The very loud minority of anti-COVID vaccine extremists have been making their presence known across the country showing over protests, and school board meetings, and unfortunately, also in hospitals. Lawmakers and the American public heard from the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen in a hearing before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications. The Justice Department directs federal law enforcement to work with local leaders to curb the threats of violence against school board members. Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, one of the largest police unions in the country has resigned under pressure.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: And that`s tonight`s "REIDOUT." ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If you haven`t had the vaccines, you ought to be thinking about getting it because if you`re --
CROWD: Boo. Boo.
HAYES: The anti-vax crowd roars in South Carolina as a destructive deadly disinformation campaign continues.
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): We`re at each other`s throats now with these divisive mandates that are going to destroy our health care system.
HAYES: Then the Facebook whistleblower faces Congress.
FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: Facebook`s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy.
HAYES: Plus, what we know about why the FBI raided the offices of a New York City police union and the home of that union`s president.
And as the Department of Justice steps in, how one Republican senator is pretending school board harassment and intimidation aren`t off the charts?
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Does waiting to express one`s view at a school board meeting harassment and intimidation?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The death threat was you`re going to get knifed, you (BLEEP). You`re going to get a (BLEEP). You`re dead.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The very loud minority of anti-COVID vaccine extremists have been making their presence known across the country. They`ve been showing over protests and school board meetings and unfortunately, also in hospitals.
Even the blue states have their own contingents. Here in New York City, for example, there have been these anti-COVID vax protests, mostly not that well-attended, but folks are really and truly riled up. In fact, yesterday, a group of those anti-vaxxers marched from Brooklyn to Manhattan protesting COVID vaccine requirements for school employees. Vaccine requirements have been quite effective in getting folks vaccinated, we should note.
And when they reached Union Square, a few of the marchers just attacked a mobile COVID testing site. You can see them here flipping over the tables and chairs and then the tent and the crowd boos and chants. Now, at one level, this is just people acting poorly. I`m not sure how much thought went into these actions, but I`ve watched this a lot and when I saw it yesterday, it struck me that this moment actually does capture something much, much, much deeper than just the actions of these (INAUDIBLE).
Even if you bend over backwards, right, you try to conceive the most empathetic reasonable version of vaccine skepticism, and there is some, what on earth does that have to do with testing for the virus, right? Testing for COVID is well established. It`s safe and effective. It`s just a, you know, swab in your nose. It`s not a shot in your arm. It`s not some you know new thing that someone is making you get.
In fact, if you test often enough, you can even keep people relatively safe without the vaccine. That`s why the Biden administration has given employees a kind of either-or choice. So why not go over the testing display?
The answer is the rage you see on display here is omnidirectional. That rage, the emotional core of that has fed this fire from the beginning. It`s been directed to all sorts of targets. Right now, it just happens to be the vaccines or the vaccine mandates. But when you are knocking over the COVID testing tents, what you are saying is stop talking about COVID. Stop reminding us this thing is real and dangerous and we have to do something about it. I don`t want to hear it. Shut up, shut up, shut up.
And that`s been the through-line for so much of the messaging and disinformation coming particularly from the right-wing. Remember, this was Donald Trump`s original sin on COVID. It`s going to go away like that, a miracle. You told people to not worry about it. Don`t let it dominate your life.
And so, this metaphorical knocking over the COVID testing tent has been the response to every new measure to fight the virus whatever it is, right? Whether it`s masking or social distancing or vaccines or shutting down bars and nightclubs, shut up, stop telling us what to do. Stop making us deal with the reality of this once-in-a-century pandemic that has now killed more people than all American wars combined other than the civil war.
The views of the folks showing up these protests are not that different from the people positions of power, the folks feeding them all this, were spewing and spreading the rage in the first place. Here`s one example. Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin who is really, I got to say, carved out a niche for himself as the most vaccine-resistant us senator. So, congrats on that.
Senator Johnson has been thumping on about supposed miracle cures first with the malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine. Remember that one? He`s now become the parasite drug ivermectin guy. Again, I`m open to the data and things could change, I suppose. But the data we have now shows that neither of those drugs are effective in treating COVID. That`s just what the data says. But this desire for those to be miracle cures, right, and the experts to be wrong all emanates from this deep emotional well of rage against the experts, against the people trying to tell us what to do.
Last night, in an interview with a vaccine public enemy number one Tucker Carlson, Senator Ron Johnson went so far to spread a lie about the approval status of one of the vaccines.
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JOHNSON: These mandates are driven by the bait and switch of the FDA that we now have an approved vaccine. We do not have an approved vaccine in America. They did it for the community. It`s available I guess in Europe. But the Pfizer vaccine available in the U.S. is not FDA approved. It`s got an emergency user authorization.
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HAYES: Absolutely not true. Like, you`re probably watching that at home thinking like no, I don`t think that`s true. I`m pretty sure I heard about the actual authorization. 100 percent wrong. The Pfizer vaccine received full FDA approval back in August of this year. It was a big deal. It was on front page of newspapers. They covered it all over the news, right?
It`s approved for individual 16 years of age and over. It is now being marketed under the name Comirnaty which is not the name I would have chosen but that`s not my job to choose those names. So, honestly, I`ve watched this club a few times. I don`t know for sure if Ron Johnson is just like confused and addled and can`t quite get there with like the new name of the drug or he`s just lying.
