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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 1/12/22

Guests: Ezekiel Emanuel, Javier Bardem


The January 6 Select Committee requests testimony from Congressman Kevin McCarthy. Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem discusses climate change, his activism and his movie career. New developments emerge in the Matt Gaetz probe. A nurse pleads with the country over the COVID surge.



Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you so much.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

We begin with breaking news in the January 6 probe. Congressional investigators are making it clear they want to hear from numero uno, Trump ally and the leader of the House Republicans, Kevin McCarthy. They have asked him for an interview. That would be testimony, a big deal, as well as cooperation and provide information.

And they also are signaling, as they have in some of these other dramatic letters -- there was the one that went out to Sean Hannity and other people -- the information they have already gathered.

This new letter, which came out late today, has the committee asking about a -- quote -- "very heated conversation" with Trump that took place during this insurrection, where, according to this committee -- this is their characterization you see on your screen -- McCarthy was privately urging Trump to get help to the Capitol.

That`s bad for Donald Trump, if it speaks to the culpability he had and what he knew in real time. It also, according to the committee, knows that Trump privately admitted to McCarthy -- quote -- "some degree of responsibility" for this insurrection. That`s a big deal as more details of the coup spill out.

And then the committee requests to meet with McCarthy -- and he is, of course, just down the hall -- on February 3 or 4.

Now, this is a bit unusual, in interesting ways. McCarthy is actually the third lawmaker that this committee has asked to cooperate. Now, he would also be the first to actually do so if he comes forward. And while you may think, well, why would any of these Republicans, who have become just so obsequious to Donald Trump and the rioters themselves?

Well, it`s McCarthy who said in public in May, sure, he would testify.


QUESTION: Would you be willing to testify about your conversation with Donald Trump on January 6, if you were asked by an outside commission?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Sure. Next question.


MELBER: "Sure. Next question."

You see the vibe. You also see the political implication there. This was kind of dismissed getting in -- he dismissed getting into it because he was trying to convey a type of strength or basically that this was a no- brainer.

But, well, now they`re calling them on it. This committee is also referencing comments in their letter that McCarthy last year was also the one who implicated Donald Trump in leading this criminal insurrection.


MCCARTHY: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.

These facts require immediate action by President Trump, accept his share responsibility, quell the brewing unrest, and ensure president-elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term.


MELBER: What you just saw a year ago tomorrow is what it looks like when a Republican leader stands up to Donald Trump.

Indeed, if McCarthy had continued to sound like that, had been consistent at all, maybe this request wouldn`t feel like such a big deal or a test for him. But, of course, he`s changed. The party continues to change. It has hit new low after new low.

All of this dates back, at least according to the public information we have, to McCarthy`s weird -- that`s my news anchor word for it -- weird visit to Mar-a-Lago. It was January, just a couple of weeks after what I just showed you.

What did they discuss? What deals were hatched? And why did that begin his public change from holding the man you see in the photo accountable for what he called the criminal insurrection there to what he`s doing now?

Now, in this news, the committee is also asking about Trump`s -- quote -- "state of mind" during that period and the decisions that were made during an after the insurrection.

Now, as we have reported, this is also unprecedented legal territory. Everything going on here is important, but not everything is clearly required. That`s why the letter asked for voluntary cooperation. That`s why many experts say that, while Mr. McCarthy has an obligation to cooperate, he has an obligation to his own words from a few months ago, there is nothing in legal precedent that would suggest that this is an open-and-shut case.

With that context in play, we now turn to our experts, on the law, former SDNY civil prosecutor Maya Wiley, and, on the Congress and the politics, political strategist Chai Komanduri, a veteran of the Obama campaign.

Maya, where does it go from here? And Kevin McCarthy said he would testify. If he did, does that stand to provide information that is useful to this probe?


MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, look, I don`t know that we know where it goes from here for the reasons that you just said, Ari.

We know that he has been asked to voluntarily come and talk to the committee. He says no, a voluntary request, remember, is not a subpoena. And it`s not a legal obligation to appear. So then the committee has to decide, are we going to subpoena him?

And I think we have we heard Congressman Bennie Thompson say, we will consider it. That`s not the same thing as saying, we will do it. And as you pointed out, there is a disagreement about this. It`s certainly not an open-and-shut case.

