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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, November 12, 2020

Guests: Mercedes Carnethon, Kara Swisher


White House Secretary says Trump is still fighting for 2nd term. Trump faces GOP pressure to grant Biden intel access. Obama blasts Republicans refusing to accept Biden win. Trump's HHS Secretary Azar falsely likens Biden's COVID-19 policy to Trump's. NBC News projects Joe Biden wins Arizona. U.S. COVID-19 cases soar to record highs. Joe Biden names Ron Klain, Obama's Ebola tsar, as his chief of staff. DHS panel says 2020 vote was 'most secure in American history.


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: That is Tonight's Last Word. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,393 of the Trump administration, 69 days now until Inauguration Day. And it's been five days since the 2020 presidential election was called for President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump still hasn't shown any public sign that he's ready to concede and end his blockade of the president-elect's transition, no public recognition that he will no longer be president as of noon January 20. But that's the case. It's been a week since we've actually heard from him outside of social media.

Tonight, Maggie Haberman of the New York Times reports Trump is floating various strategies to stay in office, including but not limited to, "whether Republican legislators could pick pro-Trump electors and a handful of key states and deliver him the electoral votes he needs to change the math and give him a second term. But the piece goes on to note one key advisor who says he knows it's over."

Tonight, NBC News reports a person familiar with the discussions confirms Trump has indeed told some advisors that if the election is certified for Joe Biden, he will announce a 2024 campaign shortly afterward. It's clear that the multiple legal challenges and the Georgia recount are not going to give Donald Trump the election reversal that he is hoping for. Earlier this evening, Trump's press secretary indicated that her boss still plans to keep up this fight.


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He certainly believes he still has a shot at this, the President on is still fighting for a second term.


WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, there are signs of cracks in the obedient red wall of intimidated Senate Republicans who have so far upheld Trump's refusal to acknowledge Biden's win. Today many agreed the White House should clear the way for Biden to get intelligence briefings at a very minimum, even though some stops short of calling him the winner.


SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): We should be in the same posture that we ran throughout the whole campaign with both of them receiving briefings. We know there are issues. So allow the legal process to go through, a lot of hand recounts happen in Georgia. And once we get all past that, then we'll know who the actual winner is.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): I think it's important that both continue to get those briefings.

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): Vice President Biden should have access to those classified reports.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): I would think especially on classified briefings. The answer is yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should Joe Biden get security briefings.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think so, yeah.


WILLIAMS: Over in the House one of Trumps leading acolytes, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy was less willing to follow his Senate colleagues lead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that Joe Biden should have access to classified intelligence briefings?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): He's not president right now. I don't know if he'll be president, January 20. But whoever is will get the information.


WILLIAMS: President Obama is now weighing in on the resistance to Joe Biden's victory. In an interview with 60 Minutes Obama was asked about the impact of false claims about widespread election fraud.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They appear to be motivated in part because the President doesn't like to lose and never admits loss. I'm more troubled by the fact that other Republican officials who clearly know better are going along with this, are humoring him in this fashion. It is one more step in de-legitimizing not just the incoming Biden administration but democracy generally. And that's a dangerous path.


WILLIAMS: Indeed, earlier today, Homeland Security and election officials released a joint statement calling this election the most secure in our history, much more on that just ahead.

And amid all of this Biden's moving forward with his plans to take office in January. The Washington Post reports, "With the Trump White House blocking the administration from formally cooperating with Biden, the members of the Democrat's transition team are under strict orders not to have any contact with current government officials, even back channel conversations. Biden transition team members are instead making contact with recently departed government officials and other experts to help them prepare for the new administration."

And remember, this is all taking place as the coronavirus pandemic is spreading essentially uncontrolled throughout our country. We have set yet another group rim one day record for cases well over 159,000. That's just today, ninth day in a row with over 100,000 cases reported. The latest White House virus outbreak includes Trump advisor, former 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as well as the top Republican Party official.