But Tucker Carlson who works in news doesn`t seem to care one way or the other. And listen to me. Do not underestimate how many lies are being pumped into people watching these shows. Media matters around the numbers. They shared a new study with us that we published tonight that shows that Fox News pushed a claim undermining vaccines during 99 percent of the days in the past six months.
99 percent of the days in the past six months. So, this is what it looks like when someone like another center, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who to his credit is vaccinated, has publicly supported vaccines, tries to gently suggest that people think about getting the shot.
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GRAHAM: If you haven`t had the vaccine, you ought to be think about getting it because if you`re --
CROWD: No. No.
GRAHAM: I didn`t tell you to get it. You ought to think about it.
CROWD: No. No.
GRAHAM: Well, I`m glad I got it. 92 of the people in hospitals in South Carolina are unvaccinated.
CROWD: No, that`s not true. That`s not true.
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HAYES: Not true. No, they said to Senator Graham as he just quoted statistics about hospitalizations in his own state. Where do you think they got the idea that`s a lie, right, that the vast majority of people in the hospital were unvaccinated and the hospitals are strained? Well, it came straight from the source.
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LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Of course, we now know that when they say the hospitals though are being overwhelmed, it`s almost always a lie with the exception of a few big city hospitals in the U.S. Our hospital system was stretched for sure but it was never overwhelmed.
And with the Delta variant, any hospitals that were stretched usually found themselves in that situation due to staffing shortages created by their stupid vaccine mandates.
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HAYES: That`s not true. I mean, I guess if you interpret like what the difference between stretched and overwhelmed is, you could bend over backwards to try to make sense of it. But that`s from exactly a week ago. Of course, what makes all this so deeply cynical, aggressively cynical, is that while Rupert Murdoch`s Fox News is the source of so much of this, they have been running one of the most destructive disinformation campaigns I`ve ever seen. Rupert Murdoch himself was among the first in line to get a vaccine back in the U.K. back in December of last year, strongly encouraged people around the world to get it.
Not only that. Fox News also has a vaccine mandate stronger than the one proposed by President Joe Biden. They are requiring any unvaccinated employees to be tested every day. And of course, while many of their on-air hosts were rambling against COVID restrictions, they were broadcasting their shows from the safety of their own homes.
In fact, here`s an amazing look behind the curtain. Fox News recently aired this footage showing off their newly renovated Washington D.C. bureau. Looking pretty good there, I got to say. What on earth though is on their faces? What is going on? Oh right, yes, they are wearing masks and they are also all vaccinated or getting tested daily because that`s the corporate requirement.
So, inside Fox News, everyone takes this seriously. They`re in on the joke, I guess. They understand the science is quite solid. They understand the methods preventing infection, severe illness, hospitalization, and death, the methods for maintaining a safe workplace are all pretty clear. When they go on air, they undermine that exact message.
And Tucker Carlson`s even launched a little personal campaign against horrible tyrannical employers out there who require their employees to get vaccinated. And he has been giving sympathetic interviews to people who have taken the -- to my mind rather extreme step of quitting their job rather than getting vaccinated.
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CARLSON: Cassandra Radelich is one of the victims of this latest purge. She is an ICU nurse who just left her job at a hospital in Indiana because of vaccine mandates.
Jessie Radelich joins us tonight. Jessie, thanks so much for coming on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
CARLSON: Tell us --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for having me.
CARLSON: Oh, well, it`s our honor to have you. Tell us why you left your job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I left my job when policies were being ruled out at our hospital that would ultimately initiate the segregation of its staff on who was vaccinated versus who was unvaccinated.
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HAYES: Tucker, buddy, I got news for you. The call is coming from inside the house. Your own bosses are doing this. And I got to ask, why don`t you have the courage of your convictions? The very lowest level of that courage which of course you failed to show would be to simply use your platform to actually criticize your own bosses who are making this requirement.
You could go on air and you can say, hey, my bosses are doing this and I don`t agree with it. But that would require the tiniest little sliver of moral integrity. You`d have to take some little slight risk to your bottom line and your paycheck and your stature. You`re probably not going to do that.
You certainly wouldn`t do the thing that you have celebrated in others which is to just quit and walk away rather than be subject to this tyranny, although I am sure there will be lots of YouTubers who would be happy to host you for your exit interview if you found the courage to choose to do so.
Michael Steele is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Angelo Carusone is the President and CEO of Media Matters for America. And they both join me now. Angelo, let me start with you because you guys have been tracking this and I think people underappreciate how insidious this campaign has been and how relentless it has been because it`s been particularly focused in prime time and it has been day in day out in this very cutesy way of well, we`re not telling you not to get the vaccine. Describe to me, characterize what the coverage has been like.
ANGELO CARUSONE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MEDIA MATTERS, AMERICA: So, I would say, there`s three things. One, consistency. So, of the last 183 days, six months, only two of those days there was not a consistent effort across the channel that day to undermine or encourage people not to get vaccinated. So, that`s the first part.