I do want to point out that Congress has the power to subpoena its own members for the Ethics Committee. And while it is unprecedented, I think it`s an interesting argument to ask, well, if Congress has the power to ask you to appear before it as a member of Congress for being unethical, why can`t it ask you to do the same for potentially being unlawful?

Think about it that way. So the arguments are very interesting. I think you just got a sense of what side of the arguments I fall on, because I don`t see a prohibition to it either. But, certainly, there are real policy and political concerns to doing it. We don`t know what the committee will do. That may be much more of a political question.

But I do want to say, as a matter of evidence, we already know that there`s evidence, right, because the committee, in its letter asking for voluntary cooperation, as well as what Kevin McCarthy has said publicly, establishes he thinks Trump was wrong. He had a heated argument with Donald Trump on January 6.

Donald Trump did not respond to trying to prevent the violence and, in fact, said maybe -- or at least reportedly said, those people seem to be more upset about this than you, meaning they`re protecting me. You`re not.

And so it`s not as if there isn`t an evidentiary record. And we should remember that even if the committee does not get the cooperation of Representative McCarthy.

MELBER: Yes, I think you put your finger on it, Maya, when you go to the fact that there was this reported heated, clashing conversation at a time - - when people are afraid of being beaten or killed, the mind does get clearer.

That much, we know. And so there was an anger and a righteousness and a concern for Mr. McCarthy as he and other members, Republican and Democratic alike, by the way -- I don`t really care when it comes to these types of matters -- but were in danger and what he said to Trump.

Maya also makes it expert legal point that, if it`s good enough for ethics, is it good enough for protecting the country and democracy itself?

That`s an interesting way to put it, Chai. That`s because she`s good at lawyering.

As for Chai, he`s good at understanding the politics. You said on this program, Chai, months before it became more publicly evident or mainstream, you said that the GOP was becoming a -- quote -- "riot-adjacent party." And that was close enough to January that it felt like, wow.

And now I don`t think that`s in dispute, when you got Ted Cruz and others running around to Tucker Carlson to get publicly verbally slapped for even hinting at the fact that it was a white MAGA terror mob.

With that in mind, Chai, I want to play with something we have from the record. You guys will listen to this with me together, how Kevin McCarthy sounded in those moments I just mentioned. He did a live phone call, so you don`t see his face, but you hear his voice. This was as the insurrection was still unfolding. Take a listen.


MCCARTHY: I was very clear with the president when I called them, this has to stop and he has to -- he has got to go to the American public and tell them to stop this.

NORAH O`DONNELL, HOST, "CBS EVENING NEWS": Why hasn`t he walked down and said that now?

MCCARTHY: Well, I conveyed to the president what I think is best to do. And I`m hopeful the president will do it.

O`DONNELL: And have you spoken with his chief of staff?

MCCARTHY: I have spoken to the president, I have spoken to other people in there and to the White House as well.




I mean, one thing that Kevin McCarthy probably believed on January 7 was that Trump was done, the critics have been proven right that this man was a wannabe dictator, that even the GOP grassroots was going to roundly reject him.

That turned out to be completely false. And the minute he realized that, that`s when he made a beeline right for Mar-a-Lago. There was a very famous king of France, Henry Navarre, who converted from Protestant Catholic to become king of France. And when asked why he did it, he said, Paris was worth a mass.

And I think Kevin McCarthy realized that the speakership is worth not only one trip to Mar-a-Lago, but any number of trips to Mar-a-Lago. Any amount of groveling or indignities that he has to bear from Donald Trump, he will do because he only wants one thing, the speaker`s gavel.


And he will basically be happy to preside over the ruins of American democracy to do it. So, I would not expect him to cooperate with this.

MELBER: Let`s take your point, Chai. Let`s take your point, because he went to Mar-a-Lago basically within weeks after saying this on January 13:


MCCARTHY: What we saw last week was not the American way. Neither is the continued rhetoric that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president.

Let`s be clear. Joe Biden will be sworn in as president of the United States in one week because he won the election.


MELBER: "Because he won the election."

It`s on record there on the House floor. And yet, Chai, can Kevin McCarthy or other Republican leaders, are they allowed to say that fact anymore?

KOMANDURI: No, they are not. Donald Trump made it very clear they are not. And Kevin McCarthy realized very quickly that, if he wants to maintain his lifelong dream of being speaker, he had to go to Mar-a-Lago, bend the knee to Trump, and basically kiss his ring, and do what he wanted.

