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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 11/9/21

Guests: Michael Eric Dyson, Jaime Harrison, Michael Hirschorn, Ezekiel Emanuel


As the Biden administration makes more progress in the COVID battle, Republicans attack Big Bird. DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison discusses Senator Mitch McConnell admitting the Biden spending is a win for the nation. New January 6 subpoenas target Stephen Miller, among others. A new violent video coming from a top Republican stirs outrage. The issue of race in politics is examined.



Hi, Ari.

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

Welcome to THE BEAT, everyone. I am Ari Melber.

We have a big show tonight, including news coming up on Biden`s historic and bipartisan win on that spending and infrastructure plan. We have more on that coming up.

But we begin with this nation the edge of a breakthrough for the pandemic. And that, apparently, that progress is making some people upset, with a wild new response from the far right, including the pathetic attacks on Big Bird. And we can report the vaccines are getting to more people. In the week since the FDA approved vaccines for kids, over 300,000 children have now been vaccinated.

And the U.S. is developing better medicines. This hasn`t gotten as much attention. But it could change COVID as we know it, Pfizer now pushing this pill that is 89 percent effective at reducing the risks there of death or hospitalization.

Now, you take that together, and you understand that we`re seeing the way out of this pandemic. It doesn`t mean you take things for granted, the experts say, but it does mean that the science and, frankly, some of the officials that have been pushing the scientific approach, which is everything from safety measures like masking, to vaccinations, to, yes, treatment, when warranted, like this pill, all of that can end really the emergency phase of COVID in America.

Now, the current president is the one who is leading this charge, sometimes with Republican governors fighting against these very things I just told you about.

And that goes to our lead story today, because, apparently, this measurable progress, including treatments that might actually lift both the American public, most importantly, and the American economy out of this mode, well, that could be good news for the incumbent president.

And that`s not all. There`s also news like this, judges upholding vaccine mandates, with the president pushing a partial one, but even stricter ones by private businesses like United are winning in court.

As for the president`s mandate, they`re looking at a January 4 deadline for all large companies. And that may also be tested in courts. But the headlines, which we have been covering, are that he`s winning, and mandates are winning. And, believe me, if mandates we`re losing in the courts, it would be a big story. I`d tell you about that.

So all of this piles up. It looks like good news for America. It looks like good news for other places that are using these kinds of policies to beat COVID. And, apparently, it`s driving the president`s opponents into desperate measures. We will get to those.

But, first, let me show you what we`re seeing, reunions this week, as the United States reopens to many vaccinated international travelers.




MELBER: That`s what`s happening because vaccinations are working on an international level, mandates kicking in. This is becoming the new reality.

And that brings us to something that is so dumb and pathetic, it might not make the news, but it`s being pushed by people in power, so it actually has become part of the news. Some of the right-wing leaders of this anti-vax movement are clearly getting desperate. They see what I just showed you. They see they`re on the losing side of this proposition.

And they`re not just debating mandates anymore. They`re dialing up the heat on Big Bird. The beloved character did something pretty straightforward. As a "Sesame Street" character, he shared that he got vaccinated and, while his wing hurt, it would keep people healthy to get vaccinated.

Now, Senator Cruz came right out at that, calling it government propaganda. Cruz is back out today going after a photo that circulated of Big Bird with Hillary Clinton, who he dubs Oscar the Grouch. And this isn`t just one angry senator. It`s getting the usual amplification in right-wing media.


KAROL MARKOWICZ, "THE NEW YORK POST": The truth is, if that show was real, Big Bird would be shamed right now for not having his vaccination yet.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Well, I feel OK. My wing hurts a little bit, but that`s OK. I was scared, but it did go by really quickly.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: I don`t know what -- I don`t know what to say about that.

All right, sadly, CNN did not show what happened to Big Bird later in the day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Big Bird is literally hawking an unnecessary vaccine.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Big Bird is literally encouraging children to take a vaccine scientifically that they do not need.


MELBER: They are running with this.

And the politics and the media and the social media, it all gets so intense that, even if you know it`s crap, you might forget why. This is "Sesame Street." They run the things within the context of what is approved and age-appropriate and safe for children.

So this is no different than if they attacked a Muppet or "Sesame Street" segment telling people to put on a seat belt. It`s not hawking anything. And, as has been pointed out, many times the kids who watch "Sesame Street" in America go to schools where they have many vaccines, measles, mumps, et cetera.