The second part then is then -- is dire warnings. So, you`re going to be forced to take psychotropic drugs if you take the vaccine. That`s going to be the next thing. Or the vaccine is a secret plot by Joe Biden liberals and the media to actually purge Christians. So, these really wild and fantastic sort of slippery slope arguments.
And then the third aspect is alternative, So, if you`re still kind of thinking about the vaccine because maybe you`re scared of COVID because you think it`s real, you know someone that`s died at this point from COVID, they give you all kinds of alternatives that can cure you, (INAUDIBLE), vaping, Tamiflu, antibiotics. I`m not joking. These are all the things that Fox News, while they`re downplaying the vaccine, is proposing as alternatives as to why you shouldn`t be scared about COVID at all.
HAYES: Michael, you know, there have been these raft of stories, there have been several conservative talk radio hosts who have railed against a vaccine, they have not been vaccinated, some of them have gotten very sick, a few of them have passed away.
They`re very upsetting stories and they`re very sad stories. What they show is that these individuals believed what they were saying, right? I mean, they were on air saying I don`t believe in the vaccine. I don`t think you should either. And they didn`t get themselves vaccinated and ultimately that was -- they paid a horrible price for that. That`s not what`s happening at Fox. They know that -- this is not -- that is not the story over at Fox News.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, because I want to get that paycheck next month. I got bills to pay. I got to get vaccinated. Look, first off, let me just say you should just bottle the opening of this show and just pin it, folks, because you have laid out an indictment that is so direct and so compelling as to why we are where we are, and why we continue to be where we are.
And the reality of it is when you start the lie going back to February, March of 2020, that this is OK, it`s no big deal. And you get everybody to buy into that ish, right? What do you do a year and a half later after 700,000 dead and you`ve got to keep the perpetuation of the land? That`s Ron Johnson. He doesn`t got anything else to say. Carve out the niche baby because that`s the only hole you can be in.
You cannot come out from that because then you suffer the wrath. They would rather suffer the wrath of people like you and me and others who are using common sense and science to apply to the situation than to be on the wrong side as we saw Lindsey was in that clip of the Frankenstein monster that they created on COVID.
And that`s the new reality now not just inside the GOP but across the country and so many other forums at this point which is what the Facebook discussion is about right now. So, there`s a lot here.
HAYES: You`re right -- you`re right though that -- Michael, I mean, that key point that the original sin is the original denial and that -- and never getting out from under that except for about a two-week period, right, where Trump got a little spooked and he came out and said, you know, he looked at those charts so we have to do something.
But the original sin and the only thing that kind of keeps grinding this along as an intellectual project if you can call it that, Angelo, is like it`s just not that big a deal. They`re lying to you about what a big deal it is. And everything gets needs to get reverse-engineered around that even to the point -- you know, what I`m so struck by your study at Fox is like they could just not talk about it, right?
CARUSONE: That`s right.
HAYES: They could just leave it be. They don`t have to go and undermine it if they don`t want to be out there saying look, it`s -- but they don`t do that. And it`s -- I think it`s because A, it rates, right? And B, because that -- they have to keep this mythos going.
CARUSONE: That`s right. And I think that that`s the part -- that`s the key piece here. It`s actually -- it demonstrates the intentionality, the deliberateness of this, and why it goes all the way to the top, right? This is beyond just a couple segments now. And this can only continue at the scale that it is.
If the highest levels of Fox News which would be Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch, at minimum are giving it tacit consent and if not more than that. And that`s -- that I think is the first part. And the more broad thing is that it does tie into the broader right-wing narrative of control, right?
Why do you -- why should you fight against the ACA, why should you fight against any legislation? It`s always some -- you have to step back because Democrats or the other or somebody`s trying to control you. And that`s what this has boiled down. They get to tie this into a broader right-wing narrative and then pump it with all sorts of misinformation and a lot of it is about getting power.
HAYES: You know, the final point here, Michael, and I like talking about this because you and I are both had our moral formation in the catholic church and I think it`s stuck with both of us even though I`m no longer attending church. But to me it`s just like -- it is -- it`s straight up evil to do this. I don`t have other words for it. It just is. It`s wrong and sinful.
Like, you know what you`re doing and you`re doing it for indefensible reasons at the cost of people`s lives. And that`s like just the plain moral truth of what`s happening every day. And I continue to be scandalized by the sheer evil of it every day.
STEELE: When you turn the gospel and the teachings of Christ on its head when he says care for the least of these, care for the vulnerable, care for those who are in need of help, and instead you provide them with the very information that leads to their deaths, then you have a moral problem.
STEELE: And that`s the other part of that`s so disturbing for someone like myself when you look someone in the eye and said, look, at the end of the day, this -- you may not want it for yourself, but think of all the other people around you including your parents, your grandparents, your children who can become sick and die from this.
And to reject that because you think that`s just some vast conspiracy to keep your kids from catching what, a virus that will kill them? There`s -- you have a problem with that? That`s the underlying moral story for me that is probably more disturbing than anything else. Because if this is the beginning the tip of the spear of that, Chris, what`s next? The next big thing that hits us that impales us the way this has, what do we do?
HAYES: Michael Steele and Angelo Carusone, thank you both. I really appreciate it.
