IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 12/24/21

Guests: Eric Schmidt


The CEO who took Google public, Eric Schmidt, speaks out. Dr. Anthony Fauci discusses the pandemic. Whether any progress on policing has been made is explored.



ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

And it`s great to be with you in this holiday season.

Tonight, in a special report on civil rights, policing, and the calls for change after another big year where this has been on so many minds.

We also go inside the Biden White House. I want to show with -- you exactly what we found with some field reporting, even in this pandemic era.

And my interview with the CEO who took Google public, Eric Schmidt. He has some tough words for Zuckerberg on social media and democracy, plus what he sees ahead in this world of artificial intelligence.

At the end of the year, sometimes, it`s worth reflecting on the big things. Well, we`re going to get into all of that.

But we begin with the biggest story in the world still, which is COVID.

2021 began with the vaccine rollout, but it still has ended as the deadliest year of the pandemic. And misinformation has proven dangerous to people`s health.

Now, we have been talking to Dr. Fauci across this pandemic, learning about his guidance and what to do if the facts change and new variants emerge.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: The best way you can prevent the virus from evolving and mutating is to prevent it from replicating, because it`s an interesting tenet of virology that the only way a virus can mutate is if you allow it to replicate.

So, when you have a lot of infection in your country, when you`re getting 300,000 to 400,000 new infections a day, the virus has an open playing field to replicate so much that it starts to mutate. That`s when you get the dangerous mutations.

So, one of the best ways to prevent that from happening in this country is to double down on the public health measures to prevent the virus from going from one person to another, the masking, the distancing, the avoiding congregate settings.

MELBER: Right. Right.

FAUCI: On the other hand, the other best thing to do, please go out and get vaccinated, because the combination...

MELBER: Right. Exactly.

FAUCI: ... of vaccination and public health measures will bring the level of virus down so low, you won`t give it a chance to mutate. That`s what we need to do. Right.


MELBER: And then there`s the other side of the vaccination coin, a contentious policy that stirs all sorts of controversy that is larger than what you think about COVID itself or even the vaccines, because it comes back to people`s idea of liberty and balancing your own choices with your obligation in the social contract.

I`m talking about the mandates.


FAUCI: One of the things that people should realize, Ari, is that the idea of mandating a vaccine is not something new.

That is done all the time.


FAUCI: How about schools? I mean, we have been doing this for decades and decades and decades. If you want to go to certain schools...

MELBER: May I press you, Doctor?


MELBER: Sir, I`m not saying I think this, but part of my job, what people who object to this say, as you know, is, those other mandates had much longer periods of time.

You`re familiar. And they say it feels unfair to them to demand them try something so new.

FAUCI: Well, I`m not so sure. Again, you could have arguments all the time,.

I`m not so sure that argument holds water. This is the most devastating disease, an infectious disease from a respiratory virus that we have had in 102 years. Times change. Sometimes, you got to say, liberties aside -- and I`m not -- I`m not an anti-libertarian person, where you say, you want to just take away everyone`s liberties. But, sometimes, you got to face the reality of what you`re looking at.

MELBER: Yes. Yes.

FAUCI: We have an outbreak that is ongoing now for a year-and-a-half. And it`s killed more Americans than any other infectious disease in such a very long period of time. Sometimes, you got to do unusual things.

MELBER: Well, Doctor, when you put it like that, the answer sounds a lot better than the question.


MELBER: Now, it`s no secret Dr. Fauci has been at this work for a long time across administrations in both parties.

But it is only in this divided, particularly polarized era that we have seen him become more attacked than any other time in his career. That may tell us more about the rest of us than him, as some have tried to make Fauci the face of the controversy surrounding the virus and many on the right targeting him.



NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I think he now is destructive. I think he`s dishonest.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: He decided to unilaterally end Christmas.

PETER NAVARRO, TRUMP TRADE ADVISER: We want to take Fauci down and put him in an orange jumpsuit.

GINGRICH: In any reasonable society, Fauci would be gone.


MELBER: We`ll give you the last word of any thoughts on how you`re playing across the Internet. And, then, I promised you -- you had a question. Go ahead as well.


FAUCI: Well, Ari, I`m not in it for a popularity contest. I have devoted my entire professional career of 50 years to try and essentially safeguard and preserve the health and the lives of the American people.