But it`s taking on a life of its own. And I have to tell you, America tonight, the news is that Big Bird is hitting back, declaring a run for office against Senator Cruz himself.

Now, we do the facts around here. And this is, fact-check, parody. As you may know, large bird puppets are not actually eligible to serve in the Senate. But, online, it is going viral, someone launching a parody account, Big Bird For Senate, to run against Cruz, gaining already 50,000 followers quite quickly, and writing: "We`re running a campaign to take Texas back from Cruz. If you see our campaign bus driving around, come say hi to team Big Bird."

Now, as you can see, it`s Photoshopped. This is not a real thing, because Big Bird does not actually exist. But the comedy, well, some of it writes itself.

Here`s Jimmy Kimmel.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": And Ted Cruz, who desperately just wants to be noticed, lashed out.

He wrote: "Government propaganda for your 5-year-old."


KIMMEL: This is how they think. If the government says it, it`s propaganda. If Congress does it, it`s socialism. If the executive branch does it, it`s fascism. It the president says it, he`s a dictator.


KIMMEL: And it`s interesting, because not only is Ted Cruz vaccinated himself. Ted Cruz was born with an immunity that protects him from contracting any friends.



This is silly. We know that. But it also goes to an increasingly desperate right-wing attack, trying to locate what`s left of this debate, outside of schools or in them, going after kids going after Big Bird.

It`s bad-faith arguments. We have seen it from Tucker Carlson. We see Cruz get on board. And if you`re wondering, because, again, who is the one changing and who`s consistent, on this one, "Sesame Street" has been pretty consistent. Big Bird has touted vaccines since the `70s.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Something`s going on down at the store. I wonder what`s -- it`s kind of funny. I mean, it`s strange. I mean, it`s -- well, it`s all kinds of people and they`re all in a line, and they don`t look like they`re buying candy. And there`s a sign that says: "Don`t wait. Vaccinate."


MELBER: I guess what was more conventionally and widely accepted then has now become, because of these bad-faith arguments, something that they want to be controversial, as they lose the big fights over vaccination, over the constitutional mandates, over using vaccines to reopen America`s borders to bring back the people who make America run, whether that`s family members, or tourists, who put a lot of money into the country, or other international business.

Now, Big Bird speaks from experience. You may think, OK, Ari, we have gone far enough with the Big Bird stuff. And my answer to you tonight is, not quite yet, because I want you to know Big Bird has gotten sick at times. We checked, and there was a time -- and, thankfully, it all worked out OK. I don`t want any kids who might be watching to get concerned.

But there was a time that, within the "Sesame Street" universe, he contracted birdy pox. And for Ted Cruz and his followers, if they`re listening, you should keep in mind that, with the proper care, and going to the right medical experts, because doctors have something to offer at times like this, faced with those birdy pox, Big Bird did make a full recovery.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I wish that all my birdy pox would go away now. I wish the green dots weren`t there anymore.

Oh, look, they`re still here, Snuf. Look. I don`t think I`m ever going to get better.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Oh, Big Bird, of course you`re going to get better. It`s just a matter of time.

Oh, look.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I can`t believe it. Your birdy pox are starting to go away right now.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Wow. I`m all better.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I knew I would get all better.


MELBER: As you could see, with medical attention, even birdy pox can be whisked right away.

We want to find some of the joy in what is, of course, a desperate attack on science, because maybe joy and science can win on this one. The serious part is dispiriting, that, faced with progress, you have people in this country and in this era, just as they did hundreds of years ago, who would attack science, to the detriment of their own followers, sometimes when they know better, like Mr. Cruz, who is vaccinated, because the politics help them, and, if people get hurt, so be it.


So, shout-out to Big Bird. Whether he runs for Senate or not, we are happy that he is in this conversation.

To get a little more serious, I bring in Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who was the Obama White House health policy adviser and provost of global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, and not an expert in birdy pox, but in other actual real ailments, and Michael Hirschorn who writes for "The Atlantic" as an analyst of both political and cultural matters. He also is the creator of TV shows like "Flavor of Love."

He`s president and CEO of Ish Entertainment. And we wanted to get him in on the culture side, because there`s something going on here.