Today, we heard firsthand just how far Facebook is willing to go to make a profit off of you or your loved ones as a whistleblower testified on Capitol Hill the company poses a threat to children, to our safety, to our very democracy. In a rare moment of bipartisanship, Congress seems prepared to take some action. But what exactly, what does that mean, how to solve a problem like Facebook? After this.
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HAUGEN: During my time at Facebook, I came to realize a devastating truth. Almost no one outside of Facebook knows what happens inside of Facebook. The company intentionally hides vital information from the public, from the U.S. government, and from governments around the world.
The documents I have provided to congress prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled the public about what its own research reveals about the safety of children, the efficacy of its artificial intelligence systems, and its role in spreading divisive and extreme messages. I came forward because I believe that every human being deserves the dignity of the truth.
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HAYES: Today, lawmakers and the American public heard from the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen in a hearing before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications. And it was an unusually bipartisan display today as Haugen described to senators the urgent threat she feels Facebook poses to healthy democracy, to human rights, to children growing up in an Instagram filtered world.
She made special note of just why the company`s obsession with growth hinders any meaningful change in the platform.
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HAUGEN: Facebook understands that if they want to continue to grow they have to find new users, they have to make sure that the next generation is just as engaged with Instagram as the current one, and the way they`ll do that is by making sure that children establish habits before they have good self-regulation.
SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ (D-HI): By hooking kids
HAUGEN: By hooking kids.
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HAYES: Haugen grows a small but growing chorus of people who are speaking out who`ve been on the inside of this industry. In 2011, Tristan Harris joined Google after his own startup was acquired by them. He first worked as a Gmail product manager, then as a design ethicist and product philosopher.
And his job was to study the way screen applications impact those using their product, how they interact action affects behavior patterns, overall attitude, or health. In 2013, he internally published and circulated this 144 page presentation on the ethical role and responsibility of tech companies like Google to their users. While that presentation definitely started dialogue, it wasn`t enough.
In 2016 he decided to leave Google to push for change in how we interact with technology eventually co-founding the center for humane technology. Last year he appeared in the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma to discuss what he experienced and how dangerous unchecked tech and social media can be.
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TRISTAN HARRIS, COMPUTER SCIENTIST: It`s not enough that you use the product consciously. I want to dig down deeper into the brain stem and implant inside of you an unconscious habit so that you are being programmed at a deeper level you don`t even realize it.
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HAYES: And Tristan Harris joins me now. Great to have you here. I know this is something you`ve been thinking about basically full-time for a very long time. What -- how significant do you think Haugen`s revelations and testimony were today?
HARRIS: Being honest with you, I was so moved almost emotionally. I`ve been working on this topic for eight years. And what she said at the beginning of her hearing which is that this is something that everyone needs to know. And, you know, when she was looking at this inside information system in civic integrity at Facebook, she`s seeing genocides, she`s seeing misinformation, she`s seeing body dysmorphia issues. And she`s saying I shouldn`t be the only one who knows this.
And Facebook has this research and it`s bad. And they`re not making choices. They know that when they optimize for engagement, they optimize for what makes us more certain of in an uncertain world, what more out groups, the other tribe, what makes us more angry. And they know that it actually makes political parties more divisive, but they chose to continue to optimize for profit and engagement over safety.
And I just so relate to what she said about this is something the whole world needs to know. This is what all of us, so many of us in the tech community, accountable tech some of us at Center for Humane Technology have been doing is trying to raise public awareness. But the unique thing today is you saw -- I think it was Senator Jerry Moran and Blumenthal from both sides say, we don`t have differences on this anymore. We`re going to do something about it. We`re going to work together.
And that`s what makes this honestly a transformative moment. I have not seen something like this happen in the eight years I`ve worked on this topic.
HAYES: OK, so there`s a few things here. One -- whenever I see this, there`s always some part of me that`s trying to sort through what`s new and what`s not, right? So, if you read about the Rwandan genocide, right? Radio Rwanda, radio was used quite explicitly as the tool to promote that genocide. If -- when I was growing up, we looked at women`s and girls, teenage girls, fashion magazines, horribly distorted images that were driving body dysmorphia, right?
So, a lot of these critiques I`ve heard before in other contexts, there`s something different happening with Facebook and social media. Describe to me what it is because she`s sort of focused on the algorithm and why that`s different than other forms of media that can do really, really, really egregious and gnarly stuff.
HARRIS: Correct. It`s really important. A lot of people think there`s a moral panic. We`ve always had these problems.
HARRIS: Obviously, the society was polarized before social media even came to us, and partisan television and the rest of it. What`s different is when you have a supercomputer. So, Facebook is a trillion-dollar company. They have one of the largest supercomputers in the world. And when you scroll Facebook and you think you`re just seeing what your friends are doing, every time you scroll, imagine you activate a supercomputer pointed at your brain that has seen two billion people interact with it today.
And it knows that if you are someone who clicked on an article saying, the vaccine is unsafe, it says, oh, well, you`re just like these this other bucket of users. And this video over here that made fun of so many errors in the vaccine data or something like that, that worked really well for them.
So, we`re micro-targeting the thing that will make people most cynical and most hateful of their fellow countrymen and women. And we`ve got a trillion-dollar supercomputer that every time people scroll puts at the center of attention the next fault line in society. It`s like precision- guided weapons to find the next fault line in society.