So I don`t expect any further cooperation from Kevin McCarthy on this. I think he`s going to fight this every step of the way. He is going to try to fight this and try to avoid giving the testimony under oath that everybody knows that he would probably have to give, which is, Donald Trump was very interested on January 6 in the complete overthrow of American democracy.


WILEY: Look, I don`t see any reason why Representative McCarthy would cooperate, I think for all the reasons that we have just been talking about.

I will say this. We have just pointed out that he`s already admitted it on the public record, in his own words, and that there are obviously witnesses to that phone call on January 6 that also heard expletives, heard statements, and that there`s our other evidence.

So, even if we don`t get the satisfaction of seeing Representative McCarthy have to come and speak to the people`s representatives, we do know, and it already is a matter of record, and there will be more in the record as a result of the committee`s work.

MELBER: Yes, all interesting points on a story that was breaking there really rose the top of our news hour here, as we saw the letter late in the day.

This doesn`t happen every day on THE BEAT, because I can actually say, for two distinct, newsworthy reasons, Maya and Chai both return on other topics later in the program.

So I will see you both.

Also, I want to mention Congressman Schiff, a key investigator on the committee, will be on MSNBC here within the hour, joining my colleague Joy Reid. That`s coming up.

As for what we`re doing later tonight here on THE BEAT, there`s a clash over vaccines that is important and also shows Donald Trump calling out Republicans and saying it`s time to get boosted.

Also, Matt Gaetz in more hot water and pressure, as there is new dramatic testimony in that case that had seemed to go publicly quiet for a why -- a while, I should say. We will tell you who was before the grand jury tonight.

And by the end of the hour, get this, Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem on climate change, his activism and his incredible movie career. That`s tonight.

Stay with us.



MELBER: Turning to some COVID headlines tonight, get this.

One, a very famous American political leader is telling everyone to get vaccinated and calling out Republican politicians who get vaxxed and then muddy the issue as gutless cowards.

Two, a famous voice with millions of followers is saying basically everyone`s going to get COVID anyway.

All right, here we go. If you are thinking that it sounds kind of like Joe Biden and Joe Rogan, well, those two voices are actually Donald Trump pushing the vaccine and Dr. Fauci saying, Omicron is so contagious, everyone will get it.

Now, I will get to Fauci in a second. But, first, here`s Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have taken it. I have had the booster.

Many politicians -- I watched a couple of politicians be interviewed. And one of the questions was, did you get the booster? Because they had the vaccine. And they -- oh, oh. They`re answering it like -- in other words, the answer is yes, but they don`t want to say it, because they`re gutless. Got to say it.

But the fact is that I think the vaccine has saved tens of millions of people throughout the world.


MELBER: The vaccine saves lives. He`s got the vaccine. Top Republican officials have the vaccine.

And Donald Trump is doing what he does in his own way, crushing them as cowards for the way they`re handling it. He`s referencing, of course, Republicans who dodge. People can interpret who that is.

But, for an example, here is Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.


MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS: Have you gotten the booster?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): So, I have done whatever I did, the normal shot. And that, at the end of the day, is people`s individual decisions about what they want to do.


MELBER: At this rate, DeSantis could be on his way to his own nickname, maybe Governor Gutless, quoting Trump.

And this kind of doubt, sowing it and pushing it, it does reduce vaccinations at a time when people are more likely than ever to get COVID.

And that brings us to Dr. Fauci`s sort of Joe Rogan moment.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: I think in many respects, Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody.

DR. JANET WOODCOCK, ACTING FDA COMMISSIONER: Most people are going to get COVID, all right? And what we need to do is make sure the hospitals can still function.


MELBER: This is the latest from scientific experts who are dealing with the data and the facts.

But ,at the same time, we know that, since the dawn of COVID, it has been a hallmark of right-wing thought to argue, everyone will get it, so just let that happen, and move on.

And that`s what I mean by a sort of Joe Rogan echo here. The popular podcaster has carved his own set of right-wing talking points about COVID and these issues.

So, why am I telling you this? Well, the scientists also stress that, while there is a language overlap here, to focus only on that without the wider data would miss the whole point. Getting the more deadly version of COVID before vaccines were available was not a road to moving on. It was a road ventilators and possibly death.


Now, years into it, a global pandemic, the strains of COVID have changed, as have the tools, we have the policy tools, the medical tools. And so we`re actually living through a time where the scientific plans are also changing in response.