Dr. Emanuel, I said my piece. Shout-out to Big Bird. Your thoughts on the Big Bird of it all and what`s going on here, as there is a push to get children vaccinated, according to these safety measures that have been tested and approved by the experts?


And I think Ted Cruz and his ilk say, well, kids don`t really get COVID. Let me remind him. Take a state like Utah, which is in the midst of a upswing in COVID, 22.2 percent of all the cases have been among kids K-12. Kids get COVID. And they transmit COVID.

And, unfortunately, that can also transmit COVID to adults who are at risk either because they`re immunocompromised or the vaccine, it just isn`t working for them. And that`s the big worry. And so having a vaccine that`s effective and safe, certainly safer than getting COVID, is really, really important.

And we need to push for children to get vaccinated. I know I get called all the time by parents worried about the side effects, and mainly parents of boys who are worried about myocarditis, this inflammation around the heart.

But as one expert told me, either you`re going to get the vaccine or you`re going to end up getting COVID in the next few years. And the risk of myocarditis with COVID is a lot higher than the risk from the vaccine.

So it`s much wiser to get the vaccine and protect yourself. And I think parents are going to recognize that.

MELBER: Yes, very fair points.

We start with the doctor.

We turn to Michael, because you do write a lot about this. And you have also created influential TV, which we know affects people. What do you see here in the Big Bird of it all?

MICHAEL HIRSCHORN, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, I think the Republicans are playing a very different game than the game that we think that they`re playing, right?

I think that there`s something about a person as smart as Ted Cruz tweeting #yourbodyyourchoice several weeks after Texas took moves to outlaw abortion. Like, I think the irony is not lost on people like Ted Cruz or Josh Hawley or Tucker Carlson. They`re playing a very sophisticated game that I think progressives don`t really understand.

And that is relentless trolling, relentless riling of the base, relentless playing of victimization politics, trying to stoke a kind of broader sense, no matter what the issue is. So, once COVID is determined to no longer be a potent political issue, they`re going to move on to something else, like the border, or like abortion, or anything where they can stoke a sense of victimhood and grievance among their base.

And that`s devastatingly effective politics. I think, for all the laughing at Ted Cruz, he`s probably going to get reelected fairly easily as senator.


And so let`s build on that, Michael, because that is part of it. And I sort of explain to viewers why there is a bit of a desperation here, and there is some fun here. And there`s also -- again, I don`t -- I think we could all agree we`re glad that Big Bird beat the birdy pox.

But, Michael, the idea that somehow the culture elites or the government of the "Sesame Street" creators are all out to mess with kids` families, whatever, you`re saying that taps into something that is a more durable type of grievance politics that they can graft on to just about any issue.

HIRSCHORN: Precisely right.

And the broader grievance politics is, our America is being taken away from us. Liberals, people of color, women, "radical socialists" like AOC -- quote, unquote -- are robbing us of our cultural inheritance. And we`re going to look and find any issue we can find, even if it`s somewhat comic - - I think that the viewers, their viewers and followers possibly get the joke a little bit.


I think it`s ironic that, even in states like Texas, vast, vast majorities of people over 65 are vaccinated.


HIRSCHORN: But they can be vaccinated and still buy into the kind of outrage porn that people like Ted Cruz are offering them in ever more potent doses.

MELBER: Really interesting.

And so, Doctor, as a White House adviser, your job, of course, was to give the science. But you knew the realities you were in. I`m curious what you think of all that and Michael`s point, and whether that makes it harder to get medical science out there without the filter of misinformation, which, in this instance, can be deadly.

EMANUEL: Well, it absolutely makes it harder.

And social media and the ability to sort of keep people in a bubble of misinformation makes it harder. We should remember, historically, this idea of harping on one false message over and over again is an old populist trick. I mean, it goes back to Andrew Jackson attacking John Quincy Adams for the corrupt bargain that got John Quincy Adams the presidency.

They repeated the same line basically for four years until Jackson got elected president. And then populism exploded in America, including taking down things like the bank and leading to bad recessions. We have to remember that this is not the way to actually govern and have prosperity in the country.

And I do hope that we can, through the mandates, expand to 85 percent or so of the population vaccinated. We`re now at 61 percent. If we can get all those children from 5 to 11 vaccinated, and then more adults through the employer mandate, and OSHA`s employer mandate, we can get to 85.