And the key is it`s not just that it makes, you know, us polarized. It`s that when it drives us to more extreme positions. What they found in their own research is that political parties in Europe said no, Facebook. You changed your algorithm. And Facebook said, oh we -- you know people tell us that all the time.
They said no, no, we know you changed it because we`re a political party. We used to be able to post about agriculture policy and we`d get traffic. And you changed it.
HAYES: People would engage.
HARRIS: People would engage. And then they changed the algorithm and they said we only get traffic now when we make enemies, when we say negative things about our opponents. And we know that`s bad. We don`t want to do that. But you`ve changed it. And so, Facebook -- you know, we think we have this political marketplace with an invisible hand, Adam Smith. We don`t have an invisible hand.
We have Zuckerberg`s digital hand who -- when he changes the algorithm, it changes the marketplace to things that make us hate each other which makes democracy not work, which makes us feel less and less enchanted with democracy, which means we can`t regulate tech. So, his business model is dividing us at a fractal level.
HAYES: OK, so her point today, right, about this sort of -- the get away from the speech and content moderation questions which I think are --
HARRIS: It`s a false choice.
HAYES: It`s a false choice. And also Facebook wants to drive people to that. I should say this. I should read the Facebook statements. Today, a Senate commerce subcommittee held a hearing with a former product manager at Facebook who worked for the company for less than two years, had no direct reports, never attended a decision point meeting with C-level executives. I never have either. And testified more than six times to not working on the subject matter in question. We don`t agree with her characterization of the many issues she testified about.
So, she`s saying look, they want to push you into this speech question. Let`s talk about the algorithm, right? I mean -- and that`s what I`m hearing from you and that`s what we hear from people that are -- I feel the most compelling in this space is like there is this very, very sophisticated computer doing something very sophisticated to our brains. And I guess my next question of skepticism is like, is it really that good though?
Like, because a lot of times the algorithm feels very dumb to me, you know. Like, I buy a thing and then it advertises the same thing to me for like three weeks. It`s like I bought it, dude. Like, is it really as good as you`re saying?
HARRIS: I think when people hear this they might think I`m saying it can persuade you of anything. It`s really easy to take something you`re already leading towards and give you increasing certainty. It pushes you in more extreme directions. So, if it pushes everybody in opposite more extreme directions, again, political parties then have to cater to a more extreme base.
And then when a more extreme set of politicians show up they can`t agree and then democracy doesn`t work, and it breaks -- that`s why Facebook`s business model is impenetrable with democracy, full stop. It`s not just that it`s showing us harmful -- we have a content problem. It`s the morality.
One last thing. In the -- in the documents they showed, it would be more effective for Facebook to turn off the virality, the reshare button after two hops than the billions of dollars they spend on fact-checking. So, this isn`t about content moderation, it`s about the morality. Not freedom of reach -- sorry, not freedom of speech, but freedom of reach. Reach is not the thing -- even conservatives believe rights go with attendant responsibilities.
HARRIS: If we have a right to speech, yes. But a responsibility when you gain a megaphone to reach two billion people that micro -- that micro targets you know the most polarizing thing you say to the person getting most against it.
HAYES: Well, she -- one of the smoking guns thing she says was that they basically turned down this virality in the algorithm in the run-up to the election and then they just turned it back up because they -- it was -- because the virality makes things go and causes growth.
HARRIS: It`s more profitable. So, growth works better, the more things go viral. Because in a way, you can see each of these companies competing on virality. It`s like Facebook and Twitter and YouTube, they`re all competing on like this attention casino, who`s going to make your thing go as viral as possible.
So, to make things safe, they have to tune it down. But then, of course, they want to make more money and more growth, they have to turn it back up again. And the point is that virality is not safe. And it also doesn`t create a society or democracy that works.
Well, so, if it`s incommensurable, is there like -- what are -- what are we headed towards, right? Because like I -- there`s political consensus, I think, bipartisan consensus. And I think it`s a little bit like if you -- there`s a whole bunch of industries, alcohol is one, automobiles, right? I mean, they used to put cocaine and Coca-Cola and then like, that was a bad idea. It probably made it more addictive but you can`t do that. Like, what`s the version of that here? Is it -- is it at the algorithmic level?
HARRIS: I think we`re in need of a more transformative approach. I do think that short-term, much like Tylenol in the Johnson and Johnson in the 1980s, remember there was poison in the tablets. And they said, oh shoot, we have to solve this problem. They could have said, well, there was poison the tablets but we want to keep making money while we figure it out so we`ll leave it on the store shelf.
They didn`t do that. They took it off the shelf until they could actually build the tamper-proof top, right? And I think we`re in a position now where anything we know from Facebook`s own research that they knew that this instrument -- virality is unsafe. They could take that off the shelf. Limit virality to two hops for the short term until we make it better.
And notice, that still keeps freedom of speech. We`re just talking about dangerous levels of unregulated reach with an AI that`s trying to make the craziest thing go viral, and we all live in crazytown for the rest of our lives.