Lewandowski was among the attendees at that election night celebration at the White House last week. There are now over 10.6 million cases in the U.S., over 244,000 of our fellow citizens are gone. We've heard nothing from the President on this, losing all this time will likely make it more difficult for the Biden team to get a handle on containing the virus and the eventual distribution of a vaccine. Tonight, Trump's health secretary dismissed such concerns.


ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Vice President Biden's plan to deal with the coronavirus is eerily reminiscent of our plan and what we've been executing on and what we're executing on now. I think there's a lot of continuity no matter what the circumstance, if there's a transition here, we're going to ensure that it's a professional, cooperative one because our mission is protecting the health and welfare of all Americans.


WILLIAMS: Earlier on this network, former Republican Florida congressman David Jolly used his own analogy to describe the overall impact of Trump's resistance on the Biden transition.


DAVID JOLLY, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: Donald Trump is leaving Joe Biden a hot dumpster fire on the national stage, first and foremost in a public health pandemic. We're seeing that through the personal behavior of the outgoing White House team and we're seeing that in policy as well.


WILLIAMS: With that, let's bring in our leadoff guests on this Thursday night, Jonathan Lemire, White House Reporter for The Associated Press, Mara Gay, a member of the New York Times Editorial Board, former New York City Hall Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal also happens to be a COVID-19 survivor. And A.B. Stoddard is back with us, a veteran of political journalism, currently Associate Editor and Columnist over at Real Clear Politics.

Good evening, and welcome to you all. Jonathan, I'm going to begin with you because of your beat covering this president and this White House. So there are a couple of things going on. There's the daily flail. There's the unique moment we're in where we haven't heard from the President in person for days. There's the ongoing attempt to decapitate our intelligence community in broad daylight in plain sight. Then Maggie Haberman reports this tonight, "As a next step, Mr. Trump is talking seriously about announcing that he is planning to run again in 2024, aware that whether he actually does it or not, it will freeze an already crowded field of possible Republican candidates. And, Republican say, it will keep the wide support he showed even in defeat and could guarantee a lucrative book deal or speaking fees."

So Jonathan, this is about popularity. It's about the merge after all this.

JONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Brian, that lines up with our reporting as well, where the President right now is indeed mulling his options while his White House is in a state of paralysis, mind you, a West Wing hollowed out some people departing after the election. Others though, in isolation after another COVID-19 outbreak in the building, some are sick, others are quarantining, and those who are talking to the President have yet to really push him one way or the other. He is indeed acknowledging privately that he knows the odds are against him that he is saying that this for falling through these legal challenges is as much about the performance, it's about showing his supporters that he is still fighting, even though he does privately concede that, you know, he is not going to win, though he won't ever publicly concede, perhaps. But it's about what comes next.

And I think there is a belief that he very well, if not fully announce a candidacy for 2024 at least tease it, at least flirt with it for a while to keep his relevance, to you to keep him perhaps even if he doesn't follow through with his own run as a kingmaker in 2024 but it's also about indeed, the mirch monetizing this.

He is a president who we know is in debt. His businesses have not done well, while he's been in office. He is someone who is always drawn to making money and that's going to be task number one, people around him say once he does leave office, which people think he will do grudgingly on January 20. That will be the play short term, make money, perhaps hold rallies or other events, but charge for them. Maybe it's a book, maybe it's back in the media, all while keeping open the option that he might run again in 2024, which at least as of this moment, it has to be considered the Republican favorite.

WILLIAMS: Mara, talk about the sad ultimately fatal crash Wall cruelty of we, the American people not deserving a plan to mitigate this and having to wait 69 more days until there is a real working task force, and until there is a national plan?

MARA GAY, THE NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Yeah, I mean, Brian, in some ways, the most disturbing report that I saw today came from my newspaper in the New York Times that reported and other outlets did as well, I believe, that Joe Biden and his transition team have not received access, not only to a wide breadth of issues he'll have to face on day one as President, but specifically to the distribution plans for the vaccine. And I think it's appalling. You know, frankly, if there weren't a pandemic, I would hope that Americans would be in the streets. It's really, it's really disturbing. And it also just speaks to the lack of care and of public service that this White House has for the American people. It's really disturbing.