And then the world really is going to change. We`re going to get -- you point out -- out the emergency. COVID is going to become a respiratory illness. Now, we will have to do things and we will have to protect ourselves. But it won`t be an emergency.

MELBER: Sure. Right.

EMANUEL: It`ll be like the flu, which is problematic, does kill some people. But it`s not a global emergency that causes 750,000 deaths in the country inside of 18 months.

And that is the key change. They have no plan. Again, you listen to Republicans. What`s their plan to get out of COVID? They have no plan, whereas President Biden, there is a plan.


And, Doctor...


MELBER: Well, I`m running over, so real quick, Michael.

HIRSCHORN: Yes, just I think successful Republican politics do not require a plan.

And I think a plan is actually a hindrance to successful prosecution of Republican politics.

MELBER: Also put clearly, with a dose of electoral nihilism, but that`s why we have people with different lenses. I think you guys are using different lenses, but I think we`re better informed because of it.

As mentioned, I`m going to go to break because we have this whole Biden update.

But, Doctor, is birdy pox contagious?

EMANUEL: Well, most poxes are contagious, but we`re not birds. And so, therefore, we should be well protected, last I looked.

MELBER: And, Michael Hirschorn, you`re a TV expert. This may be the first time that someone as renowned as Dr. Emanuel has said on live TV we`re not birds, which is true.

HIRSCHORN: And I think, as you might say, that was a mic drop moment.


MELBER: It was. And he gets the mic drop. Dr. Emanuel always be dropping mics.

I want to thank both of you for something that, as mentioned, has goofiness and seriousness to it. We try to do both. I thank you both.

Coming up, as mentioned, this Biden news. Mitch McConnell now admitting the Biden spending is a win for the nation. What`s up with that? We have the chairman of the DNC, Jaime Harrison, with reaction.

Also, new subpoenas coming out, and they`re targeting Stephen Miller. Maya Wiley here. So the hits continue when it comes to big guests.

And that`s not all. Absolute outrage over something very serious. We have an accountability report on the limits of free speech, when you look at this new violent video coming from a top Republican.

Stay with us.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This legislation is going to change the lives of every American.

And for four years long, for four years long, the last president told us, we`re going to get the infrastructure done. But he couldn`t get it done. So it was left to us. And we got the job done.


MELBER: That`s President Biden late today basically saying what many have forgotten, with all the Washington push and pull. Donald Trump failed. He talked a lot about infrastructure. He claimed to support it. He had control of the Congress, and he didn`t do anything about it.

The president pushing this victory lap right now after a victory that really reshapes the first year of the Biden administration, this infrastructure bill. Tomorrow, Biden goes to the Port of Baltimore. He will be outlining what the bill does and how it can affect Americans, their jobs and the opportunities they have.

Now, this is something that, again, people say, does anything ever change? Is the news always the same? No. I mean, the last four or five years have had all kinds of things, obviously, but even in politics, even in Washington, D.C., where some of these folks just seem to repeat themselves forever, now, did you hear about this?

Some of Joe Biden`s fiercest obstructionist opponents have all but conceded that, well, if they weren`t wrong, they were on the wrong path, and now they say this transformative bill is an achievement.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We have a lot of infrastructure needs, both in rural areas and the big bridges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator McConnell said he`s proud of that infrastructure bill.

MCCONNELL: It`s a godsend for Kentucky.


MELBER: A godsend for Kentucky from someone who said they would oppose 100 percent of the Biden agenda.

I`m joined now by Jaime Harrison, a former Senate candidate who also now leads and is chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

I know it`s a very busy time for you. Thanks for being here tonight.



MELBER: Good to see you.

What does it mean that Mitch McConnell says in public, on the record this bill, this Biden bill that you have been fighting for, and the party now achieved, is a -- quote -- "godsend"?

HARRISON: Well, Mitch McConnell sees what so many Americans see.

It is that, when Republicans are in charge, they talk a lot, but they don`t do much, at least not for working people. But when Democrats are in charge, we actually deliver for the American people. And the last time I remember, Ari, Republicans and Democrats ride our roads, get on rail, need our ports, and all of that, and are desperate for broadband.

And so it`s going to be very, very interesting, as these -- as the resources flow into the states, to see all of these Republicans who actually voted no try to go to these ground-breakings and ribbon cutting. And you know what? We`re going to have Democrats at every one of those things calling them out, because, if you voted no, you aren`t going to take the damn credit for it.