And as an infectious disease doctor who deals with outbreak, that gets really extended to the rest of the world. That`s what I do. The praise or the arrows and slings are really irrelevant. I do what science drives you to do. And that`s what I do.

And I`m not in it for a popularity contest. I`m trying to save lives. And the people who weaponize lies are killing people. So, the only question I have is that, when you show Tucker Carlson and Peter Navarro criticizing me, I consider that a badge of honor.


MELBER: Now, that`s just some of what we have all heard from Dr. Fauci over the course of this pandemic.

And like it or not, much of it remains very relevant, as people plan for a new year with the pandemic still a part of our daily lives.

Now we turn to another big story of 2021, which was the launch of a new presidency, a very familiar figure in Joe Biden trying to turn the page.

Now, here on THE BEAT, we went inside the Biden White House. This was back when they were just getting started. So it was a really interesting time to see new staff turn the page, new vibes. We had reporting from inside the West Wing, because the president was preparing for his first address to Congress.

Of course, Joe Biden`s given many speeches, but this was his first as president in that forum. It`s a process that will be coming again this January.


MELBER (voice-over): President Biden is about to deliver his first speech to Congress, and final preparations are under way at the White House, where we got a rare chance to report from behind the scenes of this address, with key staff prepping in the West Wing during the pandemic, as others work remotely.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: There`s a huge amount of energy around tonight around the building. Because of the pandemic, of course, we don`t have the full staff on site that we would normally have in a normal year, but we have grown accustomed to -- like everybody in the country who is doing office jobs, we have grown accustomed to working by Zoom.

MELBER: Communications Director Kate Bedingfield and Press Secretary Jen Psaki anticipate a speech that`s historic, for several reasons, including a nearly empty House chamber.

BEDINGFIELD: The empty room is about responsibility. Interacting with people is -- for him, I think is a huge part of how he draws energy.

So it is a challenge.

MELBER (on camera): How do you convey energy through a speech like this to a room that is mostly empty because of safety protocol?

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know, we have never experienced anything like this before. Neither have you, right? None of us have.

He`s going to do the walk down the aisle. He will be wearing a mask. He will take it off when he`s speaking. There will, of course, be about 200 people in the audience.

But it`s not going to be the same size. And he knows he`s speaking to the audience of millions of people watching at home too.

Good afternoon.

MELBER (voice-over): Psaki is a familiar presence behind the podium. And she`s been working on the big speech.

(on camera): How many drafts would you say have been through this computer of this speech?

PSAKI: A couple of new every day.

MELBER: Several times a day?

PSAKI: Sometimes, yes.

MELBER (voice-over): As the top spokesperson, Psaki has tapped into a familiar theme for anyone working with this president: Make it clear.

PSAKI: It takes an enormous amount of prep, an enormous amount of grappling through, is this the right language? A lot of it is listening to him talk. Does this sit with how he would talk about this, or is this how he would think about this?

MELBER (on camera): How do you know when he likes a line? How does he engage with the process?

BEDINGFIELD: I can tell you how you know when he doesn`t like a line.



MELBER: The type of thing that he`s most likely to strike is what?

BEDINGFIELD: An acronym. Don`t give him an acronym. He does not want to see an acronym.

PSAKI: There will be no acronyms, I think we confirm, in this speech.

BEDINGFIELD: See, I told you.

MELBER (voice-over): And aides told us that kind of clarity takes time.

BEDINGFIELD: He started on a draft probably two weeks ago. He`s been working on it almost every day with Mike Donilon.

PSAKI: Then he starts to go through drafts, line editing, asking for clarification, wanting more information.

BEDINGFIELD: He`s more of a night owl. He really likes to work in the afternoon and the evening on speeches.

PSAKI: He`s a details guy. And, sometimes, he wants to bring in a policy person and ask more questions about what more he can put in the speech. So that`s the process. It speeds up on the way up to the speech.

The president looks at the country and he sees 10 million people still out of work. He sees the fact that we still have people dying every day of COVID.

We have made a lot of progress. But part of what this speech is going to focus on is all the work we have ahead.

MELBER: And Biden has seen his share of these addresses.

PSAKI: He served 36 years in the Senate. He`s attended this speech as vice president for eight years. Of anyone, he knows exactly what this opportunity is.