The other thing I want to say is that, even though it's normal and understandable, when you have a president as colorful, let's put it mildly as Donald Trump to speculate about what might come next for him. I think for the country moving forward, the most important thing is to try and marginalize Trumpism and try and bring more and more Americans back into reality, science, kindness, and democracy.

WILLIAMS: A.B., Mara just made several terrific points there and on the subject of actual mitigation on helping Americans, first of all, where's Mike Pence? For all his certitude and piety and obsequiousness, I'm sure wherever he is, tonight, he's praising the leadership of Donald Trump, but he actually runs what passes for our mitigation effort in this country.

Secondly, A.B., what does it do sheer politics to the Republican Party of Trump just teases the notion that their savior could be back in four years?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST: Right. Well, I think that Mike Pence, as we know is going to be off on a post election vacation in Florida with his wife, he cancelled it, there was apparently bad weather. But he also did so, so that he could stand up or the President's legal, "challenges" and address the Senate Republicans about it this week in person. But he is not out there. Obviously tackling the subject of a consuming national emergency, the one we've been in now, for since March, but the president, the Vice President have known since January would consume the entire country, it would be a highly contagious transmissible disease, and they understood the legality of it. We've never had a plan to control the spread of the virus, as I've said on your show, 500 times.

And so Republicans now are complicit not only and not acknowledging the fact that we're consumed in this emergency 100,000 cases, brand new in a day, we feel 100 more than 150,000. Today, and it's growing exponentially, but they are complicit in allowing Donald Trump to think only of himself and brand himself for his next chapter. In doing so, he has to call the election of fraud and a scheme to steal. The Democrats steal it from him. They know that's not true. And so by trying to step around and say things like he is allowed to pursue his legal remedies, they're not actually explicitly telling Trump's voters that he's lying to them. And that there's not only no evidence of fraud, there's no evidence at all of wide scale conspiracy fraud, and that the studies have shown that it doesn't exist and that Ben Ginsberg and others have given testament to that.

So this is a party that can believe it's on the right track by demanding national security briefings for Joe Biden. But they are complicit by not facing the voters. They want to help them in the Georgia runoff to maintain a Senate Majority than Donald Trump is lying to them and conning them. So he's raising money for recounts. He's going to spend with a super PAC on his future, as Jonathan points out, he's monetizing. His marketing, and with every day he's telling the American people that our democracy has died. They cannot trust this election or anyone going forward and Republicans own this. We always knew a Donald Trump was going to do this week, if he lost it was how they were going to conduct themselves.

WILLIAMS: Gang, you'll forgive me we have some news to break in with, coming up on 11:15 Eastern time. This many days after Americans actually went to the polls. NBC News is projecting that when every last vote is counted in the State of Arizona, Joe Biden will be awarded 11 electoral votes. Joe Biden, your projected winner in the State of Arizona, part of America's long post election period. You see the outliers still remain North Carolina and Georgia. Vaughn Hillyard standing by in Scottsdale in his home State of Arizona to talk about this long day's journey into night after night after night. Hey, Vaughn.

VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: We could call this election night number 10, Brian. And here in the desert, the 11 electoral votes out of Arizona will be going to Joe Biden with just about 11,000 votes left to be counted here in the state. Joe Biden holds a lead of about 11,400 votes.

And when you're looking at this map here, you've got to put it in perspective about what this message was sent by Arizona voters to what this Republican Party has come. When you look at Maricopa County, 89,000 votes shifted away from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. Back in 2016, Trump won this state by 91,000 votes. So when you look at Maricopa County alone, you saw Donald Trump win it in these greater Phoenix suburbs in 2016, four years later, again, I'm going to repeat that 89,000 votes shifting towards Joe Biden, you could essentially say this is a push back of what this Republican Party under Donald Trump has become. You know, this is the state that we're Barry Goldwater breeds conservatism into this party.

This is the state of Sandra Day O'Connor, where she became the swing vote on the U.S. Supreme Court after coming out of the desert, the state legislature here. This was the place of John McCain, where he was willing to push back against his own party. And yet it is now Joe Biden who wins the electoral votes out of Arizona, but also the state is now being represented by two U.S. senators who are Democrats, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, in this, Brian, is so much largely a story of where the state has come just in the last 10 years. You can go back to 2011.