My job is to be clear. So let me try to be as clear as possible. Vaccines are the seat belt. They don`t prevent all the crashes, but the global data we have shows they save your life. And that means, if everyone`s on their way to getting COVID, you are better off with the seat belt on than without it.

Now, is there a possible upside here to a world where, in a sense, Donald Trump sounds like Fauci and Fauci sounds like Rogan?

We`re going to get into that with our own lighthearted way, because we don`t try to get too bummed out here, but also with our experts, Dr. Emanuel and Chai Komanduri, when we`re back after our shortest break in 60 seconds.


MELBER: We are back during an interesting time for COVID headlines, and are joined by Dr. Zeke Emanuel. He advised Obama and Biden on health policy. And back with us, an Obama campaign veteran, Chai Komanduri.

Doctor, we have got Trump sounding like Fauci. We have got Fauci sounding a bit like Rogan. I walked people through some of that, but walk us through what you see here in a week, where for really the first time ever some of the most high-level government scientists are saying everyone will probably get it.

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL ADVISER: Well, I do think what has changed is the incredible infectivity of Omicron and the fact that it`s much, much more mild.

We have very good data that the hospitalization time, if you end up in the hospital from Omicron, is 1.5 days, compared to five days with Delta, and that very few people actually die, one in 34,000 if you`re vaccinated,

And so I think it is right. You have got a much more infectious COVID virus going around. But we also -- as you point out, we have protections, so that we minimize the risk. That`s what we said when we said it`s going to become endemic. It`s just going to be one of those respiratory viruses. And if we`re well-protected, we can easily live with it.

We, however, have to get down from 1,750 deaths a day that we`re having today to under 300.

MELBER: Chai, your thoughts on all of it, including the Joe Rogan echo?

KOMANDURI: Yes, I mean, I think we talked about, politically, the thing that was hurting Biden the most was the idea that he has not returned the country to the pre-pandemic normal.

Now, it`s very possible, based on everything that we know, that we will never return to the pre-pandemic normal for unvaccinated people. But we could return to a pre-pandemic normal for vaccinated people. And I think, politically, that`s actually fine.

If you look at the evidence, Joe Biden was very popular when vaccinated people didn`t have to wear masks and unvaccinated people did. His polling slide actually begins in mid-July, when the CDC said, vaccinated people have to wear masks, basically eradicating the distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

So I do think, politically, it would be fine for us to like set a goal that we want to return to a pre-pandemic normal for vaccinated people. It is something Democrats can rally around. It`s something that we will have the science behind us to.

And it is something that I think would be a very strong message for us going into the midterms that we -- at least for vaccinated people, people who follow the rules, get vaccinated, get boostered, they can live a normal life, as we defined it in, say, 2019.


MELBER: Yes I think that`s understandable.

And, Dr. Emanuel, I want to ask you about Donald Trump as this advocate of vaccination, boosters, facts. He sounds a lot like Fauci. We put something together I`m going to play that really will let people decide that for themselves. But it`s also a reminder of how hyperpartisanship or even emotional anger and hate is really bad for figuring out the individual facts in any situation.

There are people who have really strong opposition to Donald Trump for really good reasons. I don`t have to list them off. It does not mean that everything he ever says is wrong or bad. And he is right now one of the most vocal vaccine advocates on the right with one of the largest followings, and yet that seems to be underplayed for structural reasons we could get into.

But, having said that, we put this together. Take a look.


TRUMP: The vaccine is one of the greatest achievements of mankind.

The ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don`t take their vaccine.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: We know that vaccination prevents the vast majority of serious COVID-19 illness, hospitalizations and deaths.

TRUMP: Look, the results of the vaccine are very good. And if you do get it, it`s a very minor form. People aren`t dying when they take the vaccine.

And if you take the vaccine, you`re protected.

FAUCI: We all want normalcy in America. The highway to that normalcy is vaccination.

TRUMP: Everybody, go get your shot.

BILL O`REILLY, FORMER HOST, "THE O`REILLY FACTOR": The president and I are vaxxed.

And did you get the booster?


JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: These vaccines save people`s lives.

TRUMP: I recommend, take the vaccines. I did it. It`s good.


MELBER: Dr. Emanuel, is he right? And should the public health community, as well as whatever you want to say about your Democratic colleagues, be embracing that more?