MELBER: But this time, he`s moving a few feet forward to center stage. And those two spots behind the president, the top officials in the line of succession, will be filled for the first time ever by two women, a historic moment that aides say Biden will formally mark on the big night.


(on camera): This speech is the first time that we will see both those seats behind the president, which are the line of succession, filled by women. What does that mean?

PSAKI: It`s about frigging time, isn`t it?


PSAKI: Amazing. I think the president will certainly note that in his speech, as everyone watching at home will note as well.

And you have a female speaker of the House. You have a female vice president. These are two of the most powerful people in our country. I have a daughter. I hope she will look at that and see, wow, look at those two women behind the president sitting there. They`re playing important roles.

And, hopefully, it sends that message too.

MELBER (voice-over): It`s a reminder that, pandemic or not, these nights matter because the nation is watching, the stakes are high, and, while the speech itself may finally be done, how America rebounds from this tough time and its future are yet to be written.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Speaker, the president of the United States!



MELBER: We have a lot more coming up for you on tonight`s edition of THE BEAT.

A veteran of the Obama administration and the man who took Google public, Eric Schmidt, talks about social media polarization, and why he thinks Barack Obama was so far ahead of the technological curve.

And, later, one of our special reports on law, justice and civil rights in America, looking at the reform movement to deal with police brutality. I want to share some thoughts with you and what we have learned.

Stay with us.


MELBER: Now we take a look at the ongoing debate over policing in America.


George Floyd`s killer was convicted and dramatically cuffed this year, which has some claiming the justice system now works.


JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS: Right now, what people need to understand is that the American justice system works. It works.

FMR. REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC): I think it`s a celebration of our justice system.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: It`s important that we also push back against the notion that all police officers can never be trusted.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: That`s the promise of our justice system, that it`s impartial.

J.D. VANCE (R), OHIO SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: How many black unarmed people were killed by police officers, and it`s a massive distraction.


MELBER: Citing a single verdict to pretend that that verdict automatically reveals anything about every other case is misleading, at a minimum.

So let`s just look at the evidence right now. The data actually shows that consistent discrimination continues. And it shows a system that does not work, to use the term you just heard in some of those clips, doesn`t work for everyone, because people brutalized and killed by police rarely get justice.

And that brings us to tonight`s special report. And it`s about facts, not opinion or ideology.

The protests were largely against police brutality and force. And we have now tonight for you the latest data on the use of force since then, since those protests last year.

Police are shooting and killing Americans at roughly the same rate this year as last year, on pace for the same aggregate total of police killing about 1,000 people per year. You can see the number this year, 2021, basically matching what people were protesting against, which was the rate of killing last year.

This is from "Washington Post" data. Now, this fact on your screen shows something that everyone needs to know in America right now, that, after all that protest and pressure and heat and scrutiny and video evidence, and even that murder conviction I just showed you, take it all together, it`s not even budging the rate that police use lethal force.

So, as these killings grind on, police departments themselves, don`t claim that they are all OK with all the use of force. In fact, we have, even since last year, documented situations where they admit mistakes, and they put out statements regretting the loss of innocent life.

They also typically oppose any investigation or prosecution of the officers who created that situation.

And I want to tell you something else. The protests have certainly got people`s attention. Most Americans are aware police violence is a serious problem. That consensus has grown. It`s even stronger than a few years ago.

But numbers, which are part of evidence, also only tell part of the story, because when you look at that chart of the killings each year, every point on it is a dead person and a family grieving.

Now, these tragedies, they play out across the entire country here, and, sometimes, we don`t have a lot of details. Other times, we do get some clue of what happened. We get these grim videos that tell an all-too-familiar story, like Wisconsin police shooting an unarmed man, Jacob Blake, in the back seven times, paralyzing him for life, or California police confronting an unarmed man over alleged jaywalking.

That`s how the interaction began. We brought you this story earlier this year. They then shot him to death in broad daylight over a jaywalking stop. He was unarmed. Or go back to George Floyd`s community, where Minnesota police killed another unarmed father, Daunte Wright. There was some video of that.

Or police shooting Andrew Brown to death as he tried to drive away from police. The video showed him fleeing, not attacking.

Just those last two videos you see were part of six police shootings that came just within 24 hours of the Chauvin verdict in the Floyd killing. This is not some massive, distracting, attention-grabbing issue that`s constantly getting people`s attention, and certainly not getting the powerful people`s attention or the corporations, who influence so much policy in this country.