In the shooting down in Tucson of Gabby Giffords, of course, she was the one who was thought of to be that Arizona independent that would one day potentially run for higher office. Of course, it is now her husband, who is going to Washington this week to serve in the U.S. Senate. But it's also a story of the Latino organizations, those grassroots organizations when, for so long, the national political party of the Democratic Party didn't invest the sort of high dollars into this state, it largely alienated and it was those grassroots organizers like Maria Hernandez, who at the age of 19, got involved in our audio (ph) Arpaio to awes (ph) the longtime Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio here back in 2012.

Well, I met up with her just the week before Election Day, eight years later. She said that they realize there are national implications on the line. It was more than just one sheriff. It was more than a governor, more than one U.S. Senate seat, but potentially the presidency on the line here. And you know, when you're looking at this state here, this is quite a moment for this Democratic Party in quite a shift away from a state where just four years ago when John McCain ran for his own reelection here in 2016, he won Maricopa County by 16 points compared to Donald Trump, who want it by just three. And of course, this is a party that instead of shifting back towards the middle, continue to stand by this president and clearly being just 11,000 votes, shifted its support here to the Democratic Party in 2020.

WILLIAMS: So out of nowhere, breaking news, Vaughn Hillyard, I am happy only for the fact this has generally gone on long enough that you got to have some time at home that was unscheduled. Thank you for that. Thank you for your live report.

Our thanks to our big three tonight before breaking news intervene, Jonathan Lemire, Mara Gay, A.B. Stoddard greatly appreciate you coming out.

Coming up for us, this is what happens when you argue over the easy stuff like the wearing of masks. We'll talk to two health experts tonight about why cities across the country are shutting down again in some form. And Thanksgiving is shaping up to be the ultimate super spreader events, not exactly what the pilgrims had in mind.

And later, just the facts but which ones, I'll ask Kara Swisher how to keep today's headlines from super spreading hoaxes, lies and pure fiction. All of it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on a Thursday night.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your message to the people who apparently are tired of wearing the mask over their nose as well as their mouth? They think it's uncomfortable and annoying. And it's just too much for them to handle. So they're just not doing it. Thank you.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY, (D) NEW JERSEY: Thank you. You know what's really uncomfortable and annoying? When you die. That's my answer.


WILLIAMS: New Jersey Democratic Governor Phil Murphy today as experts are running out of ways to describe the horrific surge in new virus cases nationwide. Look at the far right of that graph. University of Washington has a key model now predicting over 438,000 deaths in our country by March 1. Today Dr. Fauci was asked what message he has for people who are weary of coronavirus restrictions.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Help is really on the way, you know, if you think of it metaphorically, you know, the cavalry is coming here. Vaccines are going to have a major positive impact. So if we could just hang in there, do the public health measures that we're talking about we're going to get this under control I promise you.


WILLIAMS: Back with us tonight is Dr. Vin Gupta, a critical care doc specializing in these types of illnesses, also an Affiliate Assistant Professor at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Also Mercedes Carnethon, back with us, she's an epidemiologist and is Vice Chair of Preventive Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.

Well, good evening and welcome back to you both. Dr. Gupta, I want to ask you how dire this rise is in your eyes and the comment on what I earlier called the kind of casual cruelty of a White House that seems to have now turned its back on this pandemic. It's -- we've lost their interest. And when you hear Fauci talk about the cavalry coming, he almost doesn't have to say the rest. We have to wait 69 days until we get a national plan that much is clear.

DR. VIN GUPTA, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Brian. You know, you said it. Note that the numbers speak for themselves unfortunately, we're looking at 68,000 hospitalizations. We're seeing -- well, to me is projecting 18 states that are going to exhibit extreme stress in their ICU capabilities, turn the calendar year starting January 1. And so we're in a really, really desperate situation, we're having a federal response doc in the U.S. Air Force reserves that has not been tapped, federal assets that could help have not been tapped yet. So having a federalized response to bolster hotspots, places where ICUs are being -- are exhibiting surge capacity right now, surge capacity issues is vital. And we really need that right now, Brian, but we're all concerned.