EMANUEL: First of all, I do think he has come to recognize that, in fact, it`s good to take advantage of the vaccine.

He did a remarkable job with -- of developing it. And I think he now wants to take more credit for that. In addition, I think he does recognize that the people who are getting sick are the unvaccinated, who are his supporters. That`s not a good thing overall.

I`m not a psychiatrist, but that seems to me to be the trend of what his comments are directed at. And, look, I have talked -- when he first took office, I talked...


EMANUEL: ... a lot about health care.


MELBER: When you say something interesting, I got to stop you as a reporter.

What do you mean, psychologically, you think that`s powering him?

EMANUEL: Oh, I think the fact that he is the one under whose watch we did develop those vaccines -- we have to be honest about it. And Warp Speed went through with him.

And I think he wants to take credit for it. He likes to take credit for everything that he can do. So this is one more thing he`s going to take credit for, and not wrong. He did have an important role to play in that.

MELBER: So, the harder -- and the harder part for you that, as we mentioned, you just talked about most doctors don`t also casually mention which presidents they have advised.

Do you think that this Biden administration should do more with what`s sitting out here, which is the rare Biden-Trump alliance on telling everyone to get vaccinated?

EMANUEL: Well, look, I think it`s great that he`s endorsed it. How they use it for information, how they get -- use it to discredit the misinformation, that`s going to be critical.

And I agree with you. When truth hits you in the face, embrace it.


KOMANDURI: Well, Trump is doing this more for personal ego than for public health. But, quite frankly, I think most Americans who care about the future of the country, we will take.

We will take him being an egomaniac about wanting credit for the vaccine, if it can get more people vaccinated and us back to a pre-pandemic normal.

But I think what we have also seen the last couple of weeks is the beginning of the GOP primary. Make no mistake, Donald Trump was clearly shooting at the bow of Ron DeSantis. He was saying that, I will go to war with you on this.

And we`re going to see who has the real loyalty of the MAGA grassroots. Ron DeSantis has been kind of a GOP leader in mainstreaming vaccine skepticism in the Republican Party. And Donald Trump wants no part of it, because that kind of gets in the way of his ego.

And, for Donald Trump, nothing should get in the way of his ego.

MELBER: I think we covered this from a lot of different angles.

I will say, in fairness to what we don`t know, neither the experts nor myself have the brain scan, the MRI or the ego X-ray here. So that is somewhat speculative.

But, through this conversation, we`re talking about something deeply important, which is that the scientists and every living former president and the current president are all on record about the science working and the vaccine saving lives, at a time when COVID is surging.


So that`s the information people can process.

Dr. Emanuel and Chai Komanduri, thank you both.

Up ahead, you may have seen the news box on our screen, because there is a development, a major one, in the Matt Gaetz federal sex crime probe. We`re going to tell you who just hit the grand jury next.


MELBER: MAGA Congressman Matt Gaetz has been ensnared in a federal sex crimes investigation for almost a year now.

And with so much time passing, some did wonder whether that meant Gaetz might be in the clear. Well, today, news breaking that the Republican`s former girlfriend went to testify before a federal grand jury today, a brand-new sign the probe is not only open, but also clearly taking key testimonial evidence, that it`s also hearing close friends of the congressman talking under this oath to explain whatever it is that the grand jury wants to know.

And that`s not all. While this evidence comes in, there`s also reporting that this woman who I mentioned has spent months at least talking to prosecutors about possible immunity. And the investigators are looking at potential charges like sex trafficking a minor, crossing state lines for prostitution or obstructing justice.

Now, the whole probe dates back to a fact that`s not in any dispute. Gaetz was close to now convicted sex ex-offender Joel Greenberg, a former Republican official who is awaiting his own sentencing.


Congressman Gaetz denies all allegations and has not been charged with any crime.

The new testimony, though, of someone so close to him raises legal questions.

And for the legal answers, we turn back to lawyer and former civil prosecutor Maya Wiley.

Welcome back.

How do you analyze or view the significance of someone like this going into the grand jury?

WILEY: I view it as very significant, Ari.

It`s just this simple. His ex-girlfriend from 2017 and 2018, off and on, who was apparently, as far as we know, someone who was very close to him, spent a lot of time with him, and the mere fact that we know that they`re - - or at least we believe. We should say we don`t know what we don`t know -- but we have reason to believe has been having long conversations with prosecutors, now going into the grand jury under oath, under the penalty of perjury.