No, the truth is, most of these incidents on that endless chart, they don`t even make the national news in the first place. Take another story from, again, within this past year. Police went to the home of 32-year-old Isiah Brown for a domestic disturbance call. And then they killed him right by his own home.

Why? He was holding a cordless phone that they, the police, wrongly thought was a gun. And they demanded he dropped the gun, when he didn`t have one.

A warning: The video is disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show me your hands now! Show me your hands!

Drop the gun!

He`s got a gun to his head.

Drop the gun now! And stop walking towards me! Stop walking towards me! Stop! Stop!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired. Shots fired. One down.



MELBER: Eight of those bullets entered Brown`s body. He did live through it.

Charges in these cases are rare. There were no charges related to shooting or assault or battery there. The officer was indicted for reckless handling of a firearm.

These stories are all from the past year since the protests. You watch the news, but if you don`t know some of them, if some of those names and details are unfamiliar, that may be because so much of this is treated by our system, even after all this, as normal.

Now, if we stay on these facts, even when they`re not trending, what does this period show us about solutions? Well, that brings us to the final part of this special report.

First, this recent activism and scrutiny alone are not bending the curve of police shootings in America. That`s just a fact. I`m not talking about whether we like it or not. But that`s what this year and that chart shows.

Now, an observer might have thought or hoped that a year like the one we just lived through would impact some officers` conduct. But when it comes to shootings, in the aggregate, it did not.

Second, some valid policy reforms are also failing to bend that curve. Whether we like that or not, we should know the evidence. So there are more body cameras, which can add to the type of mechanisms that law enforcement oversight needs.

But, in this past year, as I showed you, they`re not reducing shootings. Tonight, in fact, among some of the few examples we chose out of the many available, we saw stories where police just unilaterally turned off their body cameras.

Now, part of my job on the news is to just be straightforward. Have you ever seen surveillance video at a bank which could just be flipped off by any visitor or bank robber? That would kind of defeat the point.

So, when videos do incriminate the police, what happens? Well, even when they exist, the departments often hide them. In one study, the majority of incidents caught on body cameras were never released by police. So, some of these reforms won`t work very well if they still depend on the original issue here in American policing, which, again, not every country does it this way, on the premise that police should just police themselves.

That brings me to a third and final point. Some reforms do have an impact, when they assert truly independent authority over police. Reforms to patrol the police work better if someone other than the police has control of what happens.

That`s why citizen videos very clearly have an immediate impact. The police do not have control with them in the first place. The video of George Floyd`s murder went viral swiftly, so fast, the police were still, stupidly, falsely claiming that Floyd died in a medical incident, a cover story that was shredded by the public video.

People forced facts into the system that otherwise would never have come to light. Same goes for reforms where independent prosecutors investigate these allegations against police, instead of the DAs that are usually on the police`s team.

There`s also a plan that police unions are fighting the hardest to stop, which is to reform the legal immunity that prevents courts from ever finding facts in the first place. Right now, under the law, most cases against police are actually tossed before getting to a trial because of this type of immunity. So the alleged victims don`t even get a day in court.

If police are caught in alleged misconduct, like take a case we brought you, Colorado police handcuffing and detaining unarmed women and children at gunpoint unarmed in broad daylight -- so it`s very hard to see why those kids would pose that kind of threat -- and the question legally becomes, is there accountability for that conduct?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want my mother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I have my sister next to me?


MELBER: We brought you that case earlier. It never gets easier to watch.

Police admitted in that instance that it was a case of mistaken identity. They apologized in public. And, legally, that`s where these cases typically end, because police immunity prevents the family from suing.

But here is a model for some change that occurred in real life in the past year. In Colorado, it`s one of just four states that actually limited police and officer immunity. So now the courtroom door is a little more open for that mother to sue in civil court, which she did, alleging racism, among other things.

The only reason she gets her day in court is because she actually lives in one of the few places that has reformed police immunity in this past year.

Now, nationally, that`s still one of the huge sticking points for Republicans opposing the George Floyd Act, which did pass the House, but is stuck in the Senate.

So those are some policy implications. What we do know is that this shooting rate remains steady, with a disproportionate number of minorities getting shot or killed by police. So, that`s the same as last year.