WILLIAMS: By the way to our audience, when Dr. Gupta mentions the lift capacity and logistics capacity of the Air Force Reserve, he is a member of the Air Force Reserve and has expertise in that area.

Mercedes Carnethon, let's talk about what is a major spreader and that is small indoor gatherings, small family indoor gatherings, once again, all of you in public health are bumping up against human nature, especially at the one holiday we really associate with coming home and getting together?

DR. MERCEDES CARNETHON, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: You know, Brian, you bring up a very good point. You know, the central feature of Thanksgiving, of Christmas is joining together with family and friends to enjoy a meal. Unfortunately, that meal can't happen with masks on. And we know based on the data so far that it is these sorts of activities, the close spaces that we're in where we are eating and drinking.

My colleagues published a paper this week about the top super spreader events. And the reason that restaurants and bars are highlighted is because those are spaces in which masks are off and people are talking and projecting. And unfortunately, people are tired. There is the vigilance fatigue that we talked about. But this is the wrong time to be fatigued. I share Dr. Fauci's hope about a vaccine having an impact. But I've said often that the vaccine is the long game. The short game right now are the behaviors that we can take and the choices that we make around the holiday season.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Gupta, how hopeful are you? And what caveats and reminders have you offered people who have asked you how to feel about the arrival of the vaccine?

GUPTA: Brian, I think it's important to recognize that the vaccine data from Pfizer, just like its predecessors, Moderna, when they released vaccine data via a press release that all we have is the press release. We don't actually have the data. What we do know is that a week after their study cohort received a second dose of the vaccine. They're claiming 90% effectiveness of that vaccine in preventing infection with COVID-19.

What we need to know, Brian, is how long does effectiveness, does that effectiveness last? How long is the Pfizer vaccine useful for? Is it six months, is it a year with that second booster shot? It matters because actually distributing this vaccine is going to be a logistical hurdle, the likes of which our nation has never seen. Are negative 100 degrees Fahrenheit, cold chain storage? And if we really need to give two doses of this vaccine to all Americans, we better make sure it works. We better see the safety data and we don't have either with confidence right now.

WILLIAMS: Both members of our medical team tonight have agreed to stay with us as we fit in a break.

And coming up, our guests have explained how bad it's getting. We'll take up the question of what can we all do now?



RON KLAIN, SERVED PRESIDENT OBAMA'S EBOLA CZAR: The candidate for President Joe Biden promised they would put up the official in charge of the COVID response in the White House. He will do that. That official have a team of people that he works with someone coordinating he or she works with someone coordinating vaccine, vaccine distribution, someone coordinating fixing the supply chain problems we're having, someone coordinating fixing the testing problems we're having. We're going to start from day one really moving to get this virus under control.


WILLIAMS: So that would make it an actual task force in the White House. There's an idea. That is the president elect's plan to control the virus provided by his new Chief of Staff Ron Klain with Lawrence O'Donnell tonight.

President has stopped talking publicly about the pandemic, he just has. Local officials are now scrambling as infection spread uncontrolled in just about every state in our union. City of Chicago about to launch a 30 days stay home advisory starting on Monday and they do that reluctantly, schools in New York City are right up against the percentage standard that they posted. They would need to shut down again. They're close.

Still with us are Mercedes Carnethon and Dr. Vin Gupta. Mercedes, I guess you could make a case that public health is a little bit about branding and motivation. Sometimes the combination of educating and pushing people to do what they normally would not do.

As you know this phrase lockdown has become rather toxic as Michael Osterholm himself said this week, you could argue that a better part of 70 million people voted against lockdowns during last Tuesday's election. So why short of that can be done and or what should it be called?

CARNETHON: You know, you're right, the phrase locked down, immediately triggers for many people, the mandate that the government is controlling their behaviors and their decisions. When the tweet went out from our mayor today, here in Chicago, where we have had for the last few days, the highest number of new cases in the country, the vitriol was almost immediate, with responses saying that the government shouldn't mandate how many people I have in my home, the government shouldn't tell me where I should go and what I should do.