Great likelihood that this is bad news for Matt Gaetz, and, as you point out on top of Mr. Joel Greenberg, who pled guilty to sex trafficking of a minor, the very thing we know that this -- that we believe is being investigated in the case of Matt Gaetz.

This is not good news for him, as was the guilty plea of his close friend.

MELBER: And from the reporting here, which I`m reading because it goes to the investigation, it`s not trying to pry into anyone`s life for that reason, but rather looking at what the investigators say they`re scrutinizing in a potential corruption or felonious sex crimes case.

NBC reporting that Gaetz`s ex-girlfriend was -- quote -- "in an open relationship with Gaetz" and allegedly went with him and a number of other -- quote -- "young women and friends" on this trip to the Bahamas. And that`s under scrutiny.

Again, putting aside how everyone feels about Congressman Gaetz`s politics or his choices, when we hear that the feds are looking at that trip, what are they looking at from a criminal, legal perspective? Obviously, they have to clear some bar that`s much higher than whether it is unsavory or unethical.

WILEY: Yes, and I have two words for you, Ghislaine Maxwell. I mean, I think we have seen what federal prosecutors look for in these cases.

It`s, was there reason for Matt Gaetz to know that a woman in -- on that trip may have been a minor, right? That`s what we believe they`re looking into, had reason to know it and then paid for sex in some form.

There`s some sources that indicate there may have been a phone call that was tape-recorded that his ex-girlfriend and another unnamed woman were on, where he reportedly may have asked them and to talk to others about lying about what money paid for. That might go -- might -- we don`t know -- go to an obstruction of justice charge, because we believe that`s one of the things the prosecutors are also looking at and may, in fact, have been the basis of a plea deal with the ex-girlfriend.

But those all go directly to what prosecutors have to prove. And we know that they`re talking to people who are cooperating, who have reason to know those facts.

MELBER: Really interesting.

Maya Wiley on more than one set of legal questions tonight, I want to thank you.

And I want to tell everyone, still to come tonight, there`s something I want to show you. It is a front-line worker, a nurse sharing the blunt facts about what it means when hospitals run out of beds. We talk about experts around here. We are going to pass the mic to her to hear what she is living through in the hospitals and what you need to know.

And then, by the end of the hour, as promised, the Oscar winner Javier Bardem speaking out on climate deniers, truth, hypocrisy, and his new movie.

He`s on THE BEAT for his debut here -- coming up.



MELBER: This resurgent pandemic is straining daily life, daily work, and, of course, our nation`s hospitals, which are taking in a record high 140,000 COVID patients right now, leading to some getting near or at capacity, like in Philadelphia or similar problems over in Maryland.

Officials declaring new states of emergency in several places. And expert say some of this is unavoidable -- we were discussing that earlier tonight with our experts -- because of Omicron and the surge.

But other parts of it can also, the hospitalization rate, be stemmed by mass vaccination. Unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to need to go to the hospital for COVID. That`s not double, triple, quadruple, 10 times. That`s 29 times. That`s obviously bad for them as an injury, and it`s also now increasingly bad for others who need care.

And that includes something that goes well beyond COVID. I know we talk a lot about COVID, but this affects people for completely separate hospital treatment, which can become literally unavailable.

Now a nurse on the front lines, Alexis Hinkley, is posting a video online pleading with people to understand what it means when there are no beds and to listen to health care workers.


ALEXIS HINKLEY, NURSE: No beds in the hospital means no beds, no beds for your stroke, no beds for your heart attack. We can`t accept you at any of your local hospitals because our E.D. is overflowing with patients already.

No beds for your car crash. No beds for your sick child. You die alone at home.

Please start listening to the health care workers.


MELBER: Start listening to the health care workers.

Well, we try to do that around here. And, in this case, that`s why we just aired this video to our viewers. Hinkley`s post there has already been seen 10 million times. And it`s drawing headlines for the substance of what she`s saying.


Now, she used TikTok to get the word out. That`s also a reminder of how some of these Internet platforms can be a source for more than just entertainment or disinformation. And it went viral partly because it was a heartfelt plea from a nurse, not a politician posturing their way through this crisis, not even from a government science expert who is giving the weary public the next round of warnings or updated guidance, which has become something of a baroque tradition here in this recent era.

This is just a real health care worker providing real information, so people can consider facts and the impact on each other, as we continue to grind through what looks like a long haul in this mode.