You have been around politics. I think our viewers recognize you, as mentioned, for more than one thing. I`m curious what you really think. Real talk. I know you run the party. I know you`re on message, because that`s part of your job.

But, real talk, I`m sure you have noticed that sometimes the so-called narrative seems to overwhelm the facts. So there was this narrative for a few weeks of, boy, Biden`s negotiating, Democrats in -- quote -- "disarray," and there were certainly stops and starts in the Congress. We covered that.

And yet the facts, which we also try to keep an eye on, seem to be a massive new spending bill passed on a bipartisan basis, which is what Joe Biden campaigned on. Is that now, in your view, more important than all of the sort of media time and social media discussion of what it took to pass it over the past months?

HARRISON: It`s the most important thing, Ari.

The process -- the American people don`t care about the process. They don`t care who`s doing what, who`s arguing what. In the end of the day, they just want their roads paved. They just want to make sure that they have broadband. They want to make sure that all of the things that are important for them to do their jobs and to live their lives, that they actually have.

And that`s why the message for Democrats has to be going into 2022 that we deliver. That`s what that D stands for on my lapel, that we deliver for the American people.

And it`s so -- it makes me pull out my hair to think about all of the hand- wringing that I heard in the media in the press with some of these folks. Oh, woe is me. Are the Democrats going to do this? Are they in disarray?

Look at what`s going on in the Republican Party right now. They`re talking about kicking out people who are chairs of committees because they voted for funding for roads and bridges and everything that their constituents need.

MELBER: Yes. Yes.

HARRISON: And it`s just absolutely mind-blowing, and it`s sad.

MELBER: Yes, I`m going to put a little video on the screen, Chairman.

I know the DNC generally avoid taking sides in Democratic primaries. I understand that. But my job as a journalist is to push you on the issues of the day. And I think we have a video of something that we mentioned at the top of the show, someone who is reportedly running potentially against Cruz.

Do you know who I`m talking about?


HARRISON: I do know who you`re talking about.

MELBER: Do you support Big Bird running against Ted Cruz?

Although, as a journalist, I have to mention it was a parody account. But do you support, would you support a Big Bird candidacy?

HARRISON: Listen, I support anybody over Senator Cancun.


HARRISON: I mean, this is a guy who ran out on his constituents when they were in desperate need, when people were trying to -- basically digging out the snow to put in their toilet so that they could flush their toilet.

But Ted Cruz, he was on a plane, so he could have some margaritas down in Cancun. This guy is not worthy of being in the United States Senate. And so, if it was Snuffleupagus, if it was Oscar the Grouch, I would support over Ted Cruz.

MELBER: Wow, Oscar the Grouch, that`s more of a reach. I find Big Bird more lovable.

The keen listener will notice that the on-message chairman took the fun "Sesame Street" question into Ted Cruz`s -- one of his greatest governing failures, I think anyone could say, skipping town when his constituents needed him most.

But I guess that`s why you do what you do. Thanks for being here, Chairman.

HARRISON: Thanks, Ari. It`s good seeing you.

MELBER: Absolutely. Appreciate you.

And we have a lot more in the program, including new heat on a Republican congressman and the question about the limits of speech.

And after our shortest break, in just 60 seconds, the new subpoena list with Maya Wiley.

Stay with us.



MELBER: New developments in the insurrection probe. The committee is issuing more subpoenas to 10 Trump allies and veterans, including the controversial Stephen Miller.

He was one of the closest aides to Donald Trump and supported almost everything Donald Trump wanted when even others resisted -- also the former White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany. Things looking down for Trump. He`s losing in court today, where a judge denied an emergency motion trying to hide records that the committee wants. That was deemed premature.

Meanwhile, you have Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. He was at the start of the aftermath of Trump`s election conspiracy plot after what has become criminal evidence, this phone call.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11, 780 votes, which is one more than we have.

The people of the country are angry. And there`s nothing wrong with saying that you`ve recalculated.


MELBER: Find the votes, a demand that could haunt citizen Trump.

"The Times" reporting an anonymous source with direct knowledge of the matter now confirming that the local DA in Georgia will convene a special grand jury.

I want to be clear with you. That would be an escalation. We`re following it. NBC News has not confirmed that, but "The Times" quoting that source.