And why I find this so troubling is because it's these very same families, these individuals in a community where community spread is rampant. Whether or not your family is directly infected or affected, it's without a doubt touching someone you know, and someone's lives, you know, and I think trying to really emphasize the collective good, and the responsibility that we have as a society to keep everyone safe. For some, you know, unfortunately, it's not compelling to everyone.

I do think the CDC sees modification of the rationale for wearing masks that they not only protect others, but protect yourself may help appeal to some individuals to take that very simple and important straightforward step. But you're right, it is around messaging, and it's around communications. And we need this messaging coming from the top.

WILLIAMS: Vin Gupta, I'm going to play for you something that aired on Fox News Tonight, we'll discuss on the other side.


SEN. PAUL RAND (R), KENTUCKY: We have 11 million people in our country who've already had COVID, we should tell them to celebrate, we should tell them to throw away their mask, go to restaurants live again, because these people are now immune. But Dr. Fauci doesn't want to admit to any of that. Dr. Fauci like, oh, what was me?


WILLIAMS: So Dr. Gupta, how do you react to that comment from the noted public health expert, Rand Paul?

GUPTA: You know, Brian, Rand Paul as a medical doctrine, and he should be ashamed, and that he should be stripped of any ability to practice medicine. And he's not upholding the first tenet of being a physician, which is first do no harm. I don't know why he would say that.

For your viewers out there to correct misinformation, there is no evidence that if you've been infected with COVID-19, that you're immune from reinfection for any period of time. We have 25-year-old in Nevada, otherwise healthy within six weeks of his first infection got reinfected had more severe symptoms the second time around. So that is shameful on the part of Senator Rand Paul. He has a platform, he's a physician, he should start acting like one.

Brian if I may, just real quick on masks. Since I got a lot of viewer questions on this. Given our conversation last week, these are the things that you don't want to do. Neck gators of any type. They're not good. They're not thick enough. So any neck Gator that you just put up over your nose in your mouth, don't do that. Get something else. These cloth masks I have here the same type of fabric even though there are multi layer, there's sort of two pieces of the same type of fabric adjacent to each other. Don't do that as well.

This is what you want to look out for as you're thinking about better protection as we enter into colder weather, hybrid cloth masks. So one, a high thread count piece of cotton 600 count cotton next to a synthetic piece of cotton made with polyester fiber, for example. That's good. This is from the American Thoracic Society. They just sent me this in the mail as great fit as well. You want multi layer fabric, or cloth masks with different types of cloth, adjusting to each other that is good. Or these blue masks these three five blue masks otherwise known as surgical mask or three ply masks that you can buy at department stores.

As long as they're blue and they say three ply. They're a good bet as well. And then hopefully our government in a few months we'll get the Defense Production Act to produce more N95 for more people, more essential frontline workers so we can better protect people.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for that, on behalf of all our viewers who hit us with questions on this understandably all the time. It's confusing out there. Dr. Vin Gupta Mercedes Carnethon, can't thank you enough for your time and taking our questions tonight.

Coming up tech journalist Kara Swisher on fact checking in a flood of disinformation and denialism aka drinking from a toxic firehose after this break.



TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: So we told you last night about voter fraud. We don't know its extent we know that it happened dead people voted quite a number of them.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Many Americans do not believe that this election was fair and make no mistake. Every American has a right to feel that way. I feel that way. It's a corrupt and an embarrassing disgrace.


WILLIAMS: Trump supporters continue peddling false election fraud claims the President himself still posting conspiracy theories on social media. But his own Department of Homeland Security issued this pretty blunt statement tonight quote, the November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. There's no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes change votes or was in any way compromised.

For more we are so happy to welcome back Kara Swisher veteran technology and business journalist who's a contributing opinion writer over at the New York Times, also happens to host the new times opinion podcasts Sway with recent guests including Hillary Clinton, Killer Mike, Elon Musk as one does. She also co-host a podcast called Pivot with another friend of our broadcast. Scott Galloway over on Vox media.