And I will tell you, it`s fine to be sick and tired of all this. Most of us are. But we can also take a moment to remember how tired the nurses and doctors are, how tired, exhausted and depleted so many of the grieving families are for the 840,000 Americans who`ve already died of COVID.

And then we can take it all in and consider, if we have to continue to make life-and-death decisions throughout all this, they will be yours to make. You are free. But don`t you want to make them based on facts?

That`s our thought about what the nurse had to share.

We fit in a break, and then we turn to something we promised all hour and we`re thrilled about.

Oscar winner Javier Bardem makes his debut on THE BEAT next.



MELBER: "Lucy, I`m home, `one of the most famous TV catchphrases perhaps of all time.

And it comes from one of the most iconic comedies ever, "I Love Lucy," which aired for six seasons in the `50s, five Emmys. Americans embraced the show. At one point, over 70 percent of American households with TVs were watching it. Basically, 11 million TVs tuned in at a time when there were only 15 million households with TVs, which shows just how much cultural resonance there was.

It explored race, ethnicity and gender norms, with a lot of fun and slapstick along the way. One famous episode tackled Lucy`s pregnancy at a time when you weren`t allowed to say pregnancy on comedy shows.


LUCILLE BALL, ACTOR: Ricky, this is it.

DESI ARNAZ, ACTOR: This is -- this is it!

BALL: This is it!

ARNAZ: This is it!



VIVIAN VANCE, ACTRESS: Somebody ought to call the doctor.

ARNAZ: Call the doctor!


VANCE: You get the suitcase.

ARNAZ: The suitcase!





MELBER: Now, why is this in the news tonight?

Well, there`s a new film chronicling a week in the life and the larger realities of the stars of "I Love Lucy," from famed writer and director Aaron Sorkin. It stars Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball, and Javier Bardem as her husband, Desi Arnaz.

The film tracks their partnership, as well as what happened off screen, including some accusations at the height of the McCarthy era that Lucille Ball was some sort of communist, jeopardizing the whole show.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Why is this coming out now?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Lucille Ball is a threat to the American way of life?

JAVIER BARDEM, ACTOR: Does the FBI have any case against Lucy?

NICOLE KIDMAN, ACTRESS: I need you to help me save my marriage.

BARDEM: How many times I got to explain where I was and where I wasn`t?

KIDMAN: You got to explain.

BARDEM: Are you being funny right now?

KIDMAN: I`m Lucille Ball. When I`m being funny, you will know it.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: This is getting out of hand.

BARDEM: Madness.

KIDMAN: Have you been cheating on me?

BARDEM: The story is made up.

KIDMAN: If they boo me?

BARDEM: If they boo you, then we`re done.

KIDMAN: Sorry. I got lost for a second.


MELBER: We are joined now by one of the stars of the film, Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem.

Thanks for being here.

BARDEM: Thank you, Ari. Thank you very much for having me here.

MELBER: This is so interesting.

My first question, very simply, should we expect something funny here, given what a comic show it was, or, as we saw there, something that also is more serious?

BARDEM: I think it`s a drama. It`s a drama about the comedy behind the comedy that they were doing every week.

It`s a drama about what happened on the backstage, behind the scenes, in this couple. There are great funny moments, but there`s also a very social and powerful message beneath that funny moment.

MELBER: You`re also getting inside another era. How did you channel realism of that very different time?

BARDEM: Well, I feel lucky, because I had lots of video footage and audio footage, and also -- and even a book written by the person I`m supposed to portray.

So, I have a lot of information. The problem is when you have to portray somebody from the 15th century, and, well, you may have some paintings that you can base upon a little bit of the looks.

MELBER: Right.

BARDEM: But what do you do? How did he talk? How did he move? You don`t know.

In this case, there`s so much material with Desi, about Desi, that he was very rich. We are there to really inhabit the essence of what the person was and what the person represented for so many people.

MELBER: I love that answer.

BARDEM: Thank you.

MELBER: And that speaks to something we think when we watch these things of -- yes -- of, what was the reality, the verisimilitude of the situation? That`s why art moves us, because we get transported a little bit maybe into that world.

But then you`re also talking about human essence, which doesn`t change as much. Anger is anger. Love is love 100 or 1,000 years later.


MELBER: Let`s look at a little bit of you doing this. Here`s a clip from the film.