If we want to change this, which a lot of people and companies claim they did last year, then, again, my job here as a newscaster is pretty simple. I can just report for you that, as policy, by definition, we would have to do more as a country than what`s happened over the past four years -- excuse me -- the past year, because this whole thing is holding steady.


And while most of what we have covered in this report tonight focuses on the category of police killings -- that`s this chart -- keep in mind, there`s the even more common issue of extensive and allegedly excessive use of police force in America.

Our police officers send over 50,000 people a year to the E.R. on average. That approaches half-a-million visits since 2015, according to a CDC count.

I told you at the beginning of this we were just going to go through the evidence and the facts. That`s all this is. This is what`s going on.

These stories grind on, whether they`re covered or not, whether the system notices or not. And while the last year did provide some scrutiny and progress and change, any person or corporation that claimed to care then should logically care now, because the numbers haven`t budged. The killing rate is just as bad now as it was when people were posting passionately after the murder of George Floyd.

This is the same America with the same rate of police shootings and killings. These are real lives. These are black lives lost. And while the rare conviction of that officer for murder was significant, and people saw him led off in cuffs to serve time, that rare conviction is not the goal of this BLM movement, according to many of his leaders.

It`s also not the goal of a functioning justice system. Now, why do I say that?

Again, listen to the civil rights leaders. They have been telling us, the goal is not to send more people to prison for the unnecessary illegal killings of innocent people. The goal is to stop the police killings of innocent people in the first place.

And if those people`s lives mattered last summer, then they matter now. And until we actually change this and keep up with the overall evidence, we will be left with spasms of outrage for the very worst moments that are sometimes arbitrarily caught on tape.

But you can`t fix a problem like this in moments or hours. We`re dealing with a problem of years, centuries. Stories do help people see the reality, but the reality is unfolding in years and years of government conduct. And most of it is not on tape.

So you have to go back to that steady line. It`s on the same pace this year. But this is not a time for told-you-so`s, but people did tell us. They did challenge Americans at the time. "Support us when it`s not trending," as one protester put on record on that sign.

Another says: "We are not a trend. Black lives still matter."

And that`s right. It`s not a trend. It`s people`s lives, human lives that matter. And this police epidemic is way worse than a trend. And we can`t begin to fix it until we face it.




MELBER: Today, I am joined by a technologist entrepreneur and the CEO who took Google public, Eric Schmidt.

Thanks for being here.

ERIC SCHMIDT, FORMER CEO, GOOGLE: Thank you, Ari. I`m so happy to be part of the show.

MELBER: Right now, you`re very focused on artificial intelligence.

You have been called upon by the United States government, the Pentagon, among others, to figure out how to make this a good thing more than a danger.

I want to play for you just some of the people at the top of these fields talking about A.I. Take a listen.


WARREN BUFFETT, CHAIRMAN & CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: Punch a button at the start of every morning, and all the goods and services that we`re getting now would be turned out by robots.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It promises to create a vastly more productive and efficient economy. The way we think about A.I. is colored by popular culture and by science fiction.

JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, AMAZON: The idea that there`s going to be a general A.I. overlord that subjugates us or kills us all, I think is not something to worry about.

ELON MUSK, CEO, TESLA MOTORS: we have to figure out some way to ensure that the advent of digital superintelligence is one which is symbiotic with humanity.


MELBER: What are you most concerned about? And within what you can say, what are you telling the government and the Pentagon to get ahead of or to avoid?

SCHMIDT: From a national security perspective, A.I. will transform it fundamentally.

And there are all sorts of problems. We`re not ready for this revolution. And the revolution is at the scale of the age of reason. That`s how profound A.I. is going to be in our society.

MELBER: One of the larger concerns is that, if you mix this sort of self - - perpetuating or self-improving system, its information or its processing, with some sort of vaguely stated creation, that it can then eventually just do things on its own.

How real is that, or how much of that is just from our movies?

SCHMIDT: Well, at the moment, is from movies. Today, the important thing about A.I. is it does not have its own volition. It still requires humans to tell it what to look for.

In other words, it doesn`t have its own independent creative judgment. It can`t say, I want to go study physics, or I want to go do art. It can be told to do physics and told to do art, but it can`t decide it on its own.

Many people think that we will cross that boundary. And at the point when a system can decide what it wants to work on, it`s a whole new ball game.

