potential for Ivermectin in use of treatment and COVID. Large one conducted in India as well as several in the United States. All of them have found resoundingly that there is no benefit for use of Ivermectin.

Yet, you still see from several prominent physicians who have put up very large kind of websites, Facebook ads and have done a great job of spreading misinformation that Ivermectin is one of the recommended protocols, quote, de-COVID. None of the doctors that you have ever talked to or anyone I`ve ever worked with would prescribe it.

But Brian, the truth is, we know people are and we know patients are getting it from veterinary supply stores because they`ve run out of Ivermectin, which is incredibly dangerous to take in that form, and can actually result in toxicity and death in some cases.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for clearing that up. I also want to read back to you something you wrote for our website, and it is this, this about vaccines, mandates can have negative and unintended consequences if they are not a company with strong and clear communication around science and public health. The President finally articulated Thursday what so much of the country has failed, enough is enough. His challenge now is to implement his bold policy initiatives through the inevitable avalanche of noise and distractions.

So Doc, the problem is the noise is formidable. I mean, the Florida Governor, again, he have the degrees from Harvard and Yale, allowed straight up quack medicine to be dispensed from his podium today. Never said a word about it never corrected the record. That`s some official sounding noise.

PATEL: Yes, it is. And I think that unfortunately, Brian, you know, look, if you live in the state of Florida, even if you`re not aligned with a political party, one rational human would think that your governor is acting in your best interest despite political sides et cetera, left`s and rights.

Here`s their situation where you have not just one governor who has some sort of future presidential aspirations but you have many other governors falling in line.


And then unfortunately, local officials who are really short on time and trying to just put forward what they hear some of their leadership thing. And I think that that`s clearly something that Biden administration has had to confront at every situation. They knew this would happen with mandates. By the way, Brian, you know, that they didn`t go through this lightly.

But I do think that the misinformation campaign, and anything that gets put out by political leaders, dwarfs some of the abilities. I think the American people have just gotten so tired of it. And we`re all so sick of not understanding how to get out of this (Inaudible). But that`s the breakthrough.

But we do need clear communication boosters and all these other things throw in these possible kind of boomerangs of confusion, get one guidance out, Brian, and then confusion comes back at you. When you start to think, well, I got J&J, what do I do next? So that`s where this administration has to be on kind of firing on all cylinders. I see evidence of that, but there`s certainly more they should do.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Kavita Patel, thank you, as we always do for always taking our questions and for your forthright answers. Dr. Kavita Patel has been our guest again tonight.

Coming up for us, marking an auspicious one month anniversary.



WILLIAMS: Showed earlier the Secretary of State spent hours today fielding questions from members of the House about the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. It has been one month now since the Taliban sees complete control. We have a report tonight on what it`s like there now here with that our chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Perhaps no single image sums up America`s longest war, more than the US Embassy in Kabul, now painted over with the Taliban flag.

Less than a month ago, American helicopters were taking off from here evacuating diplomats to Kabul airport with the Taliban captured the city.

BLINKEN: Intelligence agencies did not say collapse was imminent. This unfolded more quickly than we anticipated.

ENGEL: Now, the embassy is empty. Taliban flags sold as souvenirs outside, a group of Taliban fighters stood guard nearby. America never thought we would win one said, but we had God support. And now whatever America does, we can never be defeated.

The Taliban may be confident, but they`re taking a different approach because they know many Afghans are afraid of them.

When Kabul fell hundreds of thousands rushed to the airport, including Obaidullah a young economist who worked for the former government that he couldn`t get out.

OBAIDULLAH RAISKHIL, KABUL RESIDENT: We feel very good, normal and free.

ENGEL (on camera): What have they done to make you feel that way?

RAISKHIL: Their behavior, their behavior with people.

ENGEL (voice-over): The Taliban are allowing girls and women to go to school and university separated by gender veils required, but no burkus, a big change from when the Taliban ruled in the 1990s. But have they really changed.

Several videos which the Taliban say they are investigating appear to show abuses, including one in which fighters seem to be executing an unarmed man.

Secretary of State Blinken today said the Taliban need to do more to earn trust.

BLINKEN: The interim government named by the Taliban falls very short of the mark that was set by the international community for inclusivity.


ENGEL: The Taliban are trying to show they`ve changed with the times at some checkpoints today, Brian, they even smiled. It`s still Taliban rule but softer. It`s unclear if or for how long it will last. Brian.

WILLIAMS: Richard Engel with that report tonight. Thank you, my friend. Coming up for us, a bad decision that we televised live on Saturday that amounted to crying wolf at the worst possible time we`ll show you what happened when we come back.




SCHUMER: The good news is it for a relatively small amount of money, we can upgrade the mesonet and get much better weather forecasting than we have had in the past. No one can be certain. But if this new mesonet and the upgrades were in place, we might have had a better idea at the amount of torrential rain that was coming down in Ida and in Henri.


WILLIAMS: So last thing before we go tonight, that was obviously Senator Schumer, who famously holds a media event. Every weekend when he`s home in New York, he devoted this weekend`s event to bolstering a system of weather instruments called mesonet that to make forecasts more accurate.

And this is important, not necessarily because of what he said. But because it feeds a kind of false narrative being perpetuated right now. Just days earlier, remember, Schumer was with the president as they toward the flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida in the New York City Borough of Queens. The governor of New York and the mayor of New York blamed inaccurate forecasts and warnings for the staggering toll of death and damage. But the truth is the forecasts and the flash flood warnings were astonishingly accurate if you were paying attention.

The National Weather Service is a national treasure. Their meteorologists are the essence of public service. They`re on duty 24 seven, they are busy. In fact, tonight issuing warnings as hurricane Nicholas heads inland bringing awful flooding from Houston all the way east to New Orleans and beyond.

The problem is not the National Weather Service. In fact, the problem just might be us. Warnings are so often ignored. They are supposed to sound on your phone. Unless of course the last Amber Alert tone interrupted your last Zoom call and you turned off your notifications. That means you could miss the next tornado or flash flood warning. Over use of warning systems is the modern day definition of crying wolf.

We witness this dynamic in real time on Saturday during our live 9/11 anniversary coverage. We were watching a solemn moment in Shanksville, Pennsylvania when this happened while correspondent Geoff Bennett was on the air.


GEOFF BENNETT, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The President and the First Lady are going to lay a reef. We`re getting some sort of emergency alert here in Shanksville. We`ll find out what that`s all about.


WILLIAMS: Now, the further truth is we failed in that moment. We left the audience hanging. We never went back and let the viewers in on what that alert tone was about. Sadly, we later learned the National Park Service set out and alert that the Flight 93 National Memorial was now open to the public.

It fell to Steve Portnoy of CBS News to speak for all of us. Two of these alerts with their abrasive halting and haunting tones came screaming over the cell phones of Flight 93 families as they gathered at the memorial wall. This misuse of the weather emergency alert system sent shutters through the crowd and event we also note that hosted to American presidents under heavy security.

So the problem isn`t our technology or our ability. It`s how we use it. The information is there but incidents like this screw up don`t bode well for the effort to get folks to pay attention.

And that is our broadcast on this back to work Monday night with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.