Meanwhile, there are reports that investigators are looking at Secretary of State Raffensperger`s new book for some of the details of what went down.

We turn to a skilled lawyer here, former SDNY civil prosecutor and former mayoral candidate Maya Wiley.

Welcome back.

MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Thanks, Ari. Great to be with you.

MELBER: What do you see my in the path and the theory of the case here, based on who the committee is talking to?

WILEY: Yes, the committee is zooming into the inner circle around creating the great lie that was called the big steal, because what we`re seeing is the witnesses who were either, particularly today, either making public statements, like Stephen Miller.

Even in December 17 of 2020, Stephen Miller was talking about vote fraud. By the way, that was two weeks after Bill Barr said, we don`t have evidence, Bill Barr, who Donald Trump had appointed the office and who had demonstrated he was willing to use his powers to protect the president, as we saw with the Mueller probe, and how he categorized and described that before the report came out.

So, what we`re really saying here is, they`re looking at the folks who, for example, planned the trips from Mark Meadows to go to Georgia, who were involved in the meeting at the Willard Hotel, which Steve Bannon himself called the command center the day before January 6.

So they`re just zooming in closer and closer and closer to the folks who were directly engaged with the president or were his aides that were talking and speaking directly to him.

And I would suggest that what that tells us is, they have learned a lot from the 150 witnesses they have already talked to, and that the election interference aspect of this, the insurrection, inciting insurrection aspect of this, is more -- is increasingly more of what we`re seeing their subpoenas around.

MELBER: And how important is this distinction between the people who lied and talked up that stuff, as you mentioned, and people who may have moved towards taking actions, which overlaps with the Georgia investigation, where the actions sought appeared to be an attempted election crime, meaning they didn`t pull it off -- we know that -- but the attempt the request was not, go do interviews and make up things, but rather go to the secretary of state office and change vote outcomes?

WILEY: Yes, I think it`s very relevant.

We have heard that there is information-sharing between the January 6 Committee and the district attorney in Georgia. And what that means is, the information that committee gets may well be what the Fulton County district attorney has available to her as evidence as well to use in that grand jury.


The grand jury, we think, will be issuing subpoenas themselves. That really means that, when we`re talking about election interference, the taking of action, Mark Meadows physically going down to Georgia, right, what was the conversation around that? What did he say when he was there? What did he do and to who -- and with whom?

But it`s also this question about, what was the conversation with Donald Trump? Remember, Mark Meadows was on that call with the attorney general that you`re quoting.

And we hear that the district attorney may be talking about a RICO case, a racketeering case. But remember when Michael Cohen testified? You know, the way Trump talks, Trumps talks like a mob boss, the nod, nod -- the wink, wink, nod, nod.

This phone conversation with the attorney general where he`s like, people are going to hate you. You might not win reelection. You just got to go find those votes. There`s one point at which he says, you need to have people on your team who want to find the right answers or the answers.


WILEY: I mean, all that is very racketeering-like, mob boss-type language. And that`s why the acts matter, and linking it to what was already in the public record, which is, frankly, Bill Barr himself on December 1, 2020, saying, we can`t find any evidence.


No, Maya, I appreciate your breakdown of that. And it also speaks to the stakes in the future. This is all out there. So, if nobody in power punishes this through the facts or the evidence, then that`s the new floor, for anyone with Donald Trump`s ethics or morals.

Some officials don`t try to steal elections. We interview them. I will say that. I have met people in both parties who don`t try to do it. But for those who do who have no morals, this was the new floor. Of course, you can call a secretary of state and try to shake him down, because he got away with it.

So it`s a high-stakes time.

Maya, it`s good to see you, as always.

I have a programming note for viewers. The Georgia secretary of state that we have been talking about, Brad Raffensperger, is actually our special guest on law, justice and the road ahead for election integrity on THE BEAT tomorrow. Looking forward to that interview myself. I hope you will tune in tomorrow and catch it.

Meanwhile, tonight, a Republican congressman pushing a video that depicts direct violence at the president and fellow members of Congress, party leaders silent, Speaker Pelosi, though, demanding action.

That accountability check is next.



MELBER: Many rebuking this as a disgusting video and a moment to really see what`s happened to Republican leadership.