MELBER: Most of your background is in technology and the sort of initially start-up or early tech space. A lot of your peers are very proud of those results, and tend to be quite dismissive of government or public sector or other older models.

I`m curious your take on that. And, specifically, is there anything positive that you saw working through bureaucracies or with the Defense Department, as compared to the tech and business space? Or do you stay in that group that says, hey, it works a lot faster and better on the private sector side?


SCHMIDT: In my five years working for the Defense Department, I developed an extraordinary respect for what I view as real heroes of our nation.

I also developed an enormous distaste for the system that was erected around them, where they have very little freedom, they have very little opportunity to really drive things. The notion of innovation is sort of counter to the way their system was designed. And they`re stuck in it, because they`re not allowed to run the way we run.

They`re not allowed to run quickly. They`re not allowed to innovate. They`re not allowed to take risks. So if we want to sort of reform the way government works, we have to be willing to take the following risks. We have to be willing to put really competent people in charge and let them run and let them make mistakes.

If you make a mistake in a government, you get fired. If you do nothing, you don`t get fired.

MELBER: I mentioned Barack Obama. You actually interviewed him when he was a candidate before becoming president. Let`s take a quick look.


SCHMIDT: Senator, you`re here at Google. And I like to think of the presidency as a job interview. It`s also hard to get a job at Google.

OBAMA: Right.



OBAMA: Obviously, Google is a symbol of one sector of our economy that`s just been extraordinary, innovative, creative, and lucrative.


OBAMA: But there`s a whole `nother part of America that has been left behind.


MELBER: What did you learn about him? What do you think of his ongoing concern about a digital divide? And how does he stack on tech, compared to the two presidents who came after?

SCHMIDT: Well, I had the privilege of serving as a presidential science adviser under President Obama. So my biases should be very clear.

This -- that president, President Obama, understood the opportunity of essentially agility of technology. He understood what we`re doing at a level that was really extraordinary. And that`s just because he`s such a gifted man.

With especially the digital divide, I keep saying to my colleagues, you`re so good at building systems that do A, B, or C. Why don`t we build systems that actually lift people up? We tend to be the ones who are privileged. We tend to be the ones who got into the best schools or get the best opportunities. What about everyone else?

The president -- that is, President Obama -- cared a great deal about that.

MELBER: Google provides a lot of informational value around the world, including to a lot of people who may not have very much, if they can access it, and has done that in organizing a whole range of information over years.

Social media, which is very profitable and ubiquitous, seems to be a little more of an entertaining distraction. Do you think it provides the same value at this point in tech?

SCHMIDT: It may in the future. I`m not sure it does today.

The issue of social media is roughly the following. Social media have their -- these are businesses, and their job is to maximize shareholder return and revenue. And the best way to maximize revenue is to maximize engagement. And the best way to maximize engagement in social media is with outrage, literally outrage on the left or the right.

These systems naturally push you to the extremes. And they do so for engagement reasons, not because of some moral or social reason. That problem is an unsolved problem. And we need to address it. And we need to figure out a way so that these companies can be profitable companies without driving us insane.


SCHMIDT: And, furthermore, I will tell you that A.I. is going to make this much worse, because if I were sort of an evil founder type, which, hopefully, I`m not, what I would do is build a social network that knew so much about you by getting you to give me that information that I could target the information precisely to your personal biases, political beliefs, and literally duplicitous strategies.

And that would maximize my revenue, but it would terrify the world, because that`s not how human societies work.

MELBER: Yes, it`s fascinating and horrifying, as you lay it out.

I hope people understand what you`re saying and the expertise behind it. And, on Facebook, their vision of a more immersive virtual digital experience, whether that`s their Meta brand or some other type, looks to you as a probable future reality or unlikely?

SCHMIDT: I think it`s highly likely. And it`s usually not in the way that people like me describe it when you start.

But the important point is, will you stop spending your day looking around the room, and instead spend your day looking at a screen in a world where you and your friends are younger, smarter, more beautiful, more handsome, faster, and more -- and consumed?


And will there be drama that will be exciting to you and a narrative that causes you to spend more time there than in your real world? If we create a world that is so seductive that people stop doing the essential things we need for humans to do, which starts with having children and making families and all of that, that`s a pretty big change in our society.