Kara, it's great to see you again.


WILLIAMS: Obviously, the presence here support from Fox News.


WILLIAMS: I follow on Twitter, an aggregator of breaking news aggregator that has the patina of respectability and nice graphics. But it's the Russians. I know it's the Russians, I follow them just to see what they're up to.

SWISHER: What are they up to Brian?

WILLIAMS: Tell me how social media has poured and oh, they're up to exactly what I'm going to ask you how has social media poured gasoline on this disinformation fire?

SWISHER: Well, here's the thing. The problem is, is that they've tried to do some things and the problem is it's going back years is they've allowed this stuff to happen for so long, and now they're trying to put a stop to it by putting labels, they've labeled almost all of Donald Trump's recent tweets, for example, and other tweets that are coming down are also being blocked or labeled or something like that.

So they've been trying to put out fires with essentially a squirt gun because they've allowed them to go on for years and they've allowed a lot of these people to game these systems, these malevolent players.

And so it's a really difficult thing when -- what happens is that things get flooded into the zone. And then regular users get confused and upset. And that's the whole point of the whole thing. Whether it's the Russians or the GOP or anyone else, they're trying to flood the zone and confuse people and upset people. And that's the goal.

WILLIAMS: If Joe Biden appointed us special master in the White House to look into the lessons of 2020, what social media did to our country? If you have no time to prepare, what's the first graph you'd tell them about?

SWISHER: I think the issue is, is that there has been no regulation of any tech whatsoever. And I think it's a bigger discussion about big tech and the power that they have. And I think even though Republicans and Democrats do disagree, Republicans tend to go on about conservative media bias, which theirs is also evidence free at this moment.

Democrats tend to talk about the power. And I think that's what I talked about is the power of these tech companies to make decisions that affect a great swath of people that they're not public squares, but they act like public squares. They're not the government, but they act like the government.

And so I'd start to think about a wide range of regulations, fines and other things that they could -- that we could work together with tech companies to think about what needs to be done to give them some guardrails, which they don't have any now compared to any other industry whatsoever. So I'd start on that a little a little higher level.

WILLIAMS: I've never missed your interviews when he grants them with Mark Zuckerberg. Is it fair for a guy like me to say you find him some combination of fascinating, vexing, a frustrating and often wrong?

SWISHER: I'm not so sure fascinating, but he certainly has a lot of power. He's -- I always say he's frequently wrong, but he's never in doubt, like today with Steve Bannon. You know, he's sort of in an in a lose-lose situation, whatever decision he makes, because he's sort of waded in here with all kinds of pronouncements and then he shifts and change those like he did a couple years ago. With me, he talked about Holocaust deniers not meaning to lie, which I found problematic at best.

And then now this year, he suddenly knocking Holocaust deniers off the platform. Same thing with Alex Jones. He said it wasn't going to throw him off, then he did. And now he's defending not suspending Steve Bannon who's broken the rules of Facebook.

And so the issues around enforcement so vexing, isn't it. I just don't even understand it. It's confusing, and it doesn't have any rhyme or reason. And it's because one single person controls the company, which is Mark Zuckerberg, so he can do as he pleases.

WILLIAMS: Yes, for our audience that didn't hear Bannon called for not much just the beheading of the FBI and Dr. Fauci and the further back story is Zuckerberg said that that hadn't violated enough of the company's policy -- policies to justify his suspension from Facebook.


WILLIAMS: I think their standard is, they must see you commit actual premeditated murder, Kara?

SWISHER: Actually, you know, their rules do say you shouldn't incite violence. So it's really kind of weird. I just don't know what rule they're pointing to. And you're right. At this point, I'm like, what would it be dismemberment? Would it be, I don't know, what would it would take in this case, but in for most users, this is enough to get you at least suspend it for a short time. And obviously, Twitter, threw him off, YouTube, remove some videos and everything.

So you know, what happens is a lot of these social networks have this whack a mole. And what happens with people like Steve Bannon is they continue -- and Donald Trump, they continue to try to press the line further and further, to see what they can get away with and what they're slapped back on. And for the most part, they've been able to press it over and over and over again.