Here`s the story. An Arizona congressman, Paul Gosar, a Republican, has sent out online a Photoshopped animated video. The video depicts him clearly killing Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking the president.

We are not airing the video on this broadcast. We are going to show you a screen grab selected from it, so you can see the nature of the video without further amplifying the imagined violence. AOC is on the left. That is after she is struck down by what is clearly the Gosar character. He`s in the middle as some sort of fighter. You see him there.

And then on the right, there is the attack on the president there with two swords. We`re talking about a sitting member of Congress and the president of the United States. Frequent viewers of THE BEAT will know we do a lot of coverage about free speech, which includes all kinds of rhetoric.

But it is also a crime to encourage assassination or violence against the president. The courts, not the news, will figure out exactly where these lines are. But this is really something in the context of all of the rising, mounting white supremacist violence in the United States.

This is a MAGA loyalist who has some broad links to alleged white nationalists and who praised the January 6 insurrectionists, which include now convicted criminals.

AOC calling Gosar are creepy and going to the boss, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, noting he will face -- quote -- "no consequences" because that person, Leader McCarthy, "cheers him on." And then she said "back to work because institutions need to do the work."

Now McCarthy is silent on this video. You can only imagine if the political tables were turned. Not denouncing it. It`s all over the place. The speaker of the House, though, who has more power than him and is in the other party, is now calling for a formal investigation, saying -- quote -- "Threats of violence against members of Congress and the president must not be tolerated."

The response is not from Gosar now, but from a member of his staff, claiming -- quote -- "Everyone needs to relax." Gosar says this is a -- quote -- "symbolic portrayal."

But there is, more important than any individual member like him, the silence from the leaders of Congress who within this same year -- we haven`t hit the anniversary yet -- saw how rhetoric, some of which might be technically legal, can lead to action that is not, criminal action, violence, breaching the Capitol, calling to assassinate the vice president.

This party has gone silent; 13 Republicans, meanwhile, who backed the trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill, what is happening to them? No, not silence from the leadership, no, talk of actually stripping them of their governing and committee assignments because of their decision to fund American infrastructure.

We are truly in upside-down land. A Democratic senator putting it into perspective, saying -- quote -- "In today`s Republican Party, you get canceled for crossing party lines and applauded for publicly fantasizing about the murder of Democrats. WTF."


WTF, indeed. Tonight, Senator Murphy gets the last word there, some words that we can say on television.

As for the story and the fomenting violence in America, we will continue to cover it rigorously.

I`m going to fit in a break.

When we come back, we welcome a very special friend of THE BEAT. You know him, Professor Michael Eric Dyson. We go to school right after this.


MELBER: Republicans are often accused these days of discarding dog whistles and going right to race-baiting megaphones.

Meanwhile, in the overreaction to last week`s selective elections, there`s talk about wokism going too far. That was partly the concern in Virginia, where, remember, it was a centrist, not exactly a woke candidate, who lost for the Democrats. And then there were these contradictory headlines.

The debate matters because it may shape premises from both parties in how they campaign in the years ahead.


We have a special guest with us, Professor Michael Eric Dyson. I want to bring him in now.

And then take a listen, Professor, to the competing opinions. I want to get you up on the screen, because so many MSNBC viewers, I can say from experience, know and love you.

We also have a little sound to play about the back-and-forth. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What McAuliffe did tonight was show up and try to turn Youngkin into Trump and make the entire thing about white supremacy, racism.

ERRIN HAINES, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE 19TH: Critical Race Theory is the big lie of 2021. It is, as you mentioned, the modern-day Southern Strategy to appeal to white voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re saying this is about race. Well, how could it be? This is a Virginia state that voted for Barack Obama twice.

VAN JONES, CNN: The CRT stuff, and I keep beating the drum about it because it really lands badly with me. I think some of the stuff is dog whistling.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN: Some of it was right dog whistle racism.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: What went wrong is this stupid wokeness. Some of these people need to go to a woke detox center or something.


MELBER: So which is it?

You see him. He is a distinguished professor at Vanderbilt University. And you should know, viewers, his new book is "Entertaining Race," a Michael Eric Dyson book, always a reason to talk to you. People can check that out.

You heard the sound there. Which is it, sir?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Yes, I`m trying to remain asleep through a great revolution, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, in quoting the great Rip Van Winkle.