But that technology is coming. We don`t understand -- let me say precisely. We did not understand when we started the social media activities the level of impact that it would have on governments and on people and, in particular, manipulating people against objectives of one person or another, through amplification, crisis, and so forth and so on.

We just didn`t understand it. I don`t want us to make the same mistake with A.I. I want us to have teams that are more than just computer scientists. I want ethicists. I want economists. I want biologists. I want all the people of civil society to work on, what are the right ethics for these systems?

So, one ethic is what we`re really trying to do is to educate the world. Another one is, we`re trying to entertain the world.

At the moment, what we`re doing, what they are doing collectively is, they`re busy confusing the world, because the incentives are not in alignment. The more money they make, the more they drive people crazy. We have got to get that fixed somehow.


Lightning round is something we ask people to do. It`s in a word or a sentence, although you can go longer if you need.

Bill Gates.

SCHMIDT: Brilliant.

MELBER: Steve Jobs.

SCHMIDT: Even more brilliant.

Of all of the people that I have worked with, Steve is the one that is the greatest sort of human achievement and loss of all because of his early death. The fact that he could invent, envision and see the world as such a young age is extraordinary. He`s missed every day.

MELBER: Mark Zuckerberg.

SCHMIDT: I worry with Mark that he learned the lessons from Bill Gates and others about the pursuit of his corporation, and he forgot some of these other principles. We will see.

MELBER: Elon Musk.

SCHMIDT: Maybe more brilliant than all of them combined.

If you look at what Elon did, he did everything right technologically, but he did one other thing, which is that he took enormous risks in a business that required billions of dollars of capital. And remember when Tesla was near bankruptcy, and now it`s an extraordinarily near-trillion-dollar corporation.

Very, very few people in my entire life have been able to combine that amount of risk tolerance, as well as technological brilliance. It`s very rare to have both.

MELBER: And, finally, a couple sentences.

The wildest thing about the super successful, widely believed to be intelligent person, Eric Schmidt, the wildest thing about you that people would be surprised by?

SCHMIDT: I go to Burning Man every year.

MELBER: Failure means?

SCHMIDT: In my world, failure means putting your pants on the next morning and start again.

MELBER: Success means?

SCHMIDT: More success.

People who are successful tend to create success around them. And they do so because of uniquely human aspects such as drive, charisma, and luck.

MELBER: And, finally, reaching the summit means?

SCHMIDT: There`s a point when you`re successful when you realize that you`re at the top. And I don`t mean the tippy-top.

I mean that the people that you`re with are also winners. It is incredibly satisfying when you are successful at the summit to realize that there`s other summits, and hanging out with the other summiteers is the most fun ever.


MELBER: You have been very generous with your time. You`re a busy person.

I think we have learned a lot. Eric Schmidt, thank you for joining me on the "Summit Series."

SCHMIDT: Thank you, Ari. And I look forward to seeing this and seeing you soon. Thanks again.

MELBER: Absolutely. Appreciate it.


MELBER: You can catch the entire interview of my discussion with Eric Schmidt, as well as some of our other valued guests, like Fran Lebowitz and Sharon Stone, by going to MSNBC`s YouTube channel.

There`s a playlist of these in-depth conversations with Ari. Maybe it`s a nice time for some holiday viewing. Check it out online.

Now, coming up, we have been working on something special that we want to share with you this holiday season.

Stay with us.



MELBER: This is our holiday show. And I appreciate you spending some time with me and our whole BEAT team here over this holiday season and the new year period.

And, as the year draws to a close, we actually did celebrate a big anniversary this year, four years of THE BEAT, which made us, for those who keep track, the longest-running show at 6:00 p.m. in MSNBC`s 25-year history.

Now, that is obviously a credit to you. There`s no shows without viewers. So, we do want to thank you again for sticking with us during these ups and downs and wild times.

And for the end of the year, for something a little more fun, because the news isn`t always that, we have gathered some of our favorite moments, yes, the breaking news and the big interviews, but also guests who made us smile or think, and, of course -- my team told me we had to include it -- we have some of the bad jokes and, as always, the awkward silences.

Take a look.


CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC HOST: The premiere of THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Ari, we are totally psyched. Good evening.

MELBER: Thank you, Chris. I appreciate that.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

Let me tell you, we have a big show tonight. The first look at previously secret documents.

Did you speak to the FBI?