And so they become, you know, one of the things I think about a lot is, you know, I have kids, you feed your kids sugar every day of their lives, they're going to become manic and diabetic and crazy. And so this is what's happened. They've allowed -- I don't even fault Donald Trump anymore. Why wouldn't he do this? If he's allowed to do it? It's it I wouldn't do it myself. And I think that it's unbecoming the president of the United States to be doing this.

But he's allowed to violate these laws and they let them and so, you know, I don't know what to say. It is in their hands and they've got their hands full and now they don't know what to do and in general.

WILLIAMS: Well, thank you for allowing me to blame so many traits on my consumption of sugar. Kara Swisher has been our guest tonight from a room with great curvature in keeping with the Sway name --

SWISHER: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: -- of her new podcast. Kara, it's always a pleasure. Thanks for making time for us.

SWISHER: All right. Thanks very much.

WILLIAMS: Greatly appreciate it. Coming up for us. Oh, you're welcome. Thank you. It's a driving a lot of pre orders. Starting tonight, we have a look at what is inside this man's new memoir.


WILLIAMS: As we said a whole lot of pre orders for Barack Obama's new memoir a promised land it'll be released next week. Some excerpts out today gives us a glimpse into his views on the current political landscape and reflections on his time in office. NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell has our report tonight.


ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Barack Obama writes that after leaving Washington and winding down for a month, he sat down with a pen and yellow pad to write another memoir.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I hope to give an honest rendering of my time in office.

MITCHELL: The Atlantic published the books preface editor according.

OBAMA: Our democracy seems to be teetering on the brink of crisis, a crisis that has left the body politic divided, angry and mistrustful and is allowed for an ongoing breach of institutional norms, procedural safeguards and the adherence to basic facts the both Republicans and Democrats once took for granted.

MITCHELL: The book addresses race, Obama writing, it was as if my very presence in the White House had triggered a deep seated panic, which is exactly what Donald Trump understood when he started peddling assertions that I had not been born in the United States. According to a copy of the book obtained by CNN, and personal moments from his years in office.

OBAMA: Trying to find a discreet location to grab an evening smoke. My staff and I have an a laugh while playing cards aboard Air Force One.

MITCHELL: The former president says while encouraged by the historic turnout and Biden victory. He also knows no single election will settle the matter. Our divisions run deep. Our challenges are daunting. If I remain hopeful about the future, it's in large part because I've learned to place my faith in my fellow citizens, especially those of the next generation. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.


WILLIAMS: And coming up for us something that will be coming to an end along with the Trump presidency on the 20 As of January.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words. We're going to build a wall. Who is going to pay for the wall. Hundred percent.

The barrier wall or steel slabs, whatever you want to call it. Name it features. I don't care what they name it. We are finishing that wall. It's going to be done so fast. It's got to be done so fast. They never thought I get a bill.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, the President has rhapsodized about his wall for well over five years now and because elections have consequences and Trump loses the power of the presidency at 12 noon on January 20. The wall will stop where it is let's let the Seattle Times tell the story quote, Mexico never paid for any of it. It's less than half finished and on January 20. Or soon thereafter, construction will come to an abrupt halt on the big beautiful wall that President Donald Trump promised to build along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Project has cost $15 billion. So far, most of it diverted from the military budget. After Congress refused to provide full funding. President Elect Biden vowed during the campaign to kill the project but leave in place whatever the Trump administration leaves behind.

The article goes on to say only 34 percent of our almost 2,000 mile long border with Mexico is walled off in any way. And while they have indeed completed fortifications along 400 miles of it, all of it already had some sort of barrier. There's only 12 miles of new wall construction where there was no fence earlier.

Maybe the way to view this is to hope that camp lagoon gets a water purification system that's perhaps been put off maybe Fort Hood needs new barracks, maybe Elmendorf Air Force Base has put off paving one of the giant runways they've got up there. This won't get our military their $15 billion back, but it will mean they are funding a priority once again.

That is our broadcast on a Thursday night. Thank you so much for being here with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.


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