Both sides seem to be bewitched by the felicities of race. On the one hand, the anti-woke people, as if they have been awake all their lives, and therefore the call to be awake is an offense to them, and, on the other hand, those with Critical Race Theory deployed as a kind of cudgel to beat down on the heads of those who are enlightened.

I think woke is a term of derision and a pejorative term. Bless brother James Carville`s heart. He says, these people need to go to a woke detox.

My friend, far more ancient in this country is a tradition of white supremacy, social injustice, a long, hoary tradition of white avoidance, even in progressive circles or liberal circles, for the indictment that captures all of us. It`s not just a left-right thing. It`s not just a black-right thing. It`s a right-wrong thing.

So, for me, I think that continually engaging in serious self-reflection about race is necessary. Are there extremes on either side? To be certain. But the result should not be that we end up making a full equivalence between the so-called woke politics, which are misnamed, and, on the other hand, those who are anti-black in the name of anti-Critical Race Theory.

MELBER: Yes, respect.

I mean, it`s a difficult thing to tease out. You and I have had these conversations. So we have them in the spirit of facts and good faith, which is different than some of the way it plays out online or volleyed about.

DYSON: Right.

MELBER: I mean, I`m curious. I will give you a thought that you could react to.

I mean, for one thing, some of the political reaction is dumb because the incumbent party always loses Virginia. That`s happened five elections running. So to overreact to that means you haven`t really checked your history.

DYSON: Right.

MELBER: If Terry McAuliffe campaigned in a dashiki with James Baldwin readings, I missed it. I missed it.

Last time I checked, he campaigned as a centrist.

DYSON: Correct.

MELBER: So that was the -- it`s kind of funny when a centrist loses that that means something else.

DYSON: Right.

MELBER: Having said that, I will raise and ask you, what about the concern that -- again, woke may be a term that`s been hijacked, but the concern that some of the putative support for civil rights, justice and progress, which is good, plays or is heard as accusing other people of evil or racism, which, before you even get to the politics of that, isn`t -- I know that`s not how you teach.

I have been in your classroom.

DYSON: Right.

MELBER: I know that`s not how Martin Luther King taught, and he dealt with plenty of races.

DYSON: Right.

MELBER: So is there something there about how that`s playing out? Does that concern you? Or does that sound to you like worrying too much about the reaction?

DYSON: Well, it is an obsession with the reaction.

However, having said that, look, the left needs to learn to play the game too. You got to have strategy too. You got to understand, look, if nothing else, understand from the right wing the use of Critical Race Theory, which you know, as a distinguished jurist majoring in jurisprudential rationality, you can explain to people that this is Kimberle Crenshaw, this is Derrick Bell, this is Charles Lawrence, this is Mari Matsuda.

This is a legal theory that simply says this, not the individual but the institution, not the sentiment or the passion, but the system and the structure. Pretty simple idea. It says it`s not about individual prejudice. It`s about the undergirding realities of race in this country.


Now, to turn that into the bete noire and the hero of the day, the stalking horse of the right-wing, is genius. It`s evil genius. Oh, there I go. But it`s problematic. But it`s pretty smart to be able to seize upon three letters, three simple phrases, Critical Race Theory, to make them the source of all that`s wrong.


DYSON: We have got to do the same thing on the left.

Now, the left can`t do that because the left is not reductive. It`s always critical. It`s always having a firing squad in a semicircle. But we got to figure out a way.

Jesse Jackson used to say up with hope and doubt with dope. You might not like the rhyme scheme, but you can`t get it out your mind. I am somebody, right? So the thing, that -- keep hope alive. I mean, there is. We can we can all fulfill it, because he understood the genius of a pithy formulation to get at a broader truth.


DYSON: And the left must be open to that critique, even as we call bull feathers on this notion that somehow kids in the fourth grade are studying Critical Race Theory. It just ain`t so.

MELBER: Well, bull feathers brings me back to where we started, which was with Big Bird.

Shout out to Derrick Bell, "Shape of the River," and that important work, as you say, not it`s bastardized echo. And shout-out to Jesse Jackson. And shout-out to you dropping just quick bars. We always appreciate that, Professor Dyson.

DYSON: Thank you, sir, as always. Great to be on here.

And thank you for holding up the bloodstained banner of truth, my friend.

MELBER: Respect.

And the book, again, "Entertaining Race," is out now.

We will be right back.