MELBER: That is an admission of guilt.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn`t this ridiculous?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it`s not ridiculous, Sam.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): There`s a fundamental question about whether what he`s done is even legal.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): He knows he can`t win.

MELBER: The United States faces a COVID crisis.

FAUCI: We`re dealing with a very formidable virus.

MELBER: On January 6, we saw a mob storming the Capitol.

You can see these protesters gathering spurred by the police killing of George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re the aftermath. We`re the casualties of war.

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICS NATION": We can`t let Trump play us off against each other.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is not a woman in America who isn`t now reliving some experience.

GRETCHEN CARLSON, FORMER FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We`re shifting the blame and the shame to the actual harassers.

MELBER: What brings the tears?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a hard fight, a really hard fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s very important for us as the culture to own the culture.

SHERYL CROW, MUSICIAN: It`s important to be an artist and to speak truth.

MELBER: Here we are live in New Hampshire on primary eve.

We are here at the Red Rooster in Harlem.


MELBER: Trump finally left the White House since becoming the loser of this race.


Was that a low-key reference to Drake`s "Over."


SHARON STONE, ACTRESS: I have a little rap here for you.

MELISSA ETHERIDGE, MUSICIAN: Can you fetch my automobiles?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Truth hurts. That`s a lyric.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me say it the way Biggie Smalls would say it, Ari. Even when I was wrong, I got my point across.

MELBER: Are you really majority leader if you`re not running this like cardio?

BRITTNEY COOPER, PROFESSOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Hip-hop say, do the ladies run this? Yes, we do.


MELBER: We run things. Things not run we.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You going to street like Sesame?


MIKE LUPICA, "THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": The line from Drake, which is a wise man once said nothing at all.

MELBER: You almost wonder if it`s leading to an awkward silence.

The awkward silences.


MELBER: I mean, what can you say?

Wasn`t it Pusha T who said, I believe there`s a God above me, I`m just the God of everything else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is weird, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is super weird.

CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC HOST: I`m amazed that millions of people watch this show.

MELBER: There is a saying in television news of a hard turn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I know hard turn. And, luckily, I can make one.

MELBER: For a dollar, define collusion.

BILLY EICHNER, COMEDIAN: Oh, God. It`s when you collude.


MELBER: Your microwave dinners that we have heard about.



REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): It`s like dangling the shiny object. See, here, look at it.

MELBER: I`m talking to an empty chair.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, ASTROPHYSICIST: Earth is in space. And we`re all on Earth. Deal with it.


MELBER: All right, I don`t always see these in advance. So that`s really funny.

JACK BLACK, ACTOR: This is a disaster.

DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: It`s dangerous for me to even step into the political arena. Poopity-scoop.

MELBER: It is Friday on THE BEAT. And you know what that means. It`s time to fall back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you need to fall back and not give your guests homework before they come on the program.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is ending toxic masculinity right here.

MELBER: We have to, as we say in the business, recuse ourselves out of this segment. It`s a legal recusal joke, a big hit around here.

Classic Miranda joke.

Do you have time, though, for a bad Passover joke?

It`s a lobbyist registration joke.

Do you have a favorite economist joke?

JARED BERNSTEIN, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Well, you know the Rapper 50 Cent, right? Given recent increases in inflation, his name is now 64 Cent.


MELBER: That`s how you`re watching THE BEAT.

Kamala Harris is?



RICHARD LEWIS, COMEDIAN: I`m the original beatnik on your show. Remember that.

MELBER: I appreciate you spending some time on THE BEAT tonight.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Thank you so much.

MELBER: Thank you, sir.


EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: If you don`t know, now you know.


MELBER: You know, we have fun, or we try to. It has been quite a year.

When we come back, I have got one more thing to share with you.



MELBER: So, if you want to keep in touch even when we`re not on the air, you can always find me @AriMelber on social media. You can go on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter @AriMelber, my name.

And now, new, you can even go to TikTok. I have an account. It doesn`t have a lot of followers. That`s just the truth. But if you or your family or kids want to go on TikTok at @AriMelber, you can sign up. I promise I will share more, including some of my brother, only on those accounts. You don`t really see him on THE BEAT.

Anyway, as always, thank you for spending time with us. That does it for our holiday edition of THE BEAT.

I wish everyone a happy holidays.

And here`s to an even better 2022.