HAYES: Does everyone inside there know what is going on? Do people understand? Like you obviously have a specific perspective on this, some of the other whistleblowers do. You get more and more of these folks coming out and saying like, there`s something messed up here. How broadly shared is that do you think of the people that are working inside?
HARRIS: Oftentimes you hear from people who leave the company and they say, I feel like I was working at a cult. Like, they didn`t realize that they were kind of inside of a belief system because the rhetoric is so strong. Like, yes, Facebook is really good for free expression. But I want to be clear, it`s not just about one company or Facebook.
HAYES: Yes, correct.
HARRIS: It`s about the business model that treats, as we were talking earlier, the commodification of human attention which means it`s that race to the bottom of the brain stem for our Paleolithic responses. And you`re sorting for the reactivity of society. And TikTok does that, Instagram does that, Facebook does that. They do it in different ways. But that`s the thing that systematically we have to transform. And that`s what I`m hoping we can do with Congress.
HAYES: Tristan Harris, that was great. Come back again. I`d love to keep talking about this. This is a really important stuff. Thanks a lot.
HARRIS: Thank you.
HAYES: Tonight, the FBI is stepping in after an unprecedented rise in threats and intimidation at local school board meetings. Now, it seems, Senator Josh Holly is siding with the mob again. That`s next.
HAYES: Last week, as we covered on the show, the National School Board Association wrote a letter to president Joe Biden asking for federal assistance to combat the "Growing threat of violence and intimidation directed at local school boards across the country."
Yesterday, the Justice Department responded with a one-page memo. It simply directs federal law enforcement to work with local leaders to curb the threats of violence. And today, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing featuring Deputy AG Lisa Monaco, Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, best known I think for raising his fist in support of the January 6th insurrectionists before they stormed the Capitol, objected to the one- page memo.
He thinks innocent parents are being silenced by the DOJ for politely disagreeing with their local government. He was indignant as he asked the deputy attorney general about the existence of school board threats and intimidation which is frankly kind of astounding when the reality of what`s happening on the ground is undeniable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAWLEY: Is waiting to express one`s view at a school board meeting harassment and intimidation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know who you are. We know who you are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know who you are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can leave freely but we will find you and we know who you are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will never be allowed in public again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAWLEY: Harassment and intimidation, what did those terms mean in the context of a local school board meeting?
LINDSAY LOVE, BOARD MEMBER, CHANDLER UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: The death threat was you`re going to get knifed you (BLEEP). You`re going to get a (BLEEP). You`re dead.
HAWLEY: Tell me where the line is with parents expressing their concerns waiting for hours in the school board meetings. We`ve all seen the videos. This happened in my state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were actually throwing fists and hitting each other outside the auditorium this evening after the board unanimously voted to approve requiring masks.
HAWLEY: If this isn`t a deliberate attempt to chill parents from showing up at school board meetings, for their elected school boards, I don`t know what is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the board members, they called for her and her children to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the board member, they called for her and her children to choke and die. Another one said that the board member was about to get ruined. Another one suggested another board member die by suicide, calling also for harassment and bullying of board members.
HAWLEY: You are attempting to intimidate them. You are attempting to silence them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has an effect on you that you can`t really put into words when someone describes the way they want to come into your home and end your life.
HAWLEY: I cannot believe that an attorney general of the United States is engaging in this kind of conduct. And frankly, I can`t believe that you are sitting here today defending it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Josh Hawley is very upset. We`re going to send him that montage just to read him into a little bit of what`s been going on at the local level, but I suspect he knows. It`s not just school boards, city council members and election officials, even teachers are facing threats, physical assaults from the right-wing mob.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A parent took it upon himself to verbally assault a principal that led to a serious physical altercation between him and a teacher as the teacher intended to protect the principal.
Superintendent Torie Gibson said the attack happened yesterday when the parent`s daughter walked out of a school building wearing a mask.
DR. TORIE GIBSON, SUPERINTENDENT, AMADOR COUNTY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: It was physical. The teacher was bleeding, had some lacerations to his face, had some bruising on his face, pretty good size on the back of his head.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She says the male parent was frustrated with the school`s indoor mask requirement for everyone while students are on campus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was the first day of school in the Amador County School District in California back in August. Since then, that kind of behavior in schools has not stopped. According to the Los Angeles Times, in Michigan, a father was ejected from a school board meeting because he gave the Nazi salute and yelled Hail Hitler after another parent spoke in favor of masks.
In another school, a father of a boy who was ordered to quarantine came to the child`s Arizona elementary school and two other men carrying zip ties and threatened the principal with citizens` arrest. And at a school board meeting in Florida where Governor Ron DeSantis has banned mask mandates in public schools, a protester dowsed a tray of mass with lighter fluid and set it on fire.
We`re seeing more and more of these threats and violence against teachers and school board members across the country which is why today the Department of Justice is taking action to investigate.
Joining me now Dr. Torie Gibson. She is the superintendent for the Amador County Unified School District in California where one of her teachers was violently attacked by a parent on the first day of school. Dr. Gibson, thank you very much. First, I feel like I should start by asking that teacher is OK, right?
GIBSON: Yes, he is doing well.
HAYES: What have you seen on the ground level there in your county in terms of harassment, threats, violence directed at either school administrators or teachers?