KIDMAN: Grandpa Fred raised me from when I was age 4. He cared about the little guy. He cared about workers` rights.

It was a tribute to him. And to say that I checked the wrong...

BARDEM: Grandpa Fred, Grandpa Fred. Grandpa Fred was wrong, Lucy.


Yes, he didn`t tell you the part where they throw your father in prison for the crime of being the mayor of a city. I was chased to this country, Lucy!

Believe me, you checked the wrong box.


MELBER: What`s going on there?

BARDEM: Yes, it was -- it`s a very tense moment. It`s kind of towards the ending of the story.

There`s the political background and the accusation of Lucille Ball being a communist in the McCarthy era, where, as we know, that was kind of immediate death, immediate punishment to your career and to your own personality.

MELBER: We talked about art. We talked about history.

Then there`s this question of whether climate change is going to make the Earth so hot that it`s uninhabitable.


MELBER: And so, when you`re not doing your art, I know you have been out with Greenpeace and working on trying to bring attention to that.

Tell us just a little bit about that.

BARDEM: Yes, I did a documentary. I produced and I starred in a documentary called "Sanctuary," because I have the chance to go with Greenpeace expedition to the Antarctic, and see in firsthand the changes that we are going through.

And, for me, it was an eye-opener.

But, unfortunately, the governments are not doing what they promised to do. And I am a father of two kids. One is 11. One is -- he`s going to turn 11. She`s 8.5. And I don`t know. What is the world we`re going to leave behind for them?

It`s worrying. It`s worrying us that -- I mean, there`s no way to deny. If you`re denying it, is because either you have some benefits in denying it, political or economical benefits in denying it, or you are really not -- you`re really stupid.

That`s not a good thing for anybody that lives and walks over the Earth, either animals or humans, plants. I mean, so I don`t know. I don`t have the answer. But I know that the governments have to really make a serious agreement on at least reducing all this monoxide and all this -- yes.

MELBER: I don`t know if you -- how you think of yourself, Javier.

But we sort of think of you as different than a lot of the other actors, just because of the sheer intensity. So, we made something here of you. And, really, you made it, but we edited it. We do that in the news.

So I`m going to play for you something we put together of so many of your performances. Take a look.

BARDEM: All right.


BARDEM: What`s the most you ever lost on a coin toss?


BARDEM: The most you have ever lost on a coin toss?

She send you off to me knowing you`re not ready, knowing you will likely die. Mommy was very bad.

You know what date is on this coin?


BARDEM: 1958. It`s been traveling 22 years to get here. And now it`s here.

Life is short. Life is dull. Life is full of pain. And this is a chance for something special.

There`s no treasure. There`s no treasure that can save him.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Need to know what I stand to win.

BARDEM: Everything.


BARDEM: You stand to win everything. Call it.


BARDEM: Call it. There`s no other option.


BARDEM: That`s the genius of Cormac McCarthy and the script of the Coens.

There`s no other option but call it, calling it.


MELBER: Yes, and that -- well, that guy doesn`t leave people options.


MELBER: How do you channel that intensity?

And my real question for you, as a reporter, are you aware of how intense you are in these characters, or are you just doing your thing, and it just comes out that way?

BARDEM: I`m aware of how intense I am in my daily life.

It`s so boring. It`s so exhausting. It`s like, come on, I want to give myself a break.


BARDEM: It`s -- I wake up and I go, OK, the day is over intense for myself. What do I do to take it easy?

I work. I try to prepare myself for the worst outcome possible when you`re playing a character, so everything is under control, more or less. But once I`m on the set or on stage, I just tried to be as free as I can. And I guess the intensity comes with the character that I`m playing and with my personality, which is -- as you can see my face, I`m -- it`s not very light.


MELBER: Yes, I`m not getting serial killer vibes from you off set here.

BARDEM: Well, maybe in 30 minutes.


BARDEM: If you look very thoroughly on my face, you will go, I don`t know if I trust him that much.


MELBER: It`s really a treat to talk to you, Javier.

Life is short. Life is full of pain. But maybe we will enjoy it along the way.


MELBER: Thank you, sir.

BARDEM: Thank you very much.


MELBER: And if you want to tell us your favorite Javier Bardem film, well, come visit us @AriMelber on any app you like to use.

We`re new on TikTok. Or you can tweet at me what is your favorite Javier Bardem film or role, because, boy, do we have a big list here around THE BEAT offices.