GIBSON: Early on when the school year started back in August, it was daily. It was all day every day. It didn`t matter the day of the week. It was very, very consistent. I think since then we`ve been able to really work with our community. We`ve done a lot of P.R. work just trying to educate our community on you know these aren`t our mandates. We`re just the ones required to enforce them, and really working with the system and around the system when we can.
Honestly, with always our number one thing is to keep everyone safe both physically and emotionally, but it`s been difficult. Meetings have been interesting and we`ve had some interesting parent engagements. But we`re doing the best we can at this point.
HAYES: What do you mean by interesting?
GIBSON: You know, we`ve had parents send kids to school. I think it was an LA Times article that they ran where a parent just told -- I mean, just ask the student to go to school, refuse to wear your mask, refuse to leave the classroom when an adult asks you to leave. Have them call the police on you.
I just -- I don`t condone that kind of behavior when parents are putting kids in the middle of just a really tough time politically, emotionally, socially in our society.
HAYES: Senator Hawley today at that -- in that hearing was sort of saying that he doesn`t understand the line. And I imagine you`re a local school administrator, and every school administrator I`ve ever dealt with knows public meetings. That`s part of the job. And in fact, getting yelled at is also part of the job. I mean, I`ve been It`s --
GIBSON: Yes, it is.
HAYES: Yes. I`ve been in some pretty -- like, some pretty spirited local school board meetings. Do you have a sense of what the line is when you see them say like where`s the line? What is the line? Do you do you have a sense of like, what`s someone being upset at a school board meeting and someone doing something over the line?
GIBSON: Absolutely. I was watching that clip as I was waiting to come on and I was really kind of scratching my head a little bit. I would love to invite him to come and sit with us for a week or two and see exactly what it`s like. I think it`s very easy for people to sit from the outside versus sitting in our seats but I think there is a line.
You know, just like the parent who had their student you know deliberately go in and cause a huge disruption on the school campus, I invited that parent to come to the school board meeting, voice your concerns as long as it`s civil, and I made that very clear.
And I have no problem with parents coming. They have three minutes each. We have 20 minutes, you know, per our -- you know, Robert`s rules of orders, and we follow those for a reason. And it`s not a problem when people have you know a voice. And I always want to have that platform for our families.
I think where the line is drawn is when on a Saturday, you know, as my husband, you know, stated in the article, you know, he`s always kind of having to look over my shoulder for me. That`s the first time I`ve actually heard him say that. So, I was a little taken back when I read the article and that was his response to the reporter was that he`s fearful of my safety when we`re out together just on a simple Saturday afternoon. I think that`s where the line gets drawn.
This is my job. I`m very passionate about it. I`m very dedicated. But I think as educators, we also deserve the respect that -- for what we do every day.
HAYES: You know, Dr. Gibson it strikes me that the job you do and particularly people that are serving on these school boards which in most cases, in my reporting life, are not paid positions. Sometimes they are a de minimis amount. I mean, I don`t think you guys are like getting rich over there. This is not being done for like, a lot of glory. Like, you`re not getting like endorsement deals out of this, I assume.
Like, everyone who`s on the other side of the yelling tends to be someone who`s like basically trying to do well by kids, but not to say that you`re -- you know, don`t make mistakes, but that`s generally the thrust. Would you say that`s a fair characterization?
GIBSON: I think that`s a perfect characterization. I think on the flip side, I don`t think as educators we`ve ever had more conversations about how many years before we can all retire, which is -- which is sad but true at this point. We`re just really tired. And you know, we do these jobs no matter what job you do, whether you know, you work in a classified position, you`re a teacher, or you`re in management, we all do it for the right reasons, and it`s for kids. And I think that people forget that. And yes, we definitely don`t have endorsement deals. I wish. I would welcome it any time.
HAYES: All right, Dr. Torie Gibson, thank you so much for joining me tonight.
GIBSON: Thank you so much for having me.
HAYES: Still to come, police unions extremely powerful institutions you don`t take on lightly. So, when I tell you the FBI raided the headquarters of an NYPD Union and the home of the guy in charge, it`s no small thing. What we know including some big breaking news on this story next.
HAYES: We`ve got some breaking news. In just the last few minutes, Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, one of the largest police unions in the country has resigned under pressure. And he resigned after both his home and office were raided by the FBI.
The SBA is one of New York City`s main police unions. It represents about 13 000 active and retired NYPD sergeants. New York Times reports that according to two people with knowledge of the matter, the headquarters were searched as part of an investigation by the FBI and the public corruption unit in the U.S. attorney`s office in Manhattan. Investigators also executed a search warrant at the Long Island home of the union`s president Edward D. Mullins.
Ed Mullins seen there, had been the president of SBA since 2002. It`s a long tenure. And under his tenure, the union endorsed Donald Trump for reelection. Ed Mullins visited him at the White House just after Trump`s first impeachment. He`s also been a fairly regular guest on outlets like Newsmax and Fox News defending police conduct and arguing that officers should be allowed to use things like chokeholds in arrests.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED MULLINS, FORMER PRESIDENT, SERGEANTS BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION: The headlock is the very same law that City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Mayor de Blasio are trying to implement where if the police officer did that, he would be arrested. It`s time that this city holds those politicians accountable. They are tying the hands of the police officers. They do not want us to be out there making these arrests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You might have seen directly behind Mullins in the interview -- you maybe didn`t notice, but the internet certainly did, a mug with the QAnon logo on it. The conspiracy that claims the world is run by a satanic cabal of child-abusing elites, mostly Democrats. Mullins says it wasn`t his office even though he`s done multiple other interviews from the same location.
Even before today`s federal raid, Mullins was under internal investigation by the NYPD after he tweeted in 2020 "Mayor de Blasio, the members of the NYPD are declaring war on you." Then during last summer`s protest after George Floyd`s murder, Mullins has tweeted out, the arrest report for Mayor de Blasio`s daughter. He`s facing an internal NYPD trial over that which is basically a no-no.
Other internal charges for profane tweets about city officials. He called the city health commissioner a "bitch with blood on her hands" after she declined to prioritize masks for police officers early in the pandemic. Last fall, Mullins tweeted that then new york city councilman Richie Torres was a "first-class whore."
Richie Torres is now a congressman representing New York`s 15th congressional district and he joins me now. It`s good to have you on, Congressman. I have never encountered anyone in public life that talks the way that the head of the police unions do, like literally nowhere outside of I don`t know like wrestling maybe. Why did he say that about you? What was the context of that?
REP. RICHIE TORRES (D-NY): So, I was actually holding a press conference with then burrow president Eric Adams raising questions about the slow response times in the NYPD. And as a public official, my job is to ask questions. And so he felt the need to go on Twitter and refer to me as a first-class whore.
You know, Ed Mullins is essentially the Donald Trump of New York City politics. He`s just the single greatest man. He has a long-standing pattern of embracing conspiracy theories and trafficking in racism and sexism and homophobia. As you noted, he threatened violence against the mayor himself. He released the confidential records of the mayor`s daughter. He`s hurled homophobic and misogynistic epithets. He referred to a Black NFL player as a wild animal.
He sent to his members a video that portrays people of color as "section 8 scam artists and welfare queens." So, there`s been a repeat pattern of trafficking and the worst forms of misconduct and bigotry but he`s done it with impunity. You know, the case of this man tells a larger story about the Achilles heel of American policing, the lack of accountability, is that there is no -- if people like Ed Mullins are not held accountable, there`s never going to be an incentive for them to follow the rules.
HAYES: It blew my mind that he`s been there from 2002. And I think your point about Democratic accountability here is a really key one, because I have to say, as a reporter and I`m sure as a politician, this is more true for you than it is for me. I`ve spent a lot of time talking to cops, interviewed a ton of cops. They run the gamut. Some of them I really don`t agree with, and some I do agree with. They`re all kinds of people with all kinds of views.
The voice and tone of the police union is just so a moment -- it`s so crazily aggressive and bigoted and destructive and it just makes you feel like they are constantly saying no one can stop us. You certainly can`t stop us. We`re going to declare war on the mayor and nothing is going to happen to us. And how are people who are policed by those folks not to feel like targeted?
TORRES: Look, the culture of impunity is a deep rod at the very core of policing. And Ed Mullins, you know, was outlandish and outrageous because he knew he would get away with it. Not only was he collecting a six-figure salary from the union, he was receiving a six-figure salary from the NYPD.
So, we the taxpayers were subsidizing his misconduct in bigotry and he was found to have engaged in misconduct by the CCRB and there was never accountability. It took an FBI raid to finally force his resignation which was long overdue.
HAYES: Do you -- how do you make sense of the fact that he has been there for 19 years and the fact that again, I got to say, like the other police unions, it`s not just in New York, I mean this is just across the board. I mean go to the Twitter feeds of police unions. They come off as utterly unhinged. I mean, they really do.
And I`m not saying this is like, they speak for all cops. But go look at police union statements and they -- what does that say that that is the tone in which these professional organizations communicate when they are putatively there to protect people, to care for them, to show respect and courtesy and professionalism.
TORRES: Well, it comes off not only as unhinged but Trumpian. I mean, there`s nothing benevolent about the sergeant-benevolent association which is essentially a hate group masquerading as a police union. And I represent the South Bronx, communities of color, and we have no confidence that people like Ed Mullins from the Sergeant Benevolent Association are going to police us properly and responsibly.
And you know, to listen to them speak, you get the impression that the purpose of these police unions is not to raise the wages and benefits of their members, but to defend police misconduct, no matter how egregious.
HAYES: Where are we one year after -- more than a year after the protests, after the wild acts of misconduct by many members of the NYPD that were captured on tape after a difficult period in the city? As someone who represents my own borough, the Bronx, where do you see things be?
TORRES: We`re no closer to reforming policing or fundamentally changing the reality within the ranks of police department. We know that they are -- there are elements of right-wing extremism within the ranks of local law enforcement. You know, I worry about the doctrine of qualified immunity, which to me is essentially a license to brutalize Black and Brown lives with impunity.
And with the lack of progress around the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, we are sadly no closer to fundamentally reforming policing in America.
HAYES: Congressman Richie Torres, great to have you on. Thank you very much.
HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Tuesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now with Ali Velshi in for Rachel. Good evening Ali.